Saturday, March 31, 2012

Alphabet Soup with pen and ink

I have a couple of images with letters in their titles today. Above is another of my Artist Trading Cards (ATC) done with watercolor on cold press watercolor paper. I am not sure what these flowers are, they were growing on a medium sized bush in the Houghton's Pond area in The Blue Hills Reservation last year. I loved the color of the flowers so made several reference photographs.

They were fun to paint. Actually that is not entirely true, I have sort of a love hate relationship with watercolor. I am usually happy with my final results but don't always enjoy the process, and tend to put off starting a painting until I give myself an extra push. Usually the motivation is that I need something for the Bog so I  had better get at it. Mind you I know ahead of time that a drawing will end up as a watercolor, after all I am using watercolor paper, but I seem to need that extra push to actually get to the painting.

Next group of letters is the EDM (Everyday Matters) drawing above. This drawing was done for Item number 275: Draw a tube of toothpaste. My tube is almost empty so was a bit more of a challenge then I think a brand new tube would be. It was fun to try and show the bends and shadows on this one.

Above is a pen and ink drawing from a WetCanvas forum challenge photo. I downloaded the photograph months ago, and to be honest I am not even sure at this point which forum the photo was posted in (Colored Pencil, Pen and Ink or Drawing). It was posted as one of either a weekly or monthly challenge to members to draw.

For you purists out there I just drew this in my sketchbook with ink, no pencil references/guides at all. Not too bad, though the bowl isn't totally round and the basil is a bit ragged. The veggies look like the ingredients for an Italian eggplant dish, yummy if you like eggplant (which I don't). Drawn with a micron 01 pen. I have decided that I need to do more pen only studies since I have reach a point with my drawing skills that this is feasible. Meaning what I draw will be recognizable, instead of a mess of corrections.

I am really working on another major piece, meaning it is going to take hours and hours of work to finish, and did all the images I am posting today as breaks between working on it. My wrist gets a bit sore otherwise as it is a stipple work of the border design I posted in the last blog entry. It is coming along well so far, but is slow going, I will probably post an update next Tuesday. 

One last image, this photograph was made last Monday prior to some cold (below freezing) weather moving in and bringing a change from sunny days to cloudy ones with spatters of rain. Actually though we all enjoyed the warmth of over a week ago, this weather is more typical March weather and better for the forests, we need the rain, and it is really much too early for everything to think it is spring and bloom. But isn't this forsythia cheerful, esp against a blue sky.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Nature Journal, WIP, and Figure

I don't usually head a post with my Nature Journal image, but I don't really have anything else today, and I rather like how the top drawing came out. Yesterday I was off for my weekly visit to Daniel Webster Sanctuary. Had a great visit, though I didn't get many good photographs. Oh well, saw a new bird for me yesterday a Green Wing Teal. They were on the man made pond, but spent most of their time swimming and feeding in the middle section. Too far for me to be able to make any good photographs, and really almost too far for me to ID the birds with my binoculars. Still eventually one got close enough to really ID. These are smallish ducks, well smaller than the mallards and the male is quite lovely. I think there were about 3 pairs on the pond yesterday most likely a pit stop on their migration north to Canada.

The other bird I saw was a Great Blue Heron, it flew away from the river area as I was approaching. I did manage a couple of photographs, but there isn't much more than an grey blur to see so I won't subject you to one. I didn't see it, but was informed that the Osprey is back on its nest. Next visit I will have to spend more time out at Fox Hill to see if I can observe it. Unfortunately the nest stand is much too far for me to be able to photograph it so don't expect any photos.

Drawings from yesterday are top: a nuthatch walking down a tree trunk, and bottom: some of the blooms on a weeping willow that I found in the next door cemetery.

Above is the layout sketch for the border I have been working on, so far so good, and I have actually started the first phase of the transfer to good paper (Stonehenge) by tracing the design onto tracing paper. I only needed to draw one corner as I will use it for the other 3, and only need the one side and bottom for the same reason. I intend to make this another stipple work.

Above is a photo of last nights figure drawing. I am trying to work larger and having some issues getting all the proportions correct. So not sure about hands and feet here. I apologize for the poor quality of the image. We are having a typical March day here, sunny but very chilly and windy, too windy for me to be able to get a really good photo outside, and cold enough I don't want to stay out and try for better. Anyway it is good enough to give you an idea of how it went last night.

Above is a photograph I made yesterday at Daniel Webster and is a close up of the blooms on a Red Maple tree. These little red flowers give the maples a reddish haze at this time of year.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome, and hopefully I will have something more finished for the next blog post.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

ATC Mushrooms and Nature Journal

A while back I purchased a Prismacolor .005 brown ink pen/marker, and while I did a little playing with it just after I purchased it I didn't really make anything worth posting. Since I was between major projects this week I decided it would be fun to see if I could do something with the pen that I would like, and would show off it's capabilities. When used as just line the ink seems a bit light, but with the stipple I was able to get some really dark areas.

I found a reference photo of some mushrooms that I  had printed out and used it to create the Artist Trading Card image above. Done entirely with stipple on a cream colored piece of Stonehenge paper.

I love how with Stonehenge and stipple the areas left blank seem to glow, and appear lighter than the paper actually is, fun.

I have started the process of setting up a couple of major works. The above is a sketch based on a reference photograph I made a couple of weeks ago of a tree trunk in the pond at Daniel Webster. That day there were 13 turtles hauled out on the stump, a record, last fall there were days when I would see 8 or 9 turtles on the stump but never 13. I am fairly sure that part of the reason there were more this spring is because the stump has shifted and I think rolled in the water a bit, displaying some different surfaces that the turtles can utilize.

I will be doing this with pen and ink on Bristol board which is why the drawing is so rough. Details will be added with pen when I get to the actual drawing, all I need to work with are basic shapes and outlines. I still need to do a bit of tweeking, esp with the turtle shapes, but the basic outline is done.

I think I also have a subject for a drawing, but will surprise you with that one later.

The other day I was up at the Trailside Museum in the Blue Hills Reservation. My goal was to make more photographs of the mallard ducks that usually occupy the pond. I did do that and got some good photos with the new lens. Sometimes I don't write up my visits to Trailside, but there was enough going on there that I felt I should.

The above drawings for the entry are some pine needles and  a pine cone from a tree that is near the museum building. I think it is a White Spruce, the pine cone was the length and color typical for those trees. However since White Spruce is native to areas further north of MA. I have a feeling this was a planted tree.

The lower image is a rough rendering of the flowers of a Witch Hazel bush. The flowers are very distinctive and early bloomers in the Spring forest. Though we are seeing a lot of early flowers this year because of the warm winter and recent weather. Still when I checked the status of the Trout Lilies there was still no sign of them. There were daffodils blooming at the center this week, and last year they didn't bloom until April.

Above is the photo I used as reference for my Witch Hazel drawing. The flowers really are strange and not very large. The bushes seemed to be covered with these light green filaments, contrasting with the dark red flower and the grayish/black stems.

Above is another photo of a daffodil, this one is just starting to open, but you can see some open flowers in the background.

That is it for today. Hope everyone is having a great weekend. Per usual comments are always welcome.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Welcome Spring Journal Pages and a Figure

Happy Spring, today is the date of the Spring Equinox, meaning the hours of daylight and darkness are equal in length. They will continue to grow longer (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere) until June with the Solstice, so enjoy the longer days with more sunlight, the dark days of winter are now behind us.

OK, on to explaining my top image, bet you had forgotten about the Journal I was making for my trip to Chicago over the Christmas Holidays. I have been so busy working on other projects that I sort of put it on the back burner. The other day I dragged out the Journal and some reference images and started working on some updates. The top image today is a partial sketch of the baggage claim area at O'Hare Airport in Chicago. I used a reference photo, my own luggage and memory of the facility to draw this. So there isn't a lot of detail and you don't really get the sense of the wide open spaces in the Baggage claim area. Oh well, at least it is now done.

The sign in the area tells travelers to not ride with unknown transport into the city, use the taxis, airport shuttles and or rail transportation. What they don't mention is that people trying to save a buck and taking offers of transport from unknowns have been robbed and sometimes murdered instead of delivered to their destination. I suppose this might happen in other major cities, but I have heard news reports about Chicago. Moral of story, don't ride from an airport in transport you don't know.

Yesterday I managed to get over to Daniel Webster and make some photographs. My new lens and I are still working out our differences but I did make a few good photos. The red maples in some of the wood stands are starting to show signs of spring, with their spring blooms just starting to show. This early spring growth of red maples is red, adding hints of color to the bare trees. In my opinion I think the colors of spring, soft greens, white, and dark reds can be just as pretty as the fall leaf show.

I also saw another blue bird yesterday, and heard the spring frogs calling in the marshes.

Images from yesterday are a Canada Goose that was feeding on the new growth in the pond, and bottom a daffodil I photographed blooming at the North River Sanctuary.

Above is last nights figure drawing. We haven't had this model in quite a while, she is a lovely young woman with a beautiful figure, but she is not my favorite model. She twitches, she shifts her pose, not by a lot but enough to throw off shadows, forcing me to decide how to deal, wing the shadows, or erase and redraw. UGH. So while I am semi pleased with last nights drawing I know I could have done better. Ah well there is always next week, and I wasn't the only one who wasn't entirely happy with the finished product.

I have two photos from yesterday to share today, the top one shows the goose feeding in the pond, I prefer this photo to the one I used as reference for my drawing, but felt the head position in the drawing photo was better for the Journal.

A close up of one of the blooming daffodils at North River. Again I used a different photo for the Journal, there I wanted to give a sense of the whole plant not just the flower. But I really like this photo, great shadows that show off the trumpet of the flower, not always easy to see when the petals and trumpet are the same color.

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

Saturday, March 17, 2012

EDM198, More crows and flowers

I have been busy working on the two drawing below, but I did find time to make another Everyday Matters sketch. This one was for #198: Draw some Noodles. I chose to be a bit liberal in what I considered noodles, and really went with dried pasta. I could have drawn spaghetti noodles since that is what I had for dinner, but I was hungry and didn't want to let my dinner get cold while I drew so those got eaten and I used dried pasta shapes for my drawing.

Shapes are rotini, shells and elbows. I also have egg noodles in the cabinet, but forgot about them when I was pulling samples to draw. The hardest was the rotini, sort of like a screw and I did use some guide lines which I then erased to help with that one. The shells were fun, and a bit more complex than I expected. The elbows were probably the simplest shape, and in the end the lest fun to draw.

Above is my latest stipple piece finished. Well I think it is finished, but as I keep finding border areas that I think aren't quilt dark enough I may be adding a bit more dots there. I think I will leave the center alone. I was originally going to use line work for the center, but then decided it wouldn't be in keeping with the rest of the piece so ended up stippling the tree and birds.

Don't look too closely at the image, I assembled it in Photoshop after scanning it in 2 sections, the finished drawing is a bit too large to fit on my scanner as one scan. I will photograph it when we have better weather, today is a bit too cloudy to get a good photo of this. Size is 11 x 10 inches on Stonehenge paper, stipple done with a 3X technical pen.  

One last drawing for today, a watercolor of some pink dogwood flowers. From a photograph I made a couple of years ago of a neighbors tree. I simplified the photo a bit and left out the real background . This is the first larger sized watercolor I have done for a while, and the first where I didn't use any zentangle type fills. Done on cold press water color paper size is 7.0 inches by 5.0 inches. I did use pen to outline the stems, branches and petals prior to painting.

Above is the a the section of my photograph that I used for reference. Pretty aren't they, course we still have a couple of months before they will be blooming again here.

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

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Canada Geese Finished

First image today is the finished version of my Three Geese. I decided I just needed to get this done so spent most of Sunday late afternoon/evening working on the fore and middle ground of this piece. At this point I consider it done and have sprayed it with fixative. I am pleased with how it came out, and know that even 2 years ago I probably wouldn't have managed it so well. All these weeks/months of live model drawing sessions are paying off. Well at least I think so anyway. Aren't they a hansom trio of geese? Done on Stonehenge paper with graphite pencils, 2B, 2H, and H, size is approx 9.0 x 7.0 inches

For those who don't follow my blog the drawing is based on a photograph I made last December at Daniel Webster Audubon Sanctuary in Marshfield, MA. I had purchased a new lens for my camera and wanted to try it out. I got lucky with this photograph and fell in love with it. Now I have it as a drawing.

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in MA, at least weather wise, sunny and warm, with temps in the upper 60's and even hitting 70 in some areas. Before my outing to my drawing session last night I made a visit to Daniel Webster, my first in a couple of weeks.

On the surface not much has changed in the 2 weeks since my last visit, trees are still bare and the fields are still winter brown. But the birds are singing their hearts out and make quite a bit of noise as they stake out territory for the coming breeding season. And at the pond it looks like all of the turtles are back out of hibernation. The tree stump had 13 turtles on it. My top sketch in the Journal is a quick version of the 13 all trying for their spot in the sun.

The bottom sketch shows a bird investigating one of the many bird houses at Daniel Webster. This house is in the man made pond area. I think the visitor was a song sparrow, but between the shade of the bird house roof and the sun shinning off feathers I am not entirely sure, it was a little brown bird that much I can say for sure.

My other high point yesterday was seeing a blue bird feeding in the fields near the Fox Hill observation point. I tried making photos, but the bird was just a bit too far for me to make any good ones. It would perch on an electrical wire observing the fields, then it would swoop down into the grasses for a bit then fly back up to either a wire or a tree branch of the only tree out there and repeat the process. I was thrilled, I have caught glimpses of blue birds before, but never to truly recognize one, the way I could yesterday.

Above is last nights figure drawing. Not sure how I feel about this one. I was trying to work the figure a bit larger than I did last week, and as a result am not sure if I have it all correct. Also I feel I could have done a better job on her face, but she kept shifting her head slightly, and the light was such that even a small shift changed the shadows. Still not too bad, at least she looks human.

Above is the photo I used as reference for my sketch of the 13 turtles. Not sure if the resolution will let you count them, but take my word for it there are 13 of these guys all packed onto this one stump.

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

Saturday, March 10, 2012

EDM, Signs of Spring and finished sparrows.

Above is another of my fairly quick Everyday Matters sketches. This one was done for number 44: Draw an Animal, a pet, a zoo animal, or a stuffed one. I chose to draw another of my Beanie Babies. I really don't have that many of them, just 5, and this is the only one that isn't some kind of cat. This is Rainbow a chameleon, though mine is mostly blue with a bit of green.

I drew this little guy the other day when I didn't think I would have anything else finished for the blog, then I decided it was about time I finished my sparrows, so put off the blog update until today and finished them last night.

Above is the finished pen and ink Sparrows drawing, they are gathering food on stones placed in the ground. The sparrows are taken from photos I made last summer, but the drawing is a combination of two photographs not one. Drawing size is about 8.0 x 6.0 inches on smooth Bristol board with crow quill pen and India ink. I actually finished the drawing last night, but I had some left over pencil lines that needed erasing so needed to wait several hours before I did that. After all the work I put into this I didn't want to smear ink erasing pencil, been there, done that, and I wasn't happy.

It had been quite a while since I had done a drawing with crow quill. I use ink all the time, but mostly Micron or Technical pens and it isn't the same. The nib of the crow quilt is more flexible, giving a more varied line, though I used a very fine nib for this, also I have to keep dipping the pen in the ink which takes getting used to.

I am fairly pleased with how this came out. I won't be adding color to this, I feel it would only distract from the ink work.

I actually managed an outing this week to one of the State Parks. We had beautiful weather on Wed., sunny, temp in the upper 50's or low 60's so I took advantage and went to visit Borderland State Park in Easton, MA. I was rewarded by being able to see and photograph some snowdrops that had sprung up in the old garden area by the House. These are the first real flowers I have seen so far this year, even with all warmish weather we have had.

The image on the top of the page is one of the snowdrops. The honey bees were out in force, something that surprised me, since there can't be a lot of flowers blooming at this point. The hive they are from must be in the neighborhood, though I don't think there is one on the Park grounds, unless they are wild.

The bottom image is of a small wooden bridge that crosses the pond outlet stream. We had some rain last week so the ponds are all high and the stream is flowing well. My reference photograph had a couple of people on the bridge, but when I came to do the drawing I decided to leave them out. Too much detail for so small a drawing.

Above is one of my photographs of the snowdrops, you can see a bee on one of the flowers toward the top. Usually honey bees don't pay much attention to me when I am photographing even if I get up close, these guys didn't seem very happy with me on Wed. so I didn't make as many photos as I wanted to. I didn't want to push my luck with them, and end up stung. Competition for the nectar seemed to be pretty stiff among them, so I have to wonder if they were from different hives.

That is it for today, I should be back on track posting my next update next Tuesday. In the meantime comments are always welcome.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A bird, flowers and a figure

Above is another Artist Trading Card. This time the flower is a pink phlox, at least I think that is what it is. I can't recall where I made the photograph I used as reference, but the wild flower Dames Rocket, which this resembles has only 4 petals not 5. My critical self tells me that I should have made the flower larger. Maybe I will redraw this one and do exactly that, otherwise I think it is fairly successful, I really do like the combination of green and pink.

The hen in the above drawing is from a photograph I made last summer down on the Cape. For some reason she looks mean, though I don't recall that the actual bird displayed any mean behavior, in other words she didn't chase me.

This has been drawn in one of my sketchbooks and was done mainly for practice. I have a larger drawing of chickens that has been just sitting for way too long, I should really get back to it.

Above is last nights figure drawing. Other than I was working a bit small last night I am rather pleased with it. At least I am much happier with this drawing than I was with last weeks. I need to remember to try and work larger with my drawings, that way I don't have to put in quite so much of the background.

The one area I am not pleased with is the left arm/hand which was draped over the couch. I had two problems, she kept slightly changing the hand/arm position and I just couldn't seem to draw a natural looking hand last nigh. Since I did fine with the right hand I have no clue why the left was giving me so many problems. Another something to work on next week.

The above photo was made in Brockton's Fields Park, in March 2009, and slightly later in the month. Again I haven't made it out to one of the sanctuaries or State Parks to walk and photograph since my last update. Yesterday was cold, though sunny and I decided I just didn't want to walk in the cold and wind. Despite the past couple of days it has been so warm that I expect to see trees in about this stage of Spring growth when I next venture out which should be tomorrow or Thursday.

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

Friday, March 2, 2012

Welcome March

Well it is March, and we are having typical weather for March in this part of the world, chilly cold winds with some snow, sleet, and rain to welcome in the Month. I know Spring is coming but today it doesn't really feel like it. Still my thoughts when I have been drawing have been of Spring and warmer weather.

The drawing above utilizes a couple of my photographs from last spring to give you this version of violets, both white and the traditional blue. Actually violets like the ones above wouldn't be found together, the little white ones prefer poorer soil conditions and sun, while the blue are happier in shade and richer loamy soil. This is more or less a bookmark (2 x 6 inches) done on cold press watercolor paper, some ink outlines and then watercolor.

Above is another ATC done this time with just stipple in black and white. I have thought about adding some color but don't think I will at this point. The image of a sparrow sitting on a fence is from a photo I also made last summer at the Trailside Museum in the Blue Hills Reservation, Milton, MA.

The other evening I was glancing at the cover of a National Geographic that has a pair of twins on it and though why not try to draw a portrait of one of the two, so I did the above drawing. I can see some areas I might want to check but on the whole I am satisfied with how it came out.

I haven't been happy with the faces I have been drawing of the models on Monday night so was feeling some portrait practice would be a good thing. There may be more in my future, the problem is finding good images to use as a reference. Done in one of my sketchbooks with just graphite.

The above photograph I made this morning is of starlings sitting in a next door tree. As you can see the sky is totally grey and gloomy. The next few days have forecasts of more clouds and rain, not sure when we will see sun again, so no Nature Journal pages appear to be in my immediate future. Maybe not a bad thing, I have been feeling a bit, hmm, bored isn't the correct word, maybe stale is more accurate, so a short break is probably good.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome. Maybe I will go and work on a couple more EDM sketches for next week.