Drawing From Life

Another book from my shelf

Drawing from Life

Dawing from LIfe: The Journal as Art     Jennifer New

Keeping a journal has become a popular means of creativity and self-expression.

Here the works of 35 contemporary and historical journal keepers are explored through visual elements such as drawings, photos, collage, charts and detritus taped into journal pages. The images are accompanied by profiles that highlight journal-keeping habits and the creative process driving the writer.

The examples used here have been provided by contributors from all professions and walks of life, including David Byrne, Mike Figgis, Carol Beckwith and Sophie Binder. Their examples will provide journalers with a host of new ideas to enhance their own journals.

Book review and a look inside the book, click on: Parka Blogs

Drawing from life, John Copeland_

Books on Sketchbooks

I love drawing and working in sketchbooks, this is a passion of mine. Over the years I have created many sketchbooks and continue to do so. I also love looking at books about sketchbooks.Today I introduce you to this one:

by author Richard Brereton

To read a great review and to see several pages from inside the  book visit this page on my favourite blog: Brain Pickings



Ambiguous Abstraction

The following images are by Mark Bradford

Recently I received an email from  VISA (Vancouver Island School of Art) advertising a series of workshops titled "Painting Today". There were a couple of workshops that really caught my attention. One was a workshop called  "Ambiguous Abstraction" which they describe like this: 

"Ambiguous Abstraction refers to a kind of abstract imagery that opens up the question of the painting's content to a range of (often provocative) meaning and associations. 

In opposition to ‘pure abstraction’ where the subject of the painting is its own form, Ambiguous Abstraction flirts with personal and political content, and “can also embrace broad topics such as memory and presence, materiality and transcendence, and the flattening of high and low culture. Following are a few of the artists that paint in this style" Mark Bradford, Fabian Maracaccio, Terry Winters, Ingrid Calame, Ian McKeever, Beatriz Milhazes, Arturo Herrera 

In furthering my search on "Ambiguous Abstraction" 

I came across "Painting Today" by Tony Godfrey 

Painting Today by Tony Godfrey: Book Cover

"Painting Today"  presents an international roundup of the best painters of the past 40 years. 

Written by Tony Godfrey a 20-year veteran at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, the volume begins with a look at the Global Scene. Further chapters explore the neo-expressionist movement of the ‘80s, photorealism and the use of photography as a point of departure for painting, pure and ambiguous abstraction, history painting, painting space, and installation painting, as well as the requisite review of the figure, landscape, and still life. Chapters on Death and Life, the Leipzig School, Post-feminism, and Painting Tomorrow round out the beautifully designed, dynamic 448-page book, which includes 550 illustrations, artist biographies, and a chronology of painting since 1968." 

For a more in depth look at this book with links to many of the artists in this book check out the blog:


Live & Learn: Expressive Drawing: A Practical Guide to Freeing the Artist Within

Live & Learn: Expressive Drawing (AARP) (Hardcover)

By Steven Aimone

ISBN: 1600592813

Format: Hardcover, 204 pages

Publish Date: September 2009

Publisher: Lark Books

From the Publisher:

The many people who long to draw--but feel too intimidated to try--will rejoice at the wonderful first entry in this brand-new creative series. Written by arts educator Steve Aimone, it's packed with solid, friendly, hands-on instruction, as well as inspiring images, and backed by the trusted AARP name. Aimone teaches an accessible style called expressive drawing that emphasizes line and mark, rather than rendering a specific object, which for many people, can create barriers to self-expression. Exercises start off simple and quick, encouraging readers to work on instinct and feeling, while the later ones focus on detail and refinement. The book features hundreds of images of work by well-known artists from Dubuffet to Jim Dine--and each chapter includes a profile of someone who came to drawing late in life and achieved recognition. - Branded with the respected AARP name, which carries weight with millions of buyers - The first book in a series focusing on creative and popular topics - There is no other book on the market that combines a hands-on approach to expressive drawing with a coffee-table-level collection of master-status artists from various periods who work in this style - Aimone's warm, reassuring voice and his unintimidating approach make learning enjoyable.

Steven Aimone (M.F.A. in Painting and Drawing, Brooklyn College) is an artist, fine arts instructor, and independent curator who has taught numerous design workshops and courses to a wide variety of audiences: professional artists and craftspeople, college students, museum patrons, and school teachers. He is the author ofDESIGN! A Lively Guide to Design Basics for Artists and Craftspeoplepublished by Lark Books / Barnes and Noble (harcover in 2004, paperback in 2007).

Aimone was a resident of Manhattan for most of his adult life where he earned an MFA in Painting and Drawing from Brooklyn College. His paintings and collage compositions have been the subject of four solo exhibitions in New York City, where he was also represented by Kathryn Markel Fine Arts, and are included in corporate and private collections nationally.

Aimone has taught painting, drawing, and design at both Western Carolina University in North Carolina and Stetson University in Florida. Aimone now teaches "The Spiritual Language of Art" workshops--and offers related fine arts lectures--through Aimone Art Services. 

What I'm reading right now

Rethinking Acrylic by Patti Brady

Rethinking Acrylic by Patti Brady shows readers how to use acrylic paint in a variety of ways. Acrylic can mimic oil paint, watercolor, gouache and encaustic; it can be applied in subtle transparent washes, or troweled as a heavy thick impasto; it can be as transparent as glass or as dense and black as tar. Because of its ever-changing state, the author and contributors are covering the most popular techniques for acrylic, making them accessible to the contemporary artist and crafter thorough a variety of mini-demonstrations followed by full demonstrations that show how to transform those techniques into finished paintings.

Takes an in-depth approach to the most popular techniques with 27 mini-demonstrations and 10 full demonstrations that show how to incorporate the featured techniques into completed paintings. (This info is from


Patti Brady at work in her studio

Patti Bradyis the Working Artist Program Director for Golden Artist Colors. She has developed curriculum for acrylic classes for artists and art educators. Patti currently has trained and manages 42 national and international artists for the Golden Working Artist Program in the US. Canada, Korea, France, Austria, Spain, Mexico and the Netherlands. 2004 and 2006 she traveled to Japan for Golden Artist Colors to lecture at Universities in Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto.

Her paintings and prints have been exhibited nationally and reviewed by the New York Times. She has exhibited at the Brand Library, Glendale, CA., Arch Gallery, Chicago, IL, Mills College, Oakland and U.C. Berkeley CA., Greenville Museum, Lander College and University of South Carolina. Furman University and the Govener's School.

Gingham Sprung - Patti Brady

Acrylic and Fabric on Panel

Polly Hammett

Polly Hammett is a Signature Member of the American Watercolor Societyand the National Watercolor Society  and a professional member of the American Art Therapy Association. She has designed workshops for counselors, educators and therapists; and has conducted these painting workshops, as well as others, across the country and Canada. She is an exciting and innovative instructor who conducts workshops all around the nation.

According to Polly Hammett, "Each of us is as individual as our fingerprints. This individuality is a result of a lifelong accumulation of information gathered from personal experiences and impressions which provide a strong foundation for future independent growth in our painting as well as all areas of our lives." 

Design with the Figure

In this Creative Catalyst Production instructional DVD,innovative instructor Polly Hammet teaches you mixed media techniques for design with the human figure.

Learn Polly Hammett's unique, multifaceted and open-ended design approach as she develops and completes a painting. From this experienced teacher you will gain skills and techniques in a wide variety of topics:

  • design considerations
  • interaction with models
  • creative use of contour drawing
  • figure placement and the impact on their meaning to the viewer
  • developing a background
  • manipulating dark and light patterns to achieve a strong visual statement
  • lifting lights
  • adding texture
  • use of exaggeration and distortion
  • the importance of transitions
  • stamping.

Polly also shares many insights on subjects integral to being an artist including how to benefit from critique groups. Artists will find Polly's design concepts applicable to any subject.

"life is a verb"

          "life is a verb" by Patti Digh

"Life is a Verb is brilliantly-crafted, raw, gorgeously-designed, and daringly different from 'self-help' books. It relates, through stories that sparkle and astonish and soar, how to move, to be on your way, to realize who you really are through your actions. Through exercises that you participate in, as if in conversation with the author, you will learn, as she promises in the prologue, 'deeper things—how to know what to care about, how to treat others around you (and yourself), what to question, how to love, what to stand up for, and why you should tell stories and listen to the stories of others.' There is no more important learning.

         So read it. Inhabit it. Breathe in every word, because every word of this book is essential. Let it animate you. Annotate it to make it your own. And then let it let you change yourself, and become who you were intended to be. Begin now. You have no time to lose."
--- Dave Pollard, author of The Natural Entrepreneur, and the weblog How to Save the World


“Artist’s Design: Probing The Hidden Order” by Marie MacDonnell Roberts. --- This book on artistic design composition identifies and describes the elements of design -- the basic requirements of a painting; the role of the artist's means to achieve an integrated work of art ; the role of tension and movement ; the use of the track of vision to control the path and pace of the viewer's eye; and the use of a variety of design scaffoldings to provide solidity and clarity to a painting. 250 illustrations (190 of which are in color ) are integrated into the text to demonstrate these principles. Many of the paintings included, although masterpieces in their own right, are rarely seen in anthologies. 

According to Marie MacDonell Roberts a "Geometric Division of Space" structure is a formal deliberate kind of grid with more or less straight lines and 2-3 different sized divisions. A grid-like flatness prevails. The same subject matter or aspects of it appear in all divisions. Nuances of difference are found in one section from the other which creates these divisions by a gradual change in colour and value".