Long ago, when I was a young chick in art school, they insisted we must learn linear perspective using vanishing points. It was too technical for me. I promptly forgot what I learned. After doing a few vanishing point exercises I decided if I wanted to draw architecture I’d just eyeball it.
It’s not easy to draw architecture. I have to try at least twice and it’s still not exactly right but it’s not annoying my eyes so this will do. My perspective is a little off and my proportions are a little off, I hope it’s not noticeable.
When I can get my lines straight I’m happy. I did this all free hand not using a photo or even a ruler. To check my lines for straightness I look at my drawing on the edge the way you look down the edge of a board to see if it’s warped, tilting the drawing so I’m not looking straight at it but kind of looking sideways. Then I can see where my lines go off straight and it’s easier to make corrections. It might seem like a slow process to draw straight lines this way but I want to do it freehand and practice will pay off in the long run.
This is a close up showing two focal points. The light in the foreground is a focal point because it’s contrasting with the bridge support that is partially illuminated by it, that support being the only one with a lot of light on it, and the dark lines going behind it on a slant. The secondary focal point in the background is a streetlight far away. It’s white against black, so if a viewer’s eye is zooming in on details their eye will stop there and look at the background for a second before moving on. You can see some sketchy boats in this photo which aren’t a focal point and aren’t even noticeable from far away. Yeah, those are boats. I could hardly see them from where I was but I drew them anyway. (artistic license – draw as much or as little as you want to)
The lines look tilted because I wasn’t holding my camera exactly square to the paper.
This close up shows reflections continuing from above the bridge to below it. I wanted to have some light reflecting under the bridge to tie the top to the lower part with a little light. That’s another secondary focal point on the far right of the drawing because of the white square on the black background and the orange square next to it.
Sundown was my favorite time of day to draw this scene from the balcony of my hotel. A half hour earlier the sun was glaring on the water so bright I couldn’t look in that direction. A half hour later and the buildings in the background blended in with the trees’ darkness.
I started this pastel in Plein air at the inlet on the 6th floor of the hotel. I did my drawing and picked my colors in plein air. Then I got an apartment and moved in. After a couple days I stopped unpacking and organizing the apt. so I could finish this. Now I have to get back to the unpacking job before I start another art project.
It was 2005. I was practicing figure drawing at open studio every week but didn’t go out to draw in plein air yet.
My daughter, Sarah went to Perth, Australia as an exchange student. She stayed 3 months, I went along and stayed 3 weeks. We did some sight seeing before her classes started. Before we left I was thinking how cool it would be to hear and see a kookaburra. I must have had my hands on the rungs of my headboard that night because I dreamt I had a hold of a huge bird by the legs. I thought, this isn’t a kookaburra, what is it? Oh No! It’s a phoenix! The bird lifted me off the ground and I hung on.
This is my watercolor illustration of my dream.
The phoenix went above the clouds. I saw strange constellations in the Southern Hemisphere. I dipped my toes in the clouds.
This is my pastel illustration of my dream.
I almost lost these two when my art got stolen but was happy to see them when I got my stuff back, even though they might not be my best work, since I did them from my imagination.
I did hear a kookaburra in Adelaide. Crazy birds.
The Goddess of the Harvest / pastel
A guy just called me from the same apartment complex where my art was stolen, different building and told me he had my art. He found it propped up at his door. He knew it was stolen. My phone number was on the back of this drawing. He’s an artist too, also named Chris, and refused to take a reward.
I’m so glad to see this one again! All I can say is thank God. I got my stuff back. And thanks to everyone that was pulling for me to get my art back! I never would have figured prayers would help me but maybe they did! Everyone come over tonight and let’s celebrate! the drinks are on me!
The model for this is another statue in Hollywood cemetery. She’s holding a wreath over a grave and I changed it to a cornucopia. I think I took the wings off her, but that was long ago, like 2008 or so, I forget.
My computer is still on the fritz. It won’t upload another photo.
Dang, This is hard to see. My lap top is acting all crazy, still working but the flashing horizontal lines are on it. I think dirt got between the display and the keyboard. It might go away. It did before.
This is another old favorite that did not get stolen. The skull is a souvenir from my 1st solo adventure driving across country in 2002. I drove rt.66 from Springfield MO. to Santa Monica. At Flag Staff I took a detour to go to the Grand Canyon for one night. I bought a bag of carrots in Flagstaff because I was hoping to get on the mule ride but they were all booked up so I went back to 66 and headed West. In Arizona I was looking for wild burros but didn’t see any until I got to Kingman. The burros were all there and smelled the carrots in my car. They had their snotty faces all over my car before I could park it. I barely got out of the car and they mobbed me for the carrots. It was a scream! Then I shopped and bought this skull. It rode on my backseat the rest of the trip because it was too big to fit in the trunk.
When I got home I drew the skull about 6 times in different combinations of pastel colors.
Then I saw a funny article in the weird news section of a magazine I was reading. The story goes like this:
In Fla. there was a flood and a cow was just standing there in the water. Drivers were slowing down to look at the cow and it caused a traffic jam. So many people were calling 911 to rescue the cow that they contacted the farmer who told them the cow is ok. Then DOT took a big sign out there and put it by the side of the road saying, “The cow is ok”. Then the cow moved on and the sign was still there causing a traffic jam because people were looking for the cow.
My daughter, Sarah and I got on a laughing jag over the story. She insisted I call my skull drawings the cow is ok.
Now I’m having a little problem with my computer. I think it might fix itself because it did before. If I miss something don’t worry about me. I’m in a hotel with a good view. I’d like to ride out the crazy right here. I don’t know.
The wisteria is growing on the trees next to the end of the highway. One side of the parking lot has a few spaces where you can see it so I sat in my car to sketch this. It’s raining but I had to get out of here for a few minutes. Plus, these are my last few days here and I might not get another chance to sketch this clump of wisteria.
Now I can’t wait to get out of here. This morning there was a fire in one of the apartments undergoing renovations. The renovations are loud, then the smoke alarm will wake the dead, sirens and fire trucks.
Some guys were coming over to get a sofa I’m giving away and couldn’t get in for a little while. So now that’s gone and I have room for more boxes.
Normally I’m as cool as a cucumber but I think a little case of nerves in showing up in this sketch. Good thing I did the sketch. I got the nerves on the paper, now I can get back to packing. That’s how art therapy works for me.
They make spooky moody subjects. One of my good blogging friends, Nadine, who writes on Bloomwords. WordPress, told me they represent the underworld in Greek myth, which does seem appropriate. I can picture them on the river Styx. And now streams of yellow pollen are swirling in the wind on the surface of the water making it look even weirder. It’s a good day for a photographer out there too.
I imagine if I tried to walk in the swamp the fingers would grab me and might KILL me. hahahah
It was fun to draw them with pastel. I can represent the lichens better with pastel than I can with charcoal and chalk. They’re tinted light green.
I’m so thankful they’re keeping the state parks open in spite of the current Corona apocalypse. It seems like many more people than average are there walking, running and biking. If they couldn’t go there they’d be out on the street, including me. I’m not sick. They’re not sick. Why stay home? I’m not worried someone I pass on the trail will give me the virus. Sick people are staying home.
I didn’t hoard supplies or toilet paper but as soon as this is over I think I’ll start slowly stocking up for the next apocalypse.
Redbuds are native here and I love to see them in the woods when I’m driving. Suddenly you see a slash of purple by the road and the other trees aren’t leafed out yet. Then they go back into hiding and are indistinguishable from the underbrush until they bloom again.
This one is in the botanical garden and I saw a couple more over there. As soon as the weather clears up I’ll go back and get another sketch. Last year I got an ok sketch, if I can find it. I need one more and I can start planning a painting.
I’ll need another big canvas so they’re not crowded. This paper is 11 x 14 and too small. I haven’t decided on what to use as the background or if I want to put other spring flowers in the painting. This painting might not happen until next year, I don’t know. I’m kind of distracted this week and it’s cloudy and rainy too, so, maybe in a couple weeks after I get settled in my next apartment, and some other things are settled… By then they’ll be done blooming though.
That’s one problem of this artist, life’s distractions can stop me from drawing and painting. (temporarily) The simpler my life is, the easier it is to concentrate on art. When things get complicated it isn’t as easy to do. I can still get out and sketch for a few hours on nice days but working on a finished painting won’t happen for a few weeks.
What I’m really looking for is Redbud trees. I thought it’s too early, then I saw a couple on my way home starting to bloom. They’re hard to spot if they’re not blooming because they’re small twisty trees. I’ll keep looking for the Redbuds but if I can’t find them I’ll draw other flowers.
This paper isn’t great for pastel. It has no tooth, meaning it’s too smooth. I can’t build up layers of pastel as well as on better pastel paper. It’s ok for sketches though, because I can save these and use them as reference sketches in a painting next spring if I get a good idea worked out by then for daffodils or azaleas. I also need to find the best view of the flowers, see what would work for a background, etc.
Meanwhile, this is drawing practice. It doesn’t matter what the subject is for practice. The more you keep at it the better your eye gets for things like color and contrast, directions of lines or shapes, sizes of subjects for a finished painting and another million things an artist decides while working on a project. You make a lot of decisions without much thought, but other things take more and more sketching to come to a good plan. The more flower studies I do in advance the better. Or I could just put these in the file and never use them. I don’t know for sure. It could be the first step of a painting or it could be nothing more than another sketch.
Do they look like E.T.s to you? They do to me. They’re cypress knees.
It’s nice out today. The sun looked great on the knees but it was spotty and moved fast. I enjoyed sketching much more today than last time when it was cloudy and decided to finish today’s cypress knee study by working on the reflections and adding a background color.
Last time I sketched them they reminded me of fingers pointing up but today I thought they looked like figures. They could be human if they were abstract but they could be nonhuman, aliens. If I titled this “cypress knee study” it wouldn’t be as much fun for the viewer because they might not think of E.T.s. Now you see them like I do, otherworldly.
On the way home from the swamp I decided to do a fun spring color in the background, not green, so that it would be easier to see them as something other than cypress knees.
It’s just a study for a painting I’ll do in the future. I need a lot more knee studies.
It’s called a Todd Gresham Magnolia. This is my last study, time to start painting.
This is the whole plan taped to the wall. The magnolia pastels on the navy blue paper are life sized from last year. The pastel buds on the green paper are from yesterday and a few days ago. The big tree in charcoal on light blue paper is the background tree, a Southern magnolia. And the branch drawn in charcoal on tan paper is the branch of the Todd Gresham magnolia which is the main subject of the painting.
I can’t say for sure if it’s possible for art to be spontaneous or from the subconscious or accidental, all I know is that if I’m going to try to paint something I like to have a plan worked out down to the details.
Now I feel like I’ve done the preliminary part. If I need more flowers I can turn these on their sides or upside down. But this might be enough sketches. It’s crazy how fast the flowers change. They move in every breeze and by the hour they open up more. If I tried to start a flower one day and finish it the next with another coat of paint I’d never be able to find the same flower. This is why I couldn’t avoid doing the sketches. They’ll need two glazes on two different days.
I can work on this painting at home but I’ll probably take my canvas over to the garden and make corrections at some point. And I’ll have to mix my flower colors in Plein air because I didn’t have the right pastel colors. Even if you have a couple hundred pastels you still don’t have the exact color you want.
My computer was acting weird for a day or so. Flashing horizontal line were freaking me out, then it seemed to go away, but if I close my laptop they come back. If I let it open they’re not there. If I have to take this thing over to Best Buy and can’t look at WordPress, don’t worry. But maybe it’ll be ok now.