Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Easter Flowers and other

Last Sunday I had Easter dinner with a friend and her family. Food and wine were excellent, company was good and I believe a good time was had by all. My friend had been gifted with a couple of potted flowers, the above an Easter Lily arrived while I was there brought by another friend.  I spent a little time sketching it first in pencil and then adding ink while her family conversed around me. I like to keep my hands occupied.

When I arrived these tulips were sitting on a table in the living room. At another point during the afternoon I sat on the couch in front of them and did this graphite sketch. The tulips were yellow so I tried to not add too much shading.

I love drawing Easter flowers, their shapes are relatively simple with not a lot of complex petals, and in the case of tulips also have large leaves which make relatively simple shapes. Lily leaves are a bit trickier, but both drawings were fun and fairly quick to do.

Hope that everyone reading had good holidays this past weekend, Easter, Passover or even just a good weekend with family and friends.

Otherwise I haven't been drawing a lot. I have been doing more reading, and when not reading I am trying to get out and about to various parks and nature reserves to check on their status, and oh yes lots of visits to library. Still I have been a bit hampered with my park visits since snow is still covering paths and so far there hasn't been much in the way of signs of spring. Oh, well I just have to have patience it will come, I know it will.

The above is my pen "exercise" for this week, I have been trying to think of a title for this, how about "Watching educational videos". Well the shape of the watchers did turn out to be a bit suggestive. It wasn't my intent when I started this, it just sort of happened, honest. At least that is my story and I am sticking with it. I did have fun drawing this though.

The above photo was photographed in my local park, standing water in the foreground and one of the parks lakes in the distance. Ice is almost totally gone from the lake, the mallards and geese are again able to feed. I spotted a couple pair of Merganser ducks diving for their dinners the other day, too far into the lake for me to photograph, and almost too far for me to ID them even with my field glasses. But with their distinctive heads and the males white fronts they are unmistakable. I was happy to see something other than the usual mallards in my local park. I have been over to Daniel Webster, but the water level in the pan is very high and not much was taking advantage of it. I did also see some song sparrows so at least the birds know that Spring is coming. Should see more in a couple of weeks.

Short post today, per usual comments are welcome.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Pen and Ink, doodles and sketches

Nothing very finished to post this time, the above is mostly stipple work with various colored pens, size is small only 5 x 5 inches on Hot Press Watercolor paper. I started with the flowers and just kind of went from there. It needs something, but of course it is too late to add anything to it at this point.

Another of my pen and ink "exercises" Not sure where the spiky bit came from and the bird is very weird, I wasn't using any references and it ended up looking a bit strange. The bird was sort of an after thought, but I knew I needed to add something up in that corner and that is what I ended up drawing.

Done in my sketchbook with my various technical pens.

The next two images are pages from my small portable sketchbook. The above was done on one of my bus trips, A couple of faces of people I saw, and at the bottom two trees were sketched mostly from memory as they were based I trees I saw by the side of the road when the bus was making a stop. I am trying to work more quickly and more from memory. So far not having a lot of success, but I will keep trying.

I was in Boston earlier this week, mostly to make photographs of the end of winter and arrival of spring, but I also visited the MFA and was able to spend time in the Hokusai exhibit which was open for members only. Some of the Boston photographs I posted to my facebook page.

The sketch above I made while resting my feet in the gallery exhibiting the prints of his views of Mt. Fuji. I really need to go back to see this show, as I only spent real time with the first couple galleries, the others I just glanced at. Hokusai deserves more study than that.

I love this piece, not sure you can tell but the two figures appear to be tumblers or actors, and I am sure they illustrate the poem written on this scroll. Hokusai may be more famous for his prints (wood block colored prints of original works) but I loved seeing the commissioned works that are included in the exhibit.

I am feeling a bit frustrated. Now that I have caught up with the illustrations I needed for my nature journal, I wanted to start working on new pages. However the nature reserves and parks still have so much snow covering the ground that there isn't much to write about. Spring has yet to start arriving in many locations. It can't be much longer but I am truly feeling impatient.

The photograph above I made yesterday at Borderland State Park, and is of the major road/path through the park. There were a few spots that weren't snow covered but for the most part it wasn't easy walking, and the garden where I hope to see Trout Lilies and Bloodroot flowers is still buried under snow. It is supposed to hit 60 on Friday, so with a bit of luck the snow will soon be gone.

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

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Nature Journal, Still Life and Madonna

For the moment I am all caught up with the Nature Journal drawings. Above is my last one and is for a visit to Daniel Webster in Sept 2013. I am happy to have finally finished these as they have been hanging over my head so to speak since I stop making notes on my visits to various locations.

The drawings above are of the usual tree stump, though on this visit the water in the Panne was at the lowest level I had ever seen it at. It had been a fairly dry summer, but I do recall being shocked at how little water was left, esp as the last time I had visited in June it had been at the highest level I had ever seen. I speculated that they might have tried to drain some of the water out, a mistake since the summer had turned out very dry. I haven't been back since that visit, and while I want to go back I think I still need to wait just a bit longer to make sure the snow is gone from the paths.

The next drawing is of a Cabbage White Butterfly on some fall New England Asters, and an image of a couple of apples growing on one of the apple trees in the old orchard. The trees aren't taken care of in any way, so the apples are not pretty and I doubt they would be very good to eat. The deer love them though and will eat whatever falls.

Above is a pen and ink still life done for the March WetCanvas Pen and Ink forum monthly challenge. Haven't done one of these for a while, not sure exactly why, I download the challenge images and print them out but never seem to get around to doing the drawing. This one was done with my technical pens on another half sheet of the Utrecht paper with no under drawing.

I was in Boston at the MFA on Tuesday and for my Museum sketch I made the above. The statue is a medieval wooden Madonna. The infant Jesus doesn't look very child like, which was typical of that era, and both figures have lost parts. A hand in the case of the Madonna and parts of hands and feet in the case of Jesus. It was a fairly quick sketch and I certainly missed capturing her expression, mine doesn't look very happy at all. Ah well I should of spent more time on her but I kept being distracted by performances of Sonic Blossom that were taking place in a gallery not far from the one I was in.

Sonic Blossom is performance art, a singer selects a museum visitor, guides them to a chair that has been set up in one of the larger galleries and then sings to them. They use a tape player of some sort to provide the background music for the singer who on the day I was there was a lovely Soprano.

The statue I was drawing is above, I was seated on a bench which is slightly to the right of the statue so I had a slightly different view of the pair.

I spent some of that visit in the European art Galleries paying attention to the composition rules that most of the paintings seemed to adhered to, triangles, with the most important figure at the apex of the triangle. The painting above is by a French painter, which I didn't make note of, but was painted about a member of Louis XIII court who was a friend of Cardinal Richelieu, through that friendship he was the power behind the throne.

Note the most unusual composition, the lone figure on the right with the bowing courtiers on the left, they and the staircase all pointing to this one figure, giving him prominence and making him the focal point of the painting, as he was in the court.

Last but not least a photograph of Boston Common looking west, notice that enough snow has melted that ground is actually visible in some spots. The day I was there they were taking down the barriers for the skating rink at Frog Pond, and in the Garden they were trimming trees, both also signs of spring.

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

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Nature Journal, pen and ink exercise and button

The penultimate catch up Nature Journal drawing, sorry I have always wanted to use that word since I heard it and understood its meaning, it means next to the last, very specific and not something that can usually be dropped in casual conversation. Anyway only more drawing to go before I will be caught up, a good thing as snow is actually melting around here and I will hopefully soon be able to be out and about in the Nature Reserves. Just have to decide which one to concentrate on.

This page was done for a visit to Daniel Webster Audubon Sanctuary back on June 15, 2013. The images are the stump in the panne, Water levels were extremely high, in fact I don't think I have seen them higher except maybe the time a Hurricane came through, As I recall I don't think there were a lot of birds as probably much of what they would eat was further under water than usual. Course I did see a Green Heron, love those birds they are such fun to watch. They can stand so still watching and waiting for a meal to swim by. There was one turtle on the tree stump, and a perching bird on one of the supports, probably a tree swallow as they like to rest between feeding flybys over the panne.

Another of my ink exercises. I drew the outlines of the major shapes first then added fills. I think I should have left the stipple out, but it seemed like the design needed something to pull the two different areas together so I added it. Oops, ah well better luck next time I guess. I am trying to use more black areas in these designs, in contrast to the white I think it makes a visual statement.

Done on the other half sheet of Utrecht American Master's paper with my various tipped technical pens.

Another drawing for the WetCanvas Scavenger Hunt, this one in graphite is of a plastic button shaped like a leaf. Spent longer on it then I intended and used a couple of different grade pencils on this. In the dedicated sketchbook, with various leads in clutch pencil holders.

I was able to get my lens back last Friday, but the sun never really came out, did see one small flash of it for about 5 minutes then it was gone for the rest of the day. Over that night into Sat. we had clouds and more snow. Thankfully not very much snow, just a couple of inches but it did cover all the dirty old snow with a layer of white so I thought why not go to the park and see if I can make some photos. Above is one of them, the pump house and a row of trees that line the dike around one of the ponds the city uses for drinking water. Probably would have been a better photo if I had the diagonal of trees going toward the center of the photo, but I was at this end and made this one. I am getting tired of photographs of snow, I really really hope this all melts soon.

So, this is it for today, per usual comments are welcome.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Welcoming Spring with some Pen and Ink Works

Welcome to spring, it has been a long winter here in the Northeast, though I have to say that I know it will still be a couple of weeks before we really see the lawns showing signs of green. Esp. as most are still under inches of snow. But note that I wrote inches not feet, so we have had a lot of melting in past couple of weeks. Today is the Spring Equinox, one of two days in the year when darkness and light are evenly split. Now the daytime with it's hours of light will start becoming longer than our hours of darkness.

Above is another of my Nature Journal catch up pages. This one is from a visit to Daniel Webster on June 4, 2013. My usual tree stump, I use this artifact to document the rising/falling water in the Panne. A squirrel that was visiting the bird feeder area looking for a meal. And last a bird sitting on one of the nest boxes outside one of the Blinds in the sanctuary. Not sure at this point if the bird was a tree swallow or a sparrow, but I think a tree swallow as they like to use the nest boxes. Just 2 more pages to go and I will be caught up.

The above is an expanded/modified version of one of the pen exercises I did not too long ago. The flower and triangles are what I lifted from the original exercise adding the dragonfly and leaf to the design. This is done on new to me paper, Utrecht American Master's Printmaking, a 100% cotton 90lb250gsm. I purchased a 9 x 12 pad of this when I was last at Dick Blicks. Not sure if I like it or not. I like the weight, and the paper seems to really absorb the ink, it has a slightly textured surface and isn't bright white. It is the texture I am not sure about, and to be honest the way it absorbs the ink, I think I almost prefer that ink stay on the surface of the paper, but I want to do some more experimenting before I decide one way or the other.

Size is 6 x 8 inches (I cut a sheet in half and then trimmed one edge) inked with my various tipped technical pens.

Above is another of my Pen Exercise doodles. I started with a drawn line then filled in areas with different fills and added the stipple and 3 drops later to add more variety and texture. Done in one of my sketchbooks size is about 6 x 8 inches, and done with my various technical pens.

I don't have any new photographs today, well the above is new in that I haven't posted it before, but since last Wednesday I have been without the camera, I had to take it's primary lens in for repair. The good news is that it is ready for me to pick up. Now I just need some sun and I can take it out to play with. We had clouds this morning but the forecast is for sun this afternoon so cross your fingers for me.

The above photo was made last week in the Fens, someone was feeding the ducks and these were arriving for their share. I am still exploring using the camera on more manual settings, and am not sure I would have gotten as little wing blur with automatic settings.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome. Happy Spring everyone, (unless you are south of the equator, then it is Happy Fall).

Monday, March 16, 2015

Nature Journal revisit, and more pen and ink

A blast from the past today. Well not entirely, I just inked the above page in my Nature Journal but it was drawn last year when I was working at getting the Journal caught up, and the original reference images were made May 27, 2013. So this page has been almost two years in the works. Oops, I am not entirely happy with this drawing as I am sadly out of practice doing this kind of pen work. The turkey esp. could have been done better, but I have to admit that I find turkeys difficult. Trying to suggest the pattern of their feathers without going into too much detail isn't easy.

That said I am happy with the Canada Geese parents and young, that part was fun to draw and ink. I have only 3 more pages to finish, 2 still need to be drawn and the 3rd is ready for ink. I am hoping I can motivate myself to get them done soon as after taking a couple years away from the Journal I think I want to start back up again. Just have to decide where I will put my focus.

Above is another of my pen exercises, all my technical pens in one small piece. Was trying something different for this one, not sure if it works or not, but I wouldn't know if I hadn't tried so am glad I at least did that.

The above graphite drawing was done for another of the WetCanvas Scavenger Hunts, an apple. Don't want to think about how many apples I have drawn over the years, but each and every one was its own challenge. This one I wanted to shade so used several grades of pencil on it. That said I have a new printer and the scanner that came built in and I are still getting to know each other. The scans are not coming out as well as I was used to with my old printer/scanner. So I did use Photoshop to tone the scan and ended up with the graphite looking blacker than it is, I didn't make any other adjustments though.

The photograph for today isn't the best. I didn't have a lot to select from. My regular lens is in the shop being fixed. Apparently I bumped it once too often and damaged the part that works the auto focus. It is being fixed, for a price, and in the future I am going to have to remember to take better care of my camera and its lenses. I have put a different lens on the camera, but I have issues with this one and so have limited photos.

Anyway the above is some dirty snow melting away from a chain link fence, leaving gaps and creating icicles. We have now had over a week of daytime above freezing temps. one day actually felt warm with a temp. around 60. But we still have snow, the record breaking snow falls we had this past winter aren't going away quickly.

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

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Back to MFA Boston, various sketches

More of my pen exercises, this time I was exploring white against black. Still need to do more of this, I wasn't really happy with the shapes around the circle, they were supposed to be mushroomed shaped and ended up looking more like nail heads in some instances. Ah well, I have to keep in mind the thickness of the line takes away from the white that will be left once the background is filled in. Esp. as I tend to use one of the larger tips for this part of the drawing, mainly because it is easier to fill in the black when I use a larger tip.

Not thrilled with the above, too much is sort of haphazard, I wasn't paying enough attention to my initial line placements.

I was back into Boston on Tuesday. It was a sunny day with temps above 32 degrees F, so it wasn't freezing and some actual snow melting was taking place. I drew the above sketch on the Bus on my way up to Ashmont. It is sketchy because I rather liked it that way and decided that I might ruin it if I continued to work it. I did several other sketches on the bus but this is my favorite. Graphite (mechanical pencil) in my smaller sketchbook.

I started this visit to Boston by walking through the Common, the Gardens and then over to and up Charles Street, making photographs along the way. Some of those photos are on my Facebook page. Anyway I ended up at a Red Line station and took it back to Park where I picked up the Green Line to the MFA. I wanted to see the visiting Klimt painting of Adam and Eve that is on exhibit in the European Modern gallery. It is a lovely painting, but photographs are not allowed so I can only reference you to the MFA web site.

That said I think the Guards need to pay more attention as while I was sitting and drawing the above I noticed a man making many photos of the Klimt, with flash. I almost yelled at him, but I wasn't sure at that point that photos weren't allowed. I was making a photo of an MFA painting next to the Klimt when a guard came up and told me photos weren't allowed, ah well.

The drawing above is of a plaster relief of two wrestlers made by Henri Gaudier Brzeska in 1914 a year prior to his death at the Front in 1915. Apparently he was fascinated by wrestlers and loved to watch their matches.

I am trying to make one drawing per visit of an item on Exhibit, sculptures are a bit easier than paintings to draw, and this relief is almost a sculpture. Spending the time to make a drawing gets me more involved with the exhibits, and allows me to rest my knees and feet.

The above photo was made in the American Wing looking out toward a park area that is next to the museum. I forgot to get the name of the artist who created this figure, but really the photo is more about the exterior with the inclusion of the Prudential tower in the distance.

We are having a week of above freezing temperatures and there is lots of melting going on. Don't get me wrong there are still piles of snow but you can see from the reflections in this rather large puddle that there is also lots of melting.

That is it for today per usual comments are welcome.