Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Doodles, sketches and #inktober

I fear I am slacking off again with the #inktober drawings. Though I did manage to finish the one above. It is a second look at a still life I set up of 2 apples and a pear, this time with a simpler background and I used colored inks for the fills. I had a bit of trouble getting the color of the pear approximately right, it was a Bosc pear and they are more brown then green or red, but the browns I have aren't quite the right shade so I added several different colors in an attempt to get it right.

Still I am not displeased with the results. The shapes end up relatively simple which I rather like. Hmm trying to remember the artist who liked to outline in black. Maybe I can channel Cezanne he did a lot of still life's as I recall, though of course he used paint not ink and in his later works wasn't using shadows.

I was at the library yesterday for a while and did the above pen sketch of a fellow patron sitting at one of the benches. Not great I should have used a pen with a broader tip, but still not too bad for a quick sketch.

While I was at the library I watch the 2nd Nature show about penguins which was filmed using penguin-cams. Models of penguins, eggs, and chicks which contained cameras which they used to film the breeding birds. While watching I tried to make some quick sketches of some of the actors. Top a Emperor Penguin chick, they have such distinctive markings, Then a couple of other penguins including a side view of an adult Emperor Penguin. Started drawing in pen and then moved to pencil as I needed to be able to erase and make corrections.

They are such strange looking birds, but the sketching was rather fun, and the filming is amazing, a must see program if you didn't catch it when it aired.

For something entirely different a pen doodle, done using various micron pens. Several different colors here, orange, red, purple and even a touch of green, and of course black. Just playing around with this one, sometimes these doodles become a more finished work, but this one while I like some of its features is I think a dead end otherwise.

I have been watching this bush/plant since spring when I photographed its frost damaged leaves to use for a watercolor project. Finally it is in bloom, Better late than never, though this plant needs to be pretty frost hearty blooming this late in the year. I believe this is a type of Shasta Daisy, though most of those I see in gardens bloom earlier in the summer, like in July. It might have been delayed in blooming by our dry summer, sill I hope it isn't killed off too quickly by the coming cold.

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

Saturday, October 25, 2014

#inktober Still Life and a visit to the Zoo

I am going to blame the weather for the fact that I got almost no art work done this past week. We had a beautiful sunny day Monday (though a bit chilly) and I took advantage of it to visit the Franklin Park Zoo in Dorchester.

Franklin Park is part of the Emerald Necklace of green spaces and parks that circle Boston. The zoo is an old one established in 1913, it has gone through some hard times but seems to have gotten its act together. They don't have a lot of animals on exhibit, but those they have seem to have appropriate environments and plenty of space. The zoo is obviously focused on kids and how to entertain/inform them. They have a large playground and a several exhibits (most of them closed for the winter) that would make a kid happy, feeding parakeets in a large enclosure, viewing butterflies in another, and allowing folks to feed giraffes to name a few in addition to the petting zoo with farm animals.

I enjoyed my visit but was hoping for opportunities to make some good photographs of unusual animals which I found limited because of the fencing they use for many of the outdoor enclosures so I doubt I will be going back soon.

After Monday the clouds and rain moved in for a prolonged (4 day) stay. We had a strong nor'easter Wednesday afternoon into Thursday with thunder and lighting, strong winds and heavy (downpours) rain. Yesterday afternoon the rain let up but the clouds stayed with us until it cleared overnight. Today we have blue sky's and sun and I am hoping that things will dry out a bit. We needed the rain, but after a very dry sunny Sept. the gloom got a bit hard to take and I wasn't motivated to create art.

Sorry didn't mean to get so wordy. On to the art, the focus piece at the top of the blog is actually my second attempt at a small still life I set up with an onion, potato and some mushrooms one day last week.  I photographed it with my tablet so I can just view it instead of printing the image out on a piece of paper. I can't leave the still life up for very long as I tend to use food I purchased for meals and it gets eaten.

For this drawing I used only pens, some with colored inks and I simplified both shapes and the shadows just to have more drama. On 6 x 6 inch Bristol Board, image size is 4 x 4 inches. I have not been managing the one ink drawing per day of the #inktober challenge, but I am still working at it.

Above is my first version of my Veggie still life. I used my technical pens in my sketchbook and tried to render the fabric background the vegetables were sitting on. Not bad but I think I prefer the version I made with colored inks to this black and white one. Since I usually prefer the black and white version I am a bit surprised.

Tuesday between showers I escaped to the Laundry mat to wash clothes and did this quick lopsided ink drawing of one of the carts they have for patrons to use for wet laundry. I got the perspective almost totally wrong, but for some reason I still rather like this.

Last drawing for today is one that I actually made a couple of weeks ago on one of my Boston visits to the MFA. I was in the Fenway area to visit the large Dick Blick store and ate my lunch sitting at a bench near the T station. Across from me was a bike rack full of bicycles, of which I attempted to draw just one. Since it was almost a head on view it was a bit tricky to draw. Done in my sketchbook with a mechanical pencil.

A couple of photographs from my Monday trip to the Zoo. One of the Gorilla's in the Gorilla habitat. It was nibbling on some of the chunks of food they scatter around the habitat for them to search out, that day it was mostly carrots, but one of the keepers told me that they will cut up just about any fresh vegetable or fruit for them.

Above are some sunlit yellow mums that were planted in containers outside the Zoo entrance. I posted some additional photos from the zoo on my Facebook page, a link can be found at the bottom of my blog.

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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Short #inktober update

A short update of my #inktober progress. Mostly just doodles but still more than I want to save for a later update. So above is a quick sketch I made in one of my sketchbooks. I wanted to play with some of my colored pens. So my own take on a flower in a vase with a design on it. Added just a touch of green just because. Black and Red pens were 005 Microns, but the green is a Coptic Fineliner.

Another still life, again this one was done with a dip pen. My arraignment of fruit on a piece of fabric. I have taken to making these still life's during the day while the sun is shining and then photographing them not with my SLR Cannon but with my Samsung tablet. The photos aren't the best but they are good enough for me to use as reference while drawing. With the tablet I don't have to print anything out, and if I want to zoom into an area I can. It does take a bit of getting used to but I think it is going to be a good way to work with reference images. Still I don't think I will entirely give up printing out images, sometimes I just prefer to have paper in hand.

Well, I am getting a good range of values, but some of the marks aren't quite what I would wish. Need to be doing more of this with the dip pen so I can refine how/where to make marks. I used to  use a dip pen for all my pen work, but have gotten out of the habit of using them, Microns or technical pens are more convenient as you don't have to have an open container of ink while working. Dip pen tips also require semi frequent cleaning, but they sure do give a nice line.

Size is 4 inches square on 6 inch square Bristol Board.

Years ago my sister had given me a Parker fountain pen. I stopped using it ages ago but I found it the other day and though I should see if I could get it working and then use it for one of these drawings.

My idea for the month long challenge is to use a range of tools to discover the kind of marks I can make with each one. So above a quick drawing of pumpkins with my now working fountain pen. The nib isn't very flexible so I didn't get a large variation with the line, but it feels different in the hand and marks aren't made quite as easily as I would with a technical pen so the quality of the mark is different. It might be something I want to keep around to make quick sketches with. Will think about this a bit more.

Done in one of my sketchbooks, size is about 4 inches.

I will close with a couple of photographs. Above is a maple tree in my neighborhood. I couldn't resist photographing the red/oranges against that oh so blue sky. This is not Photoshopped, though I did crop the original photo to tighten up the composition.

Since I didn't have a lot of art work today I thought I would post this photo of a yellow rose that I made earlier last week. Roses prefer to bloom in the cooler weather of spring and fall so many bushes around me are in their second bloom cycle.

I think this is a rather nice shot of a yellow rose in full bloom. Just enough shadow to make the petals stand out but also enough light to show off the colors from the darker yellow center to the pale yellow at the edges of the petals. We will likely be getting frost soon, so this is probably one of my last photographs of a rose for this year.

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

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

More Ink, #inktober and other

 I admit it, I have been slacking off, well at least as far as doing one #inktober work a day. I also admit that I am not good with daily challenges, I don't like following routines too closely, and "must do's" definitely put me off.  That said I have not been totally ignoring the challenge I just haven't quite kept up. Above is my piece for October 13. I went back to the theme of fish, but this time drew two and used some of my colored pens for the ink work.

Per usual there are some things I would have done differently but on the whole I rather like this piece. The fish are based on some images of carp that I have in my Photo reference Library. though they aren't exact copies of any of them, the coloring is from my imagination.

Last Friday I was in Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA. my purposed in heading up that way was to visit some of the Harvard museums, The Peabody, and The Natural History. After wandering through the museums and around the Square (which I almost don't recognize) I walked down MA Ave. to Central square. There I visited the Dick Blick store they have opened in Cambridge. I wasn't really intending to buy anything I just wanted to see what they had on hand, when I saw the display of Coptic Markers and found the black .03 and .05 sized ones. I have been reading about them in the WetCanvas pen and ink forum so though I should buy a couple and give them a try. They also had a green marker in the .05 size, I liked the color so purchased that also.  

Long story shortened, I used the pens to create the above drawing, it is more or less just a doodle, but I rather like how it came out so I am considering it my pen work for Oct. 14 even though it was done in my sketchbook and not on the Bristol Board I have been using for all my other #inktober works.

I picked up a dried flower/seed head of Queen Anns Lace on my way to the bus depot last Friday, and tried my best to draw what it looked like. Two views, one a side view and one from the top down. I didn't try to draw it exactly but to do enough line work to give the impression of what it looked like. I think I was semi successful.

Above are two photographs from the Peabody museum. The top is a shrine they had set up on the 3rd floor where the space is devoted to Central/South American cultures. The shrine is for the Day of the Dead Celebrations (Dia de Muertos) so are the side panels shown in the 2nd photograph.  This holiday (Oct. 31 to Nov. 2) is celebrated in Mexico and other South/Central American countries. I am not sure if the display is permanent or because the Holiday is coming within a few weeks.

I have to say the artwork is both arresting and colorful.

As for the museums, I found them interesting and worth the visit, but I don't think I will be heading back to either soon. The Natural History museum has a lot of very dusty faded looking stuffed animals. Since most of the animals are probably getting on in age it isn't surprising, I had though I could make photographs of them to use as drawing references, but the fur/feathers are so faded that the images would have been useful only for shape/form. Though they do have other exhibits that are well thought out and set up (minerals, NE woods), if I had a child under say 14 it would be a wonderful museum to visit.

One last photograph, I think these yellow leaves belong to an Ash tree, it overhangs the stream that meanders through the center of Brockton. On my trips to and from the library I pass over this stream. The afternoon I made this photograph the sun was shinning on the leaves almost making them glow.

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

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Again #inktober and a note on the care of brushes

This post is mostly made up of drawings I have done for the #inktober challenge.

For the 7th I wanted to do something with my dip pen and my new ink (Pelikan), so for once in this challenge I just winged it. I started with the snowman and went from there. The resulting landscape is totally out of my imagination. I am not happy with it, but didn't have time or energy to do anything else so I went with it. One thing I did learn from this quick sketch is I need to practice drawing clouds. And yes those are supposed to be clouds in the sky not mountains.

I spent more time with prep work for the drawing for the 8th. This is one of the feral cats my neighbor is feeding. I am off and on trying to get semi good photographs of all of them, and at some point hope to draw them all. I think there are 4 or 5, most of them I have at least one semi good image of, but there is one who is very shy and I have yet to really capture.

This is the grey tabby that I have sketched before. For this image I restored the ear which isn't all there in the real cat.

I used my technical pens for this drawing using mostly the very fine tipped 3X0 pen, though for the stipple work I used the 0 tip. I wasn't in the mood to be stippling forever, and besides the cat was sitting on a concrete step so the courser stipple more reflects the rough surface. I see things now that I am not totally happy with but for the most part I think it came out well.

After the cat I wanted to draw something less elaborate for the 9th. And I had been thinking about hauling out one of my brushes and doing something with brush work and ink instead of just pen. For a simple seasonable subject I thought pumpkins. 

I am semi pleased with the result. I like the shadows, but I don't like the all the black lines I used on the pumpkins. I started with those and added the shadows later when I should have done it the other way around, put the in the shadows and then added a few black/dark lines. I think I need to try something else with brush and ink to see if I learned anything from this experiment. 

Oh there are a few pen lines here also, I used a pen to put in the stems and added some lines to the background and foreground after I had done all the brush work. 

One further note on the care of brushes. India Ink has shellac in it which will damage brushes if not washed out. So when I finished with the brush I rinsed it first in clean water until I got  most of the ink out. Then I put a drop of dish washing soap in the palm of one hand and proceeded to rub the wet brush into the soap, pushing bristles around so that the soap was worked thoroughly into the brush, it is amazing how much ink can be cleaned out this way. Then I rinsed the brush in clean water and wiped it on a paper towel to check for ink. If I had seen any I would have redone the soap step. 

A last comment try to not dip the brush too far into the ink, you want to keep ink out of the ferrule if you can. Ink or even paint in that area of the brush can bleed into other colors when the brush is next used. 

After the disaster with the clouds in my pen and ink landscape I thought I should practice drawing clouds so on one of my shopping trips I sketched the above. Not totally happy with it, even though it is pencil and not ink, I think I need more practice.  I can understand why landscape painters in the past did many cloud studies. 

Yesterday instead of going back to the MFA I felt I should visit some different museums so I headed off to Harvard Square and the Peabody and Harvard Natural History museums. I did make some photographs there but won't inflict them on my reader at this point. Instead I have a photograph of Cambridge and some Harvard University buildings to share. Bicycles seem to be the mode of transportation in and around Harvard, so here is one on MA Ave. with some fall foliage in the background.

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

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

More #inktober, update on Mandala

So far so good with the #inktober project. I am still missing one day but otherwise have managed to keep up. Above is my drawing for Oct. 4th. I was doodling in a sketch book something that looked like a tree and decided it would make a good subject for my daily ink work. So above is the tree done in brown ink, stippled with brown and black ink with added green for leaves. It holds a nest with two yellow/orange chicks, and sits on a green hill.

All colors used are from various colored pens I happened to have in the stash but rarely use. I mostly don't like the color of inks in pens so tend to stick with just black ink, but this tree just cried out for color so I pulled out the pens and went at it. Actually it was fun to do, and I rather like the result, proving that colored pens do have their uses.

Above is Oct 5ths drawing. A made up fish with just one poor frond of water plant to keep it company. I used the 3x0 technical pen for this work after lightly penciling in the fish, bubbles and plant. Background is a bit different even for me. I initially drew spirals hoping it would look water like, but it wasn't dark enough to make the fish or plant stand out. So I drew wavy lines crossing the spiral lines, still didn't make the back ground dark enough so I added a third layer of small squiggles. Finally I had the background dark enough to make the fish and other objects stand out, and the wavy cross hatching has created a mosaic like texture.

I like this background, now I just have to remember how I did it in case I want to do it again, though I have to say using the 3x0 tip meant creating very fine lines and it took longer to make this background than I initially anticipated.

Above is the drawing for the 6th. Much simpler after the previous 2 days efforts. Drawn from life, a couple of Beech nuts and cases, a couple of acorns, and one hickory nut. Drawn again with my technical pens. I am not happy with the lettering and should have waited to check some references prior to doing it, but I got in a hurry and just wanted it done. Ah well I still have quite a few more of these to do so I will just have to have more patience if I decide I want more lettering on one of these.

All of the #inktober drawings are done on Bristol Smooth paper, paper size is 6 x 6 inches, drawings are 4 x 4 inches, Pens are as referenced for each drawing.

If you are on Facebook, Google+ or tumbler you can do a search on #inktober to view what others are doing with ink this month. I have found a lot of Manga and comic book type art, not my cup of tea, but as someone mentioned on another site it is still early in the month so who knows what will be done.

Above is an update on the Mandala. I am still working on the outer round, but all inking has been finished and now it is just a matter of selecting colors and drawing them in. I am repeating the blue used in the inner square in this outer round, also adding red which contrasts with the blue and green. So far I am liking how it is coming along.

Another photograph of an item in the Boston MFA collection. This is a painting by J. M. W. Turner the English painter. I believe it is the only Turner at the MFA, but then most American Institutions have very few Turner's, his paintings tend to stay in Great Britain or where ever their current home is and not travel. I love his sky's and his use of color, in that way this is a typical late Turner painting.

The subject of this painting is rather grim, which according to the blurb about it, is why we have it. It portrays a slave ship which is the process of dumping overboard sick slaves so the captain can collect insurance monies on the slaves that supposedly died on the journey across the ocean. Turner's agent sold it to John Ruskin for Ruskin's son, but son found the subject so disturbing that he sold the painting to an American who brought it to NYC. Eventually it was purchased by a Bostonian family who sold it the MFA in the late 1800's. To see a larger image and read more about the painting click HERE

I have color corrected this photograph in Photoshop.

Another photograph of fall color, this is some type of Locust tree, probably a Sunburst Honey Locust. I just wanted to show that we also have yellow/gold leaves as part of our fall color. I find it interesting that again these colors echo the colors used in my posted painting. I didn't deliberately set out to do that but.. probably unconsciously.

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

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Some #inktober drawings and a Mother and Child

Above is a dip pen and ink drawing of three onions. I more or less used traditional pen and ink techniques for this drawing. Not sure if I like it or not nor am I sure if I should have used more or fewer lines. I am thinking I may redo this at least once more with my technical pens, and I may try again with a dip pen just to see how it will look. I picked up some new nibs yesterday that I want to try.

On 6 x 6 inch Smooth Bristol board, image size is 4 x 4 inches, from an arraignment I set up of some onions in the refrigerator. I did make a light outline sketch of the onions and the table line with pencil prior to inking.

These drawings are done in celebration of #inktober, an event started by Jake Parker on his blog in 2009 and celebrated annually since. He and others make one ink drawing a day for the month of October, a total of 31 drawings. I am going to try and make the 31 drawings, but I am not sure that I will actually manage to do a drawing a day. So far I just have the two, so I have some catch up to do.

On one of my walks I picked up the above plant materials. I am having trouble identifying the tree, though I think they are from a thorn-less Honey Locust tree. Well I know the tree doesn't have any thorns, and I know it isn't a black locust (leaves are too small) and the Sunburst Honey Locust doesn't have pods so about all I am left with is the thorn-less Honey.

I do remember seeing Honey Locust trees in Illinois when I was growing up with their wicked thorns sticking out, they are not something one can miss when looking at a tree, and as I recall their seed pods looked very much like the one I picked up.

Drawn with my technical pens on Smooth Bristol board, image size the same as above. I sketched the pod in pencil first but just drew the withered leaf with pen.

A semi rough pencil drawing of a mother and child from a reference photograph I made this summer. I am semi pleased with this, the semi is because the boy's face isn't quite right, he looks older than he was, but I got tired of fussing with it so it is as good as it is going to get. I do like the shading and think it has some depth to it.

Done in one of my sketchbooks with mostly a B or HB lead.

I traveled into Boston yesterday and rather than try to draw folks around me I took a reference photograph of one of the stray cats my neighbor is feeding. I am thinking about trying to do some more finished drawings of each of the cats that comes to visit, with the addition of the 2 cats that live in my building and whom I have also photographed. That would make a portrait gallery of about 6 cats, but I am not totally sure of how many cats come to dine so it may be more.

This is just a rough sketch and I know there are some things not quite right about it, but for the time I spent on it I am fairly pleased. The cat is a grey and white tabby with green eyes, a white front bib and is missing the tip of one ear.

I was back at the MFA (Boston Museum of Fine Arts) yesterday. I dropped into the Jamie Wyeth exhibit again but I also just spent more time wandering the museum photographing art that interested me for one reason or another.

I should have made note of the artist who created the above piece. It sort of reminded me of a quilt, except it is made of metal, mostly bottle caps but also cut up pieces of cans. Holes were punched in the metal and the pieces were connected using copper wire. The black is deliberate, and right now I can't remember exactly how it was done. Top photo is more or less a close up of the left hand side of the piece, with the bottom photo showing it in its entirety.

Note: I color corrected these photographs as museum light tends to yellow a photograph, which the observer doesn't notice when viewing the works. Also the focus isn't as good as I would like as I can't use a flash and holding the camera complexity steady while the shutter is open isn't always possible, I am not as steady as I used to be.

A final image of more fall leaves. Maple leaves in the foreground but I am not sure what the yellow leaves are that are in the background. It was a grey day yesterday so I didn't make any photographs in Boston other than in the museum. We need the rain but I admit that the grey sky's are getting a bit old, September had so many clear sunny days that I know I got spoiled.

That is it for today per usual comments are welcome.