An interview with Osvaldo Sequeira

Osvaldo Sequeira is a multidisciplinary artist from Costa Rica. He graduated from the University of Costa Rica’s School of Fine Arts with a degree in graphic design. After graduating, his professional path led to a successful career in animation that started with 2-D animation and then 3-D. He is a founding member of Estudio Flex, a Costa Rican animation studio with national and international recognition. The work created by Estudio Flex has received prestigious awards outside of Costa Rica. Through this studio, he has worked for the Costa Rican market and abroad.

Osvaldo is also one of the founding members of Santa Gráfica, an art academy that offers courses that stem from the animation and sequential art industry. Some of the courses offered through Santa Gráfica include character design, digital painting for comics, animal anatomy, painting, bookmaking and basic drawing among others.

In recent years, Osvaldo has solidified his studio practice as a painter and has exhibited his work in Costa Rica and abroad.

I have known Osvaldo for many years. We became friends in college as graphic design students at the University of Consta Rica’s School of Fine Arts and have kept our friendship through the years along with several of our peers.

As an artist and college professor in the Visual Arts (more specifically in Foundation Studies), I believe that different disciplines in the arts feed each other and that the boundaries from one to the other are not as clear cut as some may think. I strongly believe that a strong foundation in drawing, color, design and creative thinking can take and artist or designer through many paths. Osvaldo’s professional accomplishments  are proof of this and I find his career very inspiring. This is why I am very excited about featuring my friend and colleague through this interview.

You can find more information on Osvaldo Sequeira’s work online through the following links:

(A.B.) Hi Osvaldo,

Thank you for agreeing to be a featured artist in my blog. I am so happy that we get to collaborate through this interview, let’s get started:

(A.B.) What motivated you to choose a career in the Visual Arts?

(O.S.) Initially when I was faced with the task of choosing a major at the University of Costa Rica, I was leaning towards communications  but was also interested in the fine arts and considered studying both. As I researched my options, I found that the university offered a graphic design degree which was the perfect blend of both worlds (communication and design). This degree was offered through the School of Fine Arts.

(A.B.) You graduated as a graphic designer but most of your career in the applied arts has been in animation. How did your formation as a graphic designer influence you as an animator?

(O.S.) It was very important because graphic design gave me a strong foundation in design principles, aesthetics and visual narrative.

The images above are animation stills created by Estudio Flex, Osvaldo was in the role of art director.

(A.B.) What has been the role of drawing throughout your career as a designer, animator and painter?

(O.S.) Drawing has been the base for everything. It was the point of departure for me as an artist. I loved drawing since I was a child and it was my love of drawing that led me to a Visual Arts career. Drawing sustains all of my professional endeavors in the Fine Arts and in the Applied Arts.

(A.B.) Which aspects of drawing are common denominators and the most important in your multidisciplinary practice?

(O.S.) Gesture drawing, sketching and structural analysis are important fundamentals for animation, painting and illustration. They are crucial to achieve believable images, develop ideas quickly and streamline production in a timely manner.

A solid understanding of linear perspective and isometric and orthogonal representation are also important to master volumetric representation of objects and space.

Avenida Segunda

“Avenida Segunda” _Acrylic on canvas 70x100cms

(A.B.) Do you believe that drawing from direct observation is important in the formation of visual artists nowadays?

(O.S.) Always, drawing from direct observation is important to train your eye and learn to “see”. Digital tools tend to steer artists away from this practice but you can still work  from direct observation with some of them. Models can be found anywhere and paper and pencil are always available so it’s only a matter of keeping our eyes open.

(A.B.) Do you have any advice on how to develop skills to draw from the imagination?

(O.S.) The most efficient way is to practice a lot of perspective and structural drawing. A very good exercise is to draw an object or model from a specific vantage point (from life or a photo) and analyze through structure and perspective; then draw it from other vantage points from imagination but applying the knowledge gained from the first study.  This is excellent training to eventually create objects from your mind’s eye.

As for your recent paintings…

(A.B) Has animation influenced your paintings?

(O.S.) It has influenced me mainly in the way I approach certain themes and in coming up with technical solutions.

The above paintings are from the “Ser Humano” series, acrylic paint on clear acrylic panel, by Osvaldo Sequeira.

(A.B.) Can you share a bit about your process when creating your paintings? Do you work directly from models? Do you use photo references or work from memory and sketches?

(O.S.) That depends on what I am working on at any given time. I practice a lot of “plein air” painting and drawing mainly to keep my observational drawing and painting skills up, which are crucial. On this same note, I also organize group life drawing sessions with colleagues to keep up with drawing from life.

Above: Photo of Osvaldo Sequeira working on plein air watercolors, top right and bottom Plein air watercolors  from Costa Rican landscapes by Osvaldo Sequeira.

When creating a large body of work for an exhibition the pre-production is more involved. I tend to work with models as I explore ideas and poses. Once I have a concrete vision, I work on quick gestural sketches to refine concepts. Then I take photos based on those ideas and work from the photos at my pace in the studio. I often manipulate the photos digitally through programs such as Photoshop and this allows me to edit things out and play with elements to explore compositions further.

(A.B.) What role does drawing have in the creation of you paintings?

(O.S) My work is 100 % representational, so it is important to have a command of perspective and solid structure of forms. I am knowledgeable in both areas because of a strong base in drawing. Therefor, I would say that my work relies strongly on a solid understanding of drawing.

(A.B.) Who are some artists that influence your work?

(O.S.) Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Joaquín Sorolla, Gustave Caillebotte, Luis Caballero Holguin, Andrew Salgado to name a few.

I am very inspired by impressionism because of their formal approach to painting. I want evident and strong mark-making in my work so that it clearly looks like a painting and not a photograph.

(A.B.) As an artist, designer and animator do you use sketchbooks?

(O.S.) Yes of course, working through ideas in the sketchbook saves a lot of work on the canvas, drawing table or on the computer.

I use them to make graphic notes, analyze concepts and explore volume, work through compositions, many many uses. More importantly they are a great tool for idea development.

(A.B) In addition to being a multidisciplinary artist you are an instructor at Santa Gráfica, an art academy of which you are a founding member. What impact has your professional experience had on your teaching?

(O.S.) I like it when I see students demonstrating an understanding of the concepts I teach them. My extensive experience as an artist and animator of (close to 30 years) allows me to communicate concepts clearly and to explain their importance. Throughout the years I have developed instructional methods that have helped me improve my instruction.

(A.B.) What advice do you have for beginning artists when it comes to developing and improving drawing skills?

(O.S.) Practice, practice, practice and don’t be afraid of the blank page. When I say practice, I don’t mean to create a finished detailed piece every time you draw, that never.

For example when a swimmer trains he or she doesn’t compete every day. There might be days for strength training at the gym, or technical exercises, other days to develop personal goals and some to train in a mock competition. Drawing is very much the same, one day you practice perspective, another day volumetric mark-making, other days for direct observation drawing or exploration of media. Along with quicker practices work on more developed drawings through numerous long drawing sessions.


Osvaldo Sequeira at work

(A.B.) Thank you Osvaldo for such an inspiring interview.

See interview in spanish below

Una entrevista con el artista Osvaldo Sequeira


Osvaldo Sequeira es un artista multidisciplinario de Costa Rica graduado en Diseño Gráfico de la Universidad de Costa Rica. Desde los inicios de su carrera profesional, Osvaldo trabajó en animación (2-D y luego 3-D). Es miembro fundador de Estudio Flex, estudio de animación de mucho reconocimiento en Costa Rica y ganador de varios premios nacionales e internacionales.

Sequeira también es miembro fundador de la academia Santa Gráfica que imparte cursos para niños, adolecentes y adultos.  Muchos de los cursos impartidos por dicha academia llenan un nicho en la industria de las Artes Visuales in Costa Rica. Cursos como diseño de personajes, pintura digital para comics, anatomía animal, etc.

En años recientes, Osvaldo también se ha dedicado a la pintura y ha expuesto su obra individualmente al igual que en exposiciones colectivas dentro y fuera de Costa Rica.

Conocí a Osvaldo en la Universidad de Costa Rica cuando ambos estudiábamos Diseño Gráfico y hemos mantenido una linda amistad a través de los años.

Como artista y educadora en el área de las Artes Visuales, opino que las diferentes disciplinas de las artes visuales se retroalimentan y se relacionan mucho más de lo que muchos creen. La carrera de Osvaldo Sequeira es muy rica e inspiradora en ese sentido. Es por eso que con mucho entusiasmo preparé esta entrevista.

Para más información acerca de Osvaldo Sequeira visite las páginas incluidas aquí;


(A.B.) Hola Osvaldo, me alegra que podamos colaborar a través de esta entrevista. Este blog se centra en el dibujo y su importancia en las artes visuales así es que el enfoque de la entrevista será más que nada acerca del rol del dibujo a lo largo de su carrera.

(A.B) ¿Cuál fue su motivación principal para elegir una carrera en artes visuales?

(O.S) Inicialmente cuando uno tiene que seleccionar una carrera profesional para entrar a la universidad estaba considerando ciencias de la comunicación, pero quería llevar paralelamente alguna disciplina de las artes plásticas, fue en esa búsqueda que dí con la carrera de diseño gráfico que es una combinación de ambos mundos: la comunicación y el diseño. Esto sumado a que la carrera de diseño gráfico es impartida en la Escuela de Artes Plásticas de la Universidad de Costa Rica.

(A.B.) Se graduó como diseñador gráfico pero la mayor parte de su carrera en cuanto a las artes aplicadas ha sido en animación. ¿Como influyó su formación como diseñador gráfico en su carrera como animador?

(O.S.) Fue determinante, ya que me dio un profundo conocimiento de diseño, lo cual fue crucial para desarrollar una estética y narrativa visual.

Estas imágenes muestran escenas de animaciones creadas por Estudio Flex con Osvaldo Sequeira como director de arte.

(A.B.) ¿Qué rol ha tenido el dibujo a lo largo de su carrera como diseñador, animador y pintor?

(O.S.) El dibujo ha sido la base de todo, fue el punto de partida y es la estructura que sostiene todo mi quehacer. Por el hecho de que siempre me gustó dibujar de niño, fue que me incliné por las artes visuales, tanto en las artes puras (pintura o dibujo) así como en las aplicadas (animación)

(A.B.) ¿Cuáles aspectos de dibujo resultan siendo común denominadores importantes en su práctica multidisciplinaria? (Por ejemplo, dibujo gestual, estructural, conocimiento de perspectiva, bocetos, experimentación, investigación, etc.)

(O.S.) Definitivamente el dibujo gestual, bocetos y análisis estructurales son la base común entre la animación, pintura e ilustración. Sin ellos no es posible realizar una imagen creíble. Además estas bases ayudan con el acelere de los tiempos de producción y la maduración de ideas en el proceso de creación.

Ya que lo mencionas, el conocimiento de la perspectiva también es fundamental. En cualquier tipo o género de dibujo, la perspectiva desde todas sus variantes resumidas (la representación cónica e isométrica además de la proyección ortogonal)  es fundamental para el dominio de la representación volumétrica de las cosas.

“Avenida Segunda”, acrílico sobre tela, Osvaldo Sequeira

(A.B.) ¿Opina que el dibujo de observación directa es importante en la formación de artistas visuales hoy en día?

(O.S.) Siempre; el dibujo de observación directa es necesario para educar el ojo, para aprender a “observar”. Los dispositivos electrónicos vienen a alejar un poco de esta práctica, pero con estos mismos se pueden hacer excelentes ejercicios del dibujo de observación directa. El lápiz y papel están disponibles siempre y modelos tenemos en cualquier lugar, es solo cuestión de abrir los ojos.

(A.B.) ¿Tiene algún consejo para desarrollar la habilidad para dibujar de la imaginación?

(O.S.) Practicar mucha perspectiva y estructura es la forma más eficaz. Un ejercicio muy bueno es tomar un modelo real (foto o en vivo) y dibujarlo desde un punto de vista específico, analizarlo desde su perspectiva y estructura, luego, dibujarlo desde otras posiciones “inventadas” pero con el conocimiento e información que generó el primer ejercicio. Este es un excelente entrenamiento para luego crear objetos de la nada.

Con respecto a su reciente obra pictórica

(A.B.) ¿Hay influencias de animación en sus pinturas?

(O.S.) La animación me ha influenciado en cuando al abordaje de los temas y algunas soluciones técnicas.

Estas pinturas son de la serie “Ser Humano” por Osvaldo Sequeira, pintura acrílica sobre láminas de acrílico transparente

(A.B.) ¿Puede compartir un poco del proceso para crear sus pinturas? Por ejemplo, trabaja directamente de modelos, usa referencias fotográficas, ¿trabaja de memoria o basado en bocetos?

(O.S.) Pues eso depende de lo que este trabajando en su momento. Suelo hacer mucho “plein air”, lo hago mas que todo como práctica, para mantenerme en forma en cuando al trabajo de observación directa, lo cual es  fundamental. También suelo hacer sesiones colectivas con colegas con modelo en vivo, misma idea del plei air, mantener vigente la práctica de la observación directa.

Cuando creo colecciones de estudio, estas llevan un poco más de pre-producción, suelo trabajar con modelos, explorando poses, ideas, etc. Una vez tengo la idea concreta, después de algunos bocetos y gestuales, tomo estos trabajos y hago fotografías para quedarme trabajando con ellas, según mi ritmo de producción. Suelo hacer intervenciones de las fotografías con recurso tecnológicos como el Photoshop para editar algunas cosas, jugar con los elementos y explorar composiciones.

Foto de Osvaldo Sequeira trabajando en plein air y acuarelas sobre papel de paisajes constarricenses por Osvaldo Sequeira.

(A.B.) ¿Qué rol tiene el dibujo en la creación de sus obras?

(O.S.) Mi trabajo es 100% figurativo, por lo tanto el dominio de la perspectiva y el análisis de las formas mediante la estructura son dos aspectos que el conocimiento del dibujo proporciona para una correcta representación gráfica. Así diría que, mi trabajo pictórico descansa sobre una fuerte base de dibujo.

(A.B.) ¿Cuáles son algunos de los artistas más influyentes en su carrera?

(O.S.) Paul Gauguin, Calude Monet, Joaquin Sorolla, Gustavo Caillebotte, Luis Caballero Holguin, Andrew Salgado, entre muchos otros

Definitivamente me nutro del impresionismo por su tratamiento formal de la materia pictórica, me interesa que mi trabajo sea considerado como una pintura y no como una fotografía, por eso busco que el tratamiento del color y el trazo son elementos que le digan al espectador que están ante una pieza pictórica.

(A.B.) ¿Como artista, diseñador y animador utiliza usted cuadernos de bocetos?

(O.S.) Sí claro, definitivamente,  porque sobre todo, ahorran mucho trabajo en el lienzo, en la mesa de trabajo on en algún software específico.

Los uso para hacer notas gráficas, analizar conceptos volumétricos, resolver composciones… en fin… para multiples usos. Y como dije anteriormente, lo más importante es que ayudan a madurar las ideas.

(A.B.) Además de artista multidisciplinario, es educador en la academia de arte Santa Gráfica del cual es miembro fundador. ¿Que impacto ha tenido su amplia y diversa experiencia en su estilo o filosofía como instructor?

(O.S.) Cada vez que veo que los chicos están tomando conceptos y los apropian como suyos, veo que todo el bagaje que he tenido por casi 30 años en el quehacer en la imagen visual, me ha ayudado a que ellos tengan confianza de lo que les trato de comunicar y me ha dado herramientas para hacerlos entender de algo en particular y su importancia. Además de que con tanto tiempo de enseñanza he desarrollando procesos y metodología propios que me ayudan a mejorar el proceso formativo.

(A.B.) ¿Cuál es su principal consejo para personas que están en los inicios de su carrera artística con respecto a como desarrollar habilidades para el dibujo?

(O.S.) Practicar mucho y perderle el miedo al papel en blanco. Cuando digo practicar no me refiero a tener que hacer un dibujo final cada vez, sombreado y con todos los detalles, no, eso jamas! Pongo un ejemplo, cuando un nadador entrena, él o ella no compite todas las mañanas con sus compañeros de equipo. Un día tendrán entrenamiento de fuerza en el gimnasio, en otro momento tendrán trabajo técnico, otro día trabajaran sobre sus metas específicas y en algún momento tendrán una competencia de entrenamiento. Así es el dibujo, practicar un día perspectiva, otro día volumen con líneas envolventes, otro día un dibujo al carboncillo por observación directa. Y algún otro día proponerse un dibujo final en una sesión larga de trabajo. No todo se puede abarcar en una sentada de estudio, es por partes y sesiones diferentes para poder enfocarse.


Osvaldo Sequeira trabajando

(A.B.) Muchas gracias Osvaldo por la inspiradora entrevista.




I have been working on this drawing for a long time and it has undergone many iterations. I see it as a learning piece. For one, I learned that you can really add layers to a pastel drawing and make a lot of changes. As an artist I really don’t mind building marks and rough surfaces, I actually respond to that and it is one of the things I seek, so the layers were interesting to work with.

This piece is close to my heart because it is Nicolas (my first born) when he was about four . A lot of the drawing was developed through memory since the only reference I had was an old flat photograph that was basically the silhouette of the figure.

I added the driftwood to break up the negative space and give it the sense of place. There are a couple of beaches we frequent in Georgia and South Carolina with lots of driftwood trees along the sand. I find this landscape mysterious and dramatic.

The addition of the beached sharks signify and encounter of an innocent child with the unknown. On thing this piece really made me realize is that I am feeling an urge to start painting again. Working with the  layering and color interaction really connected me with that process again.

In regards to the medium, pastel has always been one of my favorites. It can be manipulated more like a drawing or a painting and it demands the thought process from both.


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Sharon Mcneil featured artist

“A narrative artist’s thoughts on drawing and painting”


I started this blog with the intention of sharing thoughts and insights on drawing, both my own and those of other artists and designers. I have created the “Featured Artist” category as a way to share other artist’s insights. The following interview launches this new section.

Today’s featured artist is my friend and colleague Sharon McNeil. We met at the Savannah College of Art and Design where we both teach in the Foundation Studies Department and both share a passion for structural yet gestural drawing and narrative art. Sharon’s artwork is grounded on drawing and storytelling, her background as a painter, stage designer for theater and college professor have shaped her development as an artist and her approach to creating art.  This written piece covers a little bit of her professional and cultural background, what inspires her art and insights into her process.

You can find Sharon’s work online under Sharon McNeil and her pseudonym Christina Mehelis. These are links to two of her websites: p

(Adriana Burgos) Hi Sharon. Thank you for agreeing to be the first featured artist on my blog. Let’s get this interview started. What inspired you to go into a career in the arts?

(Sharon McNeil) For as long as I can remember I loved to draw.  Crayons and paper were always a good present for me as a little kid and my parents were very encouraging.  I never thought about doing anything else it was just the most natural thing for me.

(A.B.) There is a strong sense of story in your drawings and paintings. Do you consider yourself a narrative artist?

(S.M.) Yes, I do.  It may be my background in theatre or that I come from a family of writers, but I think in terms of narratives and how they express an idea or feeling.  I even think of my still-lives as being narratives in that they are a location where something has taken place.

(A.B) You mentioned your background in theater. How has working in theater affected your creative process as an artist?

(S.M) My style tends to be on the theatrical side.  I prefer dramatic lighting and arrangements that suggest a narrative. I am also very accustomed to stepping back and looking at my work from a distance.  In theater, when a backdrop is highly refined in detail and has a smooth finish it usually dies on stage. So I have taken this idea to heart in my own work.  I prefer slightly ragged edges with rough scumbling in my technique rather than having things blended smoothly.  The idea is that you clearly see how it was painted up close (the brush strokes and marks) but when you step back these all pull together to make a powerful image.  I believe that if your eyes have to work a little to pull the image together, they are more stimulated and makes a richer viewing experience.

7_FatherJohn_png_3 2

“Father John” oil by Sharon McNeil

4_fatherjohn_drawing 2

Drawing for “Father John” by Sharon McNeil

(A.B) What inspires your images/stories?

(S.M) My inspiration comes from a combination sources and experiences but it is an organic process for me.  I may be inspired by a novel and that story will seep into a still life I am setting up that gives me an idea for some figurative work.  The one theme that seems to run through all my work is the relationship to our past.  I have always been interested in my Greek heritage which has inspired a lot of my work and now that I am learning about my Scottish heritage, it has begun to as well.

(A.B) In regards to your interest in your Greek heritage, you went back to the island of Nysiros a few years ago, where you had spent a summer in your freshman year of college. This was an important trip for your research as an artist. What were your goals during that second visit?

(S.M) It had been a dream of mine to do some plein-air work in Greece and creating work was a chance to show what the island means to me.  I wanted to show what beauty there was in this place that has been so overlooked.  I worked towards an exhibition in which I wanted to show how densely layered with history this tiny island is.  I even did a drawing from a Satellite image of Nisyros and marked the locations the paintings were from to give the show a real sense of “place” for the audience.

(A.B) How did this trip affect your work?

“Panagia Spilliani” sketch by Sharon Mcneil

(S.M) I have become much more comfortable with sketching on location while traveling and it has given me many more ideas for future work. Right now there is another series I am planning that would show the views one sees while walking through the village and up the passageway to a church that holds a holy icon.  It is a common trip for spiritual pilgrims.

(A.B) As a narrative artist what types of art forms influence your work the most?

(S.M) I would say mostly paintings but different kinds for different reasons.  I look at some paintings to see how things are done.  I have looked closely at the work of John Singer Sargent, particularly the watercolors and oil sketches he did in Italy which I saw at the LA county Museum, when I am trying to understand how there can be so much color in white, gray and tan.  In his case he has a sort of perfect pitch when it comes to color and his brush strokes are painterly but accurate which I really admire.  I also look at Cezanne and Van Gogh to see how they push color for expressive purposes but always from an honest vantage point.  I am drawn to the work of artists like Chagall and Redon not so much as an influence but for the feeling their work gives me.

(A.B)  Who has been your most influential teacher?

(S.M) The artist Domenic Cretara, who I studied with at Cal State Long Beach has been the biggest influence to my work to this day.  He did a series called the large drawings in 2007 that I keep going back to look at again and again.  It is too much to describe here but what I can say is that they are just lyrical in the way the forces play out on the page.   You can look at his work by growing his website.


(A.B) How do you orchestrate and design the storytelling images in your drawings and paintings?

 (S.M) I work from a combination of still life set ups, and photographs.  I also sketch a lot just for fun, especially when I travel and that often either inspires and idea or is useful as reference material.

(A.B) I know from working with you as a fellow faculty member that you are very good at staging setups and creating props. Do you work from staged settings or still lives when drawing or painting?


 (S.M) For me they are the same thing.  A still life can be objects on a table or windowsill but there could also be a tree growing out of the table or a window to nowhere.  I think it is the contradictions in a setup that make it really interesting. So I look for really interesting props and I glue, wire, or duct tape them together to arrange them in interesting ways.  I have never felt the need to draw the wire or the duct tape.  I would rather have their assembly be a bit of a mystery. I enjoy the process of staging a still life and often this leads to more ideas. It adds to the organic nature of my ideas.

(A.B) Do you work regularly from direct observation?

(S.M) I do work regularly from direct observation, especially in my sketchbook or when I draw from a model.  However, the observational drawings or paintings are not usually part of the work I do as a series where a lot more intention and planning is involved.  There, I use photographs and create specific set ups.

(A.B) Do you ever work from memory?

(S.M) I don’t usually work from memory. I need something to look at.  It is usually through the practice of really looking at something that I come up with some of my best work, however sometimes I find it necessary to take artistic liberties.

The role of drawing in your work

(A.B) What is the role of drawing in your creative process?

(S.M) Drawing is the process.  It is the most enjoyable part and for me painting is drawing with color.  I don’t draw and then paint I draw with paint.

(A.B) I would like to remark on the formal quality of your drawings. Your work shows solid volumetric form through the understanding of structure and lighting yet with a very loose handling of line. What are your thoughts on the importance of gesture drawing in your own work?


Ghost, ink wash, Sharon Mcneil

(S.M) It is essential.  I never really compose without the gesture.  It is the beginning and end of a piece and what makes me want to draw in first place.  There is nothing more fun than starting out a big expressive gesture on a large piece of paper when you have a great model with dynamic poses.  I know a lot of people do those little tiny gestures in their sketchbook to save paper but I am a bigger fan of the one to a page.  However, it is not just about the beginning, it is about being able to maintain that energy and excitement even to the end of a piece, even after hours and hours.

(A.B) How does a solid understanding of form and space impact your expressive intent as an artist?

(S.M) It is not just about being able to draw what I want to, but about being able to come up with visual ideas.  Good visual work is really driven by form, space and composition and without this understanding ones ideas are limited.


Thinking Jester, Sharon Mcneil

(A.B) What role does mark-making play in your drawings?

(S.M) Marks affect drawings in so many ways but more than anything I want them to be felt and to remain somewhat loose.  Sometimes they work as a contour but it is usually best if they come and go and are not solid.  Other times they work better to describe a “plane” or to actually “be” the plane.  That is where the sense of feeling and conviction is so important to a mark.

(A.B) This insight in to your work and your creative process has been very inspiring. Thank you for bringing new viewpoints into this blog through this interview.  In addition to this blog post some of your sketchbook work will be showcased in my next Sunday Sketchbook feature.




Unbound, beyond the sketchbook practice

There is a stack of sketchbooks in my studio filled with sketches done over the years during my boys’ karate classes. These quick sketches are exercises in composition, gesture and analysis of movement, they are also the point of departure for the Karate series.

Today I am sharing a mixed media drawing and the sketchbook pages that inspired it.

karate side kick sketchbook

sketchbook gesture drawing


Sketchbook gesture revisited

The top line drawing was the quick gesture drawing done on site at the dojo, its generalized character  is the result of rapid note taking. The next image shows the same drawing embellished with mixed media marks and color. This later version was the inspiration for a piece titled  “Warm up”. Due to the minimalistic nature of the initial gestures, I relied heavily on memory, imagination and a little bit on direct observation while developing this drawing. The subject matter and the mixture of materials which include water-soluble  graphite, acrylic wash, charcoal, sanguine and chalk pastels were conducive to energetic mark-making. My focus here was on gesture, rhythm and surface development. To capture the gesture, I  paid close attention to the tilts of the three moveable masses of the figure (skull, ribcage and pelvis).


Adriana Burgos “Warm up”, mixed media, 21″ x 29″

I am pleased with the resulting sense of movement and the surface quality that emerged from the layers of material and look forward to future media explorations as the series grows.

A memory in brown and black

This end of the year I had the opportunity to get away with my family for a week. We stayed by a lake in the woods around Stone Mountain. It was a great way to bring in the new year, we did some hiking, sat around bon fires, watched the kids play out all day in spite of the cold and spent time with family and friends. I got to work on a small silverpoint drawing which I will share in a future post because it could use some refining.

I am however sharing a journal drawing from our trip to Stone Mountain three years ago. It’s always great to find time to draw on our nature getaways. This two page spread is a landscape study in warm and cool temperatures to show depth. It is part of a written journal in which I record our family’s experiences when we go camping. Keeping journals and sketchbooks is a great way to record life experiences, I hope my children will look through these journals in the future and find many of the memories we have created together.


Adriana Burgos, Study of woods in black and sienna, 2014

In this particular sketch, I used sanguine, graphite and charcoal. Using the red and black is always an interesting challenge, because although the drawing is still a value drawing, the temperature shifts from black to red brown offer an added quality that allows me to manipulate depth through value contrast and temperature.

I look forward to sharing new memories through sketchbook drawings this new year.


Study for “Discovery”


Adriana Burgos, Study for “Discovery”, Sanguine on paper 2016

On my last post, I shared some thumbnail sketches and a longer study for “Fort”. My featured drawing today  is titled “Discovery” and it is another comp based on the thumbnails. This was done with sanguine pencil on cream-colored Stonehenge paper.

I love working in sanguine, the warmth of the red-brown fascinates me and I like the way it ties in with art history. In this particular study I built values mainly with layers of line beginning with one directional diagonal hatching and then changing the direction of the marks on top layers.

Many of my favorite drawings by old masters are done with red chalk and I have great admiration for work created with this medium by Raphael Sanzio, Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Jacopo Pontormo. I study the work of the old masters because of the rich draftsmanship in their work and their grasp of visual storytelling. Below are some links to wonderful websites (the met museum one of my favorites) with great drawings the old masters mentioned.

Story has always been a great inspiration for me, currently I am working with narratives based on the interaction of people with natural environments. It feels great to see how my sketchbook drawings and photographs from numerous visits to state parks in and around coastal Ga, are influencing recent work in the studio.

Idea development sketches for “Fort”

I have come to love the mysterious quality of the landscape around the area I live. This summer I started working on the South Land series, a body of work inspired by places I visit periodically in the Georgia and South Carolina low country. The natural resources here include marshes, beaches, swamps and woods. In this series, I am combining images from sketchbook drawings, and my photographs into narrative compositions.  Always an avid reader, I find inspiration in literature and I believe the juxtaposition of figure and landscape creates a sense of story worth exploring.


Adriana Burgos, thumbnail sketches for “Fort”, graphite on paper

Today I am sharing some thumbnail sketches and a preliminary sketch  for “Fort”. The thumbnails are about 3″ wide and were done with graphite in my sketchbook. The larger comp is roughly 15″ x 11″ done with sanguine pencil. Although the small graphite drawings were meant to be different ideas for a single piece, I intend to develop several finished drawings based on these. My main objectives here were to experiment with shapes in relation to the picture plane, placement of the elements, movement and depth. I was having fun with the effect of directional lines across the space. The orientation of the branches and tree trunks create a choreography of linear structure that I find striking.


Adriana Burgos 2016, “study for Fort”, sanguine on cream stonehenge paper,

The final pieces based on these studies will be large charcoal drawings. This is the ideal medium  to continue my experimentations with value to create a sense of atmosphere. I hope to be posting progress soon!

Recent charcoal drawings


The last couple of months have certainly been busy, getting ready for the academic year and for a recent group exhibition I was part of in Savannah Ga. The name of the exhibition was “Nature Nurtured” and it featured the work of eight artists, all members of the Foundation Studies Department at SCAD.

I exhibited the charcoal drawings shown below as well as three silverpoint pieces. These images express my responses to some of the places I have visited regularly over the years combined with my interest in narrative drawing. I consider them  the beginning of a series I plan to call “Southland”.

I look forward to sharing  process shots for these as well as some installation and gallery shots in the coming weeks.



Drawings and the passage of time

As the years go by, time seems to fly past us. It is often through our children that we realize just how fleeting life can be. As a mother and figurative artist, I have done a number of drawings of my children, many of them while they were sleeping. There is something beautiful and intimate about people in slumber. My most recent sketch dealing with this subject is one I titled “Restless”, it depicts Felipe trying to nap in our most recent camping trip, after a difficult night because he wasn’t feeling well.

It seems like yesterday when Nicolas and Felipe were only babies. With this in mind, I thought it would be interesting to post sketches of my boys at different ages.  Below, you can see my most recent drawing of Felipe next to another of him as a  baby.  These were done nine years apart, both during family camping trips. The passage of time evident in the physical appearance of Felipe in each sketch.

restless sleepFelipe, 9 months old

My fascination with drawing my children hasn’t changed. Motherhood is a great adventure and one worth exploring through art. The drawings of my children go beyond description, the process of drawing is a record of my emotions and deep love for them.

The sketches below are of Nicolas, my firstborn. The first is one of a series of drawings that led to my first explorations with silverpoint, (two of these are featured in this post on silverpoint, The second is one during his toddler years after a walk in the stroller. Once again the juxtaposition of these images is evidence of the passage of time. Nicolas will soon turn 13 and is already taller than me. I look to the drawings of him as a baby as an important stage in my development as an artist.

Nicolas sleepingStroller

Witnessing how my boys blossom into their own individual selves is amazing. I see traits of both my husband and I in both of them, yet they are also their own persons. Even though they change and mature through the years, their essence is ever present.  Continue reading

Dusting off an old sketchbook

Elena and the spirits

Late June is usually when I catch up with some home organizing and the studio is, of course, among my top priorities. As I was organizing my space, I found several old sketchbooks. Today’s images are sketches  found in one of those books, these are for “Elena and the Spirits”, a narrative piece that I have yet to develop into a large drawing or painting

These images are idea development drawings of different speeds. Though not fully resolved, they are very important in the development process because they represent the materialization of an idea. Done, at least 15 years ago, they still hold my interest and I will begin working a silverpoint version as well as a large charcoal or mixed media drawing soon.

Many of the other sketches jotted in the sketchbook were developed into mixed media drawings or paintings and I will share them along with the finished pieces in a future sketchbook feature post. There are other sketches and written ideas that could be revised and developed further and definitely worth exploring.