Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Watercolor, ATC and Graphic Design

Today's update is kind of a hodgepodge. I was in Walmart the other evening and noticed that this local store (we have 2 within about 5 miles, different towns but..) has bolts of fabric again, surprise. Thinking I should check it out I wandered in that direction. Then I got distracted and never even checked out the fabric, not a big deal it is probably poor quality, but will do that on another visit. Anyway the path toward the fabric took me by the art supplies isle and I thought why not check that out first.

The supplies are mostly cheap student grade stuff but for some reason they were doing a close out on pads of paper so had reduced prices on all their Canson pads. I can only guess that they are getting in a new vendor and want to clear out the Canson paper to make shelf space. Anyway the prices were pretty good, paper keeps until I need it so I picked up a couple of pads.

One of the pads I picked up was labeled as Mix Media and is 11 x 14 inches 160gsi or 98lb in weight. I purchased the pad thinking it might be good paper to use to make some more of my own journals. Since I had never purchased this paper before I wanted to check out how acceptable it would be to use with watercolor so I painted the above.

Loose impressions of 2 plants I have in the apt. For the Spathiphyllum (peace lily) on the left I did a bit of inking first. The 2nd on the right is supposed to be some kind of fern and that one I just used the brush for. I did mix a new green and used that along with some other mixed greens that were already on my pallet.

I started keeping a very messy pallet when I belatedly realized that dried watercolor can be reactivated by adding water with no problems unlike gouache which seems to suffer a loss of quality. Now unless I am starting a new project that I will need completely different colors for I don't bother cleaning up the pallet between painting sessions.

Anyway the experiment was a success, the paper accepted the watercolor without excessive buckling so I think it would be a good choice for a blank journal. I wouldn't want to flood the paper with water, don't think it will stand up to that, but a combination of ink and fairly dry watercolor works. The paper has a fair amount of tooth so should also be fairly good with colored pencil. I think I made a good buy.

The two images above are a continuation of my toy theme. The top Teddy Bear is based on the one I did for the last update with the doll, though this guy is on a new ATC (Artist Trading Card). I added the flag (pennant) just to add some color and interest. The rug he is sitting on sort of looks like grass but then I have seen indoor carpets that also mimic grass so it isn't that much of a stretch.

The outlined rocking horse is also going to be a ATC, but the drawing I made was just a bit to large to copy directly over to a card so I scanned this image into Photoshop, shrunk it a bit and reprinted it out. I will use the reduced size image to transfer over to a blank ATC stock. Right now I plan on using colored pencil on this, but who know I may change my mind and make it a watercolor.

The drawing is based on some photographs I found of antique rocking horses, but isn't a copy of any of them as it combines some elements of my plastic(fiberglass?) horse with the antique wooden ones.

Late last fall one of my friends from the old Compuserve Crafts forum days created a new Facebook group for us. But the group needed a header so I spent some time yesterday in Photoshop to pull the above one together. Not totally thrilled with it, but it is better than nothing. I found myself remembering why I don't like the Text tool in Photoshop and am thinking I should really redo this in Illustrator where I would have better control. The quilt blocks are images exported from Corel Draw and my days of drafting quilt block patterns. The font wasn't my first choice, but I guess it works.

Just realized that my graphic design skills are getting a bit rusty. Oh if any readers are interested in joining (it is a closed group) e-mail me and I can give you contact information or an invite.

Last image a photograph of a blooming weeping cherry tree. There are actually a pair of these outside the Catholic Church Rectory that is across the street from the Library. I love weeping cherries, so even though it was raining a bit that day I made this photograph.

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

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Watercolor, graphite and more toys

The above is small, about postcard size and started out with me playing around with a brush and trying to paint wet into wet. First I wet the paper then dropped in color and let it mix on the paper. I was using blue and yellow to start, then added some tube greens then mixed some more greens and added those in. Added more blues, you get the picture. Let the first session dry and then went in and added more greens, this time work wet onto dry, mixed up the brown and added some lines to suggest tree trunks and limbs. Then mixed the lighter brown and painted in the path.

Oddly I am fairly pleased with how this came out. Not working from anything except imagination, and there was no under drawing. Just play, but play can teach one a lot with this kind of media. Still need to do more of that as I am still discovering what colors I can mix with my new paints.

I was at the library the other day, sitting for a bit with a book I had taken off the shelves before packing up, taking out the books and walking home. This gentleman sat down at the other end of the table I was sitting at and I couldn't resist trying for a quick sketch.

I don't think he ever realized I was sketching him. Fairly quickly done, and quite sketchy, but I rather like the results. Loved the hat, you just don't see people in hats any more. Well except in winter and those are more caps than hats. Need to do more of this kind of drawing. Now that the weather is getting warmer I need to check out local parks.

More toys, this time a teddy bear and a doll with a ball. I think I could of done a better job with the bear, looking at it now the head seems a bit small, but I really like the doll. She is mostly drawn from my imagination, but to get the legs/feet more accurate I pulled out one of my dolls and posed her.

Hands could be better, but for the most part I am pleased with this. I guess all that figure drawing I was doing for these past couple of years is paying off, even if the figure is just a doll. Tried to pick colors that would contrast but still go together, also wanted to keep the pallet fairly limited so that I was repeating them, you know getting back to those Principles and Elements of design.

As a final image a tree that is just starting to bloom, don't know if this is a crab apple or some kind of ornamental cherry, whatever I love the white against the blue sky with the contrasting dark branches.

If I understand our next weeks weather forecast correctly there isn't much blue sky in my future. Rain today, tomorrow, cloudy Monday and Tuesday then more rain for the next four days. I am going to be soggy by the end of this pattern. Still rain this time of year is a good thing, leaves are just starting to come out on the trees and until they do the forest can become a tinder box on sunny dry days, should also help to keep the pollen count down. Does limit my photo opportunities though so I am not totally thrilled.

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

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Nature Journal, a carving, and faces

Above is another of my catch up Nature Journal pages. This one is about a year old and is from a visit to Daniel Webster, Marshfield, MA on April 9, 2013. As I recall it was a good day for a visit, the water in the Panne was high, note how much of the tree truck is under water and there were several interesting duck visitors. On that day there were blue wing teal and this Northern Shoveler swimming also saw a pair of Mallard ducks mating and a pair of wood ducks.  Out in the fields there were blue birds and a hawk.

What the Shoveler was doing in MA I have no clue, they are mostly a Canadian and mid-western bird. This one must of gotten totally lost, and this poor male certainly wasn't going to find a mate in our local waters, hopefully he flew up to Canada and found more of his kind for company.

If you can make them out note how many turtles were hauled out on the tree stump (8) and there was one sitting on some floating reeds, that were part of the flotsam left after winter storms. How the one turtle got where it was on the tip of the stump I have no clue, I wouldn't have thought it possible for something that size (it was fairly large) to get itself in that position what with the stiff shell.

When I was in Chicago over Christmas, not this year but last year, I took a stroll around my sister's Chicago neighborhood photographing buildings of interest. One of the buildings had this carved panel next to one of its doorways. There is kind of a challenge in the WetCanvas Drawing forum to draw something architectural. While this isn't a building or a room it is architectural in that it is part of a building.

I don't recall which building it was on, obviously something that was built a long time ago as most modern buildings don't bother with carvings, hard to find the talent and even if you do the cost can get pretty steep. As I recall this building has been designated a Chicago Historical landmark so at least this carving is safe, though there was some damage (which I didn't show)

Done with graphite in my sketchbook, it deserves more time than I gave it, still I am relatively pleased with it.

Was out at the laundry-mat today and took my sketch book with me, above are some of the faces and sketches made while waiting for my clothes to wash. At least there were people in the laundry-mat, some days it is fairly empty.

Last photograph today is some more Daffodils, these are blooming in front of our Public Library. Made this the other day as today we had clouds and rain. Thankfully the hail and the thunder storms missed my area.

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

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Anemones, Dancers and Easter Greetings

Another WetCanvas challenge image, this is for the April Floral and Botanical forum challenge which is due the 25th. It is a watercolor of a pair of anemones the theme flower for the month based on a reference photograph provided by another forum member.

Pink is actually a tricky color to paint since there is no such thing as pink paint in the watercolor world, you dilute red to the point where it looks pink on paper. Mostly used my new Magenta paint on these with a dash of another Red. Background color is Payne's Gray and Ultramarine blue. They are OK, but I am not thrilled with the results, as I said pink is tricky.

When I started this the image in my mind was of two dolls dancing away the night. Toy Story the movie was simply extending to the movies from literature what most Children are totally ready to believe, that their toys come alive and live their own adventures when their owners aren't around. After all isn't that the underlying theme of the Nutcracker, and the poem of the of the battle between the Calico Cat and the Gingham Dog? Both stories were written in the 1800's.

Anyway once drawn I had fun first coloring in their clothes then adding details to the background of the table and chair. There should be another chair but I wasn't in the mood to draw it, what can I say. Note her dress has polka-dots on it so I am coming round again to the Sketchbook challenge theme for April. This was done first with pencil, then inked with a technical pen and then colored pencil was added.

To my Christian readers I want to wish you a Happy Easter on this 20th of April 2014. I drew this Easter card this morning, including the traditional Easter Lily, a rising sun and a couple of Chicks. The lily is long standing symbol in the Christian faith originally associated with Mary in the Medieval Church and now since around the 2nd world war by the plants on Easter.

The rising sun is when Jesus was discovered to have risen from his tomb and the chicks are a symbol for the renewal of life. Not really a very Christian symbol but I wanted to put them in. Pen and ink with Colored Pencil in my sketchbook.

My closing image is of a blooming star magnolia. The brownish areas on the petals are from the cold nights we had this past week, even though the flowers hadn't opened some of the petals were damaged by the cold. On a more positive note I saw some forsythia starting to bloom yesterday, didn't manage a photo but will try to get one next week. Oh the bloom was sideways so the image is in the correct position.

That is for today, per usual comments are welcome.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

More Toys, eggs, and some Donkeys

Working in series here, above are more toys done with colored pencil. This time I added a train set to the mix, along with a stuffed horse and dog.

In a way these are more personal toys than the ones I have been drawing. While I don't recall a stuffed dog I did have plenty of toy horses. I was one of those young girls who are horse mad, there was nothing I wanted more than to have a horse of my own. Never happened, in fact I never really learned how to ride, though I did have some lessons one summer. The dream died a long time ago, maybe in another life I can make it happen. In the meantime I can relive it a bit in my drawings.

Now the model train I did have. As I recall it was a largish train (probably O scale) and I had enough track to make a small oval such as you see above. Course at this point I can't remember if mine was a steam engine or an electric engine probably steam. My drawing is of a steam engine with the coal tender behind followed by a caboose. The other object is a "tunnel" for the train to go through.

I have no memory of what happened to that train set, I never had a lot of cars or a lot of track. I did have a friend whose brother had a very large set up that he would occasionally put out on the top of their ping pong table. Now that was one fancy model train set up. The other memory I have of model trains is the set up at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, talk about large and complex. Though the current set up isn't the one I saw as a child. I can remember wishing for more of my own, but as a girl it wasn't encouraged, and we/I didn't have the money.

Do these look familiar? They should, this is the pen and ink version of the graphite drawing of the eggs I had in my last update. I used tracing paper to outline the eggs and major fabric folds and transferred the image to another sheet of drawing paper.

I used my 3X0 technical pen to draw the shadows. Probably just as well I did the finished pencil piece first as it gave me a feel for where the shadows should fall and how dark they should be.

I had started another sketch and thought that to finish it I should add a donkey. While I have over the years (mostly when I was young) drawn hundreds of horses I don't recall ever drawing a donkey. To get the look I did some on-line research and downloaded several images. Using some of those images I sketched the above.

I can tell you some of the differences I noticed between donkey's and horses. Donkeys have larger heads and ears, a more sloped profile to the nose, but very slender legs in relation to the barrel shape of the mid body, oh and not much mane or tail.

Still haven't gotten around to finishing the other drawing, I feel that I need to do a bit more sketching and research first. But it was kind of fun to do, it has been a while since I picked an animal to practice drawing, donkeys are both familiar but different from horses so are a challenge.

More signs of Spring as my final photograph today, daffodils in bloom. Hopefully they are still looking good this morning as we had a very chilly night last night. Winter just doesn't want to let go here in the Northeast. After our lovely warm weekend we actually had a bit of snow yesterday morning. The flowers survived that well enough as I made the above photograph later in the afternoon, but it was cold last night so I can only hope they made it through OK.

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

Monday, April 14, 2014

Eggs, an Illustration and Roses

Eggs in graphite, they were supposed to be eggs in pen and ink as the reference photograph I used for the above drawing is one of the WetCanvas Pen and Ink forums April challenge images. But when I started the initial drawing of this I found I just couldn't stop. I needed/wanted to put in the rest of the shading. Over an hour later (shading with graphite takes time) I ended up with 3 eggs in graphite and no way was I going to add ink to this, I had worked too hard to get the shading just so to add ink and then erase the graphite.

Bother now I have to figure out if I want to even try this in pen and ink, which I sort of think I do as shading in ink is a lot trickier than shading with pencil. Though I have to say it probably won't take me anywhere near as long to do this in ink as it did in Graphite.

Done in my sketchbook, it is about 3 x 6 inches, and done with various hardness pencils, not really sure which ones as I wasn't totally paying attention, pretty sure there was a 2H, HB, B and probably a 2 or 3B in the mix.

Above is another colored pencil drawing, again a fairly quick sketch, inked with one of my technical pencils and then added colored pencil. Probably should have taken more time with the coloring but I wasn't in the mood. Used a combination of pencils, Polychromos, Derwent Artist, and even a couple of my old Venus pencils, depending on the color I was going for.

Inspiration for this is Edward Lear's poem of the Owl and the Pussycat. I got the pea green boat but missed the guitar and the jar of honey. I was drawing totally from imagination so have no idea if I am actually sort of copying an Illustration I saw in the past, probably for some elements.

Don't know what has gotten into me lately I am not usually at all whimsical with my drawings but here I am drawing first toys and now this pair, no clue what will be next.

Over the weekend I finished the watercolor of the rose stem with rose hip. Not wonderful, but not too bad either I guess. I am now working on the flower for the Floral/Botanical forum April challenge. Per usual at this stage of a painting I am wondering if I should bother continuing to work on it but probably will.

The background is a color I was mixing with some of my new watercolor paints. I realized that I needed some artist quality paints and also that I needed some additional colors for my pallet so I indulged myself and ordered a few new colors. The kind of mauve background was a result of my playing around with them.

Once I finish that one I will go back to the leafing plant with frost damage that I did the drawing of last week. There are a lot more colors in that one so it will be more of a challenge.

Last image for today, my neighbors Andromeda has started to bloom and I managed to get a photograph of it the other day. Here in the Northeast this evergreen shrub is one of our earliest bloomers in the spring, if you see crocus then the Andromeda isn't far behind.

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

Friday, April 11, 2014

More Toys, a plant and a Nature Journal Page

OK I admit I just couldn't resist drawing the elephant with polka-dots. This time its' company is some more blocks and a cloth doll with red hair. The dolls expression isn't quite what it was supposed to be, my pen slipped a bit while I was drawing her mouth. Ah well, it didn't bother me enough to correct it. Toys are sitting on a slight wonky shelf.

The polka-dots on the gray elephant are purple and pink, seemed appropriate. Drawn with pencil in the sketchbook, then inked and color pencil was added. Fun to do, everyone needs some play time, right?

Eventually if I get around to it, the above drawing will actually become a watercolor. This is another attempt at participating in the WetCanvas Watercolor forum April project. Thought you might like to see the photograph the drawing is based on, as I have a feeling it doesn't make a lot of sense without color.

About a week or so ago I photographed this plant outside the library. Apparently it started putting out some new growth a bit earlier than it should have as it got hit by our frozen temps which damaged some of the new leaves. That said I think some of these leaves are from last summer. Anyway a far more colorful image than the rose hip and stem I had selected previously.

Believe it or not I spent far more time on this drawing than I expected to. Had to keep making corrections and it still isn't quite right. I have realized I have gotten a lot better and faster at drawing birds and other animals than I am at drawing plant shapes other than flowers. A bit disconcerting, and a way to dampen the ego.

Inked another of my catch up Nature Journal Pages, the one above is from a visit on December 5, 2012 to Daniel Webster. Thankfully this is the last of the 2012 pages that I needed to do.

Top images are a Hawk I saw flying and hunting for dinner, and the tree stump in the Panne with two rather largish turtles hauled out to sun bathe. I was surprised to see the turtles as by December they really should be dug into the mud and hibernating. Though per my notes the day was relative mild for December. Note that the water level is still very high. The final drawing is of some Canada Geese dining on the one of the grassy areas at Daniel Webster.

Done mostly with one of my dip pens, but I did add a few lines with one of the technical pens after I erased the under drawing and realized some areas needed a bit more.

As a last image, proof that spring is finally arriving here in the Northeast US. Crocus blooming in the yard of my apt. building. Made this photo a couple of days ago, the blooms are mostly gone now, and as we are expecting rain I doubt any will be left to photograph by tomorrow.

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

Monday, April 7, 2014

Polka-Dot Dog, and more pen and ink

The Sketchbook Challenge Theme for April is polka-dots. My initial mental image was a polka-dot stuffed toy, an elephant actually, but when I went to draw my concept the elephant turned into a dog. It has some other scattered toys for company. Drawn totally out of my imagination and probably based on drawings I have seen over the years.

My idea was that the body of the animal would be a print fabric (the polka-dots) and the legs, tail and ears of a solid. Ended up picking blue as a background color for the dog, and it made sense to make the legs a darker color. The dots are actually orange though they look pretty red on my screen, orange and blue are complements, which I though would be in keeping with a kids toy.

Drawn quickly in one of my sketch books, outlined with one of my technical pens and then colored with colored pencil. It was a fun and fairly quick project. Not my usual style of drawing at all so I have to wonder who/what I was channeling. Though I did spend a lot of time drawing that dog in landscape I just finished.

The above is a Meerkat done in pen and ink for the WetCanvas Pen and Ink Forum April Challenge. The reference photograph I used is one of the April Challenge images. This was done in graphite first in one of my sketchbooks then I used the 3x0 technical pen to do the inking.

Finished another group of illustrations for the Nature Journal over the weekend. This page has images from a November 12, 2012 visit to Daniel Webster, MA Audubon Sanctuary over in Marshfield, MA.

Top image is just one Canada Goose walking on one of the paths, and the bottom is my usual tree stump in the Panne. That day there was one turtle out sunning, note that not much is showing, the water in the Panne was very high that day, probably the highest I had ever seen it. Done with mostly a dip pen over preliminary pencil drawings.

Normally I photograph sunsets but this image is of a sunrise one day last week. I had woken early and after a glance out my front windows I grabbed the camera to make this photograph. Even so I know I missed a more dramatic shot by maybe a minute or so. Colors at sunrise don't last very long.

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

Friday, April 4, 2014

A Landscape and Illustration

This may look familiar as I have drawn and posted this image once before, however this is a more finished drawing of a scene I photographed last summer at Ames Nowell State Park in Abington, MA. Eventually the woman tossed the ball off the end of the dock and the dog went in after it. I do have an image of the dog jumping off the dock, but rather liked this one better as the viewer can't be sure what has caught the dogs attention. There is a story there, but I will let the viewer make it up for themselves.

I tried a new paper with this drawing Strathmore Drawing 500. It is a white paper, whiter than their 400 Drawing paper, but the same whiteness as the white Stonehenge. It is a bit lighter weight than the Stonehenge I have been working on but has a nice tooth and accepted the pencil well. The size of this is a bit odd 7.25 x 8.75 inches but I didn't realize the oddness of the size until after I finished the drawing, oops. I used several grades of leads 2H, HB, B, 2B, mostly with my clutch pencils and their Staedtler leads.

Let me say now that getting the background trees to look like trees took forever, well not literally of course but it did feel that way while I was doing it. Lots of finicky work with a kneaded eraser and layers of graphite finally gave me the results I was looking for. I did use a straight edge to draw the dock, with man made structures edges that aren't totally straight look off.

I think I am pleased with it, and know that even a couple of years ago this isn't something I would have even thought about drawing, progress. I am slowly learning how to tackle complex drawings.

The above may also look familiar as I posted a sketch to the blog the other day of some garlic, onions and a knife, I called it Chop Chop. As I mentioned then creating illustrations for the cookbook I am working on is still an on-going project.

So I scanned the drawing I had done, pulled it into Illustrator and have been working on it off an on. Looking at it here there are some things that still need work so I am not going to consider it finished but it is starting to get there. The knife was fun, and looks surprisingly realistic. Oh I am doing this in Adobe Illustrator, so this is a computer generated drawing.

The above sketch of a rose hip with stems was done for a challenge in WetCanvas Watercolor forum and is only the first step. The Watercolor forum runs a couple of monthly challenges and one this month has us noticing the small things in nature, with the intent that we first draw then paint an object.

Walking back from the library I passed some rose bushes that still have some of last fall's rose hips on them, this section of stem was already broken so I snapped it off the rest of the way and brought it home. Drawing is done, now I just have to transfer outlines to some watercolor paper and paint. Wish me luck with this one.

As a final image, an early evening/late afternoon sky with clouds and a jet contrail lit by the sun and showing white against a blue sky. Note that the trees are mostly not quite budding just yet. Though there are a few fairly close to me that are a bit more advanced.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome, sorry if you are having problems with Bloggers comments section, but if it works for you I appreciate it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Two Birds and a Pear

I finished reading the book on Painting techniques last week and returned it to the Library. I don't really have a lot to say about it. It is not the type of book that can be summarized easily. It would probably make a good reference book if I were the kind of person who went in for that sort of thing. The book is full of tips about not only painting techniques but also about design and which elements of design can/should be considered when creating various types of paintings (landscapes, portraits, etc.) so it mostly held my interest. The one universal that comes across is if you want to learn how to do something you have to just do it, failure is part of game.

With that in mind I spent some time yesterday morning painting this pear in watercolor. It was a Bartlett that had just ripened. After painting it I cut it up and ate it as part of my lunch so it is no longer available as a reference. We had a rainy day here yesterday so I had the lights on causing the poor pear to be illuminated by several different light sources, hence the multiple shadows. Actually they work to provide a background since I didn't bother painting anything else. I am relatively pleased with how this came out, The problem being that I am not really sure how I get the results I am getting.

I start out with a light color and keep adding washes until I end up with something that I think works. I am sure it isn't quite the approved way to go about making a watercolor, but so far it is working for me.

I was checking out a different pen nib the other day to use for the Nature Journal drawings. The pen nib I was using wasn't quite as fine as I prefer them to be so I was looking at a couple of others to use instead.

To really check out a nib I have to draw something so did this quick drawing of a Seagull. The reference photograph I used was made last winter and eventually I will probably draw this young bird using graphite. Still for just using pen and ink I think the drawing came out fairly well and thought I would show it here.

The Great Horned Owl in the above illustration is from my October 20, 2012 visit to Daniel Webster. It happened to be their annual Farm Day event and they had a couple doing Owl demonstrations. The couple are licensed keepers of wild birds and had brought 6 different owl species to talk about, Screech Owl, Bard Owl, Snowy Owl, and 2 European Owls besides the Great Horned. The Great Horned is our largest american owl and I happened to make a really great photograph of it so it became my image for the day.

This page really should have been done prior to the two I posted in my last update, but it had been quite a while since I had done much work with a dip pen so wanted to have a bit of practice prior to tackling this image. Just as well I think I got better results with the finer nib than I would have gotten with the other one I was using.

I took a bit of license with the image as the bird they were keeping had lost an eye. Loosing an eye is a death sentence for an owl in the wild as without depth perception they can't hunt their prey. Otherwise it was a very hansom bird.

Above is the final image for today. I photographed this the other day, I don't know where the cat came from, though from the look of it I think it is homeless and living wild. I didn't dare get too close for fear it would run off so it isn't the best photo. Still there is something about this image that speaks to me so I thought I would post it.

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