Attacking Mandy’s Eyes!

Eyes have the power to create the illusion of reality in a painting – even if the portrait subject isn’t real.

Step 1: Paint basic eye shapes and values.

Step 2: Add a range of values from light to dark to the iris.

Step 3: Paint faint, thin lines to represent the muscles in eyes.

Steps 4 and 5: Paint additional details to enhance the illusion that eyeballs are (three-dimensional) spheres.

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Herald Covers: Three Men and a Lady

Another trip back in time to revisit four more of my drawings of 1978 television celebrities!

Finally found John Travolta – definitely a cutie with his thick mane of hair, dreamy eyes, and adorable chin dimple (I probably exaggerated that dimple on purpose).

William Roache visited St. John’s that year and the original drawing was professionally framed and presented to him. If I remember correctly, my Mom watched Coronation Street.

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Blond Hair and a Purple Mohawk!

When you create a living being from your imagination, some characteristics of yourself automatically become part of your creation. Nope – I don’t have a purple mohawk (yet)!

My skills from two decades ago are returning and the transition from oils to acrylics is getting easier. The hair texture was not as difficult to paint as the emu’s.

Upper left image: middle values are added to the under painting and the directionality of the hair is established.

Middle left image: a full range of values from dark to light fool the viewer’s eye into seeing three dimensional forms.

Lower left image: that eyebrow definitely has to change – into what, I really don’t know yet.

Right image: The eyes will probably be the last section painted. For now, this under painting establishes values.

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More Newfoundland Herald Covers

Compared to today’s digital age, printing technologies in 1978 were primitive. Even so, these covers bring back wonderful memories of television shows and celebrities from 40 years ago.

The quality of the reference images I worked from varied from small newspaper clippings to large professional photographs. Hence, some of my drawings ended up more detailed than others.  Fussy-picky me also knew that nothing could be done when the light and medium values in my shading got lost during the translation of a pencil drawing into a magazine cover.

All this considered – the covers of this magazine turned out really well!

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40 Years Ago: Drawing Muppets!

Back in 1978 (before computers), I was a young, single mom with a delightful baby daughter. As a freelance artist working from home, I was thrilled when employment opportunities came my way.

My Mom (aged 92) recently gave me a box of stuff containing a photo album with several magazine covers illustrated with my drawings. What an amazing gift!

Creating drawings for the covers of a weekly magazine was a fun way to make money! Each week, the publisher gave me photos of a celebrity (or celebrities) as references for my next drawing. This cover is definitely one of my all-time favorites. You can’t help but smile when you look at their faces.

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Mandy the Mandrill

“Mandy the Mandrill” is the working title of this painting. (Gender isn’t relevant when naming imaginary critters.)

This simple, black background provides a strong contrast to Mandy’s “hair”. Multi-colored backgrounds may look gorgeous, but they sometimes take the viewer’s attention away from the focal point (in this case, Mandy).

The hair colors are mixed with combinations of Raw Umber, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow Light, and White. The values of the hair colors currently range from medium to dark. Light values are added later.

Strands of hair and fur are painted in the same directions as they grow. By frequently rotating the canvas, I can paint hair with only downward strokes (script liner brushes do not like making upward strokes).

Those lines and marks on Mandy’s face are incredibly important…(next time)

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Switching from Oils to Acrylics

I painted with oils for over 20 years and my paintings won lots of awards – from local to international. Logically, I should know how to paint. So, switching from oils to acrylics should be super simple?

Not so!

Oil paint and acrylic paint are completely different animals! Switching to acrylics means learning how to paint all over again. Painting Hawk was an exercise in pure frustration. Each of the 10 (or more) layers of acrylic paint on this canvas is hiding an oil painting technique that didn’t work with acrylics.


Making mistakes is an amazing teacher. My next painting subject is a Mandrill. Wish me luck!

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50+ Free Art Lessons!

All 490+ art lessons on my website are authored and richly illustrated by professional artists and art educators. Choose your passion! Draw with graphite and colored pencils; paint with acrylics; learn about art history and art therapy; and more!

Join Drawspace!

The 50+ free lessons are marked in green with “FREE”.  Register for free and receive 3 Credits every month to view or download any other 3 lessons you want.

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Lessons are categorized into 8 modules (and 18 topics).

Module 1: Introduction to Drawing

Module 2: Contour Drawing

Module 3: Shading Techniques

Module 4: Composition and Perspective

Module 5: Diversity in Visual Arts

Module 6: People and Animals

Module 7: The Lighter Side of Art

Module 8: Creating Art in Color

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Portraits of Babies are Easy to Draw!

Check Out a Few Guidelines and Get Started!

In three lessons, you examine realistically-proportioned baby faces; shade the forms of a baby’s mouth; and draw a baby named Grace. You are then ready to practice drawing portraits of babies.

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6.1.R5: Facial Proportions of Babies (by Brenda Hoddinott)

Beginner to Intermediate: Guidelines to help draw realistically-proportioned babies’ faces and heads, from newborn to toddler



6.1.A2: Sketch and Shade a Baby’s Mouth (by Brenda Hoddinott)

Beginner to Intermediate: Outline shapes and then add shading to draw a baby’s mouth that appears three-dimensional



6.1.A9: Profile View of Baby Grace (by Brenda Hoddinott)

Beginner to Intermediate: Draw a realistic facial profile of a baby by first outlining accurate proportions and then shading textures and forms with hatching



Become a Drawspace Member for FREE!

– Browse all 8 Drawspace modules to View/Download over 50 FREE lessons now!

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YEAH! My Newest Book is Launched!

My life has been crazy busy over the past few months, so this book has taken longer than usual to finish. For me, the most difficult part of writing a book is declaring it finished. The temptation to check everything one last time is addictive. However, there comes a point where I just have to let it go! :o)

Drawing on Your Brain (Second Edition)

10 Week Drawing Course-in-a-Book

Strengthen your visual intelligence, creativity, memory, and drawing skills with richly-illustrated activities and exercises. This workbook also includes current and insightful research that helps demystify the amazing relationship between drawing and your brain.

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Love and hugs to my partner John (Percy) and editors Giselle Melanson Tattrie and Cailin Green for making this book a reality. :o)

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