Friday, January 31, 2014

More Pen and Ink work with some Figures

Another image from the WetCanvas Pen and Ink forum monthly challenge, this time an elephant. I drew this first with pencil before adding ink. I just don't trust myself to draw animals directly with pen. Animals and people look so strange if you get the proportions wrong. Even with the underlying pencil drawing am only semi pleased with how this came out.

I have been using pen for my short pose figure drawings, so one of these days I may attempt an animal with just pen, though I would rather tackle and animal that I have drawn before. What can I say, elephants are not my usual subject.

These gourds are a created arrangement made from some photographs I have showing various gourds. One or two from one photograph and another from a separate one. I have played around with gourd images before, and I will probably do so again, they have such interesting shapes and colors.

Finally the weather cooperated and I made it out to a Tuesday night short pose drawing session, male model this week. Since he had spent part of his day doing short poses for student animators his short poses that evening were very active and dynamic. Top image are some of my two minute pose drawings.

The middle section are a few of the 5 minute poses. The last drawing is one of the 10 minute poses he did for us. In the others he was sitting and more pretzel shaped. Not easy poses to draw so that they translate visually.

I originally thought the 10 minute pose was a bit confusing visually so added some pen work to it when I got home. I am thinking now that might have been a mistake. There is also some pen work on one of the 5 minute poses, but that seems to work a bit better.

The different tone to the paper is because I finished one pad and started using a different one about half way through the evening, usually I continue using the same Mfg. but this week I change to a different one. Interesting how differently they look in the photographs, visually they are both white papers. I have been using flash for these photographs, and I think one paper is more reflective than the other.

The final photograph this week is one I made yesterday while I was out for a walk. The cat was taking advantage of the sunny/warmer day to pose in front of this tree and soak up the sun. The white on the ground behind the cat is actually a bit of snow left over from a storm we had one morning this week. We didn't get a lot (probably about an inch) but until yesterday it has been cold so it stuck around in shady spots. Not sure what species the tree is, but I love the way the cat's fur seems to pick up the colors/texture of the tree trunk.

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

Monday, January 27, 2014

Flowers, Pots, more Still Life's

Just noticed that all of  my images today are various forms of pen and ink work. These first two are from the WetCanvas Pen and Ink forum's monthly project photos. The African Daisy's above are from a January selection and the pots below are from a photograph posted last fall.

Both were done with my technical pens, 3 different sizes for the daisy's (quicker to stipple the background using a larger tip). Daisy's are on Stonehenge paper and done with mostly stipple. The pots were just done in my notebook as a quick study. I was actually a bit surprise by how well the pots came out as I didn't do any preliminary pencil work on this drawing, guess all the drawings I have been doing are paying off. I admit that I did do some pencil work for the daisy's.

The next 2 images are drawings of objects in my Apt.

This first pen sketch is from the other day and shows one of my cups holding various art tools, pencils, brushes, and pens. When I am working on a colored pencil drawing I use this cup to keep the pencils selected for the drawing separate from the hoard. Makes it easier to keep track of the actual colors I am using to have them at hand. I have also started to keep my clutch pencils in this holder.

This is really a very small vase, only about 4 inches high. I started out drawing it as a pencil drawing and decided to add ink. The objects stuck into the vase are mostly dried berries, and thinking about I don't think I have them sized correctly.  May try this subject again on another day.

A photograph from a walk last week. It was made after our most recent snow fall, which really didn't amount to all that much (only about 6 inches). There is a stream that semi winds through the center of town and now has a couple of parks adjacent to it. Between the snow and the rain we have been having since Christmas the stream is running pretty high.

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

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Sunflowers, shoes and pears

Above is a small watercolor that I just finished. It is from a photograph of Jerusalem Artichoke flowers I made a couple of years ago at Massasoit State Park in E. Taunton, MA. The Jerusalem Artichoke (one of its many common names) is a native North American sun flower. The roots were eaten by Native Americans. The plants bloom in September with lots of tall stems and showy yellow flowers. 

Anyway I did the ink drawing of the sunflowers while I was on vacation in Chicago over Christmas but waited until I got home to work on the watercolor portion. I find it slow going to paint flowers, these took more than one session with paints and brush to reach a point where I felt they were done. The painting is small, post card size (4 x 6 inches) on heavy (120lb) watercolor paper done with my Travel sized Winsor Newton watercolor box.  

I have mixed feelings about using watercolor, I like the results when I can get the look I want, but don't really like the process. But maybe that is just my lack of skill. My technique is to use thin layers of color to build up to the final results. Not for me the one stroke of the brush and calling it done type of painting. I admire those who can paint that way, but it doesn't seem to work for me. 

These next two images are me working on my still life's. This time with shoes. The one above was done with Derwent Graphtint pencils. They seem to be a cross between watercolor and graphite pencils. I have about a dozen of these in various tones that were a Christmas present a couple of years ago. Anyway, I draw with the pencils first then apply water with a damp brush and watch what happens.

A couple of years ago if someone had told me I would be drawing shoes again I think I would have thrown something at them. When I was taking classes at the Community College it seemed like every instructor wanted us to draw shoes, so I drew shoes, and more shoes and then again more shoes until I was totally sick of shoes. Now here I am a few years later finally willing to tackle the subject/object again. They are after all complex shapes and readily available, who knew.

Same shoes but a different day and slightly different pose, this drawing was done directly with ink using one of my technical pens.

This time the subject was pears, I actually used the same pear just different positions for these drawings, the one above was done with the Graphtinit pencils and water. Because these are being done on cheap sketchbook paper you can see where the paper has wrinkled from the water, with the scan it gives an interesting visual effect.

The pears above were first drawn with pen and ink then scanned into Photoshop where I added the colors and grey shading. Colors aren't totally realistic as this was a Bosc pear, but realism wasn't really my goal I just wanted to play and see what I could come up with. There are about 4 different colors on each pear, does give them a bit more depth then I would see otherwise.

Above is another photograph from my walk the other day. I need to get out with the camera today as we now have about 6 inches of cold snow on the ground. If I get back over to this park I may take another photograph of this piece of art work. Brockton doesn't have a lot of municipal artwork but there is some scattered here and there.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome. Hope anyone reading this who is in the Northern hemisphere is staying warm this cold winter.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Collage and Figure Drawings

It had been a long while since I had checked into the Sketchbook Challenge blog to see what was happening there. I sort of stopped reading when the themes got too cutesy for me. I am not really into sketchbooks the way they are urging people to use them. From what I remembered they were pushing folks to create sketchbooks sort of like scrapbooks but with more personally created art/drawings.

Not my thing really, I did make a scrapbook way back when I was a teenager and continued it for a while when I was in college but eventually work got in the way and I outgrew that phase of my life. My sketchbooks are either practice drawings or doodles that may or may not become something else. Most are not meant for anyone other than myself to see. And even those meant for other to see are basically just drawings, which is my preferred artistic voice.

Anyway checking out the blog I found the theme for this month is Collage. Not my favorite kind of art work, either to create to or to look at. However I happened to have 4 cards with Japanese prints that I had been saving with the idea of one day using them in a collage. Also I had purchased some specialty wrapping paper for that purpose. Since the card images represented the four seasons I had my theme ready made.

Above are a couple of photographs showing my early stages of developing the collage. Top image is of my collected materials before I started to work . Obviously some work had already been done, separating the Japanese prints from the card stock (they were glued along one edge and were separated easily by using water to soften the card stock), selecting the colors of paper, printing out the season names and kanji characters.

Next step was to mostly cover a 90lb 11x15 in sheet of watercolor paper with various bits of my wrapping paper. I tore the wrapping paper not wanting shapes with finished (cut) edges. I selected a color for each season, blue - spring, red - summer, yellow - autumn and white for winter. I also started cutting the kanji characters and season names out of the paper they were printed on. Not wanting a lot of extra white I mostly cut around letters leaving just a bit of white paper showing.

Top photograph above show how I was arranging the cut out words and characters with the rectangular prints. Looked OK but I felt that something was missing. Lines, I though some black lines might help to link all the areas together. First impulse was to add them around the areas where the prints were going to be, but realized it would probably be better to just draw the lines on the background so that is what I did, you can see the background with lines in the bottom photograph above. I used a Japanese style brush and India ink for the lines.

Almost there, I re-positioned all of my objects but still felt there was too much open space. What to use, I thought why not some seasonal poetry. I pulled a book I have off the shelf (Little Pictures of Japan, a Book House for Children publication) and selected 4 poems that were applicable and short. Next step was to print the poems out, cut out the lines and arrange them on my collage. One of my last steps prior to gluing it all down was to use my watercolor pencils to tone the white paper for three of the seasonal names and characters, blue - spring, red - summer, yellow - autumn.

Everything was then glued down, the paper was a bit warped so I brushed clean water onto the back of the paper and stuck the whole deal under some books. When it dries I will apply some acrylic matte media to the surface to protect everything. Note that the printer I use is an Epson Ink Jet with permanent inks that won't run if they get wet.

Above are some selected figure drawings from last weeks short pose session. Top grouping were 2 minute poses, yes I know the one looks pretty sketchy, that is because I started over when the first start wasn't working out. I like the energy in this sketch even if it isn't very finished.

The middle grouping shows one minute poses. One of the other artists who attends the sessions is taking a class in downtown Boston and had homework to draw 100 gesture drawings of people. Scott though he would help her out so had our model do one minute poses for about 20-30 minutes. They are work, but fun, not sure I want to do this all the time but it was a good change.

Bottom section of drawings shows some 5 minute and some 10 minute poses.

In closing another photograph made in my local community. This tree as I recall is still alive even though it seems covered in Ivy. I will have to go back either in the spring or summer and make another photo of it . If we get more snow it might also be fun to make a photo of it snow covered. Hmm will just have to wait and see on that one.

That is it for today. Time to get back to my still life's and other drawings.

Friday, January 17, 2014

More Still Life's and an Experiment

I have been working on more pen and ink still life's. Well actually I have been working on more still life's period. The one above is from a WetCanvas Pen and Ink forum monthly challenge picture. I often download the monthly challenge images that I like and print them out. Course I may not do the drawing in the month the challenge is issued but when I am looking for something to draw they can be fun to pull out. The above photograph was part of the November 2013 challenge, various peppers and a few citrus fruits in a bowl.

This much simpler still life was done from the real deal, some bananas and an apple that I had on hand for snacks. First drawing is a quick pen and ink sketch. At least this time I think I managed to get the plate shape mostly correct.

Same grouping of fruits, just this time the media is graphite. The second drawing of the same subject is usually more accurate visually than the first drawing. That is true even without erasures which I can do with the graphite. It is certainly easier to get shading with the graphite than with the ink, but I do like the stark lines of ink.

 Last week I was playing in one of my sketchbooks with pen and ink and drew the above motif. I scanned it into the computer and pulled it into Photoshop.

The above image is what I ended up with after several hours of playing around. Have to say that the background is way too dark, though I do like the gradation. The advantage of a computer program is that I can easily go in and modify the background. Not sure that I will bother, I had thought before I started that I would like the results, but in actuality I don't. I won't say that I wasted my time making this, since I was using skills I haven't used in a while and refreshing my memory about Photoshop tools isn't a bad thing to do, but I think I will think twice before I try this kind of thing again.

During this experiment I was trying to use the color replacement brush in Photoshop. On the surface this looks like a very easy to use tool, in practice I found it very frustrating as it doesn't seem to really replace a color more like combine the color that was there with the new color selected. I am willing to believe that I wasn't using the tool correctly but I am more inclined to believe that it is doing what it is supposed to, after all if I were touching up a photograph I probably wouldn't want/need a total replacement of color. As I think about it what got me into trouble was trying to replace a color I had already replaced. Have to think about this a bit more and maybe if I am feeling like it do some more playing around.

The above photograph I made earlier this week and is of some old gravestones in a small cemetery. Small old cemeteries are tucked into corners here and there in Brockton. There is one just around the corner from me, though this one is a bit further away. They are fenced off so not accessible to the casual visitor (too many vandals) so I can't tell you the dates on the stones, but they are slate which was used in colonial times so I would guess that these date to the late 1700's or early 1800's. There was probably once a Church nearby, now long gone.

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

Monday, January 13, 2014

ATC and 3 Variations on a Still Life

Above is an ACEO or ATC (Artist Trading Card) that I just finished. I was just playing around with one of my technical pens and drew those sort of pine tree looking trees, added some lines for what could be bushes or shrubs and others for what could be green areas on distant hills. Pulled out my green colored pencils and colored in the trees, shrubs and other green areas, then added some grey to suggest rocks, and clouds against a blue sky. Well the clouds could use some work. I mostly avoid drawing or coloring clouds in my landscapes and I feel it shows.

Still I rather like the results, looks better life size instead of blown up on the screen.

The other day I was having a snack on one of two golden delicious apples I had on hand and decided it might be a good idea before I ate the pieces to set up a still life and draw it. First go round I used one of my technical pens creating primarily outlines with just a bit of shading.

Next I hauled out one of my graphite pencils and sketched the apple and pieces on the plate. Did OK with most of it except the rear right corner of the plate, that doesn't work for me. Course by the time I had the sketch semi laid out I was starting to get a bit impatient with it, I was hungry and wanted to just be done with the drawing so I could eat my apple.

There is definitely a downside to drawing eatable objects, esp. if they were intended for a snack prior to the drawing session.

When I was scanning my drawings into the computer for this blog update I got the idea to add some color to the line drawing of the apples. Since I scan into Photoshop the image was right there and it didn't take too long to add some color and some additional lines. It was a fun exercise, quick and easy to do. I think I spent more time selecting colors than filling in the areas.

With our rather strange weather I haven't been out to any of the parks recently. First the snow kept me in, then the cold and then when it finally warmed up we had several days of clouds and rain. Today I finally managed to get out for a bit to run an errand I photographed this street of houses and roofs. I have found this particular street interesting for quite a while because of the roof lines.

This afternoon the sun was starting to get a bit low in the western sky. It lit up the houses and roofs but left the street in shadow.  Someday if I get back to working on Art Quilts I want to make a quilt out of this scene. 

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

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bookmark, Still Life, Figure and more snow

Just a short update today. I have been working on the above bookmark design for a while. I started it before Christmas but somehow after a quick start it just didn't jell for me and I had other things to keep me busy. Anyway in the after Christmas blahs I decided that I either needed to get it done or bit the bullet, toss it, and start something new. I decided to just finish it and see what would happen.

I finished the pen work last night and added watercolor this morning using some of my watercolor pencils and a damp brush. I like the colors but the ink work doesn't totally work for me. Still after it is dry I will start to finish it off as a bookmark.

After a trip to the grocery store the other day I came home with 2 apples and an orange. I thought the 3 would make a reasonable still life so pulled a bowel out of the cabinet and made an arrangement with them for a quick drawing. I feel it is important that I manage to draw from life a few times a week, meaning I need to observe for real what I am drawing, not just working from imagination and/or photographs. Observation skills need to be nurtured even if the results are pretty ordinary.

Done with graphite (2B pencil) in one of my new sketchbooks. The orange is already history as I was worried it was getting a bit soft, made a nice evening snack. Two apples don't quite a still life subject make so it looks like I need another trip to the grocery store.

A week ago Monday was December 30 and I attended the long pose session for that week since there wasn't going to be a short pose session New Years Eve. Above is the drawing I made that evening.

Not sure how I feel about it, Some areas I like and other areas I am not happy with. It has been several months since I attended a long pose session so for the most part I feel I didn't do that badly. Think I need to mix up long pose vs short poses a bit more this year and see if I can get my groove back.

I am closing with a photograph I made last week after our snow storm. The wind had blown this pattern in the snow with a bare spot in the upper left and gradually deepening snow radiating out in rings. I have no clue why the wind would have swirled just there but it does make an interesting image.

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

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Stuff and a solution for Too many Pencils

A couple more drawings done or at least started in Chicago. Above is a portrait from a photograph in one of last years National Geographic's. Their photographs are often fun to use as a reference because they get the lighting right, usually strongly directional which shades one side of the face while highlighting the other.

Not sure how well I did with this one, not too bad as I recall, but of course there are errors, I haven't gotten to the point of not having them. Oh Well, just have to keep working at it.

One of those subjects that I seem to return to again and again are cups. You would think I would get tired of them, but I find them an endless challenge to get right. The one above was started in Chicago but finished here at home when I realized I had done my usual trick and slanted it to the right. I turned the drawing upside down, realized my major error and tried to correct it as much as possible without the reference cup.

Wish I knew why I do that, because I am right handed, or is a visual issue with my eyesight? I suppose either is possible as I do have to wear glasses and have an astigmatism. I will just have to remind myself that I need to flip drawings with vertical lines upside down to check how perpendicular they are to the base line before I get too far with the drawing.

Do you suffer from the same problem I do? Too many pencils to fit easily into traditional pencil holders. Below you can see photographs of my solution to my problem, home made pencil holders.

I start with paper towel tubes, cut them into lengths, usually 4 or 3 inches, cover them with fabric (I quilt so I have lots of fabric), then seal with acrylic gloss medium. I use thinned Elmers School Glue to glue the fabric to the tubes, applying to the surface of the tube, wrapping the fabric around it and then applying more glue to the surface. The fabric is usually about 2 inches longer than the tube so I fold it over the top and bottom of the tubes to give a neat edge. I allow the glue to dry before applying the medium.

Once all the tubes are dry again I use hot glue to glue the tubes together. Then using thin cardboard which has been cut to shape I hot glue the tubes to the cardboard. This gives the tubes a bottom so the pencils don't fall out. The bottom image above shows most of my pencils in their holders. These are just my colored pencils and some of my graphite ones. The watercolor pencils are in different containers.

I like the tubes because each tube will only hold so many pencils (about 12 to 18 depending on the dia. of the pencil). I can take pencils out of the holders to use without having the rest of them fall over which I have found to be a problem when using a large container that holds a lot of pencils. Question for the day: Can one have too many pencils?

I am ending the update today with a sequence of three photographs made over about 24 hours:

Here in Eastern MA we had a couple of days of blowing snow along with quite cold temperatures. The above series of photographs was made out of one of my windows showing a south facing porch railing that got covered with snow and what happened to the snow over about 24 hours. Top photograph was made shortly after it had finished snowing (around noon Friday) The middle photograph was made later that afternoon and shows how the ridge of snow had sagged but not fallen to the deck. The bottom photograph shows the snow yesterday morning sort of drooping in the middle but still hanging in there. As I recall it fell to the deck about an hour after I made the photograph so the railing is now free from snow. Usually snow on the railings just falls or is blown off, so this sequence is quite unusual.

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

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cats, Figures and New Year Wishes

First I want to wish everyone a Healthy, Happy 2014, may this new year bring you much of what you wish/hope for.

Today I am going to share a couple of the drawings I made while visiting Chicago. The first is an image of a friends cat from a photograph she made and shared via Facebook. I think the cat is wearing a hooded cape, and while she is posing for the photograph I doubt she stayed put long. Got to say I am fairly pleased with this, not a totally polished piece, but I think I captured the cats not so pleased expression.

For a Christmas present I received from my sister more Polychrome colored pencils. I asked for them of course, but was totally pleased with the gift. Needless to say I felt they needed to be taken out for a test run, hence the above sketch.

From a National Geographic photograph I sketched this lion cub standing on a zebra kill. Not totally pleased with it, but it least it does look like a lion, and the color isn't bad considering the colors I was working with. I didn't spend that long on it, so it isn't even close to being photo-realistic.  Still it was fun to do and I got to play with some of my new pencils.

Now that I am home I am discovering I need more pencil holders for my growing collection. I have started working on a new set which will hopefully be finished soon.

The above drawings are from the only short pose drawing session I managed to attend in December, Tuesday December 3rd. The following week I was either suffering from a cold or an allergy attack since I spent the day bonding with a box of tissues and getting a sore nose. The following week was cancelled due to a snow storm, it didn't drop a lot of snow but did manage to happen during drive time and made a huge mess out of the roads. Our model for that evening drives a fair distance and didn't want to risk the conditions. I can't say that I blame him, it was nasty out there.  The last short pose sessions were cancelled due to being Christmas and New Years Eve. so during those weeks they held only Monday Night long pose sessions and I was in Chicago the week of Christmas.

Anyway, the top grouping is of short 2 minute poses, middle grouping is 5 minute poses and the bottom two 10 minute poses.  Oddly enough the ones I like best are the two 5 minute poses in the middle. I also like the 2 minute poses, but I feel that the 10 minute poses aren't as dynamic as they should/could be. Both I and the model were probably getting pretty tired at that point. That is my excuse and I am sticking with it.

Last but by no means least is a photograph from my visit to Chicago. On Friday we visited the Chicago Art Institute and saw some wonderful drawings and watercolors from a private collection. There were many ink works and I found it interesting that the artists didn't seem to feel that he/she had to choose a media and stick with it. Most of the ink works were a combination of ink and graphite (pencil) or Charcoal, sometimes pastel and sometimes Gouache. The artist used what they needed to use to get the look/effect they wanted with the drawing. Artists ranged from an early Picasso to a study Romney did for a larger painting with some older and more recent artists added to the mix.

The sculpture in the photograph (called the Bean) is found in the park that is a few blocks north from the museum. The surface has been polished to a high gloss and reflects the buildings and people around it. There is a hole in the center that is large enough that several people can stand in it looking up at their reflections. We didn't do that on this visit because both of us were tired from the museum but I have done just that on previous occasions.

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