Figure Drawing with Light

Figure Drawing with Light
Pastel and Charcoal on Cardboard
© 1999, Jeff Thomann


Made a lightbox today! :)

Just made a light box today. Had several 11″x7″ hard board sheets that I was originally going to use to draw on or paint on. Still have many of those for that but 5 less now because they are now my new light box… amazing what duct tape, hard board, and an old light off of a broken drawing desk, and a sheet of old plexi glass from many years ago can do when used together. 😉

Ended up taking the sharp edge of one of my many chisels since I used it as a plexi-glass cutter. It worked well though and I have plenty of other chisels. Hopefully the 60w lamp won’t melt the plexi. As long as I don’t make my sessions using it super long I don’t think that’ll be a problem. If it is, plexi is easy to replace. I probably should be using glass instead of plexi but since I’m planning on using a lot of pointillism techniques that will require a lot of banging a pencil against it I figure plexi is better since it’ll hold up where glass would just break. Thinking about using crayon/color pencils on this and then using that as carbon paper sort of to transfer the image on to the boards as base layer/underpainting for the encaustic panels, burnishing the back of the paper as it lays on the encaustic, etc. I tried testing a little today with a transfer bit on my wood burner but that didn’t work at all since the heat was too hot and caused the wax to actually melt in to the paper, so got to do this cool on cool, no heat applied. In theory it should work, somewhat. Still not sure if the encaustic and color pencil waxes will merge/melt together well but in theory they should I think. I think wax pencils have a parraffin type wax in them. If it doesn’t work well I may have to use crayons/wax pencils instead of the color pencils. Not sure I like that idea though since I want pigment in this and most crayons have way more wax than pigment. Color pencils are more leaning the other way a bit.

I made the light box since I think it’ll be easier process of photo to paint surface transfer that will work better than the crazy poke holes in pictures technique and pounce afterwards that I was planning on using. Still may use that sometimes, but it’s a really non-drawing type of thing so I’m not sure it suits my style/technique so well.

Self Portait © 2011 Jeff Thomann

Self Portait © 2011 Jeff Thomann
Self Portait © 2011 Jeff Thomann

This was created using an old car rearview mirror so I could only see half of the face without shifting location so it was a bit of a challenge. As you can probably tell, I was focusing primarily on the lower nose/chin/neck area more than the rest of the face.

It took me 29 minutes overall, and time flew by because I was so intently focused. Getting good greyscale gradation levels with a small drawing surface like a ball point pen is challenging, especially when on a timeline like I was with this. I did complete it in under a half hour though.

I can see some improvements already in the self portrait drawing skill vs the last self portrait like this I did. I use self portraits as sort of a checkup on my skills since the human face is a good indicator of art skills on a lot of levels. Drawing faces with glasses on is always a bit of a challenge too since it changes the lighting a lot and gives areas that need new details.

I did the glasses on though because I’m working on a color pencil drawing in the mornings that has Tekla with glasses on, and I wanted to study a little in these ballpoint pen drawings how the glasses affect the light and shadow on the face so I can do better in that and future drawings with glasses. The color pencil drawings are very tricky since I’m using a lot of different colors, layering techniques, and a lot of erasing and actual burnishing techniques – actually in some areas on those I’m using real print making etching tools to do scratcherboard type techniques in limited areas since I’m using gessoed hardboard. That is definitely something I would not be able to do if I was using paper for the color pencils. The color pencils are almost like mini-oil paintings. Now it’s after 6 Am so I better start on the color pencil as the time allocated to it is before 6:30 AM, lol.

(118) 512×512 pixel seamless rock texture pics

I uploaded (118) 512 x 512 pixel seamless textures of various rocks and rock groupings to Tubosquid. These images were extracted from photos of rocks that I shot with a digital camera, and were made seamless in Gimp. They are 512 pixels wide and high so that the image size is a power of 2, a prerequisite for some 3d render engines and game engines.

Here’s a small summary image that shows what part of the bundle looks like:
seamless rock texture photos

Mixing colors… It’s not what you think it is.

There are two color spectrums that are important in the arts. One is real light and how it mixes in the real world. The other is reflected light and how it works in the real world. Real lighting is visible in Stage Lighting, Computer Screens, TVs, and just about anywhere that there is a real light source – light bulb, sun, window, etc. The primary colors of real light are red, green, and blue.

The primary colors of reflected light on the other hand are red, yellow, and blue. In the print world, black is also added to that to arrive at a spectrum that is abbreviated CYMK – Cyan (Red), Yellow, Magenta (Blue), and BlaCK – CK is used for Black so that it’s not confused with Blue.

Mixing primary colors in real light results in white where the colors overlap. This is easily demonstrated in stage lighting by simply aiming 3 lights at the same area, where each one has a filter on it that matches the 3 primary colors – red, green, and blue. Where the three colors overlaps on the stage or wall or whever the lights are aimed together, there’s white that shows up in the middle.

Painting and other forms of art where color is placed on an object utilize the reflected light spectrum since the paper, canvas, or whatever else is typically not a light source itself. What is really weird about reflected light is that the science behind it does something completely different from what you think it’s doing. The color we see on an object is really what’s reflecting back at us off of that object when the real light hits the object. In other words the “colors” we see in everything that is not a real light source is really an absence of that particular color in the object itself – all the other colors of the spectrum are “absorbed” by the object, so what we see is really the opposite of the color that the object really is. We see the color that bounced back at us and was not absorbed.

Because of that weird way that things work, mixing primary colors with paint usually results in a muddy brown mid-tone color with low intensity. That’s completely different than what happens when real light’s primary colors are mixed.

That means that most stuff that you see on screen will usually look a lot darker than it did in the computer when you print it, especially since printers add more than the primary colors, and throw black in too.

It also means that when you go to mix colors as a painter, you have to think completely differently than when you mix colors with real light, like when you are thinking about interior design issues in stage lighting, or just picking out lights to put in to your bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, or living room.

What gets very interesting is that some sculptures and other forms of art mix and match both light spectrums through backlighting, integrating tv screens in to the artform, adding lights to sculptures, etc. Sculpture is actually a whole different baseball game all together since it can incorporate time and space in to it through relationships of shadows in the real world, locations of the sun at various times of the day and year, etc. Video and painting can do that too on some levels depending on where the painting is placed, what the environment the painting is in, and of course one of the primary elements of video is time – the 4th dimension to 3 Dimensional works so to speak.

With painting, drawing, and other reflected light art forms, there is also a lot going on with how elements of the painting work with one another. Layering colors together is sort of one of the main things painters do. We create depth and dimension to a 2 dimensional plane by placing brush strokes, and other elements next to one another, on top of one another, underneath one another… There’s literally a ton of work that goes in to this sort of stuff sometimes to make a “realistic” artwork. What’s sad though is most viewers of these things that may have taken hundreds of hours to put together typically only view the work for 3-10 seconds at the most unless something in partcular catches their eye or interest in the work.

Big sculptures and video have a little bit of an advantage over painting in that regard – the viewer is forced in to watching looking at those types of things for longer periods of time, leaving more time for the work to create an impression and message. However, painting has a “presence” that exists longer sometimes, in some works. It is a visual thing that can haunt you over time as your brain echos seeing the patterns on the image over and over.

Creating works of art is a bit like wandering through a maze. You have tons of decisions to make, and each one creates subsequent decisions to make. The painting with the most “potnential energy” might well be the blank canvas… just as the work of music that might create the most interest and cause you to think about things is complete silence…

Art is life. Life is art. Neither are a reflection of one another because both just are. They exist not in parallel to one another, or as a mirror to one another, but coexist, sometimes peacefully, other times in chaos. Out of chaos comes creation many times, and creation usually does eventually lead to some form of chaos.

The entire universe was created with a major big bang explosion of chaos, and from that came the beauty that we call life.

Smoke Stack at Night

Smoke Stacks at Night
Smoke Stack at Night
Copyright 2010 by Jeff Thomann
Media: Photography
Original Status: Original is Digital Photo
Print/Purchase Status: This digital photo may be purchased online at
Themes: MU, Mizzou, Tigers, Columbia, Smoke, Smoke Stacks, Tower, Towers, Columbia, Missouri, Lighting, Night, Scene, Photo, Photography, photos, Jeff, Thomann, stack, fog, light, downtown, outside, atmosphere, mood, building, beacin, airplane, warning, city, urban, color, 2009