Friday, March 28, 2014

Yellow Tulips and Nature Journal pages

The past couple of weeks I have been spending a lot of time working on projects I started at least last year and for one reason or another put aside. Course I have also been working on newer works (the primulas) just to mix it up a bit.

Above is a colored pencil drawing (painting) of some yellow tulips. I made the photograph I used as reference last spring and knew when I transferred it to the computer that I wanted to draw it. So I printed out the photograph and eventually worked up a drawing in my sketchbook. I copied the outline of the flowers from it onto tracing paper and then transferred it to a piece of Stonehenge paper. That was about as far as I managed to get. The drawing was posted to the blog.

At some point in the following months I picked it up and started working the background and one of the tulips in colored pencil. Then it sat for another few months until a few weeks ago.

I decided at that point that I really needed to get this done so have been spending time on it over these past few weeks. I could only work on it during daylight hours, I need sunlight to get the colors even close to correct. Yesterday after several intense hours I finished it. Well it is as finished as it is going to get. I am not a fan of Hyper-realism even with colored pencil. The background on this is a bit grainy but I rather like the look

Now I need to check through my flower photographs to see if I have anything else that would be a good subject for colored pencil. These drawings (paintings) take hours of work laying in one color and over laying another to build up various colors and achieve the final look but I like to have one to work on when I am feeling in the mood.

Like most colored pencil works it isn't very large, only about 7 inches square.

From May 2011 until Oct. of 2012 I spent a lot of time walking and observing nature in various State Parks and MA Audubon Sanctuaries, making notes and photographs. After the walks I would use at least a couple of the photographs to make drawings of observed subjects in a Nature Journal. When I finished one book I started another but by October of 2012 I was running out of steam, not so much for the walking but for making the drawings. Winter of 2013 was snowy with not good walking conditions, and by the time spring arrived I had gotten out the habit. I did manage spring walks, but summer was just too hot and muggy so I stopped long walks while still photographing butterflies. I did manage one last visit in Sept. then the book falls silent. I hope to pick back up again this spring.

Anyway, even though I wasn't getting the drawings done in a timely fashion I was still making photographs and selecting ones I wanted to use for the journal. As part of my catch up effort I have been working in the journal, both to get the preliminary pencil drawings for visits finished but to also finish the pen and ink drawings.

So above is the finally finished Journal drawings for a visit to Danial Webster, MA Audubon Sanctuary in Marshfield, MA made October 27, 2012. A Great Blue Heron was standing on the support for the Wood Duck nest box, a late blooming buttercup and the tree stump in the panne that I use to note how high or low the water level is. Done with a dip pen and India Ink.

This page is from a visit made to Daniel Webster on November 5, 2012. There was a Red Bellied woodpecker feeding at the suet hanger in the bird feeder area. I don't usually try to photograph there but I only occasionally see these woodpeckers so couldn't pass on the opportunity. This is a male with the red front cap besides the rear hood. Other than the red on the heads these are black and white birds.

Also did the tree stump again, we had had a hurricane move through a few days prior (Sandy which did so much damage down in NYC) and the water level in the panne was quite high.

As a close a photograph from last week showing clouds, blue sky, birds in still empty tree branches, but also showing in the tree on the left signs of swelling buds. Spring will hopefully be showing more signs of arriving soon. I have to say that our predicted snow storm stayed mostly out to sea, I saw a few flakes but they didn't last much beyond the day. Wind was an entirely different matter, the storm brought very windy weather which has thankfully died down.

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

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Primulas and Illustrations

Primulas again, this time the watercolor version I have been working on for several days. It turned out much better than I expected it to about a week ago. At that point I was wondering if I should even bother to work on it more. What a difference a few days and a lot of work can make.

Done for two reasons, one I want to work on my watercolor skills. And lets be clear here mine are minimal, and because this was one of the challenge images for the WetCanvas Florals and/Botanical forum.  Since I am not doing wet into wet techniques my watercolors take shape over several days/sessions, applying washes of color, using a wet brush to lift out color, applying more color, until I get the look/result I want.

I did do a very light outline pencil drawing of the flowers prior to starting the painting. Done on Cansons 140lb watercolor paper, it is very small only 3.5 x 5 inches.

I am still reading the painting techniques book, and have moved on from basic techniques to some more adventurous ones, like salt spatter (which I have seen done on fabric), wax resist (another fabric technique) and line and wash. The latter I have done, usually with India ink which is waterproof usually prior to applying the watercolor but it can also be done after or even while the paint is wet.

I may put the cook book I have been working on aside for long stretches of time, but every now and then I get an idea for an Illustration for it and spend time playing around with it. That is what the above colored pencil sketch is all about.

I started with some onions added what look like garlic cloves, the small chopping block and a knife. To complete the graphic I added the words chop, chop all done first in pen and then added color pencil.

I like the freshness of this but think it is a bit too rough to actually use as an illustration so have done some further exploring of these images.

Yesterday I sat down and sketched from life this time, the above. Onions out of the fridge, a partially used garlic clove and my paring knife. Didn't add a chopping block but I probably should have. Anyway I have brought this image into Illustrator and will see where it goes from there.

Even though spring has officially arrived and we have actually had several days of semi warm weather (temp. into the low 50's) the past couple of days have been a reprise of our winter weather and very cold.

The icicle you see above is maple sap that has frozen. The tree (I think a silver maple) has suckers growing around the base, since the tree is next to a sidewalk these stems obstruct the path and some have been broken off (I am one of those responsible for the breakage) So with the warmer days and the sun heating both truck and ground the tree has rising sap which leaks out the end of the breaks. With the cold they have created icicles.

Maple syrup is the result of harvesting the sap of Sugar Maples (the above sap wouldn't be sweet) and boiling it down. For Native Americans here in the northeast it would have been their primary sweetener and the trees highly valued.

That is it for today, hopefully the forecast blizzard due tomorrow will stay out at sea and we will only get a couple of inches of snow, anyway comments are always appreciated

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Mixed Media, Pen and Ink, and pencil

Above is another of the WetCanvas Pen and Ink forums challenge images. This one is from February (I think) but I just got around to rendering it in Pen and Ink. Not sure what the building is, some kind or shed/barn I suppose. The building behind is brick.

I did lay this out in pencil first to get the perspective correct. Also spent a bit more time with the ink work. As a result I am fairly happy with this drawing. Though I have to say I wish I had kept the distance a bit lighter. For some reason I find it difficult to keep in mind that the further away something is in a drawing/landscape the lighter it should be. The darkest darks should be reserved for only the nearest objects. I know this, but doing it in a drawing sometimes gets tricky.

In my efforts to draw something daily I returned to this small bean pot and just pencil. Didn't spend a huge amount of time on it, but at least it isn't leaning to the right so am relatively happy with the results.

Last nights efforts were from my memory/imagination and ended up looking like ferns of some kind or another. The fact that it is now officially spring (Spring Equinox was on the 20th) probably put ferns in mind. I used my Derwent Graphtint pencils for this. Adding just a tiny bit of water after I finished most of the drawing, though I did add more pencil to some areas after the water. The paper buckled a bit which is why you see shadows in the scan.

Course I had also been reading a book where fiddleheads were written about as being part of the main characters meal so that may factor in.

The photograph above shows sparrows perching on the sign post for the local YWCA. It is just down the street from the YMCA which a much larger facility. The Y is surrounded by bushes which provide hiding spots for the sparrows. I also suspect that someone puts out food for them, as there is always a flock of them around the building.

Still working on a couple of other things, though I admit that I did take a break yesterday from those projects, spent too much time reading instead.

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

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mostly Pen and Ink Sketches

Nothing major to post on the blog today. I am busy working on a couple of things but I have realized that I don't like showing works in progress, esp. when they are getting close to completion. I think doing so ruins the impact of the final reveal. I don't mind posting initial drawings that will become a finished work, or even drawings that are actually studies/preliminary sketches. But not intermediate images of works, unless I do it all in one post like I did with the collage I made earlier this year.

It isn't that there is some mystery about how I create a drawing/painting, it is just that when I get down to the final stages the additions/changes can be pretty subtle. I know, but I am not sure most viewers would, or would even care.

My art related reading this week is, I don't want to say boring, but not something I want to blog about either. I picked up another book at the Library "American Artist Guide to Painting Techniques" and while I am finding it of interest it is pretty technical and most of it is going over ground I already know a bit about or have no interest in knowing (oil painting techniques)

Anyway the above pen and ink sketch of primulas is from a reference photo given as one of the March Challenge images in the Floral/Botanical forum at WetCanvas. I am trying to make a watercolor of this, but so far am not terribly pleased with how it is coming out. Still I like the photograph so thought I would do a quick pen and ink drawing of the flowers.

Above is another WetCanvas reference photo, I find them useful when I want to create a quick drawing but have no clue of what. This is one of the Pen and Ink Forums monthly challenge images (not for March). However since I did this in graphite (pencil) and have no intention of inking it I will just share it here.

Not sure what species of cat this is, coloration is grey and white, and the animal looks to be semi small, meaning larger than a house cat but smaller than a leopard. I didn't spend a lot of time on this so there are errors, still I think I mostly got the face and expression.

One last drawing, a very quick pen and ink sketch of a pair of small scissors. I didn't do this in pencil first, so errors are errors. Still not too bad a drawing of what can be a tricky subject.

My last image today is of a photograph I made over this past weekend. The sky was full of clouds some looking quite threatening. I really like the look of the trees against the sky with the lone sea gull flying against the grey clouds, all lit by the sun.

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

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Pen and Ink Mushrooms and a bird

If I were more organized about my projects today's posting would include a landscape. Well I suppose in a way the mushrooms are a landscape but on a miniature scale. I just finished reading about large scale "Important" landscape paintings as in those created by John Constable (1776-1837).

Constable is a well know English landscape painter who did most of his work in the early 19th century (1800-1835). The son of a Miller who was successful in business he studied Art and spent his life drawing and painting, mainly landscapes but also portraits. He was part of the "new" breed of painter who felt that Landscape was just as worthy of being painted as Religious or Historical subjects. Another notable English painter of the same period is Turner.

From my vantage point here in the 21st century it seems odd to think that once large landscape paintings were not considered serious "Art" I have a feeling Constable would be bewildered by some of what is now called art.

I think my major take away from reading the book and looking at his paintings, is how much work he put into planning the composition of each major work. Course we are talking 6 foot wide canvases here, so probably each painting was something he worked on for months let alone weeks. Work of that size does need to be planned. Painters of the time had to make large paintings and show them at Royal Academy shows in order to get noticed and acclaimed.

Without a camera he was dependent on his sketchbooks or other paintings, some smaller plein air, as reference materials and his later works are often revisits to subjects/objects/locations he painted/sketched when he was young.  I don't want to paint like Constable but it was interesting to learn more about the times he painted in.

Constable isn't the only artist who revisits subjects. I seem to keep coming back to mushrooms. Finally managing to to finish this stipple work of a clump of mushrooms. I used as reference a photograph I made at Broadmoor (a MA Audubon sanctuary) in October of 2012.

I started this sometime last year, but put it away when I got tired of working on it. I had it with me over Christmas vacation and worked a bit more on it then, putting it aside when I got home for other projects only picking it up again about a week ago. This time I managed to finish it.

Since the the only white on the paper is the mushrooms themselves I had to make a lot of dots. Size is 6.5 inches square on Stonehenge paper, and done mostly with my 3x0 technical pen. Lighting could be better, but I had to use the flash on the camera to photograph these guys. But then I don't pretend that my art has any "noble" purpose.

Above bird, a parakeet here in the US, is another of the March WetCanvas Pen and Ink forum challenge images. I drew this guy out with pencil first then inked it in. I didn't feel like including the background which was chicken wire fencing so the image wasn't that complex to draw.

The above started out with me playing around with 3 colors of colored pencils and developed from there. Think Easter morning after the kids have been on their Easter Egg hunt, 3 colored eggs some jelly beans (miniature), a chocolate bunny and a "grass" nest. No clue where that came from except we are in Lent and I guess I must be thinking ahead to Easter. Anyway it was fun to do, hope you enjoy looking.

As my final photograph today, my neighbors cat, she enjoys sitting in the sun on the railing outside one of my windows. I will probably draw this at some point. Not sure what she was looking at, probably a bird on the roof, or flying overhead.

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

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cabbages and barns

I finally finished this watercolor of a display of mostly cabbages at a local grocery store. I had walked to the store and per usual I had taken my camera along in case I saw something I wanted to photograph. In the store I was struck by the colors of the produce in their display cases so stealthily made some photographs.

This is the first of a pair that I am thinking about doing. There is a bit more color in the second photo. but I thought the greens and simpler shapes of the cabbages would be easier to paint. For something that looks fairly simple it took me way to long to do, and there are still some aspects that probably could have used more work. To be honest I was getting tired of working on it so decided to call it a day. Still I am not dissatisfied with the results, who knew there were so many different greens.

Size is fairly small, 5.5 x 7 inches on Canson 140lb watercolor paper. Painted with a combination of my pan watercolors and ones out of a tube.  I drew the outlines of the various cabbages first, inked those lines in and then added paint. I don't usually use white in my watercolors but for this one I made an exception. I wanted the chalky look that one gets with the Chinese White color.

Above is another of the WetCanvas Pen and Ink forum's month challenge images. I should have spent a bit more time getting the perspective correct when I did the initial pencil sketch. Ah well I promise I will do that on the next building I attempt. The reference photo had a few more items that I left out of the drawing, a truck, some placards leaning against the barn, and a stack of wood. Still shading isn't bad, and I rather like the trees to the right of the barn.

I was at the Library for a bit yesterday and while there did a couple of sketches of other patrons. Done with a Micron pen in my small sketchbook. I didn't spend very long on either of them, but then didn't want my fellow patrons to realize they were being drawn.

I have been spending most of my time this week working on a couple of works I started last year and abandoned. I have been making real progress on one and hope to have it ready for my next blog update. Won't tell you what it is, want it to be a surprise.

On my walk home from the Library I photographed this sky. I love how you can see the clouds and colors through the still bare branches of the trees.

Hope everyone here in the US who went through the time change (Spring forward) last weekend is adjusting to the lost hour. I admit I find it easier to adjust since I don't have to force myself to get up early on a Monday morning.

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

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Analogous Colors in Use, mostly

This months theme for the Sketchbook Challenge blog is Warm - Cool using analogous colors. First I want to say that I have no trouble picking analogous colors (they are the colors that sit next to each other on the standard color wheel). I have painted color wheels and know the 12 standard colors used by heart.

But I find analogous colors boring unless you use more colors than one probably should. Usually when picking analogous colors you select just three, red, red orange, orange for example. For above sample I have more like 7 starting with red and ending with green.

So I started with three, starting with red and added through yellow, semi OK as those are all "warm" colors, but I just wasn't happy when it came to the actual painting. It just wasn't working. So I thought I would slip a bit and added a yellow green, still not enough oomph so I slipped some more and added a darker green, oops as that pushes the color range into the "cool" (green, blue, violet) side of the wheel.  I seem to be able to manage the cool pallet, see the ATC (Artist Trading Card) below, but have a hard time just using the warm (red violet - yellow) colors by themselves.

I may try again to create a warm drawing with just colored pencils, but think that I will probably still not be happy with this color pallet. I much prefer using triads or split complementary colors, they add more zing and visual interest to my way of thinking. Reds just pop more when you add green (its complement) to the mix.

Above is the ATC I made using cool analogous colors. Am I happy with it, no, in fact I don't really like it at all. I am not pleased with the shapes I used or the overall look of the piece. The colors go together, and I tried to used as many as I had on hand in the same color families (green, blue green, blue) but still this just lacks spark. I suppose it was an interesting exercise but that is about it.

The above is just a doodle I made in the sketchbook but I had fun playing with it. I did the pen work first then added some color with colored pencil. Colors don't really fall into any formal selection, red-orange, yellow and green, but I think they work together anyway, maybe because there is lots of white. Anyway life would be boring if colors could only be put together based on the classic color groupings. Don't get me wrong those groupings work, mostly, but really, should they be the only way colors are selected? Nature certainly doesn't pull out a color wheel when flowers are growing wild in a meadow.

Back to the design I don't think it would work as a wall paper, too busy, but it might be a fun fabric, esp. if the white background was a more neutral beige, or perhaps a pale blue. I was just playing, but thought you might like to see.

Above photograph was made a week or so ago. It is a light coating of new snow on top of a pile of old snow. I just thought the textures and shadows were interesting.

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

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

More from the Laundry-mat and other

I have finished reading Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Did I learn anything, well yes and no. I already knew how to draw negative space, and did most of the drawing exercises she gives when I took Drawing I, but hadn't realized prior to reading this book that when I am in drawing mode I don't think names of things and the reason why we mostly don't chat at the live sessions is because everyone is in R brain mode and language isn't available.

Also learned a proportion for ear placement with a side view portrait that I don't remember being told before. Not sure how useful that will be but hey one never knows. Also picked up that nostrils are mostly in line with the inside of eyes, don't think I knew that one before either.

I have started to read a book on Constable, we will see how that goes. He is known for his landscapes both watercolor and oil so I am hoping for some tips.

Above is a rather quick colored pencil sketch/drawing that lets me think spring, as the weather certainly hasn't been at all spring like where I am. Thankfully we didn't get hit with the last snow storm but it has been cold, below (well below at night) 32 degrees F for the most part.

This is from a photograph I made last spring at Borderland State Park and is a window with reflected daffodils, inside were some blooming geraniums. The drawing is rather impressionistic partly because I didn't want to spend the time trying to get photo-realistic and partly because the reflected flowers were already impressionistic.

Anther still life pen and ink drawing from the WetCanvas Pen and Ink Forum monthly challenge. This time tomatoes and peppers in a basket. I didn't spend a lot of time on the basket, just didn't have the desire to spend the time on it to get it really right. Not good I suppose but at least I am getting more art work done this week than I managed last week.

Done in my sketchbook with technical Pens, I used the 00 and the 3x0.

Ah yes laundry, that never ending chore. Was at the Laundry-mat on Monday washing some clothes, thankfully it was a bit more populated than the last time I was there. I tried drawing some faces with limited success but did manage to make this drawing of an older woman sitting on one the chairs waiting for a machine to finish. Since I haven't been getting out to my weekly figure drawing sessions I figured I had better start finding another way to practice the figure.

Not totally displeased with this, keep in mind I was trying to draw her without her realizing it. Drawn in a small sketchbook with a Micron pen.

Walking home last night from a visit to the Library I made this photograph of an almost setting sun. I really wanted to capture the look of the sun a bit earlier when it was round ball of light covered with clouds, but the camera didn't capture that image very well so I selected this one instead. I do like the light effects here so I guess it isn't too bad.

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

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Landscape and Two Still Lifes

I have been taking a bit of a break from art, well the creating part, drawing, painting and pen and ink. Finishing the Chipmunk last week was a bit intense and I needed to sit back a bit and recharge.

It wasn't a total break I spent a fair amount of time reviewing photographs for future drawings, reading discussions on the WetCanvas Watercolor forum and reading a book. I am reading Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards, so even if I haven't been creating much art I have been thinking about it.

I am finding the book interesting though for me not all that instructive, have to say that I think it is probably an excellent book for someone who thinks they can't draw. Course one would have to do the exercises, reading how to draw doesn't teach anyone how to actually do it unless they step up and draw.

Anyway in the middle of the week I worked on a couple of quick still life drawings, but just couldn't seem to find the motivation to work on my watercolor paintings or to start a new graphite drawing.

Today for the first time since I finished the chipmunk I was able to motivate myself to put pencil to paper for more than a few minutes. The above drawing is one result. I am thinking about making this a more finished drawing but wanted to spend a bit of time doing a fairly quick study of it to see how it would work.

From a photograph I made last summer at Ames Nowell State Park in Abington, MA. I made a series of photographs of this woman and her dog, this is the one (slightly modified) that I liked best. Though there is another with the dog jumping off the end of the dock that I have thought about using. Now I have to decide if I want to do a more finished version but I think the composition works even though the dog is watching someone out of view. Actually I am thinking about doing a pen and ink version of this, but have to think on that a bit longer as there are some tricky bits that I am not sure if I could get to work in pen and ink.

Above is the pen and ink still life that I managed to work on mid week, an apple, a pear, an orange in a wooden salad bowl. Obviously I didn't spend very long on this. I was going to do a more finished graphite drawing of the same set up, but it never really happened. At this point the pear has been eaten so I don't think I will ever finish the pencil drawing of this subject.

Another still life, for this one I pulled a small bake bean pot out of the cupboard along with a small single serving pottery casserole dish and a wooden spoon. Not sure how accurate this drawing is, the surface I put the objects on was at a bit of a slant and I have to think it didn't make my objects easier to draw.

I am thinking about doing some photographs with these, at the very least I will probably use them for drawing subjects again maybe I will add some onions and dried beans to the mix.

As a close this photograph of a couple of sparrows sitting in a bush. The building behind is a small church. The sparrows love taking cover in the evergreen bushes in front of the church and the hedge around the building across the street, so there is almost always a small flock of birds resting here. Even if I don't see them I can hear them twittering away.

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