Drawing Connections: My Dinosaur Journey

published4 months ago
5 min read

"My Dinosaur Journey"
Vol. 1, No. 1, January 2021

Hi Friend:

Welcome to the first edition of the Drawing Connections newsletter. I came to art in my 40's with no formal art education, even though I was sure at the age of 5 that I wanted to an artist.

Mike’s occupation plan at the age of 5
At 5 I added artist to the “boys” side. Different times.

I will use this newsletter to talk about my art, my tools and share a few stories along the way. My goal is to entertain, educate and inspire others by openly sharing my journey.

I took a chance a year and a half ago when I started the Drawing Inspiration podcast as a way to learn more about art. I am grateful for all the guests who generously shared their time and wisdom with me. I learmed so much and made so many friends along the way. I would like to thank the guests, listeners and followers.

This week, I took another big step by officially launching my online shop. I am starting with a small collection of open edition prints but will be adding more over time. You’ll find a code for 20% off your order at the end of this newsletter.

I hope you will stick around as the journey continues.


Stories Behind the Art

Everybody loves dinosaurs. I remember having all kinds of books about dinosaurs when I was a kid. I made the connection between art and dinosaurs in my 40's, and it was the spark that lit the flame under me to begin pursuing my creative passion.

I would often sketch with my daughters when they were young. We had some small animal figures from Schleich, and they were really into a show called the Dinosaur Train and The Land Before Time film series (yes, we watched all of them probably 100 times). I remember one day drawing a triceratops with one of my daughters and thinking it wasn't half bad. It was that Christmas that I gave my wife my first drawing of a chickadee. You can see it below against another chickadee I drew recently.

My drawing evolution. To get better you need to practice, practice, practice.

I hadn’t drawn a dinosaur since. I like to focus on photo references, and for some reason it's hard to photograph dinosaurs in the wild in Ottawa, Canada 😀. However, I saw an Instagram post from the Academy of Natural Sciences this week about their dino drawing classes. I started thinking I should try drawing a dinosaur again.

Here's the result. Maybe a little more dragon than dinosaur, but I used a copyright-free photo reference online.

Dino drawing
My dino drawing is a mix between t-rex and dragon

It's about 2.5 hours of work on Strathmore Bristol Smooth paper using a Pentel Graphgear 1000 mechanical pencil with just a 2B lead. I have tried restricting my use of leads to one or two vs. a mix of darknesses all the way to 8B. Many artists will sketch with something like a 2H or HB pencil which are quite light and then move to 2B, 4B, 6B or even 8B to achieve darker values. It's not to say one approach is better than the other, I just didn't want to carry a bunch of pencils around when I used to draw in coffee shops. Yes, that was a thing in the "before time".

What did I learn? Dinosaurs textures are wonderful but they are hard and I need to do more research to understand current theories about how they looked. Also, always be curious and bring those elements that brought you joy from the past into the present. You’re never too old.

From Mike's Toolbox

Pencil Extenders

If you work with traditional wooden pencils, whether they are graphite or colored pencils, they shrink over time as you sharpen them. If you are like me, you would prefer a pencil that doesn't change in length or weight. I mostly use mechanical pencils for that reason and also because I don't need to carry a sharpener. However, I still love wooden pencils like the Tombow Mono 6B.

So, I've purchased some extenders from Elegant Utility. You can buy extenders at most art shops, but these models are wonderful pieces with a nice heavy feel and intentional functionality. I have used the original with my Tombow Mono, and it worked perfectly. However, it didn't work with my larger diameter Faber-Castell colored pencils. So I order their larger version, and it fits perfectly. This may sound like an advertisement, but I paid for them myself, and while they are not inexpensive, I believe they are worth it.

If you want to learn more about Elegant Utility, you can check out their Etsy shop.

Two new extenders from Elegant Utility

Recent Drawing Inspiration Episodes

Here are a couple of the most recent “Drawing Inspiration” podcast episodes. The podcast is available wherever you listen to music.

44: Dog Stories, Animation and Creating a Positive Impact with Michael Relth

Michael Relth joins the podcast to talk about his journey from art school to writing and illustrating his first book. Michael talks about the need to make a positive impact with his art and how critical it is to have a circle of trust. He talks about his work with animation and the piece he did as a commission for Procreate. Michael also talks about the importance of establishing a routine.

45: Facing Your Demons, Fearing the Pinnacle and Painting Eggs with Sarah Marie Lacy

Sarah Marie Lacy talks about her journey from Canada to France and back as a formally trained artist. Sarah discusses her early beginnings and how the discovery of an art piece in a coffee table book brought her to a Studio Escalier. We talk about the challenges with portraiture, the human body's beauty, light on cellulite, and the special connection between model and artist. To help you break out of your shell, Sarah then provides some "eggcellent" homework that may leave you a bit scrambled.

Have you listened to the podcast? Are you enjoying it? If so, you can support it through Patreon. The support goes directly to the costs associated with recording, hosting and running the show. I also have some great benefits through the three tiers provide everyone options for .


At the Movies

I finished watching "Into the Unknown: The Making Frozen 2" on Disney+. It's a short 6 part episode series covering everything from animation to voice work and very heavy on the music score. I have no plan to do animation but found it very inspirational from a creative perspective.

What's funny is that I have yet to see the movie itself. I will strike it off my list before the next newsletter. I did really enjoy the first one. Let it go! Let it go!

The Bookshelf

"Drawing from Line to Life" with Mike Sibley is the book that started it all for me. Mike Sibley is a graphite artist from the U.K. and has been drawing animals and nature scenes for decades. The book is an essential handbook if you plan on doing any pencil work. He covers all areas of drawing, including achieving textures through the thoughtful application of graphite but also considering negative drawing. The book presents drawing in a way that makes it accessible to anyone. I was lucky enough to attend an in-person workshop with Mike a couple of years ago, and it had a huge impact on where I am now. More about that workshop in a future issue of the newsletter. You can find more information about Mike's book and his online classes on his web site.

Online shop and current discount code

Visit the my shop at shop.mikehendley.com and
use the code GRANDOPENING for a 20% discount on any print.

Discount code valid until February 28, 2021

Stay safe, take care and keep drawing.


Vol. 1, No. 1, January 2021

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