Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Journaling and Sketch book ideas

Here's the latest YouTube video, this time around a look at a sketchbook  that I made for my son. He just graduated form high school,  so his last page includes his graduation announcement!

Remember to subscribe to my YouTube channel. New videos are posted every week or two.



These are the 8x10 basic black sketchbooks I have kept for my kids. They both had their first 10 years very well documented and then I did recaps a few times a year. 


The elephant card was the starting point for these 2 pages. I quickly covered the page with orange ink to match the card, carrying the ink loosely over to the other page. The scribbles were already there, so I wanted to keep the brush strokes messy as well. With large pages I generally block in color quickly, letting the brush strokes show.  I like to cut out photos of people really tight, so that they can become a part of their new landscape. White paper with notes on it was glued down before orange paint was added, the text becomes texture in the background.




The half face is my grandpa. I was working on a larger project and had a few extra xerox copies of him and collaged them on various pages. I decided to crop his face to line up with the center of the page. Using whatever paint was left over at the end of the day I blocked in the background. I also would have randomly painted a few more pages to finish the paint. Another cut out of my son so that he is looking into the page. 


Sketchbook pages evolve over time. I will go back through a book and add some color to a page or pages that were started many years ago, or add a bit of collage. If something doesn't turn out, it can be covered with collage. The sketchbooks are also filled with journal entries. Often the journal entry is the starting point. I'll write in any direction, any color. A color theme is one element that can bring  order to a page.  


There are lots of attachments in the books as well. The envelope has been printed with a map, another left over from an old project. I stuffed the envelope with a Christmas card and some school photos.


I usually have a few sketchbooks that I am working on at the same time. One is set aside for just travelling, another for daily journal entries and to just have with me so  I can sketch or write anytime.  



This was my last travel journal, the paint brush gives you an idea of size. I fit the journal, this small watercolor kit, 2 brushes , a couple pencils and a few markers all in a sandwich size ziplock bag. This was for a 1 month trip. We always travel light, so i just pack the essentials for art making. 


Let your sketchbook be a place to explore thoughts and ideas, and experiment with materials. What are you going to do in your sketchbook?


Ciao for now!

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Still Life Drawing Lesson

Check out  both the timelapse video and the lesson on my YouTube channel!
Remember to Subscribe! New videos every week or two.



For this lesson you'll need 3-5 glass bottles, jars and or containers of different sizes. At least one should have a square or rectangular bottom. In the first drawing place all your objects in a row with the tallest object in the middle.

1. Start drawing the tallest object by making small marks on the page to indicate the bottom and the top before you  begin the actual drawing.

2. When drawing the next object, compare its height to the first object and again make a small mark to show how tall it is. This is your reference mark to not not draw the oject larger than the mark!!!!! Compare them in width as well as how much space is between them. Is the object round on the bottom or square? The round jar needs to be drawn with a curved bottom as well as a curved top. The top is drawn as an oval or ellipse.  The green bottle has a square base as does our center bottle so those are drawn flat on gthe bottom. All 3 objects are round at the top and will be drawn as ellipses.


3. For the next Drawing stagger the objects to show one in front, one in the middle and one behind with all of them overlapping.

4. This time we'll start with the jar on the left which is in the middle as far as our back to front placement. We always compare objects to each other to get their proportions and placement correct. Use your pencil to take rough measurements. Notice the glass in front comes about half way up the jar. The small orange glass is behind the jar so it needs to be drawn slightly higher on the page to show that it is behind. The orange glass is still smaller than the large jar so make sure the top of it is lower than the the top edge of the jar. Remember to include a line that shows the back of the table. Pay attention to where the line is in relationship to your objects!


Let's do it again with colored chalk pastels. First in a row.


Then staggered. Draw right on top of each other to show the overlap. Be sure to use different colours.


My fancy set up! The ruler was my tripod for the first few videos!


Remember the basics, is it in front or behind? Compare objects to each other to draw the sizes accurately. Pay attention to height, width and shapes. pay attention the the base, is it round or flat?Use an odd number of objects and place the objects in an interesting arrangement.







Monday, May 11, 2020

Tulip Painting Lesson

Its coming to the end of Tulip Season in the north west but they are still going strong in my garden. Every year I either paint them, draw them or use them as subjects for original prints. I made a little time lapse video of the painting process as well as full painting lesson. Follow me on YouTube at Ameen Dhillon. I'll be posting videos about once a week. 


 The cropped version for an Instagram shot...


This is a recycled canvas, I painted directly on top of a painting that I did not like. Acrylic paintg comes alive when you paint in layers, so recycling an old canvas is works beautifully. Don't prime it with white, just start painting.


As I prepare to shoot the videos the first painting is always a trial run. The second video gets me closer and the 3rd is the one I finish with.  I do like the 3 paintings together as a triptych. each one is 4x12 to emphasis the the long graceful tulips.


Here's my trick for keeping acrylic paint from drying up. I use the plastic lid of storage boxes as palettes, give the paint a mist of water when you are done for the day and cover with the container. The next day you are ready to paint where you left off. Give it a daily mist to keep the paint moist.


Tools for this project...

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

How to Draw Portraits

With the studio closed I have been working on my YouTube channel. My older students were getting ready to do self portraits so I am starting off with 4 part series on Portrait Drawing. The first 3 lessons focus the details of drawing each feature. Lesson 4 (coming very soon!) we put it all together with the proper proportions. Please check it out and subscribe!!!! Its aimed at ages 9 and up. 

Gather your materials: 

1. A front view self portrait at least 5X7" (a school portrait would be perfect, you want something that shows shadows) 
2. 2b or 3b pencil (HB is fine if that is all you have)
3. pencil sharpener and an eraser. 
4. 9x12 sketchbook (or 8X10 but not smaller or copy paper if that is all you have)

I'll walk you through steps of the each feature and you'll practice it on your own 3-5 times. 
I am using a picture from a magazine  but I encourage you to use a portrait of yourself. You'll be spending a lot of time on this portrait, it's a great record of where your drawing skills are at right  now.

I mask off everything except for the eye and its surrounding area. We'll closely observe just the eye and draw it 3-5 times. Practice, practice, practice! 

Lesson 1: How to Draw Eyes


Lesson 2: How To Draw the Nose


Lesson 3: How to Draw the Mouth


Stay tuned, the next lesson on drawing the whole portrait will be out this week.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Block printing projects for kids and adults

Our winter Block Printing class got cut short because of school closures this spring. I did have 2 students that were able to print their finished relief prints. 

This session started with students choosing from 4 different still life arrangements in the studio.

Step 1. Students did 3 thumbnail sketches of different ideas of their selected still life.  We talked about the characteristics of a block print and what makes it different than  other mediums. Students took this into consideration as they developed their ideas.

Step 2. We talked about illustration, composition, positive and negative space, pattern and design. Students selected their favorite sketch and we developed it further considering all of our design elements.

Step 3. We blocked out black and white areas, trying to have them alternate and having a ratio of 50% carved (white) and 50% to remain black ( the inked areas). 

Step 4. Carving the block

Step 5. Printing!



Although we did not have a chicken as part of the still life, the still life arrangements are a starting point. Student creativity is always encouraged!




We simplified the outer border so that it would be a stronger design and easier to carve. I also loke the way the triangular pattern repeats in the strings of the drum.


A playful design with all three objects being the same size. We continued the carved lines on 4 sides of the objects to create a frame.




Still life with arrangement.


Work in progress.


Thumbnail sketches, such an important step when planning any project.


My little press, oh how I love it so...


Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Art Ideas for self isolation

The studio has been closed for a few weeks now and I am missing all the creative energy my students bring. I'll be checking in towards the end of April and hope to have an opening date then. Until then #stayhome and get creative. Draw anything. Start in the kitchen and pick a few things and draw (paint, collage, sculpt) the same thing 3 different ways. Don't forget to have something in the background and some space in the foreground.

With my private students we had just finished up a few weeks of still life studies.

We started with continuous contour line drawings (no lifting your pencil from the paper) of the pear and limes. Draw slowly, pay close attention to all the details, more time should be spent observing the subject than the actual drawing.



Students then used a "sketched line" to draw the same still life and added shadows.


...and then we did our watercolor studies. Start with a limited palette of colors and learn the full range of of what they can do!




My 9th grade student.


My 4th grade student.


Our models.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Register for Spring Kids Art Classes

Spring Classes start  after spring break and are now registering. Still a couple open spots in the grade 4-6 class. All the details are on the classes page.


We drew my little moka pot in the private sessions, drawing for accuracy and value studies.


9th grade student

4th grade student


Monday, February 10, 2020

Acrylic Painting lessons with kids

The winter session is in full swing! 

This session the 1-3 grade students will be learning all about color. We started with a quick look at color wheel and talked about warm and cool colors. We got into the project quickly using a limited pallet of cool blue, black and white.   



 Students did a quick sketch with colored pencils to establish the composition. Next they blocked in the background starting with a dark strip of blue across the top and then blue with lots of white. Students used horizontal brush strokes to emphasis the landscape. 



Paintings are by 1-3 grade students. Acrylic on canvas board, 9"x11".



We discussed shadows and light sources to make our snowmen look more 3 dimensional. Brushstrokes for the snowman would go in  a circle, thi time to emphasize its round shape.  Last step was the snow. I think they are pretty awesome!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Portrait Drawing

I had an amazing week long Portrait Drawing workshop last week with Anthony Ryder at Gage Academy. Each day started with a 2 hour demo followed by 4 hours of drawing time with a model.



Day 1, I was pretty happy with the results and so excited to see where I would be by the end of the week.


Day 2, different model and I am drawing slower. It's been many years since I spent 4 hours on just one portrait. 

Day 3,4, and 5 were to be an extended pose. Since I had a profile I found by day 3  I felt finished and moved on to start another drawing. The model takes a short break every 20 minutes. I took a quick photo at each break. Here's 6 shots from beginning to end showing my progress. The photos don't capture all the details of the drawing. I was taking quick shots during the week and enjoying the time I had to draw.








I am looking forward to sharing some new ideas with my students as we work through self portraits during the winter session.
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