I’ve always been envious of artists whose work is so free, yet assured, that they can create their originals in pen.

Take for example, the work of famed illustrator Rene Gruau:

Rene Gruau illustration

Being a risk-adverse type of person (not to mention that my initial attempts 3 years ago drawing with pen were beyond embarrassing – hello, Close Encounters of the Third Kind?), that kind of freedom has certainly eluded me.  In fact, I wrote in yesterday’s post that I expected to get good at drawing with pen in maybe…

40 years

But the seed was planted again in my brain.  Last night, just for fun, I took out my nice heavy-weight Borden & Riley Bristol Art papers (I have pads in 3 different weights) and doodled with my markers to see which weight was the best fit.   And, perhaps just to prove to myself that I shouldn’t even try to draw in pen, I doodled this “fashionista”…

doodle fashionista

Yes, it looks like her right foot is on backwards and that she has a dust bunny for a pet, but the whole exercise was oddly encouraging.  And today when I decided to continue the experiment, here’s what emerged…

Speechless for blog


Overnight success?  Beginner’s luck?  No.  (And certainly not when you consider that I’ve been creating fashion-based illustrations for the past 3 years!)

Proof that hard work and goal-setting works?

I’ll let you be the judge on that one….



    • Joana says:

      Thanks, Susan! I’m still pinching myself. Maybe today’s attempt will take me back to reality, but I’m hoping to continue to build on the progress.

      🙂 Joana

      On Sun, Jun 29, 2014 at 11:16 PM, JOANA MIRANDA STUDIO wrote:


  1. Pamela Frame says:

    Hi Joana, Very interesting topic! I have thought about this myself. If we look at this from a musician’s point of view, we might see that we have a tool box (hate that analogy) for all sorts of needs. We have different kinds of vibrato, we have different sorts of slides and shifts, we can change fingerings to suit our musical goals, and etc. I think that an artist who draws with an easy ‘flow’, very few strokes perhaps, is using elements from her box of tools or techniques. First you understand how a foot works and looks from different angles, and then what happens with different styles of shoes. When you have that down, you just pick one and it’s “easy”. I always tell my students just after they learn something new that suddenly “It’s EASY, isn’t it?” and “Anything is easy once you know how to do it.” So if you think you are getting tripped up (oh dear) on the shoes, pick three different views and stick with those, perhaps? Then you are ready for ink, or, as a musician, you are ready to sight-read almost anything. Does this make sense?

    • Joana says:

      Hi Pam,

      Yes, your advice does make sense! The hard thing is that I not only want to be able to draw in pen (I love the freedom) but I also want to continue to create different expressions on my characters. Many good fashion illustrators use stock expressions (or no expressions at all) but my goal is slightly different since I’m not trying to create “fashion illustrations”, but rather fashionable illustrations.

      I like the way my pen attempt (the red and black illustration of the woman in the red swing coat) came out, but I was actually after a slightly different expression – haughty, yet playful. I didn’t quite achieve that, and in fact, judging by some of the comments I’ve received, on first look it could look like she has chicken pox. Definitely NOT the effect I was after;-)

      So, as you suggest, I’ll keep working at refining the “tools” in my tool box. And I’ll answer your “real” email shortly.

      XOX – Joana

      On Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 1:58 PM, JOANA MIRANDA STUDIO wrote:


  2. Helen Reich says:

    I’m impressed. I like it a lot, although I’m not sure about the birdcage veil (?) in front of her face. It looks a little like chicken pox, but otherwise, there’s plenty of freedom and virtuosity on this drawing, so brava!

    • Joana says:

      Oh yes, chicken pox was DEFINITELY the look I was after. (Not!) Hee, hee. But I do see your point. I suppose going a little darker with some of the cross-hatches of the netting would be good, but at this point I don’t want to mess with the drawing. It’s a big step in the direction I want to be going, but I’m obviously not quite there yet.

      I plan to take my black brush pens and a handful of my favorite Copic Sketch markers (along with the nice paper) to Saratoga next week. Hopefully, I’ll have some free time to do some more experimenting…

      A big hug and thanks, as always, for your feedback! Joana

      On Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 7:18 PM, JOANA MIRANDA STUDIO wrote:


    • Joana says:

      And your comments are very valuable and always welcome!

      🙂 Joana

      On Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 9:33 PM, JOANA MIRANDA STUDIO wrote:


  3. ma says:

    your best yet!! Wow, I’m impressed! I do agree that the veil can be mis interpreted, but just for a brief second….
    xoxo ma

    • Joana says:

      Hi Ma,

      I’m so glad you like my latest! I’ve been a little lazy (scared?) about attempting another from-scratch-pen-illustration, but I’m going to bring my black brush pens, some of my Copic Sketch markers and my nice paper when we visit. Hopefully, the weeds in the driveway will stay away so that I have time to do some more experimenting with my drawing.;-)

      Can’t wait to see you again! Love, J

      On Mon, Jun 30, 2014 at 10:25 PM, JOANA MIRANDA STUDIO wrote:


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