Friday, April 29, 2011

End of April

It hasn't been a very productive week for me. I usually managed to finish something between Tuesday to Friday but this week while I have been working on three drawings nothing actually got finished. Oh well, some weeks are like that. But I didn't want to miss my semi weekly blog update so I decided to post images of these unfinished works for your viewing. By doing this I will hopefully get you curious about what the finished drawing will look like while giving you a peek into how I go about doing one my drawings.

These first two images are inked black and white drawings of tulips. I have started the fills on the one above but the second below is only has the outlines inked. Both drawings are based on photographs of tulips. But I do tend to edit the images esp where there is a lot of visual information.

Below is the photograph I used as the basis of the above image, note how I have used only three of the flowers shown, and have left out several leaves and the background details. At this point I am not even sure what color I will use for the tulips. I will probably use the colors in the photograph, but who knows I may change my mind. I also moved the tulip in the center right more to the right, I think it makes a better composition. It is easy to forget when working from photographs that you don't have to draw either all that you see in a photograph or in exactly the same position. As an artist I have the right to draw what I like.  

My last image for today is the start of another Zentangle. I was working on the tulips yesterday when I realized that I was starting to feel a bit bored with them. So to give myself a break from the more rigid structures I decided to play with another pure Zentangle. Haven't gotten too far with it but I think I like what I have so far. Not sure you can see the pencil string markings which I will use for guidelines as I work on this piece.

That is it for images today. My other main art activity this week was to mat several of my small pen and ink works and to put 3 of them in frames. A couple of weeks ago I purchased a mat cutting set up. Not inexpensive, but it does work well so I think I will be happy with the purchase. Set up does take a bit of concentration to get the math right, and I have a slightly sore thumb from pushing the cutting blade but all in all I am happy with how it works. I am using black mat board in black frames, and I think they look rather nice. I am hoping to submit these to a local art show. Will post updates as I get further information. In the meantime comments are always welcome. If you see something you would like to purchased visit my Esty Shop.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Butterflies and Figures

Above is last nights figure drawing, obviously she took a curled up pose, in fact it was a bit more curled up then was comfortable for her so after the first break she took a slightly different position. That is why I have concerns about her feet. I think the one pushing against the couch is slightly too large, though because it is closest to me there is some change in scale. What is closer to me will be larger than what is further away so I may have it correct after all. The leg that is under is the one that was repositioned so I couldn't go back and refine my original sketch of that foot. I suppose I could have erased and redrawn the leg, but I liked the original pose so stuck with it. Otherwise I am fairly happy with the drawing this week. I admit that I prefer to draw a model who isn't as skinny as our model last week. This model is slender but not skin and bones.

Below I have another of my pen and ink with watercolor drawings:

This drawing is of two butterflies perched on flowers. I took liberties with both the butterfly and flower coloring and added the leaves. Of course fills for both butterflies and flowers aren't realistic either, though the outlines of both are fairly accurate. I had fun painting the background to give the feeling of  a field of wildflowers. I though purple flowers would contrast nicely with the green background.

The last image for today is a selection of photographs I made since the last blog update.

The photo subjects are Magnolia buds in the upper left, Weeping Cherry blossoms in the upper right, a man fishing on Houghton's Pond, Milton and a Trout Lily just starting to bloom. I need to get back to Blue Hills and see if the Trout Lilies are finally really blooming. When I was there last Friday only a very few showed buds at all and you can see that they weren't very open. We had a lovely warm Easter Sunday (in the low 70's) so it is possible that they are much further along. Yesterday was chilly and overcast till late in the afternoon, and this morning was foggy with some rain. Trees are finally really starting to leaf out and grass is turning green so I think Spring is finally here. There are more photos in my Facebook Gallery.

The community college where I attended classes is going to have their 3rd Annual Art Fair. The Fair includes a juried art show. I am thinking about submitting a couple of pieces (I can submit up to three) but am not sure which ones to pick. Ones that have watercolor washes I think, the watercolor gives a more professional  look to the pieces. But choosing just 3 is going to be difficult. I am open to suggestions, along with other comments. That is it for today, till next time, be safe and well.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tulips for Spring

It is finally looking like spring around here, so my attention has been turned to spring flowers. One of the premiere spring flowers are tulips. The subject I used for my latest watercolor drawing. For this one I used various photographs of tulips to create a composite scene. I am not sure I am totally pleased with this, and may revisit the idea to create something I am a bit happier with. The composition isn't as tight as I usually prefer. And oddly enough I am not sure watercolors are the best media to use to paint tulips. Tulips are glossy and watercolor on watercolor paper isn't. So though I can leave white areas to simulate light highlights it still doesn't give me the feel of a tulip bloom. This is more true for the original painting/drawing than for the scanned image you are seeing.  A scanned image is not exactly what the human eye sees, something for the viewer to keep in mind.

I thought you might like to see what the painting looked like before I added the watercolor. So below is a scan of the tulips inked but not painted.

You can see that without the added color some of the backgrounds are fairly close in value to the flower or leaf sections. The added color makes the lack of contrast less apparent.

One last image for you on this Good Friday. Below is the finished Daisy's Band drawing.

It is OK, but I think I should have used a different color for the daisy's petals instead of the yellow/gold. It works but I think it might have been better with different colors. I fear I just wanted to get this over and done with so I didn't take the time to test the colors before I started. I doubt that I will be revisiting this idea. I did the original drawing last summer around the same time I was working on the other 4 in the series and have now moved on to other ideas. I often find it tricky to try to go back to something once I have moved on.

As I mentioned today is Good Friday on the Christian calender. Not only is Easter late this year but it is also the same for all Christian denominations. Usually the Orthodox Christians celebrate their Easter one week later then the rest of Faithful (they use a different method to determine the date). I no longer really celebrate Easter, but for those who do may you have a good one. It is also Passover this week, so may any Jewish readers also be celebrating their Holiday in an appropriate way.

Almost forgot to mention that today is also Earth Day, celebrate by picking up one piece of trash that someone else has tossed. If we all did that, the world would be a cleaner place.  I also hope you managed to check out Google's page header for the day - very fun animations.  On that note I will close, but remember that comments and questions are always welcome.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Signs of Spring - finally

I think after our long cold, snowy winter spring is finally coming to New England. It is being a bit slow this year, but I am sure that all it will take to really get the plants moving is a couple of warm days. We have already had a couple, but the warmer weather seems to last only for a day and then we are back into the chill. Still I have been out making photographs these last few days. The above image is a sample of some of my flower photo's. Close ups since distance shots tend to look pretty grey and bleak.

Went to another drawing session last night. See image below for how I did.

Last nights model was very slender which actually makes them harder to draw. I am not sure I have all the proportions correct, but I tried. I wasn't the only one having issues, another of our regulars who paints ended up wiping his canvas and for the last hour did a quick portrait. Otherwise I did enjoy the evening, which included some discussion about our local Classical Radio Station and how boring their musical picks had gotten just before the station changed ownership to become a member of Boston's Public broadcasting group.  I do wish that the timing had been a bit different for that acquisition. If only they had purchased the station when it still was on its original frequency, they would have a much stronger signal and be able to reach more listeners. Ah well I am at least thankful that the station still exists, not sure what I would have done if they had shut down. I listen to the station at night, it helps me to sleep.

I have one more image for today, and that is the finished beets drawing. Last posting I included an image of the drawn beets without the additional fills and no color. Here is it finished:

I found it a bit tricky to find fills for the leaves and stems that would add texture but not be too dark for when I added in the color. I hope I succeeded in compromising effectively. These were fun to do and I am thinking about doing more veggies. So far it is just the beets and peppers but I have been collecting images of other vegetables so we will see what happens. I am open to suggestions if anyone has any.

That is it for today, I am working on some other drawings and did finish the Daisy's drawing that I posted last week, I will posted the finished image of that later this week. In the meantime comments are always welcome and if you are interested in seeing more of my spring photography check out my Facebook fan page.

Friday, April 15, 2011

April Friday Update

Daisy's playing Badminton

Actually I don't have anything really new to post today, but I have been working on something I started last summer and put aside. Below is what I am working on. I call it Daisy's Band. When it is finished it will be the 5th drawing I have done using the Daisy's as characters. Above is the 3rd one, Daisy's playing badminton. For some reason I never posted any of the Daisy drawings to the blog. I created them to be images for cards and I guess I felt at the time that I should keep them a bit under wraps. Sort of pointless since I doubt I will ever get them published as cards. So I thought I would share a couple of them today. The rest I will post to my Facebook fan page, which you can find by clicking on the "like" button at the bottom of the blog page.

The other three completed drawings, are Daisy's celebrating a Birthday (the first one), Daisy's having a picnic, and Daisy's on a camping trip. They might look a bit silly but actually the last three took a fair amount of research to draw. For the badminton players I had to find reference images for the badminton net, racket, birdie and the squirrel. For my campers I had to find a tent, canoe, a lakeside and an image of distant mountains. For the band below I had to find microphones, guitars, the drum set, and the various audience animals.

As you can see the petals around their faces are different colors. All of the drawings have different colored petals around the faces, no particular reason, just me playing with color. The drawings are done on smooth bristol board using ink outlines and then colored pencil fills. For each design detailed drawings were done in a sketchbook and then transferred to the bristol board using tracing paper.

Below is the outline drawing for another of my pen and ink works. I have another outline finished but decided you didn't need to be exposed to that much unfinished art.

I managed to get the beets drawn and inked before I got sidetracked with the Daisy's. Actually what really had me sidetracked yesterday was updates to my Portfolio web site. I added a page with some of the recent drawings I have been doing on the hot press watercolor paper, removed old images and added images of newer works to some of the other pages. The biggie was to revamp the flash slide show. I also revised the About Me page to reflect the fact that I haven't been attending school this year, and to hopefully push me to really think about and write an artist statement.

The flash slide show isn't that hard to do, but it takes time, esp. as I had to refresh my memory on how to actually add images to the existing show. Thankfully the last time I had worked on the show I had written notes to myself. They certainly helped  me to get back up to speed fairly quickly. Still it is time consuming to add images to a time line so it took a while to create something that lasts only a few minutes. I removed several older images and added some of my newer works to the show. I am not going to suggest that anyone go visit, all images have been shown here on the blog, and I don't put everything on the web site anyway. I just wanted to explain what has kept me away from actually drawing.

That is it for today. Comments and/or questions are always welcome.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Br'er Fox and other musings

I am old enough to remember Walt Disney's Song of the South, a short animated movie that told some of the tales of Uncle Remus, the Tar Baby story being the primary one. The hero of those stories is Br'er Rabbit, but the villain of the piece is often Br'er Fox or Br'er Bear. I suppose the stories are no longer considered politically correct, as they are a white man's retelling of old Slave stories. Joe Chandler Harris wrote the stories in dialect to approximate how they would have been spoken by an old black ex-slave. Is the dialect accurate, probably not, between that and the mere fact that a white man was doing the writing will offend some now. It is too bad, the stories are wonderful, or at least I think they are. My memory of them doesn't include any racial slurs as such, unlike Thorton Burgess's tales. I used to own a couple of Burgess's books and was appalled to find mixed in with one of the stories about nature what I would call a racial slur. He of course was only reflecting the attitudes of the time (1874 - 1965).  Since otherwise he wrote some wonder stories about nature it is too bad, On the Green Meadows was my favorite.

Anyway the fox in the above drawing reminded me of Uncle Remus and the stories of the fox and the rabbit. Course my fox is chasing a mouse and not a rabbit, but just drawing a fox brought those other stories to mind. I am rather pleased with my active friend who is modeled after a real fox not one of the classic illustrations. I have already finished a rabbit, so now I need to finish off the bear and I will have three of the animals in the stories illustrated.

Below is my figure drawing from last evening:

I find this a much more successful drawing than I have done the past couple of weeks. Not sure where my mojo had run off too, but it wasn't working on Monday nights. Last weeks drawing particularly has bothered me. Scott has suggested that I might want to redraw the pose in my sketchbook even just as thumbnails to see if I can work out where I went wrong with it.

I think it is one of those drawings where even if you draw everything correctly it doesn't look right because the brain is looking for a subtle distortion that really isn't there. Hmm, I don't think I have phrased that understandably. The brain is as much a part of "seeing" the real world as the eyes are, when you look at something the brain interprets it for you. This factor is one reason why it is difficult to draw from photographs, when you look at a scene live the brain automatically ignores a lot of the details which show up in a photograph and can be distracting. Sorry I digress a bit, but I think something similar happens when viewing some poses. In real life the brain interprets what it sees a certain way, but putting the pose on paper even if it is really accurate is not the way the brain "sees" it. That discrepancy makes the drawing look off. Ingres was known for distorting his figures in subtle ways that the viewer doesn't notice and makes them come alive. One of my goals is to learn to do the same.

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

Friday, April 8, 2011

Gourds, Peppers and Squirrels

Today I have 3 smallish drawings that I have finished this week. Above are 3 gourds, two ornamental and the third is the type that can be decorated with designs similar to what I created for my drawing. Again these are all on hot press watercolor paper.

Someone on Flickr (where I also post images of my art) asked where I get my paper. I have never found hot press paper at a chain art/craft store such as Michaels or AC Moore. I have seen only cold press paper which has a rough surface. Hot press paper has a smooth surface excellent for pen or colored pencil work, though it absorbs water readily with minimal warping. I am lucky that I have a nearby Art Supply Store that carries hot press paper, and I would assume that any quality art store would have it on hand. For those who don't have access to a full service art store it can be ordered online from Dick Blick. I use Arches 140 wt. which can be purchased in various sized blocks. It can also be purchased by the sheet which is how I usually purchase it. There are several other manufactures of hot press paper, so if you can't get Arches but can get a different mfg. I would say that you should try it to see how it works for you.

Above is a drawing of four hot peppers, 2 red, and 2 green. I placed them on a blue table with a toned grey background. Again I am working with realistic outlines and random fills. The colors for the peppers are semi realistic. Image size for these two vegetable images are my usual 4 x 4 inches.

Below is another of my animal drawings.

The squirrel's pose is from a photograph I took a while ago. The squirrel is hunched over looking intently at something below him. I used a slightly larger image area for this guy, 5 x 5 inches. On this one I didn't want to add a lot of background images to distract from the squirrel and without something the image looked a bit bare. Color was supposed to add that something, so I added with watercolor washes. The squirrel is grey with just a bit of light brown on the face and tail, the tree branches I used a grey green contrasting with the blue sky. I could have done a better job on the sky wash, but otherwise I am happy with it.

One last comment for any readers who will be in the Boston area between now and August. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts has just opened a Chihuly glass exhibit. The official opening is April 10 and the exhibit will be on view until August 7th. I hope to be able to get to the museum to see this which has not only some of his latest works on view but some of his earliest. I love glass and always have so this should be amazing. The good news is that you don't need tickets, the exhibit is part of general admission to the museum.

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

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

April 5th Figure Drawing and Shells

Above is last nights drawing, I am not pleased, first the photograph I made this morning is terrible. We have rain, and I haven't yet figured out how to light a drawing without sunlight so that I get a good photograph. Next the pose last night had a lot of foreshortening in it and I know I didn't get it right. I like how I did her face, but her head doesn't connect to her body properly. Oh well there is always next week right?

Otherwise it was a good evening, a fairly good crowd. One new man, who was quiet, but I think he will be back which is good. Mostly it was us regulars, three guys and me, not counting Scott. The other woman who usually comes is on vacation this week, hope she is having good weather where she is.

One of the other attendees is having issues with his concentration, and hence his painting. At least this week he didn't paint over what he was working on which he has been doing the past couple of weeks. He is feeling totally frustrated which I can understand. Scott is telling him that it is just something he is going to have to work through, there is no magic bullet that can help him work through this tough patch. I think he should paint with some other subjects during the week away from the Studio. Like buy a bunch of veggies and paint them. A totally different subject than the human form but he might be able to find a new technique that he could then bring back to the figure painting. Right now his paintings are not meeting his expectations. I know how he feels as my figure drawings aren't meeting my expectations. I know what I need is more practice, but I think his issues are slightly different.

I have joined another e-mail newsletter. I read about it on the Quilt Art list and decided that I was interested enough in it to subscribe. The newsletter is written by Robert Genn and seems to be his take on the current/past art scene. So far I have found them of interest. You can follow the above link for further information.

Below is the latest shell drawing. The first image is the finished ink work prior to my adding the color, I though my readers might like to see the difference that color makes.

Below is the same drawing with the color added. I am playing with color combinations a bit, trying not to redo what I have already done. But I realized one thing after I had finished this one and that is that I am not taking quite enough time with the drawing of the shells. Oh the yellow/blue/green spiral is OK, but I think I could have done a better job on the muscle shell in front and I know I could have done a better job with the shell that is in the rear. Ah well guess I will just have to do another drawing to get it "right".

I read somewhere that an artist should not criticize their work in front of their public. But this is my personal blog and I feel that I should share not only the successes of my work but also where I feel I need improvement. I will tell you a secret, most artists feel their work needs improvement, they almost always see some flaw or some aspect that could be done better or differently, sort of the nature of creating art.

That is it for today. I am working on another small watercolor drawing/Illustration which I will post next update. I will also be making more ATC cards. I joined another ATC swap this one has a cat theme, so it should be fun. I love drawing cats. In the meantime comments are welcome.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools - Snow

Above is a photo of what I woke up to this morning. It is still spitting a bit, but I think right now we are getting mostly rain so I don't expect the snow around me to last all that long. But I have to say that Mother Nature is pulling a not very nice April Fool joke on a lot of folks here in the Northeast. Thankfully where I live isn't getting the brunt of this storm. Up north of me they are expecting at least a foot of this heavy white stuff and the're already reports of power outages caused by tree limbs falling on wires. Hard to believe it is April and that spring even here in the Northeast should be just around the corner. Course I expect the skiers are thrilled.

As a contrast to last week where I was getting a lot done, this week I seem to be in slow motion. I did managed to finish the drawing below:

The drawing is of three peppers, one red, one green and one yellow. I drew the peppers in pencil first, added ink and then added the color by using watercolor pencils. I do have tube watercolors but haven't quite gotten brave enough to pull them out to use. Maybe I will get brave enough to try after a little while longer. In the meantime I am having fun layering color by first drawing in one color, wetting it with a brush, allowing it to dry and then applying a different color lightly over the base color. I then wet the area a second time. This allows me to add shadows and other tints. I rather like how these came out and will probably be doing more veggies, or maybe even fruit.

Otherwise my time has been taken up by my Esty shop where I have been adding a new section to sell my recent drawings. It takes more time then one might expect to add items to the shop, and I can only hope that eventually I will see some sales.  I have also been watching what my fellow FFFC group members have been doing with the latest challenge. So far I have not been motivated to create my own response. Well that is it for today. Per usual comments are welcome.