Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tropical flowers

I don't know why I like to paint flowers, since I don't seem to know their names very well. I thought that these were "Birds of Paradise" but apparently they're both just ordinary versions of Heliconia. Oh well.

Both were done in WC pencil.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

First fruits!

I can see why people have gardens. We bought a tomato plant about a month ago and one tomato ripened just a few weeks later. (The plant already had green tomatoes on it.) This week, between the rain we've had and now the heat, several more have begun to ripen. What a wonderful subject for my WC pencils class!

I loved the fact that each tomato was a different color. And now I know a bit more about the plant. For instance, the stem that goes to each tomato actually bends; it's not just a curve. I should have omitted the teeny green tomato in the center as I couldn't get it to pop out sufficiently. Still, this may provide me with more details for a real painting later on.

Pine cone

This pine cone was a found object from one of my recent walks. I decided to do a detailed observation of it for my WC pencils class. As I examined it closely, I realized that the dark parts of it formed a nice pattern, a real spiral. I also thought it would be good to do a step-by-step drawing of it.

Here's the pine cone, pretty ordinary looking, with the finished one beside it:

I sketched it and then lightly shaded in the darks, trying to emphasize their spiral pattern:

Next was to paint the darks:

I tried to get initial details in:

It was clear that I'd never really looked at a pine cone before. (!) As I paid attention to it, I observed that it must have opened out like a flower as it was growing, and that there were two distinct parts to each "petal". Rather than try to paint these further details immediately, I thought it would be better to work out what I needed to do to paint the petal. This observational shot shows how I approached it, first going way too dark and then finally LOOKING at it:

And finally it was time to lightly sketch in a shadow:

I hope you found this helpful!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Perseverance is what counts

Here's a shot of a calla lily that I did a few weeks ago. I like the shading and the fact that even the shadows read as "white" but clearly it could be improved. Will be working on it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Garden Gate

I was going to call this "Beyond the Pale". Maybe if I fix it up, I will. Our apartment has a nice little patio and the gate at the back has always interested me because it has acquired a really weathered look and I like to see the green trees behind it, showing through the planks. Anyway, I sat down this evening and decided to capture it in WC pencil.

Oddly enough, the photos that I took gave it two different hues and I'm not sure which I prefer. Will have to decide, I guess, when I decide to make a real painting of it. So tell me, which do YOU prefer? Oh, and I decided to post a reference shot of the gate. I often wonder how artists decide which colors to use when they're painting a boring brown or grey gate... now I have a better idea... the colors that just "make it right".

And yeah... the blue flowers have to go.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Learning to draw

I've tried several texts for teaching myself to draw, from "Drawing for Dummies" to "Drawing on the right side of the brain". Of course, any program is only as good as the effort that you put into it! So you can guess where all of those led...

Found "How to draw anything" in a bookstore the other day. What immediately grabbed my attention was the fact that the author started you out copying some of his sketches, and the assumption that these are simple. For instance, he says, of the first sketch, "Begin with the very simple illustration in figure 5." Well, my brain didn't think it was that simple, but I went right in, concentrated on the lines and... hey presto!... ended up with a passable sketch! The next assignment was to shade it, which I did, and I feel very pleased with the result. Obviously, this wasn't my interpretation of the scene, but just drawing distant fields with squiggles, hills with slight curves, and closer trees with squiggly outlines gave me a lot of "aha!" moments. I finished the next two assignments and they're all below.

I've also signed up to take a drawing class that starts in a couple of weeks, so I hope that between personalized attention, the use of this book, and the skills that will come with the WC pencil class, I will begin to make progress.

Playing with WC pencils -- rainbows and mixes

Kate said: Play with your pencils. So that's what I did. :)

First I looked carefully at the color charts and picked a warm and a cool of each color. (I chose two warms and cools of the reds.) Colors:
Cool yellow: Staedtler; Warm yellow: FC dark cadmium
Cool blue: D prussian; Warm blue: D helioblue-reddish
Cool red: FC alizarin crimson / D crimson lake; Warm red: FC deep red / D deep vermilion

The top row shows the colors opposite each other. I pulled color from each one into the middle. Can't say I found this effective, so I need to learn how to do this better.

Second row: I crosshatched each color with the other and then wet a part of each. B over Y; B over R; Y over R.
Third row: Same thing, only I changed the top and bottom colors.

I decided that I liked the green that I got in the left column, as well as the purple in column 2 and the orange in column 5, so I used those colors to make the color wheel. The blobs of orange, green, and purple at the outside of the circle are the mixtures.

Next step was to find pencils with that matched the 3 secondary colors, which I did. I used those colors on the inner part of the circle.

[What I've now ended up with are nine pencils (6 primaries, 3 secondaries) that I can grab and take with me on the road. I'll also add 3 or 4 neutrals and with this I should be set for trips, along with a sketchbook, paper towels, and waterbrush. I plan to continue experimenting with all the pencils at home, of course.]

I also experimented with tertiary colors, using the secondary pencil colors between each of the primary colors. I hope this makes sense.

Lastly, I became fascinated with the idea of rainbows so along the bottom of the paper I lightly sketched in six lines of each color, adding the next color to it after line 4, so that there was always overlap, then wet the bottom.

I had so much fun with this :) that I decided to try it out in a sketchbook with roughish paper and one with very smooth paper (70 lb) -- I really like that one! (I also cheated by finding a couple more greens to ease the transition between yellow and green... that was really bugging me.)

Playing with WC pencils -- charts

Okay, I did what I always resisted doing with my WC tube paints: made a color chart, and have uploaded them. Here's how the charts read, left to right:

Column 1: pencil pressed heavily, forwards and back.
Column 2: pencil pressed as lightly as possible, once.
Column 3: pencil pressed fairly heavily, as though writing.
Column 4: paint taken off the pencil
Column 5: information about the pencil (brand and color)

The brands are:
Staedtler (no color or other info given)
FC (Albrecht Durer Faber-Castell) + color name + number
D (Derwent) + color name + number
D-Ink (Derwent Inktense) + color name + number

Watercolor pencils -- let the fun begin

I just joined the Watercolor Pencils online class offered by Kate Johnson. I'm looking forward to this and it was very timely given that just a month or so ago I began playing around with WC pencils. The class promises to be great (!) and I expect to develop skill with this medium. So far, a couple of things I've noticed:
1. Coming from a WC background, I want to wet everything. So I'll need to learn when it's okay to create various washes, and when it's okay to let the pencil texture shine through. And this should, I imagine, be a different effect from mixed-media use of colored pencils on WC. ??
2. Do I crosshatch everything? Just color things in? Use the pencils as pencils, or slightly flatter? Okay, will pursue these questions as well.

Several posts follow, along with pix.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Different Strokes

The year has been busier than I expected, so... no posts for 3 months. What a pity. I really haven't had the time to sketch or paint, though I have taken some photos. Still, it's better to post even if it's a bit late...

I love to buy art supplies. Who doesn't? Well, on a recent trip to Evanston, IL, I stopped in at the local Dick Blick store. Several (can't say) dollars later, I walked out with cute magnets, page markers, watercolor paper, new WC paints (including some brands I hadn't tried before like Fragonard and Van Gogh) and some Inktense WC pencils. Aaaargh! What will I do with all of these??

I'd bought WC pencils in the past, but had heard such good things about Inktense that I couldn't resist, so I bought a few (=12, okay?) that I carefully chose from the WONDERFUL selection that Blick had.

I thought it would be helpful to compare the Inktense with other WC media, so I set up a still life, marked my paper off into 4 sections, and began! What did I use? Top right, Inktense; top left, Faber-Castell WC pencils; bottom left, Sargent WC crayons; bottom right, WC tube paints. (And that's the order in which I painted them.) At first I didn't see any real difference between the Inktense and the other WC pencils, but I can see now that the Inktense pencils are much richer and deeper. I'm not so keen on the WC crayons and will probably not use them that often. I might need to work further with the regular WC crayons as well. Never having used Inktense before, I didn't know how hard to press... so perhaps the darkness is due to my having used a LOT of pencil!

Now I know that I need to buy a book on using WC pencils. I washed each object with a brush but I'm sure that there are techniques where you let the pencil marks show. I'll get there. I quite like the pencils and might use them when I'm out and about tomorrow for SketchCrawl. Wish me luck.

Did I mention that I also bought 2 new brushes? Yup, #10 and #12 Robert Simmons White Sable brushes. They are great... wonderful point, and they carry an incredible amount of water. I highly recommend them.

Friday, January 9, 2009

EDM Challenge #171: Draw something that needs fixing

What needs fixing? What about a cat? Numa the kat has tormented me, annoyed me, teased me, and loved me for the last 11 years. She's had a bladder problem since she was a kitten (partly a result of being a "rumpy" [no tail, with consequent issues surrounding rear-end muscles etc...]) so for half of her life we've lived in places without carpeting (not a problem), few rugs (sigh), and closed bathroom doors (just how many times DO I need to wash those mats?). So I drew this as she was lying down beside me. In case you're wondering, yes, her eyes really are blue, a bright baby blue, and they glow RED in the dark.

And in case you're wondering, here's Numa the real thing. Isn't she angelic?


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Creative Goals for 2009

1. Drawing and sketching.
At least each week, attempt an EDM Challenge; sketch or draw during one lunch hour at work.

2. Blog, blog, blog.
Upload the week's work (what I can show others!) and explore the work of others through their blogs or websites.

3. Painting and photography.
Take a watercolor class in the spring. Visit local museums and those in other cities when I travel. Find an "art buddy" to work with. Explore macro settings particularly in the spring when things are budding, blooming, springing to life, and everyone's happy.

4. Writing.
Dig out old pieces and update them. At least once each month, write a creative piece.

5. Track it all.
Keep a creative calendar for encouragement.

Above all, remember that we live life one day, one hour, one minute at a time, and that while we work for, with, or on behalf of others, yet we must also renew ourselves in whatever fashion works for us.