Life Drawing with Pigment Powders & a chamois 10min -20 min poses

STAPLES SCAN 2015 scan 1 Lately I have been experimenting with a new technique – drawing with pigment powders and a chamois. It has been difficult and I am only successful  for a fraction of my drawings. Here are some examples of my successes so far.


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Gestural & Drawing Practice for the Artist

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Life Drawing – A. Pistrucci

Gestural Drawing Practice for the Artist
Click link above for drawing practice at

I am a huge fan of artists drawing from life – I believe the practice inspires and builds artistic skill like no other. Saying that I find most artists today really struggle with finding the time to attend a figure drawing session in their local area. If you are an artist that is struggling with time and  just cannot fit it into your schedule the answer is HERE:! There is a site built just for you! AND it is great for working on your style, gestures, great tips and techniques as well as lots of different drawing examples. You can draw hands, feet, facial expression, nude figures, clothed figures and animals. The page is designed similar to a figure drawing session with timed subjects in different intervals of your choice 30second, 1 minute , 2 minute, 5-10 and so on! You have no idea how excited I was to discover that I could replace all that wasted facebook time with and really improve my drawing skills at the same time!!!!


Figurative life drawing with Kaye Smillie, Anne Jarvis and Sharron Campbell


Happy drawing Everyone!


Here is some life drawings from some amazing Artists from Vancouver Island BC showing a variety of different styles –


Gesture drawing by Peter Loebel artist Victoria BC Canada

You can view his work here:

Figurative Life Drawing by Kaye Smillie Vancouver Island Artist
Contact Kaye at her email for life drawing workshops

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Another amazing Vancouver Island Artist is Anne Jarvis

You can view her blog here:

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Figurative Life drawing for Fall/spring Victoria BC

2014-02-02 11.27.08

Figurative/ Life drawing/ Portraiture Victoria 2013/2014
NON Instructional – bring your own drawing materials.

One Bit Labs
794 Yates st. (enter from Yates st. side ring white buzzer to be let in the building)
Victoria BC
ph. 250-580-8884 /Facilitator : Angela
Every second tuesday evening 7-9 pm
Sessions in September 2014 – 16th , 23rd
Sessions in October 2014 – 7th , 21st

cost: $7.00 bring exact change

Coast Collective

3221 Heatherbell rd.
victoria bc V9C1y8
ph. 250-391-5522
FALL 2014 – TBA

Drop in Sessions at Xchanges
2333 Government st. Suite 6E
Victoria BC V8T4P4  ph.250-382.0442

Life Drawing/Painting
Monday evenings 7:00 – 9:00 pm
male and female models gestures to 20mins
drop in $10.00 (8.00 for members) 2hr session
call simeon @ ph. 778-430-4647

Xchanges LONG POSE painting/drawing
Portraiture every second wednesday
10am -noon members of the session group take turns modelling
$5.00 per 2hr session
Xchanges LONG POSE
Male & female models nude
10 am -noon
$5.50 per hr
for more information contact Sandra Levy @ 250-658-3346 before 8pm

Xchanges Sculpture: figure studies in clay
10am – 2:30 pm with 1/2 hour lunch break
female and nude models – one four hour pose
$20.00 per session for more information

contact:  ph.250-382.0442 or email:

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Figurative/ Life drawing/ Portraiture Victoria 2013/2014
Goward House Portrait Painters $3.75
2495 Arbutus rd. 1:00 – 3:30pm
****Looking for portrait models -if you would like to be one or know someone who does please contact Jim Mcfarland at*** payment will be your choice of portrait from one of the artists.

Shoal Center Portrait Painters $3.25 or $1.75 for members

Shoal activity center
10030 Resthaven dr.
****Looking for portrait models -if you would like to be a model or know someone who does please contact Angela Montanti at***  payment will be your choice of portrait from one of the artists.
Sidney BC V8L 3G4
ph. 250-656-5537 Anne Hudson for more information

UVIC Dept of Visual Arts 9am -12pm
$5.00 drop in parking $2.25
ph. 250-721-8011 Session start date for fall2014 TBA

Life drawing links for Vancouver Island and BC:
Life drawing in Canada

Vancouver life drawing link:
Other links:

for those artists who are instructing this year remember to post your class and bio on OPUS Community website:

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Exploring Conte Crayons – Experimental Recipe for Fine artists and Clay artists

Conte crayons, paper & clay slabs

Exploring Conte Crayons 


Although most of us have explored the pastel/crayon/chalk aisle of the local art supply center, we might not have had experience with conte crayons or conte pencils. And few know any history or application of these wonderfully versatile and stable materials.

First invented over 250 years ago to supplement the softer pastel sticks being made and to offer a less fragile end product, the conte crayons of today are made of highly refined materials. Kaolin clay (a product fine enough to be used in quality cosmetics) and pure pigments are compacted to create an extraordinarily rich and smooth graphic material. These crayons are harder and thinner (approximately 1/4″ by about 2½”) than traditional pastels but offer a product that is ideally suited for drawing and sketching on a wide variety of surfaces. They can be blended with paper stumps and removed with a kneaded eraser.

Adored by portrait artists because they hold their edge and can be “pointed” for extremely fine detail work, conte crayons are the perfect addition to any artist’s sketch box. Able to overlay traditional pastel and other graphic media, they are often used to make corrections or to add detail to works in progress. Several color assortments are also available in pencil form. Because of their hardness, conte pastel pencils are premier tools for controlled detail work.


Conte Crayons for Fine Artists

Although I am still in the development stage of this recipe I am including it for artists who may wish to experiment further with this process. I have been very excited about my research so far and the quality of marks that I have been getting with my conte crayons on paper. Artist may be aware of their process in creating their art but tend to buy products ready made. Although this is convenient and for many sufficient there is restrictions to every medium and material. If you create your own art supplies you can alter the ingredients and process which will  allow more freedom in your materials and mediums. Your art supplies will work for you rather than against you.  Artist materials are generally a mixture which includes— a pigment (colorant), binding agent and strengthening material and a process (mixing, baking etc). The binding materials are generally wax, gum solution, plaster of paris, cornstarch, and fine clay (kaolin and ball clay mixture). For this recipe I have chosen to use fine clay as a binding agent for its transluscent, water soluble and color qualities.

Not to mention it is historically a favourite of many of the masters and was developed originally by Francois Jean Conte in the 1795 as a replacement for graphite. 

link here:
Conté, also known as Conté sticks or Conté crayons, are a drawing medium composed of compressed powdered graphite or charcoal mixed with a wax or clay base, square in cross-section. They were invented in 1795 by Nicolas-Jacques Conté, who created the combination of clay and graphite in response to the shortage of graphite caused by the Napoleonic Wars (the British naval blockade of France prevented import). Conté crayons had the advantage of being cost-effective to produce, and easy to manufacture in controlled grades of hardness. They are now manufactured using natural pigments (iron oxidescarbon blacktitanium dioxide), clay (kaolin), and a binder (cellulose ether).[1]

Conte Crayon recipe is as follows:

100 grams ball clay
[or you may experiment with a mixture of kaolin & ball clay]
3 grams macaloid

[ OR 5 grams bentonite]

up to 25% pigment depending on strength of color desired.


Mix dry ingredients in a small container. Add a very small amount of water until the mixture is a dry oatmeal texture. Pour onto a piece of wax paper and knead into a ball. If it requires more liquid use a spray bottle on fine mist and continue to knead until it holds together well. You can roll the mixture into any shape or use a rolling pin and cut the mixture into long thin squares or roll out into long rounded shapes. Cut into lengths desired. Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes for soft crayons for harder crayons bake for 20 minutes on a metal cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. If you prefer a very soft crayon let dry without baking in the oven. Conte crayons can be sharpened with a good quality pencil sharpener. Save the shavings to experiment with painting and washes.

Such as Mason stains, wedgewood blue is very popular as well as Yellow ochre & red iron oxide stains are used to achieve the sanguine colors

Pigments may be mixed for color variations.

The conte crayons are also water soluble for washes.

(All of these ingredients can be found at a local pottery supply store).

For Charcoal Black Conte: 

50 grams ball clay

3grams macaloid or 5 grams bentonite
1 tsp Black Stain (non toxic)

20 grams charcoal powder

follow mixing instructions as above – still in the development stage but you can alter the ingredients to suit your specific requirements for your artwork.

I was very pleased with how the homemade conte flowed on the paper and smudged – when applied to the paper it smudged, erased and adhered very well to different types of paper. The conte also was water soluble and behaved like watercolor paint making beautiful washes.  I have yet to add gum solution to see how that would effect the pigment as a medium.

Conte Crayons For Ceramic Artists : Use to draw on Bisque claywork prior to glaze application and firing in a kiln.

Excerpt from

Ceramic Conte Recipe

White Ball Clay 50%

Potash Feldspar 25%

Silica 25%


Macaloid 03%

or 5% Bentonite

Colorant up to 15%

Sieve dry through 80 mesh.

Color oxides/mineral colorants and stains

Mix with 45% water

to which a solution of 1% sodium silicate per 100 gms of dry powder.

Form into rolls or squares cut to lengths.

Fire 800′ -950′

1472’F – 1742′ F

low softer – higher harder

Note***** For very soft crayons Bake in an oven at 450 degrees for 10 minutes [or if you prefer harder crayons bake for 20 minutes] on a metal cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil. If you prefer a very soft crayon let dry without baking in the oven. Conte crayons can be sharpened with a good quality pencil sharpener. Save the shavings to experiment with painting and washes.

Place in a claw grip /drafting pencil up to 1/4” thickness

To reduce smudging before glazing mix 1 tbsp gum solution to 1 pt water in spray bottle. Lightly mist work prior to glazing.

For Pastels or soft fired crayons

Porcelain slip (white) 50gms

add 3% macaloid or 5% bentonite

Mix with stain, oxides, mineral colorants. Use in greenware state or fire 1112′ (600’C) or 1472′ (800”C). Maximum 15% stain or colorant added to mixture.

Campfire Drawing – CathARTic

Writing love notes in the Sand

The family and I went on a camping trip – which is really not that interesting.. but… the reason I am writing this post is because it is an awesome opportunity to learn to draw…. Campfires make charcoal and charcoal plus paper is a great way to learn to draw .
P.S. Parents, This  also keeps the kids occupied while you are manning the CAMPFIRE.

Jordan is 7 and it was an opportunity to teach him how to be resourceful and make art with the things you have at hand. It was also fun to create the drawings and then toss them nonchalantly into the fire and watch them burn. Which seemed cathARTic in a healthy sorta way – you didn’t get attached to your drawings or hung up on how they looked  — you were just drawing and burning. A similiar feeling to burning your books at the end of the school year…I think they just drew pictures so they could watch them burn – I was either creating an artist or a pyromaniac – not too sure yet.

It performed just like a blackboard because the charcoal we made was so soft it didn’t stick to the paper. You could rub it off and start with a new drawing – no eraser needed. It was messy and black which just made it way more fun. Then of course we drew in the sand at the beach and sculpted sandcastles – Altogether I think we learned alot about the real nature of art…. creating ..just creating… no purpose…not for sale…no skill involved…just for fun.

2minute Campfire Drawing