Author Archives: leocharre

Graphite tool requirements

Every graphite artist has a combination of tools they like. Here’s my list of the bare minimum.


There are various ways to start and end a drawing. Lately I start with faint 4h linework- and add the darkest 6b at the end. Graphite pencils should not have a wide variety in quality from brand to brand. They are cheap, so I see little reason to cut production corners for these businesses. That said, the price difference between “high end” graphite pencils and “low end” is not very much. So go ahead and splurge 20 USD on pencils, if you don’t have them. If you have a cheap set of graphite pencils, use those.

  • 6H, 4H, 2H, HB, 2B, 4B, 6B


  • Razor blade. This may be a utility knife or xacto blades. They should be super sharp. The main need for a blade is to remove the wood casing from around the lead. The blade may also be used in thinning out the lead a bit before final sharpening with sandpaper.
  • Sandpaper. Fine grain. First you take the wood off with the blade, and gently sculpt the end with an angle close to the surface.


  • Polyester eraser.
  • Mylar shapes
  • Tombow mono .5mm eraser
  • Kneaded Eraser


Graphite is very fussy with being smudged. It’s probably the messiest medium I can think of. It’s very hard to keep blank areas of the paper blank. You must take great care if you wish to do this kind of precise work.

  • Latex rubber gloves. You need two gloves. The left is to make sure your fingertips don’t leave an oily residue on the paper as you move or hold it. The second glove, you should cut the tips of the thumb, index, and middle fingers of the glove. This way you can still feel the precise grip of the pencil and protect the drawing ground.
  • Shield.
  • Brush. This is for wiping away residue from erasers. I can’t stress this enough.



How to use your iPhone hot spot over USB with Ubuntu Linux

So I use my iPhone hotspot all the time. I used to simply set the hotspot over wifi.

But I learned how to get the hotspot to work over USB, possibly making it a bit faster, yeah? Since the data goes over cable not via wifi between phone and computer.

I use Ubuntu Linux.

  1. Make sure USB is disconnected between phone and computer.
  2. Make sure Personal Hotspot is off in phone.
  3. Plug in phone via usb to computer
  4. You should be prompted to ‘Trust’ the computer- do that, go ahead and select Trust the connection.
  5. Enable hotspot on the phone
  6. Now, under network management- where you select what connection you want, you should have a ‘wired connection’ option. Select that (it may auto connect also).
  7. Should soon read Networking Interface Connected to Wired Connection 1/2/etc.

Shipping Small Art on Paper

As of this writing, even if you ship a small ACEO (size 2.5×3.5in.), you’d think you can drop it in a letter envelope and put a forever stamp on it- 50 cents. However- the rules are, if it doesn’t bend, you must ship another way. The next cheapest way is USPS first class shipping, 2.60 dollars. That is the base rate, no matter the weight.

First I will outline the process. Then I will list supplies.


  1. Put artwork in plastic sleeve.
  2. Put artwork face down on stiff board.
  3. Piece of cardboard over the package like a sandwich. Cardboard should be same size as stiff board.
  4. Plastic wrap whole thing
  5. Place in plastic envelope.
  6. Wrap edges of envelope with packing tape.


Plastic Sleeves. Plastic sleeves are a very good way to package and store art. It protects the piece, and it’s convenient for the buyer to store. I’ve bought many various kinds of sleeves. You want sleeves that are cheap, look beautiful, clear, and have a self sealing lip. There are many kinds of materials, the polypropylene are best.
Go to ebay and search for : Crystal Clear Resealable Poly/Cello Bags Sleeves Self Seal. About $18 will get you a hundred. More are cheaper. You want the polypropylene material, it’s clear, a bit stiff. Looks very nice.

Stiff Board. Any stiff material will do. However what needs to be accounted for is weight, and cost of the material. You may come across that cheap plastic protective mylar over cheap posters, you can cut that up to use. However mylar is expensive. Luaun and other thin sheets of material sold at a big hardware store will provide the best solution here.

  1. My cheapest solution has been to go to Lowes hardware and take a 4’x8′ sheet of Luaun, and get it cut on site. Three cuts will give you 8 1’x4′ strips that you can take home and cut down (For artwork smaller than 9x12in.).
    How the cuts should be made at Lowes: If you place the board in your mind sideways, the first cut is down the middle (now you have two 4’x4′ pieces). Both pieces are put together and cut down the middle again (now you have four 2’x4′)- those are put together again an cut down the middle, leaving you with eight 1’x4′ pieces you can pack in your small ass car.
  2. Take a 1’x4′ strip of luaun wood. Measure 9.5in. intervals horizontally, this gives you five boards for shipping artwork under 9x12in. You don’t have a skillsaw: Score each line with an exacto utility blade on both sides of the board. Then snap them apart.
  3. Sand the edges lightly.

Cardboard. This is to protect the artwork further. You may want to buy heavy duty medium size carboard boxes from Lowes. This provides a lot of 9×12 pieces of carboard.

Plastic Wrap. You can use household saran wrap. If you’re doing this a lot, you want to try stretch wrap film, this is a small handle with a rolling tube of saran wrap like material. You can purchase it for $2 at the Dollar Store or Lowes.

Plastic Envelopes. I get bulk envelopes that are flimsy and thin but protect from moisture. The key here is the stuff you put inside must be already protected, hence the stiff board, and cardboard, and plastic wrap.
Go to ebay and search for : 14.5×19 WHITE POLY MAILERS SHIPPING ENVELOPES BAGS, they are about $13 for 100.

Packing tape. I get 2 inch transparent packaging tape from the Dollar Store for $1 a piece. The dispenser is also cheap.

Hair drawing methods

Drawing hair in a figure piece is hard. There are lots of ways to do so.

A lot of ways are imperfect. Some are strange and wonderful.

I’m going to go into a little bit of exploration on different artists and how they make hair.



Milo Manara

Manara’s way of drawing hair is at first look simple. How can an artist convey so much character with so few lines?!!? Manara does the same in his whole figures. But let’s focus on hair.

This piece has been inked first, and then colored in likely with watercolor.

Note the break of the lines, they are not continuous.

Again, very few lines, these are curved.

Notice that inside the hair body, there is a lot of space.

Matthew Gaulke


Why I draw the figure

Let’s talk about language for a moment here. Language changes over time. From year to year, there is not a large difference in prose.

One thing I like about English writing is that it’s very much about information. A good piece of writing doesn’t show off with bells and whistles the ability of the author to twist and dance words around. We do see this in poetry, song lyrics, but if you look at a good piece of journalistic writing for example; it’s about something else. It’s about being predictable, perhaps; about telling a story.

And so the language is a tool to pass information. It may be to invoke feelings as well, it doesn’t have to be dry. One of my favorite writers is John Steinbeck. His particular prose is not outrageous, but the story start to finish can hit deep emotions.

So, why am I mentioning the English language here? Remember back to my point about time. That over a long time, the language does change. So there is a continuity, and a growth and modification, although subtle from decade to decade.

Let’s bring this back to figurative art. I believe figurative art also has a parallel of growth and modification over periods of time. Maybe not so much over decades, but if you look at art history in chunks of a hundred years; I believe most people would agree there are changes then.

There are no original isolated artists. Every artist draws from the past and present. Borrowing, copying, stealing. It is via this collective learning of art- that art evolves. Figurative art evolves via this process of exposure to art itself. Exposure of the artists to other artists and works of art, and production of new works of art.

In today’s age we are able to pull up imagery of any artist or works of art. And the variety of work can be overwhelming. To the point that artists may become discouraged to do work- because someone else has already done it, or someone else has done it “better”. The idea that all art has been created, that there are no new works of art to be made- is common. For the evolution of figurative art to take place, artists must keep making art. I believe art will keep evolving. I believe there are new ideas to be had, new masterpieces of art to be made. In order to do so, we must keep our collective learning going. We must keep making art.

My particular choice is figurative art. I believe the human being is the most precious and important thing in the universe. I also believe we are the most beautiful thing in the universe.

My ideal form of working with the figure, is to have as little as possible of anything else. This is why I have a strong interest in blank backgrounds, or areas that contrast with the figure, such as writing or gold enamel; which creates strong contrast between subject and placement.

I don’t know that I will ever create a masterpiece, a truly important and or influential work of art. But I do know that I make good work- and I feel it a worthwhile duty to continue and contribute to the collective learning of figurative art.

As a final point, I want to mention the feeling behind drawing and painting the figure versus taking a photograph. This final piece of ranting may seem to be at odds with some things aforementioned. I believe figurative art is as a poem. Where a photograph is prose, drawing and painting is poetry. We choose some things, leave some out- accentuate- use the “wrong” colors. It’s to create a feeling.

Why I work how I work.

My control of the work is highly intuitive. After doing realism, after spending endless hours drawing precisely, drawing “what I see”, the hand has a memory of things. Letting go of some of the conscious aspects of what you are doing at the moment, some of the muscle memory makes wonderful mistakes. Some mistakes are hidden, some are shown. This is part of creating poetry in the work.

I always feel a little confused when people ask me why I don’t define some things further close to reality. They ask why I don’t spend extra time crosshatching, rendering shadows, doing hair. Even why I don’t “further” my craft and mastery of these particulars. Perhaps I simply find little attachment to work that shows arduous effort. I prefer Egon Schieles, Conrad Rosets, and Milo Manaras- those works speak deeply to me. I am fascinated with doing the most with the least. I think it’s very hard to do, in fact I would suggest it’s tougher to grasp than highly elaborate works.


The quality of your watercolor is important.

While you can do good artwork with the cheapest of watercolors, as you get the hang of the materials, it is worth investing in high quality paint.

What is watercolor paint?

This is where I once again remind you, all paint is the same thing. Be it watercolor, acrylic, oil, even a freaking marker. The only difference is the medium. The pigment, the thing that gives it color, is always the same exact thing, chemically etc. What is inside a watercolor paint tube is the pigment, and gum arabic. Gum arabic is a gooey organic substance that dries solid and becomes wet again with water, it comes from a tree. You can squeeze watercolor off a tube into a surface, let it dry, and revive it with a brush a water, the gum arabic helps this along.

The point I want you to take away here, is that burnt umber watercolor, and burnt umber acrylic, oil paint, etc- are all the exact  same color. Because they use the exact same chemical substance.

The difference between Sennelier and Utrecth and Windsor and Newton paints, should be very little. What you are paying for is the reliability that when you buy a certain color, it really is what it says it is on the label.

Why spend the extra money on quality watercolors?

  • It’s actually not a lot more expensive than cheap paint. Quality watercolor has a lot of pigment (the ‘color molecules’, in a way). So less ammount of paint, will actually go further. Don’t forget, the medium here is water- you can add a little more water and extend the strokes, etc. Maybe you’ve tried loading a brush off a cheap pan of watercolor, and you have to really soak it in there to pick up color, and it may still leave you wanting. With quality paint, this will happen less.
  • Quality watercolors are more vibrant. They use real colors. For example Cadmium red hue, is not cadmium red. Same as Cadmium yellow hue, it’s not cadmium yellow. These are cheap knock offs that come close to the real thing. Instead of paying $3 for cheap Cadmium red hue, pay the $12 for the read thing, which will be labeled simply Cadmium red. This stuff will last longer, and be much brighter than the fake shit.

Where to buy watercolor paints.

I use almost exclusively Dick Blick arts for my art supplies. This is because they have a huge range of inventory, for the cheapest possible prices. The catch is you must spend at least 70 to 100 bucks to get free shipping. If you buy this much stuff at a time, I suggest you stop looking for a source of art supplies and go there.

I live in the Augusta County area of Virginia. Here we have a Michaels, which will likely not have the quality materials I am mentioning. However, we also have a couple of small art supply stores run by actual art people, so they have serious professional inventory.
In Staunton, VA we have Staunton Art Supply. And in Harrisonburg Va, we have Larkin Arts for art supplies.

Here is a list of useful colors to have. The links provided are to small tubes, you will likely not need larger tubes for a while. These prices are approximate. I suggest Windsor & Newton professional watercolors, get the 5ml small tubes.

  • Winsor Orange $6.50
  • Cadmium Red $9.50
  • Prussian Blue $6.50
  • Raw Umber $6.50
  • Yellow Ochre $6.50
  • Rose Madder $9.79
  • Lamp Black $6.50
  • Cadmium Yellow $9.79

Mixing watercolors

My more intricate colors come from combining the above colors in small containers.

  • Purple: Rose Madder and Lamp Black. This is a very good tone for figure shadows.
  • Green: Prussian Blue and Raw Umber. This is a deep subtle green color, not a neon green at all.
  • Indigo: Prussian Blue and Lamp Black. This will give you a night sky deep blue.
  • Deep red: Cadmium Red and Rose Madder. This is a blood red look.


Also I suggest a highly opaque white to do detail with as a last step to artwork. I don’t suggest watercolors, as they are transparent. You have two good choices for white.

  • White Gouache, Windsor & Newton, 14ml, $6.99. This stuff is very similar to watercolor. It is opaque mainly because it uses white pigment, in this case Zinc White. This stuff dries but is not waterproof, it will dissolve again with water. If you know what you’re doing, you can do white transparencies with this stuff, and mix it with other watercolors to do witchy things.
  • White Acrylic ink, Daler Rowney 6oz, $11.75. This stuff dries waterproof. It will not dissolve in water again. You can apply this stuff with speedball nibs, brushes, and rapidograph pens. This stuff is an acrylic white paint that has been diluted to a prime point for using as ink. Be aware that unlike with watercolors and gouache, if you use a brush and let it sit, it will fuck up your brush, just as acrylic paint would do.


You can apply watercolor with a variety of things. Brushes, waterbrushes, even moist q tips. I strongly suggest using a medium sized waterbrush. They are cheap, 5 to 10 bucks, and will revolutionize your watercolor life.


Powerlines Red

Red Powerlines Painting Powerlines Red on easel Detail shot of power lines red painting. Edge of painting.How can I begin to explain how much Cadmium Orange Deep is in this monster?  I took some beautiful shots for a gallery submission and they thought the colors were fake- because of the brightness! Ha.

Rod Serling

I watched a documentary on Rod Serling a while back. This guy was a badass. It seems early on in his TV career he wanted to write moving political plays about what was going on in the times. Racism, the red scare- but the networks freaked at some of his ideas. In frustration he turned to making “The Twilight Zone”- which is full of social commentary- disguised as entertainment. Reminds me a bit of Jean Paul Sartre and the existentialists during the Nazi occupation of France.

I’ve got a few pictures of Rod Serling covering the wall- I thought it’d be nice to have an actual art piece done as well.

Rod Serling portrait

This piece may be available on ebay.