Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Sunday, March 6, 2011

From My Sketchbook

I was finally able to buy a replacement lens for my camera. The new lens isn't as nice as the one I broke, but it's not like I can tell the difference~ I did get one that gives me a little bit of a wider angle which will come in handy when I'm shooting reference stuff. 

So I thought I'd post some new paintings. Then I find that my camera's batteries are out of juice, so they're being recharged right now. 

In the meantime, I'm going to share some recent pages from my sketchbook. As I mentioned in a previous post, I use a typical Moleskine sketchbook and a cheap ballpoint or a regular pencil to do my doodling.  I have been using the Pentel RSVP a lot because I got a whole bunch of them the last time I was at Staples. They're cheap, and gives me quite a bit of control over how a line looks. I tend to prefer ball points over better pens (gel, steel point, etc.) primarily because the "better quality" pens' ink flows too smoothly and the lines all look too even and dark.

Then again, if I sit down on my couch and there's one of those nicer pens within my reach, I don't hesitate to use that even if my preferred ball point is on the table just out of my reach. The difference isn't important enough to get off my ass.

The first shot and this one too, are from figure sessions. I usually do a bunch of these little drawings before I get painting. For a three hour session, I typically spend half an hour to an hour just sketching the figure from different angles. Sometimes I draw just the head, and other times I include more of the figure.

When I'm drawing heads, I'm usually investigating which features ought to be emphasized or even exaggerated while simplifying the whole.

The muscles of the arm are probably studies from one of the Bridgeman's anatomy books. I had to learn all that in art school (the legendary Burne Hogarth was my anatomy teacher. What a character he was!) but I've long forgotten the names of the muscles so recently I've been trying to re-learn them.

I have trouble learning people's names. Muscles are even harder to memorize. But if you know their names, it's easier to draw them because you tend to look for them on the model, and a lot of the times you can't see them unless you're actively looking. If you don't know what you're looking for, chances are, you won't find it.

[If you don't know the name of what you are looking at, the chances are, you may not see it.]

Light and shadow patterns are simply indicated. I note where the edges of the shadows are, and just fill in the shapes. I usually don't do more than that in these sketchbook studies. Unless I'm particularly interested in trying to figure out the planes of the head or something.

Compositions. The first class of my Landscape II class focused on simplifying and designing eucalyptus trees. So I did a bunch of these as I was thinking about what to say to my class. I find drawing is a good way to narrow down my otherwise scattered ideas.

And these are tree sketches from life. I did the one on left sitting in my car while waiting for someone. The one on right from my living room couch. It's my neighbor's tree. This one is drawn with a pencil because my preferred pen was out of reach. Haha~

But you see, you can pretty much draw anywhere, and whenever you have a few minutes. Why not spend those throw-away minutes practicing drawing, designing, composing, studying anatomy, studying gestures, or whatever.

The more you draw, the better you paint. And that's a fact.


  1. You put it well as pertains to drawing the human form. Permit me to paraphrase...If you don't know the name of what you are looking at, the chances are, you may not see it. As you know, I will hopefully be teaching a rank beginner figure drawing class at The School of Light and Color this July. Suffice i to say, I am now in the throes of boning up on the skeleton and muscles. Happy sketching, Terry!

  2. These are so wonderful. I love my little moleskin that I keep with me all the time. Thanks for sharing your sketches!

  3. Gosh Terry...even your sketchbooks are full of mini masterpieces. And the getting of your ass comment made me laugh out loud.

  4. As always Terry, good info and inspiration.