Category Archives: charcoal

marsh sketch / debunking a famous quote

Do you remember that famous quote, “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” ?

sounds like b-s to me. It makes me think they want art to be political and that is not the main reason for art.

When I was in art school my wise teachers told us art serves 3 purposes, decoration, illustration and self expression. Self expression being the least important. It’s only the huge egos of the modern art world that think they can change society with a painting. And who cares about my self expression? I don’t have that kind of ego. I blame my parents. You might want to thank them. If an art viewer is savvy enough to analyze my paintings, there’s plenty of information in there about me. I can’t keep self expression out of it. I don’t need to deliberately make paintings expressing my moods.

Now, let’s say I know a disturbed person. Am I going to show them Starry Night and think that will comfort them? If I want to comfort someone who is disturbed I’ll find out what’s bugging them and try to find a real practical solution. If I showed Starry Night to a disturbed person and asked them if that comforts them they might say yes because they think I want to hear a yes. Then they go right back to their problems and forget Starry Night instantly.

What if I had some resentment to people who are comfortable? I don’t, but that would be political and if someone’s comfortable why should I try to ruin that for them. They’re not hurting me.

I don’t care really, if art metaphorically stomps on some high muckety muck’s toes. Whatever. I only want to say, if a quote sounds stupid, stop repeating that nonsense. Make art for illustration or decoration. Making the comfortable disturbed is a weak kind of art.

Pond, Path, Creek, Golf course / sketch and photo

I adde a person walking for scale but I might change the figure in the painting.

I made the path wider so it’s more visible.

This is a plan for a palette knife painting on paper. I’m going to try painting right on top of my charcoal sketch, at home, because it’s going to rain again for a few days. Luckily, I got a few colors mixed in plein air today which I can put plastic wrap on top of and they will be good for a week or more. They say the sun will come out on Sat. too, so I can get back over there and mix more colors.

We didn’t have any frost yet. The trees are showing some color but not a lot. I might fake in some fall color in the background, or I could wait and see what happens, but the beach isn’t the best place for fall colors.

I need to look at this sketch and make some decisions before I get started painting . Like exactly where to start. I mixed some middle ground tree colors in plein air but I should probably start with the sky and background. Or I could try to paint the water first. The water looks different every time I see it, so I might just wing it.

Yawn.

I’m not a good photographer, but this pic is too boring. I’ll get a more interesting painting if I don’t use it, I’m only showing you the photo so you can see how much my naked eye differs from the camera. Which eye is the better representation? The human eye or the camera?

Sea Oats in a little breeze

They seem to glow when the sun shines through them and they look great with dark green pine trees behind them.

There’s this little salty meadow that floods sometimes. I really enjoy the view looking across it. I want to sketch the long view of the meadow and a few other places there.

They’re calling for good weather again tomorrow then a few days of rain. I might try a palette knife painting of this if it’s not good to go out.

Battery De Russy / finished sketch

I tried to sketch this a couple years ago and never finished.

I transfered those old sketches to this larger paper and made some corrections but I can see it’s not still not right, better, but not good enough. When I transfer this to a canvas and go back I’ll make more corrections and it will be ok the next time.

Perspective ain’t easy. I’m eyeballing it and drawing freehand. It’s a challenge so if I keep at it my drawing will improve for other subjects too.

I’m looking forward to painting it with a palette knife. If I told you this joint vibrates with its own weird frequency, I hope you know what I mean. I don’t believe in ghosts so that might be why I never saw one, and I spent a couple years practicing figure drawing in Hollywood Cemetery around 15 years ago. I drew the sad stone angels. They make great subjects because they never move and they’re free any time you want to sketch them. Hollywood Cemetery had the vibe of a sanctuary to me.

I felt safe at Fort Monroe the past few times I went there even though there’s a two lane street between me and the battery. There’s not much traffic. I saw a ton of cops over there too so they may be making me feel safer. I was not a person of interest this time. I parked in the real public lot across the street instead of taking an illegal spot next to where I was standing.

Every time I go out on the highway lately traffic is flying!

BATTERY DE RUSSY / unfinished sketch

I don’t know if the paranormal investigators have been there yet but they should go. This place is dripping with spookiness.

Fort Monroe was decommissioned in 2011. It’s one of the oldest forts. They called this spot Point Comfort when the first colonials came to VA. After their long dangerous voyage across the Atlantic they were so happy to find a good place to land.

The fort has so much history I can’t remember half of it, but I’ll give you some info and if it’s not exactly right feel free to tell me.

It was a Union held fort in the Civil War which caused VA some problems because VA. was Confederate. A lot of escaped slaves took refuge there. After the war was over those people started up Hampton University which was the first black university.

This is the side of the battery that faces the water and a tot lot on the far right.

The battery is long. My sketch so far only shows about 1/5 or 1/6 of it.

I heard someone wants to redevelop the fort. The plans aren’t all laid out yet. I wonder if they’ll try to take the batteries out. Can you imagine how much dynamite that would take!? That thing is thick!

This is the view upstream. Hampton Roads tunnel in the distance.

Three rivers flow together here, the James, the Hampton and the Elizabeth. From there they go into the mouth of the Chesapeake not too far down stream.

From here looking that way they could watch the famous battle of the Monitor and the Merrimack, the two first ironclad ships in the Civil War. They bombed each other for hours and neither one sank. They took a break to rearm and do repairs then they went back at it.

What did they learn from that battle? We need bigger guns.

figure drawing

The first of two models.

My models are made of bronze and I’d like to paint them in bronze colors. I’m not sure exactly how yet, Which media to use, probably not oil paint. I still have to sketch the second dancing girl and she’s in a more difficult pose to draw. She’s leaning back. I’ll do it next week.

The back of the sculpture looks good too, so I might draw both sides. I’ll have to transfer the sketches to a larger paper. They’re holding hands while dancing.

It doesn’t make any difference how long it takes me to come up with a plan for my dancing girls. They’re not going anywhere. I might even wait till winter to do it so there will be less people at the garden and I won’t be in the way on the path.

Still life plan

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This is what I have so far. I might work on the pot more and I might add more flowers. I’m not sure. I stood back farther from my sketch to take the picture than I did to sketch it so the ellipse on the pot isn’t the same as it is in my photo. And I leaned the starfish up against the pot so you could see it but I wasn’t planning on leaning it there for my final pastel drawing. I need to go to the store and buy peaches because I need a peach in this picture. I might take it out on my balcony to work on it later because the balcony has good sunlight before 10. The light in my apartment isn’t good.

This is the second time I tried to draw the pot. When I was in art school long ago drawing accurately was important. An unsymmetrical flower pot or unsymmetrical ellipses on the pot would be mocked in a critique. Like, how high were you when you drew that? if it was lopsided.

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This is how I try to make my flower pot look right. First draw straight lines on tracing paper to the approximate proportions then fold it in half and check it. Fold tracing paper in forth and cut an ellipse, compare it to what you see in real life. If the ellipse isn’t right, try again.

This much work on the flower pot is enough to make some people call the drawing “labored over”. Labored over is bad in contemporary art. Which makes no sense to me. Is it really bad if you enjoy working on something difficult and finally get it right? Is it actually labor if you’re not getting paid but doing what you want to do just for fun?

The thing about contemporary art being so badly drawn is that they don’t like a drawing that isn’t sloppy. If I entered a juried show and the other flower paintings had unsymmetrical flower pots and messed up ellipses or totally absent ellipses, and mine was the only entry that showed some effort, mine would get rejected. If the juror is an art teacher that never learned to draw because their art school didn’t force it on them like mine did, and if that art teacher didn’t tell their students to try again to draw the pot better, then mine would be a kind of affront to them and they would resent my efforts.

If I called the juror and asked why my painting was rejected the juror would say, “I was making groupings and yours didn’t fit with the others”. This is why I say, the art world demands conformity. And why I say the jurors think like interior decorators.

I’m not making this up. This is one reason why I h8 the art world and will never pay another entry fee. I might go for free wall space some time in the future but maybe not.

Once I asked a juror who constantly rejected my paintings why and she told me the jurors are looking for “contemporary”. As if my being alive and doing art today isn’t enough to make me contemporary. I also have to lower my standards. They see my paintings as old fashioned. The joke’s on them though, because I’m not behind the times, I’m ahead of the times.  I can’t change the art world. It will happen anyway eventually but I’ll be dead. And my daughter will be able to sell my paintings for big bucks. She has a genius marketing plan that I can’t divulge.

 

plan for dune paintings panorama

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I don’t know if you can see it well enough in this photo. As I was working on these separate pieces of sketch paper I was putting the others in my bag loosely and the charcoal and chalk was rubbing off inside the bag. No big deal, these are only sketches that I’ll never frame. They got messed up with sweaty fingerprints too. This is 4 pieces of sketch paper each 11″ x 14″ with a 4″ piece of a gray paper added to either side because I need 64″ across for my panorama but I ran out of the tan paper.

The watercolor papers are 15″ x 22.5″ so if I deduct a few inches from 3 x 22.5″ because I’ll staple them to boards, then when it’s all finished I’ll have to trim off the staple holes, I’m figuring roughly 64″. I’ll transfer this to the watercolor paper tomorrow and I might have to redraw at the beach a little before I start painting, but the hardest part of the planning stage is under control now.

I made some notes of colors I think I’ll need. And I want to do a couple practices for that little triangle of ocean showing between the dunes on the left.  The ocean looks gray and it has sparkles. It’s far away but still sparkly.

The chance of rain goes up over the next few days. I’m hoping for a blue sky with light clouds. That will be the first step in the painting. If the weather cooperates, it might not take long to paint my 3 pieces of the triptych, or it could take weeks.

the path to the beach

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That’s the ocean in the background.

I bought two big sheets of watercolor paper for my dunes now that I have a few sketches I can use. I’m planning a triptych. I want to show more sky in the watercolors than is showing in my sketches and it would be great if I could make the three paintings of the triptych  look connected. The watercolor paper is larger than my sketchbook so I’ll be able to extend my sketches on both sides a little.

I’ll have to haul my watercolors supplies down a path but not real far, I/4 mile or so, I guess. I can use my beach cart. I’m not sure if I can take all three pieces out with the paper stretched on boards, or if it would be better to work on one at the beach and the other two at home. The three watercolors will be a big job for me. I’m not sure how to paint that little bit of ocean and I’ll have to decide how to do the sky.

The bugs were after me this morning. Now I’ll have to start taking bug spray along too.

This plan seems like a lot of work but I think it will be worth it. Just hanging around there is worth the drive.

sketch of dunes / charcoal and chalk

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The earlier I can get to Back Bay the better when it’s hot. Today I got to my overlook around 8:30 and it was great! Not many people were there either.

I could get at least two more sketches from this one spot. It’s pretty 360* around and a place where I can see a little ocean between dunes. I could do a series of dune paintings in a row to give the panoramic feel of it.

Walking on the beach is nice exercise after sketching. The dunes get my heart rate up for a few minutes. The waves were small again this morning. In another week or so the tides will be all different from this week and I might be able to do some wave studies.