Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A couple of birds, a figure and a Nature Journal

I have been in the mood to draw birds lately. So above is a small sketch of a female mallard. She is one of the birds in the photograph in my last post. She had the look of a disinterested observer to the 2 males tussling, but I am not so sure. Actually I was really attracted to the patterns on her feathers. The females may not have the brilliant color of the males but I think in their own way they are just as beautiful.

For my next subject I used a photograph I made of one of the Red Tail Hawks on exhibit at the Trailside Museum. I have a feeling she injured her other foot which is why only one is visible on her perch. I think this is a female since she was larger than the other bird in the cage. Not sure I did her justice, but not too bad either.

Below is my Nature Journal spread from a visit to Borderland State Park last week.

More dog walkers and dogs this for this entry. I should really bring a checklist of breeds when I walk at Borderland, I see so many different varieties of dogs with their owners. The smaller dog to the right was I believe a miniature collie, and the woman was walking a golden retriever. The challenge with these drawings is to get the woods to have the right feeling and look. And believe me it is a challenge.

The sketch on the bottom of the page is of the needles of an Eastern Red Cedar. Their "leaves" are finer than the Northern White Cedar, and they have what look like berries instead of miniature pine cones. The bark/trunk is also very distinctive. At some point I will start drawing tree trunks to illustrate the look of various barks. Probably not until spring when I will have leaves to help identify the trees.

Last nights figure drawing. I have mixed feelings abut this one. It is OK but I wish I had spent more time on the face and head. Ah well there is always next week.

We did have a good crowd for the session which was good and bad. The good was more people the bad is that 2 were young women who smoke. Can I say here I hate the smell of cigarette smoke and the older I get the more I hate it. UGH, I have no clue why young people start smoking now a days, how they can afford it is a complete mystery to me.

The above is a photograph from my walk at Borderland. This is the largest spillway in the park and as you can see there is plenty of water flowing over it. While we haven't had a lot of snow this winter we have been having rain so the lakes are full.

That is it for today. Next time I will share images that I am working on as the center for the border I finished a few weeks ago. In the meantime comments are always welcome.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Doodle, EDM 89, a Nature Journal Spread

I have been doing a lot of doodling lately not being able to settle on a subject for a major work. A lot of my play has been with a brown ink pen, but those doodles really aren't ready for prime time, or my blog so instead you get another flower. This one has a kind of bee flying around it. Done in pencil then I added color again with the Pitt pens. I have to admit I am feeling the lack of selection in my Pitt pen colors. I know they come in more colors, looks like I need to invest in a few more. They don't really blend on the paper, but it is still fun to mix them up a bit.

My other go to when I can't seem to settle on a large project is the EDM list. Today's drawing is for EDM #89 - Draw a Button or Buttons. I have a small stash of buttons and selected 3 of them for this drawing. I admit that I was selective, wanting different shapes and sizes but nothing too complex.

Next another spread from my Nature Journal.

Wednesday it was nice enough for me to venture out. I had another task I needed to accomplish so I didn't want to go too far. When I want someplace fairly easy to get to I tend to head toward the Blue Hill Reservation and in this case the Trailside Museum.

Since it was a nice day all of the animals seemed to be out and about in their cages/pens. The otter was swimming, the Great Horned Owl was actually visible, the two Red Tail Hawks were both in the center of their cage etc. There was even a small flock of mallard ducks at the pond.

The museum has a Gum Ball machine filled with duck food that visitors can purchase for the ducks. I fed them about a handful then wandered off to make photos in other areas. When I came back I found these two males in a tussle. Not sure if it was over the females or food. Either way I don't usually see mallards being so aggressive toward each other, so that became my subject for the Journal.

Below is my source photo for the drawing and another of a male mallard.

As you can see they were really going at it. But isn't the male coloring gorgeous. All the ducks seem dressed in their best, even the patterns on the female feathers are lovely. I did see another pair of mallards courting and mating on the pond so this fight may have been over a female, with 2 other males watching from the sidelines.

The above photo shows a couple of males. Look at the tail feathers on the one in the center, prior to Wednesday I didn't realize that those black feathers actually curl up, I just thought the black and white pattern I saw from a distance was multicolored tail feathers. In reality the upper tail feathers are black and the lower side feathers are white and it is perspective that can make them look somewhat like a checkerboard.

Photos were both made with the new lens. Hopefully I am getting a handle on how to use it.

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A mixture of images

A couple of sketches to start today's update. Above is another Every Day Matters drawing. This one is for number 218: Draw a Knife. It shows one of my heavy kitchen knives that I purchased way back when I set up housekeeping for myself in my early 20's. I splurged a bit and purchased good knives. Obviously a good investment as I still have them and use them, though I admit that I haven't used this one all that much.

The sketchbook challenge for January is Doodles and oddly enough I have had a hard time with it. Finally I managed the above drawing of some tulips in a vase. Color was done with my Pitt pens. Not sure this is really a doodle but it will have to do. I certainly didn't spend a lot of time on it.

Below is my figure drawing from last night:

I know it looks blue, that is because I made the photograph outside in the shade and when I lighten the image in Photoshop the shadow turned blue. I tried to adjust it a bit and ended up with this. Oh well you can  see the original drawing and since I am not working in color I decided to not sweat the color shift.

The drawing turned out better than I expected it would at the one hour point. We tend to take breaks about every hour so the model can get out of pose and recover a bit before resuming. Gives us artists a chance to take a break and evaluate the work in progress so necessary corrections can be made. Not going to tell you what all I corrected but the end result is something I am fairly happy with.

Below is my Journal page from yesterday's visit to Daniel Webster:

We had snow here last week and over the weekend. our first snow falls for the new year. Not all that much actually fell about 4 or 5 inches, maybe a total of 6 inches in some areas around me. The paths at Daniel Webster were mostly still covered in snow and I slipped and slid my way through the sanctuary yesterday afternoon. All the sliding was because it really warmed up yesterday - into the 40's and the snow was melting underfoot.

The drawings in the journal are prints I saw in the snow. The top prints are a Canada Goose. And yes they really do have a pigeon toed walk. The middle is probably a deer and the bottom I am not sure of, I think either a fox or a raccoon. It was too large and not quite the right shape to be a squirrel or chipmunk.

Next a couple of snow photos to share.

The image above is actually from Borderland State Park in Easton and made last Friday. I went out to the park to walk and make some photos, leaving the Journal at home. I knew it was a bit too cold for me to want to make notes. Just as well, walking took most of my energy and attention, any extra I had I used making a few photographs. The image above shows the shadows of tree trunks across the snow marked by a passing deer. The other marks in the snow were caused by snow falling out of the trees.

Above is a photo I made yesterday at Daniel Webster. It shows seed pods against the snow at the edge of the man made pond. I believe these are the seed pods for the mallows that were blooming last fall.

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

Friday, January 20, 2012

Red Caps, and a Nature Journal

Red Caps

A short post today, I don't have a lot of images to share. I did finish the pen and ink Zentangle type drawing I started last week. I think it is done, when I finished the inking part I added just a little bit of color to the, hmm well they are sort of mushrooms, but not quite. Anyway I wanted to pull the viewers eye to that section of the drawing so I added some color using watercolor pencils. I have thought about going in and adding more color to other areas but I rather think I won't. I feel doing so would reduce the impact of this current limited use, and I rather like the black and white contrast of the rest of the patterns.

I did get out Wed. to a MA Audubon site, in this case Stony Brook.

I was playing with the new lens, it and I aren't totally getting along. I am not sure if it is me, the lens or the camera but photos aren't as clear as I expected. Could be totally user error and I understand that, so I will keep working on it.

The day was chilly (well comparatively) in the mid 30's, but it was sunny so it was really a lovely day to visit the sanctuary.

Drawings, the top drawing is of a red squirrel on a stone wall. It was leaving the bird feeder area having been scrounging for dropped seeds under the feeder. Stony Brook has mainly red squirrels. They are a bit smaller than our standard grey squirrels, but actually a bit more territorial and feisty. It is my understanding that they will drive the grey squirrels out of what they consider their territory.

Bottom drawing is of a bush out in the pond area that has both seed pods (open) and catkins on the branch. I am sure the catkins erupted during our warm November/December, but they are out now and will stay until spring. What impact that will have on next years growth for the bush I have no clue, but I am trying to document these issue when I see them.

Below is one photo from my visit that I sort of like:

The swans were on the mill pond Wed. one swimming in open water and the other standing on the ice's edge. The surrounding ponds all had even less open water (I believe they are much more shallow) so the swans had made the move to this location.

That is it for today. I have been busy sewing not drawing these past few days, but the project isn't ready to show off. Believe me that when it is I will. In the meantime comments are always welcome.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Some Computer Art, a Journal Page and a Figure

I don't usually make a lot of computer art. Obviously when I was taking Graphic Design classes everything had to be done on the computer, but for the past year or so I have been focusing on my drawn (as in pencil/pen and paper) art. Still for Christmas this year I found myself wanting some new tags for my gift wrapping but didn't have either the time or inspiration to work on them at that time. Since I have been home from my Christmas holidays I have challenged myself to come up with some new tag designs for next year.

These first two images are what I have come up with so far. Any critiques, comments or suggestions would be welcome. Both have been done in Adobe Illustrator. It has been interesting trying to remember my skills in that program, but I think I have managed fairly well. The snowflakes were esp. fun to create. Though I have to admit I was getting a bit tired of the process by the time I did the fifth one so I cheated and just reused one for the background snowflake.

This design was a bit more straight forward, except for the text on path, which took me a bit to remember how to do. Then felt somewhat the idiot because it is really very easy in Illustrator, Corel Draw is the program where it was a pia to put text on a path. .

Above is my journal page from yesterday's visit to Daniel Webster in Marshfield. The top drawing is of a Turtle Dove that I saw in the woods. Usually I only see the turtle doves around the feeders, and there they are mostly on the ground. So to see one in a tree in the woods was unusual, well for me.

The lower sketch is of some bushes over by the River. I drew them because I have drawn them before, but last time there was a nest still in among the branches. Yesterday I noticed the nest was gone. Not quite sure when it vanished. I am sometimes not as observant as I would like to be. But I think it probably happened over the weekend when we had some very strong winds.

Above is last nights figure drawing. The model was almost in a pin-up pose. I have to say that I found this pose much more satisfactory to draw than last weeks. Course that is partly my own fault, I should have moved last week for a better view.

Below are a couple of photographs I want to share:

The above photo was made in Blue Hills Reservation Saturday. It shows what is left of the old Route 128 two lane roadway. The current Route 128 is a 6 lane (or more) limited access highway that circles Boston and was mainly built back in the 1950's. When they built the new highway this stretch of road was abandoned and the land it is on was made part of the Blue Hills Reservation. A trade I am sure for the land they took for the larger highway. I didn't quite follow it to the end of pavement, but some other day I will.

It was a bit strange walking this road and knowing that I wouldn't see any cars on it, just other walkers. It is in surprisingly good shape for a road that has been unused for so long. But notice that the trees have grown right at the blacktops edge, something that would never happen on an in-use road.

The image above is from Daniel Webster made yesterday on my walk, I just like the colors and the interplay of light and shadow.

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

Friday, January 13, 2012

An Unusual Use for Fabric

A member of the Quilt Art List (Jane Davila) posted a message to the group yesterday about her unusual use of fabric and asked if anyone else had used fabric in  a non-traditional way. I wanted to wave my hand and say I have, I have. But the list doesn't allow images to be included in messages and I hadn't done the blog update yet so I had no way to show them what I have been up to. I had to let the chance slip away. Today I am posted my unusual use of fabric. By the way you can click on Jane's name to see what she made, something much more elaborate.

I know the average person would have no need for such a large pencil holder, but with the gift at Christmas of some Faber Castell Polychroms I needed more storage. Can I say that I have a lot of colored pencils? Not all of the pencils in the holder are Polychroms, in fact most are my old Venus pencils, but I still have room for more Polychroms as I manage to acquire them. Since I need to order them from Dick Blick it will probably be a while.

I made my first pencil holder, hmm, last summer or spring I think. But it is now packed with pencils so I needed this new one for the new pencils.. The tubes are paper towel rolls that have been cut into sections. I first cover them with fabric using white school glue. Then I painted a layer of Gel Medium over the fabric, to add support and protect the fabric. Letting all that dry I hot glued the tubes together and then hot glued the tube unit to a cut to shape base of tag board. I use the shorter tubes for pencils that are getting a bit short and the longer tubes for my newish pencils. Works for me.

The above isn't finished yet, but I thought you might like to see what I have been working on. I should be drawing the center of my stipple border piece, but instead I have been doodling and working on the above. It is sort of another Zentangle, and at this point I have no clue if I will add color or not, just waiting to see how it develops.

Wednesday was a lovely sunny day, a bit cool but not that cold so I took advantage and made my first visit to Borderland State Park for the year. Most of the ponds had ice on them, but they weren't totally iced over.  We just had about a day and a half of rain so there is probably even less ice today.

Drawings are at the top some American Beech leaves. For some reason some Beech trees will retain their brown leaves through winter and into spring when the new leaves will finally force the old ones to fall. Wednesday I happened across a tree that still had a lot of leaves and those leaves were lit by the sun, so I made a photo and used the photo as reference for the drawing. I decided it was a bit hard to identify what I had drawn so I added some color to help separate the leaves from the back ground.

The bottom drawing is from a photo I made of  a pair of mallards swimming on one of the ponds with the background of bushes and trees. For this drawing I concentrated on translating the darks and lights in the photo to paper. I think it works, but it is sort of tricky to do so will have to think about this process a bit more.

Final image is the photo of the Beech leaves I made:

The above is by no means the first photo I have made of beech leaves, I love the color of them, esp. when contrasted by a dark background.

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

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Journal Pages, Chicago, Nature and a figure dwg.

I have managed, in the past couple of days, to finish another page in my Chicago Journal. This one is based on a photograph I made at Logan Airport just prior to my departure, it is the plane at the gate.

Now I have to decide what to draw next. I would like something representing O'hare Airport the other end of my flight. But I had the camera packed away and didn't make any more photographs until the next day while I was in Chicago. Bother, I really would like to have more of a travel narrative here. Well I will just have to do some Google Image searches and see what I can find, hopefully something of the airport or lacking that the Blue Line terminal at the airport.

Above is another page from my Nature Journal. Yesterday I re-visited Daniel Webster in Marshfield to walk and check out the state of things. Sketches are from photos I made. Top shows some European White Birch with Birch polypore fungus growing out of the trunks. The trees are dead, though they still have some branches and are still standing. From what I have read the fungus will so weaken these trunks that a good wind storm will probably knock them over sometime next summer something else for me to pay attention to on my walks.

The bottom image is of a squirrel in the bird feeder area. It was scrounging for seeds around the base of one of the feeders. Something caught its attention and it sat up for just a moment. I caught that moment on camera so made this drawing. The background is a mill stone that they have in the feeder area. Not quite sure why the stone is there, decoration I guess, as far as I know there was no mill on this property.

Below is my figure drawing from last night:

I think I should have shifted position last night. I ended up with another profile view of the model's face and foreshortened leg positions. Not to mention that the couch looks lopsided because of the pile of stuff at one end for the model to lean against. Not the most graceful composition from where I was sitting. But by the time I realized the above I was already too far into the drawing to want to move. Will have to pay more attention to my positioning next week.

Below are a couple of photographs from yesterday's visit to Daniel Webster.

I made a couple of photos of the white birch trees with the fungus, I used the other as my reference for my drawing, but I rather liked this one. Blue sky, white/black trunks and golden/brown grasses, might be an interesting pallet for a painting.

A view of the man made pond with a mostly frozen surface and some Canada Geese taking off. The geese actually run on the ice for their take offs, though I am not entirely sure the photo shows that well.

That is it for today. Per usual comments are welcome, hopefully now that I am back on my regular update schedule I will be able to maintain it.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Some EDM Sketchs and a Journal Page

Can I admit to not liking January? The let down after the Christmas Holidays, the short hours of daylight all combine to making me feel a bit down, but restless at the same time. The end result is that I end up spending time on the computer, reading, watching TV etc, but not drawing or working on my art.

I have been working on the stipple piece I posted in my last update but since I decided I needed to darken the background in the border I have been making no visible progress with that drawing. So for lack of any thing else to post on the blog I decided to go to the list of Every Day Matters ideas and make a couple of sketches.

Above is my take on #26 - Draw anything you like, if you want to draw a vegetable that is fine too. I didn't want to draw a vegetable, so instead I drew one of my Ty Beanie Baby's. This little one has lost its tag so I don't know what its name is supposed to be. Doesn't really matter of course, I just like to know these things.

Above is another EDM sketch, this one was for #8 - draw a watch. I haven't been wearing a watch for over a year now. If I need the time and I am out and about I check my cell phone or the car clock, but I still have this one. The drawing isn't wonderful I found myself getting impatient with all the metal details, but it gives you an idea of what it looks like.

Below is a Nature Journal spread from a visit to Ames Nowell State Park on Friday.

Top sketch is some dried stems and empty seed pods of a Knapp Weed plant. The bottom sketch is of a young woman walking her bull dog in the Park. I may go back into the bottom drawing and darken up the background behind her, as it stands it feels like it is lacking something.

I am finding it hard to settle into working on drawings this past week or so. I just want them done so I can move onto something else. Not my usual mode of working, so I am not pleased but not sure what to do about it. I feel sure that it is just a phase and really all I need to do is keep plugging away at something art related and eventually I will get back into my stride. At least I hope so. In the meantime my drawings may have an unfinished look to them because I have gotten impatient and want them done before they really are.

Last for today I have a couple of photographs I made at Ames Nowell.

I was using my new lens (55-250mm) for both of these, I know the above picture doesn't look like much of a close up, but really the swans were quite far away from me, and would have been just white dots with my older lens. The lake had ice around the edges and the swans were swimming in one of the few open areas left. After the past couple of days I am sure there is less ice on the lake then there was Friday so the swans probably have more swimming space.

This is some bushes with seeds that I passed in a clearing beside the path at one point, you can catch a glimpse of the lake off in the distance. I am discovering with this lens I can't be as close to the object I am photographing as I am used to being with my original lens. I can see that I still have a bit of a learning curve with it. Still I rather like both of these photos so all is not lost.

Thanks for looking, per usual comments are always welcome.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Border Finished, Journal Page and new Figure

It is finished, well, more or less finished, I will be adding more dots over the next several days to even out areas that bother me as I look at it, but I am calling it done.

After transferring the border lines with tracing paper and pencil I outlined the ribbon and then stippled the background with a 3x0 technical pen. Lots of little dots create the grayish background. My nephew asked me how many dots, I told him I have no clue, and I don't, I just know there are a lot of them.

I enjoy designing borders as you may have noticed if you have been following my blog for a while. The mandalas that I designed a couple of years ago were really just a series of borders only circular instead of straight. Anyway above is my most recent border project. Now for the challenge of designing what goes in the middle. I have a couple of ideas and will have to work with both of them to see which I prefer so it may be a while before I actually finish this piece. In the meantime I though you might like to see what I have been working on.

Since I am again home in MA. I was able to visit one of my nature sanctuaries on Monday, below are the pages from that visit.

I went to my normal Monday location, Daniel Webster in Marshfield, MA. The weather during my vacation was obviously warm. I say obviously because all of the ice I saw on my previous visit was melted on Monday. Since today's temp. is well below freezing it will be interesting to see how much ice I see on my next walk.

The top image above shows a couple of European White Birch stumps that are beside the raised walk way in one of the wooded area's of the sanctuary. Apparently someone had lost a cap, and another someone had placed it over the top of one of the stumps waiting for its owner to return and claim it. I couldn't resist using my new Faber Castel Polychrome pencils to add some color to this drawing.

The bottom drawing is of a deer I saw in the Apple Orchard area. A doe who was moving away from me as I approached on the path. She didn't run but she didn't really hang around either. I did sort of manage a couple of photos, but as you can see she was mainly hidden from me by the tall grasses and tree branches. Not the best view, but one I had to make do with.

Below is my Figure Drawing from Monday Night.

It was good to get back to my drawing sessions. Though I am not sure this drawing is totally successful. I fear the almost 2 weeks I spent away didn't help my skills any. Ah well thankfully there is always next week when I hope to do better. In my defense this pose isn't the easiest to draw, slumped body, draped fabric that is never the same twice and a foreshortened leg. This drawing will not be going on my favorites list that is for sure.

Below is a photograph I made Monday at Daniel Webster.

A view of the brown grasses contrasting with some pine trees, distant leafless trees, and a blue sky with a few clouds. A bit bleak, but I also think full of possibilities, with just a hint of a brighter green here and there.

Not a long post today, but per usual comments are welcome.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year and Updates

First I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year for 2012, may it be a year of good health, friends and events.

Above is a sketch I made yesterday while waiting for it to be time for me to leave my Sisters for the airport. It is a Western Tarsier from a photograph in the November issue of National Geographic. I love the Canon ads in National Geographic and have often used them as reference for practice drawings. The little guy looks like he was smiling at the camera, I know not likely but it is cute.

Last week my sister and I visited a couple of Chicago's excellent Museums. The image below is from the Chicago Art Institute.

The images are of three quilts that were on exhibit in the the recently renovated Fiber/Textile area. Last year they had tapestries, this year the space was devoted to early american textiles. The Textiles were mostly woven bedspreads but the exhibit did include a few of the Museum's early American (prior to 1840) quilts. All three quilts in my image were beautifully quilted. I love the non standard borders on the Blazing Star quilt, and the half block edging on the blue and white quilt. Isn't it too bad that we can't ask the maker why she used half blocks for both the top and left side prior to adding the border of flying geese I don't know many modern quilters who would do that.

The exhibit also included a beautiful white on white quilt that had trapunto done in some of the quilting designs. The three quilts I photographed were the ones I liked best. The actual photos aren't wonderful, the gallery has fairly low lighting and I didn't use a flash so the images aren't as crisp as I would have preferred.  The exhibit also included some hat veils and worked samplers, most beautiful and all interesting to see.

We also took a day to visit the Chicago Natural History Museum.

The museum this year had a special exhibit on Whales that was most interesting. Photographs were not allowed in the special exhibit so you will just have to take my word for it. We also visited the Egyptian exhibit but to be honest I was feeling a bit claustrophobic by then so we didn't stay long. The museum was extremely crowded, which made it difficult to spend much time viewing items on display. I sort of wished we had been able to visit before Christmas but that wasn't possible.

The above photo shows Sue, the museum's famous Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton.

Below is a Nature Journal page from my visit to Daniel Webster the day before I left for Chicago.

Daniel Webster as a former farm has lots of open grassy areas. The sketches this week are the seed heads of three different grasses. The middle grass grows in a somewhat marshy area and is fairly tall, over 3 feet. The other two were growing in more typical farm land areas and are shorter.

The day of my visit was chilly, we had had a cold weekend so there was ice edging the ponds and even at the edges of the River. The photograph below shows the river lined with trees and some ice.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome, and I hope to get back to my regular update schedule now that I am back home from vacation.