Monday, January 5, 2009

Life drawing and some of my summer bicycle tour sketches

Today I went to my drawing class and we had a model. The woman was a very lovely person who agreed to sit for us. She will be sitting for us again next week, so I just might improve on my rather sad first attempt. You can see where the instructor gave me some suggestions on the side of the paper. I still haven’t nailed perspective in the eyes, nose and mouth in a three-quarter view. This week, I plan to consult my trusty Vanderpoel, “The Human Fugure,” first published in 1935, and practice these elements of the face. That will be my daily drawing assignment this week. As Myrna Wacknov said in her encouraging comment, it takes 10,000 hours to reach perfection (about 10 years of hard work daily), and I have not come near reaching that goal. However, making art is a wonderful way to spend 10,000 hours.

I am very fortunate to have a very talented portrait artist, Robert K. Semans, as my instructor. He has made his living doing portraits for many years. Bob is a classically trained artist, having spent time studying in Florence, Italy. He is extremely knowledgeable about drawing and the human figure. A few years ago he was commissioned to do the official portrait of California Governor Gray Davis.

A little tidbit from my bicycling side of life. My partner, Bob Eltgroth, and I were featured in the "Wish You Were Here" column of Travel in the Sunday Mercury News. The picture shows us with our loaded tandem bicycle on the Canadian side of the Peace Bridge that connects Buffalo, NY, with Fort Erie, Ontario, about 20 miles from Niagara Falls. We pedaled 3200 miles between San Jose and Portland, ME, this past summer. We had to carry all we needed for 88 days on the bike, so I took a tiny Moleskine pad and an Idori pan watercolor set with brush that could be assembled with the handle holding the water. I painted at least one sketch in every state, most from memory after getting off the bike for the day. The first picture is of Corral Hollow Road that parallels Altamont Pass--our passage into the San Joaquin Valley. The second picture is of the wine country in the little piece of Pennsylvania that borders Lake Erie. The third picture is a sketch of Long Lake, NY, at sunset. We were treated to a wonderful evening by people we met on the street. They invited us to dinner, provided transportation, and gave us a boatride on the lake. You can read about our cycling tour and see tour watercolor sketches at

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