Colored Pencil Tips and New Resources for Drawing Pets

Domesticated animals have a prominent presence in our lives, and for good reason. Dogs, cats and even horses have unique personalities that come out as you get to know them. We find humor in their antics and see in them human qualities that connect us. I, for one, can get lost in my dog’s eyes, wondering what it is she’s thinking as she looks back at me. She’s probably thinking about food, but that’s beside the point. I like to tell myself that she has quite a bit more going on behind those bright, brown eyes, and I’m truthfully quite sure that she does.

Colored Pencil Tips and New Resources for Drawing Pets |

ShihTzu (colored pencil) by Mark Menendez

Because animals are so beloved to us (and to your current/future clients, perhaps), Mark Menendez has come out with four new DVD workshops with to help teach you how to draw horses, dogs and cats using colored pencil techniques. Here he shares with us two of his tips for using colored pencils. Don’t let the title below fool you; even if you’re experienced with this medium, you may learn something new.

Colored Pencil Tips and New Resources for Drawing Pets |

Demonstration on how to draw a horse’s eye, by Mark Menendez (Pin this!)

Using Colored Pencils: Two Things to Know Before You Begin by Mark Menendez

Wash those hands!
Here’s the best advice I can give you: Wash your hands before, during and after working with colored pencils. All paper is sensitive to our natural body oils, so be very careful handling the paper. Also, use a slip sheet to prevent oil smudges. Just wiping your eye or scratching your face will put enough oil on your fingers to ruin a good drawing. Treat your paper with respect.

Create an ideal setting.
Make sure you have a solid surface that supplies ample room for your paper. Most art material stores offer clipboards that are 18×18, which is a perfect size. However, avoid placing the paper under the clips; this will make indentations on your paper. Use artists’ or drafting tape, which has low-tack adhesive, to fix your paper to the clipboard. Rather than using a clipboard, you could purchase a piece of construction hardboard. Never draw on a flat table. When using a drawing board it’s best to sit squarely in a comfortable chair and lean the board against the edge of a table so as to offer you a direct view of the paper. Correct posture will prevent pains in your neck and back, and offer you the best view of your work. Most important is proper lighting; make sure your lighting is satisfactory. ~Mark

Rooster done with colored pencil techniques, by Mark Mendendez

Menendez explains how to draw a banty rooster with colored pencil in this digital lesson. (“Pin” this by clicking here.)

Imagine the in-depth instruction you’ll receive when you order your collection of Mark’s newest releases. In this Passion for Pets kit from North Light Shop, you’ll discover DVD workshops on using colored pencils to draw horses, dogs and cats, as well as an entire video on understanding color, form and value. Each DVD comes with a companion PDF, and the kit includes Realistic Pet Portraits in Colored Pencil (eBook). Apply what you learn to create the likeness of pets that are in your life, as well as any subject that you choose to draw with colored pencil. The possibilities are never-ending.

Yours in art,
Cherie Haas, online editor


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Tim Kennedy: Oil Portraits and Figures

This article on Tim Kennedy by John A. Parks first appear in the June 2014 issue of The Artist’s Magazine.


July by Tim Kennedy

July (oil, 48×56), by Tim Kennedy, required a delicate balance of values to address three lighting situations: inside the porch, outside the porch and the reflection of the lawn and street in the porch windows. The same model posed as both female figures.

In Tim Kennedy’s paintings, we’re invited to witness the passing pleasures of life: friends stop by for a visit; a vase of flowers sits prettily on a tabletop; a wife or girlfriend steps into the shower; the sun, raking a living room, bounces light from wooden floors and soft cushions. The color is attractive and slightly more vibrant than strict realism would allow, conferring warmth and harmonic unity. Fine drawing is much in evidence, with forms carefully delineated in a way that betrays some effort at simplification. The paint, layered in an opaque manner, tends to sit in flat areas with only the occasional blended transition. The effect is to suggest three-dimensional form without going through the long business of rendering every last turn and twist. Leaving much of the color in fairly flat areas enables the artist to organize his compositions as a set of clear shapes locked together in almost classical formations. These are paintings that promise quiet enjoyment and pleasurable reflections, something that Tim Kennedy is well aware of.

The Allurement of Life

“There’s a famous statement by Matisse that compares a modernist painting to a comfortable armchair,” says Kennedy. “The idea is that when a person comes home from work—perhaps as an office worker—he or she might take refuge, comfort, and pleasure in a work of art. I more or less agree with this point of view.” The artist is quick to point out that he doesn’t take this to mean that the viewer should be merely passive. “I think of the viewer’s mind and senses as being in a heightened state,” he says. “I think that’s where the sensation of pleasure comes in.”


Tim Kennedy applies this approach whether he’s painting a landscape, still life, or figure, reorganizing the world in front of him until it yields a formation that allures and gratifies. To achieve this, he always works from life: “I normally paint directly from my subject, even if it’s a subject that I’m forced to reconstruct in some fashion in the studio” (see Modern Painters, below, and Poinsettia Mirror, further below). “For a landscape, obviously, I would paint outside. I might do still lifes in the studio, or I might create setups at little spots in our house. I paint directly, so each day I approach the painting I’m working on as if it were a new piece. I frequently paint over the previous day’s work—even if it was something that I liked.”


Modern Painters by Tim Kennedy

Tim Kennedy painted Modern Painters (oil, 42×60) entirely from life, but not in the same place. The models posed during evenings in Kennedy’s house, allowing the artist to capture the fading light. For the table and flowers in the foreground, Kennedy created a still life setup in his studio.


Tim Kennedy’s Method of Measuring Abstract Forms

Tim Kennedy clearly feels that the richness of information offered by nature, as well as his response to this information, is necessary for the success of his paintings. This wasn’t always so. “The big tug-of-war earlier in my artistic life was between abstraction and figuration,” he recalls. “The attraction of abstraction was that you could paint in the studio and that you didn’t have to refer to a motif. The problem that arose for me was that I was never entirely sure what painting without a reference meant. I ran out of ideas, and ultimately I felt a need to recharge myself from nature. Frankly, I’m never too sure what painting from life means either, but I find the variety in nature endless.”


While all of Tim Kennedy’s paintings are products of a fairly consistent vision, his modus operandi varies from work to work. “I don’t feel that I have a clear-cut, step-by-step process,” he says. “What I tend to do is to take a few simple measurements at the beginning of a painting. Lennart Anderson taught me a method for measuring the figure that he called ‘the three points.’ It’s an optical measuring system. In a standing figure, for example, you would measure from the heel of the weight-bearing leg to the crotch and then add that same length, measuring up from the crotch. The second measurement will land somewhere in the head, such as the nose or hairline, unless the model has unusually long legs.” Sighting procedures of this nature also help him approximate the comparative sizes of forms in his landscapes and still lifes.

Tim Kennedy’s Setup for Success

In setting up to paint, Tim Kennedy takes pains to be in the right position in relation to his subject matter. “When I’m working on a small canvas or board, I like to get as close to my subject as I can,” he says. “If I’m painting a landscape, I usually work with a French easel. I’ll set it up at an angle to the subject so that the distance that I turn my head is as short as possible.” To prepare his palette, he mixes a number of colors—usually yellow ochre, Mars orange, raw umber, phthalo turquoise, dioxazine violet, and terre verte—cut with Cremnitz white. He may also mix a few colors that he sees in the subject, setup, or landscape he’s painting.


Tim Kennedy usually paints in three-hour sessions. “The light will change after that,” he says. “If it’s the first day of a painting, I’ll measure a bit and mark units with lines and dots, which can look very abstract. I like to get the entire surface of the painting covered as quickly as I can. Working back into the painting during subsequent sessions, I might cover the piece with a thinned coat of medium (mixture of two parts sun-thickened linseed oil, two parts damar varnish, and one part Venice turpentine) before I begin the day’s work. This allows me to open up the painting again.”


In the Venetian Tradition


Neighbors in Cheif by Tim Kennedy

In watercolor works, such as Neighbors in Chief (8×10) Kennedy works with looser shapes and takes advantage of the medium’s transparency, letting two colors overlap to form a third color.


Tim Kennedy works in both watercolor and oil, and he relishes the strengths of each. “I like the stickiness of oil, its opacity, and the color action you get from color bumping against color,” he says. “I like how you can work over an earlier version of something.”


When he works in oil, he doesn’t completely resolve the drawing before he starts to paint. “There seem to be two traditions dating from the Italian Renaissance in painting: the Florentine and the Venetian,” Tim Kennedy says. “Florentine painting was dominated by sculptural ideas and tended to establish a contour, which the artist would work within. The Venetian tradition is a painterly one in which the artist might start at the center of a form and work out to an indistinct edge. I consider myself to be part of the Venetian tradition.”


Tim Kennedy says that he also finds the Venetian practice of layering warm and cool colors over each other to be helpful. “If I’m working on a landscape in oil, for example, early stages of the painting can look like a loose version of a Mondrian,” he says, “with a few measurements that might resemble a grid and blocks of color.” He likes strong color, and as he continues to paint, he responds to the way the color of light might influence his subject, but he doesn’t go so far as to “consciously exaggerate color.”


He works wet into wet and, for the most part, doesn’t use mediums that accelerate drying.
Tim Kennedy tries to take a similar approach with watercolor but finds that for this medium he needs to create a more established drawing to paint on top of. “In watercolor the transparency and liquid quality of the marks are appealing,” he says. “I like it when two transparent colors that are far apart on the color wheel can cross over one another to create a new, third color (see Neighbors in Chief, above).”


Design as a Balancing Act

Even though Tim Kennedy begins his paintings with an open, exploratory approach, the finished works have a resolved and balanced feel. In Poinsettia Mirror (below), for instance, a nude young woman stands with her back to the viewer, turning her head to one side. The subject is placed just off center in the composition, supported by the rectangle of a chest of drawers. Carpets, wall, and shadows join with hanging robes and furniture to form a taut interlocking design of clear shapes. Even the shoes lying on the floor form a triangle that’s reflected in the lamp on top of the chest of drawers. The color harmony is also nicely balanced with rich ochres, yellows, and oranges playing against a variety of restrained blues, and one sweet green in the hanging towel on the closet door.


Poinsettia Mirror by Tim Kennedy

To create Poinsettia Mirror (oil, 60×72), Tim Kennedy first painted a 16×20 study of his and his wife’s bedroom and then repainted that scene on a gridded 5×6-foot canvas. Within his studio he set up a similar environment, bringing in objects from his bedroom (lamps, mirror, night table, drapes). The model then posed within this studio setup.


Return Trip (below) displays a more active narrative, featuring a young couple that has just arrived home. The woman is opening the front door and glances back anxiously to her partner who is staring at a letter he has just taken from the mailbox. “My narratives tend to be on the minimal or thin side,” says Kennedy. “I don’t go in for overdetermined stories or dramas in my paintings, but I do have to give the narrative some consideration; otherwise the viewer’s reaction will be ‘Why are these people together?’ Painting people in a space is fun and interesting. I like working out a composition, and human subjects have an inherent warmth that’s missing from inert things.”


Return Trip by Tim Kennedy

In Return Trip (oil, 48×40), the woman’s shirt shows planly how Tim Kennedy indicates the turning of three-dimensional form by changing values without transitional blending.


Some of Tim Kennedy’s paintings are pure portraiture. In Malcolm, LuAnn and Owyn (below), a family group sits on a wicker sofa on a porch. Outside, beyond the sun-swept lawn, is a parked station wagon. The painting is bold and clear but contains enough subtlety and detail to endow the figures with real character and identity. The details of the subjects’ dress and the casual footwear suggest summer vacation with time off to enjoy life and relax. Still, the man intently reads a paper, and the boy immerses his attention in an iPad. Only the mother gazes outward, alive to the situation.


Malcolm, LuAnn and Owyn by Tim Kennedy

In Malcolm, LuAnn and Owyn (oil, 34×48), Kennedy achieves a balanced palette between the interior and exterior portions of the piece. The light patterns and colors behind the man’s head mimic those on his shirt. The child’s shirt picks up the green of the grass, and the gray pavement echoes the grays of the porch floor and walls.


Who’s Who of Tim Kennedy’s Admired Artists

A keen student of art history, Tim Kennedy claims many influences. “I could go on forever,” he says. From among the modern artists, he cites Hans Hofmann and Arshile Gorky: “Hofmann,” explains Kennedy, “because of the constructed, experiential attitude that he brought to his teaching and painting, whether he was working from a subject or not; Gorky for the changes he went through and because his forms had a particular meaning to him that he wasn’t casual about.” Kennedy also admires Joseph Cornell, Philip Guston, and Anselm Kiefer. Selecting favorites among the American representational painters, Kennedy naturally respects Winslow Homer, John Singer Sargent, and Edward Hopper—and has a special admiration for Charles Burchfield, whom Kennedy points out was “a really extraordinary and underrated artist who worked primarily in watercolor.”


Tim Kennedy’s wide appreciation of art, ranging from the Spanish Baroque to contemporary minimalism, is in part the result of a broad art education, starting with his observation, at a young age, of his mother painting in their home. “Eventually I became interested in Modernism and read biographies of Duchamp, Picasso, and Matisse from the Time Life series,” he recalls. “I liked the Pop artists very much at this time; I liked that Pop had something in common with Realism. I became interested in Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, so Pop led me to an interest in Dada.” Shortly after receiving his bachelor of fine arts degree, Kennedy discovered Fairfield Porter. “I admired that he saw his work in a modern context,” says Kennedy, “but that he approached painting as he did, painting his family and his surroundings because doing so felt natural to him.” In addition, while earning his master of fine arts degree at Brooklyn College, Kennedy studied with Philip Pearlstein and Lennart Anderson.

Going Public

As for the future, Tim Kennedy sees himself continuing to paint group portraits, but he does have some changes in mind. “In previous shows I focused on the house that I was living in and the activities that might be encountered there,” he says. “I’ve been thinking of setting my pieces in public spaces.” Accordingly, he has been painting in a state park lately. “From this material I’d like to develop figure compositions,” he says, “such as people camping, enjoying the beach, or playing volleyball.”




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Oil Palettes for Landscapes and Figures

In the November issue of The Artist’s Magazine, Costa Vavagiakis goes into detail about his oil palettes, comparing the one he uses for figures and the one he uses for landscapes. See his reasoning below, along with several of his stunning figures. If you enjoy this excerpt, make sure to subscribe to The Artist’s Magazine for 10 full issues of inspiration, tips, new ideas and instruction, and more!

Figure and Landscape Oil Palettes Compared

By Costa Vavagiakis

I use all kinds of palettes, from rectangular and oval wooden ones, to rectangular glass palettes, as well as gray and white disposable paper palettes. I favor a glass palette for its transparency, smoothness and ease of cleaning. I have a board underneath the glass that has a white and a gray side. When I’m working on a white ground, I use the white side; when I’m working on a toned surface, I switch to the gray. I do my initial mixtures on the large rectangular one laid flat on a taboret. During the painting session I’ll transfer the mixed paint to my oval palette, which I then hold in my hand to get closer to the painting, sometimes working at an angle. Occasionally, I’ll transfer the paint to my disposable paper palette and tape it to the easel or even to the painting itself. This process brings the mixed paint progressively closer to the painting.

Costa Vavagiakis

Rainbow XXXVI (oil on panel, 24×18) by Costa Vavagiakis

I experiment extensively with different brands of pigments in order to find the properties of each color that best suit my techniques. Because I paint in many layers, I have to be concerned with the drying properties of each pigment. I work with faster-drying colors in the beginning and then slower-drying ones for the later layers. I also work with mediums in sequence from faster- to slower-drying—linseed oil with drying accelerators like lead or alkyd in the earlier layers to walnut oil in later layers.

Costa Vavagiakis

Craig (oil on panel, 32×25) by Costa Vavagiakis

My color arrangements have evolved over the years as well. I use different arrangements of colors for my figure and my landscape palettes, which I set up so I can mix in the most versatile and economic way. My figure palette is set up with colors right to left in a color wheel sequence and includes a warm and cool pairing for each hue. Since I’m right-handed and white is my most-often-used pigment, I place white on the far right, closest to my canvas, where it’s easiest to reach. I place earth yellows below the white from lightest to darkest (i.e. Naples yellow, Mars yellow, raw sienna). I find this arrangement best for mixing skin tones. I mix most of my base skin tones with earth yellows, white, cadmiums or burnt sienna, dulled down with Davy’s gray and various umbers, greens or blues. I also mix a more pink-based skin tone using cadmium yellow and Florentine red or permanent rose.

Painting Outside

When I paint landscapes outside, I value expediency. I tend to work on a small scale, usually no larger than 9×12. I work with a variety of field easels (French, pochade, Soltek) and, in order to lighten my load, I transfer my 35 ml paint tubes to 15 ml tubes, or I buy paint from manufactures that sell 15 ml tubes (Mussini, Charvin, Holbein).

Here, I place white in the middle of my palette with warm and cool, light and dark pairings of blues and greens to the right of the white. I arrange the rest of my pigments in a color wheel sequence to the left of my white. This arrangement allows me to mix sky colors quickly and keep them bright and light.

I mix colors with painting knives to see the mixed hue quickly and accurately; this also saves wear on my brushes and allows the mixing of large quantities of paint. I premix colors on my palette and set up light, middle and dark values of each color. It’s important to remember that every premixed color is only a beginning; I further adjust a mixture—this time with a brush—in order to accurately match an observed color note. Typically, I start with the high-chroma hues and then slowly dull them. This insures maximum brightness. I also consider the effect of a color’s viscosity and its opacity or translucence when mixing colors. I use complementary hues to create neutrals, mixing them with white to make various grays. I further mix neutrals and tertiary colors, carefully calibrating them in terms of value and temperature. When I finally apply the color note to my canvas, I may even mix it some more on my painting in order to insure an exact result.

Figure Oil Palette

Figure Palette

Costa Vavagiakis’s Figure Palette

(colors from right to left): raw sienna (Michael Harding), Mars yellow (Williamsburg), genuine Naples yellow light (Michael Harding), lead white no. 2 (Rublev), titanium opaque white (Mussini), cadmium lemon (Winsor & Newton), cadmium orange (Winsor & Newton), cadmium red light (Williamsburg), cadmium barium red deep (Grumbacher), Mars orange (Holbein), burnt sienna (Old Holland), Venetian red (Michael Harding), Indian red (Holbein), permanent rose (Winsor & Newton), Florentine red (Mussini), cobalt blue (Old Holland), ultramarine blue (Williamsburg), cerulean blue (Williamsburg), mesa verde (Vasari), viridian (Sennelier), burnt umber (Old Holland), raw umber (Old Holland), Davy’s gray (Holbein), Mars black (Old Holland)

Landscape OIl Palette

Landscape Palette

Costa Vavagiakis’s Landscape Palette

(colors from right to left): phthalo green (Michael Harding), permanent sap green (Michael Harding), permanent green light (Williamsburg), cinnabar green light (Williamsburg), ultramarine blue (Williamsburg), cobalt blue (Old Holland), Scheveningen blue light (Old Holland), lead white no. 2 (Rublev), titanium opaque white (Mussini), brilliant yellow light (Vasari), cadmium lemon (Winsor & Newton), Indian yellow (Winsor & Newton), cadmium orange (Winsor & Newton), cadmium red light (Williamsburg), burnt sienna (Old Holland), Florentine red (Mussini), raw umber (Old Holland), Davy’s gray (Holbein), Payne’s gray (Winsor & Newton)

If you enjoyed this excerpt, make sure to subscribe to The Artist’s Magazine for 10 full issues full of inspiration, tips, new ideas and instruction, and more!

Meet Costa Vavagiakis

Winner of the Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in 2006, a Gregory Millard Fellowship, a grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and many other awards, Costa Vavagiakis has taught at the Art Students league of New York and the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art. Vavagiakis has also been featured in Drawing Magazine. To see more of his work, visit his website at To watch his videos, visit

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Drawings With Depth

Striking. Powerful. Thought-provoking. As I browsed through the seventh edition of Strokes of Genius: The Best of Drawing, I found myself pausing on every page to take it all in–the details, the colors and the depth of the drawings. This edition features art that speaks to the theme of depth, dimension and space. The featured artists share their insights into the drawing techniques they used, as well as some background on the subject of their artwork. Today’s newsletter features Shadow Abby by Holly Siniscal, who has multiple works included in Strokes of Genius.

Portrait drawing by Holly Siniscal |

Shadow Abby (Prismacolor colored pencil on 140-lb. Arches watercolor paper, 18.5×27) by Holly Siniscal (Pin this!)

Portrait drawing by Brenden Daugherty |

Diggs (charcoal and graphite on toned paper, 15×22) by Brenden Daugherty

“With the soft sculpted silhouette of Abby’s shadow beside her on the wall, I wanted to capture the duality of her audacious spirit and vulnerability,” Holly says. “I used bold, rich complementary colors to match the intensity of her gaze and the sharp contours sculpted by shadow.

“I’ve been experimenting with different solvents to transform the waxy pencil into a more fluid and painterly appearance. The background was achieved through light pencil strokes, colorless blenders and lastly Bestine solvent, which creates that watercolor-like wash effect. The subject appears heightened with hyper-real detail against this loose expressionistic background.”

While there are many contemporary drawings in Strokes of Genius 7, you’ll see that there’s a wide variety of styles included. Now is the best time to get your copy, as it’s part of this Strokes of Genius collection that also includes Strokes of Genius: The Best of Drawing eBook and Drawing: The Complete Course, a new special interest publication that’s filled with drawing techniques for beginners to advanced artists.

Yours in art,
Cherie Haas, online editor
**Subscribe to the Artists Network newsletter for inspiration, instruction, and ideas, and score a free download > Drawing Sketches: Free Sketching Techniques and Expert Tips.

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Drawing, Fall 2015 Preview Video

The fall 2015 issue of Drawing celebrates the human figure, which may be the most fascinating—and also the most challenging—subject to draw. We look at drawings of figures and heads by both Old Masters and leading contemporary artists to learn what makes for a compelling figure drawing.


Visit our online store to purchase a copy or to download the magazine. Even better, subscribe here to make sure you receive every issue. If you enjoy the video, be sure to give it a thumbs up in YouTube, and let us know what you think in the comments.

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Drawing Magazine, Fall 2015 Table of Contents

The fall issue of Drawing is hot off the presses, and as usual it’s loaded with artistic advice and inspiration. The issue focuses on the human body, with inspiring figure drawings from both Old Masters and a wide variety of contemporary artists. Other articles focus on choosing the write paper, drawing ellipses, and the role of artists in World War II.

Click to purchase your copy, to download the digital edition, or to subscribe to the magazine.

Drawing Magazine |

Feature Articles

Drawing People
Inside an international survey of contemporary figure drawing. Interview by Austin R. Williams

More Than Human
The red-chalk drawings of Andrea del Sarto stand as one of the great achievements of the Renaissance. By Jerry N. Weiss
Click here to read more about this exhibition.

Drawing Fundamentals: Drawing the Head in Red and White Chalk
A detailed demonstration of a classical process for drawing the head. By Jon deMartin

Sketches of War
A new book tells how a group of artists took their skills to the front lines in World War II. By John A. Parks


Making Dummy Land Mines, by George Vander Sluis, 1943, ink. Photo: Jeff Vander Sluis. From the book “The Ghost Army.”

Figures of Chaos
Bruce Samuelson uses a spontaneous process to create his fractured spaces and ambiguous forms. By Austin R. Williams
Click here to see an online gallery of work by Bruce Samuelson.


Untitled, by Bruce Samuelson, 2013, pastel and charcoal on rag board, 18 1/2 x 22.


Material World: Paper Pushers
By Sherry Camhy

First Marks: How to Draw Ellipses
By Margaret Davidson


by Margaret Davidson. Illustration for “How to Draw Ellipses.”

New and Notable: Joel Daniel Phillips
By Michael Woodson
Click to see a bonus gallery of portrait drawings by Joel Daniel Phillips.

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Online Gallery: Portrait Drawings by Joel Daniel Phillips

In the fall 2015 issue of Drawing magazine, we feature Joel Daniel Phillips as our New and Notable artist. Phillips’ life-size charcoal portrait drawings of San Franciscans embrace the subjects’ individualism. The artist shows them wearing their usual garb and in many cases holding items or props that are meaningful to them. His portrait titled, simply, G is also found on the magazine’s cover.

Here we present a larger sample of the Phillips’ work. To see more, purchase or download your copy of the new issue of Drawing, or subscribe to the magazine.


G, by Joel Phillips, 2015, charcoal and graphite on paper, 42×94


Theresa, by Joel Phillips, 2015, charcoal and graphite on paper, 42×94


Ben, by Joel Phillips, 2015, charcoal and graphite on paper, 42×94


Jack, by Joel Phillips, 2014, charcoal and graphite on paper, 42×94


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