Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Finished, I am calling this drawing Walkabout as the parent goose is taking three of his goslings for a walk. The parents of geese, ducks, and chickens don't feed their young they just take them to where they can find food. They do guard them and can be very protective. The above image is partly my imagination and partly based on photographs I have made.

As a total digression: I was at one of the Audubon Sanctuaries yesterday and ran into a young couple with child as they were starting their walk. We chatted for a bit and the father told me about his encounter with some wild turkey's the previous week. He had been walking in one of the wooded areas of the site and saw a turkey, a couple of minutes later he spied a lot of young speckled chicks, somehow he managed to get too close and the next thing he knew he was being attacked by a turkey parent who was flying at him to drive his away. As they are fairly large birds this is no joke, luckily for him he managed to get away with no major damage.  I was in one of the pond blinds and didn't see any turkeys on this visit. I did however see a fox just outside of the Sanctuary. I was driving so didn't manage a photograph.

Back to my drawing:

When I last posted this drawing I was debating whether to mask any parts of it. In the end I decided to mask the goose and goslings. The goose so I could paint the water without worrying about painting him/her blue and the goslings because I wanted an even color for the pathway. Again I didn't want to have to be that careful painting around the small birds esp as I knew I need to paint them yellow first. So the above image shows the masked drawing.

Below is my figure drawing from last night.

I am not totally pleased with it. Actually I wanted to move and take a different position, but for a change last night we had lots of artists coming to paint so there wasn't a good spot for me to move to.

I think I have her neck too long, and I know her foot isn't well drawn. I am fairly sure this model was once a ballet dancer, at least her toes look like they were once crammed into toe shoes. Not a pretty foot so I tend to not draw it in detail. Currently she is working crew at one of Boston's theater productions, and of course modeling.

This will be the last figure drawing for a couple of weeks. Next Monday is 4th of July and the Studio Session won't be held as most folks will be busy with friends and family. The following week the Model who is running the sessions has something she needs to do so won't be available. Not sure what I am going to be drawing instead so stay tuned and find out with me.

Indian Cucumber Root
This last image for today is a photograph I made yesterday at North River a MA Audubon Sanctuary, (not the one with the turkeys, that is Daniel Webster). I am fascinated by these flowers and usually I seem to miss them actually blooming. But yesterday I lucked out and found a couple of plants blooming in the woods. Apparently the roots are eatable, but I don't think I will ever check it out for myself as I usually see the plants on protected lands. This is a native species and the native american's probably did eat it.

Well enough for today. Per usual comments are welcome.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

June Sketchbook Challenge Dwg and other stuff

Above is the pen and ink stage of my latest drawing, a goose being followed by some young goslings. A composite drawing from a reference photo (the bridge) and a couple of my photographs of geese. I am planning on painting it, I am just in the vegging state I sometimes get into with these works. I think I am deciding on colors, but it isn't totally a conscious process so it may just be nerves coming into play. Not sure I will do any masking prior to starting this painting, the larger background areas such as the pond don't need to have a solid color applied, in fact visible brush strokes are something I will be going for.

The path is another large area to be painted but again here I will be using various colors so I don't think I need to mask the goose or the goslings, though I may mask the goslings to just make sure I don't over paint them with a wrong color.

Below is a pencil drawing I have been working on for the Sketchbook Challenge theme for June.

The theme for June is Pathways. The image above is drawn from a photograph I made this spring at the MA. Audubon Daniel Webster site. It is of a boardwalk moving through a small grove of trees. The sun was coming through the leaves creating patterns of light and dark. I am not sure if I am totally done with this. I think I need to let it sit a few days and then compare it again with the photograph. Drawing woods is not as easy as you might think, but hopefully I have pulled it off here.

Below is a composite image of four photographs I made yesterday at Massasoit State Park.  After several days of clouds and rain the sun finally came out yesterday afternoon and I was able to enjoy some time with the camera. More photos from this outing will be posted on my Facebook Fan Page.

Upper left photo is of some Black Eyed Susan's with Daisy Flea Bane. The upper right photo is of a bumble bee on some Purple Vetch (or it might be Cow Vetch). Note that orange packet of pollen she has collected. Probably from the Day lilies that were blooming not too far away. The lower left photo is a mushroom with some ferns, no clue what the mushroom is. The last photo on the lower right is Lake Rico, a view across the lake showing the blooming Pickerelweed.

However, I am wondering where are the butterflies? I have been photographing bees, dragonflies and other insects but I am seeing very few butterflies. Maybe it is still a bit early for them, or perhaps the bug spraying from last year has hurt their numbers. I have yet to see a monarch butterfly, and even the cabbage butterflies seem a bit scarce. Ah well, not much I can do about it, but I did want to comment. Enough for today. Per usual comments are appreciated.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Museum Visit, MFA, Boston

Today I am recovering from my visit yesterday with a friend to the MFA (Museum of Fine Arts) in Boston, MA. The main focus of the visit for me was to see the Chihuly glass exhibit. I am including a few photographs from the exhibit. You are allowed to make photos as long as you don't use a flash. It took me a bit to realize that I needed to switch to manual settings and then had to play with the Fstop to get a few semi good photographs. The glass exhibit was dark with only spot lighting on the glass. Not the best conditions for photography, a tripod and no people would have been better. Still I hope the photos will sort of give you a feel for the exhibit.

The Chihuly exhibit is arranged as rooms each with a theme, the first area the glass looked like flowers arraigned on the wall and on a platform. The next room was a long boat filled with glass objects. The written commentary said that he had gotten the idea from when he had been in Finland and had been throwing pieces into the river to see if they would break. Needless to say once thrown they had to be collected and that was done by young men in boats.

In the room above the glass was arranged on the ceiling with the light shining down through the pieces. It looked like an upside down view of a reef that contained lots of multicolored sea life. I lucked out and was able to photograph a fairly empty room so you can see the patterns of light on the wall.

The photo above is of the 4th or 5th exhibit room (right now I don't recall exactly which). In this case the room contains these shelves with Native American woven and  his blown glass baskets. There was also a long table set with blown glass baskets. Against the rear wall was a large display of Native American woven blankets. Needless to say the room was amazing and this one photo doesn't really give you the idea of how beautiful it was.

This is a close up photograph of one of the chandeliers in the Chandelier room. There were 5 or 6 of these structures made in various colors. They all hang from the ceiling, but aren't strictly speaking chandeliers since the lighting isn't from within the structure but is provided by spot lights. The glass is blown into various long organic tube shapes and then attached separately to a supporting structure.

The above photograph is of the last room in the exhibit. The purple glass tubes are attached to the logs, obviously the spot lighting is part of the effect. Very lovely, and I am not sure the photograph does it justice.

After going through this exhibit we had some lunch and chat to recover our energy and then went on to visit other areas of the museum. We went through several special exhibits, one with photographs from Cuba, another of Fantasy Prints, Dutch Drawings (I enjoyed that one) and on into the European Art Wing. We visited a couple of Turner's, several Monet's and Van Gogh's, and strolled though several other galleries containing paintings by painters I recognized.

I don't even try to photograph paintings or drawings or photographs on display so don't have any images from those Galleries. I will photograph other artifacts if they have designs or patterns that interest me.

The photograph below is of a beaded figure that was part of a special exhibit of Dress and Textile patterns created in Africa. This guy is made up of seed beads strung together, he was about 14 inches tall.

The exhibit also contained examples of textiles dyed in several African regions and other examples of beadwork. The beadwork was amazing.

The last image for today is of a jar to be found on the lowest floor of the new American Wing. It is an example of pottery created by Southwest tribes. I am always on the lookout for patterns that I can use in my own art and the patterns on this jar interested me, simple but beautifully drawn.

That is it for today. I need to go work on some art so I have something to show in my next blog update. Per usual comments are always welcome. But sure to check out the link to the MFA to read more about the exhibits I viewed.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice

It is the first day of summer, and the day of the most daylight here in the Northern Hemisphere. After today the days will start getting shorter, meaning a bit less daylight every day until the winter solstice in December. For all my readers in the Northern Hemisphere happy summer, hope you have a good one.

Above is the pen and ink drawing I was working on last week finished. I thought you might like to see some in process images. Well, not totally in process as the pen and ink work was done when I did the first scan shown below. I was always intending to add watercolor to this so I left some areas without fills, like the area around the mouse and in the sky.

I stippled the tree instead of using other fancier fills. I think the stipple effect is less distracting, and while I wanted the tree, I didn't want it to grab attention away from the mouse and mushrooms. The next image is more in-process, showing the masked drawing with the sky painted in.

The outside edges were masked with Drafting tape (less sticky than masking tape) and the sort of cream colored areas are where I applied fisket. By masking the mushrooms and tree edges I was able to use a larger brush to apply the blue paint. I much prefer the sky painted with a large brush, fewer brush strokes show, and color is more evenly applied, so even though it takes time to mask I think I will continue to do so. The blue is a mixed color done with my tubes of watercolor. My Illustration Instructor would get very annoyed with us if we used a color straight out of the tube, so even though he will probably never see this drawing I still remember and abide by the restriction. Though I can't exactly mix a color with the watercolor pencils, I do layer washes of different colors over each other so the resulting color isn't exactly the original pencil color.

I think the tree color works, I was trying an experiment with this drawing. First I applied a light yellow wash to the tree, then I covered that with a purple violet wash, then added in some green, and some brown, and some grey. I used the watercolor pencil directly on the trunk to add the grey. Hopefully I have successfully covered the yellow though I think it adds some depth to the trunk color.

One last comment, in real life the mushrooms grouped together would all be the same as they would be growing out of the same underground network of fungi hyphae so I took some artistic license to make my mushrooms different. But I wanted the red to add color, though I didn't want 3 red mushrooms. All I can say is that it is my drawing and I can do what I want with it.

Below is my figure drawing from last night.

Not sure I did the model justice as she is a lovely young woman. I seem to be working with a looser more sketchy style. There are parts of this drawing that I like and others that I would like to rework. There is almost always something I would change if I were doing a do-over. I guess that is what drawing is all about.

We have a beautiful June, first day of summer, day here in MA. Blue sky's and while it will be warm (in the low 80's) it won't be oppressively hot. I hope to get out later to enjoy the weather while we have it, one thing I know from living in NE, that the weather is changeable so I need to enjoy the nice weather while we have it.

That is it for today. I have been busy photographing flowers and may share some of my photo's in the blog post later this week. Till then I have uploaded a bunch to my Facebook fan page and to my flickr account. Links to both are on the blog page. As always comments are appreciated. Oh if you have a title suggestion for my Mushrooms and Mouse drawing I would love to  hear it.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Clematis Finished

The clematis colored pencil drawing is done. Well, as done as I am going to make it. I am sure I could have done more fussing with it and even improved on what I did. But as far as I was concerned it was time for it to be done. I don't think I am cut out to do photo-realistic drawings. The above is about as close as I want to come I think. Not bad but I have seen much better works shown in the Colored Pencil Forum at WetCanvas.

Even at the size I was working (drawing area 4.5 inches square) this drawing took hours to finish, and I wasn't even attempting a realistic background. In the end I did use a black colored pencil to help darken some areas and to add an edge to the petals.  It like most of my recent drawings/paintings was done on Hot Press Watercolor paper, the 140lb weight.

I have started another pen and ink work that I will hopefully have done by the next blog posting. In the meantime we finally had a sunny day and I took advantage of it to drive out to Stony Brook, one of the MA Audubon sites. Below are a couple of photographs I made that day. More photographs are on my Facebook Fan page in the Summer Photograph album, and I will probably be adding them to my flickr albums in the next few days.

I have no clue what the insect above is. It flies and sort of looks like a butterfly, but the wings were a bit strange, I don't think it shows in the photograph but it was like it had double wings. One set is down with the round lobes and the 2nd set is more vertical, you can sort of see an edge along the left side of the body. And note how fuzzy the body looks. If anyone knows what it is please leave me a comment. It wasn't very big, maybe an inch across.

The photograph above is of what probably was the mill pond at Stony Brook back in the day. This photo is about as close as I am going to get to making a photograph of a Great Blue Heron without a telephoto lens. That fuzzy gray area in the center left is a Great Blue flying across the pond. When I approached one edge of the pond he took flight and I attempted the photograph. Someday maybe I will be able to afford a lens, then I will actually be able to photograph birds, in the meantime small blurry images are where I am at. Still it was fun to see him/it, I don't know if they have a nest here or just look for food but they can often be sighted at the edges of one of the ponds.

Enough for today. Comments and questions are always welcome, and I would really love to know what that insect is.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Figure Drawing, June 14

Above is last nights figure drawing. I seem to be working in a slightly looser style, not as finished or polished as what I was doing last fall even. I am not saying this is good or bad, just making a comment. The model was sitting upright on a chair last not, not a typical pose for these sessions, and though there were strategically placed pillows I think the model was feeling some pain by the end of the session. Still she did very well for her first time posing holding pose between the breaks extremely well. There was a bit of shifting, esp. with the arm that was resting on the chair back (there was a pillow underneath some draped fabric)

For the most part I think I am pleased with it, but I will have to let it set a few weeks before I really know for sure.

We didn't have a large turn out for this session, some of our usual attendees took part in a special class over at the North River Arts Society (Marshfield Hills, MA) with a visiting instructor. Still it was a good evening.

The image above is a work in progress. It is a colored pencil drawing of a clematis bloom. I think I have the background the way I want it. and now need to finish the center, and the petals. The petals are almost there, just need to add a bit more blue to the edges and then the pink stripes down the middle. I think I will need to do some test drawings to find the right pencil color/colors to give me the proper pink.

The dark green areas in the background have been done using a under layer of red (Geranium Lake) with an over layer of green. A reminder from my Color and Design II class that to darken a color add it's complement. The rule was for paint, but it also works with colored pencils. The ideal is to avoid the use of black in a painting as it is a dead color. Using the complement creates a dark value that has more life.

Below is the photograph I am using as reference for the above drawing.

I made this photograph a couple of weeks ago of a beautiful clematis blooming in a neighbors front yard. The other side of the lamp post has a lovely purple clematis blooming, but I thought this pink and white flower more of a challenge. Notice that I am brave enough to only tackle the one flower. I will think about doing another version if the first comes out well.

Since I have been a member of the Wetcanvas site, I have been reading the colored pencil forum, looking at others works and picking up some tips on how to use colored pencils. One piece of information that I picked up and want to pass on to my readers is the Colored Pencil Studio web site. There you will find all sorts of information about colored pencils and watercolor pencils. Evaluations on the best pencils on the market, what kinds of papers to use with your pencils and tips on how to draw with colored pencils. I consider it a great find.

I do have one final comment for today. For years I have tried to be as realistic with my work as I could possibly be. I am slowly discovering that I while I may admire works that are photographic realistic, I don't think of them as works of art. I think it is because there is nothing of the artist in such drawings. I find I want to see the artists hand in the artwork. If this makes the works less then perfect so be it. Just my thoughts for the day. Per usual comments and questions are always welcome.

Friday, June 10, 2011

June 10, painting and photos

I don't have a lot of finished artwork today, in fact I only have the above pen and ink watercolor painting. I call this Visiting. It is another of my fantasy landscapes. Sort of a zentangle, but not really, I did a lot of light pencil sketching prior to inking some of the features in the drawing, like the flying owl and the mouse. I am getting better with my drawings of animals, but I am still not comfortable drawing directly with a pen.

I used frisket to mask items so I could use a large brush to paint the sky color. That color turned out a bit darker then I thought I intended, but I rather like it. After all owls fly at dusk or night so the darker sky is a bit more appropriate.

The flowers are from my imagination, with little relationship to any real flowers I have seen. As for the story behind the images, I will let you make up your own. I am not sure what I was thinking, I didn't set out to draw the owl, but somehow he just seemed to belong in the picture. Maybe I just have owls on the brain, I have been re-reading one of the Harry Potter books this week and that may have been a factor.

Since I only have the one image to show you might think that I haven't been working on much art. Not quite true, but the other drawing I have been working on, a colored pencil flower is taking longer then I expected. Hopefully I will manage to finish it over the weekend so I can show it off next week.

So instead of more art I am posting a couple of photographs that were part of the group I made last Monday afternoon.

Above is another of my butterfly photographs.  This guy isn't very big, (maybe an inch and 1/2 across the wings) and I haven't taken the time to try and identify him. I expect it is a variety of Skipper, but am not sure. It is smaller then the white cabbage butterfly I photographed earlier in May. If you can identify it please leave me a comment.

With the coming of June and warmer weather out come the boats. The above photograph was made at Scituate Harbor. These are the smaller cousins of the much larger cabin cruisers and working fishing boats that make their home in the harbor. I just like the colors, blue water and sky with the red and yellow boats and the green marsh in the background. The man and dog just add interest.

That is it for today, but I though I would share another of the blogs I have come across in my web investigations. This is the Blog of Ann Buckner, and no I don't know her. In fact at this point I am not sure how I got to her blog, flowing links from another blog, but that is about all I can tell you. She draws and paints with watercolors, and lately has been into exploring her craft with various studies.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

June, flowers, drawings and dragonflies

Hmm, well I have to laugh at myself, my images are actually in reverse order to today's posting title. Above are the dragonflies. When I am not in the mood to work on something that requires a lot of concentration on my part I often draw my Zentangle type images. Above is one I started to give me a break between drawing sessions on the colored pencil Fall Berries. It is a bit of whimsy since I added the houses and the two dragonflies to the in-progress drawing. I didn't have any particular story in mind, things just developed as I went along, making art is supposed to be fun after all.

Before I painted the blue sky background I covered a lot of areas with frisket. After the blue had dried I went in, removed the frisket and then painted all the detail areas. Using the frisket leaves me with some white areas, but since I mixed the blue I can't really go in and match the paint so I just left them. On the plus side I don't have brush strokes going around things, which I don't like to see, so I will probably do this again on other small works.

Below is my drawing from last night.

Scott is off to school so one of his models is running the sessions. Last night we had a new model, an older woman who works with our Session Mgr. Actually it was kind of fun to draw a not perfect body. The young skinny models can be hard to draw.

I was concerned when I first arrived that we wouldn't have enough artists to pay for the model, but things worked out as more people arrived for the session. In reality it was a good thing people were running late as the Model had never been to the studio and got a bit lost so was late. Not a big deal, I finished as much as I wanted to draw in our allotted time, and she was great about holding pose.

Yesterday before I went to the modeling session I went over to North River in Marshfield, MA. to make some photographs. Most I will post to the flickr site, but I really love the colors and textures in the above photograph so wanted to share it with you. This is actually a close up of a Hosta flower stock just starting to grow. I cropped the photo to focus your eye on the  flower buds with the edges of two leaves showing.

That is it for today. Thanks to those who commented on my last blog entry, and per usual I appreciate any who take the time to comment on any of my posts.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Two Takes on one Photo

Above is my latest drawing done with colored pencils. I use Derwents, Studio, Artists and Signature. I don't use the Colorsoft as I find them too soft for my tastes. I really prefer the Studio pencils, but there are more colors in the Artists line, and the Signature colors are more fade proof so I end up using a bit of all three when I draw.

For a few years now I have been making photographs partially with the intent of using them as reference sources for my drawings. Last fall I made the top photo in the grouping below at the North River Audubon Sanctuary in Marshfield, MA. I really liked this photo and decided to use it for an experiment.

The first step was to draw the design the size I wanted to make the finished work. The lower image on the left above is the sketchbook drawing done to fit within a 4 inch square. A good size for the Hot Press Watercolor paper I have already cut into pieces. The next step was to trace the design on tracing paper, the image to the right above is my tracing paper pattern. I then used the tracing paper to transfer the design to two different pieces of watercolor paper. I intended to use colored pencils to create one of the drawings and pen and ink with a watercolor wash for the second.

The top image is the finished colored pencil drawing. Obviously I used the photograph as a reference while drawing the berries and background. I didn't put the background details into my original drawing because I felt it would be too confusing and I didn't want any unnecessary pencil lines. I am rather pleased with how it came out, not exactly the photograph but I think it works.

Below is the finished pen and ink watercolor version. Note that when I was transferring the image I created a mirror image of the original design. I decided that it might be fun to do the finish drawing that way so left the error instead of erasing and starting over.

A different look, as the background was done only with watercolor while the leaves and berries in the foreground of the photograph have hard edges defined by the ink. I think I prefer the colored pencil drawing, but would love to hear others opinions. Also the red of the berries isn't quite the right color, I might have been able to do better if I had don't some pretesting of my reds, I will have to remember that for my next painting.

The photo below requires some explaining.

The photograph was made at the Blue Hills Wildlife center where they have on display animals that live in and around the  Blue Hills. All of the animals have been injured in some manner that would be a death sentence for them if they were released. I don't know what the injury was to the Great Horned Owl that lives in the above cage. I think he is a bit on the small size for one thing but whatever it is he is inside the cage and can't get out. Do you see that bit of orange in the upper right, that is a Baltimore Oriole. When I was at the center yesterday afternoon a pair of orioles was flying in and out of the owls cage harassing him. If they weren't flying at him they were perched on the cage or nearby tree branches making what I assume would be alarm calls at him. I must admit to feeling sorry for the owl, after all there is no way he could really get away from them. I have to assume that they have a nest somewhere in the area and are becoming concerned for the safety of their young so want to drive him away.  I can only hope that eventually they gave up the cause and left him alone. Poor guy usually spends his days in his enclosure, avoiding the light and direct view, but I am sure with Orioles dive bombing him it was better to be out in the open where he could somewhat escape their attentions.

Thats it for today, per usual comments or questions are welcome.