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With a little background music and a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine, depending on the hour), I could get lost in time drawing hair. I’ve often said it’s like meditation. Like adding salt and pepper to a meal, we all have a different touch when creating values, or light and shade.

With my colored pencil drawing of Stevie Nicks, I darkened the areas that I wanted to go in, under and back (where there’s less light hitting the hair). Right below the hat, there’s darkness from the shadow of the hat and where there’s curl or wave in the hair, a darker value must be added. In other words, if her hair is goldenrod, the darker areas could be terracotta or even dark brown. Pencil pressure and gradient are also important things to think about.


Here’s another example with a portrait of my niece. I started with goldenrod and added terracotta with a firmer pressure in the areas that go in (the roots and waves), under (below the jaw) and back (contour of the hair). The light areas sort of take care of themselves, although highlights can easily be added by lifting off some color with a battery-operated eraser.

Easier said than done but the more we do this, the easier it gets…and with a little music and a favorite beverage, it’s a great way to unwind.