My evolution/ journey as a draftswoman

I could largely divide my approach to drawing into 3 main stages: The pre-Atelier, Atelier, Glenn Vilppu stage, and lastly the (omg I can’t believe I’m saying this) Russian Academy stage.

This might be a technical article for most people who might read this, but very interesting for me. If you are not an artist, you might still find it interesting because I will go through different approaches to drawing and try to explain them in simple, non-technical language. If you ARE an artist, you might still find it uninteresting because you have your own approach and who cares about the rest? So We’ve established that everyone will find this boring except for me, and now I’m ready to proceed writing it.


Most interesting to note is that, throughout my life, my motivation as an artist has hardly changed. The things I want to express are mostly the same, even though the way I express them is different. The method hasn’t affected the content very much, but rather gave me different tools to express it.

My pre-Atelier stage, or the childhood stage, is, I think pretty common. I drew the appearance of shapes and outlines, the way most people who haven’t learned drawing do. It had very little sense of 3D and the idea of shading or rendering was foreign to me. I drew in order to tell a story and shapes were more or less enough for that.

The stage before the atelier was a couple of years when I attempted to teach myself observational drawing by copying photos. I thought I was awesome because I could copy well. Tooks a few years to remove this false pride off of myself and realize how foolish it is. But yes, I did the photo-copy thing for a while, until I realize I was somehow stuck. Not knowing why or how but just having it as a feeling.

The next stage is the Atelier stage. I spent 3 years studying in the full time program at Georgetown Atelier in Seattle. It was rigorous and meticulous training that taught me a few key ideas.
For one, it was the first time I spent a lot of time drawing from observation and gained tools to learn to observe. It’s a funny thing, that observing is something that has to be learned. But you literally, cannot successfully copy the complexity of what your eyes see without a method in mind.
But more basically, in terms of drawing the figure, I learned to establish logical connections within the drawing, I learned the idea of proportions

New Studio Assistant!

Hi all. I’d like you to meet my newly hired studio assistant, Ralph. My go-to guy for abstract art and general help for rough painting days. Patty The Painting Donkey(Picture credit: Adam Harnett / CATERS NEWS)

Some days… no matter how hard you try, paintings just don’t come out right. And that’s when you call Ralph to the rescue.

Available for hire; please contact me for rates and times.

Conclusion of Summer outdoor Painting

Forest Trail

Forest Trail, Oil on Canvas 11”X 15”

This summer I had the luxury of going outside and painting. It was relatively a new experience for me and I enjoyed it a lot.

Sometimes I would go by myself and sit in a forest for hours, painting, and sometimes go with a friend and do short studies of things.

At the beginning:

Forest Trail Beginning
A couple of small, single sitting studies:

Water Lillies, Study  Thyme for soup
It’s been a lovely summer. I hope I will get more opportunities for outdoor painting now that the summer is pretty much over here in Seattle.



I love sculpting. Sometimes, while working on a painting I would go get something from my art room, see this sculpture and start working on it, forgetting all about what I was doing before. It sends me to a meditative state of mind and satisfies my love of the human figure and anatomy.

I made this sculpture during a sculpting class I took a couple of months ago. It was my first sculpting class, though I sculpted on a small scale at home before. This time I learned how to do it properly – how to construct an armature and use sculpting tools (though I still prefer my hands for most things).
The instructor for the class was actually a sculptor whose work I really like. You can check out his website Here.

So… about this piece: It is currently made out of oil-based clay and is connected to a pipe to provide it with support since I haven’t casted it (quite an expensive process). It is 22” tall.
The class was 10 sessions and was not enough time for me to finish everything, so I actually worked at home without a model for a while to finish it. I can’t say I find this sculpture perfect. But hey, I need to stop telling you what I think and just let you see it for yourself. So here it is. I took pictures from all sides, more or less and from some favorite angles.

Back Back_3QuarterRight Back_3QuarterRight_Full2 Back_Full Front Front_Full Front_Full_NaturalLight2 Front-right_full Head_ProfileBack_Left_full Front_Left_Detail
So.. that’s it. I have plants for more sculptures: some I plan to do from imagination and use them as a way to further study anatomy as I go, and at least one I plan to do from a model as part of an “open studio” sort of thing.

One last note: I’ve been working on finishing a couple of pieces that have been lingering for a while now since my last semester at the atelier. These two are definitely my favorites from all I’ve done at the atelier and have a lot more “me” in them than the other works I’ve done. Turns out my mind works very slowly in figuring out “big picture” things in art. It takes me a while of staying away from a painting to realize what it needs. Hopefully I will be able to display them soon.

Thanks for reading and have a nice rest of the week.


Graduation in a week!

I’d like to invite you, reader, to my graduation party which is also a student show of Georgetown Atelier and end of the year party.

There will be Drinks (important!), student art show of the best works from everyone throughout the year, refreshments and music.

I’d love to meet you in person if you are in Seattle on that day and attend.

Here is the Location. The Date is June 29th, 6pm-9pm, with the part dedicated to the graduation ceremony at 7pm.

GT Atelier Party Flyer Front  GeorgetownAtelier_2013_Back

Hope to see you there,


The painting process during a short pose (weekly #11)

Here are the stages I went through while painting a portrait during a short amount of time (5 days, 3 hours in the mornings). I painted this a couple of months ago, when I started expanding my palette.

I started out with a pencil study to decide what I want to include, how to crop the painting and to study the general value range.
Then, I started working straight on the canvas, blocking-in the figure with thinned-out paint and brush. The next day when the underpainting was dry, I started applying paint using about 7 colors. I run out of time before I could complete the painting but I still enjoyed the process.

Here it is:

Pencil study:

Paint Block-in:

The developed Underpainting:

The painting after additional 2 days:

I think it’s interesting to see the facial expression and mood change from version to version. One of the major challenges I encounter and will encounter in painting is how to live up to that initial vision a painting has for me.
Going through various difficulties in the execution of a painting, it is hard to still keep in mind that initial inspiration and vision, but I think doing so makes the painting better.


More on integration (my weekly post #8)

I find myself with only scattered thoughts to write about this week.

In my art school, Georgetown Atelier, I am still working on a 4 week long painting I posted about last week. More to come about that later.


One thought I had, is more about the subject of integration of the painting around its theme as the key to good art. Here is an example of how the lines of an artwork serve to enhance its theme. It’s a digital artwork I found on Deviant art. Here is the link to the page (and the artist who created it).


(Click to enlarge).

The lines in the right picture are added by me. They all converge into one direction: the direction of motion and they help convey the sense of purpose, motion and how the two of them are flying together (since these lines end up putting them in the same spot). That’s what the theme is: A a deep romantic bond based on a similar way of experiencing life: Instead of fear or weakness, finding joy and strength in this dangerous flight.

What I find interesting is that this sort of convergence of lines is not “classical”. I am definitely not an expert in art history nor in the study of composition, but I would bet ya, that nowhere in any art book about composition will you find a template that describes these lines of arrangement of focal points. The reason these lines “work”, I believe, is simply because they serve the theme – they serve the conceptual meaning of this work, and not because they happen to fall on spacial harmonies within the frame. In other words, they “work” because of the concept of the piece, not because of its precepts (it’s not the “purely visual” that makes them “work”).

Personally, what appealed to me about this digital work was the way it illustrated a deep bond: not through physical proximity, loving eyes or touch, but through spiritual values illustrated by each of them individually (and hinted by the way the male is looking at the female (I am tempted to say “man” and “woman” but am afraid of being targeted by a mob of angry nerds telling me that this is a different race than humans).

A small note: I don’t see myself painting in this style, but I very much like this artwork. I would often display different artworks here in different styles, none of them necessarily something I care to adopt as my own style. Please take it as such.
Later on I’d also like to “chew through” examples showing how value (how dark or light things are) can serve to enhance the theme or break it as well as how other elements in a painting can do that.


I’ll leave the rest for next week.
Have a good one!


My weekly post #7

In the next 3 weeks I’ll be working on a portrait. It will be 18X24 inches, with color! Yes, real color, not just monochromatic or 3-4 colors like I used before.

I’ve worked on a few studies this past week as preparation for this painting to allow me to work methodically during this pose.

Here are the drawing and the color study:


(Click images to enlarge)

If the painting turns out well, I shall post an image of the final result 3 weeks from now 😀

More news from the front rows of the battlefield: I’ll be discarding my monochromatic painting of a skull which I’ve been working on for 3 months and starting over. Yes, starting over. Too many mistakes, too many re-do’s and doodoo’s. Start anew.

This project taught me a few things, mostly what NOT to do.

  1. Don’t work into an area you haven’t oiled out.
  2. Don’t work into an area without matching the existing paint first.
  3. Don’t work all over the place, work one area at a time.
  4. Don’t “improve” areas before seeing how they fit in the big picture (this is what my instructor said and I’ll be darned, I think he’s right).
  5. Don’t be afraid of long-term projects. Like, seriously, girlfriend, what is your problem?
  6. Beware of a subconscious “To-Do” list; it can blind you to seeing what’s actually in front of you.

Regarding the “To-Do” list: It was an interesting discovery to realize it exists and how it affects my work. My subconscious would decide that I do some systematic error, and before you know it I was making the opposite error all over in an attempt to compensate. Conclusion: Just look at what’s in front of me, the rest of the “advisers” must realize their secondary position. When it comes to decision making, I’m the boss.




Integration is the key to good Art (weekly #6)

OK, I have had so many thoughts this past week about art I don’t even know where to begin. Maybe I should just serve you, the reader, with the salad of my thoughts, although I am not a fan of random collection of things and nobody likes a salad with random ingredients. I mean, really… cabbage may be OK in some pie, but it can totally ruin a salad, don’t you think?

Nevertheless a salad it is, but I shall try to control the ingredients.

So one thought I had is Why I want to paint to begin with (vs. some other form of art).

What I like about painting vs. animation or a movie is that it captures one particular moment and by capturing a moment it can make the drama and significance of it more powerful than if it were part of a sequence of motion. I think a painting also has the power to capture motion is such a way that the painting seems to show the motion better than if it were a movie or an animation. Here is one example I stumbled upon recently, a painting by an artist named Carmen Mansilla.

Choosing that particular moment inside the sequence of motion that best represents it can show the motion more clearly.

Another reason I like painting, vs. sculpting, for example, is that a painting gives the artist the power to control the universe in which the character belongs, not just the character. Sculpting, however, sends a different message: that the figure is the only important thing. Its pose supersedes space and time, it is important by itself, regardless of its surrounding.


Another thought I had is a better understanding of something I read in “The Romantic Manifesto” by Ayn Rand. Ayn Rand wrote about the key to evaluating art. If I may paraphrase (and I may, because I am the only one here to give myself permission), she says that art is as good or as bad as the degree of integration its execution has around its theme. Apologies to the reader for not being able to provide a direct quote, please search the book if you are interested where she discusses the idea in depth.

What does this mean, then? It could take many forms. Harmony is a form of integration. Harmony of lines or of color. This is something I also learned from my teacher, Tenaya Sims: to see lines or “rhythms” in a painting of sculpture. In some cases, that is, in good art, those rhythms are not random, but they center around the painting’s theme (or main subject, or concept). I am not speaking here of the subject matter, but of the spiritual content that is communicated.

Here is one example, it’s a sculpture by Karl Jensen:

(Please follow the link to see the sculpture). Bellow is that picture but I drew the lines of “rhythm” I saw in it.

The “rhythm lines” here are variations on a theme. Each is different but they all have something in common. The lines of the folds, for example, all have the same degree of curvature and all converge into one point. The line of the fabric and the line of the stretched side of her body do the same. Now how do these lines serve to emphasize the sculpture’s theme?

The concept is hard to put into words, but judging by her posture, I would analyze it in the following way: Her body is facing one way but her head and arms are starting to tilt sideways. She looks like her center of gravity is in that previous posture (of facing the viewer in this photo), but she wants to go out to that new place. Her arms create a separation between the bottom part that is facing “in the old direction” and the top part which is facing “in the new direction” and it looks as if her arms do something like half push down that previous “direction” and half lift up toward the “new direction”. The wind is blowing from the direction she is facing and wants to go to.

Her arms create a circle that puts the base of the sculpture in the center and leave the head coming out of that circle, which implies breaking through into something new. All the “rhythm lines” created by the fabric folds, her body tilt and her arms all point into the point of compression (her right waist). Now why is that point important? It’s because that is the turning point. If you try to follow the movement of the figure in the “next moments” when she turns out, the rotation of her body would revolve around that point of compression which is also, I believe, the center of gravity for a person holding this pose (this is why she holds her left arm outwards – to balance the weight).

All in all the lines serve to emphasize the concept of the piece which is “Dare to Dream” – a turning point from that which exists and hold little interest to that which is new and exciting.


OK, I think I’ll save the rest of my thoughts for next week, this analysis was quite draining. In fact, I don’t think I dare to display my own work in this same post after analyzing this sculpture. Don’t get me wrong, I value my paintings a lot, but sharing them here and now would hardly be a good way to celebrate the effort I put into them because I believe they would appear boring compared to the above (heck, they bore ME compared to the above and I’m the one who made them).
Instead they should be judged in their proper context which is my education. They are exercises more than they are my art (although they have some of that, too).


Have a good week!