Friday, January 29, 2016

Finished Colored Pencil and other

I wanted to finish the Purple Headed Sneezeweed work before I updated the blog. I really don't like posting in-process photos of works, I sort of feel that it is OK to post the beginnings of a piece, but once the drawing reaches a certain point (over half way finished) it seems to me that posting photos sort of ruins the final reveal. You are of course entitled to your own opinion.

Anyway above is a scan of the final work. The colors aren't quite right, scanners never seem to get yellow quite right, I have a feeling it has to do with the pigments used to create the color. So I have played with this a bit in Photoshop, this is a good as I could get it. When we get a sunny or less overcast day I will try to get a photograph of the drawing and see if I can do better color wise with the camera.

This was done on Stonehenge paper, size of the finished work is approximately 6 x 6 inches. I used a combination of many colors and different brands of colored pencils, mostly underlayers of various Derwent brands, Colorsoft, Artists, and Studio with final overlays of Faber Castell Polychromos. The flower is based on a personal photograph I made last summer the background is totally my imagination, but I rather like it.

The above piece is more of my playing around with a dip pen and colored inks. I decided I needed to take a bit of time away from the colored pencil work and do some sketching from real life, fruit is always good for quick studies so above are 2 pears and an apple. I really just wanted to play with the inks so I wasn't too concerned about accuracy. Done in my Strathmore Multi Media Journal, I used Red, Yellow, Antelope Brown and Indigo Blue acrylic inks for the fruit after making the initial outline with one of my technical pens in black ink. Not wonderful, but sort of fun anyway.

One day last week I took the bus into Boston, I wanted to visit Dick Blicks and the MFA. On the way in I sketched one of my fellow passengers. Just a quick sketch, but not too bad. I used a mechanical pencil for this in one of my smaller sketchbooks.

At the large Dick Blicks in Boston I discovered that they are now carrying open stock of the Caran d'Ache Luminance colored pencils. Oh my, I am in trouble now, well my budget is. These are very expensive pencils, but they are also the most colorfast pencils on the market so of course I want them. I already have a few and now I have the opportunity to acquire more.

At the MFA they are sort of between major shows. The artwork from the Americas showing the influences of Eastern art on western art is still on-going but the Dutch paintings are gone. There are a couple of smaller exhibits of some interest, one is some of the Photographs of Hiro. He was mostly a fashion/advertising photographer still some of his photos are iconic. The other is some of the fashion illustrations of Kenneth Paul Block. I found it interesting how over time he distorted the human form to feature the fashions he is illustrating, bodies and limbs become elongated, heads and feet were made smaller. In his drawings the clothes are what is important not the faces or accurate portraits of the models. The Illustrations range from some of his earlier works to later ones, and it is interesting to see how the figure is more distorted over time, the earlier illustrations show more realistic human models, the later ones are less and less realistic.

Since I am trying to get less realistic for my own art I am trying to pay attention to how other artists do or don't use realism in their works. Not sure I am succeeding with my goal, drawing realistically is a habit that is hard to break, but I think I now have a better understanding of what Picasso was trying to do with some of his art. I am not going to go that way with mine, but I can understand why he did.

A couple of snow photographs from this past weekend. We did get some of the snow that blanketed the east coast the end of last week, but no where near the amount of snow they got to the south of us, particularly in the mid Atlantic states. We got maybe six inches of snow not several feet. But we did get wind. The photo above shows how the snow was blown about settling in patterns and layers.

The snow was just damp enough to stick to trees, so above is a small tree with its icing of snow, you can see some of the trees behind it have a coating on one side of their trunks. I always love photographing snow when it has stuck to the trees this way.

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Colored Inks, and beginning Colored Pencil

The above Hibiscus flower was done entirely with various colored acrylic inks and a dip pen. I used a half sheet of Strathmore toned paper for the background. The size is about 5 x 6 inches. I did rough in a pencil outline of the flower and main leaves first but as I inked the background first I was able to erase out most of the pencil prior to starting the the flower. I didn't use any black ink on this, just various colors, red, green, antelope brown, and yellow, and oh yes a little Indigo blue in the background and on some of the leaves.

The reference is from the January Monthly challenge in the WetCanvas Pen and Ink forum.

I am relatively pleased with how this came out and may try to do more flowers this way. The only drawback is that color placement does have to be thought out a bit prior to inking, and I can only ink one color at a time so it isn't quick and there is a fair amount of pen cleaning involved. I keep a small jar of my pen cleaning solution close at hand, and always rinse that off in clean water after cleaning the pen.

I have started the colored pencil work on this inked flower, so far I have just been working on the background abstract leaves. Selecting the colors has been fun, but I think what you see is what I will be using for the rest of the background, I am using under layers of Derwent colored pencils with a top layer of Polychromos. The Derwents are wax based pencils and the Polychromos are oil based and a bit more translucent than the wax pencils.

The other day I was out for a walk in my local park and saw a tree trunk/stump in a clearing that I thought might make an interesting drawing. I made a reference photo at the time and used it as the basis for the above sketch. I used Sepia Acrylic ink and dip pen in one of my smaller sketchbooks for this drawing.

The drawing didn't actually take very long to do, but I am quite pleased with how it came out. Guess my occasional plein air landscape drawings are starting to pay off when it comes to figuring out how to suggest distance and textures with pen and ink.

The above is pretty much a doodle done in one of my sketchbooks with my Copic Multiliner pens (various tip sizes). Just playing around to see what values/textures I can come up with using just ink. No reference and not really trying to create a finished drawing, but depicting tone/texture with ink is a constant challenge so these doodles do have a purpose. 

We had more snow over the weekend, not a lot, just about 3 inches, not even enough for them to haul out the plows, but with the snow has come cold air and wind. Yesterday I went for a walk up in the Blue Hills Reservation, I was going to check out the animals at Trailside Museum, but I had forgotten about the ski slope on Great Blue Hill, so parking for Trailside was pretty impossible. Causing me to pass on the Museum and drive directly over the Houghton's Pond. The photo above was made at the pond, and shows an area that is just east of the beach. The sky was very blue yesterday though the wind was cold, so I can't say that I entirely enjoyed my walk, got a bit chilled.

Speaking of blue, I just finished reading a book about blue. It is mostly about blue dye, originally done in the Mediterranean using the gland of a sea snail, until plant indigo was introduced from the East, even then it was the preferred dye of the upper classes. The author includes all sorts of linked information, Mediterranean History, how we see blue, the chemistry of Indigo and how the historic dyeing process was rediscovered. So if you are curious about the color blue prior to our chemical dyes this is a very interesting read:  The Rarest Blue

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Playing with Watercolor and Pen

The one thing all of todays drawings have in common is they were done with pen and ink and watercolor. Not always pan or tube watercolor, I did use watercolor pencils for the abstract design, but since I did take the time to activate the pencil with a brush and water it is still watercolor.

Above is a small still life, bowl of fruit on one of my quilts. I rendered the quilt in a very abstract way, just to see if I could. Don't know how I feel about this, could certainly be better but could also be worse. Added the darkened background because I wanted the visual contrast. No pencil work in this one, everything was done directly.

Another of my sort of paisley doodles. I am much happier with the colors I used here. For one thing I limited the number of colors I used to fewer than I used in the last one. I don't know how many more of these I have in me right now, will just have to wait and see. In the meantime I may pull one of these into Illustrator to see if I could actually design an overall pattern that could be used for fabric. It would make an interesting challenge for 2016.

Above is another watercolor sketch/painting. Well it isn't awful but could certainly be better that is for sure. I based the painting on a photograph I made last fall in the Fens area of Boston. The black tree I did with ink, and probably should have used paint for it but... I wanted to use ink so I did. At one point I was afraid I was overworking this piece, but looking at it now, I think I mostly didn't. Watercolor is so easy to overwork ending up with muddy color and no definition. I didn't go quite as dark on the right side of the painting as it is in the photograph but I am not sure that is a bad thing.

For this one done in my Strathmore Multi-media sketchbook I did block in a few pencil marks prior to starting the painting. Not a lot of detail, but I did note where I wanted the tree, the line of the top of the bridge, a line for the top of the building, that type of thing. Note that all of today's images were done in my Multi-media sketchbook so are small about 5 x 7 inches or less.

My reference photograph for the above watercolor painting. I may attempt this one again on larger and better paper.

Sunday for us was a day of rain, lots of rain, which we still need from our dry summer and fall last year. The water levels in the lakes/ponds are looking better but I know the water table is still probably lower than it should be.

We did get a few breaks in the rain and during one of those breaks I photographed the swan pair in my local park. Just realized when I was editing the photo that Sunday was the first time I hadn't seen the signets with their parents, well I think these are the pair that had young last summer, but maybe not. Swans sort of look pretty much alike and I certainly can't tell the pairs apart. But the above pair was only the one I saw out and about so who knows if it is the same one and the young have just taken off to find mates and a home elsewhere or if the whole family left and another pair has moved in.

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

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Happy 2016, and Some Ink Work

On one hand I can't believe I let the entire month of December go by without one blog update, on the other hand it makes total sense. Thanksgiving was late in 2015, leaving just 4 weeks till Christmas. For me Thanksgiving was a wake up call, buy presents, get them wrapped and mailed, make travel reservations, figure out what I wanted to take, pack, then travel. It didn't leave me a lot of time for art or the blog. Then I spent 2 weeks in Chicago, a great place to visit but it wasn't feasible to try and make any blog updates while I was there. Though I did draw while in Chicago, that is mostly where the images in today's post were made. Then I had to travel home, and try to settle back into my life, taking care of plants, returning books to library, laundry, groceries, bills, etc. I am thankful to say that is all mostly done. So today I am belatedly turning my attention to the blog.

The above is sort of a doodle, but not entirely, I think I have it in the back of my brain to attempt to design some fabric. The above is a first attempt. I used 3 different sized technical pens then watercolor pencils to add a bit of color. The watercolor was activated with a damp brush. I am not happy with the colors, and while I think the patterns have possibilities it doesn't quite work. So expect to see some more of this type of work. Whether it will actually become a fabric design I don't know at this point, we will just have to see.

You may or may not be aware that there is currently a revival with coloring books, these are mostly aimed at adults who don't feel they can draw but love color, and are happy to spend the time and effort coloring others drawings. I thought it might be fun to design some works that could be downloaded and used by others as templates to color. The subjects are based on photographs I have made, and I have tried to create simplified outlines that can be filled in. I have yet to decide where to upload large images for download, probably in my Esty shop, so stay tuned.

Above are three mallard ducklings. the drawing and ink work are done, image scanned and it is time for me to do some coloring with this one. My drawing was done on Stonehenge paper and I inked them with my technical pens, size is 7 x 7 inches.

The flowers in the above drawing are purple headed sneezeweed and the reference photograph was one I used in my Flowers 2016 calendar. The background leaf pattern is just me being creative and doesn't really reflect the reference. Another drawing ready to be colored. I will be using colored pencils for these though I suppose I could use watercolor pencils or even watercolor. Something to think about.

I have one more drawing that needs to be inked then I need to work on a couple more of these. They have been both a challenge and fun to do.

The above photograph I made in Chicago, a bush with red berries in front of a window that was reflecting a tree and sky. I thought it was sort of fun so am posting it here.

I took the train to Chicago, and since I arrived at South Station with some time to spare I took my camera for a walk and made some Boston Photos prior to departing, so this is a December photograph of the Fort Point Channel with a view of the sheep statue and some Boston buildings as a backdrop, looking northeast. Wool was an important trade commodity for Colonial Boston. Wool produced here in the Colonies was shipped back to England to be woven into cloth. Early Colonists were prohibited from shipping 100% wool cloth between colonies or exporting it out of its place of manufacture. Of course the prohibition of shipping between colonies couldn't really be enforced. So spinning and weaving became important home industries for early american Woman and Children.

That is it for today, I want to take a moment to wish everyone reading a Happy Healthy 2016, may some of your dreams and/or wishes come true this next year, may you and yours enjoy good health, and be creative. Per usual comments are welcome. Oh, there are a few Chicago photographs on my Facebook page if you are interested in looking, link at the bottom of the blog.