Category Archives: drawing

7 reasons why I like sculptures for figure drawing practice

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  1. They don’t move. There’s no need to worry about running out of your 20 minute time allowance before the model needs a break. The artist can take a break any time they want to and the model will be in the exact same pose. You can even go back any time any day and the model will be the same.
  2. I can finish a drawing. Don’t get me wrong on this, open studio figure drawing practice is necessary, the more the better, but I never could finish a drawing. I had lots of sketchbooks full of sketches that I threw away when I moved. When I looked back at my figure drawings from years ago I could see an improvement that came from the open studio. I work slowly though, and I do enjoy finishing a drawing, which I could never do in the 3 hour or so time of the open studio.
  3. Lighting isn’t a problem. Check it out and decide what time of day you like the light and go then. There is no getting stuck on the dark side of the model. You can’t beat natural light.
  4. The pose is good. Like to see a graceful model in an interesting pose? Statues are more likely for that than some nude sitting or standing around.
  5. They’re ideal figures. Easy on the eyes, in perfect classical proportion.
  6. It’s not crowded. Sometimes at open studio figure drawing, my view is blocked by another artist . When I go out to draw a statue, I get to pick the best side to draw from. No other artists are there drawing.
  7. Last but not least, THEY’RE FREE! Who needs to pay a model to do figure drawing?
  8. This sculpture is “Breaking Ground”  by Kathleen Farrell. It’s the WPA monument at Norfolk Botanical Garden. During the depression the government had this project where they hired 220 African Americans to dig gardens by hand. 200 were women and 20 were men. It looks like back breaking work, doesn’t it? And that’s not all, they had to watch out for snakes, and the weather made it even more difficult. This model probably saw something moving on the ground, because she’s not looking at her shovel, she’s looking to the side. Yikes!
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Pleasure House Point / charcoal

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It’s so beautiful over there, I could get 4 paintings from this one spot.

There’s a canal on both sides of this sandy path and the path makes a turn, so there’s water in front of you too. It’s all divided up by tall red grass and various types of vegetation.

I’m priming an 18 x 24 canvas for this painting so I can show more of the water on both sides. I don’t want to crowd this beauty into a small canvas.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation owns this wildlife preserve. They have some nice trails going through it. It’s free and not too crowded, with enough space for me to stand up my easel.

Mirror Lake with Water Lilies charcoal

IMG_1925This is my 2nd try. It was so nice to get out and sketch this morning after months of not sketching because I moved. My art supplies are some of the last things I’m unpacking.

I went over to Norfolk Botanical Garden thinking I wanted to draw the beautiful bronze figure, but I had a look at the lake first and it was so bright and beautiful in the sun. I said to myself, that statue will be the same all year, let me sketch this before  frost  wipes out the water lilies.

Now I have to unpack a box of canvases because tomorrow I’m going back to start a painting.

Daylilies / charcoal

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This is my 2nd try sketching daylilies. I think it came out better than the drawing from last week, so next time I’m going to take my pastels and do them in color. They say the heat and humidity will ease up in a couple days. That will make it easier for me to concentrate longer.

These flowers are a bright peachy pink! So bright! So pretty!

They change every day and even in a couple hours are moving to follow the sun, so I won’t be able to use this sketch. Some of the flowers I drew today will be wilted and some new buds will be opening.

I got a mosquito bite. I’m their favorite flavor, O+

canna and coleus / charcoal

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The canna is yellow (the tall stalk like plants) and the coleus is dark blackish red (the shorter plants in the fore ground).

I had a look at the lotuses standing in the sun and decided to find some flowers where I could sit in the shade to draw. It’s not as hot as yesterday, but sweat was still dripping off my hair after walking slowly around the garden. After cooling off on a shaded bench for a while I was ok to draw. And there was a little breeze that was nice. I haven’t been out to draw for a while and I enjoyed it very much.

A lady I know liked this sketch and asked me if I was going to do something with it. I told her I’ll just put it on my blog. Sometimes I do a lot of charcoal sketches before I get something that I want to paint.

The thing I enjoy about drawing and painting in plein air is not in knocking out a painting in a few hours, it’s hanging around in a beautiful place for as many days as I feel like being there. In fact, the painting is secondary in my mind. I’m so thankful I’m not on some kind of art treadmill where I’m under pressure to do fast unfinished paintings for some arbitrary time limit rule some person made up. That would destroy the zen like experience of it. And one of my main reasons for not fitting into the art scene. I don’t care if fast unfinished paintings are in style. I don’t care if all the other plein air painters out there take hundreds of photos then trace their best one onto a canvas and go back and hurry fill it in like it was a coloring book. I don’t have to do that.

I’m not interested in taking a class to see if I can paint fast. I’m not interested in taking a drug to make me keep painting all day either, because a drug is the only way I could ever get that kind of energy. So, there you have it friends, apathy to the art world in a nutshell. hahahahahahhaha

Exquisite Corpse by Bernard Dumaine and Paulo Cunha

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This is my favorite piece in the Exquisite Corpse show at Artworks.

The show opened tonight.

I met Paulo Cunha who came down from Canada. Dumaine is in France. That’s one fun thing about the Exquisite Corpse game. Artists from all over the world can collaborate. These two guys have a lot of experience working together on corpses.

The Exquisite corpse is a surrealist art game where two or more artists work on a piece and neither knows what the other has done until it’s finished. The second artist has to try to connect to what the first artist started with only an inch showing of the lines the first artist drew. It’s not easy to explain and it helps to have more than one try because it’s not always easy to do. It only works if both artists use the same medium or colors.

The show is in the skylight gallery at Artworks on 4th St. and Hull St in Richmond VA.  If you’re in the Richmond area you should check it out because there’s some crazy stuff in there!

Pitcher Plants / charcoal study and drawing story

pitcher plants charcoalThe Pitcher Plants are my favorites in the garden! I’ll never get tired of drawing them.

I’m planning to do a painting with 3 plants and call it “The Trio”. I got inspired by a Rembrandt by that name.

This particular Rembrandt was on loan to the VMFA last year with 2 others. They are small paintings. He did his Trio painting of singers. It was so great to see it!  So I got a sketch started of Rembrandt’s Trio in graphite standing in front of it in the museum.. In fact, I had it to myself. I STOLE Rembrandts composition! hahahahahah I don’t see what’s wrong with stealing something great from the masters if you can do it. But then, the 2nd time I went back to steal a little better from Rembrandt, a guard did actually tell me to stop drawing. Drawing wasn’t allowed.  I probably can’t show you my sketch of Rembrandt’s Trio. I know photography isn’t allowed in all the exhibits, but drawing?  oh well, I got the inspiration. I studied the Rembrandt for hours too.

I’m pretty sure Rembrandt did charcoal studies before he did a painting. This is my 2nd try on a sketch for my Trio painting. The 1st sketch didn’t work.

Exquisite Corpse, untitled

Sarmistha Talukdar did the left and I finished it on the right.
Sarmistha Talukdar did the left and I finished it on the right.

The Exquisite Corpse is a Surrealist art game where 2 or more artists work together on a piece and neither knows what the other did until it’s finished. so they come out all crazy!

Sarmistha started this one with the Teddy Bear and balloon on the left and covered it up except for 1 ” in the center for me to connect my lines and match colors. Then as the 2nd artist on this corpse, I had to imagine something to connect to the edge of Sarmistha’s side, without taking off the wrapping paper on her side until I was finished.  I did the side with Nature. On the 1″ of Sarmistha,s side I could see a touch of green in the cut out shape under the bear’s chin. That’s why I used green too. I found a gell pen at AC Moore that’s close to the color she has. And she used oil pastel too, so I used my oil pastels.

I think it’s an amazing coincidence that we both drew an oval on the top of the picture! I didn’t cheat by lifting the wrapping paper. Maybe we have ESP!

Sarmistha is a scientist for real! she’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dept. of Human and Molecular Genetics at VCU

This is an exquisite corpse I started for Henrietta Near to finish.
This is an exquisite corpse I started for Henrietta Near to finish.

I tinted an 8 x 10 board with blue acrylic and collaged some pretty and shiny paper on it. I’ll give Henrietta the same paper I used and she can add anything else she wants to on her half. Using the same colors or papers gives the corpse a continuous look to the halves. I covered my half except for 1″ for Henrietta to go by and marked “up”.

Helene Ruiz is having an Exquisite Corpse workshop at Artworks on Hull St. in Richmond VA. on June 18 6:30 to 9. I think it will be fun! If you’re interested in the Exquisite Corpse, join us!

Old Barn Still Standing / oil

Here's a little story for you.
Here’s a little story for you.

This barn is at the Windemere Gallery in Mechanicsville VA. The man that owns the gallery is Robert Dugan. He’s a nice man and welcomed me to paint there. He told me the barn has a lot of history.

The 1st day I worked on my charcoal drawing on paper. I heard a noisy crow and looked away from my drawing. The crow was chasing a Red Tailed Hawk. Now, it’s not unusual to see birds doing funny things when you go out to the country to paint, so I didn’t think too much about that. I find that a lot of times, I’m alone and see something unusual and have no one there to say, “Did you see that!” or “What just happened!?”

This is the strange thing. One day I was working hard on my painting for a while and stepped back to look at it. I saw a TURTLE COMING STRAIGHT AT ME !!! It was walking slowly, but aiming for my feet. It didn’t look like it wanted to bite me. So I just stood there and watched it. It came over to my feet and looked up at me! I waited for it to say something, but it didn’t, so neither did I. hahahaha I thought it looked like it wanted me to give it food. All I had for a snack that day was some mini doughnuts that got smooshed in my art cart. I decided not to give it a doughnut because I thought that might make the turtle thirsty and it was kind of dry out there. After a minute or so, the turtle walked away, leaving me wondering. Of all the turtles I’ve seen in my life, this was the 1st that wanted to be my friend!  (or did it?)

When I was ready to go home, I went into the gallery and Robert was in. I told him I saw some wildlife. He asked me if I saw a groundhog, and I said yes, but the weird thing is, a turtle came over to my feet. He didn’t seem surprised. He told me there’s so many turtles out there, he has to watch out for them when he mows, and stop to move them out of the way so he doesn’t run over them with the mower. And sometimes he feeds them bread. So that explains it.

Isn’t that funny?!

American Wisteria

oil pastel and oil paint on paper
oil pastel and oil paint on paper

I love to see the wisteria blooming wild by the side of the road when I’m driving in the country. Sometimes it gets so thick it can choke out trees. This is an old vine at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden on a stone wall.

First I drew it with charcoal on the paper, then used oil pastel for the wall and as an underdrawing for the Wisteria.  The oil pastel alone looked a little weak for the flowers, so I used oil paint and put a second layer on to bring the flowers off the wall visually, by using the contrast of the more solid paint against the more sketchy pastel.

I’m glad I finally got a sketch of the Wisteria, because I’ve been wanting to draw it for years.