A Little Dickens

Last month as I monitored our HFAA Art Show, I did a lot of drawing and sketching. I made doodle monsters for Inktober, and I also worked on this graphite sketch of author Charles Dickens. I’d downloaded a collection of his work to my Kindle, and as so often happens now that I’ve become an artist, I looked at the cover picture and said “I want to draw him.”

Dickens turned out to be a bit of a challenge — all that weird hair and that beard! It was an interesting project, to say the least.

Charles Dickens

One of my objectives for the drawing was to work on getting my dark values dark enough. As you can see, it was still quite a challenge for me. Usually when I do portraits, I do them on heavy gray paper. This was a spur-of-the-moment decision, though, and all I had with me was very lightweight drawing paper.

His tie is crooked. His hair is a mess. I guess Dickens just wasn’t having a very good day when he sat for this portrait. Still, it was fun to draw him, especially since my little muse — a creative figment of my imagination that brings ideas and inspiration to me — is also named Dickens. My muse isn’t named after Charles Dickens, though. His name comes from the idea of “being a little dickens” — that is, a bit of a playful, affectionate devil who’s always stirring up trouble or making a mess.

Trust me, my Dickens muse looks nothing like Charles Dickens. I’m thankful for that! For what it’s worth, I envision my muse as an elongated ball of fur with webbed feet and a broom in his hands. Hey, somebody’s got to clean up the messes he makes!


      1. Thanks so much! I might do more Victorian gentlemen, maybe getting bold enough to use pen and ink instead of graphite. Now, that would be quite a challenge. As a student of art, I’ve tried lots of different media, and I’ve found I enjoy oil painting most. I also enjoy graphite drawing. How about you? I see from your blog that you’ve tried a few different things, too. Have you come upon a favorite medium?

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      2. You should do more of them, yes! 🙂 I started out painting with oils, then quickly moved on to water soluble oils as my head started to ache after several hours of oil painting 🙂 I only used this medium for two years, and it’s still my favourite, I think 🙂 I started pen drawing in the spring this year, because I want to get better at the basic understanding of visual designing. This is something I enjoy and I’ve spent quite some time on it. It’s also much easier to pick up than oils if I have a short while to get some practise done 🙂 I think watercolour is very interesting, and look forward to get to know the medium better. Acrylics is also something I’m planning to try out in the near future, and maybe some gouache as well 🙂

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      3. I tried acrylic and never could work with it. And watercolors… oh, I do love watercolors, but I’m no good with them. I recently bought a cheap set of the water-soluble oils out of curiosity. I didn’t like them at first, but after using them again, I think I would like them with more practice. You were bold to start with oils. I was so scared of oil painting that I didn’t attempt it until about 2 years ago. Now, I love it.

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      4. Having someone in the family would be a good reason for the choice. No one in my family has ever done any artwork, but now I have a daughter who’s doing a lot of painting — and making money with her art — as well as several talented grandchildren, so hopefully this old grandma will inspire others. 🙂

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      1. I read Treasure Island every summer. I never tire of it. And then I start drawing pirates and ships and island scenes. LOL. I don’t do it deliberately. It just happens.

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    1. I love doing portraits. They’re better on gray paper, I think, because it starts with a middle value and I can go from there. Where I really have problems is from the neck down — collars, shirts, ties, and all the folds in the fabric. I never can get those things right.

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      1. When I was in school, my art teacher would drape a sheet over things so there were wrinkles and folds. We had to draw each flat surface of the sheet individually. This forced us to break it up into tiny pieces and we could more easily see the curves and contours of the cloth. By the end, the drawing looked like a sheet made of diamonds. This exercise helped me a lot with drawing fabric.

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