A Day with the Dead
A Day with the Dead

Returning from my wild success at East End Studio Gallery in Houston, I was delighted that they asked me to submit something for their next show — Dia de Los Muertos. Day of the Dead.

I’d seen the style of art before, and, in fact, my good friend Julie Zarate had done an entire series of paintings in that vein that I absolutely loved. But Julie is a latina. I wondered if me trying to do this genre justice would be like listening to a non-Italian try to say mozzarella properly (I’m 100% Sicilian) and not sound like they were mashing their cheeks together. But I figured… why not? One of the rules that I have these days is to stop only doing the things you’re already good at. Step outside your comfort zone. In fact, I’ve made it a personal motto to do more of the stuff at which I outright suck.

So I opened up my toned drawing pad (which I love) and found a good piece of reference from which to work. For the record, this is exactly the third toned drawing piece I’ve ever done. The first one was just a few weeks ago.

There are trouble spots for me with this medium. Hair being the biggest. But I also want to go deeper into the blacks in some areas, but the whole process is limited to your four colors — a white pencil, a dark brown pencil, a medium-dark brown pencil, and the tone of the paper itself.

On the first drawing I did, I tried using a black pencil to make it pop more and it was a disaster. The black against the brown was just wrong. I re-drew that drawing a day later and I’ll show the difference in another post where I can show them side-by-side.

In the meantime, I wrapped this one up, but it didn’t sing to me the way I wanted it to. I think the hair is really bothering me. I’m going to have to work on that. Ultimately, I decided the piece wasn’t worthy of inclusion in their show and I bowed out. Better luck next time!


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