Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas, sewing and a drawing

I have just returned from my Christmas trip out to Chicago to visit my sister. Above is the only drawing I am including in today's blog update. I made this sketch while waiting at Logan Airport for my flight to board. The man was looking out the window at the various activities that were going on around the planes waiting for passengers. I did make another drawing, but though this is very sketchy I prefer this one out of the two I made. 

A lot of my time prior to my leaving on my trip was taken up by sewing. Above is a photo showing the 5 bags that I finished this month to give as gifts. Two went to my niece, one to her daughter, one to my sister and I kept one. Because they were gifts I couldn't write or post about them on the blog prior to Christmas.

Out of the 5 bags two of them were ones I had started last year and never finished, the other 3 are ones that I cut the fabric for this year, using a slightly different approach.

The older method calls for more cutting and piecing before cutting the pattern out, but I like the finished look better so. With the older method I was cutting six inch strips and then sewing them together prior to cutting the pattern. For the bags I made this year I cut four pattern pieces out of 2 different fabrics and then did some mixing and matching. Since I am using half yards of fabric I need to add strips to the bottom to make the bags long enough. But I need to do that with both methods so in that way it doesn't matter which method I use. I have decided to go back to the original method for the bags I am planning on sewing this next year.

You are going to have to look closely at the above 3 images to realize what you are seeing. There are 6 objects in the above images not 3. Each scan is of 2 mug rugs that I gave to my sister for Christmas. I used her scanner for the images and the bed was a bit too small to show all edges.

My sister likes to sit at the counter in her kitchen to drink her morning tea. In the past it has been her habit to place her mug on top of a pot holder on the counter to help keep the tea warm in the cup. This year inspired by a possible exchange with friends I decided I should make her some mug rugs. They are 6 x 9 inch small quilts that can be used in place of a pot holder. Well in place of a pot holder on the counter, they can't be used as pot holders to haul hot pans out of an oven.

All of them used blocks (units) that I had hand pieced at one point or another and just never put into anything larger. For the top 4 I used four 4 patch units, selecting those with approximately the same coloring and adding some hand dyed fabrics to give me the size I needed. The bottom 2 used a couple of friendship star blocks along with some indigo dyed fabric I had purchased. I kept the quilting to in the ditch, so it was quick and fairly easy to do.  I think finishing off threads took almost as long as the actual quilting.

There is batting between the layers though I used the pillow case method of finishing the edges (sewed and turned, then stitched about a quarter inch away from the edge. I didn't see any reason to spend the time actually putting binding on these mini quilts. The opening on the turned edge was slip stitched closed prior to my quilting the pieces.

They were kind of fun to make and I certainly have enough of a stash of finished units to make more of these this coming year.

One last image, the Christmas tree in my Sister's apt. on Christmas morning. Presents are bagged in Christmas fabric bags making for a colorful display under the tree.

I did spend a fair amount of time over the Holiday drawing so will include some of those drawings in my next update. In the meantime I hope everyone who celebrated enjoyed their Holiday and are looking forward to 2014.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

New ATC, another flower drawing and photographs

Just a short blog update today. Above is a new Artist Trading Card (ATC). I used the same background pattern for this as I used for one of my latest bookmarks. This background came out a bit better than the bookmark. ATC's are a bit wider than the bookmarks and I was a bit more aware of the pitfalls of drawing a basket weave pattern as a background.

This card seems to be saying more spring than Christmas or winter to me, but these were the colors I was in the mood to use. Since we are supposed to be getting at least a few inches of snow I suppose it is just wishful thinking on my part. Media is pen and ink with added colored pencil.

I have several arrangements of artificial flowers around the apt. The drawing above is one of the first I put together. It sits on the table in the kitchen/dining space which happens to get a lot of sun, so the purple flowers are getting a bit faded. I suppose it is time to get rid of them and either get something else or just let the vase be empty. Colored pencil with ink laid in on top. The actual arrangement is fuller, but somehow I think I missed that feeling in the drawing. Guess I will just have to try again another day.

A couple of photographs to end this short update, above is one of the flowers on my White Christmas Cactus. Love that touch of pink at the heart of the flower.

My miniature cyclamen is blooming. Love the intense red of these flowers. I thought I would capture the look now as when I get back from Christmas the plant will probably look a bit sad. I will bag this so it will survive, but it doesn't like being bagged so is a bit droopy for months afterword.

That it is for today, have been busy trying to get ready for Christmas so not doing a lot of drawing. In the meantime comments are always welcome.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Cactus, apples and figures

I have a lot of plants in my Apt. and several of them are Christmas Cactus, right now I have 2 different colors blooming, a couple of pinks and a couple of whites. I did have an old large pair of Christmas Cactus that would bloom a gold/yellow color, but over this past summer the plants started failing. I have had this happen before, the main stalk just seems to dry up and the plants die. I have tried to take cuttings from the plants and I think a few have them have taken but there will be no golden blossomed flowers for me this Christmas, maybe next year.

Anyway I decided it might be fun to try and draw one of the pink blooming plants. I used colored pencils to just lay in the colors based on the shape of the plant then I went back in with pen and ink to add some lines to give shape. The drawing is quite impressionistic not my usual style and almost looks more like a water color than a pencil drawing. Still I rather like the results. Next plant to tackle is my blooming miniature cyclamen.

As a challenge to myself I hauled out a bowl I particularly like added a couple of apples and set out to draw them. I am much happier with the results above than I was with the drawings I made on Thanksgiving. At least these look like apples in a bowl and the results aren't too lopsided.

Above are some drawings from a short pose figure drawing session a couple of weeks ago. Top 3 are short 2 minute poses, bottom grouping of 3 are longer poses, 5 to 10 minutes. Not totally happy with these drawings, faces could be a lot better on the longer poses, but I think with the short poses I caught the energy of the pose, always a goal.

The last image is another of the photographs I made during my visit to Houghton's pond. There was one seagull that day at the pond, I think it had found something to eat, but not sure just what, there are fish in the pond (it is stocked). Anyway I just like this photo of the flying gull and its reflection in the water. The green in the background are the white pines that grow so abundantly in this area.

Above is a photograph I made a couple of years ago of my golden blossomed Christmas Cactus. Made when the plants were healthy and blooming,  not a common color, and I won't be happy if I lose the plants entirely.

That is it for today, per usual comments are always welcome and I hope everyone's holiday shopping is going well.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Figures, a bookmark and a drawing

Been working on another bookmark. Course right now all that is finished is the main design, still needs some work before it is finally finished. It may have to wait a bit as I need some sunlight to pick the embroidery floss color for the tassel. I will probably go with a red orange.

The inspiration for this was my memories of poppies blooming in the late spring, love those large bright orange flowers. They are such a splash of color. I added tulips in the front of them though in reality tulips would be finished by the time the poppies start blooming. I wanted another flower shape and was feeling a bit tired of daisies/sunflowers. Besides using tulips let me pick up the orange of the poppies.

It was fairly quick and fun to draw, have to start thinking about what to draw next. Oh yes done with pen and ink first then added color via colored pencil, back to my more usual method of working.

Since I made such a mess of the basket the other day I though I would try my hand at another symmetrical object. This ink bottle was at hand and seemed a good choice. Still some errors but I am happier with this drawing than I was with the basket.

I have a small blooming Christmas Cactus maybe I will give that a go next.

From a couple of weeks ago, we had another couple modeling short poses for us. I don't have a lot of drawings that I liked from that session, but above are the five I consider my best effort. Top pair are short poses of about 5 minutes. Bottom grouping of three drawings were 10 minute poses.

Not sure why I felt so off that evening. Probably focusing too much on details, like faces and not looking at the overall image. The male of this couple is quite slender so not the easiest figure to draw.

As a close another photograph from my visit to Houghton's Pond last Saturday. Our weather this week has been not wonderful (read no sun) and I have been busy trying to get stuff pulled together for Christmas. Winter landscapes are so stark mostly browns and greys with a few pine trees to add hints of green.

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

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sketches, a new ATC and some DrawingTools

Above is a new Artist Trading Card (ATC) that I finished over the weekend. It didn't come out quite the way I was envisioning it when I started, which I suppose means that I need to make another one that may be more in line with my concept, except at this point I am not sure what the original concept was. I hope I am not the only person who looses track of the original concept once they start working. Sometimes that is a good thing, but with this card I am not so sure.

Thanksgiving day I spent with friends and while listening to the chatter I spent some time sketching, these two drawings are a result. Hmm, all I can say is that I think I need to spend a lot more time drawing from life. I am not totally thrilled with either the basket or the cup. Though the cup drawing is a bit better than the basket.

Above is a cup of tea with a teaspoon in it. Course the cup did have a design on it, but there was no way I was going to attempt that.

My friends family includes several fairly young children, and of course they were interested in my drawings and supplies. Since I use some tools that aren't familiar to them there were quite a few questions. It occurred to me that I might include some of the information I shared with them here on the blog. So the above image is some of my standard drawing tools. On the left a kneaded eraser, bottom middle is a clutch pencil holder, above that is the 2 mm "lead" that fits the holder, and on the right is a pink pearl eraser.

Because of cost and ease of  "sharpening" I prefer to use clutch pencils with 2mm leads. Course the tool used for pointing the leads can get a bit messy to haul around so I keep one in a plastic bag, but I don't think it is quite as messy as a regular pencil sharpener. I also use kneaded erasers which most of the kids had never seen before. One young boy wanted to insist that it was a piece of clay since that was what he was familiar with. The kneaded eraser is used to lift a bit of graphite when things have gotten a bit too dark. I also like Pink Pearl erasers, but those are fairly common so no comment was made about those.

For the clutch pencils I have several different hardness, B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 2H, 3H, and 4H, each in its own holder. I prefer the Staedtler Mars carbon  leads as they seem to be the best quality. For the really soft grades (above 4B) I use regular wooden pencils. The softer the graphite the darker the line you can get, a 2H is more grey than black, though graphite is never truly black but only a dark grey. For best lifting with a kneaded eraser I find that it needs to be warm so I tend to hold it in my opposite hand when I am doing work where I will be using it.

Saturday was a beautiful though chilly sunny day with a few clouds. I drove up to the Blue Hills Reservation and walked around Houghton's Pond. Above is a photo of the pond that I made that day. I find it interesting that clouds in photographs at this time of year even in early afternoon have some pink/lavender color to them.

The pond looks so still and calm reflecting the trees, clouds and sky. There were some ducks on the pond, but since I hadn't brought my field glasses I am not sure of the species, all I know is they weren't mallards as some of them were diving under the water and mallards don't dive. As you can see there were no beach goers there that day.

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

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Inspiration, ATC and Figures

For those here in the US I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, may your Turkey get done and there be no family fights at your feast. May your Black Friday be hassle free.

Am I the only person who remembers drawing an outline of my hand around Thanksgiving time in school and then coloring it as if it were a Turkey? In memory of that slightly strange practice I decided to draw my own hand and turkey with some crayons that I had purchased a few years ago as props for a Graphic Design project. Since I don't recall drawing this on white paper I chose to use some brown paper I purchased for drawing.

Either my memory of how it felt to use crayons is faulty or they have made major changes in the formula of pigment, wax and other mysterious ingredients over the years because I found the colors just didn't lay down the way I remember. The more I think about it the more I think they have changed this classic tool of childhood. I can remember laying down dense stripes of colors on paper and then covering the whole with a coat of India Ink that we would then scratch off revealing the crayon colors beneath. Seems like there is now so little pigment in the crayons that this would no longer be possible to do. Ah well

In any case if anyone is reading this on Thanksgiving and has some bored kids, pull out some paper and crayons and set them to drawing and coloring their own Turkeys. Who knows it might be a way to keep them occupied while the Turkey finishes cooking. Have fun with it. At the least you end up with some fun refrigerator art.  My Turkey is sort of brown like wild Turkeys, but at the bottom of this post there is an image of a white tom you can use as reference. Colors are up to the artist.

Above is a new ATC (Artist Trading Card) which I finished in the past couple of days. It is based on the drawing I posted last time of a garden with hollyhocks and a bird bath. The card is smaller than the original drawing so I had to condense things a bit. Since I wasn't really happy with the bird on the bird bath I changed it to a bird flying over it. Still the technique is the same, I do the pencil drawing first then add some ink lines as finishing touches. Keeps the ink brighter since it doesn't get covered by pencil.

ATC's are 2.5 x 3.5 inches in case you were wondering.

These figure drawings are from a short pose Tuesday night session on November 12th. The woman model started out with short 2 minute poses (top grouping) but toward the end of that period she wasn't feeling well, so her boyfriend (who had come with and is also a model) took over and posed for us for the 5 minute poses. Those are the middle grouping above. Feeling better she came back to pose for us for the final period where we do 10 or 15 minute poses. Makes for an odd collection of images, and it was certainly a challenge for us artists who were drawing.

Because it is Thanksgiving and my theme for today seems to be Turkeys I thought I would close with 2 photographs of Turkeys. Top is a White Tom who I photographed a couple of summers ago while I was visiting a MA Audubon Sanctuary on Cape Cod. The bottom photo is of a beautifully browned bird that was about to become our family dinner. One wing had already been removed by the time I made the photograph, I think that happened during the transfer from pan to platter, but otherwise intact waiting to be carved.

Both photographs are from my archived images.

That is it for today, per usual comments are always welcome, hope everyone who is celebrating one has a wonderful holiday, Thanksgiving and/or Hanukkah.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Comments about drawing well with a couple of pencil drawings

I am trying to get back into the habit of drawing something if not every day than at least every other day or so. Above is another of one of my colored pencil experiments where I draw (loosely) with the colored pencils and then add ink details in over the color.

For this one I was thinking about Hollyhocks in a garden so added a bird bath. I sort of wanted to add a garden shed, but in the end decided that I didn't want to complicate the drawing that way. When I was inking in leaves, flowers and grass I decided the bird bath needed a bird. Not a very good one, but... hey this is just me exploring ideas to see where it takes me.

As part of my effort to do more drawing I hauled out the sketchbook where I was doing the Everyday Matters challenge drawings. One of the things I did when I first dedicated the book to the EDM Challenges was to list in the front all of different topics and subjects that had been proposed. There are over 300 listings.
I admit I cherry pick what I want to draw, but I figure at this point it is my choice to do so as we are no longer getting new challenge subjects. Anyway the first one I tackled was to draw a pair of my socks, see above.

Next day I chose the Draw a book Challenge. I made the book too small, ah well once I had started I didn't want to start over.

In case you are wondering the book is Ceremony in Death one of the early In Death series by J. D. Robb (Nora Roberts) This is the large print edition, I read what I can find at the library and they only have many of the early books as Large Print editions.

I am not spending a lot of time on these drawings, 30 to 45 minutes. The point is to get me to focus on an object and draw it as I see it so I am further training my hand/eye coordination.

As an aside I met a woman at this weeks Short Pose Drawing session. She is probably about my age (not young) and has a goal of learning to draw well. I mentioned that if she really wanted to do that she needed to draw every day. She told me that she does, but from what she further mentioned I gather she is drawing the same subject every day (her dog). I really wanted to suggest to her that she change her subjects if not every day then several times a week and draw something new, a cup, a piece of fruit etc.

I know that when I draw the same thing all the time I stop really looking at it, and start drawing the image in my mind instead. Drawing the mind image isn't bad, but it doesn't train my observational skills and that is really what I am after. I have a feeling that is what she is after also, well if she comes back to another session I may be able to make that suggestion to her.

The above photograph was made back in October after the first of our cold nights. The ferns have lost their color but are still standing. I love seeing their ghostly shapes in the woods. This stage doesn't last very long, I am sure that if I were to go back to this location today I would find only a few stems standing, and perhaps not even that. The photograph was made in the woods at Forge Pond in Hanover, MA.

That is it for today. Per usual comments are welcome, even if I can't always reply.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November Flowers, Figures and Fall

Been playing around with another bookmark. The idea for this one sort of came from my checking out a feed on a flickr account that I just started following. The owner of the account is into Zentangles and has a lot of images of Zentangle textures. At this point I can't recall if the weave I used for the above background was one she used, but it doesn't really matter as it was looking at what she had done that inspired this drawing.

Not sure I went with the right colors for the flowers here, but it is what it is. Still needs to be finished off with a tassel and protective film but otherwise I consider it done. Done with technical pen and colored pencils on a heavyweight paper.

Above is a drawing where I was playing around with the concept of laying down color and then using a technical pen to add line over the color. Usually with colored pencils I work the other way around, laying in the ink and then adding the color but for this drawing I wanted to see what would happen if I reversed my usual method. Kind of fun, wish I had used a bit more variety of colors, but I am going to think about this and maybe play with it some more, impressionistic colored pencil work. Adding the ink after the pencil allows the ink to have more shine.

Back in October we had a short pose session with a couple. Scott calls them a Barbie and Ken duos even thought the models usually don't have much in common with the dolls. They are a challenge to draw as you can end up with a tangle of limbs, and trying to make sense of them can get tricky. I try really hard to draw what I see but... Not totally thrilled with these drawings. Sorry about the quality of the photographs, didn't really realize how the sun light would impact the final image until I had the photos in Photoshop. Then I didn't feel like re shooting them so I just went ahead and cropped them.

Top grouping are 5 minute poses, the bottom poses were from 10 to 15 minutes.

I missed the following two weeks of sessions. Tuesday nights seemed to become my night for not feeling well, not really sick but also not feeling well enough to spend three hours trying to draw and mingle with fellow artists.

What a difference a couple of weeks and a couple of rain storms can make with the amount of leaves on trees. The above photo was made the end of October, love that red. I was photographing trees surrounding a parking lot that afternoon. A stream runs next to the property and this tree was on the other bank of the stream. Had a cop in a patrol car stop to ask what I was doing, thankfully my Cannon is fairly large so when I lifted it and said making photographs of fall color he left me in peace.

This photograph was made this past weekend at Ames Nowell State Park. There are a couple of men in some sort of craft out in the middle of the lake fishing. They stock this lake but not sure how many fish are left after the summer season. It is a popular place for folks to come and fish. Anyway you can see that there are very few leaves left on the trees. Color is pretty much gone for this year, now to get through the next 4 months.

That is it for today, per usual comments are always welcome. I will make responses as allowed by Google.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

An ATC and Bookmark with more Figures

Managed to draw a new ATC (Artist Trading Card) over the weekend. I started out playing with some shapes and it just developed from there. Color is colored pencil and I am really pleased with the result. Doesn't look very fall but then that wasn't really my goal.

I am using a new to me paper, Canson's Comic and Manga 150 lb paper. It is heavy weight with a smooth surface that takes pen well. There seems to be enough tooth to take colored pencil, though not as well as Stonehenge does. Anyway I have more ATC blanks of this paper waiting for me to use so by the time I have finished them I should know how I like this paper and what media I prefer using.

Also finished the above bookmark this weekend. I started this one several weeks ago but put it aside to work on some other ones. Still I kind of like the flower shapes so decided I should get to it and finish it off. It isn't totally done of course, just the art work is finished. Still have to add the contact paper layer and then the tassel. More colored pencil and ink work on this one.

Above are more of my short pose figure drawings. These are from a session a couple of weeks ago. A couple I rather like, the others hmm, well.... just have to keep at it is all I can say. Top grouping are 2 minute posed, bottom grouping are mainly 5 minute poses with one 10 minute pose.

As a close a couple of photographs I made yesterday. The trees around me are starting to get pretty bare of leaves but there are still a few with color. Above is one near the entrance to my local park.

These leaves were actually on a bush not a tree, but I love the color and thought you might also enjoy seeing it.

That is it for today, per usual comments are appreciated. Though I have to say that I am having problems getting the blog to allow me to reply to comments, so it isn't that I haven't read and enjoyed everyone's comments on previous posts it is that the software isn't allowing me to reply. Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to comment, I really do appreciate it.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bookmarks, figures and fall photographs

Been playing around with more bookmarks, as I mentioned last week they are small so quick to do, and I can try out a variety of techniques to see what works and what doesn't.

Since I have been photographing cattails I thought I would use them as a subject for one of the bookmarks. Above is the finished art, still have some more work to do on this to turn it into a bookmark, but the art is done. Not sure how happy I am with the result. Ah well, will just have to try again. I used Ink with colored pencil. It was more dramatic before I applied the colors. I may go for a redo and leave out the color next time.

The above is just shapes I was playing with and then colored with Inktense pencils and activated with water. I started out with the center being yellow, then orange etc. but didn't like the look so added an overall wash of blue. Still not thrilled with the colors here but it looks lots better than it did. Not my best result, but sometimes playing around can spark more serious efforts so it isn't wasted time.

From the October 8th short pose session. Above are 3 of my 2 minute poses with that evenings model. Unfortunately she started feeling ill and left after the first hour.

So Scott ended up filling in for her for the next couple of hours. Above are 5 minute poses, I can't recall if he did any/many 10 minute poses, and I am fairly sure we didn't have any 15 minute poses that evening. Scott is a bit out of practice and holding any pose for 15 minutes is hard work. In fact I think this is the first time Scott has had to fill in for a model in the years I have been attending his sessions.

I spent an afternoon walking in my local park this past weekend, here are a couple of photographs. The above is a photo of some oak leaves turning red. Many oaks just turn a dark brown/red color but this particular oak was turning this glorious shade of red. You can see in the background some of the other surrounding trees with their fall color.

I don't usually notice these young trees in the summer woods, and they aren't mature enough to bloom in the spring, but in the fall the distinctive shape/color of the fall American Chestnut leaf makes these trees more visible. These are not healthy mature trees, but instead they are off shoots of the roots of old mature trees that were "killed" by the blight. For some reason it seems that it is only the trunks above ground that are killed. These saplings will survive for a few years then they in their turn will die away. They don't get mature enough to bloom and set seed. Maybe someday someone will figure out a way to kill off the blight and we will again have American Chestnut trees in our woods and yards. I know they are trying to cross breed a blight resistant Chestnut, but I think so far the resulting trees aren't as attractive as the original species.

Well, that it is it for today, I am a day late with this update as I had jury duty yesterday. Wasn't selected for a jury so was able to manage the update today. Per usual comments are always welcome.