“My art centers on the exploration of various artistic mediums and methods”

Silverton 481

The Original Photo,

A sketch for a themed drawing exercise


Digital Collage



Drawing and Critique

Darlene Duncan made a comment on my blog yesterday that I loved.

“A comment without explanation does not help towards understanding or improvement.”

The goal of a critique should be to move towards improvement through understanding, that is what makes it different from a criticism.

I tell people all the time that there is not a wrong way to create, you should just start and do it.  It occurred to me that this comment might seem in direct conflict with the idea of critique, and might be in need of further explanation.

Improvement is a subjective standard.  When critiquing your artwork, it is important to understand the goal or ideal that you have in mind.  Do you want to be the next Rembrandt or the next Picasso, or maybe the next Arina Tanemura.  How you would improve when working towards those goals is vastly different. When I say that there is not a wrong way to create, what I mean is that all styles are valid.

So if I want to improve my drawing, How do I go about doing that?

eyes2 eyes4

Both of these eyes were drawn from the same source.


Each of us translated the same image into what was important to us. Yet on each of them there is something that differs from the original.  I learned that Anime eyes are often open edged,  that the pupils are even larger than I thought and high lights do have a hard edge.

I have spent years working on making highlights without hard edges, so  I did not notice that it has one, and I can say that I would choose to put one.

So if what I mean by improving is to make the eye more in an anime style, the biggest changes I would make would be in the overall shape of the eye.


What I had sketched in as the whole eyeball is close to the size of the pupil, but taller and narrower, while the eyelid slants down more.  By taking the time to look at what I had drawn in comparison to what I was working from, I gained an understanding of  how and why mine differed from the original.  Once I have that understanding, I can choose to either make mine more like the original or just draw eyes in my own way.

None of this changes the fact that I was happy with my original eye, and the fact that my eye was different from the one I was working from does not mean my eye was wrong.

I still maintain that the best way to learn to draw is by picking up something that makes marks, and using it to make marks. and enjoy the process because it is not a matter or right and wrong, it is a matter of learning and understanding. The learning and understanding will lead to improvement.

The Eyes Have it.

Eyes009  1130092249

Sometimes I am reminded why I have a studio, and what I loved about working at home.

More later… Which means I ran out of time this morning, so I am posting quickly so I can write more on it later while on the road.

It is later now.  My daughters asked me how you get eyes to match, They were less excited to hear the answer of practice. Somehow that always seem like an unfun sounding answer. 

  I started to sketch eyes from a magazine. Starting at the first person and then going to the next. 

They were quick to show me the anime type eyes they were trying to draw.  Anime is a type of Japanese cartooning.  The same theory still applies,    take a book of Anime and draw the eyes, practicing untill you are happy with the result.  Do not struggle over one, but do it quickly, look at it . Then make any quick corrections and go on to the next. 

It quickly turned into a shared effort, I would draw one, they would draw one and so on. The hand in the picture is my daughters. Even our cat wanted to join in on the fun on the page. It make what could have been a fairly boring exercise a lot of fun.   Today I will go back and see how many of the eyes I can match to the pictures from which I drew them.

Exploring and Enjoying

One of the questions I get asked all the time by students is some variation of is this right?

What is the right answer when it comes to art?  Is it right for a tree to be purple?  Absolutely.  The sky and the ground too.

Henri Matisse. Moroccan Landscape (Acanthus). 1911-13. Oil on canvas. Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm, Sweden.

When it comes to art, right is what you feel is right.  Many Artists and art students compare themselves and their works to the best works of famous artists.  One of the most freeing experiences was visiting a smaller museum. It only had the lesser works of the major artists.  It made me feel so much better about my own art.

My own art varies radically in style, it always has. I remember being told to give it time, you will develop a style of your own. I have been giving it plenty of time. I think of my style as a style of exploration.   I have favorite mediums and styles that I return to, but my part of my real joy in creating comes from trying something new.  A different style or medium.

Rennata M. Tropeano, Princess and Rocker 27, Print 8x8 inches ©2009 Princess and Rocker027

If I were defining my art by what looks most realistic, the eye more toward the center of the page would be right.  The other eye, is the one that felt right to me.  So naturally it was the one I choose to use while I was exploring and enjoying.  Both images are different, and both are right and both are my style.  Take the time to explore and enjoy without worrying if it is right.

Back to Basics

Rennata M. Tropeano, Sketch Book Page. Watercolor Pencils, 8 x 8inches. ©2009
Sketch Book Page

There is not much  today, it was another day of sketching.  Yesterday was all words without a working pictures so there is some balance there.  I did get the link to the “Official Artist” cards fixed from yesterday.

This weekend will be spent focusing on getting my word count on my NaNoWriMo attempt.  Have a great weekend of creating!

“Yes, you can draw.”

Rennata M. Tropeano, Assorted Sketches. charcoal, crayons, 8 x 8inches. ©2009Rennata M. Tropeano, Face Sketch. charcoal, 8 x 8inches. ©2009

I have been doing a lot of work with computer graphics as of late and while that keeps me in practice with composing a scene, it takes a different skill set than basic drawing . I am firm believer in going back to the basics and working on improving your grasp of skills. Working on improving is very different than expecting perfection.  Learning to sketch is really the process of learning to see, and then translating that to the paper.  Many would be artists are very frustrated with their own perceived inability to draw _________.   Tonight an artist whose work I admire, said to me “I can’t draw people”   I bet she can. Maybe not as well as she would like, but I have seen her paintings. I have no doubt what so ever that she can draw people.  I am convinced that anyone who can write their name in both cursive and printing can in fact draw,  All the skills that you need are there. The ability to reproduce a series of positive and negative shapes with curves and lines.  When you think about it, the ability to write is pretty impressive, yet this is something that most people do with out thinking about it.  It is something that we all learned to do through practice and by doing it over and over again. I love how to draw books that tell the reader that you can learn to draw horses, dogs, cartoons, fairies, etc in so many simple steps.  They always seem to leave out the little fact that it takes practice to learn to do each step.  Take a look at a learn to write book.  They are all about practice, and no one expects a child to be able to write after finishing one workbook.  When I start to sketch, I have a set of jewel tone crayons that I like to start with, to warm up, and remind myself that it takes practice, and it should be fun, otherwise why bother?