Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cats and a doodle


I call this one Cat Nap. It is based on a photograph my sister sent me of her cat sleeping in the object that she (the cat) uses as a scratching post. Obviously not a post, but it is covered with material that is suitable for a cat to happily scratch. She likes to curl up and sleep in/on it. Well not when I am around, she is very shy around strangers, and for all I am a relative of her cohabs I am still a stranger. Also I usually visit in winter when she prefers to nap next to a hot air vent where it is much warmer.

This is a small drawing that I started last month as part of the #inktober challenge but quickly realized was going to be more work than I could easily do in a day. After working on it off and on for several days she is finally done. Size is 4.0 x 4.0 inches on Bristol Board smooth paper and done with my 4X0 technical pen. There are mistakes but for the most part I am pleased with how this came out.


Above is another of my neighbors strays. I photographed this one the other day, and I think it was actually hissing at me during this photo. Oops, but I did interrupt it having a snack. I used some of my Derwent colored drawing pencils for this drawing. It isn't a very large drawing (working in my 5 x 7 sketchbook) and the pencils don't hold a point very well so details aren't good. It was not easy to get the few I did manage. Still I rather like the pencils I just think I need to work larger with them so the lack of a sharp point isn't such a problem. As you can see they also don't erase terribly well, I was having problems getting the slope of the back both large enough and then the right shape and over did it a bit and then had to try and erase.

If you think you are seeing hints of color you are, as I used a couple of different drawing pencils for this and then added in some color from a few of my Graphtint pencils. The cat is mostly grey but there were some hits of a sort of rusty brown in some of its fur.

Eventually I hope to do this cat in pen and ink, but don't know if I will use this same reference.  I don't recall seeing this cat prior to the day I photographed it and it may not hang around for me to capture it again.


Above is just a doodle, I was playing with my blue and grey .05 copic multiliners, and this is the result. Just pattern somewhat based on what I have been noticing on the Classic Greek vases I photographed and those whose images I have also downloaded as part of my research on classic Greek vase patterns. The mandala is waiting for me to get back to it while I do this research.


OK I admit a not very exciting photograph. But the sparrow taking off in the lower left is what I was after and pretty much captured in mid wing flap. To capture this image I put the camera in Manual AV mode, white balance set for sunny, ISO auto, and the F stop for 4.0, I had to lighten the image just a bit to post, but I often do that even when the camera is in total auto mode.

So the adventure continues. Our weather hasn't been really good for photos and the trees are mostly stripped of their leaves so subjects for photography are getting a bit slim. I want to take a trip into Boston and head over to Faneuil Market and see what I can come up with there, or even on the Common, the wading pool should be set up for ice skating soon, as long as the weather turns cold enough to freeze the ice, maybe after Thanksgiving.

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

Friday, November 21, 2014

More Ink work, and a Library Doodle


The turkeys are finished. I took the inked drawing from my last post and added some wash with a brush and then went back in with my technical pens to add a bit more line. This technique has possibilities, but I think I need to learn more patience with it. I want to just do it and get it done, and I think I need to slow down and take a bit more time with the washes.


While at the library this week I was inspired to create a small doodle. It started out with the book worm on top of a book then I added the words "Read More". It was fun to semi create a font for the text. Not a full font as I only created the letters I needed for these short words but still it was a fun exercise. I have no clue why this idea/subject occurred to me, but I had fun drawing it.

After creating the graphite drawing at the library I brought it home and added some ink to outline letters and objects then added colored pencil for some color. With suitable modifications I think this could be a fun poster design. But I fear it will never go any further than this sketch.  I even went so far as to think up a name for my book worm, "Billy the Book Worm says READ MORE". I suppose I could ask at the library if they would like it for real, maybe.


One of the pens I purchased in my binge buying of colored ink pens was a copic .005 grey pen. Since I hadn't had a chance to use it previously I though why not do a quick sketch with it. I happened to have a bottle of ink sitting out at around eye level so it didn't take me long to use it as a subject. Done in a sketchbook with just the grey ink, one of my ink bottles. I like this color and have to think about how I want to use it to show it off. Maybe with the blue copic multiliner I picked up at the same time.


Above is a not very good photograph of my progress on the latest Mandala. Center is basically done, the next out ring needs to be finished off but probably before I do finish it off, I will design and start coloring the corner elements of the first square. I am doing an under drawing with Derwent pencils then layering over them approximately the same color of PolyChromos. The Polys are more fade resistant so hopefully the resulting work won't just fade away in light. Course when it is finished it will be sprayed with a clear fixative that has some UV protection.


My Final photograph for today is of some trees that still had leaves earlier this week, I think they are now gone. But the subject of the photo is actually the white wall with the shadows of the trees on it. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and I was on my way to library when I noticed these shadows and thought they would make an interesting photograph. Not sure I have cropped the image as much as it should be but hope you enjoy it anyway. I have been reading about Notan, the Japanese concept of balancing light and dark, to me this shadow is a form of Notan, but wanted to include a bit more color which is why I left so much of the original trees in the image.

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

Monday, November 17, 2014

Pen & Ink WIP, and Some Camera Talk.



Another of the WetCanvas challenge images for November. This one I worked on toned paper with some colored inks along with my 4x0 technical pen. The colored pens were .005 Copic Multiliners. I really like how this one came out though it took me a heck of a lot longer than I thought it would when I started even though it is only 4 inches square. Had to make lots of lines though.

Another 4 inch drawing, this one I started in October as part of the #inktober challenge but never got it done. It still isn't done, I intend to add some washes of ink to this to add value to the turkey's feathers. The drawing combines a couple of my personal reference photos into one. The lines in the current piece were done with my 3x0 technical pen.


Sorry for the poor quality of the above image. The drawing is too large for my scanner (outer ring is 12 inches) so I used my tablet to make a quick photo (I would have had to use the flash on the SLR, and that causes other problems).

Anyway this is the current status of the new mandala I will be working on. Center drawn and inked, but I haven't selected any colors yet. I think this one is going to go heavy on the blues and greens though the Greek pottery that the motifs come from are red and black and/or white, but that was the limits of the materials the ancients used not because they didn't like/prefer other colors. Anyway I don't think I want to limit the mandala to those colors. The Greek flag is blue and white, again not enough colors but at least it makes the blue make sense. On Bristol Board smooth, a


As a final image, a photograph I made last week. The oak trees around me are the last trees to change colors. Sometimes they just turn brown, but this sapling oak had glorious red leaves, and I was able to include just a bit of yellow from another neighboring plant to accent the red. Focus is on the leaf in the center making the surrounding leaves a bit out of focus, intentional for this photo.

I have just discovered the Canon Digital Photography forums on the net and am currently lusting after a new lens for my Rebel. But at over $1,000 for the lens I don't think it is going to happen anytime soon. In any case I need to spend more time exploring the forum but have already realized that to make the most of my camera I really need to take it out of Auto mode. I need to start using one of the manual modes,and learn to adjust settings on my camera to get the best shots. In my defense Auto mode makes some pretty good photographs and I do switch out sometimes, like when I am in a Museum, or like I did last summer when I was trying for a better photograph of white flowers. Now I just have to be more consistent about it, selecting for conditions, sun, cloudy, shade etc along with shutter speed etc. Will this make be a better photographer? I don't know, but I won't know until I spend some time trying. Wish me luck.

That is it for today per usual comments are welcome.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Finished Mandala, and some pen and ink


Since I have in mind some ideas for another Mandala I finally had the motivation to push through and finish the one above. It is done, or as done as I am going to make it, it is even sprayed with its protective coating.

The art work was done using colored pencils on Bristol Board Smooth, with pen and ink outlines, size is fairly small as far as my Mandala's go, when I started this one I didn't want to commit to a lot of time, so it is only about 7.5 inches in Diameter.

I use various types of Derwent pencils (Artists, Colorsoft, Studio and Signature) and my newer PolyChromos. I usually layer all of my colors though the outer band blue is just one of the Poly's. Flowers are semi made up but mostly based on real flowers, daisy's, roses, pansy's, and poppies.

This is actually my 7th Mandala, though I only have 6 in my possession as I somehow managed to loose the first one I made back in 2009. For some reason this type of art work appeals to me. I usually choose a theme before I start working then select images to illustrate and expand on that theme. As for colors I seem to pull in a wide range, for this one there are a lot of complementary pairs, blue/orange, yellow/purple, so it makes a fairly dramatic statement.


The beagle above is from a Challenge reference photo in the WetCanvas Pen and Ink Forum. Because of #inktober I did not managed to work any of the October images, but really liked this reference of a Beagle for November and wanted to see what I could do. I used my 4x0 technical pen for this work.

The important part of this drawing to me is actually the paper. On one of my trips into Boston with the subsequent visits to Dick Blick I found and purchased a couple of pads of Strathmore 400 toned papers. Strathmore makes both a grey and the above tan. The paper is a lighter weight (only 80lb) than I would prefer for pen and ink, but the surface is fairly smooth and hard so it takes ink fairly well. The paper is slightly lighter in real life than in the above scan, but I really like the contrast of the black ink against the toned paper. I can envision using both black and white conte crayons on it, fun stuff.  


Not sure what I am going to do with the above drawing on a  6 x 2 inch piece of the Toned Grey Strathmore paper, maybe make a bookmark out of it, though it needs to be backed with something more substantial as the paper itself is a bit too light to make a bookmark with. I was just doodling with various pens including some with colored inks, can you see the green? Again the scan makes the paper look slightly darker than it is in real life. Still I like the colors and am happy to have this option to work with.


Even though it is getting late in the year there are still a few trees around me that have color and leaves. The above photograph was made in a local park last Saturday. Love how the sun was lighting up the upper left area of the tree. The sky could have been a darker blue, but one takes what one can get.

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

Friday, November 7, 2014

Back to the MFA, Mandala Update


Traveled back into Boston on Wednesday to re-visit the Boston MFA and the Goya exhibit. On the bus I drew a quick sketch of a fellow passenger just to keep my hand in. Not wonderful but not too bad either. It can be a challenge to draw on a bus as the ride isn't always smooth, and I don't really want my fellow passengers to realize what I am doing.


On the rest of my journey I started the above panels for I guess you could say graphic stories. I have, for a couple of years, been working on writing about some stories/adventures from my childhood. Some of these stories involved a cat we owned for a brief period of time. Or should I say he owned us. Anyway that cat was most adventurous and how he survived for as long as he did I am not quite sure, I am sure he used up more than one of his 9 lives in his adventures. Two of the panels have to do with stories about him, top and bottom. The middle was something that happened to me with a friend one day when we went exploring.

Anyway I have been wanting to add illustrations to some of the stories and have actually spent some time doodling possible images. Still not much has jelled other than a few concepts and I wasn't pleased with any of the sketches I drew.

As an aside one of the groups I am a member of (Everyday Matters), has an adjunct site Sketchbook Skool where they have classes for beginning artists. One of the classes that has been discussed is Storytelling. Add that thought to others rattling around in my brain, and I though to myself, why not do panels for the stories using the style of comic book art. That way the art doesn't have to be elaborate or even totally accurate, just enough so the readers know what they are seeing and can relate.

Hmm, well the result is the 3 panels above. Not sure where I am going with these as they are only thumbnails and the real art work would need to be much larger. But I think I finally have an idea that I can work with. This will be a totally new adventure for me as I have never done this type of work before. I previously never had any desire to draw a comic strip, which just goes to show that you never know where art can take you.


You're probably going to yourself "what is that"/ The above image is a close up a pattern on a Greek Vase. After going through the Goya exhibit for a second time, this time with the narrative device that they rent to attendees, and which is fairly informative and supplements the notes next to the pictures. I wandered over to the part of the museum that has ancient art on display and found the newly renovated Greek and Roman Galleries. They aren't quite done with the renovations but I totally enjoyed viewing what has been finished.

I have been making it a habit to photograph esp. ancient pottery with the repetitive designs the artisans used. I consider these photos as reference materials to be used in some of my own art work at some point. Esp. with the mandala drawings I create I am always on the lookout for designs that can be used in panels. Vases are circular to designs used on vases are esp. appropriate.


I spent a little time translating the design in the above vase to my notebook. I used various technical pens to ink this, and did a terrible job, but still I like this pattern and am looking forward to finding a use for it.


Speaking of Mandala's above is an update on where I am with the one I have been working on. Since I am motivated to start another using Greek motifs I really need to get this one finished. I am in the outer band, and even better I would say I am about half way finished with it. I am getting there. Not sure how I feel about the over all piece. Some parts I like and others could have been designed differently. Looking at it as I write this I think I have an idea for some changes that I can still make and which might improve one of the inner bands.


Even though Wednesday was overcast with no bright sun I think I finally managed to get a fairly good photograph of the Indian statue that stands in front of the MFA. With the backdrop of the changing Oak tree the statue is placed in relief and becomes very visible. In other photographs I have made of it the horse and rider seem to blend with the background.  Sorry I don't recall the title of the work or even who the sculpture is.  Oops will have to pay attention the next time I travel to the museum.

That is it for today, nothing major finished, but some generated concepts and an update on a major piece. Per usual comments are welcome.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Pen and Ink, and a visit to see Goya at MFA


I know it is November and #inktober is officially over, but I was creating pen and ink works prior to the event and I will continue to work with it now that it is over. Esp. as I cut several 6 inch squares of Bristol Board that I didn't end up using. I hate to waste paper so expect to see more of these small drawings in the weeks to come.

The one above I finished last night, Nov. 1st, so I may count it as part of the #inktober works. It is a pen drawing of an Anemone I photographed down on the Cape a couple of years ago. I did the inking of the flower using my 4x0 technical pen, the background is a combination of blue and green copic fineliners. I went for a simple crosshatch and I rather like how it looks like linen fabric behind the flower.


Last week to distract myself from the fact that I am not in Houston with friends admiring quilts I traveled into Boston to the MFA to see the Goya - Order and Disorder exhibit. All I can say is WOW, what wonderful prints and drawings that man made, and oh yes he painted some nice portraits also. But I hadn't realized that he was such a proficient printmaker, intaglio (etching, engraving, aquatint) and lithograph. And prior to either he created drawings, wonderful pen drawings with ink washes.

This show is unusual as they are displaying so many of his paper works, the type of work that is usually left out of a major show, or if not entirely left out at least only plays a minor role in the exhibit. I would say for this show at least half the items displayed are on paper.

OK back to the matter at hand which is explaining the above drawing. On my trip into Boston I first stopped at Dick Blicks to stock up on some more colored pens. Then I headed over to the MFA. But prior to entering the museum I took the time to eat some lunch (I bring it from home, much cheaper) sitting on one of the benches outside the museum. I also took the time to play with some of my new pens. So above is the sketch I made of some trees that line the Green Line Tracks that run in front of the museum. See the photograph toward the bottom of this post for the actual view. I didn't spend too long on this, it was a bit chilly and I wanted to get inside to see the exhibit.



The above drawing I made while resting in one of the rooms in the exhibit. I happened to be sitting in front of her/it so decided to take the time to draw it. This is Goya's famous portrait of the Duchess of Alba. She is pointing to the bottom of the painting where Goya's name is prominently displayed. The man liked to self advertise, painting himself into group portraits or as here having his name pointed out. Done in one of my .5.5 x 8.5 sketchbooks with a mechanical pencil.

I find I have only a certain amount of attention that I can pay in these major shows, after about an hour and a half or so I am saturated and not really taking in what I am seeing/reading. Lucky for me, I live close to Boston and can go back at least several more times so I can take in what I missed last week on another visit.

Photographs are not allowed in the exhibit, so I don't have any to share. The show will be in Boston until January 19, 2015. Anyone in the Metro Boston area should make the effort to come in and visit.


A view of the Green Line tracks with their line of landscaped trees, showing off fall colors. This was made from a bench that is in front of the MFA in Boston. Buildings across the way and in the background are part of some college/University.


First I want to say, this photograph is not upside down. I was photographing the yellowing maple leaves that were hanging over a stream when I realized what a perfect reflection was being made in the water below and photographed that also. So the wall, trees and sky are only reflections. We have had enough rain lately that the water level in the stream is back up to a more acceptable level, and though it looks still it was actually flowing at a pretty good clip.

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


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Doodles, sketches and #inktober


I fear I am slacking off again with the #inktober drawings. Though I did manage to finish the one above. It is a second look at a still life I set up of 2 apples and a pear, this time with a simpler background and I used colored inks for the fills. I had a bit of trouble getting the color of the pear approximately right, it was a Bosc pear and they are more brown then green or red, but the browns I have aren't quite the right shade so I added several different colors in an attempt to get it right.

Still I am not displeased with the results. The shapes end up relatively simple which I rather like. Hmm trying to remember the artist who liked to outline in black. Maybe I can channel Cezanne he did a lot of still life's as I recall, though of course he used paint not ink and in his later works wasn't using shadows.


I was at the library yesterday for a while and did the above pen sketch of a fellow patron sitting at one of the benches. Not great I should have used a pen with a broader tip, but still not too bad for a quick sketch.


While I was at the library I watch the 2nd Nature show about penguins which was filmed using penguin-cams. Models of penguins, eggs, and chicks which contained cameras which they used to film the breeding birds. While watching I tried to make some quick sketches of some of the actors. Top a Emperor Penguin chick, they have such distinctive markings, Then a couple of other penguins including a side view of an adult Emperor Penguin. Started drawing in pen and then moved to pencil as I needed to be able to erase and make corrections.

They are such strange looking birds, but the sketching was rather fun, and the filming is amazing, a must see program if you didn't catch it when it aired.


For something entirely different a pen doodle, done using various micron pens. Several different colors here, orange, red, purple and even a touch of green, and of course black. Just playing around with this one, sometimes these doodles become a more finished work, but this one while I like some of its features is I think a dead end otherwise.


I have been watching this bush/plant since spring when I photographed its frost damaged leaves to use for a watercolor project. Finally it is in bloom, Better late than never, though this plant needs to be pretty frost hearty blooming this late in the year. I believe this is a type of Shasta Daisy, though most of those I see in gardens bloom earlier in the summer, like in July. It might have been delayed in blooming by our dry summer, sill I hope it isn't killed off too quickly by the coming cold.

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