Art Before Breakfast: Measuring!

If you’ve ever wondered how to figure out the proportions of something you want to draw, you’re in luck today. It’s Friday and time for the next in my series of simple videos on how to see and draw, based on my latest book, Art Before Breakfast.

If you’re new to drawing or are struggling with the basics, I hope this series will be helpful. (Here’re the past episodes, in case you missed any.)

Every Friday I work through an idea from Art Before Breakfast. It would be lovely if I could imagine you out there drawing along with me. This particular exercise comes from pages 28-9. If you decide to do it too, please share with me how it turned out! (Share the results on your own blog or on Facebook and post a link in my comments section. Use #artb4bkfst on Twitter or FB).

Art Before Breakfast: Deeper into negative space

Here’s the third of a series of simple videos I’ve made to walk you through the steps of seeing and drawing from my latest book, Art Before Breakfast. This one builds on the previous lesson with a different exercise in how to see negative space. That’s the space between things that helps us understand better what we are seeing and hence better how to draw.

If you’re new to drawing or are struggling with the basics, I hope this series will be helpful. (Here’re the past episodes, in case you missed any.)

Every Friday I work through an idea from Art Before Breakfast. It would be lovely if I could imagine you out there drawing along with me. This particular exercise comes from pages 26-7. If you decide to do it too, please share with me how it turned out! (Share the results on your own blog or on Facebook and post a link in my comments section. Use #artb4bkfst on Twitter or FB).

Art Before Breakfast: Negative Space.

Here’s the second of a series of simple videos I’ve made to walk you through the steps of seeing and drawing as I outline them in the first section of my book, Art Before Breakfast. This one describes an initially tricky concept  — drawing what isn’t there so you can do a better job of drawing what is. If you’re new to drawing or are struggling with the basics, I hope this series will be helpful. (Here’s the first one, in case you missed it.)

Every Friday I work through an idea from Art Before Breakfast. It would be lovely if I could imagine you out there drawing along with me. This particular exercise comes from pages 26-27. If you decide to do it too, please share with me how it turned out! (Share the results on your own blog or on Facebook and post a link in my comments section. Use #artb4bkfst on Twitter or FB).

Art Before Breakfast: How to see.

I’ve made some simple videos to walk you through the steps of seeing and drawing as I outline them in the first section of my book, Art Before Breakfast. This first one is about why you don’t need talent to get started, just a couple of simple ideas that might jog your brain, including a demonstration of contour drawing. If you’re new to drawing or are struggling with the basics, I hope this series will be helpful.

Every Friday I work through an idea from Art Before Breakfast. It would be lovely if I could imagine you out there drawing along with me. This particular exercise comes from page 25. If you decide to do it too, please share with me how it turned out! (Share the results on your own blog or on Facebook and post a link in my comments section. Use #artb4bkfst on Twitter or FB).

Art Before Breakfast: drawing with a friend

My friend Koosje Koene has been staying with us this week. Koosje is a wonderful artist and teacher so we spent a lot of time talking about drawing and sharing our sketchbooks. The weather was great so I showed her around the Village and then we sat down to draw the Jefferson Market Library.

We decided to do a fun exercise— working on a single drawing together. We sat side by side with a sketchbook on our laps and worked back and forth across the spread. As you’ll hear in the video, we strategized a bit before we began, discussing how to lay out the building across both pages. Then we put our pens together and worked out from the center. Throughout, we jumped back and forth across the drawing, adding to each other’s lines, and discussing the drawing as we went.

It was a blast and the whole exercise took us less than twenty minutes. Get a friend and give it a try this weekend!


Every Friday I work through an idea from my latest book, Art Before Breakfast. It would be lovely if I could imagine you out there drawing along with me. This particular exercise comes from the Art Before Breakfast Workbook, to be published by Chronicle Books early next year. If you decide to do it too, please share with me how how it turned out! (Share the results on your own blog or on Facebook and post a link in my comments section. Use #artb4bkfst on Twitter or FB).

PS Sorry if the video is a little noisy — we shot it on a busy morning in New York City!

Art Before Breakfast: couch potato

I usually listen to the radio while I potter around in the kitchen of a morning. Today I put on the TV instead and watched talkingheads discuss the last Republican debate. While they kvetched, I sketched.

I approached it like a doodly collage, capturing moments in boxes that approximate the shape of the screen without being too slavish to reality, and augmenting them with decorative bits.  I kept moving around the page, adding bits to earlier parts, making the whole thing denser and more detailed. It’s a fairly mindless way of drawing, half paying attention to the screen, half to the page.

One trade secret: the pause button on my remote control. I can freeze the action for a couple of minutes and catch a gesture. Other bits I just drew while they were happening or from memory. Or from my imagination.

I used a manga pen and a brush pen in my trusty Stillman & Birn Delta sketchbook.


Every Friday I work through an idea from my latest book, Art Before Breakfast. It would be lovely if I could imagine you out there drawing along with me. This particular exercise comes from p.51. If you decide to do it too, please share how it turned out! (Share the results on your own blog or on Facebook and post a link in my comments section. Use #artb4bkfst on Twitter or FB).

Art Before Breakfast: Toast

Instead of hitting the POST button at 7 am as per usual, I sat down to draw my breakfast.

This particular slice comes from a loaf baked by our pal, Michael. He brought it to a wine tasting we hosted last weekend and it was so delicious I managed  to stretch the loaf out all week. Today I hit the heel.

Drawing toast is an adventure. It’s an opportunity to slow way down and delve deep. I begin by slowly driving my pen around the perimeter and then, quadrant by quadrant, I work my way through every nook, crumb, divot, pit and hole. It’s not difficult work but it’s absorbing and clears the mind.

I have gone into this in more depth here on the blog,  in Art Before Breakfast and in Seeing at SBS but all you really need is a pen, a piece of paper, some toast, and about 10 spare minutes.


Every Friday I work through an idea from my latest book, Art Before Breakfast. It would be lovely if I could imagine you out there drawing along with me. This particular exercise comes from p.38. If you decide to do it too, please share how it turned out! (Share the results on your own blog or on Facebook and post a link in my snows-bread-recipecomments section. Use #artb4bkfst on Twitter or FB).

And if you’d like to draw the same bread I did, here’s Michael’s recipe: