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Joe of our Seattle Store and his Handy Model!

I do all of my sketching when I’m out and about, here or there, whenever, wherever, as drawing at home and at work are not an option for me. This works out for me, for the most part, but I miss out on live figure drawing sessions. Sure, I can draw plenty of people in the world, and I do. But sometimes I want a model without clothing and whose poses I can control. And only for 12 minutes. And while I’m in my car, waiting in a parking lot. So allow me to introduce to you a handy drawing model: My Left Hand.

Lefty has been with me from the beginning. He goes everywhere I go and is always willing to lend a hand with tasks, chores and even modeling. I can pose him however I like and have him hold the pose as long as I want. He can do contorted or relaxed poses. And when he is done posing for me, I just put him back in my pocket.

These drawings were executed with a number of materials and techniques—mostly graphite or Faber-Castell Pitt Pens. I’m going to explain my process for drawing with the Pitt pens, but first let me say this:  I change styles, subjects and media almost every drawing.  I enjoy drawing in a range of styles with a wide breadth of materials. This is just one of those methods.

In Step 1, I created a very fast, loose gestural drawing using a light value fleshy Pitt Brush pen. You’ll notice the whole shape isn’t fully colored in. Because I’m not coloring; I’m drawing. At this stage I’m only concerned with recording the gesture. I define gesture as the least amount of marks in the minimum amount of time to convey the most important parts of the object and pose (the essence or gestalt). The gesture conveys things you cannot see, like weight. Gesture is about capturing the feeling of the object or pose. It comes from the gut and is instinctual. So for me, the gesture has to be fast and loose.

Step 2 is about capturing an accurate likeness, while remaining mindful of the feelings laid bare in the gesture. Using a Faber Castell Pitt Fine Point Dark Sepia pen, I added in some careful linework (If Comic Book style lines aren’t your thing, skip straight to Step 3 and ignore Step 4). Note that I’m not simply outlining the gesture from step 1. I know the gesture was fast and furious; that it had errors and inaccuracies. Errors are okay. Really. In this stage, I’m focused on drawing accurately, mindful of but independent of the initial gesture. Instead of the pen, I could use something eraseable like graphite at this stage—the Pitt Brush Pen base I put down is permanent once dry so erasing won’t do much to it.

By Step 3 it should be apparent that when I draw the same thing over and over again, it gets bigger with each iteration. Or maybe my hand was moving closer? My hand also appears to get hairier over time. Using a reddish brown and light blue Pitt Brush pen, I laid in the shadow areas and a drop shadow. The blue drop shadow is a very light value but it ends up looking dark and shadowy when the cooler blue is contrasted with the warmer oranges.

Finally, nothing hides all your mistakes quite like a liberal application of permanent black ink, in this case delivered from the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. If you don’t have mistakes to hide, the black ink can still add an extra punch where needed. It’ll also help establish a full value range (the fleshy part in Step 4 looks brighter than in Steps 1, 2 or 3. But the only real difference is the addition of black, setting itself as the darkest dark in the image).

Can’t make it to local life drawing sessions and feeling left out? Look close to home for a handy drawing model. Maybe a pet or spouse or kid. For me, Lefty is hands-down the most convenient, capable and obedient drawing model. Drawing session times and fees are no longer an excuse— I just knuckle down and get to drawing. If you don’t already draw hands and have some available, give it a try.

    Joe's Supply List
  • Stillman & Birn Sketchbooks
  • Pitt Brush Pens
  • Molotow Markers
  • Pentel Pocket Brush Pen


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