Sunday, March 29, 2015

Nature Journal, Still Life and Madonna

For the moment I am all caught up with the Nature Journal drawings. Above is my last one and is for a visit to Daniel Webster in Sept 2013. I am happy to have finally finished these as they have been hanging over my head so to speak since I stop making notes on my visits to various locations.

The drawings above are of the usual tree stump, though on this visit the water in the Panne was at the lowest level I had ever seen it at. It had been a fairly dry summer, but I do recall being shocked at how little water was left, esp as the last time I had visited in June it had been at the highest level I had ever seen. I speculated that they might have tried to drain some of the water out, a mistake since the summer had turned out very dry. I haven't been back since that visit, and while I want to go back I think I still need to wait just a bit longer to make sure the snow is gone from the paths.

The next drawing is of a Cabbage White Butterfly on some fall New England Asters, and an image of a couple of apples growing on one of the apple trees in the old orchard. The trees aren't taken care of in any way, so the apples are not pretty and I doubt they would be very good to eat. The deer love them though and will eat whatever falls.

Above is a pen and ink still life done for the March WetCanvas Pen and Ink forum monthly challenge. Haven't done one of these for a while, not sure exactly why, I download the challenge images and print them out but never seem to get around to doing the drawing. This one was done with my technical pens on another half sheet of the Utrecht paper with no under drawing.

I was in Boston at the MFA on Tuesday and for my Museum sketch I made the above. The statue is a medieval wooden Madonna. The infant Jesus doesn't look very child like, which was typical of that era, and both figures have lost parts. A hand in the case of the Madonna and parts of hands and feet in the case of Jesus. It was a fairly quick sketch and I certainly missed capturing her expression, mine doesn't look very happy at all. Ah well I should of spent more time on her but I kept being distracted by performances of Sonic Blossom that were taking place in a gallery not far from the one I was in.

Sonic Blossom is performance art, a singer selects a museum visitor, guides them to a chair that has been set up in one of the larger galleries and then sings to them. They use a tape player of some sort to provide the background music for the singer who on the day I was there was a lovely Soprano.

The statue I was drawing is above, I was seated on a bench which is slightly to the right of the statue so I had a slightly different view of the pair.

I spent some of that visit in the European art Galleries paying attention to the composition rules that most of the paintings seemed to adhered to, triangles, with the most important figure at the apex of the triangle. The painting above is by a French painter, which I didn't make note of, but was painted about a member of Louis XIII court who was a friend of Cardinal Richelieu, through that friendship he was the power behind the throne.

Note the most unusual composition, the lone figure on the right with the bowing courtiers on the left, they and the staircase all pointing to this one figure, giving him prominence and making him the focal point of the painting, as he was in the court.

Last but not least a photograph of Boston Common looking west, notice that enough snow has melted that ground is actually visible in some spots. The day I was there they were taking down the barriers for the skating rink at Frog Pond, and in the Garden they were trimming trees, both also signs of spring.

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

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Nature Journal, pen and ink exercise and button

The penultimate catch up Nature Journal drawing, sorry I have always wanted to use that word since I heard it and understood its meaning, it means next to the last, very specific and not something that can usually be dropped in casual conversation. Anyway only more drawing to go before I will be caught up, a good thing as snow is actually melting around here and I will hopefully soon be able to be out and about in the Nature Reserves. Just have to decide which one to concentrate on.

This page was done for a visit to Daniel Webster Audubon Sanctuary back on June 15, 2013. The images are the stump in the panne, Water levels were extremely high, in fact I don't think I have seen them higher except maybe the time a Hurricane came through, As I recall I don't think there were a lot of birds as probably much of what they would eat was further under water than usual. Course I did see a Green Heron, love those birds they are such fun to watch. They can stand so still watching and waiting for a meal to swim by. There was one turtle on the tree stump, and a perching bird on one of the supports, probably a tree swallow as they like to rest between feeding flybys over the panne.

Another of my ink exercises. I drew the outlines of the major shapes first then added fills. I think I should have left the stipple out, but it seemed like the design needed something to pull the two different areas together so I added it. Oops, ah well better luck next time I guess. I am trying to use more black areas in these designs, in contrast to the white I think it makes a visual statement.

Done on the other half sheet of Utrecht American Master's paper with my various tipped technical pens.

Another drawing for the WetCanvas Scavenger Hunt, this one in graphite is of a plastic button shaped like a leaf. Spent longer on it then I intended and used a couple of different grade pencils on this. In the dedicated sketchbook, with various leads in clutch pencil holders.

I was able to get my lens back last Friday, but the sun never really came out, did see one small flash of it for about 5 minutes then it was gone for the rest of the day. Over that night into Sat. we had clouds and more snow. Thankfully not very much snow, just a couple of inches but it did cover all the dirty old snow with a layer of white so I thought why not go to the park and see if I can make some photos. Above is one of them, the pump house and a row of trees that line the dike around one of the ponds the city uses for drinking water. Probably would have been a better photo if I had the diagonal of trees going toward the center of the photo, but I was at this end and made this one. I am getting tired of photographs of snow, I really really hope this all melts soon.

So, this is it for today, per usual comments are welcome.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Welcoming Spring with some Pen and Ink Works

Welcome to spring, it has been a long winter here in the Northeast, though I have to say that I know it will still be a couple of weeks before we really see the lawns showing signs of green. Esp. as most are still under inches of snow. But note that I wrote inches not feet, so we have had a lot of melting in past couple of weeks. Today is the Spring Equinox, one of two days in the year when darkness and light are evenly split. Now the daytime with it's hours of light will start becoming longer than our hours of darkness.

Above is another of my Nature Journal catch up pages. This one is from a visit to Daniel Webster on June 4, 2013. My usual tree stump, I use this artifact to document the rising/falling water in the Panne. A squirrel that was visiting the bird feeder area looking for a meal. And last a bird sitting on one of the nest boxes outside one of the Blinds in the sanctuary. Not sure at this point if the bird was a tree swallow or a sparrow, but I think a tree swallow as they like to use the nest boxes. Just 2 more pages to go and I will be caught up.

The above is an expanded/modified version of one of the pen exercises I did not too long ago. The flower and triangles are what I lifted from the original exercise adding the dragonfly and leaf to the design. This is done on new to me paper, Utrecht American Master's Printmaking, a 100% cotton 90lb250gsm. I purchased a 9 x 12 pad of this when I was last at Dick Blicks. Not sure if I like it or not. I like the weight, and the paper seems to really absorb the ink, it has a slightly textured surface and isn't bright white. It is the texture I am not sure about, and to be honest the way it absorbs the ink, I think I almost prefer that ink stay on the surface of the paper, but I want to do some more experimenting before I decide one way or the other.

Size is 6 x 8 inches (I cut a sheet in half and then trimmed one edge) inked with my various tipped technical pens.

Above is another of my Pen Exercise doodles. I started with a drawn line then filled in areas with different fills and added the stipple and 3 drops later to add more variety and texture. Done in one of my sketchbooks size is about 6 x 8 inches, and done with my various technical pens.

I don't have any new photographs today, well the above is new in that I haven't posted it before, but since last Wednesday I have been without the camera, I had to take it's primary lens in for repair. The good news is that it is ready for me to pick up. Now I just need some sun and I can take it out to play with. We had clouds this morning but the forecast is for sun this afternoon so cross your fingers for me.

The above photo was made last week in the Fens, someone was feeding the ducks and these were arriving for their share. I am still exploring using the camera on more manual settings, and am not sure I would have gotten as little wing blur with automatic settings.

That is it for today, per usual comments are welcome. Happy Spring everyone, (unless you are south of the equator, then it is Happy Fall).

Monday, March 16, 2015

Nature Journal revisit, and more pen and ink

A blast from the past today. Well not entirely, I just inked the above page in my Nature Journal but it was drawn last year when I was working at getting the Journal caught up, and the original reference images were made May 27, 2013. So this page has been almost two years in the works. Oops, I am not entirely happy with this drawing as I am sadly out of practice doing this kind of pen work. The turkey esp. could have been done better, but I have to admit that I find turkeys difficult. Trying to suggest the pattern of their feathers without going into too much detail isn't easy.

That said I am happy with the Canada Geese parents and young, that part was fun to draw and ink. I have only 3 more pages to finish, 2 still need to be drawn and the 3rd is ready for ink. I am hoping I can motivate myself to get them done soon as after taking a couple years away from the Journal I think I want to start back up again. Just have to decide where I will put my focus.

Above is another of my pen exercises, all my technical pens in one small piece. Was trying something different for this one, not sure if it works or not, but I wouldn't know if I hadn't tried so am glad I at least did that.

The above graphite drawing was done for another of the WetCanvas Scavenger Hunts, an apple. Don't want to think about how many apples I have drawn over the years, but each and every one was its own challenge. This one I wanted to shade so used several grades of pencil on it. That said I have a new printer and the scanner that came built in and I are still getting to know each other. The scans are not coming out as well as I was used to with my old printer/scanner. So I did use Photoshop to tone the scan and ended up with the graphite looking blacker than it is, I didn't make any other adjustments though.

The photograph for today isn't the best. I didn't have a lot to select from. My regular lens is in the shop being fixed. Apparently I bumped it once too often and damaged the part that works the auto focus. It is being fixed, for a price, and in the future I am going to have to remember to take better care of my camera and its lenses. I have put a different lens on the camera, but I have issues with this one and so have limited photos.

Anyway the above is some dirty snow melting away from a chain link fence, leaving gaps and creating icicles. We have now had over a week of daytime above freezing temps. one day actually felt warm with a temp. around 60. But we still have snow, the record breaking snow falls we had this past winter aren't going away quickly.

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

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Back to MFA Boston, various sketches

More of my pen exercises, this time I was exploring white against black. Still need to do more of this, I wasn't really happy with the shapes around the circle, they were supposed to be mushroomed shaped and ended up looking more like nail heads in some instances. Ah well, I have to keep in mind the thickness of the line takes away from the white that will be left once the background is filled in. Esp. as I tend to use one of the larger tips for this part of the drawing, mainly because it is easier to fill in the black when I use a larger tip.

Not thrilled with the above, too much is sort of haphazard, I wasn't paying enough attention to my initial line placements.

I was back into Boston on Tuesday. It was a sunny day with temps above 32 degrees F, so it wasn't freezing and some actual snow melting was taking place. I drew the above sketch on the Bus on my way up to Ashmont. It is sketchy because I rather liked it that way and decided that I might ruin it if I continued to work it. I did several other sketches on the bus but this is my favorite. Graphite (mechanical pencil) in my smaller sketchbook.

I started this visit to Boston by walking through the Common, the Gardens and then over to and up Charles Street, making photographs along the way. Some of those photos are on my Facebook page. Anyway I ended up at a Red Line station and took it back to Park where I picked up the Green Line to the MFA. I wanted to see the visiting Klimt painting of Adam and Eve that is on exhibit in the European Modern gallery. It is a lovely painting, but photographs are not allowed so I can only reference you to the MFA web site.

That said I think the Guards need to pay more attention as while I was sitting and drawing the above I noticed a man making many photos of the Klimt, with flash. I almost yelled at him, but I wasn't sure at that point that photos weren't allowed. I was making a photo of an MFA painting next to the Klimt when a guard came up and told me photos weren't allowed, ah well.

The drawing above is of a plaster relief of two wrestlers made by Henri Gaudier Brzeska in 1914 a year prior to his death at the Front in 1915. Apparently he was fascinated by wrestlers and loved to watch their matches.

I am trying to make one drawing per visit of an item on Exhibit, sculptures are a bit easier than paintings to draw, and this relief is almost a sculpture. Spending the time to make a drawing gets me more involved with the exhibits, and allows me to rest my knees and feet.

The above photo was made in the American Wing looking out toward a park area that is next to the museum. I forgot to get the name of the artist who created this figure, but really the photo is more about the exterior with the inclusion of the Prudential tower in the distance.

We are having a week of above freezing temperatures and there is lots of melting going on. Don't get me wrong there are still piles of snow but you can see from the reflections in this rather large puddle that there is also lots of melting.

That is it for today per usual comments are welcome.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Rant, pen and ink work and a pencil sketch

First I want to do a small rant today, the above is NOT a Zentangle, a few years back I did experiment a bit with them, it was fun for a little bit but I quickly got bored with them. I am an artist who can draw, I don't need to use a concept designed for people who think they can't draw to create my art.

I have always loved to play with different patterns and fills, when younger I did some Illuminated poems partly because I wanted to create decorative borders. I am also a bit of a snob, and find myself feeling somewhat offended when people compare my drawings to Zentangles. As if I couldn't come up with this type of drawing by myself. Well in the world of art there isn't much new, and I am more inclined to say that the "creators" of Zentangles were walking in the footsteps of thousands of other artists than the other way around.

The original rules they created for how to create a Zentangle were what they trademarked not the concept of fills with pen and ink that predates them by a long stretch, think fabric prints, mosaics in Mosques, designs on pottery, Illustrators such as Aubrey Beardsley, those are my references and the references of many other artists who create pen and ink and work with pattern and fills. Many whose work gets compared to Zentangles never even heard the term or know what one is, though in this day and age it is possible they have seen one. So please don't tell every artist whose pen and ink art work uses fills that their work reminds you of Zentangles unless they volunteer that Zentangles were an inspiration.

One other thing and probably why I dropped out Zentanges so quickly is that they don't use any of the elements or principals of design, I want to design/compose my art not just draw in a zen like fog.

Off my rant, the above is another of my pen exercises, done with  my various technical pens in a sketchbook. I was playing around with the look of white on black, I have to think ahead when doing this type of work but I rather like the look of that flower on the right and need to explore this further.

The next two drawings were done for a WetCanvas Scavenger Hunt. Top is a glass serving bowl in graphite, a small drawing in the dedicated sketchbook. I was feeling a bit impatient so didn't spend a lot of time toning this and it shows, not an especially good drawing, I should probably try this subject again when I want to spend more time on it.

Last summer one of my larger Christmas Cactus plants, one I had had for years and years, started to die. I have had Christmas Cactus plants die on me before so recognized the signs, once it starts to go there doesn't seem to be anything that can be done except to take cuttings to generate new plants. Anyway this plant had a most unusual flower color, yellow/gold instead of the red, white or pink one usually sees and I really didn't want to loose the plant. I tried many times to get cuttings to root and succeeded with two in this pot. So when the Scavenger Hunt list had the item to draw a potted plant I chose this one. It is actually setting a couple of blooms even though it isn't a very large plant. I am looking forward to it blooming.

This drawing was done first with graphite then I added ink with one of my technical pens, again in the dedicated sketchbook that I use for these drawings.

Icicles, they indicate melting snow, YEAH, we have actually had daytime temperatures above 32 degrees F this past week and have more forecast for next week. Those folks who have been waiting to harvest Sugar Maple sap for Maple Syrup may finally be in luck. Course the melting snow can bring or expose other problems but I am looking forward to seeing and walking on sidewalks again. May the melt be with you.

That is it for today per usual comments are welcome.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

March, doodles, sketches and fabric

March has arrived and I am sorry to say it arrived with another snow storm. Not much accumulation thankfully, only a couple of inches, but still, this weekly snow storm business is getting very very old.

Above is another of my pen exercise doodles, done using all of my technical pens just to keep ink flowing. Can you tell I am having fun with these and trying to think of different shapes/textures I can play with. And no I don't consider these Zentangles. Zentangles are supposed to start with "strings" and at least one mirror of the placement of that string. I am starting with shapes and working from there. The starting shape for this one was the triangle.

On my trip into Boston last Friday I challenged myself to do some quick sketches of fellow passengers. I am not quite brave enough to do these in ink so a technical pencil is my weapon of choice in a small sketchbook.

The traveler above was sitting at a table in the Bus Depot waiting (along with me) for the bus she wanted to to take to arrive.

The one above was actually done on the bus on the way up to Ashmont. The young woman was slouched in her seat diagonally in front of me. As I recall working her phone, I have to say one thing smart phones have done, is to give many fellow travelers something to occupy themselves with to the extent that they never notice me drawing.  I rather like this one, and was thinking that I might redo it in pen.

What is this you are saying to yourself, that doesn't look like a drawing or any other kind of art work. No, it isn't a drawing, but it is part of a pillow cover that I have been working on the past couple of days. Many, many years ago I purchased two large 26 inch pillows. As is the nature of fabric when it covers an article in frequent use the fabric covering the pillows got worn and a bit threadbare. One pillow I have recovered twice, but the 2nd pillow was usually in a more protected position and didn't get as much use. Still it has reached the point where I either recover the pillow or toss it. Since I still have a use for the pillow and pillows of that size aren't cheap assuming I could even find one I am using the fabric stash to recover it.

As you can see the couch is green so I pulled some blue, green and tan batik fabrics from the stash and cutting 7 inch strips have been sewing them together to make a square. I have the 2nd set of strips cut and will hopefully get them assembled in the next day or so and then I will again have a 2nd usable pillow. Not very fancy but then I didn't want to spend a huge amount of time on this. More to the point I might as well use the stash for something rather than letting it just sit there and age.

Photos today are more snow, sorry but until some of this melts it really is about the only subject I photograph. Above is from last Friday and shows you the piles of snow in downtown Boston. The photo was made about a block east of Macy's downtown store (the former Jordan Marsh Store). I was on my way over to South Station and looking back I made this photo.

The above photo is actually of a snow pile that was showing some signs of melting. Snow at the bottom of the pile had been dug out to open up the street drain and melting snow in the overhang created these icicles. A positive sign as we have up to the past weekend had very few days with the temp. even slightly above freezing.

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