As usual, a mixed bag. Each of these has something about it that was successful. I’m encouraged by this, because I’m feeling stuck–like I keep doing the same things that aren’t working. So it’s good to remember that some things are working even so.

Some hands that are coming along:


I loved working on this hand, with its big ring and relaxed position. The finger the ring is on didn’t work right. The two on either side bend but it just looks, I don’t know, mangled. Fingers are almost like eyes: a few lines and shadows are enough to show their true shape; get one wrong by a little bit, and suddenly they are barely recognizable. And hands are almost as expressive as faces. I’ve been trying to sit up close so that even my increasingly myopic eyes can focus on the model’s hands without squinting, because they are still mostly what I want to draw. Although this one, Woman with Mangled Middle Finger, captures the overall expression of the pose too:


On this one, I knew as I drew the left arm that I was making it too short in order to fit everything on the page. I just couldn’t face starting on a new page at a smaller scale, or abandoning the attempt to get both hands in. Ah well, the focus of the drawing was really the two hands anyway, though I like the whole attitude of her upper body:

Nothing works here but the elbow, which I do like:

My aim in this one was to include both hands. The left one got short shrift and so came out flat. The right one, though, is a lesson to me in how few marks are needed to make the full shapes emerge. It’s quite minimal and yet it works, unlike the more elaborate shading on the forearm.

In desperation on a bad day, I really changed the kinds of marks I was making. That often helps, and in this case,  it had interesting results (if a somewhat more dramatic appearance than I really like), and loosened me up so that another good one was possible (the first drawing in this post, above). Maybe I should bring along pastels or pencils so that if nothing is going well, I can ditch the charcoal and try something really different.

On this one I made myself work fast. It was only a seven-minute pose but I really wanted her whole torso and that nice twist of her neck, so fast was the only option. I tend to fuss too much over details, so speed is a good antidote.

On this one some of the shadows on the back are way too dark and defined, but there is a light on the right shoulder that I was going for and got:

One thing I figured out after yesterday’s session, and after reflecting on what’s been hardest for me these past three sessions, is that I am working too big. Many of these sketches fill an 18×24 paper. I went in that direction in order to get into more detail in places, but it’s gone too far and seems to be making it harder to capture subtleties of light, not easier. Next week I’m going to scale it all back down, and that might be the change that bumps me out of this rut. I should probably cut the paper in half to help myself along.