Spring 2018 Evening Portrait Drawing class at the St. Louis Artists’s Guild

It was my distinct pleasure to teach a new class this past February and March 2018 at the St. Louis Artists’ Guild, Evening Portrait Drawing.

Beginning with learning the generalized proportions of the human head, we then moved on to observing and depicting the various planes and angles of the face, and how each surface reflects light differently.  We discussed the concepts of chiaroscuro and tenebrism, the differences between core and cast shadow, and how to effectively use simultaneous contrast to add drama and make the drawing pop.  The students experienced various methods of drawing – building the drawing up from the base tone of the newsprint, toning the paper with charcoal and employing subtractive erasing marks to define highlights and planes within the drawing, and beginning with brown kraft (butcher) paper as the drawing surface.  When working with kraft paper, students experienced how a warm-hued surface changes the level of tone applied and the media and mark-making choices, such as when an artist might use white or black conté, compressed charcoal, or vine charcoal, and how that differs from toning the paper with charcoal directly.

We also explored several types of lighting composition – high key, middle key, low key, and full key chiaroscuro – and discussed how an artist can use light as an additional tool for conveying atmosphere and meaning within a drawing.  I was very pleased with their progress from the beginning to the end of the eight week session, and really enjoyed seeing everyone’s individual drawing techniques and mark-making develop with each new exercise.

Below are images of student drawings which we did at the beginning of the first class, before instruction began.


At the beginning of class, I’m always running around too much to remember to photograph, but here are some photos from the last three classes of the session:


Additionally, my class and I were invited to display our drawings in the entrance hallway gallery during the Clearly Human III exhibition, which ran from April 13 to May 26, 2018.  I’m very proud of my students and all their hard work!


Display Clearly Human III at the St. Louis Artists’ Guild, SP18 Portrait Drawing class exercises; 2 drawings on the left by Lloyd Jones; drawing on the right by Carol Fichtelman

Display at Clearly Human  III, St. Louis Artists' Guild - SP18 Final Chiaroscuro Drawing Demo by Elizabeth M. Willey and Low Key Class Exercise by Peter Pagano

Display at Clearly Human III, St. Louis Artists’ Guild – SP18 Final Chiaroscuro Drawing Demo by Elizabeth M. Willey and Low Key Class Exercise by Peter Pagano

Summer class roundup!

My summer Evening Basic Drawing class at the St. Louis Artist’s Guild has recently wrapped up, so I thought I’d share some images of my amazing students’ work!

The first few drawings of teacups are from the first class, before instruction began, then pictures of a few of the classes, and finally, the drawings from the final project of the last class.  So proud of everyone’s progress!



Next class begins June 8!

I will be teaching Evening Basic Drawing again this summer on Thursday nights from 6-8:30 pm beginning in 2 weeks on June 8.  The class is 8 weeks long and runs through July 27.    If you are interested in joining, sign up today!  The deadline to register is Wednesday, June 7.  There are still seats available & I’d love to see you!

Here is the link to sign up on the St. Louis Artists’ Guild website:  Evening Basic Drawing – Summer 2017

Summer 2016 Basic Drawing Artist's Guild - 19 of 27

Summer 2016 Gershon Spector – Chiaroscuro project

Summer 2016 Basic Drawing Artist's Guild - 22 of 27

Summer 2016 Connie Farhang – Chiaroscuro project

Spring 2017 Evening Basic Drawing

This past February and March 2017, I was honored to teach another class of wonderful, dedicated Evening Basic Drawing Students at the St. Louis Artists’ Guild.  We had a big class, 8 people, and I was very pleased with everyone’s progress.


Mary Forrester was our gesture model for the first class, who inspired us with many elegant poses.  During the first meeting, I introduce gesture drawing as a way for students to start loosening up their drawing motions and to connect what they’re seeing in their visual field with what their hand is doing on the page, with the goal of eventually looking at the subject more, and the drawing on the page less.

For the fourth class, we did Intuitive Perspective, during which students learned how to gauge accurate perspective by noticing the angles of the edges of surfaces and how they relate to one another, as well as the angles of the empty spaces between or around the objects, so that they could create a convincing depiction of depth.  For a couple of the still lifes, I had the students either move closer to the objects, or to the side, so that they could understand just how much the perceived angles of rectilinear objects change when viewed from different vantage points.

For the sixth class, we started by doing extended line drawings of simple objects that had a lot of empty spaces between legs or rungs of objects so that the students could learn how to further enhance their drawing’s proportion by sketching how the different angles of each part of the object align with other parts, helping them notice the shape of the spaces in between the physical elements.  To further enhance that idea of negative and positive space, I had the students shade the area around and between the various parts of the object dark, so that they began to think of those spaces as the object of their drawing, and then I had them erase out the object itself, as if it had been cut out of the picture plane.  Many students expressed surprise at just how much this activated the various shapes for them, and really helped them to understand that if all the angles and spaces between the various parts looked proportional, then the object itself would by default then appear more proportional.

During the next class, we further explored that idea by using the Perceptual Grid/Mondrian exercise by starting with a gesture drawing, as they normally would, and then using rulers to add a fine grid of lines horizontally and vertically across the picture plane, to help analyze the spacing between objects, making corrections along the way.

We studied Chiaroscuro drawing for the last two classes, giving the students time to really delve into understanding how continuous tone and dramatic lighting can be used to create a wide range of lights and darks and convey a greater sense of depth, even atmosphere and emotion.  Chiaroscuro is a classic technique used since the Renaissance using high-tone, mid-tone and low-tone mark-making to depict shape and volume in drawings and paintings.  The first part, chiro means ‘light’ and the second, scuro means ‘dark’, in Italian.

For the first half of the final class, I had the students tone the paper with charcoal, so that they could use that as a mid-tone background to help better gauge the range from light to dark.  The lights were created by erasing out areas (and some students later added white conté), and the darkest darks were created by adding more charcoal, black conté, or compressed charcoal to the surface for rich, deep blacks.  I seem to have missed taking in-progress photos of the charcoal mid-tone drawings from this portion of the class, unfortunately, but you can see some of my prior students’ Chiaroscuro drawings here:  Summer 2016  and here:  Fall 2016.

For the second half of the final class, I added the additional challenge of using toned paper (paper that has a noticeable color other than white) as the drawing surface, so that the brown of the kraft paper acted as the mid-tone, rather than a layer of medium charcoal.  Not only was the surface texture toothier than the smoothness of the newsprint, causing the mark-making to act differently, but converting the idea of a color other than grey as a mid-tone when we’ve only been working mono-chromatically added another element of difficulty.  My students were up for the challenge!

Here are some finished pieces from the Spring class:

Thank you to all my amazing students!  It has been a joy to have you in class!

End of 2016 Wrap Up

2016 was a wonderful year for me artistically, as I began to teach at the St. Louis Artists’ Guild, in addition to creating, showing, and selling artwork.  I’ve written about my summer class previously, but I didn’t get the chance to write about my Fall Evening Basic Drawing class yet.

Fall, being a super busy time for many people, had a much smaller class enrollment.  While a little unusual at first, ultimately, it led to a really one on one, personal connection between my students and I.  We had lots of great conversations about life and art while they were working on their drawing projects, and I was very pleased to see how much they had learned and grown in confidence by the end of the session.  Here are just a couple of photos of the lovely work that my students did during class:


Carol Fichtelman, Chiaroscuro still life, final class


Carol Fichtelman, Chiaroscuro still life, final class


Carol Fichtelman, Chiaroscuro still life, final class


Jean Jensen, Chiaroscuro still life, final class


Jean Jensen, Chiaroscuro still life, final class


Jean Jensen, Chiaroscuro still life, final class

I will be teaching Evening Basic Drawing again during the Winter/Spring session, running for 8 weeks on Thursday night from February 8 through March 30, 6 to 8:30 pm.  There’s still plenty of time to sign up if you’re interested in joining in the fun, so be sure to sign up through the St. Louis Artists’ Guild website:  http://www.stlouisartistsguild.org/new/node/2461.  I believe you can sign up all the way through the first night of class.  The fees and supply list are included on the class webpage.  Hope to see you there!

Evening Basic Drawing through the St. Louis Artist’s Guild – Round 2!

I will be teaching  a second Evening Basic Drawing class through the St. Louis Artist’s Guild on Thursday evenings during the fall, from 6-8:30 pm beginning Thursday, September 8, and running for 8 classes through Thursday, October 27.  Sign up today!😀  I’d love to have you in class!


This is the supply list:  Basic Drawing Fall 2016 Supply List – Elizabeth M. Willey

Below are some photos of my summer students with their work.  The teapots were drawn at the beginning of the summer session, before any instruction began.  The chiaroscuro drawings at the bottom are from the last 2 class sessions.  I am so proud of my students!  We had a great time and they all worked really hard to continue to develop their skills!



She has feet & a hand and a half! :D

I’m still working on the upper hand, the cervical vertebrae, and the skull. There is still yet a wolf to join Red Riding Hood in the picture and I will be solidifying the outlines of the bones much more. Once the bones are firmly in place, I will be laying muscles over some of the sections, but not all.