Saturdays are my special time to indulge in practicing my fine art skills. I find that drawing and painting from life, and in particular the human figure, is one of the most challenging ways to grow and develop my abilities. 


Both of seeing what I’m looking at, and of accurately depicting what I’m seeing. 


So, it’s a great pleasure to while away a few hours immersed in this process with my friend and mentor, Gavin Glakas, who is not only an extraordinary portrait and landscape painter, but an excellent teacher as well. 


We always spend the first part of each class doing quick figure sketches to warm up our mind, body and eye. 


No matter the media we are each using (charcoal, pencil, watercolors, acrylics or oils), getting grounded in ourselves and our subject matter with a few fast (2, 5 and 10 minute) figure sketches is essential to the beginning of a successful creative session. 


Just like an athlete warms up and stretches before a game, an artist should warm up and stretch before creating their art. 


Figure sketches are very simple: the goal is to get the entire figure completed in the allotted time. 


It forces me to see and work very quickly. To capture the essence and feel of a subject with immediacy, then go back and refine it as time permits. A skill that has translated into my Graphic Recording, Graphic Facilitation, and Graphic Coaching work as well. 


But back to Fine Art! As you can see in the 10 minute figure sketch, I blocked in the overall shapes with plumb lines, then refined that triangular shape with blocks for each limb, and then began refining that further using some black in the upper left corner to begin shaping the head, neck and shoulders more accurately. 


At that point 10 minutes was up so I stopped working, but it gives you an overall sense of the point and the process of this exercise. 


By the end of these quick figure sketches, we are all ready to dive into drawing or painting a longer pose for the rest of the class. It’s a most excellent way to spend your Saturday. 


Come on down to the Yellow Barn Studio at Glen Echo Park to see and learn for yourself! 


Oh, and do share your own best practices for drawing and painting in a blog comment or on social media!