Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Repeat Patterns, Playing with Pen and Ink


Some of the trees around me are starting to change color and loosing some of their leaves. We have had a fairly dry summer and I expect the trees are stressed so dropping leaves early would help them conserve energy and water. Anyway, I picked up one of these yellowing leaves on one of my walks to the Library. I believe the leaf is from a Eastern Cottonwood tree. I recognized the shape as being one I remember from my childhood in Illinois. There was a tree I and my friends spent a summer climbing, as I recall we were playing ship at sea, and the tree stood in for not only the ship but one of the masts, anyway it had the same type of leaves so must have been a cottonwood. 

I used the leaf I picked up as the basis of the above pen and ink work, tracing around the leaf with a technical pen 5 times and then using various fills to create tone and texture. Done in one of my sketchbooks. 

I seem to be into repeat patterns this week, I suppose not a total surprise since I have been working on the Mandala and that requires repeated patterns. The problem is how to get variety within the repeats. For the work above I sort of wish I had varied the size of the leaf, but I only picked up the one so with what I had at hand (no scanner) I had to work with it alone. 


Last week I made a trip into Boston and stopped at one of the Dick Blick Stores, I was looking for more colored pencils but they didn't have the mfg. I was looking for in open stock so I purchased some different items instead, like replacement pen tips for 2 of my technical pens. The above is a doodle I created when I was making sure the new tips were working properly. Not sure what to call it, and you can see what you want in it. Oh, the tips are working fine and I am having fun playing with them. See the two drawings below.

More doodles with my new tips. These I scanned and pulled into Photoshop for some additional work/play yesterday. The resulting image is below.



Above is my Photoshop creation. It might work for wallpaper or fabric, though I think the background needs more work. Originally it was just plain blue, but I felt that was too boring so I added the green squiggles. Still a bit on the boring side so I may do some more playing around with it and add another darker color to the mix.

I have often thought it might be fun to design fabric, not that anyone would ever ask me to do so. Still it was sort of interesting to play around in Photoshop to see what I still remembered of how to create documents from scanned images.


Last image for today is an update on the Mandala. The final ring has some inking, I finished the pansies and added some toning to that rings background. Now I have to decide what the flowers will be for the final ring. I think it needs some punch/color so we will see.


As a final photograph today, some poppies I found growing just outside the fence in someone's garden. Aren't they a pretty red. They are much smaller then the orange perennials that bloom in spring, but still recognizable as poppies.

That is it for today. Per usual comments are welcome.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Alphabet Work and Mandala Update


Well I have finished the letter A of my Alphabet and it is above. A is for Aster and Alpaca, I used a dip pen on laid paper. I don't remember if this is a hand made paper or not, it was in my stash of papers and I know I purchased it years and years ago when I was collecting various papers to try.

The Alpaca is a bit wonky but it has the smirk that they sometimes can have so it will do. The feet were tricky and I am not entirely happy with them, but again they will just have to do.

I have started on B, and have the letter sketched below:


The animal for B will be a beaver and I have some reference photos that I will use to generate the simple drawing. I think the flower will be the balloon flower, Platycodon grandiflorus, I see and photograph many of these in local gardens. Mostly I see the blue variety and they have a pretty open blossom. A much more simple flower than the Aster, and another flower that I have a number of reference photographs for.


Right now the above is just a sketch, but I rather like this and am intending to develop it into a finished drawing. It will need color and at this point I haven't decided if color will be colored pencils or watercolor. I will be using some pen work which ever way I go with the color. The figure is from my imagination, though I have a feeling she is based either on something I have seen, or drawings/doodles I used to make. She somewhat reminds me of the flower people I was drawing a few years back.

The bird is based on a reference photograph of a sparrow that I made, but I don't think the bird in the finished work will be so drab in coloring. Haven't decided what colors the bird should be but I don't think it will be brown. The mushroom is based on some of my mushroom photographs, though I didn't use a specific one. I also still have to work out what the background will be, though I think I will keep it fairly simple, the tentative title is "Sing".


I have been working on the Mandala, started the next ring out from the roses, though I am not entirely sure I have finished with the rose segments. The flowers in this ring are pansy's, and I think I know how I want to color them, just have to get started on it.

In the meantime I spent some time last night starting to sketch in the final ring. These lines will make the whole look like a giant flower, though I don't yet know what flower will go into the larger areas under the arcs. I don't think I will use more rose buds, doesn't feel quite right so will be thinking about this as I work on the pansy's.


The photograph above is of some American Holly with drupes (berries). The drupes don't usually turn red quite so early, but it has been a relatively dry summer and the nights are starting to cool so the bush (this particular plant is only bush sized) may be stressed and getting ahead of itself.

The American Holly is an interesting plant as it produces either male or female flowers, not both. For the female to produce drupes there needs to be a male Holly somewhere in the area. Birds will eat the drupes which will stay on the Holly through winter, though they are said to be poisonous to humans.

This species is native to North America, and prefers acidic soils.

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

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Revisit to a Pen and Ink Still Life, and some doodles


For some of you the above image is going to look familiar, that is because it was the lead image in my Blog posting of Aug. 7th. Unfortunately when I made my last blog update I made an administrative error and deleted the Aug. 7th posting.  I put a check mark in the wrong spot and oops a whole posting is gone into cyber history. This is the first time in all my years of blogging that I have done such a thing and I hope I will never do it again or at least not for as many more years I suppose once in 5 years isn't too terrible.

Anyway the still life was done in pen and ink from one of the August challenge images in the WetCanvas Pen and Ink forum. It is pretty sketchy, but I rather like it anyway.


The rest of the images today are more or less doodles, none are very finished drawings, this cat is probably the most finished and as you can see it isn't very. Still I think I captured that wary look this cat was giving me as I made its photograph.

My next door neighbor puts out food for the neighborhood strays and this is one of the ones who comes to dine. It is actually a very pretty kitty that must have some Angora in its background because it has very long fur, it is mostly white with some tan streaks. I hope at some point to do a more finished drawing of this cat.


Above is just a doodle, done directly with pen and then colored with some of my few colored markers, didn't want to use colored pencil on this so used the markers. Using them just reminded me that I really don't find markers a satisfactory tool.


And again just a doodle, though this one I colored with colored pencil. I was watching an older Craft in America while drawing this and I think I was inspired by the subject, Holiday, which is episode XI in the series.


Still working on the Mandala, the roses are supposed to be peach colored, I think it is working, now I just have to decide how to modify the background color for these segments. The color they currently are isn't quite working for me.


I have two photographs today, I am not sure what the above flower is, it is spiky and has purple flowers. I managed to capture this bumble bee while it was visiting one. I just like the colors and the shapes.


Above is a curiosity that I wanted to share. This is one of the benches that are located outside of the library, there are 3 of these arranged in a circular stoned area. I think there is suppose to be a fountain or sculpture in the middle, but so far that space is empty. I routinely make use of one of these benches on my trips to the Library. We are not allowed to have drinks in the library (there is a water fountain though) so when I am walking to the library I pause here to have a drink prior to entering. I keep the bottle in my bag while in the Library so no one hassles me.

Anyway at some point this afternoon someone applied blue chalk to the to the top of one of the benches, just one, the other two were still just stone. I found it curious, and have no clue why someone would do something like that, but decided that it would make an interesting photograph, I don't expect that it will last very long but in the meantime I have it documented.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome and I will try to not delete any more blog updates I promise.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Kitten, grasses and a Pecks Skipper


The above kitten was supposed to have been done in pen and ink as it is done from one of the August Challenge images in the WetCanvas pen and ink forum. But once I started drawing this little one I quickly realized that taking a month off from drawing was not the best way to maintain my drawing skills. I knew that really, but I now I really know it. Took me much longer to draw this little guy than I expected and I think there are still some issues. Still it looks like a kitten so I have accomplished that much.

I may still do this in Pen and Ink now that I have the basic outline and know where the shading needs to go, but I am in no rush.


The above are pen and ink drawings of various grass seed heads. For several years now I have been fascinated by the various grasses I see growing, and how they bloom and go to seed at so many different times and with so many different looks.

In the spring some grasses seem to wake up and rush to bloom and go to seed, others wait until mid-summer, and others wait until fall. No wonder there are so many seed eating birds, summer offers a banquet of seeds starting semi early in spring and going through fall.

I don't have any reference books on grasses so I don't have species names for these. I may check the library the next time I am there to see what I can find, or I may try looking on-line, in any case the 3 different seed heads are from 3 different grasses that I collected on my walk to the Library the other day and rendered directly in pen and ink. Not Botanical drawings by any means but they do give the overall feel of what I was drawing.


This is a quick graphite drawing of a stem of Smartweed, the booms are actually little white flowers, while the blossoms are pink/red,  they give the tips a reddish look. Not sure which exact member of the grouping of smartweeds the above is (there are over 46), I found it growing as a weed along the sidewalk. They usually like moist soil so I am surprised this one is surviving our dry summer.


An update on the Mandala. Note that the background color in the ring out from the square is subject to change, I just wanted to lay in a light color that I can work with. When I first started working with colored pencil I tended to use each color as a color, but now I tend to work in layers using different colors layered on top of each other to come up with a final color. I think the colors are probably richer and more visually interesting because of this change.


Finally a butterfly photograph, the above is a Peck's Skipper dining on a clover flower. I found this little guy in an open lot area that has gone to weeds. Thankfully they don't have it fenced so I can roam at will through the small area looking for insects. Fortunately for me this guy was so busy feeding that I was able to make several photographs, I think this is the best shot.

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

Sunday, August 3, 2014

August, Time to Catch Up


Where did July go? Not sure, just know it is gone. It wasn't a very productive month for me art wise. Just couldn't seem to get into gear and work on drawings or paintings. About the only thing I was doing art wise was photography, flowers mostly but also per usual any thing that caught my eye. I won't overwhelm the bog with photos but some of the ones I liked best I posted to my Facebook page, there is link and a button to "like" at the end of my blog post, you can head over there if you are curious.

Anyway when I finally started working on something I chose to start with this mandala. I have obviously been working on the center. I had chosen colors prior to my summer break so it was an easy reintroduction to my art. Not much to say about it, except that so far I am happy with how it is working.


Next two images are just doodles that I did with my technical pen in a sketchbook. For the above I didn't have much in mind when I started, just started making marks and let the image develop as it wanted. Those are supposed to be pine cones on a branch. Well one sort of works, not so sure about the one in the background. As for the flowers maybe zinnia's as I have had zinnia's on the brain (seeing them in gardens) lately.


Again just doodles, I had seen a bicyclist that morning dragging the rubber of his back tire, he was riding on just the metal rim. A not very wise thing to do as if he damaged the rim he will have to replace the whole wheel not just the rubber tire. Oh well not my problem but it was a bit of a strange sight.

The bottom drawing just developed into a building set among some trees. Not really planned but I sort of like the way it turned out.


Now for just a couple out of the many photos I have made this past month. Actually I made the one above yesterday. I was visiting a park that has an area set aside for plantings but so far the city hasn't done much with it so it is overgrown with "weeds". There happen to be a lot of milkweed plants in among the other stuff, I was examining all of the milkweeds for caterpillars (monarch butterflies) and though I didn't find any of those I did find this land snail. The day was rainy so you are seeing water droplets on the milkweed seed pod behind the snail.

I did see a Monarch Butterfly this past week, which is why I was looking for caterpillars. It has been almost 2 years since I last saw one, as I never did see a Monarch last summer. I did know they are in the State though because I belong to a Facebook group for Butterflies in Eastern MA, and had seen a photograph. The Monarch I saw wasn't so obliging as to let me make a photo of it, still I was thrilled to see those familiar orange and black wings.


This photograph of pink Hydrangea flowers was made last month. Most of the Hydrangea bushes around me have blue or white flowers. Our soil tends to be acidic which causes the blue color, but this bush is an exception and has pink flowers. It happens to be in the same yard as a bush which had mostly blue flowers with the exception of one pink bunch. Most unusual. But I rather like this photo of the pink with the bright green leaves.

That is it for today. Hopefully now that I am back drawing again the next blog post won't be so long in coming. Per usual comments are welcome.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Basketball Sketch and several UFO's


Brockton occasionally does these events, some are for official Holidays, like the Memorial day parade others are hmm, not sure just why they are put together. Anyway on the Summer Solstice they had something going on at one of the middle schools. Partly I think for kids to celebrate being out of school but I think there was a larger purpose of which I have no real clue. I arrived a couple hours after the official start and I think I missed the games they had for the kids, there were still some booths with activities that the kids could take part in, and there was a pickup game of Basketball on one of the outdoor courts. They also had an outdoor grill and were cooking hamburgers and hot dogs.

The drawing was done using as reference a photograph I made that day, I edited out some objects and several other players, it was not a one on one game. Actually I ended up drawing in way more of the background then I initially intended. I know it is pretty sketchy but I am still semi pleased with it. I doubt I will do a more finished drawing of this, unless I spend a lot more time working on the layout. But it might make an interesting watercolor, the taller man was dressed in yellow with blue shoes. Drawn in one of my sketchbooks with an HB pencil.

OK the above is it for finished pieces in this update the rest of the images today have to do with some of my several works in progress.


I came up with an idea last week that it might be fun to do some illustrated ABC's. The idea came from a book I had taken out of the Library on Edward Lear. I didn't realize until reading the book that Lear made his living as an artist, mainly making watercolors and Illustrations. The nonsense verse and drawings were a sideline that started out as something he included in letters to his friends. Anyway Lear made several illustrated alphabets, mostly with fictional animals, I am not in Lear's league so though I would use either real flowers or animals for mine. After I put together the lists of possibilities I thought why not use one flower and one animal for each letter.

So above is the start of the Illustrations drafted out on some Laid paper that I have had forever. The flower for A is the aster and my animal is an alpaca. I am going to use a dip pen for this with India Ink. I am still thinking about applying color but have a feeling that I will decide to not bother and just leave it as black and white drawings.


Initial layout and inking for a new Mandala.


When I was making Mandala's in the past I would design a section and then color it in before moving on to the next section. For this one I decided that I wanted to make more design decisions up front. So above is the current status of this piece. I still need to design the rest of the outer ring, but I think that I want to start adding color to the inner sections first. Right now it looks pretty busy but I am hoping that adding color will help to visually make sense of all those lines.


An update on the stipple piece. Mostly starting work in some new areas, though I have further darkened some of the areas I had previously worked on. Progress is being made, slowly but surely.


Now for something a bit different. I finally broke down and purchased a tablet last week, so I can get and read E-books. This is a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 and of course it needed a case. With my stash of fabrics there was no way I was going to purchase a case for mine instead I put some thought into what I needed, hauled out some fabrics and my rotary cutter and went to work.

I put a pocket on the front to hold the power connector and a cable, and some ear plugs. The base of the case has a full lining with batting in between. The strap is my old stand by of braided strips of fabric. The flaps are held closed with Velcro.  I probably should have used buttons, but really didn't want to play with the buttonhole attachment of the machine so went with the Velcro. I think it came out pretty well for something with no pattern, everything fits into appropriate spaces and it is easy to carry. Not to mention it is much prettier than what I could buy in the store.


I was getting tired of posting flower photographs, actually I have been posting flowers to my Facebook page between blog updates and don't want to reuse photographs. If you have an interest in my between update images you can like my Facebook page below and you should receive notification via your feed. So here is a photograph of an evening sky. No real color, I just like the white clouds against the deep blue sky.

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

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

More Watercolor and some colored pencil


Above is another plein air watercolor painting. I wasn't in the mood to spend a lot time at something so I chose what I thought would be a simple if not entirely quick subject, a blooming rose. Hmm, I suppose it would have been easier if in the middle of my session the petals hadn't started dropping off one by one. I didn't touch it, but there was a bit of a breeze and I guess that was enough.

Not sure how successful this is, but at least I tried. Next time I try a flower I need to see if I can find one that isn't pink.


After a trip to the Library yesterday I, per usual, wandered over to the nearby park. Wasn't in the mood to try another watercolor after my problems with the rose so ended up making a quick sketch of a youngish girl accompanied by an older woman. I have a feeling she was some sort of caregiver, but really don't know. They sat for a bit at one of picnic tables, long enough for me to manage the quick sketch.

I am using a mechanical pencil and I don't really like the lead. I have a feeling it might be a 2H as I don't seem to be able to get the darks as easily or as quickly as I would prefer. But I want to draw in pencil and don't want to haul a pencil sharpener with  me, so mechanical pencils are my best option. Maybe I can find a softer lead to replace what I have in the pencil. I will have to look the next time I out and about.

I wasn't totally pleased with it when I was working on it, but looking at it now I think the one tree isn't as poorly done as I had originally thought. Though it is really buildings that I should be trying to work on, as I am not terribly good with them, and I would like to include buildings in my watercolors at some point.


Above are some leaves and a flower stalk of the Linden Tree. The park where I made the above drawing has a couple of Linden trees, and somewhat to my surprise I also discovered there was one growing in the next door neighbors yard. Exactly how it got there I am not sure, since I am pretty sure it wasn't planted by the homeowner.

The ones in the park haven't quite started blooming by the one next door already has little yellow flowers. The leaves are a glossy green, and it is an attractively shaped tree. The main veins of the leaves are much lighter colored than the surrounding leaf.

Drawn first with pencil in my sketch book then color added by using colored pencil.


Above is an update on the stipple project, I didn't get a lot done but the structure of the leaf is starting to become apparent.


This last image is a close up photograph of a milkweed flower. They are really quite intricate. Above you can see not only a full front view but a side view of the flowers. Pink against green, it appears to be one of my favorite color combinations, at least for photographs.

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