Summer Sketches

After recently completing another semester of university, I am well underway in my summer break furiously studying away for the MCAT exam scheduled for August. However, I still find it important to carve away at least half an hour a day to produce some type of art. Today, I pulled out my copy of Butch Krieger’s Figure Drawing Studio that I obtained about a year ago but had not looked at until now. This book uses model pose photography to introduce readers to figure drawing, and it seems mostly geared towards those who either do not have access to live models or who want to prepare for live model drawing. Having taken a figure drawing course before, I wasn’t sure whether this book would offer me what I really wanted (mostly I want to hammer down my anatomy well and speed up my drawings), but I worked through the first chapter anyways.

The first chapter introduces a couple of gesture techniques and some methods to abstract shapes from the body. It’s something you’d find in every art book, but this book is unique in that it comes with a CD of pose photos, so the exercises given instructed me to print some out and do the exercises with tracing vellum. It was a bit odd, but I did notice that these exercises were a good reinforcement of proportion. Heres a small pile I produced today:


But still, tracing vellum? I wasn’t satisfied, so I pulled up another one of the poses from the CD and did this four-minute sketch:


I like the pose, but somehow I forgot to give the poor guy a neck!

I also picked up a small travel set of student-grade watercolors (one of those small Winsor and Newton Cotman pan sets), a decision partly inspired by a future trip I’m making to Alaska after my exam. I thought I’d be able to do some loose watercolor sketches during the trip and have the collection of them serve as a little memory book. The problem is that I don’t know the first thing about watercolors, so I’ll have to practice a good bit between here and August if I want to have some decent sketches. Here’s a pathetic first attempt at some oranges and my small bonsai:

I’ll probably look up some videos to see if I can pick up a few techniques to practice, because right now my colors seem a bit dull and lacking cohesion. Until next time!



  1. Good start! Just remember with the watercolors that you’ll work kind of the opposite way that you would with oils or acrylics. Start light and darken slowly. You have to plan for the highlights in advance, so it’s a different way of thinking and one I sometimes struggle with. Try doing some monochromatic sketches in watercolor, then do a couple sketches with just 3 colors. It’ll help get your brain working on the correct order of things before you go full color. And more importantly, best of luck with the MCAT!!!! Hope the art keeps you from going insane studying for that.


  2. I think the tracing technique can work, especially when first learning, if you approach it the same exact way you would if you were not tracing, if that makes sense. And yes, keep making art!


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