Category Archives: Road to here

Plunging into Pastels

Color has entered into my life, and I’m kind of obsessed already. I bought a set of soft pastels well over 1 year ago and never used them, but thought I would one day. Then I found two boxes of Nupastels on clearance one day. I think they were originally around $20-25 a box, but I got them for about $7 each. I couldn’t resist. So now I had 3 boxes of pastels. I think it was time to actually try them out.

Photo Jul 20, 1 57 37 PM

Photo Jul 11, 6 38 25 PM

To gain inspiration and with an invitation to go with my sister, I took a trip to the Phoenix Art Museum. I stopped at one of my favorite pieces in the place which has always blown me away because it’s a pastel piece.

Photo Jul 06, 7 40 19 PM

The White Rose (Portrait of Miss Jessup) by William Merritt Chase

From 10 feet away it  looks like a painting and I love it so much.

Photo Jul 06, 7 40 08 PM


I  watched some YouTube videos on pastel portrait drawing and how to use pastels and sat at the book store and skimmed a book on pastel portrait painting which was really useful.

I like to have a bit of knowledge about what I’m working with before playing.

I finally tried it out. I drew this ball and was pretty thrilled with it.

Photo Jul 12, 11 04 49 AM

Vivid red hair.

Photo Jul 12, 7 21 21 PM

Then a flower.

Photo Jul 12, 7 17 46 PM

And another Ball.

Photo Jul 20, 2 03 08 PM

Photo Jul 20, 2 03 21 PM

Finally it was time to do a full portrait. I choose a picture of my son that I love.

Photo Jul 17, 5 19 40 PM

I began with a vine charcoal outline

Photo Jul 17, 5 52 48 PM

I sprayed it with a workable fixative before adding color.

Photo Jul 17, 6 07 07 PM

Quickly added some basic “flesh tones”, pinks and sienna. With dark reddish browns for the shadows and the darker hair tones.

Photo Jul 17, 6 26 00 PM

Added in some darker reds for the mid tones and blonde/yellow in the hair. And just used my finger to begin blending it in.

Photo Jul 17, 6 50 38 PM

Added in eye color and trying to get the lip color right. At this point I also was getting frustrated since it looks nothing like my son. The mouth is off the eyes are off, and I’m pretty used to getting an accurate depiction in my drawings at this point, that I was unhappy. At the same time, I had to remind my self that I’m doing this drawing for practice with pastels, not likeness perfection, but I’ll try harder with that next time.

Photo Jul 17, 6 53 31 PM

I also need to work on my backgrounds and clothing.

Photo Jul 20, 12 49 12 PM

Here is the finished product, all blended in and smoothed out.

It’s done on 18x24in charcoal paper. It took approximately 3 hours to do. Which is amazing.

So overall, I’m proud of myself for completing my first full color portrait. It’s so exciting to think of the possibilities of what I can do with this.

Keep Drawing!

Pastels used in this portrait:

Han and Leia

I decided to do a small drawing that I can work on at night. I’m not able to film my drawings at night because of lack of day light. I chose this Han and Leia thinking that it’ll take just a couple of days. This took about 3 weeks. I didn’t work on it every day and usually only about 20-30 minutes at a time. But I finished it yesterday, yay! The drawing is on 9×12 bristol paper, but the actual drawing ended up being about 8×6.


I know this isn’t my best in recent drawings, the hair is a little sloppy and the skin looks a little blotchy, but I guess the purpose of this one was just for fun. I hope you liked it.

Keep Drawing.

Lupita Nyong’o (An Honorable Mention)

I wanted to take a moment and show off my latest, and actually finished drawing of Lupita Nyong’o. I had started her during the summer but didn’t really sit down and finish her until the beginning of October.

Photo Dec 28, 9 13 42 AM (1)

I entered her along with Tom Hanks and Ewan McGregor, into the Arizona State Fair. I went to the fair a couple of weeks later and saw an “Honorable Mention” ribbon on Lupita! I was pretty shocked, its the first ribbon I’ve received for anything I’ve done before so it was a  great surprise.

Photo Oct 31, 10 46 16 AM

Keep Drawing!

I’m Still Drawing

So I’ve been absent for a couple of months, but I’ve still been drawing a bit here and there. In late June I finished a portrait of my son.

Photo Jun 28, 8 05 43 AM

I always find children to be difficult to draw because of the rounded and less defined features. Although I wouldn’t call this drawing one of my best, I’m proud of myself for doing it, and will most likely do my other son soon.

Just for fun one day I drew hair.

Photo Jul 02, 10 05 55 PM

It was fun and relaxing to do since mistakes mean nothing when there is no face included.

Next was a figure drawing.

Photo Jul 07, 9 35 51 PM

This one was fun. I used graphite powder to cover the whole surface of the paper, then i used my mechanical eraser to erase the outline. Kneaded eraser and pencil was used for the rest of the modeling of the figure. I did this in about 90 minutes.

I’ve mentioned before that I wanted to do a master copy and most likely from a Mucha drawing. Well, I finally did one! Yay me!

Photo Aug 10, 9 27 19 PM

This is just an iphone photo so some of the details are lost. I feel like I learned a little something about creating expression and texture with simple lines. Although I may not have put as much time into this as I should have, I was happy to do it.

I hope you enjoyed this. Follow me on instagram, @nicoledrawing, where I usually do post my most recent works.

Keep Drawing!

Negative Drawing

It must experiment week, huh, because here’s something else that I’ve never tried before. The negative drawing. I’ve seen this on DeviantArt a lot and various places online. I always wanted to try it, just never did. The mood finally hit me last night and I had the perfect picture to use to make it simple, yet effective.

I actually don’t find drawing the negative space to be all that different than normal. It may end up being easier because it looks a little different, it’s easier to just focus on the tone and not the shapes and how you think the face should look.

So here’s the drawing. 9×12 inches. 4H, HB, and 8B graphite used.

And here’s the negative.

Pretty cool! It really does look like white chalk on black paper. I’ve seen some where people use colored pencil. But that’s beyond what I’m willing to do at this time.

Keep Drawing!

New and Improved…

Tom Hanks! It was an easy choice to redo the drawing I did back in December. I didn’t mind how it turned out then but I also knew it could be better. I went through the online course I took, and mentioned in my last post, step by step, and really took my time making sure this turns out. Here is the result!

Here’s the steps taken (kind of).

I started with the basic layout. I actually did this drawing with the way you learn in most basic drawing classes, with lines and circles. The instructor explained it so simply, a light bulb went on in my head and I finally was able to use this method successfully.  Next was adding shadow shapes and the actual features and final checking over and over again to make sure everything was in it’s proper place.Photo Apr 12, 9 52 24 AM 

 Next was what’s called “Keying the Drawing” to get the contrast I wanted. I started with the eyes.  Then I moved on to the forehead, than the nose. The instructor called this “modeling the form” which is pretty helpful in remembering to make the shapes on the face more defined.Next, the mouth and chin.    On to the ear, cheek and hair. Then finished off with the neck and the collar of the jacket.Photo Apr 19, 11 10 16 AM

 I’m going to be bold and say the improvement is awesome! It took me about 10-12 hours to do. Significantly longer than the original 2 1/2 hours. I knew taking my time makes a big difference.  Proportions are much better and the facial features are better placed and angled. What do you think?

Sometimes Things Don’t Work Out

I started this Jennifer Lawrence drawing last week and was actually filming it. After about 2 1/2 hours I called it a night, feeling frustrate that it wasn’t turning out at all how I wanted. I wanted to fix it but lacked all motivation every time I looked at it. Today I picked it up and worked on it for about an hour. Still unsatisfied, I’m walking away. I feel good about it though. I did all I could. But it’s one of the worst I’ve done in a while, I’ll just admit that first. I think my first mistake was putting it on the gray paper.


My Own NSYNC Poster

I have to talk about this. When I was senior in high school, NSYNC was at its peak of popularity and I was a huge fan. I’ve mentioned a long time ago here that I loved drawing the NSYNC guys in my early days of portrait drawing.

So here’s what happened. I had learned about putting a grid on a picture can be used to easily enlarge it for drawing. Rolling Stone magazine had this picture of NSYNC in one of their issues.

So I put a rather small grid on the back of a copy of the picture. Numbered each square and cut out the squares. I thought this would be fun to make into a puzzles of sorts. I would blow up these tiny squares onto a 3×3 inch paper, numbering the larger pieces as I went so I could easily put the drawing together when I was done. This method would allow me to draw during classes at school, one square at a time. Which I did.

This drawing would end up being 3 ft wide and 4 ft tall. Crazy big.

So it took me over a month to complete all of the squares. I laid them out and glue sticked them onto two poster boards, taped together, which made the perfect size I needed. Then I fixed any errors and lines that didn’t match up, but I was surprised how well everything turned out. I then thought in my ambitious mind, “this needs color”, so I used colored pencil for the first time ever for portraits on this.

I wasn’t done yet. You see, NSYNC is wearing glitter suits! I’ve got to put glitter on those suits! (My 16 year old brain thought.) So I bought white glitter, black glitter, and of course, silver glitter. The reason for 3 glitters is because of the shadows and highlights on the suits won’t be seen with just silver glitter. So I used good ol fashioned Elmer’s glue and would paint it on and glitter what was needed.

This project took, if I remember correctly, over 2 months. I finished it a week after I graduated high school, May 2000. This drawing is still barely clinging to my old bedroom wall in my moms house. And it freaks my husband out whenever we have to sleep in there. Who knows what while happen to the drawing in the end, but there it remains for now.

Completed project.

Glitter Detail





Last, but not least, Justin

Classical Drawing

OK people, this may be another step in my drawing evolution. About a year ago, I heard about “classical drawing”. This is drawing from plaster casts and studying the form and mastering light and shadow. Something like that. European awesomeness. Something that would normally require a class, which I can not do at this point.

While digging around the interwebs yesterday, I discovered that before using actual casts, and eventual life drawing, there’s a course called “Bargue Drawing”. Charles Bargue, a 19th century French artist, created, basically, a huge catalog of drawings from old human casts. These drawings are used to train your eye to draw what you see. Apparently artists like Vincent van Gogh and Picasso used this method for learning to draw.

I can do this one from home! You put the reference picture drawing right next to your paper and you measure all the major points to have an exact size copy before doing all the shading.



I used 2H, HB, and 2B pencils. I used an embroidery thread as my measuring device (it’s what I had handy). It took about 2 1/2 to 3 hours to do.


Photo Dec 11, 8 26 08 AM

It was so much fun, I’m going to do another one today.

Keep drawing!

One Year Later

Hello! It’s been a while and I’ll explain in a moment. But first, Happy Anniversary to my blog! One year ago I started this blog so I can have a designated space to talk about my drawings, old and new. I honestly didn’t expect more than some family members to read it but I currently have 67 followers! Thank you so much for that! It feels good for a learning artist like me to know that people are actually seeing my stuff and care to see more.

When I realized the one year mark was coming up I decided to redraw the first drawing I finished after starting this blog which was this one.Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey

I wanted to show that I had improved in my craft over the year so here you go, the new and improved Downton Abbey Sisters.DowntonAbbeySisNew

I will need to get a better picture of this drawing at some point. It’s a little blurry.

A little side by side comparison.DowntonComp

I would say that there are definite improvements. The faces are closer likenesses, shading is improved, better detailing, even more contrast. Did I improve on lace? Heck no! Lace is awful.

I was going to add some background to the new one, but decided not to so it would be a clearer comparing drawing.

So I have improved this year! Yay! Now for the reason for no updates in a couple months. Well, I think it was a mix of lack of motivation and being overwhelmed. I currently have 7 uncompleted drawings hanging around. SEVEN! I’ve started all of them over the past 3-4 months. I think they’re looking good and for some reason I lose interest in it and stop. The Downton Abbey was first completed drawing since Uma Thurman, and that was in May! I’ll have to figure something out to get me really motivated again.

Anyways. Thanks again for reading this blog. I appreciate the support. I promise (mostly to myself) to keep updating and improving.

Keep Drawing!