Monday, June 30, 2014

Basketball Sketch and several UFO's

Brockton occasionally does these events, some are for official Holidays, like the Memorial day parade others are hmm, not sure just why they are put together. Anyway on the Summer Solstice they had something going on at one of the middle schools. Partly I think for kids to celebrate being out of school but I think there was a larger purpose of which I have no real clue. I arrived a couple hours after the official start and I think I missed the games they had for the kids, there were still some booths with activities that the kids could take part in, and there was a pickup game of Basketball on one of the outdoor courts. They also had an outdoor grill and were cooking hamburgers and hot dogs.

The drawing was done using as reference a photograph I made that day, I edited out some objects and several other players, it was not a one on one game. Actually I ended up drawing in way more of the background then I initially intended. I know it is pretty sketchy but I am still semi pleased with it. I doubt I will do a more finished drawing of this, unless I spend a lot more time working on the layout. But it might make an interesting watercolor, the taller man was dressed in yellow with blue shoes. Drawn in one of my sketchbooks with an HB pencil.

OK the above is it for finished pieces in this update the rest of the images today have to do with some of my several works in progress.

I came up with an idea last week that it might be fun to do some illustrated ABC's. The idea came from a book I had taken out of the Library on Edward Lear. I didn't realize until reading the book that Lear made his living as an artist, mainly making watercolors and Illustrations. The nonsense verse and drawings were a sideline that started out as something he included in letters to his friends. Anyway Lear made several illustrated alphabets, mostly with fictional animals, I am not in Lear's league so though I would use either real flowers or animals for mine. After I put together the lists of possibilities I thought why not use one flower and one animal for each letter.

So above is the start of the Illustrations drafted out on some Laid paper that I have had forever. The flower for A is the aster and my animal is an alpaca. I am going to use a dip pen for this with India Ink. I am still thinking about applying color but have a feeling that I will decide to not bother and just leave it as black and white drawings.

Initial layout and inking for a new Mandala.

When I was making Mandala's in the past I would design a section and then color it in before moving on to the next section. For this one I decided that I wanted to make more design decisions up front. So above is the current status of this piece. I still need to design the rest of the outer ring, but I think that I want to start adding color to the inner sections first. Right now it looks pretty busy but I am hoping that adding color will help to visually make sense of all those lines.

An update on the stipple piece. Mostly starting work in some new areas, though I have further darkened some of the areas I had previously worked on. Progress is being made, slowly but surely.

Now for something a bit different. I finally broke down and purchased a tablet last week, so I can get and read E-books. This is a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 and of course it needed a case. With my stash of fabrics there was no way I was going to purchase a case for mine instead I put some thought into what I needed, hauled out some fabrics and my rotary cutter and went to work.

I put a pocket on the front to hold the power connector and a cable, and some ear plugs. The base of the case has a full lining with batting in between. The strap is my old stand by of braided strips of fabric. The flaps are held closed with Velcro.  I probably should have used buttons, but really didn't want to play with the buttonhole attachment of the machine so went with the Velcro. I think it came out pretty well for something with no pattern, everything fits into appropriate spaces and it is easy to carry. Not to mention it is much prettier than what I could buy in the store.

I was getting tired of posting flower photographs, actually I have been posting flowers to my Facebook page between blog updates and don't want to reuse photographs. If you have an interest in my between update images you can like my Facebook page below and you should receive notification via your feed. So here is a photograph of an evening sky. No real color, I just like the white clouds against the deep blue sky.

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

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

More Watercolor and some colored pencil

Above is another plein air watercolor painting. I wasn't in the mood to spend a lot time at something so I chose what I thought would be a simple if not entirely quick subject, a blooming rose. Hmm, I suppose it would have been easier if in the middle of my session the petals hadn't started dropping off one by one. I didn't touch it, but there was a bit of a breeze and I guess that was enough.

Not sure how successful this is, but at least I tried. Next time I try a flower I need to see if I can find one that isn't pink.

After a trip to the Library yesterday I, per usual, wandered over to the nearby park. Wasn't in the mood to try another watercolor after my problems with the rose so ended up making a quick sketch of a youngish girl accompanied by an older woman. I have a feeling she was some sort of caregiver, but really don't know. They sat for a bit at one of picnic tables, long enough for me to manage the quick sketch.

I am using a mechanical pencil and I don't really like the lead. I have a feeling it might be a 2H as I don't seem to be able to get the darks as easily or as quickly as I would prefer. But I want to draw in pencil and don't want to haul a pencil sharpener with  me, so mechanical pencils are my best option. Maybe I can find a softer lead to replace what I have in the pencil. I will have to look the next time I out and about.

I wasn't totally pleased with it when I was working on it, but looking at it now I think the one tree isn't as poorly done as I had originally thought. Though it is really buildings that I should be trying to work on, as I am not terribly good with them, and I would like to include buildings in my watercolors at some point.

Above are some leaves and a flower stalk of the Linden Tree. The park where I made the above drawing has a couple of Linden trees, and somewhat to my surprise I also discovered there was one growing in the next door neighbors yard. Exactly how it got there I am not sure, since I am pretty sure it wasn't planted by the homeowner.

The ones in the park haven't quite started blooming by the one next door already has little yellow flowers. The leaves are a glossy green, and it is an attractively shaped tree. The main veins of the leaves are much lighter colored than the surrounding leaf.

Drawn first with pencil in my sketch book then color added by using colored pencil.

Above is an update on the stipple project, I didn't get a lot done but the structure of the leaf is starting to become apparent.

This last image is a close up photograph of a milkweed flower. They are really quite intricate. Above you can see not only a full front view but a side view of the flowers. Pink against green, it appears to be one of my favorite color combinations, at least for photographs.

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

Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Portrait, a Watercolor and Stipple Update

A fairly quick graphite drawing of a young girl wearing a hat from a photo reference posted to the WetCanvas Photo Library. Isn't she cute. I think it took me as long to get the hat the right size as it did to draw everything else. It started way to small to fit not only her head but anyone human. Thankfully I realized it and was able to correct it.

Next time I need to draw a hat on someone I will try to remember to draw the whole head first then add the hat over it. If I had done that the drawing would have been finished much faster.

Drawn in one of my sketchbooks with mostly a B lead.

Managed to get out to one of the parks this week with my newly finished watercolor sketchbook. There was a pair of mallards sitting in the grass, I started with the female then added the male. Unfortunately they moved before I finished painting the male and I decided to not try to do much more with him. He is starting his summer molt, so while his head is still green some brown feathers are starting to replace the white ones on his belly besides the some of the grey ones on his back. Mallard males in eclipse (brown feathers) can't fly so they need to find a home where they can find food and will be safe from predators.

The next challenge was to paint the background. Not sure how successfully I managed that. Ah well no one has said that painting outdoors is easy. Just have to keep at it. I did add a few pen lines to the finished dry painting to help define the male ducks bill, and the texture of the tree trunks.

I have always known but am still rediscovering that painting tree trunks that don't look like a total mess is hard, esp. when the tree is fairly close. Still haven't quite figured out how to handle them, but I think these aren't quite as bad as my previous attempts.

The above is a stem with some leaves and flowers of a Saint Johns Wort plant. This is another of those medicinal plants that early European settlers brought with them to the new world. It escaped from those early gardens and now can be found growing wild in meadows and waste areas. It is toxic to grazing animals so needs to be kept out of pastures. It is still used in herbal medicine.

Since traditionally the herb would be picked for celebrations around this time of year I thought it an appropriate image for today's Solstice.

My drawing was done first with pencil then inked with some brown ink and finally I added some colored pencil. The plants can be very bushy which I haven't totally managed to convey, but otherwise I am fairly pleased with this.

An update on how my stipple piece is coming along. Mainly more work in the upper right hand corner though I also started more work in other areas.

The reddish seed pods above are growing on a Redbud tree. Since it is still early days with these pods they are still quite flat with only hints of the seeds that will be developing inside. I find it interesting that the seed pods on the white blooming Redbud trees are just green with no hit of red.

I just like this photograph with hints of green against a blue sky.

That it is for today per usual comments are welcome.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Drawing Chicago, new stipple and a finished book

I wasn't in the mood to work on my Nature Journal catch up but thought it was way past time for some more work in my Chicago Journal. The scene above is a view of some buildings on Belmont Ave. not to far from where my sister lives. The middle building (which is pink) is a Mexican restaurant that we occasionally have lunch in.

This isn't wonderful as I find buildings a challenge to draw, they are just so time consuming, and all those straight lines get old, well to me they do. Still I think if anyone knows the real building it would be recognizable. I originally was going to leave it as just a pen and ink work, but the pink/turquoise combination is so distinctive that I though color might be a good idea, so I added some colored pencil. The paper in the journal isn't heavy enough to take watercolor, so I am left with markers or colored pencil. I hate markers and don't own very many so colored pencil it became.

Stage 1, pencil drawing and some stipple.

Stage 2, more stipple work in upper area and some down through the center.

I don't usually do in-process photographs, but with stipple works it is almost necessary as they take so long to go from start to finish. So above are 2 in-process photographs of a new stipple piece I am working on. The reference is a photograph I made of a bloom spike on a Hosta. I am working on grey Stonehenge paper with a Prismacolor Premier .005 fine line marker.

The book is done. Not bad for a first effort at a hard case, though I made the mistake of making the back section too wide, I could have added 6 more signatures. Still I think it looks pretty good for a first attempt. I may be making more of these eventually.

Course I need to find better fabric to use as a cover. My cover is some linen I purchased when I thought I would try counted cross stitch. I quickly discovered that counted cross stitch was one needlework activity that didn't suit me at all. I never even finished that first project. Because the linen wasn't backed properly I ended up coating the outside of the book with some Acrylic Gloss Medium. It will waterproof the outside of the book and help protect the linen from wear. It does feel a bit strange to hand, but I will take the trade off.

I also need to find some more decorative end papers, I used some plain gray paper that I had on hand from when I was making some resume books.

Photograph for today is of some blooming pink roses. Love that one bud that is almost right in the middle of the photograph. Just slightly left of middle, which I find more visually interesting than putting something smack dab in the middle.

One of the forums I read had a mention of Georgia O'Keeffe today, she was known for putting the subject of her paintings in not only the center but in the middle of her paintings. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. The Boston Art Institute has one of her paintings that I think would have been much more successful if she hadn't been so persistent about that placement. Personally I am more inclined to follow Winslow Homer, in many of his works his subjects are carefully placed either just to the left or to the right of center.

Next time you have to crop a photograph compare how it looks with the subject in the center to how it looks with it just off center.

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

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Pen and Ink, Watercolor and a new project

Another of my pen and ink WetCanvas challenge drawings for June. This is a stone barn not sure what country but I expect either Europe or Great Britain. I drew this out first in graphite since I often have a problem getting the perspective angle correct the first time around. I didn't on this one, you can still see the smudge where I tried to erase the original drawing. I think I need to do more perspective drawings so I can get a better handle on the angles involved.

Otherwise I am rather pleased with how this came out. Much better than my last pen and ink drawing. Course I did spend more time on this one so I guess it shows.

Drawn in my sketchbook I used my technical pens to do the inking.

The other day I was in one of Brockton's parks and though I would try a more close up drawing of trees and foliage so made the above drawing. I used a new to me pen which turned out to not have waterproof ink so the results got a bit smeared when I added the watercolor.

I played with mixing different colors of green for this drawing. The results are a bit of a mess but for some reason I still rather like it. That said I don't think I will be combining this pen with a watercolor wash again in the near future.

I was just fooling around last night trying different sketches to investigate some possible future drawings and ended up drawing my hand, well mainly my thumb, I was holding a pink pearl eraser. Not wonderful, but at least it looks like a hand. If I had chosen a slightly different position it would have been a good exercise from a book on drawing that I am currently reading Bert Dodson's Keys to Drawing. The book has been around since the 1985 but from what I have read so far it is one of the good ones for people who are trying to learn to draw.

I don't like books about learning to draw that take a rote approach to drawing, ie learn to draw this shape, learn to see this shape in the human form (or any form for that matter), draw that shape first then modify it. It is sort of the approach of the last book I had out of the library. When you learn to draw that way every new subject has to be broken down and analyzed and you have to commit shapes to memory. My belief is that the best way to learn to draw is to learn to see and translate that seeing to paper. If you learn to draw what you see then you can draw anything.

I am making a book, it is for me to use as a sketchbook for my plein air watercolors. Above is where I am currently at in the project. I have the signatures sewn together with the tape that will be used to attach the covers. The boards for the cover have been cut and I have selected some fabric to use to cover them. My stopping point was that I needed some glue. Now I have various glues around the apt. but I didn't want to  use any of them. The DVD I am using to assemble this book suggest Elmers Glue, I only have Elmers School glue so decided I needed to get the real deal before I went any further with my project.

I am using Bookbinding A Traditional Technique by Larry Withers as my guide. I am having to wing a few things, like the tape I am using, and also the cloth that will be glued to the back. The materials I am using as substitutes should be OK but they aren't authentic. Oh well don't think it really matters too much as this is just a first attempt and just a sketchbook for me to use. Wish me luck, so far so good but I still have quite a ways to go. From previous attempts at bookmaking I do have the correct thread, needles, awl, and bone folder so I am not winging all my materials.

Photo for today's update is a white peony flower in bloom. I was using manual settings for this photograph so the background is a bit darker than it would have been if I had use Automatic settings. It was a sunny day and I have found that on sunny days my automatic setting tends to allow too much light for some flowers giving them a washed out appearance. Even though I have lost the background I have lots of details in the flower so I am happy with this photograph.

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

Monday, June 9, 2014

An ATC, Watercolor and pen and ink Drawing

If this looks familiar it is because this ATC (Artist Training Card) is based on an image I posted a few weeks back. The bee started out as a doodle and then just evolved. For the card I changed a few things while leaving it basically the same. I don't do whimsy often so like to take advantage of it when I do.

Done on Stonehenge paper, pen and ink with colored pencil added.

Over the weekend I thought I would try to make another plein air painting. I needed to return a book to the library so after that stop I traveled on to a local park and made the above. I sketched it first with pencil added a few ink lines, erased the pencil and then painted it with watercolor.

Hmm, well I suppose not the worst painting I have ever done (that had to be a watercolor I did back 40 years or so ago) but it certainly isn't the best either. Very muddled, design wise, and my greens are not the best, even for a sunny day in June. Though it is probably hard to tell there is a granite sculpture toward the right of this painting that was supposed to have been the focal point.  Somehow the trees sort of took over. I can see working plein air is going to take a lot of practice before I even start to get this right.

The painting is small  5.5 x 7 inches but even so I am finding that the brush that came with my Cotman watercolor travel kit is just too small. I am going to have to figure out a way to carry a larger, better brush with me without damaging it. I suppose there are other brushes that I could purchase but that isn't something I want to do at the moment. I will figure something out, just have to think about it a bit.

A quick pen and ink sketch, well quick only in the sense that it didn't take me long to do the inking, or even to do the preliminary sketching with graphite. But the concept behind this drawing has been kicking around in my brain and even occasionally as attempted sketches in my sketch pad for years.

When I was a kid I had a fish tank that sat on top of a book shelf, I also had a cat, well the family had a cat, Taffy was never really mine. Anyway it was Taffy's habit to jump to the top of the fish tank and attempt to catch a fish. I don't believe he ever caught one but he sure tried hard enough.

All my previous attempts to draw this action just weren't working, I was trying to be much too realistic with the cat. Not sure this is my final version but I am liking this one much more than any I have done before. I have a lot of "Taffy" stories and have been wanting to make illustrations for some of them for a long time, maybe I now have a start. Wish me luck.

Done in my sketchbook, graphite first then added pen and ink using my technical pens.

As my photograph for today above are a couple of Dogwood flowers. These aren't the same species of Dogwood as the earlier pink flowers, those trees bloom prior to leafing and the ones in the above photograph are just in bloom now (in early June). There are quite a few varieties of dogwoods either native to North American or to Asia.

Our early spring bloomers (think pink) are native to North America, the tree blooming above is Japanese. Whichever, the flowers are actually the green center and the white or colored "leaves" are called bracts.  Our native tress prefer some shade while the Japanese variety can deal with full sun.

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

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Still Life and some peonies

A new month and new images from the WetCanvas Pen and Ink forum monthly challenge. Per usual there are several that I have downloaded and printed out.

This is a still life in a glass bowl. I am not really very happy with how it came out. I feel I should have taken a bit more time with it, or perhaps used one of my dip pens instead of my technical pens. Still the good news is that I actually managed to get one done. Hopefully I will manage a few more during the rest of the month.

The challenge flower for the Floral and Botanical forum is Peonies. I love peonies and have my own photographs that I will be using to create my watercolor painting from. Above is a very quickly done colored pencil drawing from one of those photographs. (see below) Peonies are rather complex flowers and I though I should do some preliminary work prior to starting a painting.

Done in my sketchbook with just colored pencils over a graphite sketch.

The Watercolor forum of WetCanvas is doing a session on Notan (Japanese black and white designs) and how making small Notan sketches can help determine the best composition for a painting
So I made the above sketches with just graphite using the flower photograph below.

Not sure if this is quite the right approach but I do know that the design I like the best is the 3 circles in the upper right corner. Though when I actually drew the flowers I ended up including the 4th smaller flower, unusual as I don't usually do drawings with 4 objects, three usually makes a better design. Still in this case that 4th one seems to work.

I may play with this some more as I was trying to be very simplistic and from what I have seen others do I don't need to be quite so stark. Check the composition link above to see a more complex approach to Notan.

Here is my photograph of peonies in bloom. The photograph was made a couple of years ago as with our cold winter and chilly spring I have yet to see one peony blossom so far this year, maybe today.

Above is my Photo pick for today's update. I was walking past this fence the other day when I realized how amazing the shadows coming through were. I stopped to make a couple of photographs and though I would share this one.

This is the second fence of this type in the neighborhood, the other hasn't been taken care of as well, which is a pity as I am sure replacing this kind of workmanship would be very expensive in this day and age. I image this was hand forged as I can't conceive of any other way it could be made.

That is it for today per usual comments are welcome.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Plein Air Watercolors and some pen and ink

The other day I decided I really needed to get out and try to do some plein air painting. I walked down to a fairly local park and sat myself down for about an hour and painted. The above tree was my main result. The trees are a type of locust, probably sunburst honey locust since the new growth is a sunny yellow. Hmm the tips in my painting don't look very yellow but that is the scanner making the yellow more orange than it looks in real life.

I was using my Strathmore sketchbook for this so the paper is all wrong for watercolor. I am going to attempt to make my own sketchbook with paper that should hold up a bit better to water, but that is still for the future. I wasn't brave enough to attempt a building just yet. One of these days that is where I need to go.

The above started out as a pen and ink doodle then I got inspired to add the fish and then more ink work. Thought it needed a bit of something so added the colored pencil. Colors in the background were chosen because they are the complementary colors (red-green, orange-blue, yellow-violet) to those in the fish. Again the yellow is reading more orange when scanned.

I did this drawing just prior to painting the tree. For this one I did some sketching first with pencil, added a bit of pen work then added watercolor. Again this is in my sketchbook so the paper is not the best. The plant is cow vetch, the leaves aren't bad but I only approximated the flowers. Color isn't bad, but you would have trouble guessing shape from what I painted.

I have two photographs today, above is one of the sunburst honey locust trees in the park so you can see approximately what I was trying to paint. I wasn't painting this particular tree, but the background for this tree really shows off the new yellow growth.

Photographed this flower on my walk back from the park. I think I would have liked the photo better if the flower had been in the sun, but still I rather like the image. The lit yard behind makes it look like a window on the garden, when actually I was looking between fence posts.

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