Tuesday, February 28, 2012

ATC, Figure and WIP Geese

Above is my latest Artist Trading Card. These are some sort of ornamental cherry blossoms from a photograph I made last spring. I took some liberties with this so the flowers are more a gesture than an accurate reproduction of  the real blossoms. Oddly enough I almost like the scan of this card better than I do the original.. Not sure I have the color of the blossoms quite right, that pink/blue/red is tricky to recreate with pigments.

The card has ink outlines for the flower blossoms and was then painted with watercolor, on cold press watercolor paper. I suppose I should stop working so small and see if I can make a watercolor that works on a larger sheet of paper. But I still feel that I am the rankest beginner with watercolor so am hesitant to work much larger. The ATC's are good practice for me.

Above is an update on my Geese drawing. It still isn't finished, but I have made a fair amount of progress. Background has been darkened, bodies of the geese have been darkened and I have done some work on the foreground though there is still a fair amount of work needing to be done. So far so good, at least with pencil I can correct most errors as I go along.

Above is last nights figure drawing. I think I should have spent a bit more time making Photoshop adjustments with this photo. The blue cast is from sunlight, or rather shadow, since the photo was made outside and the paper was in shadow when I made the photo.  The paper is more cream than blue or even white, and I know I can make a better correction in Photoshop if I take the time.

Hmm, I was working this morning on making some lines lighter and I may have made one the lines around her upper leg a bit too light. Ah well as I usually say there is always next week.

My photograph for today I made yesterday at Ames Nowell State Park, two Canada Geese, one stretching its wings. There is no Journal Spread today. I didn't make it over to Daniel Webster for the first time in months if you don't count my misses while I was in Chicago. I did get a short walk at Ames Nowell (it is closer to me) but didn't bother writing a Journal entry. These weeks of late winter don't have much going on for me to document. There is always something at Daniel Webster for me to write about, birds at the feeders, and the amount of water in the woods and pond, but with parks I visit less often it is harder for me to find something to write about.

March is almost here and with it should be some of the earliest signs of spring. In the meantime that is it for today, comments are always appreciated.

Friday, February 24, 2012

EDM 93 & 195 and another ATC

Another Friday and I have some more Everyday Matters drawings to share. Above is #93 - draw an egg carton. Mine was Styrofoam and I am not thrilled with the final image. I know I could have done better. Egg cartons are really complex objects and I didn't spend the amount of time on it that I probably should have. Still it does look like an egg carton so I guess it is OK.

Above is #195 - draw a fork, my silverware is quite simple, I have always prefer it that way so above is my very simple fork which has more edges and planes then I think I realized before I started drawing it, which of course is the point of the exercise.

Above is another ATC, this one is of Bindweed, pretty flowers related to Morning Glory's, or perhaps I should say it the other way around. The bindweed is the wild plant and a bane of gardeners because its runners will spread underground and the plant above ground will choke out other preferred plants. This one I found growing in a wild area with no one to particularly care if it was there or not.

The background on this card is a heavy stipple leaving some lighter areas to suggest the leaves that were surrounding the flowers. Color is colored pencil, my card stock here is Bristol Board which doesn't take water well.

This next image is a work in progress. I finished the ink work on the sparrow on the right last night and though I would show my progress. I started this drawing before Christmas but have been nervous about doing the inking so have left it sitting while I went on to work on other projects. But I want to finish the center of my border piece so decided to use the sparrows as practice.

I am using old fashioned crow quill pen and India ink for this work. It is a very fine nib so I can put in lots of fine lines. So far it is turning out better than I thought it would a day or so ago.

 Finally a photo made Monday at Daniel Webster:

I don't have any Nature Journal pages to share today. While the weather hasn't been that bad I just wasn't able to motivate myself out to another park this week. I know I am getting tired of the bare winter landscape, and finding something to draw for these pages has gotten to be an effort.

Still there is a certain beauty to the winter landscape even without snow. Above is a photo of a red maple grove at Daniel Webster with the raised walkway in frame. You can just glimpse one of the bridges that cross the river which makes an ox bow around these woods. In the summer this area is like being in a cathedral with green glass windows, in the winter without the leaves the light is more direct.

That is it for today, hope everyone has a great weekend. Per usual comments are always welcome.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Think Spring, even if it is only Feb.

Like many I have been anticipating Spring, something I usually do about this time of year when the cold and dark seem to be lasting forever. Though I have to say our mild winter has allowed me to be out and about a lot more than usual so I don't have the cabin fever I might usually have. Still real spring is about 6 weeks away. I know the equinox is about 4 weeks off, but real spring doesn't arrive here in MA until April, usually, it will be interesting to see when it arrives this year.

Anyway, I have been working on more ATC flowers. Above are a couple of daffodils based on some photos I made in previous springs. Yellow is a tricky color to scan so the above isn't totally accurate color wise, but close enough I think. I used a bit of ink line work in this and then used watercolor for the color, done on cold press watercolor paper.

Above is my Nature Journal spread from my visit yesterday to Daniel Webster. The top image is of the tree stump in the man made pond. Yesterday there was actually a turtle hauled out at the near end. Last week this end of the pond where the stump is was frozen, this week there was only a bit of ice at some of the edges. Last week the reeds were frozen in the ice, this week they were floating on the surface. I am not sure that this turtle is being particularly wise emerging so early but only time will tell.

My second image may be a bit hard to read. It is two Canada Geese. One has its neck stretched out toward the other, and was actually hissing at the other Goose. Not sure what was going on here, the two birds had flown onto the pond together with a few other geese, and for some reason this one was threatening the other. The attack (if it was an attack) went on for several minutes and I never saw the other goose reply in kind. From reading Konrad Lorenz many years ago I believe this neck gesturing is a form of aggression with geese. Course he was raising Greylag geese, but I have seen other Canada Geese make a similar gesture, though usually on land when another goose has gotten in its space. Still for all I know it could be courting behavior and not aggression at all, I wasn't really watching long enough to figure it out.

Above is last nights figure drawing. I am only semi satisfied with it. I feel that I should have spent more time on her face as I have some of the shadows too dark and others not dark enough.

Scott has been wanting to change things up a bit these past couple of weeks, so last week our model had a shirt on, this week she was wearing a hat, shoes, fishnet leggings and a short bed jacket, sort of like a bolero jacket. The hat and the jacket were both red, almost making me wish I was painting like many of the other artists.

One last image:

A photograph I made yesterday at Daniel Webster, it is a view of the river with some grasses that grow along the shore line, blue sky, and a stand of winter bare trees.

That is it for today. I need to spend some more time working on my Geese drawing, and also on a pen and ink piece, maybe next update. In the meantime comments are always welcome, and I want to wish a happy Fat Tuesday to all.

Friday, February 17, 2012

EDM's 192, 207 plus other works

I have been working on a couple of major projects these past few days, so knowing I wasn't going to have much for today's update I pulled out the EDM list and made a couple of drawings last night. The drawing above is EDM #192 Draw something that floats.

The drawing is of a blown glass float that in a larger size would have been used to keep nets afloat. Mine, which I purchased back when I was in High School, is a smaller decorative version. I keep it in a glass bowl with some marbles, more small floats and some polished stones.

The second drawing above is for EDM #207 Draw a Seashell. I am one of those people who if you put me on a beach will automatically become a beachcomber. I collect seashells, beach glass, and even small rocks or feathers. Not entirely a good thing because I have more shells at home than I really know what to do with, but in this case it meant I didn't have to search very hard to come up with a shell to draw.

I am not sure what kind of shell this is, some sort of sea snail, it is dark brown in spots and has a fairly heavy shell wall. Not really very pretty but it was fun to draw.

The image above is one of the major works I am busy working on. It is a drawing on Stonehenge paper with graphite from a photo I made at Daniel Webster of three Canada Geese. Obviously there is still a lot of work to be done, but I have made some progress

The next image is a spread from my Nature Journal from a visit to Daniel Webster last Monday. The drawing is of a bird house that is out in the woods. The structure is fairly large with a large opening for the bird who will take up residence. I have a feeling it is for owls but I really don't know for sure. I also have no clue if it is occupied. I fear I was bad and walked off the path to make the photo I used as reference for the above drawing. But at this time of year I am sure I wasn't disturbing any of the birds or animals who live there, come spring I wouldn't have strayed.

One last image:

I know the above photo isn't really very good my excuse is that I was inside the observation building watching the birds at the bird feeders and trying to make some reference photographs when I noticed a shadow swooping in and all the small birds scattering. When I looked up from the camera I realized that all of the small birds were gone then I noticed this one sitting on the fence. I didn't dare go outside to photograph it, I knew it would just fly off so I did the best I could from inside.

Obviously it is a hawk, and I believe one of the Accipiters, meaning it is either a Sharp-shinned Hawk,  or a Cooper's Hawk. According to my bird book the two are a bit hard to tell apart, with one having a more squared tail tip. Whichever, I was thrilled to see it, and sort of sorry that it didn't manage to catch its late lunch. But then if it had caught a bird I may not have been able to make any photos so I guess I am not too sorry.

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

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

ATC, Nature Journal and a figure

I finished another ATC card, The flower is a cosmos which I photographed last summer. Done on 140lb cold press watercolor paper, I outlined the flower with ink and then used watercolor to fill in.

Below is a Nature Journal page from my visit to Moose Hill MA Audubon Sanctuary in Sharon, MA. last week.

This isn't a sanctuary I visit very often which is a bit odd since it is closer to me than many of the others I more frequently visit. But this site is mainly woods and fields including a working farm with not a lot of open water, it is water I seem to be attracted to and is the main feature of the sites I visit most often.

The top image  in the journal is of a Sugar Maple tree next to a stone wall. This tree has been tapped to collect sap. Later the sanctuary will have a public Sugar Off day to boil the sap down to either maple syrup or sugar. I did walk by the shed where they have cords of wood stacked waiting for the event.

The lower image is of a wisteria seed pod. One of the trees in the sanctuary is the prop for an old wisteria vine. I have seen this in bloom in past years and it is really quite beautiful. Probably not very good for the tree in the long term but so far both seem to be doing well. The pods aren't very long about 4 inches and are fuzzy on the outside.

Above is last nights figure drawing. It was an interesting pose though the model found it difficult to hold, so I wasn't able to get some of the elements as well defined as I would have liked. Namely the hand that is reaching down onto her leg. Still I think it works. We rarely have a pose where the model is leaning forward like she was last night, so it was sort of fun to draw.

My last image is a photograph I made at Moose Hill. The shed behind the trees is really for a colony of bats to have a home, though I am sure they use the shed for storage of other items used on the property. The 2 trees in the center of the photo are Sugar Maples as you can tell by the buckets attached to the trees to collect sap. These are huge trees, I have to wonder just how old they are, but the member who was at the center when I returned didn't know when I asked her. I would guess about 300 200 years, but of course I may be wrong. Still this land has been farmed for probably at least that long so it is possible. Sugar Maples would have been highly prized by the farmer who owned the land, and might even have been planted.

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

Friday, February 10, 2012

ATC's and a Nature Journal Spread

Not a lot of work to show today. A couple of ATC's that I just finished. Since about this time last year I haven't been in the mood to make any of these small works of art. I did cut several cards in December and actually took them with me to Chicago, but never seemed to get around to working with them.

I am working on a couple of larger projects that are going to take time to finish and felt the need for a break so these are the results.

Top card is Tansy drawn and painted with pen and ink and watercolor from a photo I made last summer. Yellows for some reason don't always scan correctly, so that darker yellow in the image above doesn't look as dark in real life. The rest of the colors are good. Done on a fine surface 140wt cold press water color paper.

The image above is a mask. This drawing was done based on a doodle I made in my sketchbook. Mostly ink work with an overlay of colored pencil. I wanted a range of colors and pencil was the easiest way to accomplish that, pure fantasy.  Not sure if the stock for this was hot press watercolor paper or Bristol board, but a smooth 140wt paper either way.

Next is the Journal spread from my Monday's visit to Daniel Webster.

Top image is of a Downy Woodpecker, male, feeding at the suet feeder. There wasn't much suet left, they really need to replace it for the nuthatches and woodpeckers, but he seemed to be finding something. You can tell it is a male from the red spot on the back of its head. Females don't have it, they are just black and white, I used colored pencil to add that spot of color. I love how they bend their tails and use it to brace themselves at the feeder.

Bottom image is the dead tree trunk in the man-made pond. Monday it was frozen in ice with some reeds/grass stems that had been blown up against it also frozen in the ice. Water level in the pond is quite high, so the trunk might even be almost floating - when there isn't any ice that is.

Photo above is from Daniel Webster and shows the Bridge over the river that flows through the property. In the summer the grasses in the bottom of the photo obstruct this view, but at this point in the winter they have been beaten down enough so I could see the bridge from this point on the path. The stand of trees behind the bridge are mostly red maples.

Though this has been a mild winter I am beginning to look forward to March with hopefully some signs of spring.

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

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Early Valentine, Nature Journal and Figure

I was just fooling around in the sketchbook the other evening, thinking I should do something with hearts since it will soon be valentine's day. Not that I send anyone a valentine, I don't but hearts are fun to play with so... I used pen for the lines and the black and added colored pencil for the red hearts. To add text I scanned the page and used Adobe Illustrator. I should play with this some more, the background is a bit dirty and while I did a little cleanup it wasn't quite enough. Also I am not sure about the font I used, or the size of the text.  But it was fun to play with so that is about all I can ask for sometimes.

Below is a Nature Journal page from a visit to Massasoit State Park in East Taunton, MA.

Top sketch is just some dried seed heads/flowers I found in the Spillway area of the park. I am not even sure what plant they are from, something that flowered in the fall, but other than that I don't know.

I am afraid the bottom image is a bit hard for the viewer to read. It is an open clam shell. I found this sitting on top of pine needles at the tip of a spit of land that extended out into Lake Rico. I have no clue how it got there or actually where it is from. Lake Rico is a fresh water lake, and the ocean is really miles away. I did see some seagulls on the lake while I was there, and there are fresh water clams so, who knows. I suppose it is possible that it was left by people, but the land wasn't near a picnic area, and really while it has been warm for this time of year it still hasn't been picnic weather, besides there was only the one.

I feel that part of the purpose of my Journal is for me to document the oddities I come across in my walks so here is another one to puzzle over.

Above is last nights figure drawing. I am not happy with it, though it didn't turn out to be quite the disaster I thought it was going to be at one point.

The young woman who was our model last night is really lovely, though fairly slender, with almost a boyish figure. I am finding this type of figure very difficult to draw. I think I have her legs too long, but I struggled over her face for so long that I fear I neglected the lower section of the drawing.

Back to my theme of birds. Below find a couple of photos I made at our local Park here in Brockton.

A seagull flying against the sky.  During the winter we get quite a flock of gulls that winter over in the park. People feed the geese and the gulls get their share, mostly the gulls are still fairly young and perfectly happy to be freeloaders.

I made this photo as the sun was starting to set. It shows a flock of geese flying off to a different resting spot for the night.

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

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Deer and More Birds

A change of pace for the lead drawing today. Last week while at Trailside Museum I had photographed one of the two Doe's they have on exhibit. This week I drew from one of the photographs, a close up of a head. Had to do a few restarts and erasures to get the overall shape right but I rather like the end results. She does look sweet doesn't she? Too bad the deer are so destructive to the forests. In winter they will strip bark from larger trees and eat smaller saplings. Not good for the long term health of the forest.

When was the last time you watched Bambi? If you get the change to watch it pay attention to the way the animals move. The Disney animators studied live animals to use as reference, and in the winter scene you can see Bambi's mother stripping bark from a tree. The animated animals may talk, but they also move and behave mostly like real animals.

OK, so far I have 3 sketches as possibles to use as the center of my stipple border piece. Looking for input here, which one do you the viewer like the best, number 1 my starting design, number 2, my first modified design or number 3 my last modification done after showing the first two to the group at the Live Model session on Monday.

Thank heaven's for Photoshop, at least I didn't actually have to redraw everything, though I could have used tracing paper and done almost the same thing. I should also thank all of the Instructors at Massasoit who trained me to use preliminary drawings to check my compositions. I think that is probably one of most important aspects of formal instruction and probably the least appreciated by the students. The kids hate doing preliminary drawings, but truth be told the initial design impulse isn't usually the best so they are critical to the evolution of a mature artist.

Below is my Nature Journal spread from Monday's visit to Daniel Webster.

Back to my bird drawing for this page. Top drawing is a Gold Finch at one of the sanctuary feeders. I have been seeing the finches off and on all winter either at the feeders or even out in the woods, but  they have been a very pale yellow. The one Monday was a bit brighter but still not in full summer breeding plumage. The black bars on the wings are the give away.

Bottom drawing is another Canada Goose. The geese were back in droves on Monday, feeding in the fields and drinking water from the open ponds. This one was coming in for a landing but at the same time honking at its friends. I just liked the lines and shape in my photograph so used it as my second image in the pages.

Photographs today are more birds, above a trio of Canada Geese. I was using the new lens, so wasn't too close to the birds. I like how the 3 birds create a visual triangle. Image is only slightly cropped to remove some houses from the top of the photo.

I am not quite sure what this pole with cross bar is for/from. The crows love to perch on it, and Monday I made several photographs of this one crow. This is my favorite out of the group.

That is it for today, per usual comments are always appreciated. Let me know which design you prefer, course the end drawing will be ultimately my choice but I am open to input.