Saturday, May 31, 2014

Squirrel, clover, and tress

After I finished the watercolor in my last update I ended up taking a bit of a break, but finally got motivated yesterday so am doing an update today.

When I visit the Library, if the weather is nice, I tend to extend my trip to a small park that is behind the library. There is a stream that flows through the park with tables and benches for sitting. The other day on my walk back from the park I startled a squirrel that had been foraging in the front area of an older building. The squirrel took off around the corner I got my camera ready and went after it.

Poor thing, I have to think that it is, while full grown, still a young squirrel.  It did a lot of scrambling in its efforts to get away from me, a couple of times it seemed like it couldn't quite make up its mind which way it wanted to go.  The wall of the building being right there it decided to scramble up the wall, fell off, ran a ways beside the wall and then started climbing again. Once it got to a certain height on the wall  it paused to look at me. I was able to get a couple of photographs and used one as reference to make the above drawing.

This is just a quick graphite sketch, which I did as a study while considering whether I should make a more polished drawing of this subject. I rather like the pose of the squirrel and the way it is looking over its' shoulder at me. I think this will be a go, but I really have to finish at least one of the other two drawings I currently have in the works before I start with the squirrel.

More flowers, have you figured you yet that I love drawing flowers? I find them totally fascinating, the way this petal grows out of that part etc.

Today's flower is the lowly red clover. Brought by Europeans to American it can now be found in waste fields and along roadsides in many areas. I drew the leaves separately to show the light colored chevrons that mark each leaf. Done first with pencil, inked with one of my technical pens and colored pencil added.

I am telling myself that I need to start doing more Plein Air drawing if not painting. I really should be painting but am not quite ready for that step. So the other day I took the time to draw these trees and the bicycle. Not terribly good as I really didn't spend all that long on it. Not sure I captured the look of a tree with leaves. Ah well as an initial venture it isn't too bad.

The clematis are starting to bloom. The same day I made the plein air drawing above I photographed these blooming clematis. The yard where this plant is growing also has a purple clematis but it wasn't yet it bloom. Have to head back in that direction on one of my walks to see if I can get some photographs of it.

The problem with this time of year is that I make more photographs than I want to post to the blog. I try to pick ones that I think are not only the best but ones that my readers will enjoy seeing. I would love to hear from folks about what they think of them.

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

Saturday, May 24, 2014

New Watercolor and some colored pencil works

I am calling it done, esp. as I think I spent way too long on this, well not in actual working time, but from when I started to when I finally finished has been over a month, and for such a small work a month is a long time. Painting is only 4 x 4.5 inches on Canson 140lb Watercolor paper.

This was done for a challenge/lesson in the Watercolor forum. We had to first photograph, then draw and finally plaint some small plant material. It was early in April when I made the photograph of a plant that looked like it had just started putting on some new growth when we had a cold night and the plant suffered some frost damage. Ooh I though perfect, some great colors from the damaged growth but still some greens.

Hmm it was easier to make the photograph than to do the actual painting. Still I am fairly satisfied with how it came out. There are some areas in the background I think are a bit overworked but I also think I successfully managed the plant. For a pretty much beginning water colorist not too bad.

Another colored pencil drawing with a bit of whimsy. A couple of years ago I was in an ATC exchange where the subject was owls. One of the cards I created for the swap had a family of owl chicks on a branch. The other evening I was sitting, listening to the radio and trying to come up with something to draw that would be a bit fun and I thought of those three owls.  Instead of putting them on a branch I put one of the parents there and had the 3 poking their heads out of a hole in the tree.

Drawn first with graphite then ink then colored pencil was added. It occurred to me, too late for me to add it in, that I should have had a mouse dangling from the parents claws. Oh well maybe I will redo it with the mouse.

A quick colored pencil drawing of some Spanish Blue Bell flowers. The plants are growing in the side yard of my Apt. Building. I have noticed them in past years but never bothered to identify what they were. This year I made photographs and then picked one of the stems of flowers to draw. It did take me a bit of time to research what exactly they were. I have several wild flower books but these aren't wild flowers so they weren't in it. Finally found a web site that pictured spring flowers and I found them there, not quite the same color as they have color varieties and this pale lavender isn't the standard color.

Not the best job, the flowers are good, but I sort winged it with the leaves, though they do sort of spread out and are flat on the ground. I should have left out the grass background. Ah well, isn't it the way that you realize too late what doesn't work.

Above is one of the photographs I made of the Spanish Blue Bells, pretty aren't they. No one has cut the grass so they are very happily blooming this year. I think it past years they got mowed down before they actually got to bloom.

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

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Library Sketches and Musings on Plein Air

I am working on a few of long term projects, one in graphite, one that will be pen and ink with colored pencil and a small watercolor painting. While I am making slow progress on all of them, none of them are quite ready to post to the blog so today you get a few sketches that I made yesterday while on a trip to the Library.

I have mentioned before and shown photographs of either the tress or flowers from the two dogwood trees that are outside of the Library. Above is a quick drawing of one of the pink dogwood blossoms. I actually sat outside on a bench beneath the tree to make this drawing. I added the colored pencil at home.

There weren't a lot of patrons in my line of view while at the library yesterday so instead of a figure drawing you get this drawing of a chair that was across the table from me. I had a go at sketching in the upholstery fabric the chair was covered in. Hmm, not wonderful but it was a fairly quick sketch, so not too bad either, at least it looks like a chair.

This is a quick sketch of the white flowering dogwood tree, drawn from the same bench. I was mainly trying to capture the way the trunks and limbs grow with just a suggestion of the masses of leaves and flowers that crown the tree.

I know drawing and painting plein air is what a lot of artists love to do, but I admit I find it very distracting to be outside. I hate being uncomfortable, and bugs are not my thing. I enjoy walking, but movement usually keeps the bugs at bay while sitting in one spot tends to attract them, well at least to me.

I don't think I spent more than 20 minutes sitting outside and drawing yesterday, which is really not long enough to make a painting. In that time I was distracted mainly by 2 girls (well teenagers) chatting on their phones and just being teenagers and also by others who were just walking by. The two drawings I made are really just quick sketches not real drawings, making an actual painting is going to require both more concentration and being able to spend more time at it.

At least yesterday I was in the shade so wasn't hot, or cold, it was a lovely spring day, but still I didn't feel like sitting long enough to do more detailed drawings. Bother, I do admire those who can draw and paint outside and some part of me would like to do it, until that is I actually get outside, then I am restless and find it hard to focus. I suppose I should just push myself to get out there and draw and paint, maybe I will learn how to focus and ignore distractions like bugs, people and temperture, maybe.

Above is another of my plant drawings, this one I am not quite sure of the species, I think it is actually field pennycress, but the seed pods which would identify it for sure weren't very developed on the stem that I brought home to draw. I have in the past drawn and colored plants outside in their natural habitat and there are some plants/flowers that I wouldn't pick even if I found them, but the above plant is not native to North American and is considered a weed so I have no hesitation in picking it and bringing it home to draw later.

The best way to actually learn a plant is to draw it, so I will be continuing with this series of plant/flower drawings. Done in my sketchbook, graphite first, then pen and ink and then colored pencil.

This I believe is a close up photograph of some blooming broom. Scottish broom is I gather from some quick research mostly a yellow blooming plant that has escaped from the garden in some parts of the US and is considered an invasive pest. These particular bushes are growing in a garden area in what once was a school playground and is now more or less a park. Not having photographed these before I took the time to go into the park and make photographs. They are pretty bushes covered with these pink blooms but I hope these don't spread, we have enough invasive plants here in the northeast we don't need more.

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

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Nature Journal page and a couple of colored pencil drawings

Here is another catch up Nature Journal page, this one from May 18, 2013, again a visit to Daniel Webster in Marshfield, MA. Again the tree stump in the panne, photographing and drawing this stump is how I chart water levels from week to week. It was down this week from my previous visit.

The accompanying drawing is of a nest box with a pair of tree swallows as residence. I would guess that they had young in the nest the way the one parent perched outside the hole. These boxes can be used by various birds, in the fields, Bluebirds or Bob-o-links are the usual occupants. By the panne, which is were this box was, it is usually either tree swallows or sparrows. I have noticed both using them over the years I have been visiting. .

Not entirely sure where the above came from. I seem to be doing a lot of that lately, starting out with either a doddle or a vague idea that then turns into some kind of colored pencil drawing. I use colored pencils for these because they are drawn in my sketchbook and the paper is not sturdy enough for me to add watercolor, and pastel would be too messy. Not to mention that most of these are fairly small and I wouldn't be able to get the details I want with pastel.

This is sort of a crest, but for whom or what or where is something only my unconscious knows. It was fun to do as I deliberately used lots of color for this design.

Working on this has inspired me to think about doing another Mandela. I haven't drawn one of those for a couple of years but sort of feel I have another one in me.

Another doodle that turned into a drawing, a bee (sort of) with various flowers. A very stylized bee, not really like any I see in real life. And I have been seeing bees, mostly bumble bees, but someone near the Library (in the center of Brockton) must have a hive since I noticed a lot of honey bees at one of the red bud trees the other day.

Above is a photograph of a pink dogwood tree against a very blue sky. The pink petals are almost past their prime but still pretty. The tree is a neighbors and I have no clue how old it is, but it has been there for over 20 years and is probably at least twice that in age as it is a fairly large tree for a dogwood.

That is it for today, I have a couple longer term projects in the works which I need to buckle down at and get finished. In the meantime comments are always welcome, even if I don't always respond.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Nature Journal, portrait and a design

Above is another of my nature journal catch up pages. Again the place was Daniel Webster in Marshfield, MA and the time was May 6, 2013. Images for this page are more of my old standbys. The fact that I started using basically the same images over and over is I think one reason why I lost interest in the Journal. There are still a few more written observation pages and I want to finish the illustrations that go along with them.

Again the tree stump in the panne with a few turtles, only 4 on this day, but one was fairly large. Next is a quick drawing of a pair of mating Canada Geese. I saw most of the courtship "dance" (head bobs) that lead up to the actual mating. As I recall they waited a while and then started over. After a series of synchronized head/neck bobs the male mounts the female as they swim in the water. I have a feeling this was a rather late pairing since the bottom image is one of a pair of parents with 2 goslings. I was being warned off by the arched neck and loudly hissing parent.

I must say that all my visits to Daniel Webster over about a year and a half allowed me to observe a lot of Canada Geese behavior that I had never realized prior to this time.

I made the above graphite portrait the other day. Not sure if I am pleased with it or not, the photo (another of the May WetCanvas Pen and Ink forum challenge images)  has very dramatic lighting, both making it easier to draw but also in a way trickier. This man has the most androgynous face that I think I have ever drawn. Hair was very fluffy, and the mouth just doesn't seem male, however the nose and chin are very male. The subject had very dark eyelashes accenting the arc of the top eyelid.

I tried to do this portrait with just tone and very little line, it should really be done in Pen and Ink for the challenge, but I don't think I will be attempting to do that.

Not quite sure where the above design came from. I was just sort of doodling around and this just evolved. The birds came first then other elements got added in until it seemed finished.

I was thinking it looks a bit like a Pennsylvania Dutch motif, but why it should surface at this point in time I have no clue. Sketched first in pencil, then inked and color pencil added, drawn in my sketchbook.  Though in some way blue birds might make sense, after all it is spring, and spring here in MA brings mating blue birds, so maybe that was origin of the design.

It also looks like something that could easily be translated to applique for a Baltimore Album Block. Course I don't do hand applique and have never had any desire to make a Baltimore Album quilt so it won't be me who does the sewing. I wasn't consciously coping anything though in fact there are probably similar designs out there.

Above is a photograph of the Brockton Public Library with a white dogwood in full bloom. On the other side of the entrance there is a Pink Dogwood also in bloom. But I think the white tree gets more sun light since it has a more dramatic show of blossoms. This is the front of the old Library building. A few years ago they build an addition toward the back with a second main entrance.

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

Monday, May 12, 2014

New ATC, pen and ink, and flower

I finally finished it, my watercolor ATC (Artist Trading Card) version of the rocking horse I drew a couple of weeks ago. Design is based on various antique rocking horses and influenced by my memories of the horse I had as a child.

I loved that horse, and for a long time (well it seemed a long time) I rode weekly with Roy Rogers as he and Dale vanquished the bad guys. I can't recall what name I gave it. It was a palomino like Trigger and probably my favorite plaything. Eventually I got to big and to old to ride and it was put away but I remember it fondly.

Course mine wasn't a real rocking horse, its body was probably fiberglass, and instead of rockers it had springs that allowed the horse to rock, back and fourth on its wooden base.

The ATC is pen and ink with watercolor on Fabriano 140lb cold press watercolor paper.

Haven't been doing any pen and ink work lately, not quite sure why, just haven't felt like it I guess. But I decided I had better get my act together or I won't have done any of the WetCanvas Pen and Ink forums May challenge images.

So above is a barn, a bit of a strange barn with the hole in the middle, but the photograph calls it a barn so I guess it is. Not sure why someone would design a barn this way but I am sure they had their reasons.

I drew it out in graphite first then added ink using various sized technical pens, drawn in my sketchbook so paper wasn't of the best.

Another colored pencil/pen and ink flower drawing, done from a live plant, this is I think either Dames Rocket or an escaped close garden relative. The leaves aren't quite right for a Dames Rocket, but the flower colors, shapes and growth habits are so I guess I will leave the identification as is unless someone wants to tell me otherwise.

The plant was growing wild in an empty lot so I felt no guilt picking it and bringing it home to draw.

The photograph for today is the same tree I showed in my last update, but this time the redbuds are in bloom. Not too far away were a couple of white redbuds, but I think this pink is more visually interesting. I love spring, hopefully for my next update I will have a pink dogwood photograph. 

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

Thursday, May 8, 2014

New ATC, Frog, and Grape Hyacinths

I revisited the Anemones I painted for the April WetCanvas Floral challenge and repainted them on Fabrianio Cold Press Watercolor paper at ATC (Artist Trading Card) size. I did change the background for this small painting from the dark blue to various greens. Since green is the complement of red and the anemones are pink I think this change gives the pink a little more vibrancy.

Not sure which version of these flowers is the better one. I was also trying out a new brush, which I think I need to use on a larger piece of art work before I can decide if I like it or not. The mfg.(Princeton, the Neptune line) comes highly recommended so it should be a good bush, just one I think I am going to have to spend time getting used to.

I am slowly upgrading my watercolor tools from Student to professional grades, still have some student paints but will replace them with artist grade when I need to replace them. I also need at least one more better brush. Eventually, I will just keep an eye out for 50% off coupons at at a local chain art supply/craft store.

This little guy is one of the Pen and Ink WetCanvas forum's challenge images, and I really should have rendered it in pen and ink. But by the time I finished tweaking the drawing for accuracy I didn't want use pen over the graphite and then erase all my pencil marks. Oops, I ran into this problem with the eggs last month, though I think the egg drawing was a better drawing than this frog. May end up translating it to pen and ink we will just have to wait and see if I get the urge.

Drawn in my sketchbook with a couple of different pencils but wasn't paying a lot of attention to which ones, I think one was the HB.

Above are some grape hyacinths. I have seen a lot of them blooming in various yards this year, and I was bold enough to pick one stalk to bring home. I used that stalk as a reference for the above drawing. It was getting a bit limp so I ended up tossing it out before I added color to this drawing so my colors may be off.

Drawn in graphite in the sketchbook, added ink with my technical pen, erased graphite, added colored pencil and then added a few more ink lines. A fairly quick exercise but rather fun to do.

I know these aren't flowers just yet, just pretty pink buds on some kind of ornamental tree growing in one of the city's parks. But I love the colors, that pink and vivid green combination was probably the inspiration for my green background on the anemones above.

That is it for today, I know not a very long post, been busy reading a new book about the History of watercolors and getting out to photograph our pretty spring flowers and trees. Per usual comments are welcome.

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Lamb, violets and Chicago Image

After all the portraits thought I would do an animal drawings as a change of pace. I found this image of a lamb, don't recall just where right now and thought it would be fun to draw. Done in the sketchbook I was using for the portraits, it doesn't have that many blank pages left in it and I would really like to finish it off.

Just a quick drawing with HB lead. The image was with some more donkeys so have a feeling I was thinking about adding this image to that drawing I was working on and never finished. Hmm, guess I need to go find it and haul it out and decide if it is worth additional work or not.

The above is two different views of the same flower, one from the side and one from the top. I was on a walk and was able to pick a few violets to bring home. Thankfully the day wasn't so warm that they wilted before I could stick them in some water.

It was kind of fun to do a detailed examination of a flower, though I didn't go so far as to take the flower apart, I did examine it pretty closely to discover all its parts and how the petals and stem attached.

This isn't a very complicated drawing, but considering the amount of flowers I draw, many only from photo references I thought it would be good for me to draw some flowers from life. Being able to hold it in my hand and examine it from all angles should help even with flowers that don't look anything like a violet. Besides I occasionally draw flowers that I make up, so knowing how the real ones work helps.

Drawn first with graphite then outlined with one of my technical pens and colored pencil was added. I didn't work too hard to get the color exactly right, it should probably have a bit more red, but this is close enough when I take into account scanners and the fact everyone's monitor can be slightly different.

The above drawing is for another of my Journals. Everywhere I look people seem to be creating journals esp. of vacations or trips. So a few years ago I assembled a journal with the intent that I would use it to document one of my Christmas visits to Chicago. Per usual my intentions didn't match reality. I started out OK, but once in Chicago the journal got put aside so I didn't get to far with it.

Since then I occasionally pull it out and look at it, even more occasionally I decide that I need to work in it. So last night I finally finished the sketch and inking for this page. It shows the Blue Line station at O'Hare Airport with a waiting train. This is the cheapest way to get into Chicago, even though they have upped the fare from the airport it is still by far the best deal.

I take this line to the Belmont Station and transfer to a city bus to get to my Sisters. Travel takes about an hour if I don't have to wait for buses or trains, it might be faster by Taxi, but then again considering traffic on the highways at may times of day probably not.

Anyway I may add some more detailing to the wall behind the train, but otherwise this isn't a bad representation of the station. Now I have to decide if I want to show the bus terminal where I pick the bus up or if I should just skip that part of my trip, decisions, decisions.

By the way as a total aside this is the station where a few weeks ago a train driver didn't stop the train before it ran out of track, it jumped off the rails, up and over the flooring and plowed into the exit escalator with some very serious injuries. I didn't show that part of the station which would be to the viewers left.

Another photograph of a weeping cherry, this time the photograph is a close up of some of the blossoms. Sorry, but I just love these trees with their early pink flowers. They are one of those that bloom prior to leafing out so the pink is even more apparent than it would otherwise be.

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

Friday, May 2, 2014

Nature Journal and 2 portraits

Another blog update and another catch up page from my Nature Journal. Another visit to Daniel Webster again from April of 2013, this visit was on the 30th so almost one year ago. My usual tree stump in the panne with only 3 turtles that day. A violet I saw blooming in the grass and more Canada Geese. I decided to do the unusual and add a bit of color to the violet, this one was actually the pale violet depicted and not the dark violet which is more common.

The geese couple had 5 hatchlings in their brood in my photograph but I selected only four of them for my drawing. As I recall there were several pairs with young on the day I visited. Since Daniel Webster has quite a few predators (fox, hawks, snapping turtles for sure, there may be others) adults have to be vigilant and most parents end up raising only a couple of their goslings to full adulthood. These little ones make a tasty morsel.

In the past couple of days I have been involved with a discussion in the WetCanvas Drawing forum regarding drawing portraits. Some members suggest using tools to achieve total accuracy in a drawn portrait from a reference photograph. The tools suggested are using grids, or even using projectors of one sort or another so that an outline can be traced on the drawing paper then shading would be added.

Neither are my cup of tea. My training and inclination is to draw freehand, starting with some givens and working from there. Using erasers to make corrections as needed. If in the end I don't achieve total accuracy so be it, as long as I get it mostly right I am satisfied.

Anyway this discussion reminded me that it has been a while since I did a serious portrait study. The gentleman in the Library in the last post was just a quick sketch, so I pulled out a photograph that is actually from April's pen and ink challenge got my pencils and erasers at the ready and drew.

The above is what I finally ended up with, probably not totally accurate, but it is pretty close. I have to admit that for this drawing I did what I usually never do, I drew the boy's eyelashes. Normally I never draw eyelashes, but because he was either looking down or had his eyes closed the lashes made a very definite pattern against his cheeks and needed to be included.

Not sure how well I did with this young man. For this drawing I deliberately chose a rather difficult reference image from my own photographs. The photograph was made with a flash which reduces shadows and flattens features, also he is a young boy and was looking up at me when I made the shot. He wasn't entirely happy to be photographed as I hope his expression shows.

So the difficult aspects of this image with regards to drawing, first he is still a child and I usually draw adults (different relationships between some features) odd angle of view, and few shadows. Mostly I am pleased with how this turned out, could be better but could have been a heck of a lot worse. I wanted to challenge myself and believe me I did.

He is a relative of friends of mine, and the photograph was made at a Holiday gathering I attended.

I usually only post one photograph at the end of each update, but had to post this photograph of a rainbow. We had a rain storm come through Wed until Thursday afternoon, by evening it had cleared enough that we actually saw some sunlight, then a group of storm clouds came through bringing a brief shower and this rainbow. Photograph was made looking east with trees and houses being lit by an almost setting sun.

I did manage to get out between showers yesterday for a walk and spotted these blooming tulips. Aren't they beautiful, pretty pink and white flowers. Maybe there is another drawing here. 

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