Category Archives: Drawings

A Caran d’Ache Grafwood Pencil Portrait of an English Bulldog

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I took a walk at the Chinese Church near our house. They have a really nice parking lot and a lot of folks use it for walking the perimeter because it is level. I often meet people walking their dogs and recently met this really nice lady who spoke very broken English. I didn’t catch the name of her dog and had to do a bit of YouTube research to determine whether it was a Pug or an English Bulldog. My best guess is it is an English Bulldog. It was so friendly and Minnie loved scampering around it while it sat like a fireplug quite disinterested in my little hyper Shih Tzu. I asked with improvised sign language whether it would be ok to take some pictures of her dog so I could do a drawing. I chose this photo.

Black and White source photo







The Final Drawing:

English Bulldog -9″x12″ – Caran d’Ache Grafwood Pencils on Strathmore Bristol 300 Vellum paper

I used Strathmore Bristol 300 9″x12″ paper and decided to used 100% Caran d’Ache Grafwood Pencils. I love how they glide over the paper. I used the 4H pencil to do the layout with a very light stroke and they built up the tones with darker and darker pencils, from 4H=>2H=>HB=>2B=.4B.  I used PanPastel blender pads and kneaded erasers to create soft graded tones and highlights. I used a Camel paint brush to do some of the shading.

Here is a short speed video of the process:

Here is my drawing area as shown from the camera mounted above (Sony A6000 with 16-50mm lens):

My Studio and Drawing Environment



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Ava Grace – A pencil portrait and YouTube time lapse video

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This is the original photo of Ava in front of her house

After doing drawings and paintings for over 40 years, I sometimes wish I could remember how I did something that I find in my archive art bin! Sometimes it is to see if I can avoid what is a really bad effort and sometimes it’s because I really like what I drew or painted. Often I have no recollection of the steps I took to create the art! Anyway, with my current drawings I am really enjoying doing these blog posts and work-in-progress videos on my YouTube Channel so I can look back and remember what steps I took to complete a drawing. This is a drawing I did of my granddaughter Ava for her room. She is SUCH a sweetheart and the photo really captures her. As you can see on my last post of the portrait of Hurley, I have recently taken a course by Darrell Tank at in which he teaches realistic graphite pencil drawing using only five pencils – 4H, 2H, HB, 2B and 4B. It is a great course and I highly recommend it if you want to learn a very systematic and consistent approach to your drawing. While this drawing is by no means the best representation of his course or methods, I am pleased that it captured Ava so “gracefully!” The 2 1/2 minute speed drawing below represents about 7 – 8  hours of drawing time.

I hope this process is helpful to you. Here is the time-lapse video of the drawing.

Here roughly are are the steps I took that you’ll see in the video ( the layout method by Darrell Tank is different and quite accurate and doesn’t rely on step 1) – links to the products I used are highlighted in green and link to :

  1. I printed an enlarged copy of the image on 9″x12″ paper using  my HP 7610 printer (large format) on 11″x17″ copy paper using a backer sheet of graphite paper (not charcoal or carbon paper) to transfer a rough sketch of Ava’s features to Strathmore 400 2ply Bristol Vellum paper. This works great with a standard printer at 8″x10″ size too.
  2. I work exclusively at the start with 4H and 2H pencils (I use Caran d’Ache Grafwood pencils) to bring much of the drawing to life using a light touch. During this phase I check the original drawing using a set of easily adjusted Alvin 6″ dividers (not the type with the wheel adjustment).
  3. Increase dark areas with HB pencils gradually reinforcing the deepest tones.
  4. Use a kneaded eraser to lift highlights. Crosshatch larger areas and then use the Princeton Brush Bright #10 paint brush to blend and create a soft skin texture. Use a Langnickel 2″ Camel hair brush to soften features and hair and to keep the drawing clean.
  5. Continue to deepen the darks with 2B and 4B pencils (very lightly especially on 4B – used only for the darkest darks!)
  6. Use the Tombow Mono hand held eraser to create dynamic highlights and hair details.
  7. Continue to work back and forth between darks and lights, refining the image until completion.

Here is the finished drawing:

Final Drawing of Ava with Caran d’Ache Grafwood pencils on Strathmore 400 Bristol Vellum 2-ply paper
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Lutheran West High School Marching Band – A colored pencil drawing with Powder Blender

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10.5″ x 16.25″ Colored Pencil drawing of the Lutheran West High School Marching Band performing at Disney World May, 2013. Faber-Castell Polychromos and Prismacolor colored pencils on Uart 800 sanded paper with Powder Blender.

A Five Minute YouTube Time-Lapse video of the Drawing:

I had much fun doing this drawing from a photograph I took of a marching band at Disney World in 2013. I always wanted to do a drawing of this. As I was working on it, I noticed the LW logo on the band jacket and a Longhorn logo on the sleeve. I asked Carol to Google “LW” and “Longhorn” and see what she could find. It turns out it is the Lutheran West High School Marching band who was invited in May, 2013 to march in the Magic Kingdom parade. I contacted the school and talked to and texted them and they confirmed this was their band! They were very excited to know I had some pictures and was doing this drawing. I entered it into the 2017 Colored Pencil Society of America 2017 International Show ( and will find out in May if it will be accepted.

Many thanks to Alyona Nickelesen at for her Powder Blender system and helping me understand how to use the system with colored pencils. She gave me a draft to review of her upcoming book on Colored Pencil Portraits (pre-order at I finished reading it about 1/4 of the way through this drawing and completely changed my approach to the faces. I highly recommend the book and will be submitting a review to Amazon. I did a full video (speed drawing) of the process of doing this drawing and posted it on my YouTube Channel. It is a 5 minute time-lapse video of the drawing – a drawing that took many hours to complete!



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A Speed Drawing of Abigail using Powder Blender and Caran d’Ache Grafwood Pencils

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I had a lot of fun collaborating with my granddaughter Abigail to do this portrait for her mom for her birthday. Abigail took a “selfie” and sent it to me. Done with Caran d’Ache Grafwood Pencils and finished with Powder Blender (the powder) using foam brushes and paper stumps for blending. Paper used was Strathmore 500 Bristol Plate Finish (8″x10″).

Caran d’Ache Grafwood Pencils on Strathmore 500 Bristol Plate paper.


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“See Rock City!” Colored Pencil on Ampersand Smooth Surface Art Board – 6 1/2″ x 10″

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I did this fun image for the November Colored Pencil Magazine contest. I decided to plop the little blue house they provided as a target image down in North Georgia where you see “See Rock City” painted on hundreds of barns, stores and billboards. (check out and visit the amazing Rock City in Chattanooga, Tennessee! ( Yes it’s not as precise as I usually do but I decided to go “Grandma Moses” on this one and let a bit of the primative George out for a few days…I’ll go back in my more  traditional work after this departure!!!

“See Rock City” 

Colored Pencil – Polychromos and Prismacolor using Powder Blender system by for layering.

A 6 1/2" x 10" Colored Pencil painting on Ampersand Smooth Surface Art Board
A 6 1/2″ x 10″ Colored Pencil painting on Ampersand Smooth Surface Art Board


Other source images I took and used: 

A barn at the end of Jones Bridge Road at Hwy 141 in Cumming, Georgia
A barn at the end of Jones Bridge Road at Hwy 141 in Cumming, Georgia













Here is the original image provided by Colored Pencil Magazine:

Original Little Blue House file
Original Little Blue House file
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Coffee Cup and Seashell – Black and White Colored Pencils on Toned paper

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Black and White Charcoal from sketchbook with toned paper.
Black, Sepia  and White Colored Pencils –  from one of my sketchbooks with toned paper.
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“Almost Ancestors” Montage in Charcoal

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In 1973 I purchased a book called “Almost Ancestors” with amazing photos of Native Americans that lived in California in the mid 1800’s to the early 1900’s. I did a number of charcoal and pencil drawings of them and was so touched by their faces and what stories they represented. As one Amazon reviewer I read put it “What a sobering realization that in these images lie remnants of the lives of 50 California Native American nations with independent languages and cultures that no longer exist. Like old treasured books–lost in the shuffle of years–these faces mutely bring to light one of humankind’s darkest hours.”

I did this 15″x30″ charcoal drawing in 1975 and recently found and scanned a 35mm slide I had taken of it. I’d forgotten about drawing it and wonder who has it now!

If you’re interested, here is a link to “Almost Ancestors” in Amazon books – it is only available used.

A charcoal montage of images from the book "Almost Ancestors" of native Americans living as early as 1850.
A charcoal montage of images from the book “Almost Ancestors” of native Americans living as early as 1850.
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Nicholas – Son of the Artist by Rubens (Charcoal copy by George Hoffman in 1975)

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Niclaus - Son of the Artist by Peter Paul Rubens -Copied by George Hoffman in 1975 at the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Nicholas – Son of the Artist by Peter Paul Rubens -Copied by George Hoffman in 1975 at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

I can’t believe it was 41 years ago but in 1975 I went to Cleveland, Ohio for a training class for Automatic Sprinkler to learn how to design fire protection systems. While I was there, I visited the Cleveland Museum of Art and took my drawing tablet and an art box with pencils, charcoal, etc. I was able to sit down in front of Ruben’s portrait of his son and fell in love with his work. I checked and it must have been a visiting exhibit because it isn’t in Cleveland now.

Here is his original drawing. In this work, he used only four colors – black, white, red and brown Conte Crayons on toned paper.

This drawing by Rubens is a good example of his use of ony four colors of conte crayons and charcoal - White, Black, Red and Brown.
This drawing by Rubens is a good example of his use of only four colors – conte crayons and charcoal – white, black, red and brown – on toned paper.
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Carol at Our House on Montego Way – 8″x10″ Colored Pencil on Canson Paper

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CarolColoredPencil950pxI really enjoyed doing this portrait of my wife Carol in Prismacolor and Verithin colored pencils on Canson Charcoal Paper. Carol was looking out our window when we lived on Montego Way in Lilburn, Georgia. It’s fun to use the darker gray paper when doing a portrait. It seems like the highlights and darks are really easy to establish early in the drawing.

Medium: Colored Pencil
Size: 8″x10″
Price: Not for sale
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A little pencil sketch for fun…

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