Midterm Project… Final Steps

Figure Drawing Homework Due 04/03/17

As I’m sure you all know, the due date for your midterm project in ART130 is April 3. No problem right? April is ages away…

Wait, what? It’s next week?!? ARrrrRgghhh! How did this happen???


All right, all right… breathe. We’ve been building our self-portrait drawings step-by-step, so you are in good position to finish strongly, at least those of you who have been keeping up (those who have fallen behind be prepared to dedicate extra hours this week to get caught up).

So what, exactly do you need to do? Complete your drawing by blocking in values to create a fully rendered portrait. Come to class next week with the project finished and ready to discuss. We will critique at the beginning of class. Anyone not prepared will receive a zero on the assignment (something you presumably do not want to do, since it’s worth 10% of your overall course grade). For more info on requirements, policies, grading and all that tasty stuff, check out the Midterm Project Guidelines.

Totes Need-to-Know Reminders


  • Work general to specific and all over the page. Focusing on detail too early handicaps your ability to make changes.

  • Keep your initial marks light so you can edit as you go. Good figure drawing is a process of continual refinement.

  • Concentrate on rendering values as definite shapes. This makes your drawing bolder and more volumetric. Plus—big bonus benefit—it’s typically faster than finicky edge-driven shading. In general your finished portrait should rely on shapes of shadow and light to define form. Avoid outlining as it flattens the space.

  • Work out complex forms stereometrically. That is, draw them as perspective boxes first and then refine to more organic forms. The stereometric approach also helps you establish distinct plane changes such as between the front of the face and the side (split along the cheekbone). This, in turn, makes your portrait more structural.

  • When in doubt, review your handout on anatomy of the head: ART130_handout_head_proportions.

  • Don’t forget the background!

P.S. (Maybe)

If I can find some time later this week, I will finish the self portrait I started as a demo yesterday and post some step-by-step progress shots so you can see the route I take to draw. Stay tuned!

And, as always, e-mail is your friend if you have questions!




Getting A-Head

Figure Drawing Homework Due 03/27/17

This week’s homework seeks to build on what you learned in class about head structure, and, ultimately, to increase your chances of success for your midterm project.


Read over the two brief handouts on head proportions/positioning.





Make a master copy of Figure Drawing Handout #10 (yes, all eight mini-contour heads on one page of your sketchbook). This puts into practice the techniques described in the handouts from Step 1.


Keeping in mind what we discussed one-on-one with regard to your thumbnail sketches, select a composition for your midterm project,  and then block it out on a piece of 18″ x 24″ charcoal paper (the good stuff with all the texture ‘n’ whatnot).

Excited Del is excited about self-portraiture!


  • Make sure to use the whole page, indicating what will be in the background as well as establishing the face/figure. Wee little heads floating in a nebula of nothingness might pass muster for old episodes of Star Trek, but they don’t cut the mustard for new figure drawings!

  • Work general to specific. Layout with gesture/envelope and then refine to a contour.

  • FYI, your contour doesn’t need to be as detailed as the drawing above, which is from a series of daily self portraits whose goal was somewhat different than what you’re going for with your midterm project. As long as you establish the key shapes/proportions/composition, you’re on track.

  • Keep your marks light throughout since you will likely need to erase or rework as we move forward. You may use vine charcoal or graphite for this initial rendering, whichever you find it easier to keep under control.

Let me know if you have questions; otherwise, have a fantabulous week!


The Second Half Beginith: Drawing Edition

Figure Drawing Reminders for Class on 03/20/17

Woe that I must be the bearer of bad news, but it’s over, my intrepid Figure Drawers… another Spring Break is coming to a close. *sniffle*


The end of vacation is always a bit melancholy, but it’s not all frowny-face news. Tomorrow we get to dive back into drawing the intriguing and ever challenging human figure! That’s always something to look forward to!

thumbnailA friendly neighborhood reminder in anticipation of class tomorrow. You weren’t assigned master studies for this week, but you should come to class with the first steps of your midterm project complete. This includes reading the Project Guidelines (if you haven’t already) and completing a minimum of 20 thumbnails to work out compositions. The thumbnails should be at least 3″ x 4″, but don’t have to be exactly that size so long as they are roughly the same proportion as the final drawing, which will be 18″ x 24″. Work in your sketchbook or on separate paper: artist’s choice. Your compositions can be horizontal or vertical (or some horizontal and some vertical).

Not familiar with the intricacies of the compositional thumbnail? There’s a blog post for that! Check it out!


Don’t hesitate to e-mail. I’m on my way back into reliable internet country, so I should be able to answer relatively quickly.

See you tomorrow!

Contour Conclusions

Figure Drawing Homework Due 02/27/17


For this week, make a master copy of the following handouts, which represent our final focused investigations of contour:

You may use pencil or charcoal. Remember all the good stuff: start light, work general to specific, etc. etc. Also create accurate proportions by checking relative measurements, plumb bobs and angles. If you need a reminder of visual measuring techniques:

Finally, keep in mind the last thing we discussed in class on the 13th, and try to recreate the variety of line qualities (thickness,  thinness, curved, angular, etc.) of the master drawings. You will be graded on the accuracy of both proportion and line quality.

Don’t Forget

Next week is President’s Day, so there is no class. Enjoy your week off! Do something amazing, so I can live vicariously through you.



Extra Credit Opportunity (W00t!)

Possible Extra Credit for Students in All Del’s Spring 2017 Classes


Open Studio Night at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

I am offering 10 points of extra credit this semester to every student who attends an open studio event at a college or university. You must show me proof that you went in the form of a situational selfie or something similar. 10 points may not seem like a lot, but it represents 1% of your grade and can and has made a real difference for students in the past. If you have me for more than one class, you can choose which one gets the points. This is a one-time only offer. You cannot hit multiple events for multiple batches of points.

Why Is This Worth Extra Credit?

Looking at work by other artists is one of the best ways to spark creativity, because you get to see what’s current and what’s possible. For students, it can be extra helpful to see exciting work being made by peers. Finally, for those of you considering art school, seeing how one is laid out and how it functions is an important eye-opener.

Although I will award these points for any one visit to an open studio held at a reputable institution of higher learning, I am going to give my totally unbiased (*ahem*) opinion, that you should go to Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts’ in Philadelphia, which will be held Friday after next, February 17 from 5–9 PM (February 24 snow date). The education section of PAFA’s Hamilton Building is rarely open to the public, and it is a fascinating place. There are 200 individual studios grouped loosely by discipline…

4th floor—post-baccalaureate & others
5th floor—illustration & digital media
6th floor—printmaking & alumni studios
7th floor—sculpture
8th floor—graduate studios
9th floor—mix
10th floor—painting

…there are also cool classrooms including the totally sick printmaking lab with its dozen presses and floor to ceiling windows and sculpture classrooms for wood, metal, casting, moldmaking, stone carving, papermaking and clay/figure modeling. There will be mini events on various floors (print demos on 6, bronze pour on 7, etc.) Usually, there are also refreshments. It’s a supercool experience, especially if you plan what you want to see so you don’t get overwhelmed. Bonus: afterwards you can go Friday evening cavorting in Philadelphia. It’s like getting credit for doing something fun! Well… I think so, anyway, but I kinda dig this whole art thing….


The event itself is totally free, but you will have to pay the bridge toll ($5) and likely also for parking, because PAFA is smack in the middle of Center City.

Where to Go/Park

From SCC, it takes about 45 minutes to get to PAFA. Take 295 north to I676. Go over the Ben Franklin Bridge and follow Vine Street to 15th. Turn left and drive two blocks. Just after Race Street, there is an open air parking lot which is conveniently located right behind the school. The rate is $12 for regular sized vehicles (ie not pickups or SUVs) for the entire evening. Walk to the crashed airplane sculpture and turn left into the Hamilton Building. Make sure you ask at the PAFA desk to get your parking ticket validated or the cost is greater.

If $12 sounds too rich for your wallet, less expensive lots are scattered around. There is metered and/or 2 hour free parking on 15th, 16th, 17th and Race. However, finding open street spots is luck on the level of ordering hamburger and being given filet mignon.

By the Way…

I do have an alumni studio at PAFA. It’s located on the 6th floor (#636). You are welcome to stop by but are by no means expected or required. I’m more interested in you seeing compelling student work.


My studio is not usually this clean.

More information on Open Studio Night at PAFA is located here.

Okay, PAFA blahblahblah… What About Other Schools?

As I said, you are welcome to attend any open studio event for the credit, provided it’s at a college or university. However, you will have to find these other opportunities on your own. If you’re unsure whether something qualifies, I suggest you ask me before attending. Same rules otherwise apply: 10 points upon my receipt of proof you attended.


Proportion Party

Figure Drawing Homework Due 02/13/17

For this week, make a master copy of Handout #5 using pencil (recommended) or charcoal in a manner similar to last week’s assignment. Pay special attention to recreating the variety of line qualities (thickness and thinness). This will provide a snazzy lead in to what we’re doing next week.

In addition, make a copy of either the male or female figure on the Proportions of the Human Figure handout. Make light horizontal lines to mark the “heads” within the height of body. Number the divisions 1–8 and make a notation of what part of the body approximately falls on each line. Finally, bracket and label some of the other main proportions of the figure including:

  • width of the head
  • width of the shoulder
  • width of the hips
  • width across the chest between the nipples
  • length of the arm (total)
  • length of the arm (shoulder to elbow)
  • length of the arm (elbow to fingertips)
  • where the fingers fall with relation to the leg (with arm hanging straight)
  • where the elbow falls with relation to the torso (with arm hanging straight)
  • length of the leg (total)
  • length of the leg (knee to foot)


Other Stuff: Contour Comment Redux

This past week, if you didn’t post a comment with an example of a contour figure drawing, please do so before next Monday. We will look at them at the beginning of next class. Leave it on the Contour Cacophony post (where also live more detailed instructions). If. you already chose an example but uploaded as a post rather than a comment, please redo it as a comment. Step-by-step how-to lives here.

One More Thing


Make sure you have plenty of fresh newsprint next week. Drawing on the back of existing drawings is not a viable method for this class. You should also bring in your drawing paper pad (you don’t need the charcoal pad yet). 

See you next week!


Contour Cacophony

Figure Drawing Homework Due 2/6/17


As you did last week, make master copies of the handouts you were given in class, in this case Handout #3 and Handout #4. I expect closer copies than were possible for Handouts #1 and #2, which were gestural. Make sure to fill the page and add a date.

Don’t forget to keep all your handouts in a safe place. You will turn them in as part of your final portfolio. If you don’t like them sliding around in your sketchbook, tape or glue them in, or put them in a separate folder entirely.

Tips for this Week’s Copies

  1. You may use pencil or charcoal,.
  2. Start with a gesture drawing to establish the overall pose and composition. Find the line of action and the main masses (da eggs!) Keep your marks light so you can erase later.
  3. Using the gesture as a guide, sketch in the contours. Anxious to go dark? Hold that thought, Skippy! You want to keep your lines erasable until you’re 100% slap-yourself-on-the-kneecap sure things are where you want them.
  4. Work ALL OVER the page going from loose to refined. The drawings should be completed as a whole composition in several total passes rather than one nitpicked section at a time.


Do some noodling around the internets to find figurative contour drawings. Post an image of a piece you like as a comment on this homework post. Be sure to include the artist, title and year (if known).

Can’t remember how to work with comments on our website? Booya: zartnerds.wordpress.com/about/using-the-wordpress-site

Other Stuffs…

If you haven’t purchased your supplies, you absolutely, positively need them for next class. You cannot complete the required work on loose sheets of paper.

Also, if you missed doing it this week, bring in your syllabus questionnaire for our next meeting. Although it is now late and you will not receive points for it, I still need to see that you have read and understood the syllabus. I will not assign you any other grades in this course until I know we’re on the same page


E-mail or comment and answers shall be yours!