January 15, 2020

Obesessed with Drawing Dreadlocks

One of my favorite Figure Drawing models was back, and I became obsessed with drawing his dreadlocks.  He is very tall, very thin, and very muscular - a great combination.  These are 4 of the drawings I did during the session.


Five Minute Pose: 


Ten Minute Pose:


Ten Minute Pose:



Twenty Minute Pose



January 10, 2020

Prime Time Textile Workshop at The Museum of Modern Art.

A Prime Time Workshop at the Museum of Modern Art was held this week, and they presented images of art works made with textiles that currently on display.  Then a museum educator at the museum gave us a pile of fabric scraps, cardboard, colored tapes, and string, yarn, cords, and wire.  We had Tacky Glue, a palette knife, scissors, and newsprint as tools. and had about 90 minutes to create something, anything. 

I always wanted to make collages similar to Hannalore Baron and Kurt Schwitters, and created two pieces.  It is so much fun to have limited supplies, a time limit, and no pressure.  There were 15 people in our group and there were 15 totally different works of art! 




Here is the second, smaller one. 


January 7, 2020

Line of Action Drawings January 2020

I want to start off the New Year drawing more line of action figures.  I started these small drawings in 2018, and only occasional ly sketched them in 2019.  I typically draw them quickly if I have a minute after breakfast, using a photo from  one of 2 books created for artists.  They are drawn on small pieces of scrap paper, and eventually painted and cut out to collage in my working sketchbook.  These figures were placed on a monprint made with a Gelli Plate.


January 6, 2020

Blog Anniversary, Progress and Goals

Warning:  This is a long blog post, and written to give myself inspiration and focus for 2020.  I started my blog on January 4, 2006 and I like to use the anniversary to review my annual Progress and set new Goals. 

Art Progress 2019 and Goals 2020

My main goals are to develop better drawing and painting skills on paper, and dye-painting and surface design on fabric.

1. Take Classes to Keep Me Inspired and Motivated:


I took classes again for 2 semesters this year at Fashion Institute of Technology (Experimental Screen Printing on Fabric and Fashion Art and Design), one course at Sketchbook Skool (People Drawing People) and a Collage Workshop by Joy Hecht for Urban Sketchers NYC. Last February I participated in Figuary - an online daily event with figure drawing instruction, followed by a video of a nude model in different poses and for different lengths of time.


Take classes in the Spring and Fall Semesters at FIT and online classes in Sketchbook Skool.

Take surface design classes on fabric at The International Quilt Festival in Houston.

Participate in Prime Time classes at MoMA, when available, and other short classes planned by Urban Sketchers.  Look for other classes, either online or locally, as they are announced.   

2. Maintain a Community of Artist Friends

Progress: I met with artist friends in a variety of activities in NYC: Urban Sketchers NYC, Battery Park City Figure Al Fresco, and UWS Figure Drawing when my schedule permitted. In addition we attended many local museum and gallery exhibits, and art auction previews at Christies, Sothebys, and Swann..


Schedule art adventures throughout the year - to include museum visits, gallery visits, Master Drawing Week Gallery Hop, Art on Paper Exhibit in March, and Christies and Sothebys auction previews. Schedule regular sketching events in NYC with the groups listed above.

3. Deliberate Practice: Planned activities to practice specific skills

Progress: I had a list of planned activities and the only one I did with any regularity was drawing "figures in action" from photos after breakfast. 

Goals: Same as 2019 - but hope to accomplish more.

Continue the Line of Action Drawings regularly. My main goal for 2020 is to draw as many bodies as possible, when moving, including dance and sports.

Participate in the June Urban Sketchers Challenge: Daily direct watercolor paintings.

Draw from my imagination at least once per week - in my special sketchbooks.

Continue to draw hands and feet in a dedicated sketchbook at least once per month.

4. Bookbinding


I made cased-in 140 lb watercolor sketchbooks for my daily sketching and two recycled books with watercolor paper (for summer travel and a trip to Paris).

In October 2018 I started teaching a friend how to bind books and we continued to meet monthly making the following book structures: Pamphlet Book, Double Pamphlet Book, Recycled Cased-in Watercolor Sketchbook, Accordion Book with watercolor paper, Cased-in Book with Watercolor paper, Coptic Book with watercolor paper, Long Stitch book with leather cover, Single Pamphlet Book in Boards, Quarter Round Cased-in Book, and a Portfolio. We also made Paste Paper and Gelli Plate Monoprints. After our first session making paste papers were able to study 4 historical collections of Paste Paper at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Watson Research Library!


Learn to make at least one new book structure this year - a month of researching the structure and methods, then make at least 2.  Several years ago I did this every month for 8 months, and loved it. I love Hedi Kyle's Panorama Book Structure and maybe it is time for me to buy her most recent book - The Art of the Fold.

Continue to make my daily and travel sketchbooks, and watch for any new bookbinding classes in NYC. I took a short bookbinding class and made a butterfly book at Hauser and Worth Gallery and would like to study this structure more.

Continue monthly bookbinding activities with my friend - a great student!

5. Special Project Ideas: I like to remain open to new challenges, and this list will shrink and grow as the year progresses.

Progress: The only goals I accomplished were drawing lots of figures in motion from photos and machine quilting my dye painted NYC skyline art quilt which is almost finished.


Explore "drawing" line of action figures with my sewing machine and black thread. I started to explore this several years ago, and would like to play some more.

Make a scrap Christmas Quilt and use up lots of my fabrics that are leftover from years of Christmas projects.  I started last year, cut out fabric squares, and will resume. 


I usually look at this blog post several times during the year for inspiration and additional ideas.  

January 3, 2020

Figure Drawing on the Upper Westside Dec 28, 2019



Figure Drawing on the Upper Westside - NYC

I am posting these selected drawings in reverse order today - 20, 10, and 5 minute poses.  I sketched with a GENERAL Sketch and Wash pencil and then used my water brush to move the graphite to add shading. 

Twenty Minutes:  The model had a little pose drift with some rotation, and suddenly I saw his left arm appear during the last 5 minutes.  There was no other change in his pose.



Ten Minute Pose



Five Minute Pose (with cropping).



This is a lovely location for figure drawing and many of our Battery Park City artist friends come here after the outdoor figure drawing ends for the year on Oct 31st. 

December 28, 2019

My Newest Watercolor Sketchbook (#64)

I make my sketchbooks for general drawing and this is my newest one.  When I started drawing again in 2006, and wanted to learn how to paint with watercolor, I couldn't find any reasonably priced sketchbooks with 140lb watercolor paper.  I used several types of inexpensive sketchbooks until #18, including the landscape format one by Moleskine.  I finally took a one weekend "cased-in" bookbinding class in 2008 and have made my watercolor sketchbooks since then. 

Paper: Fabriano Artistico 140 lb Soft Press  Endpapers: Canson Mi Tientes colored paper

Signatures: 6, each with 2 folios for a total of 48 pages. 

Cover:  The cotton fabric was dyed using a modified shibori technique and then fused to 45 gram Thai Mulbery paper. 

I make pen pockets, and rotate them among my sketchbooks, so I can easily carry a pencil, eraser, and several Pigma Micron Pens while sketching.



The open book showing the dyed fabric used to make the bookcloth.


December 24, 2019

Merry Christmas To All

We will celebrate Christmas Eve with dinner at our apartment tonight for our NYC children and grandchildren - carrying on a Christmas Eve tradition started by my parents for me. 

Our children had stockings placed at the end of their beds after they fell asleep on Christmas Eve, and whenever they woke up Christmas morning, they could open their stockings IN BED.  Then they were allowed to wake us up to gather around the Christmas Tree and exchange presents.  

However you celebrate,  we wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year.  I just needed a Santa in my daily sketchbook for today and loved this image from a Christmas card.



December 21, 2019

It is Almost Christmas!

Christmas cards are sent, ornaments for our 8 grandchildren are finished, Minky blankets, pillowcases, and pillow shams are sewn as requested by 4 of them, and I finally had time very early this morning to draw and paint in my sketchbook.  This reindeer came from a drawing I saved from Karen Blados' Blog several years ago and I just wanted it in my sketchbook for our 2019 Christmas.  The background was painted with gold gouache to make my reindeer more festive. 


These are 8 of the 11 cats I made and are for our grandchildren.  Our oldest grandchild already has 16 to take with him when he has his first Christmas tree.



I want to draw and paint at least one Santa before Christmas Eve, but I also want to make Christmas ornaments for our adult children.  They have ornaments made by me since 1976 for their trees.

Happy Holidays!  And a Happy, Healthy New Year.


December 18, 2019

Fashion Art and Design

I just completed a 14 week course at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).  I usually take courses in Fine Arts, Illustration, and Textile Design.  This course was in the Fashion department, but was really more illustration for fashion.  I learned how to draw a "croquis," the 10 head size elongated fashion figure, and to work with markers and colored pencils instead of watercolor.  My end of class project was presented several days ago and this was Board #1 - my models in 2 outfits from my 9 garment collection of clothes.


These were my actual fabric swatches, gathered from my favotie NYC fabric store - B and J Fabrics on 7th Ave in the Garment District.


These are the basic designs for my 9 piece collection.  They are called "Flats" in the fashion jargon. and show the details of construction.  My boards are 11" x 14" inches and had to be photographed instead of scanned - and even photoshop couldn't get rid of the shadows.


This is my "Mood Board" - prepared to give a feeling about the type of collection and the target shopper.


Everyone of the models have gray hair like me (and my professor), but were dressed in classic styles of clothing.  I am in class with young students who are studying to enter the world of fashion, and it was great fun to see all of their ideas for their presentations.


Shirley Parker Levine
New York City

January 2020

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