Art of the Everyday – Light, Form, Space


Antonio Lopez Garcia


Charles Ritchie


As we work observationally we will discover how important tonal relationships are, as well as how elusive and fascinating perception is.

(11) Consider tone as a way to create concave and convex surfaces on the flat picture plane:

A thorough scientific article regarding this:

(12) Consider tonal drawing and how light on a surface describes form.


(13) In addition to thinking about mark making, the idea of intentionality leads to consideration of composition, including placement on the page, scale, balance, and opposition.

Here is an informative video on thumbnails, planning the composition by mapping out the basics.


The thumbnail will be a useful tool in your sketchbook as a means to explore and to get the most out of your ideas:

(EA# 1A)  Regarding the process of building up a drawing with tone from a gestural drawing:



(EX#1B) Richard Diebenkorn worked in both painting and drawing with the same seriousness, creative exploration, curiosity, seriousness, and aesthetic goals.

Here is his advice and a glimpse into his sketchbooks:

In EA #1 B, you will think about using line in various dilutions, with or without a wash as a ground to describe a still life, as Elzabeth Blackadder does. You may also use, exaggeration, and stylization, with intention for the overall feeling or expression you want to convey.

Or, as Diebenkorn does in this and other images in ARTSTOR.









Photography, Painting, Portraits

Cartier-Bresson “Photography is an immediate reaction, drawing is a meditation.”

Cartier-Bresson, the famous photographer and one of the founders of Magnum Photos, associated with the “decisive moment” was passionate about drawing from life. But what about drawing or painting from photographs? Can it be a tool and still lead to a act of meditation, contemplation, reflection, and expression when the artist uses it as a starting point, a reference, and departs from it, ultimately? And doesn’t a photographic series lead us to the same place when it goes beyond the snapshot to become art?


Some basics about drawing features:

A speed drawing of a portrait, summing up drawing as a series of adjustments:


Drawings and portraits by Georges Seurat:’s-mother-madame-seurat-mere-french-about-1882-1883/

Here is an excellent glaze painting demo by Domenic Cretara, part 1-3 Look up all stages(-12) for the visuals and the advice as you work on  your own. Since we are doing a monochromatic painting, we will not be galzing to full color as he does.  But, you may return to your painting in the future to do so.

And here is an article and some of his work from the Triton Museum show in Santa Clara:

Another monochrome portrait painting tutorial:

Another monochromatic approach:,paint-a-portrait-using-the-transparent-monochrome-oilpainting-technique_5284.htm

Rub-out technique:


Whether considering the rub-out technique or considering the second portrait from your digital references you may want to consider Notan, the Japanese sense of dark/light balance in a composition;

And here is a mural which relies on notan in the portrait:

A resource with a variety of contemporary, stylized, historical examples and tips on portraits:

Portraits by Catherine Kehoe:

And finally, a look at the painting of Queen Elizabeth by Lucien Freud (a small painting on a big easel, like yours):

And the controversy it caused:

Or a comparison of 30 portraits of her:




Gaining Perspective

The following sites as well as the in-class demo will help to “gain perspective.”  And, nothing helps more than to practice and  play the “game” of perspective so that it can be internalized and become somewhat automatic as you translate your vision of 3 dimensional space to a flat picture plane.  Once you understand, you can use perspective naturally without thinking it through.  And, as you become fluent in the language of this tool, you can depart from it for intentional expressive effect.

First some history:


If you have never drawn before, this is a useful video to start to think about drawing anything. Start with the basic shapes….


A useful method in using “empirical perspective” (drawing what you see from your actual point of view and position while using perspective theory) is called “sighting”:

This video shows the careful process of observation and adjustment in the act of drawing from a subject.

This is a great resource for pairing perspective theory with artistic examples.

Here is a short video on two point perspective which you will be more likely to use in your drawing.

And for drawing slopes and tilting boxes (see p. 110 on):


Always, it is practice that will secure your understanding and allow you to draw gesturally with a confident sense of form and space.




Ideas about Drawing – starting points

Look up drawing definitions and you find that the common links between them:

Marks that make a picture or image, a plan, or diagram.  Marks that represent.

For me, it is intentional mark making, for visual communication that is technical, tactical,  culturally, or personally expressive on a tactile surface .  This is a working definition for thinking about drawing, how drawing leads to painting, and how drawing is used in painting.

It is a sense of drawing that is distinct from the way dancers draw with their bodies as they move through space and or the way Dan Flavin drew with light.

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Yet, the idea of gesture that is key to the dance and the act of claiming space that is key to Flavin is integral to gesture drawing.

Gesture, the way an artist captures and conveys form through energetic markmaking, is a record of the artist’s visual and mental interaction with the subject.

(In the case of this performance artist, Heather Hansen, the visual and mental interaction is with the drawing itself rather than an external subject.     )


Here is a good summary of drawing as it pertains to our artmaking.


David Hockney,  master of many mediums, still considers drawing one of his most importance endeavors as an artist.

Here he is drawing, and painting, on his ipad.

Some wonderful Hockney quotes:

When you are older, you realise that everything else is just nothing compared to painting and drawing.

Drawing is rather like playing chess: your mind races ahead of the moves that you eventually make.

Drawing makes you see things clearer, and clearer and clearer still, until your eyes ache.

Alberto Giacometti is another artist who has thought intensely about drawing.

The summary of the James Lord’s account of sitting for a portrait by Giacommetti is an introduction to the artist’s ideas about perception and drawing.‘a-giacometti-portrait’-sitting-for-a-master/

Here is  video of his painting process – which is really drawing with a brush.




See Artstor 20 J – Gesture – for Giacometti images and Mondrian’s gesture drawings and his progression from realism to abstraction. (Regarding Modnrian, see below: Mondrian Master Drawings Smith College Museum of Art  – Choose Google Book and scroll to page 236 and read both indented quotes, especially the last, from Mondrian about his intentions, followed by another image of a Chrysanthemum on page 237.)


Here is a tutorial on gesture drawing. Gesture drawing will give you the opportunity to adapt and adjust your drawing as you become more attuned to your subject:


Introductory practices:

gesture, variable pressure, thick and thin line drawings,





Wanderers Above the Mist

I am passionate about “visual dialogues”, whether in paint, photography, or prints.  It carries the ideas forward and recontextualizes them, much the way writers, poets, musicians, and filmmakers do.  It makes the work richer and layered in meaning and no less original.  It is a creative conversation.

In 1818, German Romantic painter, Caspar David Friedrich’s  painted “The Wanderer Above the Mist”, also known as “Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog”.

Caspar David Friedrich, Monk by the Sea

A well known analog photographer also paid tribute to this painting in a picture of a man with dog by the lake.  Was it John Szarkowski, author of The Photographer’s Eye  and Looking at Photographs?  Years ago I heard a talk about this and kept it in the back of my mind for this painting and future photographs. I hope I run across the phoograph  so I can share it.  If not, maybe a photographer friend may know.

There are also connections made between Friederich and Chinese landscape painters. Is it coincidental or was Friedrich actually aware of the Chinese landscapes? Of course, there are big differences, which is part of recontextualizing even when the artist is consciously making connections.  James Elkins discusses the similarities between Friedrich’s Two Men in Contemplation of the Moon with a Southern Song painting by Ma Yuan as well as other East/West comparisons, starting on page 34 in the link below.

In this portrait of my husband and dog, I depicted him in his work clothes from the dog’s point of view, rather than in the fancy dress of Friedrich’s wanderer. That may be another painting some day.

Wanderers Above the Mist oil on canvas