Saturday, June 14, 2008


I haven't accomplished much in the way of drawing today, even though I intended to lock myself away and do so. Life just got in the way. The start of this sketch was done this morning over coffee and may not proceed any further. Its more like my form of doodling.

Everywhere in the house I have sketchbooks stashed in case I have an idea or vision I want to capture. And there is always one next to me first thing in the morning when I'm having coffee. I don't know that I have a favourite type of sketchbook and I've tried a number of them. Each sketchbook has its own idiosyncrasies from size to binding to paper. Paper tooth and quality tends to be the deciding factor for me when buying a new sketchbook.

For drawing nothing beats the Moleskine for silkiness. Its comparable to drawing on drafting film with that smooth,buttery surface. I use Moleskines to carry around with me as they are inobtrusive and easily slipped into my bag. In the studio, I use large sketch pads to work out drawings and ideas and my favourite there is Canson Universal 65lb, as its surface is versatile enough to let me use a number of materials on them.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


graphite on Stonehenge
copyright Jeanette Jobson

This hasn't been a good bird week on the farm. Four ducks have mysteriously disappeared since Saturday - two today. And there has been no trace. No feathers, no sound, nothing. Three Khaki Campbells which are sweet little soft sounding brown ducks and today a large white Pekin too. A duck skull was found in the woods this evening. While it sounds a little macabre, it was a duck that went missing a year or more ago most likely and the skull is fascinating to draw. I shall see if I can find the jaw bone of it to make the complete skull and perhaps some other bones.

These latest disappearances may be the work of a large hawk or an eagle. Its nesting time for bald eagles here and one did come visiting last year in search of ducks but was unsuccessful luckily. Then again it could be a fox or a coyote, but in broad daylight unlikely. The ducks will stay in for a few days and we'll see what happens.

Meanwhile this sketch of a pigeon settled in on a sandy beach fit my craving for drawing birds today. Its been a very busy week with little time to draw and tonight was a teaching night so that slayed my chances to draw once more. Tomorrow is a late night at work so perhaps at the weekend, I'll finally have time to block out the world and get some graphite on paper.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Health hazards for artists

graphite 9 x 12
copyright Jeanette Jobson

Many occupations have some health risks attached to them, whether mental or physical and they often come through a variety of external factors which can be controlled to some extent by the individual. As I get older and the usual range of aches and pains set in from mild arthritis in my hands to increased sensitivity to fumes or substances to decreased eyesight, I wonder about my ability to continue making marks on paper into the future.

Illnesses can be caused by:
  • art materials,
  • the contents of art supplies and their effects on the body,
  • improper handling of art materials,
  • selection and use of equipment to prevent illness and injury,
  • the design of studios, classrooms, and other work environments to minimize dangers to artists
There are a number of organizations and groups specifically designed to provide information about safety in the arts.
  1. Monona Rossol is a chemist, artist, and industrial hygienist is President/founder of Arts, Crafts and Theater Safety, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation dedicated to providing health and safety services to the arts. ACTS publishes data sheets (from 1 to 10 pages) on over 60 different technical subjects related to health and safety in art and theater which are available free of charge or for a nominal fee.
  2. Art and Creative Materials Institute is an international organization that was organized to assist its members in providing the public with art and creative materials for children and artists that are non-toxic. All products in the program undergo extensive toxicological evaluation and testing before they are granted the right to bear the ACMI certification seal. The institute provides information on hazardous products.
  3. The Artists Complete Health & Safety Guide - this provides information on an incredible variety of art materials and processes.
  4. The Arts Resource Centre outlines health, safety and insurance for artists.
  5. The Crafts Report looks at studio ergonomics.
The list of hazards, erogonomics and impacts on health is extensive and can take up a lot of research time. I think that my preference of graphite tends to be one of the least offensive to my body with the exception of fixative spray used at the end of a drawing. So as long as my eyesight and hands hang in there, I should be fairly safe.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Ethnic diversity

Fabric seller
Graphite 9 x 12
copyright Jeanette Jobson

The horrible bug that got me over the weekend lifted, of course, by Monday morning so I could go to work. Why do I only get sick on weekends or when I go on holiday?

Feeling so awful all weekend, I didn't accomplish much of anything in terms of drawing, but I found this sketch done a few weeks ago of a fabric stall seller. The hands look rather small, but in fact they are in reality, suprisingly small. Oriental people can be very petite sometimes and have such refined features.

I'm often asked how to draw a specific ethnic population, as beginners tend to concentrate on skin tone to define ethnicity. While skin tone does play a part in defining a person's ethnic background, I find it is facial structure that is the determinant of ethnic origin. So back to drawing and exact placement of features that is the key to creating any individual, no matter what their origin. All faces, no matter what their ethnicity, possess the same features and these are more or less standardized. That meaning they have similar structure physiologically, but the flesh around those features and the bone structure vary to define the individual face.

Observational skills are critical to achieve a likeness with any individual and cannot be emphasized enough. Take time to observe, measure and practice drawing people from different backgrounds.