Drawing – Great Masters – Kathe Kollwitz

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Kathe Kollwitz, Self-Portrait. 1924. Lithograph. Courtesy Fogg Art Museum.

Kathe Kollwitz  was a German printmaker, painter and sculptor. http://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%A4the_Kollwitz

Her work was known for its emotion and sorrowfulness.  She often depicted poverty, war, death and human degradation.  Kathe Kollwitz used tone to create mood in her drawings  using thick crayon or slashing ink lines.  The picture above seems as near to a perfect drawing as I can imagine.   Kathe has incredibly used no restatements or “feeling out” lines.  She scultped the hollows and creases of the face using heavy pressure and the side of the crayon.  Lighter pressure was used elsewhere.  Sometimes Kathe Kolwitz seemed to build up areas in successive layers.

By using the sharp edge of the crayon Kollwitz has been able to define the features within the soft modeling which has gone before.  You can see this in the edge of the face, forehead wrinkles and in the line of the mouth.  It looks like a razor or the sharp edge of a knife has been used to scrape out highlights on the nose and lower lip at the end.

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See how the drawing then simply ends making the image all the more compelling.


See if you can copy Kathe Kollwitz’s handwriting by using a stick of charcoal or Conte crayon.  Using the side of the crayon, press down for the darks and ease up for the lights. A tonal variation may also be obtained by means of gradually adding overlapping layers with the crayon.  Lastly, use the tip of the crayon to define the drawing and sharpen up details.

Katte Kowlitz

This is a drawing I did after one of Kathe Kollwitz’s sad drawings of a mother and child.

To read more about Kathe Kollwitz’s sad and poignant works look here…





Gift Like an Artist

My Name

This little piece of artwork makes a lovely gift and looks amazing in a frame.  Your friends will not believe it has been done by you!   Would you like to create either your name or your friend’s name as an artwork?  It is easy and fun to do and takes only 30 minutes or so.

All you need is:

  • Some good quality paper (able to take ink and water based mediums)
  • a stick or twig from your back garden or wherever.
  • 2 or 3 rolls of masking tape, 1 wide, narrow and medium widths. ( If you only have once size on hand, tear it up to make smaller pieces.)
  • A bottle of black ink, or you can use another colour for the background if you wish.

You can make your work on a plain white background as above or put in a watery wash as I have done below.  This was done with some sienna coloured ink and lots of water.  Be random with it and put down the strokes arbitrarily.  Once the ink is down, leave it to allow the water to run everywhere and make interesting shapes. One thing, keep it light, mine was a little too dark for my liking here.

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Next, tape your page every which way and that using all three widths of masking tape.  Allow this to be very random, I usually shut my eyes when I do this.

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Grab the twig, dip it in the ink and write the name (in this case “Christine”.)  Do not keep dipping the twig into the ink.  Dip in once and keep writing until there is no more ink on the twig. Then dip the twig into the ink and start again.  This is what gives the work a different quality of line throughout.

I did my writing in an upright style but you can use any cursive style you like.  Printing could also work, just try it.  Experimenting is fun and the more you do the greater choice of artwork to give away.

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If you find it difficult to write over the tape, proceed anyway as best as you can.  Be gentle and try not to tear the tape.

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When the ink is dry (about 30 minutes), peel the masking tape off and voila!  What magic you have.  Make a dummy frame, put it around the work and the magic will continue!

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Doing this exercise to your favourite music can unlock different scripts depending on the speed and sound of the music…..and the magic continues!

If you like to work in water based mediums check out my post on how to create an easy cityscape after Paul Klee

Look at the Hand

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“Why is your hand favoured as a part of your body?  Because it is your body expressing as a hand.  Thus, the hand not only has the strength and creativity that is required in a given activity, but it also has feeling and tenderness.  It is a hand, but it is also “YOU!:  Eric Butterworth

Courage – Daily Therapy for Artists

A Gatherine of People

“In all men I see myself.  Not one barley corn more, not one barley corn less.  And the good or bad I say of them, I say of myself.”  Walt Whitman


Cubism – The First Form of Abstract Art



“Les Damioselles d’Avignon” 1907, Picasso  Accessed from Khan Academy on 14/10/2016

Cubism was the first form of abstract art and is rarely practiced by artists these days. The most famous Cubist work (above) is titled Les Damioselles d’Avignon (1907) by Picasso.  This painting was built up from cubes.  Picasso created this work to shock the art world and he certainly succeeded.

Here is another Cubist work by Marcel Duchamp and another fine example of Cubism.


“Sonata”, 1911 by Marcel Duchamp Oil on canvas.  Image from Olga’s Gallery, accessed 16/10/2016.

I recently did a workshop on Cubism and will pass on the details here.  The first exercise was to do a Cubist sketch followed by a painting.

Firstly I drew an apple and divided it randomly with horizontal and oblique lines.  I then extended the edges to abstract the shape even further.   I then shaded in starting from the bottom and going around the apple.  The dark always touches the light and the light always touches the dark.

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To commence the painting I drew a still life with a paint brush and followed the same procedure as above.  The rule of thumb is that the objects must be either sitting separately or over-lapping, not touching.  Background lines are included and best done more sparingly to subtly delineate background from foreground.

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I then proceeded to paint in the shapes being aware of the light which I placed on the left-hand side of the objects.  This required some time consuming blending.  For the best result it helps to use the paint directly from the tube without any water.

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Cubist works were often done in monochromatic tones. The fundamental qualities of Cubism are found in detachment and intellectual control, objectivity combined with intimacy, an interest in establishing a balance between representation and an abstract pictorial structure.

Here is a very powerful nude in the Cubist style by artist Corne Akkers from the Netherlands.

Corne Akkers


Corne has recently moved on to a new form of cubism with curved lines replacing the angular marks of Cubism.  This style is called Roundism.  Here Akkers combines crosshatching with Roundism.

Braque and Picasso were the founding fathers of cubist drawing.