Category Archives: art

otter / charcoal and chalk

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My model is made of bronze. He’s at Norfolk Botanical Garden where I found a whole bunch of bronze birds and animals.

It was nice out this morning, not too hot and humid. I found a great place to stand and draw under a magnolia that is starting to bloom. When the weather gets warm I look for a shady place to sketch. There was a little breeze and the otter was in the sun.

It’s only drawing practice. I might never use this sketch in a painting, but if I ever want an otter for a painting I have one.

Wine makes her happy

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When I started drawing this statue I thought she looks high. She’s smiling and her eyes are half closed. Then I saw she has grape leaves in her hair. She must be drunk!

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This is my model. She’s in a large formal garden at Norfolk Botanical. I’m still doing portrait practice by sketching statues because they’re free and they don’t move. My friends and family don’t want to pose long enough for me to get a finished drawing. At least if I do find a free live model some time in the future, the time I’ve spent sketching statues will help me get a likeness.

After sketching a bunch of statues of male artists, it was nice to draw a pretty girl. I’ll go back to the sculpture garden with the famous dead guys again and do more of them but I took a little break from them.IMG_2049

This is another pretty girl in the same formal garden. Unfortunately, her nose is broken which will make it more of a challenge to draw her. I’ll have to use the magic of art to fix her nose after I get a little better at portraiture.

About ten years ago I practiced figure drawing and portraiture in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. I got the inspiration to draw the stone angels and was working on that for about six weeks when a good friend died suddenly and I was totally shattered. I hung around in the cemetery a lot for a couple years and drew most of the angels. It was the best therapy for me. Every day I was reminded that I’m still alive because I was standing over all these dead people. Hollywood Cemetery is very special. I’m not superstitious. I never saw a ghost, but the cemetery was my refuge from the world and it made a better artist out of me. And it helped me recover in some weird way, when my life went down the tubes back then.

After spending a lot of time sketching in the cemetery I wanted to draw some angels that were broken. I figured out how to draw a missing hand on a broken angel by copying a hand of another angel to fit. I felt like I kind of fixed the broken one when I could do that, and I knew my drawing skill was improving. That’s why I want to try again by putting a nose on this broken statue’s face.

I was very happy to find all these statues at Norfolk Botanical so I can continue to what I started ten years ago.

Can you name this famous dead guy? part six

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I’ll give you a hint. Italian neoclassical sculptor.Amore_e_psiche_(1)

This is one of our dead guy’s masterpieces.

The plein air report for today- Flies were biting my legs. It must be that time of year I have to pack bug spray with me. Then it started raining. So, that’s my excuse for not finishing this sketch.

Previously on “Who’s the dead guy?”

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crabapple tree finished

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Did you ever work on a painting for a long time and wished you were finished but knew you really weren’t? I knew I had to add another layer of paint to the leaves to give them some sunlight and I put it off for weeks. It was less time consuming to do that last layer of paint than I thought it would be. I’m happy that I finally got it done. I think the painting looks better with the light shining on the leaves and it looks more lifelike.

Can you name this famous dead guy? part four

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I’ll give you a hint. He liked to paint curvy women. No teenage nymphs for this guy.

When I was working on this study I thought this hat is too much. did he really wear a hat that partially blocked his vision and then have to tilt his head back to see? Or is that only how he looks in this statue. I thought he seems kind of snobby. In the future, whenever I see one of his paintings, I’ll always wonder if he was really all about that hat.

This is my second try. If I transfer this to another paper and try again I could make some corrections and it would come out better, but I don’t want to. This is only a practice sketch so that my portrait drawing can improve.

Previously on “Who’s the Dead Guy?”

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Can you name this famous dead guy part three, and story of strange bird encounter

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This guy is harder to name. I had to look him up, but if you study art history you might know him. I’ll give you a hint. He’s been dead over 2000 years.images (12)

This is one of his masterpieces. Well, it’s not the original. That one was destroyed.

Now for the bird story.

I’ve had a lot of weird bird encounters in my life. Here’s another.

This morning I was over at the garden working on my sketch and a lady spoke to me. She said, “That crow is interested in your bag.” I looked at the bench where I had taken my pencil box and water bottle out of my bag and laid them on top of it. This crow was on the arm of the bench looking at my stuff so I shooed him away.  He waited till I got right there and flew a few feet away. I went back to my drawing and I saw he was there again on the arm of the bench looking at me. I held out my hand and said , “Sit on my finger.” But he hopped away slowly. Then I put my pencil box and water bottle back in the bag and laid it at my feet in the grass. The crow flew up to sit on the statue’s head and sat there looking at me. I said, “What?” He hopped down and was hopping around my feet for a while and I told him I was trying to work here and he left. So, do you think the crow wanted to tell me something?

Previously on “Who’s the Dead Guy?”IMG_2034

Can you name this famous dead guy? part two

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This one is hard to guess. I never knew what he looked like until I saw his name on the statue. I’ll give you a clue in the photo below.

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It’s easier to get a likeness drawing from a statue than from a live model. I’m kind of slow on drawing. This is my second try. I almost had it yesterday but I could see it wasn’t right, so I transferred my first sketch to the other side of the paper and tried again this morning. Now I think it looks more like him and if I use this sketch and do a more finished drawing it will be better yet. But portraiture is a real challenge to me and I don’t feel very confident in my sketch until I give it a second try.

A statue will never get impatient!

One problem with drawing these statues is the spotty light. They’re shaded. Then sometimes the sun is beaming right down on one of them, but not for long. See my photo  below.

Previously on “Who’s the Dead Guy?”IMG_2035

Crabapple Tree / oil

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Why did I paint this? Why does any artist do their own type of art?  The answer is this. The mind seeks balance.

Imagine all the different types of art. there’s the visual, music, literature, dance and all the crafts are an art too. Imagine all the artists of the world. every nationality has artists. They come in all personality types with all different types of backgrounds and beliefs. There’s no two alike. You might never find another like yourself. All these things shape how an artist reacts to their own life through their art so that each artist will give you a different interpretation of a subject, if left to their own judgement. If an artist is trying to learn from a teacher they will paint like the teacher, but as they go on and work on their own, their own personality will be reflected in their art.

If an artist works at a regular job to pay bills they don’t have as much time to devote to art as I do since I’m retired. Younger people have more stress than I do. They have more responsibilities and obligations. When I was working full time I didn’t do much art beyond pottery classes and things like that because I couldn’t keep up with the job, exercising, raising my daughter, cooking for my husband, housework, etc. I was too tired for art. Also I was depressed for years. Now I’m ok and I tell young artists who are depressed, Hang in there, stay alive, it gets better when you get older.

But, if an artist is pulled in a hundred directions. That artist would want to simplify their art. This is one of the reasons that a lot of modern art is simplistic, the artist needs to balance the chaos and frustrations of the fast paced world with their art. In my case, my life is so boring it would drive you INSANE in less than a week, I bet. But I’m ok because I get into these complicated studies of trees or whatever my next subject is. Plus, now that I feel better mentally, I think I might be immune to any more mental illness.  I’m not going to tell you how bad it was.

Even though I’m trying to copy the colors and values of nature and drawing from life and painting in plein air, my own strange life experiences show up in my paintings. I can see it in there. I read other artists saying they aren’t trying to copy nature, they’re giving their own interpretation of it. I’m trying to copy nature. I can’t imagine something more beautiful. But my painting doesn’t look like nature, exactly. There’s too much of my personality in there. What do you see about me in my painting? Do you see I have patience, persistence, attention to detail? Too much time on my hands? Can you see I’m capturing more than the camera can? I’m balancing the boredom and loneliness of a life with no meaning or purpose with art. And I feel better than I did in years! Isn’t that weird? I chalk it up to painting in plein air. It gets me outside in the fresh air and that’s good for your health, mental health too.IMG_2028

This is a photo of the crabapple tree. The painting took a long time to do and I worked on it at home a lot. I mixed my paint colors in plein air and checked my palette against what I see in real life then went home to do the more time consuming part of the painting. I don’t use a photo for reference, so that’s one reason my tree isn’t like the photo.