I seem to have inadvertently gone AWOL for nearly a month. What the heck! All I know is that I’ve been busy working. But that doesn’t account for the missing weeks.

One of my activities has been teaching workshops in my studio. The first two classes in the drawing series are over (for this batch of workshops anyway). I was delighted by the results of my students.

Pencil drawing came first. After lots of exploration of the kinds of lines and values possible with a whole variety of pencils on different types of papers, we got down to business.

Value strips in pencil, an exercise in the Pencil Drawing 2-day workshop

Value strips, an exercise in the Pencil Drawing 2-day workshop

Getting a continuous change in value from lightest to darkest with a smooth progression in between isn’t easy. The 3rd strip is using crosshatching and the last strip uses scribbling. All of this takes a lot of practice to get really good at it.

Value strips

Another batch of value strips in pencil

In this group of value strips each box is a separate value, with an even transition from light to dark. Again, it’s tricky and takes lots of practice to get really good at this. And why does it matter? Because the less you have to think about technique, the more you can concentrate on accurately drawing objects, still life set-ups, figures and landscapes.

We did some work drawing eggs. Again, not easy. I’ve heard of artists who, when in art school, were required to draw eggs for a whole semester. Yes, eggs and nothing but eggs. You’d be surprised at how different each egg is if you really take the time to look. Give it a try!

A drawing of eggs, in pencil

A pencil drawing of eggs

Moving from smooth objects, we proceeded to work on texture drawing, using a pineapple. Here are a couple of examples:

A first pencil drawing of a pineapple

A first pencil drawing of a pineapple by Nyla Butler


Val Bembenek's pencil drawing of a pineapple

Val Bembenek's pencil drawing of a pineapple

Do you wonder what happened to that pineapple after the workshop?  Well, it ended up in several fruit salads. An excellent pineapple, both for drawing and for eating.


Last week was the Charcoal drawing workshop. Again, the first part was all about messing about with different forms of charcoal. Then we moved on to warm-up exercises. And voila! Out came a pineapple.


Charla is working on her charcoal drawing of a pineapple

Charla at work on her charcoal drawing of a pineapple


Mary hard at work on getting that texture to work

Mary hard at work on getting that texture working


And on to ext week and learning all about working with Ink! Pens of various types, brushes, and even sticks are some of the tools we’ll be using. Lot’s of nifty stuff to play with and learn about. And will a pineapple be in attendance? Well, we’ll see.

Getting ready for the upcoming ink workshop

Getting ready for the upcoming ink workshop


Meanwhile, what was the fate of the pineapple of charcoal drawing fame? It became a key ingredient in a Fresh Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. Here’s the recipe, from Epicurious, just in case you’d like to give it a try.


Yield: 8-10 servings

Active time: 30 min

Total time: 2 hr


1  2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1  1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 fresh pineapple, halved lengthwise, cored and peeled

1  1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk


Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift together flour, baking powder and soda, and salt into a bowl. Cut pineapple crosswise into 1/4 inch-thick wedges.

Butter a 9-inch round cake pan (2 inches deep) lightly on side and generously on bottom of pan using 1/2 stick butter. Sprinkle all of brown sugar evenly over bottom and arrange pineapple over it, starting in center of pan and overlapping slices slightly.

Beat together remaining stick butter, granulated sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in batches, beginning and ending with flour and mixing just until batter is smooth.

Spread batter evenly over pineapple and bake until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool 15 minutes in pan on a rack, then invert cake onto a plate and remove pan. Cool to room temperature.

Epicurious.com Conde Nast Digital, Inc.

I like to add a dollop of fresh whipped cream, just to add insult to injury!