Digital Dapples

These new digital abstractions were done in Procreate app for iPad. Using a brush called bonobo chalk, I’ve created images that have a diffused, spatter-like quality. One has a white background showing subtle overlapping color mixtures that are almost like miniature pointillist painting. The other two compositions have dark backgrounds that emphasize the intensity of the speckled colors. A technique that helped create them is to use a “brush” as an eraser. It can cut through or around dappled areas to create negative lines.

White background with “pointillist” overlapping
Dark background emphasizing bright areas of color
Dark background emphasizing bright speckled areas of color
negative lines created with “eraser” brush

Life Drawings August 11 2021

This week I stayed with ballpoint pen and mechanical pencil for the weekly life drawing session. We had a model that I haven’t drawn since October of 2019. It’s amazing how difficult it is for me to draw a new or infrequent model. I guess I form a specific approach to each model and it takes a while to get that visualization focused. In any case, the first drawings were harder to get going. As the session progressed, I felt more comfortable and I think the quality of the drawings improved. Having more time on the longer poses helped to get better results.

five minute pose drawn with ballpoint pen
five minute pose drawn with ballpoint pen
five minute pose drawn with ballpoint pen
fifteen-twenty minute pose drawn with ballpoint pen
twenty / twenty-five minute pose drawn with ballpoint pen
twenty minute pose drawn with ballpoint pen

Pixels in Pastel

All three of these digital abstracts share the same “pastel” color palette. They are composed of multiple layers of color with some overlap and transparency. Another common attribute is the texture and colors of the background layers. The backgrounds were created with a “brush” that simulates the surface of canvas. They were created in Procreate app for iPad using an Apple pencil.

Something Borrowed and Something New

When I’m working on a new abstract design I usually combine layers of colors and shapes to make a coherent composition. I’ve done that with the three abstracts below but with a twist. Rather than “starting from scratch” and freshly creating each element, I did what collage artists do all the time; I digitally cut and pasted pieces of existing patterns to accomplish the task. Some of these disparate patterns came from existing textile and wallpaper designs. There are also digitally created textures that I fabricated some time ago. All of these bits and pieces found their way into these new digital collages, something borrowed to make something new.

The compositions were created in Procreate app for iPad using an Apple pencil. Some textures were created in iColorama app.


I strongly believe in recycling. This applies to life style and in this case, to my art. I often approach these digital abstractions as collages composed of many different elements. Some are “painted” directly on the digital “canvas”. Others might be “cut and pasted” into the composition as in a traditional collage.

In these three new abstractions, I’ve used bits and pieces of some of my earlier works as compositional elements. Sometimes these “recycled” bits are obvious but they can also be hidden and mixed into the patchwork of the finished piece.

All works were created in Procreate app for iPad with an Apple pencil.

This new composition incorporates bits from an earlier work shown below. Three cut and altered pieces were placed on a lower layer which is partially obscured by upper layers.
The three cut and altered pieces of the original, as placed on a lower layer
The source for the three cut pieces is this older original composition.
One of the elements of this new composition (lower right corner) was taken from the original composition below.
Earlier composition from which a piece was used
This new composition also contains parts of earlier works. (not shown)

Back to Life?

It’s been a long time since I posted any new figure drawings. Our local life drawing group has not met for many months due to the Covid pandemic. As a result, the only option was to draw from photos of models, something I don’t usually do and don’t enjoy as compared with drawing from the live model. In addition, there is a dynamic, a kind of group creative energy that I miss. It’s been hard for me to motivate myself to begin but I’m hoping that soon our group will start up again. I want to be ready to jump in and start “real” life drawing when that happens. So here are the efforts that I’ve been struggling with to achieve that goal. They feel both overworked and yet unfinished but I know that it will take a while to get back to my old comfort zone. The first two were done some time ago in hopes of energizing myself to do more figure drawing. The rest were done recently and I hope they will help to keep me going in the right direction.

This was done with oil pastels, a medium that I haven’t used before
drawn with Nupastels and Cretacolor’s chunky charcoals

More recent drawings

drawn with Nupastels and Cretacolor’s chunky charcoals
drawn with Nupastels and Cretacolor’s chunky charcoals
drawn with Nupastels and Cretacolor’s chunky charcoals
drawn with Nupastels and Cretacolor’s chunky charcoals
drawn with Nupastels and Cretacolor’s chunky charcoals


The “APP”, as always is Procreate for iPad. It’s the one I use for creating abstract images. These are my most recent efforts. They feature multiple layers of semi-transparent shapes in mostly analogous colors. The underlying layers were created with texture brushes that mimic heavy paint rollers. I’m posting the backgrounds (lowest underlying layers) below each of the images to show how the “paint roller” texture shows through the upper layers of color.

Background layer for the above image
Background layer for the above image
Background layer for the above image

Another Brush with Abstracts

In the past, I’ve talked about my different approaches to creating these abstract images. Sometimes I go for a rather “clean-edged” graphic look as in this recent example.

At other times I try to make the digital image more like a traditional painting as shown here.

The three compositions I’m posting today combine both approaches to varying degrees.

This first composition is meant to appear like it’s done as a traditional painting with paint and brushes. Building up layers opaquely and semi-transparently, details are added in the final stages. The palette is composed of highly contrasting colors and values which creates a feeling of excitement.
The second abstraction contains “painterly” elements but also introduces a few more hard geometric edges along with digitally created patterned textures. More curved lines and shapes soften the effect compared with the above composition.
The third and final work uses both “brushy” and surface textures combined with some sharp edges and well defined shapes. The palette is more analogous (closely related colors) than the first two and less contrasty. The overall effect is one of openness with motion.

Seeing Red

How many shades of red are there? Needless to say, there are quite a few. One of the intentions of these abstractions is to contrast and compare several of those many shades. There are analogous colors, oranges and purples but the predominant sphere of color is red. There are also some complimentary greens to contrast with the overall red hue. All three compositions are ways of “seeing red”. A shared compositional element of all three is the use of small blocks of abstract symbols (almost like cartouches but without enclosing ovals or rectangles).


Many of the abstract compositions that I have created in Procreate app for iPad appear to be created digitally. There’s a certain look, precise and hard-edged like this one.

A highly delineated hard-edged digital graphic

Occasionally, I will try to do an abstraction that looks like its really painted with brushes and perhaps acrylic paints, in other words “painterly”. That was my intention with the image below. I put it together as if I were actually painting on canvas. Starting with a simple line drawing, I added opaque areas of color with tools that mimic traditional brushes and worked up gradually to the final details of the later stages, “painted” on over the more general applications of color below.

Below is a series of images showing the gradual stages of “painting” from line drawing and the simple application of colors to more defined details with refined edges and lines. You can let the images run automatically or change them manually at your own pace with the round buttons below. You can also pause to look at any one stage by clicking on the pause button at top right.