Composition Practice Sketches In Vine Charcoal

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Practicing composition in my drawings

Anyone serious about illustration (or art in general) recognizes just how important composition is to one’s drawing.

Prior to attending the MFA in Illustration with the Academy of Art University, I had not formally studied composition.

I had a natural yet untrained instinct for it, but now with several grad school courses under my belt, I recognize just how unrefined my composition work had once been.

I’m still working on improving the composition of my illustration work.

For example, in my charcoal thumbnail sketch (A) above with the square-shaped, white plastic bottle to the left, my instructor said I had good composition but he had wished I hadn’t cut off the box off to the right.

Practicing composition in my drawings

In the composition above (E) with the two smaller jars on the left and large jug to the right, my instructor said this charcoal thumbnail sketch had the most interesting overlapping forms and shadow shapes.

Composition is critical.

I need to keep at it.

In addition to my grad school assignments, I’ve also been taking an online composition course (Pictorial Composition with Nathan Fowkes) on Schoolism that’s been helpful. A little advanced but helpful nonetheless.

“Great art requires great composition; our work cannot achieve its full expression without a practical knowledge of pictorial composition.”
Nathan Fowkes 

I feel fortunate to be learning from so many talented folks.

Until next time,

Mayra Ruiz-McPherson

 

 

 

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A Child’s Portrait Sketched with Pastel Pencils

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Young child sketched using charcoal pencil

I drew this young girl’s portrait (in value only) using CarbOthello Pastel Pencils on toned paper.

This portrait was for a grad school illustration assignment and drawn from a photo reference.

It’s always a challenge to capture the likeness of a person, no matter their age.

For this assignment, the goal was to better understand that a child’s head and facial proportions differ significantly from that of an adult’s.

Mayra Ruiz-McPherson

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Pastel Pencil Illustration of Sleeping Passenger On Board United Airlines Flight Leaving Managua for USA

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Illustration of sleeping passenger on United Airlines flight from Nicaragua to Houston, Texas

I have safely left Nicaragua — a country now in full-blown revolution mode — thankfully in one piece.

Washington Dulles bound

As I await my flight from Houston, Texas back home to Washington, DC, I feel so happy to have brought my sketchbook and pastel pencils along my travels.

Not only was the entirety of my Managua stay (and all my plans while there) ruined by the inundating waves of political upheaval, but I’m a nervous traveler in general and so having the ability to draw while on board my flight was a delightful distraction.

Pastel pencil illustration of sleeping passenger

During my outbound Managua flight, I was kind of a nervous wreck from this having happened right before boarding.

Then once in flight, we began to experience major turbulence along the way, which made my anxiety much, much worse.

Then I looked up and saw this man slumbering deeply as the plane shifted abruptly to the left and then to the right by winds. I envied his peaceful state. No matter how aggressively the plane’s flight was impacted by turbulence, this man never once awakened.

I don’t know what prompted me to bust out my sketchbook to draw the sleeping man;  I just felt incredibly compelled to do so.

Perhaps I had hoped that, in recording his soft peace by way of illustration, I may benefit vicariously from his profound sense of calmness.

I quickly grabbed my Stabilo CarbOthello Pastel Pencils and went to work, using a limited palette of blues to help visually emphasize the man’s silence, his slumber, and dreamy state.

Drawing people from life is challenging for me.

Because folks tend move around and then I lose my place or drawing groove.

Also because I feel uncomfortable to constantly stare up at someone while I’m drawing them from life — and they don’t know that I’m drawing them so when they see me staring at them over and over, I fear they might think I’m some kind of crazed stalker 🙂

Despite said challenges, I find I enjoy drawing people from life.

And the fact that this man was sleeping so profoundly without movement made drawing him that much more pleasurable.

Enjoy!

Until next time,

Mayra Ruiz-McPherson

 

 

 

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Practicing Ellipses with Oil Paints

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Practicing ellipses with oil paints

I really want to thank master oil painter Elizabeth Floyd for being a fantastic and inspiring teacher.

She helped me to better understand how to improve my ellipses, which are still a work in progress but slowly improving.

Warm thanks also go to the fantastic staff at The Art School in Great Falls.

They are always there when I need tutoring, mentoring, and extra support.

Mayra Ruiz-McPherson