My name is Jonene Ficklin, and I'm a full-time wife, mom, writer, and professional artist. I've been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I use colored pencils, oil paints, and watercolors. I love what I do!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lesson 12 - How to Draw an Ear

Ears aren't as scary as you think. If the head were turned, this is how the ear would look. Pay attention to the way the skin curls around the top of the ear and goes down about halfway. Look at the area where the ear canal goes into the head. Now look at the way the fold comes out of the bottom, below the ear canal, then curves up and around and back into the ear where the upper fold is. Now we're going to take the ear and turn the head.

 Here is a face looking straight ahead. Because of this, we only see part of the ears. This is what we'll draw today.

The ear sits between the eye and nose line. That is where the top of the ear goes into the head. From there, the ear goes up a bit before curving down and around to go to the nose line.

Let's start. First, starting at the eye line, you will be drawing what looks like the flattened half of a heart. Go up and around, then angle straight down to the nose line.

Go to the bottom of the ear (at the nose line) and round out the bottom half of the ear on the lower right side. Try not to make it too round, just a subtle swell. Now erase the line inside the bottom half that you no longer need.

 Go to the top of the ear. As we talked about above, there is a flap of skin that folds down along the top of the ear. Simply draw a parallel line that goes under the top line of the ear, and comes down about a third of the way along the outer edge, like below. Next, in the center of the ear is a little curve of skin that comes away from the the cheek line. This too, is a very subtle curve, not too round.
 Now in the center of your ear is shell shaped cartilage that curves up and around. You know that little curve of skin you just drew against the cheek? We are going to make that shell-curve parallel to it. The bottom of it will start about 1/4 the way up the ear and end when it touches the top fold.
 Now we'll do the inside fold of the shell shape. Go the little curve of skin we drew against the cheek, and drop a short line straight down. Stop when you are about 1/3 the way up the ear. Now take that line and curve it out right, running almost parallel to the outer shell curve and go up almost another 1/3. And there you have it! That wasn't so hard!
Now, along with your eyes, nose and mouth, you can add ears into your face proportions. 
Next week: How to draw hair.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wonders of China

When you think of China, what comes to mind? The Great Wall? Fireworks? Chow Mein? Art? Pandas? The Forbidden City?

There are so many wonders in China: natural, cultural - and for sure, let's not forget the 2000 years they've spent perfecting the fine art of cooking. (Our neighbors are from China and I have to say, I've never tasted anything as good as their homemade dumplings, fried rice and egg rolls!)

There's little about China I don't like, but I do have one place that fascinates me.

It's the karst mountains in the Guilin Province. Like dragon teeth, they protrude along the banks of the Li River and flow inland, creating unbelievable rows of receding shapes.

Shrouded in mist and mirrored in the river, the mountains become more than rock and earth. They become legend, as shown by generations of Chinese watercolor paintings.

In real life, fishermen go out at night on bamboo rafts, without hook or line. Instead, they bring lanterns (to attract the fish) and cormorant birds (to catch them).

The fishermen place rings around the birds' necks, so they can't swallow the larger fish. The birds dive overboard, catch a fish and swallow. It stays caught in their neck until they surface. The fisherman pulls the bird in, slides his hand up the bird's neck and the fish neatly pops out into a basket.

If you'd like to watch it in action, just follow this link:

Here's the kicker. Cormorants can count. AND they hold grudges. If the fishermen don't feed them one of their prizes by the time they've caught seven, the birds refuse to fish anymore.

Yeah, like I said, fascinating. It's been a lot of fun learning about them. It's been even more fun drawing (see the Prismacolor drawing above) and painting them (seventh picture down in 'My Artwork' on top tab). I took artistic liberties in the one above, because usually it's only men who fish. But, ah, what's the imagination for, if not to add more romance to such a mystic place?

So, how about you? What do you like most about China?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Come for a visit to Scribblers Cove

Hello, just wanted to invite you to visit Scribblers Cove, where I share our latest adventure with an alligator. Be sure to bring your imagination!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Lesson 11 - How to Draw a Mouth

To draw a mouth, first you need to start with a diamond shape. A full diamond is too wide, though.
What you need is a 'squashed' diamond like pictured just above. It should look like an elephant sat on it. Next, draw a line horizonally through the middle of the diamond.
Look at your mouth in a mirror. Your upper lip has a dip in the middle of it. Draw a dip.
On the bottom of your upper lip is a bump, almost the same shape as the dip on the top edge. Put your bump in.
Now look at your lower lip in the mirror. Most lower lips have a flattened area on the very bottom. Cut a line across the bottom.
Next, we'll refine the shape where the two lips meet. Starting on either edge of the bump, bring the line just barely above the center straight line. Keep this VERY subtle - no huge roundings, just slight gentle curves.
Now take the upper curves VERY gradually under the center line. Again, keep it very subtle, as a gentle swoop.
Next, take the end of that swoop and level it back out to follow the center line to the edge of the mouth. Look in a mirror at the shape in the center of your lips. Does it start with the bump, then go up, then down, then straighten? Not all mouths do, but most will.
You have the basic shape of the mouth. Now to erase your helping lines.
Last, round out the pointed edges on your upper lip, and the squared out flattened area on your lower lip. Ta-da! You have awesome lips with great shape!
Just remember that each mouth is unique. There will be slight variations in the width of the upper and lower lips, the bumps and dips in the middle, and the length of the mouth. But this pattern will get you started.

You can plug this mouth, your nose, and eyes into the face proportions from lesson 8. All you need now are ears and hair.

Next week: How to draw ears.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Man Food Fest

We have a friend (we’ll call him Buck) who hates parties. He doesn’t go to them. He doesn’t throw them.

Then, as it often does, life throws him a curve ball and he absolutely HAS to throw a party. But you can bet your big boy boots, he's not going to call it that. With amusement, those who know him best watch closely to see how he’ll handle this.

Now you need to picture him. He’s big. He has a mustache. He has a Harley Davidson. He rides with the tough guys. Even his voice is this deep baritone that carries a mile when he whispers.

So, in the planning stages, it goes something like this:

Buck: We need to, uh, get together and eat man food.
Friend 1: Man food? Like what, beef jerkey?
Buck: You know, MAN food. Meat. With sauce – barbeque sauce. None of that woman food.
Friend 2 (a woman): What is woman food?
Buck: Salads, desserts
Friend 2 (a woman): So you want to ‘get together’ and eat stuff like caveman-sized drumsticks? Will I have to eat it with my bare hands?
Buck (with an evil grin): I’ll make one just for you.

A few days later, we get a flier taped manly-style to our mailbox. It reads:

Man Food Fest
Come for a manly night of food
Bring your own woman food (salads and cookies)
Place: the Backyard of my youth

Okay, so we aren’t going to pass this up, mostly for curiosity’s sake. The wicked side of me tries to think of the most womanly kind of salad possible. I know. Aren’t mothers always harping to ‘eat ALL your peas’? So I make a huge pea salad.

My husband and I show up and it looks like EVERYONE is there – probably curious like we are. The house is small with a perfectly trimmed lawn. Buck’s Harley leans against the front door. This is his parents’ home. Four burnt sausages on the sidewalk point the way around to the back yard.

I halfway expected to find Buck in leather pants, beating his chest. But he’s not. He’s dressed nice, standing next to a large barbeque, basting racks of ribs.

Rows of people sit in rows of tables, looking an awful lot like a normal party. But this is where the normal look ends, because this is no ordinary back yard. It’s decorated with antlers. Lots of antlers. Four sheepherder’s wagons (think gypsy wagons) line one end. Old rail cars, old sheds, old everythings are placed strategically, giving you the feeling of going back in time. It’s not crowded, but very tastefully done – like an antique collector’s paradise. I’m tempted to take photographs, but I do have a little tact, so I refrain.

Buck says to all of us: Now, maybe you understand why I am the way I am.

I’m starting to get the picture.

Buck begins the night by pulling out an impressive deep fried turkey and ripping off a huge drumstick. With ligaments dangling, he presents it to Friend 2, while everyone roars with laughter. Now you need to picture Friend 2. She’s a tiny little lady with lots of class.

But she grabs the drumstick and takes a caveman-sized bite. Then she wipes her mouth with her sleeve.

And the night is off.

We eat ribs. We eat brisket. We eat deep fried turkey. We even eat beanie weenies. Yes, all of us eat woman food too, and – although I didn't see -- I even think Buck did, but I’m sure it’s in a very manly way. (Have I said 'manly' enough yet?)

And I’m thinking I really like Man Fests. So after a great evening, my husband and I leave. I forget to grab my salad bowl.

The next day, we drive over to Buck’s house and his wife brings it out. Darn. There’s a bit left. They didn’t eat ALL their peas.

So I guess we’ll have to.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lesson 10 - Drawing a Nose

Okay, you've always wanted to draw a perfect nose. Admit it. Well, today is your lucky day. I've picked a great nose to use as our model. Here goes.

Back in lesson 8, we learned to draw the face proportions. The nose sits in the rectangle formed between the horizontal eye and nose line, and between the vertical inner eye lines like below:
If you look at your nose or any nose, it has a circle/ball shape in the end. So first, draw a circle touching the base of the rectangle. The circle should take up about half the width of the box. How tall should the circle be? It should take up not quite 1/3 of the length of your rectangle.
The top of your nostrils come up almost to the top of the circle/ball shape inside your nose. Draw a straight line just down from the top of your circle.

Your nostril holes start inside the circle. If you look at your nose, between your nostrils is a bridge of skin that will touch the bottom line in the middle of your nose. Leave a little bit of room between your nostrils for this. Your nostrils will curve up and out away from the center, like in the drawing below.

Now the flap of skin that surrounds your nostril hole will come up and out, not quite touching the bottom, but stretching out to the side line on both sides.

Now, the nostril flap will angle back in as it goes up. Keep this part of the line fairly straight. It's easy to run into trouble by curving here, so resist the urge and keep it straight as it angles up.
In many nostrils (but not all) the top of the nostril flap will then angle in to the ball shape. This curve is seldom bold, so if you put it in, make it light.

Okay, now you're ready to put in the bridge of your nose. Feel the bridge of your nose from between your eyes down into the ball of your nose. It may have a little variation (especially if it's been broken) but mostly it's pretty straight in this area. Draw two straight lines coming up from where the ball of your nose touches the straight line that runs into it. Take this line all the way to the top.

Now you have the basic structure of the nose. Erase out your helper lines inside the nose, including the ball. Leave just the very bottom of the ball between the two nostril holes. Just hint at the sides of the ball and where the nostril flaps curve back into the ball at the top. Your nose will look like this.

Now go back into your nostril holes and curve the underside back in like a the end of a paper clip. Stop early and don't compete the nostril hole. The rest is done with shading.

And there you have it. You just drew a great nose that looks like the picture below. Time to celebrate!

Next week: How to draw a mouth.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Scribbler's Cove Contest

Hey all,

Don't forget to skip on over to Scribblers Cove and enter the contest. Second place is a giclee print of my drawing "Soaring Through Paradise" (the parrot backdrop of this blog). It's a great blog and you still have just a few days. See you there!

Oh, My Aching Brain Cells

I went to school. I did. But just in case the free basic education – granted to me by right of our wonderful government – didn’t stick, I had children.

Did you know that homework never ends? Neither do tests. The masterminds of the universe made sure of that.

Just tonight, my daughter covered the table with notes, a wild look in her eye. “I’ve got three tests tomorrow – one in U.S. History, one in Medical Terminology, and one in English. Help me study?”

So during dinner, our conversation went like this:

“Uh, AICD?” (my husband)

"Automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator, right?” (my daughter)

“Yeah. Wow.” (my husband)

“Holy cow.” (me)

(my daughter, giggling) “Okay, next one.”

“Okay, smarty pants, what is Arteriosclerotic heart disease?” (me, mispronouncing it)

(daughter, really giggling) “What?”

(husband) “Can I see that list?”

And then it got even more interesting. Her vocabulary words, which have to be spelled correctly go something like this: phlebitis, vasospasm, intraventricular and coronary (which I would be having if I had three tests tomorrow).

We moved on to gentler subjects like U.S. History and I remembered how much I forgot.

(my daughter) “Hey Mom, do you know what year the Boston Tea Party was?”

(me) “Yeah, 1773.” (I just barely saw her notes before she asked.)

(daughter, impressed) “Hey, not bad. So what are our three basic rights?”

(me) “Uuuuuuh, religious freedom, right to bear arms, uh . . .”

(daughter) “Life, Liberty, Property.”

(me, hitting my forehead) “I knew that once.”

I know when to run. I leave my awesome husband with my smart daughter and go help my younger son with something more up my alley: 6th grade geography. This month’s assignment is to memorize the continents and major islands of the world. I grab the map and sit back, smiling. I think I can handle this. But then, my eyebrows shoot up somewhere near Pluto. My son needs to learn 22 islands.

I have a question for you. Do you know where Celebes or Baffin Islands are? Really? Okay, I can understand memorizing Australia, Greenland and Antarctica, and even two of the islands of Japan (Hokkaido and Honshu), but this is really impressive. I’m now learning (or re-learning – but I’m not sure if I did the first time) where Luzon and Ellesmere Island are.

If you know, just skip this paragraph, but if, like me, it’s driving you crazy, here’s where you’ll find them:

Celebes: Indonesia – above Australia, on the west side

Baffin Island: above Canada, on its east side

Luzon: Phillipines – just south and east of China

Ellesmere Island: above Canada, just above Baffin Island

Just like my daughter, my son has them down after a few tries. It must be lovely to have fresh, uncluttered minds.

I sigh and sit back, thinking to myself, So here I am, getting a free education. Again. I feel kind of smart. Now if I can just remember where I left the car keys . . .

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lesson 9 - Drawing an Eye

It's easiest to start off with a shape you know. Draw an almond or football shape.

Look at your eye in the mirror. The bottom half is a lot flatter than the top. Adjust your bottom line.
Now pull the corners up slightly. This will be the left eye. In the right corner is the tear duct. Pop out the end a little and make a crease where the flesh of the tear duct meets the eye.
Inside the bottom edge of your eye is a little ledge. Draw a parallel line just inside your bottom line.

 Your eyeball sits like this under your eyelid. It's important to know what you can't see when you draw, because it affects several things.
 The iris and pupil sit in the center of the eyeball like a bulls-eye target, but it doesn't sit directly in the center of your eyelid.
 That makes the eye look scared, such as the eye in this photograph:

A calm restful eye has the iris disappearing under the top lid like this:

Make sure when you draw in the iris and pupil, that the pupil isn't tiny. That makes the eye look afraid or psycho. A peaceful look is one where the pupil takes up about half of the iris in size.
The upper eyelid has a shelf, too, but because of the angle you look at eyes, you often don't see it. However, it casts a shadow across the eye. In the iris/pupil part, that shadow will be dark, anywhere from a 7 - 10 on the shading scale. (See lesson 1 a). Also, circle in your highlights. They will sit below the shadow line.

 Now is the fun part. Fill in the pupil a 10, or black. Fill in the shadow below the top eyelid somewhere between a 7 - 10 (you choose how dark by the color of the eye. Light eyes that are blue or green will have the lighter shadow of 7. Darker eyes will be 8, 9 or 10.)
 Now look in the mirror at your iris. It has a ring circling it. Put a darker ring around the outside of the iris.
 To begin shading in the iris, draw light lines inside the iris, going around the pupil like a clock or a wagon wheel. The angle will change as it circles.
 This is the direction your strokes should go:
Now that you have the basics in, it's time to do some fun shading. Inside the iris, softly fuzz in a shade on the outer edge and inside against the pupil, leaving the center lighter. That makes a cool highlight.

 Now we're ready to shade in the whites of the eyes. Keep your shadows extra light (a 2 or 3) as it circles the edges of the eye. As the shadow goes into the center of the white, dwindle it down to nothing, so the center is the white of your paper. Do not shade all the way through the white, or the eye will look dead. Keep it to the outer edges.
 We're ready to put in the creases above and below the eye. They hug the eyeball beneath. Note that neither the upper or lower crease touch the eye. The top one runs parallel. the bottom one is lighter, only going halfway and not dark or deep. That would make it look like a bag.

Shade in the tear duct, leaving a couple sparkles. Darken the outer edges of the lash lines (we are doing a female eye. For a male, you leave the lines light.)
 Shade around the skin on the upper eye lid, and the crease below the eye. Touch up the shadows and add sparkles into the eye if needed. Go back and soften or darken the lash line.
 Now you're ready to do lashes. Like the wagon wheel strokes we put inside the iris, lashes change angles as they go around the eye. Here is the bare-bones drawing of the angles that the lashes should take. Note how the lines angle straight at the outer corners and direct top and bottom.
 Getting the lash shape will take some practice. Grab another sheet of paper and start out with a check, like in the right column. Keep making check marks, but soften the angle until it's a swoop like the end of the right column. The left column gradually gets flatter. You don't want that. You want your lashes to have a swoop. Keep practicing until you're confident.
 Your lashes (for a girl) will start at the lash line like above, then swoop down, then up again. Beware of putting too many lashes. Then you end up with spider eyes like the drawing below.
 Good lashes are few. Draw in your lash strokes, then go back at the base and thicken them up by drawing another lash stroke just off the side of your original lash, drawing the top of the line into the original line. It will give a full look, as well as looking like more lashes.

I also went back and softened the outer edges of the iris by putting a soft lighter shade just outside the edge of it.
All right! Now you have an awesome eye! Grab some magazines and look at a variety of eyes. See if you can tell what makes one slightly different from the other. Practice drawing lots of eyes. The more the better!

Next week: How to draw a nose.
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