Bronze Nude – Getty

Torso after Maillol – 9 x 12 charcoal on toned paper

In the sculpture garden of the West Pavilion are several Maillol bronze nudes, two of which I had time to draw. In many ways this was more challenging than the interior marble sculptures because of the dazzling bright sunlight and the dark reflectivity of the of the form. For this surface I switched to a vine charcoal to suggest the contrast.

Recently on the everyday matters list a question was asked “what do YOU do to really get yourself going when you feel

I guess I’d say I take a preventive approach to that question. I don’t usually get to the stalled point because I’m constantly changing gears in what I hope is a spiral path of growth. Here’s what I wrote in response to that very good question:

When tired of drawing in a sketchboook, draw on some big sheets of paper
If you usually paint big, paint small.
When you’re tired of using watercolor, try pastel or acrylic.
Always work in color? Try black and white.
If you’re getting bored painting landscapes, paint people.
If you usually paint people, try a still life.
Always draw with pencil? Try charcoal.
If you always draw with a dip pen and ink, use a brush pen instead.
When you get weary of doing finished works, do a series of quick studies.
If you always paint tight, loosen up.
If you always draw on white paper, try drawing on toned paper.
Always gravitate to bright colors? Try a subdued palette.
Too weighed down with reality? Try a fantasy scene from your imagination.
Tired of realistic representation? Have a little fun with abstraction.
Everything feel like same old, same old? Go to a museum or some
galleries and get fresh inspiration.
Try an old subject in a new technique.
Try a new subject in a familiar medium or technique.

This ‘shake things up’ approach may not work for everyone, but it keeps me from ever feeling bored. Give it a try!


  1. Wendee
    February 21, 2007

    Karen –
    This series of nudes has been really enjoyable to see. If must be so enjoyable to switch to a brown-tone paper and concentrate on working with darks and lights (at least, I know I’d have fun. Have you considered using a color different than brown for these, just for kicks, too? That would add even more of a different mood – could be interesting / fun).

    I like and appreciate your sharing your thoughts for this post. I received “How to Get Ideas” by Jack Foster, that I ordered to use as inspiration for my new class (teaching). I’m looking forward to reading it (when? Agh!), but it looks like another take on what to do when you’re in a rut, from a bit of a different direction, I’d guess. I’ll share the real gems… All yours are really great. Thanks for sharing the lovely work and all the encouraging tidbits.

  2. Renate
    February 21, 2007

    I just recently started experimenting with charcoal and toned paper. I’d love to achieve the effects you’ve got here!

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