Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March brings some sketches


I can't believe it is March already. I was going to do another Feb. update, then I caught a cold and just didn't have the energy to draw, so the update didn't happen. The sparrow sitting at the feeder in the above drawing was going to be the header for that update, instead I stopped working on it and finally finished it this morning. Not totally pleased but I was tired of working on it so it will have to do.

I used another of my personal reference photographs for this little guy. Drawing with various graphite pencils in one of my smaller sketchbooks.


The next 3 images are from my Scavenger Hunt sketchbook. All drawings are done from life using a .1 Copic Multiliner pen. I am not doing any preliminary pencil work, so sometimes there are mistakes that I try to modify and/or correct. I think all the images are self explanatory. The Scavenger Hunt lists are posted weekly in the WetCanvas Art From Life forum. Artists can use any media for their artworks, I just choose to use pen and ink as a challenge to me. 


Above is a 2nd page for the same hunt as the top page. I am fairly happy about the shoe, but the cereal box isn't proportioned correctly, it was/is a large of box of Cheerios and should have been taller in the drawing. Ah well, that is why we do these studies.


Only one page for the current Hunt (which ends today, March 1). Top is a potato peeler that I purchased way back when I moved out of my parents home into my own apt. Been a long time, and they now have fancier peelers, but this one still works so I use it. The other two items are a flashlight, and a tube of paint. Not my best work but at least I managed a couple of drawings. Finally starting to have a bit more energy and am not quite so bonded to the tissue box.


Photos for today: The lakes and ponds in my local area are all full and overflowing. This photo is from Ames Nowell State Park in Abington, MA. Not much green as of yet, but hopefully the winter snows are behind us. Oops shouldn't even think that, as I write I am hearing a weather forecast for light snow on Friday. Ah well, I can only hope that the adjective "light" is the operative word, one April 1st we had about 20 inches of heavy wet snow, that was no fun at all. 


A first sign of Spring, I found these snowdrops almost blooming in the garden at Borderland State Park, in Easton, MA. on Monday. We have had quite a few warmish days (temps in the 60's) so wasn't entirely surprised. Just hope the trees don't wake up too quickly only to be hit by a cold snap in April. That happened last year and it wasn't good for some fruit trees. Course the cold last year also killed off a lot of the Winter Moths so there was some good that came out of it.

That is it for today. Am thinking about what I want my next project to be. I should be painting, maybe, check back in a week or two to find out. In the meantime comments are always welcome.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

More Sketches, Titmouse and Stuff


 The reference for the Tufted Titmouse above was another of my more recent bird photographs. I suppose I should have darkened the background a bit more, but the reference isn't that high contrast and I wanted to keep the same soft feeling for this drawing. Done with 2H, HB and B grade pencils it wouldn't have been easy to go a lot darker in any case. Just trying to get my drawing chops back up to par. Not totally displeased with this, it does look like a Titmouse.


 I know the circles are seriously out of shape, and the "leaf" motifs aren't all the same size, nor are the center segments. The reason is that I did this drawing entirely by hand, usually when I am doing circles I pull out my campuses and use them (it can bother me if circles are too wonky) but I was just exploring designs so decided not to do that. After I finished the pencil drawing I inked the whole thing using a dip pen and one of my new crow quill nibs with India Ink. The paper in the sketchbook I was using seemed to spread the ink a bit so the lines aren't as fine as they should be. After I finished inking (and let it dry overnight) I erased out the pencil lines.

Design is based on some architectural motifs that I photographed on Chicago buildings over Christmas. I am working on another piece the same shape and wanted to play a bit with designs, and how to shade the background for the outer ring. Not sure how I feel about this, it seems to cry out for color, but I also like the black and white version.


 Managed only one page this week for the WetCanvas Scavenger Hunt. Part of my excuse is that a lot of the prompts called for outside (meaning outdoors) images and our weather here in MA just hasn't been sitting outside weather (too cold, too wet, rain and snow). Hopefully I will do better next week. Done in the sketchbook I seemed to have dedicated to this with a .1 Copic Multiliner pen. Again these were drawn directly in ink, no pencil underdrawings. The screwdriver isn't too bad, considering.


From a walk last week in one of the Blue Hills Reservation sections this is a photo of lichen covered boulders, left by the glaciers at the top of a hill that goes down to Ponkapoag Pond. Note the smaller rock balanced above the gap between two others. MA not only has a foundation of granite but it also has a great many rocks and boulders left loose on the surface by retreating glaciers. That is one reason why we have so many stone walls, they had to get the rocks out of the fields to plow them, so why not build something. Oddly enough early settlers mostly didn't use stone for their houses, they preferred wood or brick for those.


A photograph from Friday of snow left by Thursday's all day snow storm, a small local park. I think we only got about 8 inches but other areas of the state got several inches more. Yesterday (Saturday) we had another couple of inches of snow then clouds for the rest of the day. Since there was no sun I didn't take the camera out. Today we again have clouds only today we are getting some rain which is expected to turn to snow overnight then we are scheduled for another storm tomorrow. ACK one winters quota of snow storms in about 5 days. It is more fun when they are spread out over several weeks.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Just sketches, but am drawing


All of my postings today are just sketches, which is about all I have been doing the past couple of weeks, but I consider sketches a step up from doing no art at all, so thought I would post them just so I keep in the habit of updating the blog and kept sketching, hopefully I will also get back to more finished/polished drawings at some point. 

My new camera is allowing me to make better bird reference photographs. Above is a quick sketch done with a Copic Multiliner .1 pen in a small sketchbook. The bird is a song sparrow, one of our native North American sparrows. Not a terribly good drawing, but not totally off either considering I didn't do a preliminary pencil drawing and my drawing skills are seriously rusty. From a personal reference photograph.


These next three images are sketches done in a 8.5 x 11 inch Canson Sketchbook. Again I used the .1 Copic Multiliner pen for them and did no preliminary pencil sketches.

The subjects come from lists posted in the Artwork From Life, WetCanvas forum. The Scavenger lists are weekly lists of subjects to be drawn from life.  I have labeled each page with the list number used and then labeled the item drawn.




I have rediscovered that I still have the tendency to draw what should be perpendicular lines at an angle on a page. ACK. Note that the peanut butter jars above, and the black mug and ink bottle in the previous drawings are slanted to the right. I keep forgetting that I do this and really need to check my orientation before I put pen to paper. Once the ink is down it is too late. I am not sure why I do this, maybe because I am right handed? But it drives me crazy after the fact. What really frustrates me is that I don't even notice the slant while I am making the drawing, only once it is done do I see the error.


Not really the best quality photo, these winter days even in full sun don't let me use a shutter speed that would give me a clearer image, but it is much better than I could have gotten with the old Rebel. A Great Blue Heron at Daniel Websters, MA Audubon sanctuary in Marshfield, MA. I didn't think these birds stuck around over winter, but I have seen Great Blues at Daniel Webster on both of my latest visits this winter. And others in my Facebook Birding Group have also photographed Great Blues so I guess they can and do stick around. This one was walking away from me along the river until it realized I was there and took off. I love the shadows in this image.


While our days have mostly been above freezing (just) the nights get into the 20's or lower so many lakes/ponds in the area have some ice on them. The water has gotten cold enough that the ice doesn't quite all melt during the warmer days and then it refreezes at night. This photo shows Lake Cleveland in Ames Nowell State Park with some frozen areas covered with a light snow fall. I think it makes a pretty picture.

That is it for today. Comments per usual are welcome though I am having trouble replying to them. Over the years Blogger has made changes to its comments section, and I haven't quite got a handle on how they work. But I really do read and appreciate all comments.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Finishing Off Old Starts


 Most of what I am posting today was started last year. The above is the inked final of a piece I started a while ago in pencil but decided I wanted to ink it instead of leaving it as a graphite work. Problem was I didn't have any nibs that made a fine enough line and for this one I really wanted to use a dip pen with India Ink. So for Christmas I asked Santa to bring me some Hunts Crow Quill nibs, which Santa was kind enough to do. In anticipation of the gift I had brought the pencil version of this with me to my Sisters over Christmas and then did the inking there after Christmas Day.

This is done on Stonehenge toned paper, though the color isn't really showing up in the scan. Size of paper is 7 x 7 inches though I think what is in the scan is more like 6 x 6 inches. I don't have a name for it so if anyone has suggestions I would love to hear them. Just goes to show you can stipple with a dip pen, if you are careful.


 Again this was started last summer when I was first experimenting with using color washed cold press watercolor paper as the background for my ink drawings. The flowers here are Foxglove, both the larger flowers and the whole plants in the background. All are based on some personal photographs.

I used a dip pen with acrylic Sepia ink for this one, the nib is a Japanese Manga nib, so it gives a relatively fine line, not as fine as the Hunts Crow Quill but fine. I am rather pleased with how this came out, even if it did take way to long to finish. The good thing about art is that usually it will wait.

Someone asked about the technique, it is just semi short parallel lines made so they are drawn close together to create the tonal value I am looking for, not close together for lighter areas, and basically overlapping for the darker. I did do a pencil sketch, at least outlines prior to inking.


Now this piece is new. I did the background watercolor wash on a long strip of cold press watercolor paper and cut it in two to make two bookmarks. The design is based on some of the architectural features I photographed on buildings in Chicago over my Christmas visit. I used a dip pen with the Manga nib to ink this with black India Ink. I think it is kind of fun and am thinking about using more of my reference photographs for additional works. It isn't quite finished I need to give it a few coats of Acrylic Medium to waterproof and stiffen it, but I wanted to wait until the ink was thoroughly dry prior to bushing the Medium on over the ink. The size is 6 inches by 2 inches.


Two photographs from a recent visit to Daniel Webster, MA Audubon site in Marshfield, MA. The above shows a mallard duck taking off from the Green River. They were feeding on the river when I walked by and started them.


The above photo was made in the Bird feeder area at Daniel Webster, both Mr. & Mrs Cardinal. The male is top right and the duller female is at the 2nd feeder lower left. Love the new camera that lets me make these bird photos without them being totally blurry.

That is it for today, yeah, I have actually managed a 2nd post this month. Not sure I will get back to weekly updates but hopefully I will be able to keep up the bi-weekly ones. Per usual comments are welcome.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Happy New Year 2017


I want to wish everyone a Happy, Healthy, 2017. May some of your wishes/dreams come true this coming year.

I spent about 2 weeks in Chicago visiting my sister and her family, which is why the blog hasn't been updated. I take the train from Boston to Chicago (and back home), for me it is a straight run, though we do stop in Albany, NY to link up with the train coming up from NYC. It takes about 22/23 hours but I have room for my feet/legs, I can sleep and get up and walk around so I find this method of travel not at all bad. It may take longer than flying but I don't have to go through security, I don't have to pay to have my bag checked, I get a discount for being a senior and the tickets are less to begin with. I also don't have to put my car in long term parking someplace, so that is another expense I don't have. All in all I am happier taking the train than flying. Flying is no fun any more, and I don't miss it.

Enough about my personal life. Over the holidays I tried to get back into the groove of making some art. My efforts are taking too long, I don't seem to have the concentration to just sit and work for hours on something, but I am doing some art.

Above is a bookmark, about 2 x 6 inches on cold press watercolor paper. I painted the background with watercolors before heading to Chicago and I took some reference photos with me to have something to work on. The bird is a tufted titmouse at a bird feeder. I photographed this little one with the new camera so the photo I was working from was sharp with lots of detail.

I used the copic multiliners to ink this little guy, and I am fairly pleased with the results. Esp. as it has been so long since I did any drawing other than doodles.


Also done over my Christmas holiday. My sister gave me some Hunts crow quill nibs for Christmas, well I did ask for them, and the above piece was me playing with the new nib and India Ink. Again this is done on cold press watercolor paper that had been pre-painted. Just various designs and textures. Still I think it is kind of fun and it was a good way to start getting my hand back into the groove of using dip pens before moving on to a more challenging piece.

A slight digression here, my sister had to order my nibs on-line, no brick and mortar art store seems to carry Hunt Nibs, they only seem to have Speedball or some Japanese Manga nibs. The Japanese nibs are good, better than the Speedball nibs but not quite as fine and I was looking for, hence the request for the Hunts nibs. I have also discovered that my local art supply store no longer carries a brand name India Ink, well, they have Speedball ink, but I don't consider Speedball inks to be artist quality. I am planning a trip into Boston soon and hope that Blicks still carries a good quality India Ink. The store owner was telling me that some stocks just are no longer available for purchase here in the US, like Hunts nibs. All I can say is bother, how are students supposed to learn if they can't purchase quality supplies. Thank heaven for the Internet, at least there are still a few suppliers that carry those products.


Another bookmark, again cold press watercolor paper pre-painted, this one was also done with my copic multiliners. Just felt like doing stars. It didn't turn out quite the way I envisioned it but it will have to do.

I also spent time working on a pencil drawing for my colored pencil series, and I also worked a bit on a couple of the colored pencil pieces I started last year. I do hope to finish the series this year, but we will see.


Thought I would share a few photographs. Above is the Chicago skyline from the Arboretum in Lincoln Park which is just outside the zoo. The photo is looking over the lawns toward the zoo and the city.


Above is Lake Michigan with a front moving in. It was actually a warm front, unlike the typical Chicago Christmas weather we had a lot of warmish days this year. Warmish is of course relative, but for Chicago in late December anything above freezing during the day is warm. After I left a cold front came through and put them back into the freezer.


We had about 8 inches of snow over this past weekend, the above photo was made in my local park, showing the frozen pond and snow covered trees. I just like the lighting in this photo.

If you want to see more photos from my Chicago trip visit my facebook page, link at the bottom of the page.

That is it for today, I won't say I have made a resolution to do more postings this year, but it is my intention. In the meantime comments are always welcome.

Monday, December 5, 2016

I can't believe it is December


 Oh where has the time gone, I can't believe it has been 6 months since I last updated the blog. Oops, sorry about that anyone who is still checking it out. Been busy but not with art, well, not with drawing. Photography after all is considered by some art and I have been busy talking walks and making photographs.

I have done just a little drawing, mostly just pen work. The above sparrow done in pen and ink was my attempting to get back to my drawing by doing the Inktober pen drawings a day. Then I got sick, and while I wasn't all that sick I was sick enough that I just didn't have the energy or motivation to follow through; next year, maybe.






 The above bottle drawing was done for the first of Inktober (October) but isn't really very good so I put the sparrow first as I was much happier with that one. The top image is the one that shows up in links, so I like the first image to be one of my better posts.


 This rather abstract drawing was me playing with some new to me colored pencils. Over the summer I purchased some of the Dick Blick line of pencils. They are OK, but not really artist quality, there just isn't enough pigment in the leads for them to make the grade. Still I had fun playing with the colors.


 I have a new camera, a Canon D70 and I am in love with it. The old Canon Rebel and I parted ways, and since I have become addicted to making photographs, I had to immediately replace it. The D70 is a much better camera and I am making some really lovely photographs. The above is a Titmouse about the land at a bird feeder. This was made at the feeders at Borderland State Park, Easton, MA.


 The above photo is a couple of Canada Geese in flight, they had just taken off from the panne at Daniel Webster in Marshfield, MA.


 Above is the Smith Farm house in Borderland State Park. The sky was overcast but opened up enough to give me this spot lighting of the house, background trees and meadow just around the house.


Last but not least I was busy putting together the 2017 calendars using photographs I have been making through the year, though mostly in the spring and summer. I am quite pleased with this years selections, hopefully I am not only making better photographs but doing a better job selecting the images I use. 

That is it for today, there are more photographs on my Facebook page if you are curious since I was posting photos there over the summer. Per usual comments are welcome.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Back to Watercolor with Pen and Ink


Today's blog update is actually revisiting work I did in May (or earlier) but never got posted to the blog. What can I say, my bad. With the return of warmer weather I am spending a lot of time out and about with my camera. Photographing flowers, butterflies, Odes and anything else I see that will hold still long enough. Leaving me not a lot of time or energy for my art or the blog. That said I am trying to get back to doing daily sketches. These are just very quick drawings usually with pen but sometimes as in my last update graphite. The sketches will probably be the art I will be posting for most of the summer now that I have these pen and ink works posted.

The above is about postcard sized. On cold press watercolor paper I first laid down a wash. No real pre-planning with these, I just pick a couple of colors and then work it from there, no rules except I like to keep the colors fairly light so that the ink work will show up. Once the paper is dry I look at the resulting wash and try to think what would look good on it. For the above piece I decided that abstract/geometric would probably be best, so hauling out my compass I drew various sized circles in pencil then got to work inking.

I used my technical pens for this, mostly the 0, and the 00 tips  So here it is, not sure if I like it or not, it was certainly more work than I expected when I started it.


These next two are ATC's or Artists Trading Cards, so the size is 3.5 x 2.5 inches. For these I used hot press watercolor paper and kept the watercolor washes very simple just a couple of colors.

The above is based on some of my photos of Jack in the Pulpits. I love those flowers and have tried to use them in my art in the past, with mixed results. This card I like, course the pink might seem a bit strange but I am not going for total realism here so for me it works.


With the background colors I selected for this card, I though water so drew a couple of fish, again revisiting previous art work, though these aren't really copies of what I have done before, just similar. I textured the background to make the fish stand out. I thought about adding some texture to the fish bodies, but decided that if I did that then the fish would just blend into the background instead of standing out. I decided to do minimal ink work on the fish bodies. I am not sure about the water plants, I thought I wanted something to add a bit more interest, but after I had done it, I was kind of sorry.


This past week I spent a day in Boston, mostly so I could make photographs, but I also made a side trips to the Boston MFA and to the Public Library. While there I made this quick sketch of a fellow patron. His thumb is a bit out of wack, proportion wise, to the rest of him, but I am not totally displeased with how this came out. Done in my small sketch book with a Copic .2 Multiliner pen.  


It is surprisingly difficult to get a good photo of a waterlily. Mostly because they are usually in the middle (or at least not near the edge) of ponds, and I don't have a boat. The one in the above photo was actually next to a rock near to shore, so I was able to photograph over the rock for the above photo. I cranked up the ISO so that the shadows would show up. Finally a water lily photo I am pleased with.


This is a photo of Copley Square taken from the steps of the Boston Public Library. I can't recall the name of the church in the square but it is rather well known. What I find interesting in this photo is the John Hancock building with it's reflective glass windows. On the side facing the viewer you can see reflected clouds, making it a bit hard to actually make out the building. Fun effect and very Boston. Though when I first moved to Boston back in the 1970's the building was covered with plywood because the windows kept pooping out of their frames, took a bit of engineering and a law suit to resolve the problems. But resolve them they did, I haven't heard of any glass falling for years.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome.