Archive for the ‘Figurative’ Category

Rachel – Quick Sketch

Tuesday, April 26th, 2016

This is a quick sketch of Rachel. She was a recent model at the open drawing sessions held by Kawartha Arts Network.

Rachel - quick sketch - M-JKelley 2016

The poses range in time from one minute to 25 minutes. A portrait sketch like this would be closer to the five-minute mark.

I have worked on some long drawings over the years, but really there is nothing more fun or more interesting — even with its flaws — than that of a 5 minute portrait sketch with simple materials, such as newsprint and charcoal.

I’ll tell you what I like about this sketch. From a technical point of view, her nose is dead on. It is straight with a short curve to meet the philtrum. I also like the weight of her left eyebrow and how it helps to frame the eye. More than that, however, is the intensity of her dark gaze, which creates her true likeness as a woman of youth and spirit.

Drawing: Head in Hands

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Head in Hands (charcoal) by M-J Kelley 2013

Head in Hands (charcoal) by M-J Kelley 2013

I draw a lot of hands. I like the complexity and individuality of them. And you either get them right, or you don’t.

Hands are best drawn when you understand their underlying anatomy. I start a hand drawing with very light and simple geometrics. I move through the drawing as if I were trying to put “ducks in a row” – a lot of back and forth – gauging of values and adding hits of contrast here and there.

And though all of that happens rather seamlessly, I do make sure to pay close attention to one other little thing…the space between the pinky and the fourth finger — because it is larger than you think and getting it right makes all the difference.

Drawing: A Simple Profile

Friday, April 5th, 2013

A Simple Profile by M-J Kelley 2013

A Simple Profile by M-J Kelley 2013

A simple figurative profile drawing made with smooth newsprint and charcoal – two of my most favourite materials to work with.

Alphabet Action Pose

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Letter C - M-J Kelley (charcoal)

Letter C – M-J Kelley (charcoal)

Quick action poses just speak for themselves; energy, grace, motion. The one I have included here, I just love. I call it the “Letter C” because it simply looks like that.

This only encourages me to ask the models to pose for the whole alphabet. Maybe I will.

Quick Sketches: Hand and Foot

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

It’s fall and the local figurative drawing session has started back up…yay! Here are some quick sketches.

Hand Holding Arm of Chair by M-J Kelley (charcoal)

Hand Holding Arm of Chair by M-J Kelley (charcoal)

Underside of Foot by M-J Kelley (charcoal)

Underside of Foot by M-J Kelley (charcoal)

The Magical Dance of Quick Sketches

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Image of M-J Kelley's quick sketch: Portrait of Emily (charcoal on kraft paper) 2012

Portrait of Emily by M-J Kelley 2012 (quick sketch/charcoal on kraft paper)

Every figurative drawing session that I have ever attended begins with quick sketches of the model. They range from 30 second to 3 minute sketches. For some, I think it’s a bit like an athlete stretching. This isn’t really the case for me. I try to be warmed up before I attend the session.

Instead, it is a bizarre combination of loose lines, accurate proportion and line quality — housed within these early sketches that tell me whether I will be drawing well or not. I am at that place as an artist. This is a great place to be.

My long-time friend Ken used to say that “drawing well was like magic dancing from your fingertips.” So right he was.

And that is what this image is for me — a quick sketch where all was right and the magic was dancing. The lines are loose, the line quality is good and the proportion is accurate.

And when it all comes together, as this sketch did, I get to do one more thing that makes what I do so special for me: I get to breathe life into it with an expression or a look.

Figure Drawing with Charcoal and Pastel

Friday, February 17th, 2012

Figure drawing of Emily (charcoal and pastel) by M-J Kelley 2012

Figure drawing was the basis of my art training and continues today as a way of keeping my skills sharp. It also happens to be my most favourite thing to do.

Both images are of the same model – Emily. I always bring with me a few sheets of smooth newsprint and a few sheets of Canson Ingres paper. I warm up with one-minute poses drawing them on newsprint and then switch to the Canson paper for the longer poses.

In addition to several charcoal pencils, I brought a few colourful pastels with me to this session. I intentionally brought odd colours. The blues are soft pastels and the orange-yellow is a hard pastel. Though both are pastels, each is extremely different to work with. The soft pastels are easily the most luxurious, but also the most difficult to work with. They “paint” the paper. You merely touch the pastel to the paper and a deep rich colour is left behind.

The poses are not very long so I really only have time to lay down a smattering of colour, but it is enough to bring out the idea of cool light or warm flesh.

Figure drawing of Emily (charcoal and pastel) by M-J Kelley 2012


Thursday, December 29th, 2011

I love BIG IDEAS. Somehow, I magically come up with a plan for something and move in that direction. When I do that, I give it my all. I dig deep and research, ask questions, stay up late, get up early and do the hard work needed to achieve my goals. This behavior is a constant as long as I have a BIG IDEA.

For the last several years, I have had a BIG IDEA for my artwork. I have worked hard and some of that has paid off. But some, quite frankly, has seen me throwing precious energy into the wind only to watch it fly away.

The latter is unbelievably frustrating.

And so, here I am, reassessing my BIG IDEA. In fact, I’ve been doing it since late September, which is the main reason why I haven’t posted a blog since then. Reassessing BIG IDEAS is a bit paralyzing. It’s a mental transition that seemingly affects all of me. I am no good without a BIG IDEA. The transition takes time, but fortunately, I always seem to be able to move toward another BIG IDEA.

My new BIG IDEA begins with a return in the New Year to my traditional figurative roots. I was never very far from it, but it is hard to do everything I like to do. I have spent the last several years exploring my imaginative work with my surreal art. It will continue on its creative storytelling journey even as I take a more traditional turn. And as for my wildlife drawings, I have opted to only draw a few of them this year.

The biggest thing I am axing from my last BIG IDEA is the art show circuit. I want to focus on being a better artist ― strengthening my knowledge, honing my skills and just enjoying the process. Sometimes the art show preparation is so demanding that it is easy to forget that I paint or draw not for others, but for myself ― for the simple goals of expression and enjoyment.

I have other ideas tucked into my BIG IDEA but for now I think that is a good beginning to the New Year.

Figurative work

Monday, April 19th, 2010

Turn (charcoal) by M-J Kelley

My artistic training began with classical figurative study. My initial work was very technical and precise. However it lacked the animation of life. Recognizing that was key to making a change. I began to trust my judgment and to allow my lines to loosen. “Turn” is a good example of how I was able to retain technical proficiency while adding the quality of emotion.

More Figurative Work

Friday, February 5th, 2010

My mother has asked me to load more figurative artwork into the fine art section of this website…so I will.