Ink illustration of a flower

I love a good ink illustration! The contrast is marvelous and the lines have an entirely different presence on paper than say a pencil sketch would. Also, there’s no undo with traditional ink so my decisions have to be deliberate. That’s helpful for me as an artist. Sharpens the old observation skills!

This first attempt was with an ink pen I had in my bag. The struggle was real haha. I quickly learned to look twice, draw once and embrace imperfection.

I did this one the next day with a micron pen and I just told myself to have fun with it, without stressing about trying to make it look good.

Value Study with a Sphere – Getting Rid of Bad Drawing Habits

In preparation for an illustration that I am working on I re-visited the value scale and basic shading. Below is the sketch that I just finished in my pad. After finishing the sketch I did 2 small quick sketches of a sphere to see how I have been approaching this in the past.

Lo and behold, I realized that I have been oversimplifying my shading into 3 main values – spotlight, highlight, and  core shadow. *slaps forehead!* This is so wrong haha. This sketch reminded me the that there are no edges in the gradations between values. It is a seamless meld. It is good to re-visit the basics.

value study with a sphere



Contour Line Drawing of Organic Forms

I took on the task of creating a contour line drawing of an organic form. My first attempt was to sketch a curled leaf

Leaf Sketch

I knew that this couldn’t be a true contour line drawing though since It looked like a sketch that I would normally do. I tried again with drawing several studies of my hand on an 18″ by 24″ page. In the end, they looked like more line drawings sans shading.

So I thought what is a contour line drawing?! Turns out it is a “close-level observation of edges”. And by edges, I mean clearly visible edges, not “guestimations” based on memory or familiarity with the subject. The leaf above is more an example of a descriptive drawing and wasn’t complex enough to pull material from. So, I turned to a piece of ginger.
Contour Line Drawing of Ginger

That is a contour line drawing. Close-ups of the contour lines are below.

That drawing was definitely a “record of an intense observational experience – Barbara Buckman” and I’m not gonna lie, I and that piece of ginger weren’t exactly on good terms while I drew it haha. 🙂 But we’re cool now. Truth be told, I love lines and that’s what this project is all about. After the piece of ginger, I went back and looked for more subject matter to draw. Enter this lovely loaf of bread.


Before you think – really? I implore you – Check. Out. This. Texture – Beautiful! Those edges? A line artist’s dream.


I wanted to introduce composition into this piece so I pulled out my small sketch pad and did some studies. Before starting, I folded a slice of bread to give me a more three-dimensional shape to work with. Then, I allowed it to dry out over a few days because honestly, I’m not interested in moldy bread or critters. After that, I broke the bread into pieces and got to drawing!

Contour Line Drawing of Bread

That image was 18″ by 24″ making it too big for me to scan. I have included some detail shots below. This Christmas, I’m getting myself a big scanner haha.

This goes to show you, even a clump of ginger and a piece of dried bread can be sources of art!

Pencil portrait

I am developing a faster, more direct sketch style but I wish I could have drawn this model for much longer and on better paper. He has so much character and quiet dignity. I couldn’t capture it all in this quick sketch.