This is the blog of Thomas Schmall. If you like the artworks you see, you can buy originals and prints in the shop, or hire my services.


Material Experiments for Figure Drawing

I’m still not quite settled on the media to use for Figure Drawing.

Pencils are definitely the one where I can get the quickest results for both shape and value. But the size is one clear limitation – filling areas takes a lot of time. Often it forces me to leave areas out.

Dressed Pencil Figure

Dressed Figure Study – Pencil on A4 Paper


I did some Copic sketches also (you can see more Marker Drawings from earlier), though I’m not too happy with the rough structure that shows up in the shading. It saves some time, but not enough to scale the works up.

Charcoal seems like the material of choice for traditional artists – but so far I failed miserably. Either the coal stuck so well to the paper that I couldn’t erase it, or when trying smooth paper, it just disappeared when touching the surface. I might post some of those later. If anyone has insight into which paper is best for charcoal, please let me know. I would really like to work bigger.

Figure and Lighting Study

Figure and Lighting Study – Ink and Marker on A4 Marker paper.

Ink and pencil seems like a nice mix. Since the ink shows up strongly, it allows for more messy hatching with the led. So the last picture is bigger than the other two.

Ink and Pencil Figure Study

Figure Study – Ink and pencil on A2 Bristol paper

Costume Illustrations for the Udo Jürgens Musical

These are fashion illustrations I made for the musical “Ich war noch niemals in New York” – which is based on songs by the German Schlager singer Udo Jürgens.

Costume Illustration - Musical - Long Gown

This is the long gown variation with a flower pattern.

Costume Illustration - Musical - Long Gown

A short skirt version with pastel color pattern.

Costume Photo - Ich war noch niemals in New York

Some of the dresses in the finale.

Costume Illustration - Musical - Long Gown

Blue pattern (They’re all done with watercolors).

Costume Illustration - Musical - Long Gown

A variation with white trousers.

Costume Illustration - Musical - Long Gown

Another short skirt dress, with a violet watercolor patches.

Costume Illustration - Musical - Long Gown

Long gown with a soft green pattern.

Linking Metaphors in Film and Art

A little link collection again – starting with some research on metaphors.

  • This video by “Every Frame A Painting” analyzes how Akira Kurosawa used cinematic techniques in his films. A lot of it is about movement and transitions, but many can be helpful when painting. Specifically the ubiquitous use of weather and the elements as metaphors, and groups of people and extreme poses to emphasize emotions. But more generally the way of thinking: To use every element to bring the message across.

  • Anyone is curious about the metaphor topic will find the Metaphor Lab interesting. It’s a bi-weekly Meetup in Amsterdam by researchers about metaphors. The next meeting on April 14 being about metaphors in animation movies.
    Usually these meetings start with a talk, and a little discussion – was really insightful the last time.

  • And while we’re about events in Amsterdam: there is a new exhibition in Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum about Rembrandt’s late works. With some rarely shown works that are in private collections. I’ll go check it out the coming week. Here’s my current favorite Rembrandt…

    Jan Six - painting- Rembrandt van Rijn

    “Jan Six” – oil on canvas – ca. 1654, by Rembrandt van Rijn

    …though Rijksmuseum is anyways always worth a visit. Even just for the renovated insides with the murals of George Sturm.

    Recently a Dutch organization called ‘Ambulance Wens’, that fulfills wishes for terminally ill people, helped a lady to see the Rijksmuseum one last time. Good sometimes to have such convincing reminders that art matters after all.

Sick Woman in Museum

Woman watching Rembrandt portrait in the Rijksmuseum

Ink Lines and Pencil Squares

Running out of titles huh? Here are three new figure drawings of recent.

Figure Drawing, Pencil 1

Figure Drawing, Pencil on A4 paper

Figure Drawing, Pencil 2

Figure Drawing, Pencil on A4 paper

Figure Drawing, Ink

Figure Drawing, Ink on A4 Marker paper

Random Links of the Week

A couple of things I came across in the last weeks, that are worth sharing…

  • …like Robert Sapolsky talking about his new research into the Toxoplasmosis, the parasite that can change human behavior. It’s actual aim is to influence mice to take more risks. And to paraphrase Sapolsky: It knows more about the brain than all neuroscientists.

  • As we’re at good speakers, it’s worth checking Ricardo Semler’s TED talk on radical wisdom. He is most known for setting up a company without hierarchical structure – where employees can even set their own salary. But I like how he extends his thinking to education and even everyday life choices.

  • I really liked the New York Times article on The Cost of Paying Attention . It’s spot on with “…we have allowed our attention to be monetized, if you want yours back you’re going to have to pay for it.”

    I noticed myself when visiting Russia once, how relaxing it is not to have commercials plastered everywhere. Though it might have gotten worse since then. In Europe there is still at least some respect of auditory peace. In Japan on the other hand it was always surprising to me that every machine at home or in public are constantly speaking something. Political campaign-cars are driving through town spouting slogans through the streets. This and their aggressive commercials everywhere are an interesting contrast to their Zen image.

  • Back to art. Here’s a tutorial about composition by the amazing Robh Ruppel.
    First off the final result:

    Robh Ruppel - Trees and Path

    Robh Ruppel – digital image for the Composition tutorial

Progressive Poses

A recent life drawing – combining four poses into one.

In a session of our weekly figure drawing meetups, we tried to have the model slowly step up on a higher pedestal, to learn perspectives on the figure.
Before we get to the the picture, as bonus here’s a link to some fantastic new paintings by Phil Hale.

Figure Drawing Male - Ink

Four Figures – Ink and Markers on 30 x 40cm Bristol paper.

Parsifal Costumes – Part 2

The remaining designs for Wagner’s Parsifal.

The (earlier costumes are in Part one). All of them are done with the designer Yan Tax.

Parsifal Tokyo Stage

The stage design with 3D visual effects.

Parsifal Opera Costume Design - Parsifal with spear

Parsifal, this time with spear and a more threatening looking dress.

Parsifal Opera Costume Design - Green Silk Dess

Kundry in a green silk dress.

Parsifal Kundry

Evelyn Herlitzius as Kundry in the green costume.

Parsifal Opera Costume Design - creme colored suit

Gurnemanz in the creme-color style.

Parsifal Opera Costume Design - Knight Stola

The creme colored suits were the general style of the grail knights.

bright costumes

The bright costumes in the play.

Parsifal Opera Costume Design - Amfortas white dress

The immortal knight Amfortas with his wound.

Parsifal Opera Costume Design - Child Begging Dress

A child in a beggar’s dress.

Parsifal Opera Costume Design - Earthen color Cape

One of the Amazones, that try to seduce Parsifal.

Parsifal Opera Costume Design - Seductive Girl Dress White

White dress with decorative armor pieces. There were 12 Amazones in all.

Parsifal Tokyo Stage

The seduction scene on the stage.

Parsifal Opera Costume Design - Leather coat

Kundry’s other side – in a brown and orange leather coat.

The Fractal Art of Jason Padgett

Jason Padgett started creating The geometrical drawings out of nothing, after being brutally hit on the head.

They look fascinating. Sadly its a bit hard to come by well researched articles about this stunning story. This article in the NYPost about Padgett, describes his mathematical drive after his brain injury.

“Padgett is one of only 40 people in the world with “acquired ­savant syndrome,” a condition in which prodigious talents in math, art or music emerge in previously normal individuals following a brain injury or disease.”

There are also examples of a such injuries leading to musical genius, like in the case of Derek Amato. But let’s stick to the art guy – here is a little news item about Padgett:

Another interesting snippet is when he talks about how he sees movement.

Here are a couple of drawings I found. Padgett sells prints at his fineartamerica page.

Padgett Energy Spiral

Energy Spiral (2008)

Padgett Perfect Square

Perfect Square (2013)

Padgett Photon Double Slit Test

Photon Double Slit Test (2006)

Padgett Quantum Hand

Quantum Hand Frequency (2006)

Padgett Quantum Fractal

Quantum Star Fractal (2010)

Padgett Pi

The Shape of Pi (2008)