Tuesday, January 28, 2014

From a Hotel Window in Paris

Paris, summer 2013

Here is another fast sketch with a 9B pencil a la David Rankin. This is from a photograph of a certain girl, looking out a hotel window in Paris. Exciting effects of light and dark on each side of her head.

Self Portrait #9 - Wipe Out!

Self Portrait Project #9 - Eeegad!

Here is one for the experience file!

Fast Sketching and Afterimages

From the Province Newspaper

I came across the work of David Rankin online and was taken with his approach to sketching and travelling. David is an accomplished artist and painter, capable of very precise and detailed landscapes as well as portraits. But it's his fast pencil and watercolour sketches that really caught my eye. In the introduction to his book, Fast Sketching Techniques, he described how his classical approach to drawing had not served him well as he travelled around India. At the time he wanted to capture the vibrant and active scenes around him in images. Photography was always an option but he wanted the immediacy of sketching from real life. So he developed a fast sketching technique to capture the essence of what he saw, rather than the precise details.

David Rankin works with 9B pencils and a smudging tool. He tries to see his scene in terms of simple shapes and 3 or 4 basic values. The really exciting "discovery" for me is his afterimage practice. Afterimage exercises have the artist trying to look quickly at a scene (or photograph) and actually remember the shapes and their relationship to the other shapes. It's like the scene burns a mental print in your mind's eye which you can look at and get down on paper. I know that artists are constantly looking at and referring to their subject as they sketch. It never really occurred to me that I could actually remember the image for more than a fleeting second. Practicing and developing the ability to remember what something looks like must be an essential part of being able to capture quickly changing scenes and sketch on the move.

So as I sat at the White Spot and waited to pick up my teen musicians from a gig, I practiced from photographs in an old newspaper lying on the table where I sat. I also practiced from real life in my garden, moving my stool around to different vantage points.

From the Newspaper and David Rankin's Fast Sketching Techniques

Our Fish Pond
Our Front Door

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Self Portrait #8

Self Portrait 8 (from life, straight to pen)
I continue to be my own willing subject. Proportions are getting better. Maybe I will try a range of strange colours. This one certainly qualifies. I'm trying to get the values correct. I do have a range here. And I'm striving for looseness and fresh colour. The lines and paint are definitely loose but the colours got a bit muddy. Next!

Monday, January 20, 2014

In the Spirit of Experimentation - Yikes!

Self Portrait 7 (from a photo, straight to pen)
This one is straight to pen with no pencil security blanket. I actually like the watercolour in the hair and forehead. This painting was done from a cam shot from my computer so the light was very harsh. And actually, the glasses did look like that because, earlier in the day, I had driven over them. Seriously difficult to see with the lenses squished out of them. But the frames did not break. Self portrait 7 down, 23 to go!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Another Tall Headed Stranger

Self Portrait 6 (from life - pencil)
By the time I have done 30 self portraits, I will have 30 new women in my life. And so I keep trying. My new Christmas earrings look nice.

Experimenting with Felix

Loose Living Room
I am very taken with the work of German illustrator and artist, Felix Scheinberger. I love his crazy, fast and loose watercolour. He seems to be able to capture the very essence of a scene, object or person with rough and evocative line work, oversplashed with shots of watercolour. So I ordered one of his books, entitled Mut sum Skizzenbuch, which arrived this week. The illustrations are fantastic and I assume the text is marvellous, if only I could read German. One of the few things in English is the note at the back, reading: Printed in Germany with love. I thought that was sweet.

Never mind.  It might actually be better not to get too distracted by the wordy side of things and really examine and immerse myself in the paintings. Or I could study German. Or perhaps find an artistic, German reading friend. The exciting thing is that I noticed in an online book review that another of Felix's books, Wasserfarbe Fur Gestalter, is supposed to be translated to English and available in March 2014. As the teens say, I'm down with that! In the mean time, I will experiment with fat, scrappy lines and bold loose colour.  Oh, and check out Felix's website http://www.felixscheinberger.de/sketches/

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Good Money after Bad?

Self Portrait 5 (from life - pencil then pen)
So the resolution was a self portrait a day for 30 days. It is Jan 15th and, as usual, I have fallen a little behind. But I'm not beating myself up because I have been drawing and painting quite a bit. The question is whether to continue to throw good money after bad in the portrait project. My inclination is to continue in spite of the wobbly results. (Upon seeing the drawings, my partner wondered who all of the women were.) Well, dang. what have I got to lose? And judging from the recognizability gap, I have quite a bit to gain. If Roz can draw her dog everyday for 5 years or some crazy thing, I can try to grab a likeness. Either that, or buy a dog. Na…..onward!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Plein Air in Progress

Nina Johansson inspired me with the recent post to her blog (http://www.ninajohansson.se) entitled "First Snow of 2014". There she is in Stockholm Sweden, continuing to sketch outdoors. So I spent part of the day today in my backyard, sketching and painting. The birds chirped. The squirrels hopped. Even the goldfish in the pond rose to the surface. I was bundled up for the 8 degrees C but found myself concentrating so hard on my perspective drawing and getting the dark paint dark enough, that I started sweating!

I also had a flash of understanding. I've been wondering whether to be offended or somehow shamed into action by a poster stuck on the pole at the end of my driveway, advertising the services of an expert gardener. You see, I always leave garden clean up until spring. My flower beds are a mass of blacken stems, fronds, and leaves, all a soggy, rotting mass. Seeing the flurry of birds flitting and feeding amongst the toppled vegetation today, I felt vindicated in leaving the tidy up until I see new shoots popping through a month or two from now. Oh, sorry mom. I know spring comes a bit later for you.

And stay tuned for the finished painting.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Rapper Boots

Here is another for my book of inspiration…with apologies to Goethe. I played a bit fast and loose with his quote. I think part of the quote is from Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way". In any case, the message is to zip up your boots and get on with it.

I spent a good part of the weekend up the mountain in the snow. Being out in nature, physically active, is another great source of inspiration for me. The snow was coming down in huge flakes when we arrived at the parking lot. We strapped on our snowshoes and backpacks and headed up towards the cabin. By evening, the sky had cleared as the wind picked up. The moon cast unearthly blue shadows onto the snow through the black firs and cedars as the stars twinkled above. By morning, big fat flakes were falling again. It was truly invigorating.
Do I need to say, these are not the boots I  use for snowshoeing?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Drawing Inspiration

I got a very special Christmas gift this year. My mom made me a hand bound watercolour journal, leather cover and Japanese fabric on the inside. It has wonderful paper and lies flat. It is big enough for a nice spread but not so big that I can't take it out and about for drawing and painting adventures. I've been mulling over what kind of project I should use it for because a book as beautiful as this cries for a special project. But that can feel a little intimidating too. I don't want to "waste" the lovely pages on crumby work while at the same time, I don't want to save it for the illusive project that never actually happens. An unused journal would be a true "waste"
of this lovely gift.

Over the years, I have been collecting quotes and words of wisdom that mean something to me. I have kept them in a journal that is full of words but no images. So I have decided to pull words and images together into a book of personal inspiration. The words have been resonating for a while; the paintings will all be fresh work…the good, the bad, the experimental, the dogs.

The first painting I did in the journal was pretty awful so I won't bother posting it here but at least it broke the spell of empty journal-itis. This one, of my hiker, reminds me of recent walks in the muddy hills near Churchdown.

Oh, and thanks Mom. I love the book!

Self Portrait Project - 30 Days

The new year has started and with it comes the promise of New Year's resolutions. In the spirit of a 30 day challenge, I have decided to try to do a self portrait a day, for 30 days. It may seem like a narcissistic project, but let me defend myself. Roz Stendhal, whose work I admire very much, sets herself very specific projects. She once did a project call Daily Dots, for which she drew her dog everyday, for a very long time. I don't have a pet and I think my family would rebel if I asked them to pose for me everyday. So I am my own willing model. Here goes. (all from life - pencil, pen, pen and watercolour)
#1 Whoa, what a big forehead!

#2 Cool lifework…not at all like me though.

#3 Getting closer. I should really use watercolour paper.