Still Life Sketch Drawings: Vintage Bottles

Vintage bottle sketch drawings for still life

Still life thumbnails

I just found these 5-value thumbnail sketch drawings in an older sketchbook I had misplaced at some point last year.

These were some of my visual ideas for a vintage bottle-themed still life oil painting I was working on for a grad school assignment. The instructor at the time, however, felt I needed to use much simpler objects.

As a result, none of these still life drawing ideas ever materialized beyond the sketch phase.

Still, I like to look at these thumbnails from time to time and am so glad I rediscovered them.

~ Enjoy! 

Mayra Ruiz-McPhersonVintage bottle sketch drawings for still life


Female Figure Drawing: Charcoal, Then Photoshop

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Figure drawing illustration created using charcoal before digitization using Adobe Photoshop

Meet my model: Amanda

All kinds of sassy as she sported her old high school prom dress while posing for me.

Amanda, aka “Pandy,” is my phenomenal oldest daughter, illustrated here in her spunky, pink-dress badass mode.

Grad school assignment

Numerous times during my MFA’s Fall 2017 term with AAU, I was in need of a model.

More often than not, there was my Panda, ALWAYS willing to strike any pose I asked, wearing any wardrobe or physically-challenged direction I required.

Reference photo

In my photo reference below, we can see beautiful movement in Amanda’s pink dress while she kicked up her flowing skirt folds.

Assignment: figure drawing wearing clothing with dramatic fabric folds

To achieve dramatic folds, I had Amanda wear an old prom dress of hers and then posed her as you see above, looking into the distance while kicking up her gown.

Here’s my original charcoal drawing before I transformed the illustration into a digital painting using Photoshop

My drawing tools

To draw the above figure illustration, I used the following drawing tools:

(The original drawing shared above was slightly edited in Photoshop to brighten the white in Amanda’s eyes.)

Assignment feedback

My final drawing caused was well received by my grad school classmates as well as my instructor, who commented the following:

“LOVE this character, why not develop her and see where she can take you. Try a series of 10 drawings of her, put them out and see if a publisher picks up on your work. There is something so compelling about this character. “

Another classmate said:

“I totally agree with our instructor regarding this character. She is so quirky and elegant at the same time! There has to be a series or a steam punk graphic novel about her.”

And still another said:

“I think my absolute favorite is this girl! Your drawing of her has an elegance to it that is beautiful!”

So there you have it.

Amanda became famous in my figure drawing class 🙂 and I ended up with a wonderful, completed illustration of a young woman I adore.

~ Enjoy!


Mayra Ruiz-McPherson




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My Illustration Design Studio Is on a Comeback

Illustration and art design studio in Sterling, Virginia

I still need some kind of curtain or window valence.

And wall hangings.

And to get those boxes removed removed from the lower right corner area of this pic.

But compared to where my studio was yesterday …

Piles of art, design, and business books

… there is CLEAR improvement!

Because yesterday, I wasn’t even able to get behind my desk, let alone bring up my office chair.

And don’t even get me started about the piles of books all over the other corners of the room! 🙂 Thankfully, those are mostly all gone now, too.

This is what happens after a move.

Everything gets messy with boxes and piles of crap everywhere.

Digging out takes time and I’m so excited to be almost there.

I’m so happy to finally get my design studio back in order’ish … it’s like 85% there.

I love seeing all my used art and design books on my shelves!

Do you see how my shelving unites can’t barely breathe, lol, with just how many books they carry on their shelving shoulders?

I try so hard to not keep busying books — used or new — but I’m a hard core bibliophile and just can’t seem to help myself. I enjoy every single book you see on my shelves. I rely on them constantly for reference, insight, and inspiration.

Until next time,

Mayra Ruiz-McPherson



Composition Practice Sketches In Vine Charcoal

Practicing composition in my drawings

Anyone serious about illustration (or art in general) recognizes just how important composition is to one’s drawing.

Prior to attending the MFA in Illustration with the Academy of Art University, I had not formally studied composition.

I had a natural yet untrained instinct for it, but now with several grad school courses under my belt, I recognize just how unrefined my composition work had once been.

I’m still working on improving the composition of my illustration work.

For example, in my charcoal thumbnail sketch (A) above with the square-shaped, white plastic bottle to the left, my instructor said I had good composition but he had wished I hadn’t cut off the box off to the right.

Practicing composition in my drawings

In the composition above (E) with the two smaller jars on the left and large jug to the right, my instructor said this charcoal thumbnail sketch had the most interesting overlapping forms and shadow shapes.

Composition is critical.

I need to keep at it.

In addition to my grad school assignments, I’ve also been taking an online composition course (Pictorial Composition with Nathan Fowkes) on Schoolism that’s been helpful. A little advanced but helpful nonetheless.

“Great art requires great composition; our work cannot achieve its full expression without a practical knowledge of pictorial composition.”
Nathan Fowkes 

I feel fortunate to be learning from so many talented folks.

Until next time,

Mayra Ruiz-McPherson




Let's stay in touch!

Sign up to receive occasional insights, tips, and bonus content! Plus subscribers receive a link to my FREE ILLUSTRATION STARTER GUIDE.

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