Crepe Myrtles / pastel study

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It’s not finished. I have the leaves sketched in charcoal but I might not fill them in. The flower is the fun part.

This is close to life size on a 9 x 12 paper. The tree is next to my apartment and I stood on my balcony to draw it. The blossoms are starting to fall down on my car.

I’m glad I did this pastel today because I put it off while I watched Lucifer on Netflix. The devil is a good looking British chap. Did I feel guilty about abandoning my art for a week while I binge watched Lucifer? Not at all. And I learned that you don’t go to hell unless you feel guilty. So, that means I should be ok.

I think I’ll go to Back Bay next and try watercolor again.

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self portrait as ghost / mixed media

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ok that was fun. I  had an inspiration to draw myself with white and silver oil paint sticks on watercolor paper then use the same blue watercolor all over top of the paint sticks to see if I could make a transparent effect. The oil paint sticks resist the watercolor. I hope it looks ghostly. If it’s working I might use the effect again some time.

As I was doing this, I wondered if there’s a face morphing program that an artist could use to make a ghostly look. I saw an app that could put your face on a hot dog! It was a scream! I think I remember the beginning of face morph programming. Was it when Michael Jackson did his video where he sang, doesn’t matter if you’re black or white? He had good looking people of different races and sexes blending into each other. Now you can do it too. Those guys who code computers have to be geniuses.

Do computer programs have an imagination? Would they give you a ghost if they weren’t programmed to have a ghost as an option? I think they are limited to what the programmer could put in which isn’t the whole brain of an artist. They have a limited number of choices to work with for the creative process, where my brain has limited experience, but more than an app. As always, feel free to opine.

self portrait with bucket list hair / pastel

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As I was standing in front of the mirror in my bathroom to work on this, I turned it around to look at the reflection. That’s an old way to check if your drawing is working, look at the reflection then you can see your mistakes better. I thought it kind of looks like me as I was working, but when I turned it around to see it in the mirror I thought, oh no. It looks like a primitive. Well, portraiture ain’t easy and I’ll try again some time. I have to keep challenging myself to do the difficult projects or I’ll never improve. Can’t say I’m afraid of failure, I can’t tell if it’s working or not anyway.

I wanted to make myself look younger. In real life I’m not trying to hide my age. I understand people that do, though. I’ll never get plastic surgery. I might not draw all the wrinkles.

Once I saw an art show where the artist wanted to make women feel better about their self images. She got a bunch of her friends drunk for nude photo shoots for her paintings. The models hid their faces from the camera with their hair or hats, or the photo was from the back. Then she enlarged the figures to around 8′ and painted them in acrylic with the scars, fat folds and skin blemishes in tight detail. The paintings were imposing larger than life. They were in your face “feminism”, I guess. I didn’t enjoy looking at them. When I was in art school we’d have got mocked out of town by our teachers if we painted scars or skin problems. Fat was ok. The only female model that was dependable was obese.

I was thinking how ironic it was that the obese model from long ago was ok nude without getting drunk first but the models for the woman self image empowerment project hid their faces after drinking wine. As for me personally, my clothes don’t come off. hahahah but I wondered if the women’s lib feel good about your body no matter what project actually did make anyone feel better.  It made me feel bad for the models. I couldn’t look. And I consider myself to be a liberated woman.  So for my self portrait, I’d like to make myself look better than real life. I don’t know if I was successful.

About my bucket list, I’m glad I didn’t wait till my hair is totally gray to do this. And I live at Virginia Beach, which today is suffering, including me when I think about the murders, but I think it’s mainly a fun place where people aren’t too surprised to see blue hair.

The other things on my bucket list are going to happen too because they’re all reasonable goals. Then if I have some warning before I die, I can say, yeah, I did that. It was fun.

self portrait / unfinished charcoal

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Do I look like this? I don’t know. It’s not finished. My hair is brown and gray with a blue fringe, and I usually wear glasses. I’d like to do my self portrait with my fun “bucket list” hair do. I’m not drawing the glasses.

It’s hot and humid out today so I decided to try to sketch myself. I have my easel in the bathroom in front of the mirror. There’s enough room to walk around it but the light isn’t good. I worked on the sketch for an hour or so then did other things and then went back to it. I’d like to put some pastel in for color.

I’m not photogenic. There’s a photo of me somewhere but I don’t keep them. The good thing about doing a self portrait from life is that maybe I could make myself younger looking. Then I could say, look, I don’t need to buy the app for that! hahaha I’ll try to finish this so the blue stays in my hair forever on the blog.

 

another try at sea and sky watercolor pencils

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Last year I sketched waves with charcoal and chalk. This year I want to sketch them in color. I think the watercolor pencils have a grainier quality than regular watercolors. I’ll do some comparisons with the watercolors in tubes this year. It seems like I picked a difficult subject for Plein air painting because waves never stop moving. I’ll keep working on it but there are so many great views around here and I’m not on a deadline. I’ll try out my Inktense watercolor pencils drawing other scenes before I get the hang of painting of the ocean. It’s not just painting waves, it’s also that I want to paint the bubbles on the sand and that looks even more difficult.

Yesterday we had nice weather but it was too windy to stand on the beach at the water’s edge. I sat on the leeward side of a sand dune and it was great. It took me some time to plan my sketch with pencil and pick my colors from the charts I made. Then I realized I forgot to bring a piece of soap along. If you put soap on your paintbrush before you dip it in the masking fluid it saves the brush from getting gummed up and ruined. For this experiment I used my white oil paint stick on the sky as an alternative to masking fluid and used regular masking fluid to block out the white foam on the breakers.

After I got my sketch planned and picked the colored pencils I wanted to use I came home to paint this because I had enough sun. I’d buy a beach umbrella, but those things can be a hazard. I don’t need to stay out all day painting in plein air. I can go back any time. This could take months or even years, but eventually I’ll get it.

Sea and Sky / from memory

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This is my third try to represent a wave, painting at home from memory with my Inktense watercolor pencils. It’s on the back of a flop experiment. That’s why it has some smudges showing in the sky.  It’s another experiment, this time trying out masking fluid applied with my fan brush to mask out the white clouds, and  white oil paint stick used to mask out white foam on the wave.

I’m guessing which colors from the set of pencils to use after finally finishing with the big project of testing each color pencil by making washes from the darkest concentration of the color to the most washed out lightest version of the color.  That’s why I call that  that exercise  a gray scale. If black is 100% and white is 0% using gray, when you do a gray scale of a color you can estimate the value of the color. Some of the colors don’t get any darker than 30%. I have 3 pencils that go to black in the set, which is good.

Now I need to go back to the beach to see if the colors I picked are close to the colors of nature, or if I can make a better color.

It’s going to get unseasonably hot out there today. I’m not sure if I’ll go to the beach today or wait till tomorrow when it might be more comfortable weather. In the summer, if I don’t get up at the crack of dawn, it’s too hot to paint in plein air in the sun. In the winter, I have to wait until afternoon when it warms up enough to go out. That way I’m not suffering for art.

The time I spent goofing around at home with these pencils is going to help my chance of success when I seriously try to do a nice finished painting. You learn a lot through play. You can take a class and a good teacher can help immensely  but you still have to work on your own for a long time to get anywhere with art, at least that’s my experience.

 

untitled / watercolor pencils

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I wish I could be an abstract expressionist. Yesterday I read a blog, Vin de Vie Wine of Life, by Sarah Abraham. about an artist Oliver Lee Jackson who’s work is hanging in the National Gallery until Sept. 15. His paintings are so beautiful. At my art school, YAA, they discouraged us from that path. We had to plan our paintings. Abstract expressionism is painting from your subconscious, if  I understand it correctly, and we were expressly forbidden to do that. I distinctly remember our esteemed teacher Fitzkee saying , “Don’t clean out the cobwebs from your brain on your canvas, no one wants to see that.” I understood Fitzkee’s point of view.

But last night I just wanted to have a little fun with my Inktense pencils after working on that academic exercise for hours. The old school exercises can’t hurt if I’m trying to see the colors I can make with the pencils and learn to use them, but is scribbling blindly bad for my art?

I don’t really want the viewer to see the cobwebs or worse things in my brain. I thought abstract expressionism was for the artist to communicate their emotions to the viewer, and I’m not feeling at all emotional these days. (Thankgawd for less of that)  Does this  little play painting speak to you at all? Should I title it, “I Find Myself Amusing” ?

an art exercise I can’t avoid / watercolor pencils

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A month or so ago I bought this set of Inktense  pencils on sale. There’s two trays in the box and each pencil has the color on the end.  One day I was sitting on a sand dune trying to pick a color and they all fell out of the box. I tried to reorganize them but it looked like I have a lot of dark colors which are hard to tell apart from looking at the colored ends. I wondered if I had doubles of any color and how the lighter more water washed versions of these colors would look.

One reason my first attempt to use the pencils was a total flop is because I can’t pick my colors, so I knew I had to do this rather time consuming practice project. Just like back in my art school days, I started making gray scales with them starting with the dark colors.

I tried doing my gray scales on dry paper then putting water on top and also tried making the paper wet first and doing my gray scales into the wet paper. The look was the same to me.

Then I realized I have to number them or I still won’t know what pencil makes what color. If I cut up my strips of color and tape them to the pencils the lid won’t fit on the box so I just put a piece of tape over a few pencils at a time and numbered them in case they get mixed up again. I can get a few pencils off the tape and try them out in Plein air and number my combinations then put the pencil back under the tape. I also left white strips between the colors because the water really brightens up the colors which all look gray when drawing on a dry paper. That way if they get mixed up I have spaces to match colors to pencils.

So, this is my plan. Take the whole set out with my colored strips to try to match the colors I see in nature and make notes of which pencils I used to get those colors. I haven’t even done half of the set and my hand got tired of holding the pencils. I’m left handed so I switched to holding the pencils with my right hand and it worked ok for this experiment. The sooner I can get all these pencils categorized the sooner I can get back out and try my hand at painting with them.

In the long run this exercise will give me a better chance of success in my next try on painting a scene. The thing I’m really hoping for is to put them in the basket of my bike and go farther off the beaten path than I could go with my oil paint supplies which are bulkier and heavier than the set of pencils. If I can get some good color roughs with my watercolor pencils then I can do a larger oil painting  at home. I want to paint that black water but I’ll never get a big canvas that far down the dirt road. I can’t drive there in my car but I can bike it.

No Camera Needed