Tag Archives: learn to draw

Möbius Madness (32/365)

Well, I have discovered the most obnoxious form on the planet – at least, if one is trying to draw it.

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Based on the recommendation of Sue Vize, author of Botanical Drawing using Graphite and Coloured Pencils, I made myself a Möbius loop and have been trying to draw it. It has not been pretty! My eye thinks it’s following a line along quite nicely, my hand dutifully attempts to follow and this happens…


And this…


What the…?

I can actually feel my brain having spasms as it tries to figure out how best to direct the clumsy hand flopping around at the end of my limb…


The more I try, the worse they get…


charles hinman mobius-1965

Mobius by Charles Hinman, 1965


katsuhito nishikawa mobius-1994

Mobius by Katsuhito Nishikawa, 1994




Turned it around…


Gads. Way harder than it looks like it should be!!

At least you know why today’s blog post is short! I am entangled in a Möbius loop and can’t get out!

Look at all Those Patterns! (14/365)


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Somewhere over the Rocky Mountains

Look at all those lines and patterns! I don’t usually sit in the window seat when I fly (I prefer to be on the aisle so I can stretch my legs and escape for occasional sprints, stretches, and visits to the loo without having to crawl over sleeping seat mates). Today, though, the plane between Calgary and Vancouver was half empty, so I had a whole row to myself and wound up looking out the window a lot.


Dad has always said that learning to draw begins with learning how to see. Everything (the landscape, a coffee cup, a person’s face, a hummingbird) can be broken down into visual elements – line, pattern, colour, etc.).


Somewhere over an airport carpet



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Somewhere in my notebook… (taking inspiration from both mountain range and carpet and somehow resembling neither…)

Dad, meanwhile, sent me some info on the German painter Josef Albers. Albers was obsessed with shapes, patterns and colour…



Brackish Water Biarritz VIII, 1929 by Josef Albers (Collage)

One of his best known series of paintings (aptly named Homage to the Square) features squares…


homage-to-the-square-1967-1 Albers

Homage to the Square, 1967 by Josef Albers

Various squares in all manner of color combinations and proportions occupied his painterly efforts for nearly 30 years! Using squares in his compositions, Albers experimented (endlessly) with the ways in which colours interacted depending on their placement next to each other.

Speaking of colour combinations of note, some Canadians may recall the fuss that was kicked up when the National Gallery purchased Voice of Fire by the American painter Barnett Newman.

Barnett Newman 1967 voice-of-fire-1967

In the early ’90s the National Gallery picked up Newman’s blue, red, blue painting for a cool 1.76 million dollars. Granted, it’s a pretty large piece (18′ tall), but you can imagine detractors squawked. Not only was this a piece of work that generated some head-scratching (blue-red-blue? that’s it?), it was painted by an American!! Shouldn’t Canadian taxpayer money at least be used to purchase Canadian art? [Note, I am merely paraphrasing the discussion at the time… don’t throw things at me…]


In a 2014 Ottawa Citizen article by Peter Simpson, some rather crazy numbers get tossed around. At that time the Newman painting was estimated to be worth more than $40 million USD! Perhaps the rash purchase back in the day was actually a pretty smart investment. Not that public galleries buy art primarily as an investment, but it is nice to know that sometimes the curators get it right.

Perhaps I need to do an 18′ high version of my dot…





Take the Lowly Circle (11/365)

If you’ve been reading along for a while you will know I’ve long been hankering to up my game in the visual art department. Ok, more accurately, to have any sort of game at all. They say you need to start somewhere, so today I pulled out paper and pencil and tried to draw a circle.

My. God.

How hard could that possibly be? Hard!!

But if one masters the skill of the perfect freehand circle, one could go down in history. Like Giotto, the Italian painter who could, according to artistic legend, draw such a perfect circle it seemed he had used a compass.


This is a mural designed by Dad (shown here in progress) down in Ottawa, Illinois. One of Ottawa’s claims to fame is a glass factory where they made marbles (that’s a giant marble in the middle).


When I mentioned to Dad I was attempting to draw (in general, circles in particular) he immediately mentioned the ‘perfect O of Giotto.’ How could I not have known of this guy’s special talent before now?


APC Patrol Cyprus (1974) by E. Colin Williams (Note: circle turned ellipsis when viewed from an angle… I guess practicing my circles isn’t just a lame exercise…)


Giotto, turns out, didn’t just draw endless circles (though he must have drawn a few in his day to get so good). Though exactly who did what is hotly debated in art historian circles, this one is most likely Giotto’s work.


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St. Paul (late 1200s) by Giotto di Bondone (Giotto)


One of my favourite factoids about the painter was discovered after an analysis of his front teeth upon his death. Apparently, they were worn away in a way that indicated he had spent a lot of time clenching a paintbrush between his front teeth!


Gerrit Dou 1630 35 the-extraction-of-tooth-1635.

Extraction of a Tooth by Gerrit Dou, 1630-ish


Note to self: if I ever dare to touch a paintbrush (after today’s painful experience with a pencil and a circle, I’m not sure I’ll ever get there), I will be sure to put it down when it’s not in use!! I need my teeth!!


Alberta Schoolhouse Doorknob by E. Colin Wiliams  (Here’s another painting by Dad, this one featuring several pretty good circles…)


Dad’s hot circle tip: Practice!! And… ellipses are more difficult. People think they are pointy at the ends…


Dad sent this helpful illustration of what not to do in the ellipsis department…


Keep on drawing!! See you tomorrow…