Category Archives: drawing

Taos Art Museum Fechin House

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This is the front of Fechin house. Nicolai Fechin was an artist and Russian. They have Russian themed things in the gift shop out back.IMG_2353

This is the back of the museum. It’s a privately owned house but they don’t live there. There’s also a studio in back and I peeked in. Some artists were taking a class.

They change their exhibits to include other Taos artists but Nicolai Fechin’s works are always on display.IMG_2352

This is Fechin’s “Indian Profile”. It’s larger than life, charcoal on paper. He did mainly portraits.IMG_2351

This is Nicolai Fechin’s self portrait. charcoal on paperIMG_2350

This is “Eva in Peasant Blouse” painted in 1933, oil on canvas.IMG_2349

This is the by other artist represented this month, Marjorie Eaton. “The Boy” charcoal on paper.

Marjorie Eaton / 1901 – 1986. She was born in California. Her dad was a doctor and her mom died when she was a baby, but her dad remarried and she loved her step mom. Marjorie’s step mom took her to Europe shopping for clothes.IMG_2348

Eaton came to Taos and was so inspired by the natives she became good friends with her models, and had an Indian boyfriend. I don’t know if they got married.

This is “Man in Cloak”, oil on paper mounted on board.IMG_2347

She painted this “Nude” at the San Francisco Art school in 1924. Marjorie was recognized for her talent and had an offer to study with Picasso, but the war happened and she didn’t get to go to Europe then.

She went to Mexico and loved it there. She became good friends with Diego Rivera and Freda Kahlo, among other famous artists of the time.

Darn it, my phone isn’t taking a charge. I’m heading up to the Ghost Ranch today where there might not be a signal anyway. If I can’t get it to charge this week out in the middle of nowhere, I’ll stop at a Verizon store before I head home.

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Spirit Horse Head in Clouds

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It’s a clouds experiment. I can’t tell if it looks like clouds to the viewer or not. If it looks like something else, that’s what it is. I painted it in Plein air from my balcony with watercolor and the clouds were moving. I used masking fluid on my fan brush and white oil paint stick first to block out some white and to see if I could make a soft and fluid cloud texture. When it was dry I rubbed off the masking fluid with an eraser.

The horse is another drawing with a black oil paint stick taped to a yardstick to make it fun.

I’m just goofing around at home with the horses for models and trying different things with watercolors but I’m going to get back out in plein air tomorrow and get back to the landscape next.

The weather is improving.  YEA!

horse sketch

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Should I stop here or should I continue? Does this look like a horse? This is how I was taught to draw, start out by blobbing in the general size and shape of the subject. By this point I’ve moved the legs half a dozen times but I’m trying to make the negative spaces between the legs look like my model.

I worked on this about 1/2 hour. That’s how long my attention span lasts for sketching, then I need to take a break. I’ll get back on it and try to refine it but there’s no rush. Taking frequent breaks refreshes my concentration.

One great thing about drawing is that you can take it in any direction you like. If you don’t want to render a finished drawing you don’t have to. If you want to draw from your imagination or do abstract drawing that’s fine too.  That’s why I wonder what’s up when I read an article where the writer uses the words “slavishly copying”, like that’s bad.. To me, accuracy is important. I enjoy copying something beautiful. I feel like I’ve studied it in more depth if I get a tight drawing. In the long run, I’ll have a better file of it in my brain that I’ll be able to use if I want to draw that subject again, only it’s moving, or not in front of me. I won’t need to look up a photo of it. But drawing this way is a discipline. It helps if it was forced on you when you were young. hahaha The people who say slavishly copying, they can’t do a tight study.

Vine charcoal makes sketching easier for me.

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This sketch of daffodils isn’t finished. You can see the smudges from erasing. That’s ok, the smudges won’t show when it’s finished.

To start a sketch I use the side of a small piece of charcoal to blob in the general size and shape of the flower, then go back and erase to get the shape of the petals. I spend as much time erasing as drawing to refine the shapes then I outline the petals, then erase again so the charcoal doesn’t show through when I use my semi transparent oil paint sticks on top.

I did this a few days ago and it’s been raining ever since. When I go back the flowers won’t be the same. I’ll either start again or totally erase these and draw on top of this.  I feel like I get a better finished piece if I get a good drawing to start with. Even if it’s only a sketch and will never get framed or seen anywhere except WordPress, I want to make it a strong sketch. There is a chance I could use it for a painting. If I never do, I’ll still have burned a file for daffodils in my brain which will make it easier to remember in the future. Those brain files are better than looking it up on google. Know what I mean?IMG_2211

This sketch of a slipper orchid is almost ready to go over with oil paint sticks. I need to erase more but I will be able to see it. Then my lines of paint stick will look free. Durn, there’s a smudge on the paper. Maybe I can erase it, or I could try to hide it somehow if it won’t erase. Stay tuned.

Holly Receptors In The Brain Of Your Plein Air Artist / mixed media

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I could have titled this, “Deciduous Holly” but then the art viewer would dismiss it as just another drawing of a twisted bush. Allow me to interpret it for you.

A few years ago my daughter lived in Atlanta GA. and when I visited her one time we saw a show called “Bodies” at the Atlantic Center. These Chinese mad scientists had taken some John Doe bodies in China and dissected them in unique ways. They injected bright dye into the nervous system then eliminated all the rest of the body’s tissues so all that was left was the neon nervous system in 3D body shaped plexiglass.  They did the same thing to the blood veins. Imagine a clear body where the whole nervous system is visible. I found it a little disturbing. One display had an arm sliced across sections and spread out so you could see the bones, muscles and other guts of the arm going down the extended length of it. I thought if I had a few of those arm cross sections I could use them as coasters since they were in plexiglass and colored so nicely with no smell of death.

Coincidentally, they were running ads on TV for a pill that supposedly stopped the “nicotine receptors” in a smoker’s brain from working. If you wanted to quit smoking, you could take the pill and quit the habit / addiction of smoking. I wondered what the nicotine receptors looked like. I doubt there are really nicotine receptors in the brain at all. I guess if an artist challenged a mad scientist to show the nicotine receptors the scientist would slap a brain out of a jar of formaldehyde onto a plate and make some cuts into the gray matter and say, “There are your nicotine receptors”. Then later, I heard of opium receptors or some other bad kind of receptors in your brain. It seems like there are receptors for all kinds of things in your brain. Everyone started jumping on the brain receptor band wagon. Then there must be receptors for other things that give the brain pleasure, like eating hard shell crabs, or looking at a pretty bush in the winter.

These days, a lot of times I draw trees with bare twisted branches and it reminds me of the neural network of the brain. And when I stood in front of this bush to draw it, those holly receptors went off in my brain giving me a feeling of pleasure. The red dots on my sketch are the holly receptors. The art viewer might see the red dots as merely berries and be bored with the sketch, because that person wants to see not only a tree, but the suffering of the artist depicted in the sketch, or some story illustrated through the art. They would never know this is an illustration of the holly receptors in my brain if I didn’t tell them. This is where you, my WordPress friends, have an advantage over the other art viewers out there. Because now you know some of the things that went through my mind when I worked on this drawing, but if I frame it or use this sketch to do a painting, others won’t see the receptors.

Battery de Russy / charcoal and chalk / corrected and extended

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Funny thing about a woman that goes out alone to sketch, am I in danger or am I the danger? As an old white girl, I’m not usually  looked at as a suspect, but security is watching me.

Fort Monroe. It looks safe to me. Every time I’m there I see so many security cars go past me. It might be the same car again and again, I don’t know because I don’t pay it any mind. I’m just standing out there trying to sketch. Or I’m sitting in my car taking a break. Yesterday the security car pulled in behind my car and sat there for a few minutes. I thought he was running my plates. Then he left. Did he look me up? Did he find me on google? A couple times I saw a cop stop on the other side of the street and take a photo. I ignored him. I don’t know if he took my picture or not.

I chalk it up to people not seeing an artist sketch in public alone, so they don’t know what to think. Yesterday a guy (civilian) drove into the same empty parking lot I was parked in close to the battery and got out of his car. He asked me if it was ok to park there and I said,” I guess so.” He told me he wanted to take pictures and he walked over to the battery. I got in my car and took a little break.

A few times in my years of sketching in plein air alone, I thought perps were checking me out. I didn’t get robbed. Sometimes these characters talk to me but I’m not afraid of bad guys, so I’ll talk. Once I thought a perp was planning on robbing me but changed his mind when I saw him and didn’t act afraid. Then he saw I’m left handed. A lot of criminals are superstitious. Maybe my being left handed saved me that time, but I don’t like to push my luck and I didn’t go back to that spot in Richmond overlooking the James.

I wish one of those security guards at Fort Monroe would talk to me so I could better assess the situation. Should I finish this sketch? I kind of wanted to try to paint the battery. I wonder if they think I’ll try to go into the battery, which is off limits. I’m not interested in going in there. It looks spooky, but I’m not superstitious.

It might take some time for me to become a fixture there like I do at other places I hang around drawing. Maybe in the whole 400 year history of the fort no one has ever just hung around drawing. but a lot of people take photos. why don’t I just take a photo like everyone else? Taking a photo won’t help me improve my drawing skill like trying to draw the battery freehand will.

Wind Swept Trees / charcoal and chalk

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I can draw outside if it’s 40*F, like today, but the wind coming off the water stopped me from getting out of my car.  It’s too blustery.

I went back to Fort Monroe to work on my sketch of the Battery De Russy and then changed my mind and drew these trees while sitting in my car. The battery is so long, I was planning to extend my sketch from before onto another paper and continue  drawing the architecture. It would have been awkward to hold my sketchbook in the wind. Forget  about standing up my easel. The wind would blow my drawing board away.

These trees were on my list of things I want to sketch there, so I got into drawing them  today. The battery will take a long time. I’ll get back to it another day.

I kind of like these trees. Think I’ll prime a canvas for it. This could be a painting I can do at home on rainy days.

Bald Eagle after William Turner / charcoal and chalk

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This is my second try on a larger piece of sanded pastel paper. I think it looks better than the first one which I tried to draw on a smaller sketchbook. This time I took my easel and drawing board with the large paper  instead of holding a sketchbook in my hand like I did on the first try. It’s easier for me to work larger. Compare this sketch to my previous post and tell me if he looks better this time. I’m not sure if the proportions are exactly right, but not too far off.

I thought the sculpture was by David Turner but it was done by his dad, William. I can’t tell their work apart. They both make the most beautiful wildlife sculptures out there.

It’s great to draw the Turner guys’ sculptures. I think I see some kind of attitude in my bird’s face, but that could be my imagination because I was only trying to copy the bronze, not put my own personality into the drawing. With all that beauty out there for me to copy it takes the pressure off an artist to be “original” all the time. And copying some other artist’s masterpieces is improving my drawing skill slowly but surely.

Even if an artist tries to copy as closely as possible, they still put information about themselves into the drawing. I can’t avoid it. The savvy art viewer will see it. Know what I mean?

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.