Watts Atelier’s Skill Building Challenge 20 – Skull

Watts Atelier Skill Building Challenge 20 Final Skull


Here is my final piece for the Watts Atelier Skill Building Challenge 20. Yes, it’s Murray!
He’s very proud of having been chosen as subject for this challenge, hopefully I will get at least a mention.
Below is the whole wip, starting from the very first lay in to the last partial of week 4 (it’s a monthly challenge)

Good luck everyone!






My version of James Gurney’s Taboret

I have been wanting to make something similar to James Gurney’s Taboret since when I first saw it. Last summer I finally got a small drawer from my carpenters, and last months I started renovating and modifying it. This is the end result, I am pretty satisfied with it.

















Here is how it looked like before, and while working on it



It’s obviously not as fancy as Gurney’s, but I am planning to make it better as soon as I get more materials


Mannequins over, and over…and over again

This naughty fellow is known as block-form mannequin, and it’s probably the one that can piss you off the most. Why? Because of the straight edges. If you get one angle just slightly wrong, the pose will simply be completely off. Thus, the frustration! I first copied the handouts of the Watts Atelier, then tried to figure out some from photos, directly. This is the second mannequin I studied, right after the Skeleton Mannequin
Block Form Mannequins from the Watts Atelier Handouts


The next ones are made out of photos

Block Form Mannequins from photos


The next ones are “ovoid” mannequins. Feeling a lot more like real people, and they are less frustrating, and more forgiving than the block form one!
Ovoid Mannequins in Christmas fashion Ovoid Mannequins from real figures Ovoid Mannequins from the Watts Atelier

The last page is a study from the handouts, while others are from real people.
Ah, Merry Christmas! 😀


The classic Asaro Head

I have been working on the asaro head recently, this time with an added complexity. This is actually the “Classic” model, while the previous one was simplified, and supposed to be memorized. I am actually trying to memorize this  as well, although I admit the facets are a lot, and hard to remember.

Classic Asaro Head - Complex 3/4 Classic Asaro Head - Easy 3/4 Classic Asaro Head - Front Classic Asaro Head - Easy Profile Classic Asaro Head - Complex Profile

P.S. I am not drunk, the head actually does have two different sides, one easier, the other more resembling a real face.


Skeleton mannequins

Skeleton Mannequins 1 Skeleton Mannequins 3

I started working on figures alongside the head. The skeleton mannequin is the first one examined at the Watts Atelier, and I admit it’s really interesting to use! It has enough flexibility to convey dynamism and movement, though I admit finding the landmarks is not so easy, nor it is to get the proportions right.
The above are all copied from photos, meaning I had to see “through” the figures, identify the meaningful areas, place and abstract the simplified versions of the bones.
Females are a lot harder to draw, since landmarks are harder to find, while men with a stronger musculature seem a lot easier.
The bottom right female mannequin was an attempt in finding the proportions out of Loomis’ book, Figure Drawing For All it’s Worth, though I admit it looks a bit funky! 😛


The Memorized Asaro Head

Memorized Asaro Heads
Working on heads at the Watts Atelier! I have done at least 2-3 dozens of these heads, and by now I believe I memorized them enough to draw them without having the reference.
I found it quite challenging actually, because of the lack of enough landmarks in the first place, but also because the head is not exactly following the rule of thirds (the muzzle part is a little taller than it should).
Overall I am pretty satisfied with it. I will spare you the first embarassing ones 😀 These are the last. Moving onto the Reilly Head Abstraction now!


Still more skulls!

Continuing on my skull studies, I am trying to grasp the structure so I made a few studies focusing on that, as well as trying to recall from memory:

Skull construction Drawings
And later continued with copies from the watts atelier

Skulls drawing studies with shadow mapping

The key in these last ones was to get more of the shadow mapping, rather than real structure as in the first image. Pose number 3 (bottom left) was by far the hardest one to get, for some reason, together with number 2 (top, center)


Skulls, Skulls…and Murray

Going through Head phase I at the Watts Atelier. I am dealing with nasty skulls, and so far I admit I am quite enjoying the lessons. I don’t really like having to copy Jeff’s shadow mapped versions of them, but rather prefer copying from photos or my own skull. Right, I do have a skull, apart from the one that makes up my head 😛
And no, I did not steal it from a grave, it’s a plastic cast! Readers, meet Murray:

Murray, my drawing reference Skull

Here are some copies from the photos given in the handouts:
Skull Copy from Watts Atelier - Side View

Skull Copy from Watts Atelier - Front View

In the front view, I later noticed the skull was too large, so I tried to shrink it while drawing Murray:
Skull Copy from Watts Atelier - Side View from Life

Skull Copy from Watts Atelier - Front View from Life Shadow Map

Skull Copy from Watts Atelier - Front View from Life Shaded

I skipped posting the wrong version of Murray, the two above are the same at two different stages of completion. After the three quarters view I will do next, I will move to the simple Asaro Head.


First week at the Watts Atelier Online School

Last week I started what’s gonna be a long (no, really) journey at the Watts Atelier.
For those of you who don’t know it, it’s simply the best online school where to learn how to draw and paint in an academic, traditional way. It’s pretty expensive, but worth every single penny.
The method itself is hard to grasp since the very beginning, starting from how to sharpen a pencil:
How to sharpen a pencil

Which is a lot more difficult than it seems, using a razor blade. Yes, a razor blade, that it. Phew! I didn’t break any so far, the shorty over there has just fallen from the desk.

The next step, which will last ages, is learning how to use it. It’s not so obvious as the crafty little tool can be used in a variety of ways, to produce a number of different strokes and broad shading:

Warmup at the Watts Atelier Online - Week 1

Warmup 2 at the Watts Atelier Online - Week 1

These are full 12″ by 18″ sheets of smooth newsprint full of warmup strokes. The warmup consists in long line exercises, as well as ovals. And tryst me, drawing ovals IS difficult. Especially with this pencil. Apart from being necessary to get the necessary focus, these exercises are fundamental to get the handle of the oddly sharpened pencil.

I completed phase one, with the following assignments on simple shapes (the negative shapes one, bottom of the page, is actually from phase 2):
Watts Atelier week 1 - Assignments

Wrapping it up: I am totally enthusiast of this course, I can’t wait to get to the real juice with head and figure drawing. I also started with Gouache Phase I, but I will post the complete first batch when I will be done with the first painting.


Pippo Gullotto, and other sketches

Pippo Gullotto pencil Sketch
I wanted to publish a little tribute to my friend Pippo Gullotto (69), who I sketched today when I met him. I admit it’s not perfectly resembling him, but I was just standing with the sketchbook in my hands, and this is the best I could do. It does look like him… somehow! It’s just about 3 inches tall, so I didn’t have much room for details. He would looks just like Santa Claus dressed up in red.

I also sketched other people while I was there.
People at Randazzo Square

The rasta guy was completely smoked. He kept moving weirdly while some performers on the stage were testing instruments with microphones. Can you notice I shaded the left (lifted) foot of the top left guy? It’s not in shade, it was THAT dirty.

All in all, a productive sketching day. I also sketched a few people and a stand at the local market, in the morning:
Randazzo local market, people
Randazzo Local Market - fruits and vegetables in watercolor