Mono Print

Metallic Glue Relief

Tissue Paper Painting

Crayon Etching

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Drawing What You Love/Sketching Scottie

When Jen wanted to make a drawing of her delightful Scottish terrier, Molly, I suggested she use a photograph of her dog for reference. We worked with the same toned paper technique I taught to a group of high school students in my Drawing Animals lesson.

After toning her paper, Jen drew Molly's features with charcoal lines. Then she established all the darkest shapes on Molly's face by making intuitive repeated bold strokes within those areas, suggesting fur. She achieved beautifully loose movement and texture with this approach. Jen also used her kneaded eraser to remove the charcoal in selected areas of her drawing, establishing lighter tones, as well as near-whites.

Jen's close familiarity with her dog contributed meaning and enthusiasm to the process of drawing Molly. When you decide what to draw, think about using something or someone close to you as your subject. Try using this charcoal-toned paper technique to draw animals, people, landscapes or still lifes. It's a very forgiving process that allows for easy modifications and changes. To change a line, just rub it out with your finger or a paper towel, and redraw it.

I really love drawing with charcoal, & I created a series of large drawings of fruits and vegetables, including the charcoal diptych drawing, "Three Peppers." I'm thrilled that based on this drawing, I was recently awarded a solo exhibition at John Slade Ely House New Haven in September 2012!

Here are the steps for making a toned paper charcoal drawing:



soft willow charcoal in 1 1/2" lengths
white drawing paper
kneaded eraser
paper towels
photograph for reference, optional
spray fixative


1. Using the side of your charcoal, make broad, dark strokes on the paper, covering the whole surface. It helps to work on top of a pad of paper for smooth application.

2. Using a paper towel, gently smooth and blend the charcoal as evenly as possible all over the paper. If too much charcoal is removed, just apply more, and smooth it again.

3. Draw the basic shapes of your subject, and fill in the dark areas with charcoal. You can blend and lighten any areas with your finger or paper towel. Also, use your kneaded eraser to "pull out" charcoal in order to create very light areas. Keep adding darks, middle tones and lights, to establish a three-dimensional representation of your subject.

4. In a well ventilated area, lightly spray the fixative on your drawing to prevent smudging.

"Molly" by Jen

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"Painting" with Tissue Paper

This wonderful technique combines drawing, bleeding tissue paper and glue to create a colorful one of a kind painting. You can find two different kinds of colored art tissue paper in art supply stores. One type keeps its color when wet, and the other type "bleeds" its color out when wet. Using bleeding tissue paper for this project will allow the colors to run and blend into each other in beautifully unpredictable ways.

You can see my video lesson on Tissue Paper Painting here:

Here's how you make one.



white recycled mat board or cardboard, 9"x12" or larger
pencil with eraser
Bleeding tissue paper, assorted colors, torn into small pieces
Old brush
Small recycled plastic container for water


1. Cover your work surface or table with a plastic tablecloth or newspaper to protect it.

2. Using your pencil, do a line drawing on the white board, keeping your lines simple and bold.

3. Go over the pencil lines with a thick Sharpie pen. Erase any stray pencil lines.

4. In your plastic container, make a mixture of 2/3 glue and 1/3 water. Stir with a brush.

5. Working a small area at a time, paint the glue mixture onto the board, apply a small piece of the bleeding tissue paper on top of the glue, and paint another coat of glue on top of the tissue. The pieces of tissue should overlap, creating transparent mixed colors, and the colors will also bleed into each other and onto the white board. Allow your tissue shapes to fall outside the black lines once in a while.

6. Continue this process, until you have covered most of the board with colored tissue. If you wish, some white spaces may be left uncolored. When the glue mixture is wet, the colors may appear cloudy, but once it's dry, it will look clear.

7. Don't forget to wash the glue mixture out of your brush very thoroughly.

8. Allow the board to dry overnight. If thin boards buckle when dry, they can be flattened by placing the completely dry board under some heavy books for a couple of days. You may want to mount your "painting" on a larger board of a contrasting color to frame it for display.

Graham's Tissue Paper Painting