Studying the Planes of the Face

Plaster Cast Models

Plaster Cast Models

Learning to draw the human face can be a bit of a challenge whether you are just getting started drawing or have been drawing for some time.  Why is it so difficult?

The very first recognizable drawing you did as a young child was actually a face.  It looked more like Mr. Potato head than anything else.  A large circle with dots for eyes and a happy face smile.  Often stick arms and legs protruded out of this monstrous sized head!  As you matured, you reigned in the big head and the features got a little better.  But chances are pretty good that the features were nothing more than your stored up left-brained symbols.  Symbolic features, even more advanced ones, still don’t carry the feeling of life.  I teach my students how to move beyond mere symbols to drawing more realistically.

Once you have a better understanding of what the features really look like, then you have to begin to study the planes of the face and how the light and shadows affect those planes.  The slightest shadow in the wrong place will change the plane and change how the person looks.

The plaster cast shown on the right, shows a more distinct look at the planes of the face.  When the light hits it, you can actually see the different values.  The model on the left is more representational to the human face and after studying the model on the right, the student will be better able to recognize the change in the planes on the realistic model.

There is so much that can be done with these models just by changing the lighting and seeing how it changes how everything looks.  These handsome dudes will be our class models in my First Saturday of the Month Drawing Class at Splatter Art Studio 4160 S. Lone Pine, Springfield, MO starting March 5th 9:00 – 12:00.    Students will work on their individual lessons or work with the models.  All instruction is individual and open to students of all abilities.  Class fee is $35 and includes the studio fee.  Contact Audrey Bottrell for more information. 417-848-0894

B2 Cafe Spring Student Exhibit

B 2 Cafe Spring Student Exhibit
B 2 Cafe Spring Student Exhibit

What a wonderful place to have our Art Reception and Exhibit!  The staff was very helpful and the food was fabulous, as always!   Live music was provided by Brian Hickman on cello and Kirsten Weiss on Violin.  It added so much to our reception!

IMG_5661You can view the art anytime at the B2 Cafe now until the end of June.  Students range in age from 11 – adult using various mediums.  Classes offer individual instruction in a group setting.  Our student exhibits give students as well as visitors, an opportunity to meet the artists from all the classes.  Classes are available each week at Hobby Lobby’s classroom.

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Gallery of Talent

This week I viewed the gallery of students’ artworks on display at the Library Station in Springfield. The drawings and paintings are all beautiful and impressive. There are a wide variety of subjects– from still life paintings and drawings to portraits– in many different mediums and styles ranging from classic to contemporary, some with an element of surprise.

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Once I had admired the art for a while, it struck me that I was not just viewing a gallery of pretty pictures. This gallery is a culmination of hundreds, maybe thousands, of hours of learning and instruction, and of the hard work of forging new paths in the brains of students who were determined to learn something new. Behind these works are varied moments of frustration and ease, applying and erasing, trying again, sticking with it, having fun, and finally– success!

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Lastly, this gallery is proof that anyone can learn to draw. I was present when some of the students whose artwork is displayed first came to class with empty notebooks and a new set of pencils. Their progress is incredibly inspiring!

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Don’t miss a chance to visit with the student artists and our instructor at a reception held at The Library Station, 2535 N. Kansas Expressway in Springfield on Thursday, October 2 at 7:00 pm. The exhibit will be up until the end of November.



Art Class is a Community

Hello, I’m Keri Doolittle, an art student in Audrey’s weekly drawing classes. I’m so happy to have been invited to share with you my experiences and thoughts about learning to draw. I first took drawing classes from Audrey over 7 years ago. That very first class forever changed the way I see faces, and it opened up an entirely new set of experiences that I had only dreamed were possible.

Every week we students gather in art class to learn to draw realistically, but once you’ve spent a few weeks in class, you may notice that while art is the primary reason for being there, there are secondary benefits as well. We are trained individually to see and think as artists at our own paces and are encouraged to develop our own highly individual signature styles, but we also form a sort of community.

Janice works on a drawing of a fox in watercolor pencil.

For some, art class is stress relief– a respite from obligations and technical, “left-brain” pursuits. Completely engrossed in our “work”, we lose track for a few hours of the happenings in our worlds outside of class. For others, drawing class is a challenge– proof to oneself that there is potential within for excellent artistic expression. Some students have a story, memory or event that inspires a drawing or painting. And while there’s plenty of quiet time to be completely lost in one’s own work, it’s during the occasional sharing of those thoughts and stories when we realize that although we range widely in age, and our levels of skill and challenges are different, a common thread runs between us.

Connie with her finished drawing of Courteney Cox.

Anne with her finished drawing of Courteney Cox.

For all of us, there’s a palpable feeling of triumph when we’ve successfully brought an image to life from the blank page. Understanding first-hand the difficulty of overcoming the left-brain dominance in order to draw realistically, fellow students give each other genuine and appreciated feedback on projects. We understand too that each person is most critical of his or her own work, and with encouragement from each other and our instructor, we learn to give our own work proper respect. We also regularly share a few laughs, because after all, we’re simply having a great time!

Learning and laughing. We’re always having a great time!

Elaine works on a drawing inspired by a photo of her father’s hard-working hands.

In last week’s class, student Elaine showed us a graphite drawing-in-progress of her father’s hands, and we listened to her tell the story that inspired it. Elaine’s dad was a lineman. When severe storms brought area power outages, his job restoring power would call him away from home for days. She told about how much he loved his work and how her dad is sure to love this drawing. She already has a touching and apt name for it, “He Brought Light in the Storm”.

Whatever my original reasons were for wanting to learn to draw, I have become addicted to drawing and attending art class for one simple reason: It’s my happy place.

Portrait Process for Watersoluble Graphite



I have recently begun to explore with watersoluble graphite and I like what it can do! There are both watersoluble graphite pencils and graphite sticks.  If you are accustomed to lots of little detail, you may be put off with the graphite sticks that look like a really large crayon.  You can sharpen them to a point, but I didn’t want to take the time and I didn’t want to waste an ounce of the graphite which I could save and use as a powder.

Using an illustration board, I began to draw out the basics and started shading rather loosely with cross hatching.  It is important to establish your values early and I like to start with the darkest ones first.  After some of the graphite had been applied, I took a 4 inch brush, dipped in water and swiped across the portrait.  The goal was to establish a wash, but if you over work it, the graphite will disappear.

The process continues as I add more values and apply some water or not until I come to the finished portrait.  I like that I can get detailed where I want detail and leave other areas loose and free.  I also enjoyed applying the graphite quickly and loosely because the water blended it.  The beauty of this product is that it is graphite and when it dries, you can still erase it!!!


New Paintings and New Exhibits!

Reflections in Living Color

Exhibit at the Library Station 2535 N. Kansas Expressway, Springfield, MO

September – November 30th

It’s been a long time coming!  For years I have wanted to venture into another realm of art, just for my own pleasure.  Over this last year I have been working on a new series of paintings I’ve titled “Reflections”.  I am moved by the energy of the colors and the reflections created.  This series is still a work in progress as I continue to go deeper into this subject and be engulfed by the colors as they play off one another and study how the texture changes from the surface of the objects to the reflected surfaces.

You can view my Reflections Series and other paintings at the Library Station now through the end of November.  All paintings exhibited are for sale!  Start your Christmas shopping early!!




Exhibit at Maschino’s 1715 S. Campbell, Springfield, MO
Monday, September 9th – October 30th.

Artist’s Reception, Monday September 9th 5:00 – 6:00 pm

Come out and meet the artists!  I will be one of several artists in this exhibit.  Here you can see some newer portraits done in Graphite, White and Black Charcoal on gray paper.  I am available to do commissioned portraits and I will even take the reference photos for you!

I hope you will make it a point to view these exhibits and be inspired!  Art is therapy and good for the soul!  Come experience it for yourself.