Category Archives: sketch

cypress tree w. pollen swirling on water

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If I hadn’t told you that was pollen you might not guess. I’ll try to remember to take my camera along next time I sketch there. The pollen is making some interesting designs on top of the black water.

I think the swirly shapes on still water with the tree represents uncertain times and something not being affected. (me) And nature isn’t affected either but unlike the tree, I can easily uproot myself and getthehelloutofdodge if a situation becomes intolerable.  Since the crisis started my life hasn’t changed. I’m not joining the mass hysteria.  I’m not afraid to go out and last night on the news they showed some surfers and the anchor talked about how getting out and getting some exercise is a great stress buster. So that was encouraging. The state parks are open and busy. They’re not talking about martial law. It’ll never happen here. And I’m not going to catch corona. Stay tuned, you’ll see.

Cypress knees with fingers / pastel sketches

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

Cypress trees and knees / charcoal and chalk

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Is social distancing driving you crazy? I’m ok. That’s the story of my life. It’s not what I’d have chosen for myself because I enjoy the company of people who like to talk. It’s just the way it worked out and it took some time to get used to. Now I feel ok with isolation. It can be liberating. My daughter isn’t too far away and I see her some times.

I’m not worried about catching Corona.  I know it could kill me but I rarely ever catch a cold. Do I live a real healthy lifestyle? Nope. The thing that keeps me immune is my lack of exposure to viruses. The main thing I’m worried about is how this panic will affect the economy. That will recover too, but meanwhile a lot of people have serious problems because of it.

If isolation is getting you down the best thing you can do for yourself is go outside. Any activity you enjoy makes social distancing tolerable if you can get out in the fresh air and sunshine.

I really enjoyed sketching in the swamp today. The weather is great! It’s a good thing I got there when I did because when I left the parking lot was slam packed and cars were lined up at the gate to get in.

About the sketch : I decided to stop working on it and I didn’t do any reflections on the water. I might be able to use this sketch in a painting eventually but the reflections are a problem I don’t have to face until I actually get into the paint.

Bead Curtain Tree / Crab on Soft Pretzel

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I don’t know the correct name of the tree. I looked for the plaque but didn’t see it. The chalk is the bead like tiny flowers. They’re light green but starting to turn brown.

I was feeling so lucky today to be able to go out to draw in Plein air. It’s the best therapy for me and free. Even if I’m doing a sketch that I’ll never use for a painting. Over the past 15 years or so, drawing and painting in plein air has had a cumulative effect of healing my spirit. Think of the money I saved by not going to a shrink. Then what? I’d have got a prescription for happy pills and probably got hooked on them.

I’ve also been watching the lock up shows. I watched “60 Days In” on Hulu and often thought that could have been me under different circumstances. I imagine if a person is only slightly crazy and they commit a crime and get caught then go to jail, by the time they got out they’d be crazy for real.  I think that kind of stress could kill me. The next day when I go out the heavy traffic doesn’t even phase me and when I get in the zone of drawing I’m just fine.

If you want to draw in plein air you have to like people because they will talk to you. Today I saw an old couple looking at me so I said hi. The man said he thought I was a lego statue because I didn’t move. He saw me from the other side of the canal and walked over watching me the whole time and I never moved. I told him I’m sketching and he repeated that I never moved, so I laughed.IMG_2518

On the way home I stopped at Wegmans and bought this yummy thing. It’s a soft pretzel stuffed with crab meat. Now, I come from the land of soft pretzels (Lancaster Co. PA.) and fresh Chesapeake Bay Blue Crabs, which I love to eat, but I never heard of a soft pretzel stuffed with crab meat before. Genius. It was $12. In the oven now!

E.T.s on their shiny pink world

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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.

cypress knee sketch / other photos

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Yesterday was cloudy and cool. I was glad to get out and sketch because today it’s raining. There’s another great view of the swamp with a bench off the main trail where I’m planning to paint. The cypress knees have a lot of lichens and a lot of the knees look like fingers pointing up. This is only the first sketch. The painting might not happen until next winter, I don’t know. I also want to sketch Red Bud trees this spring and I’m packing to move. I’ll need around 30 cypress knees sketched in advance so I can arrange them in a swamp composition. This is only the first three. The chalk on this sketch is the lichens.

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Every time I move, which is pretty often, I give away or throw away paintings that I’m tired of looking at. Last year I put a painting on the bench at the elevator in my building with a sticker on it that said “free”. I was glad to see the painting got grabbed up quick. Then another day I left the building and noticed a 6 pack of Corona with two missing sitting on the bench. I left the beers there because I’m not a drinker of alcoholic beverages. The beer was still there when I got back later and I wondered if the person that took my painting wanted me to take the beer, so I took it. I did drink a couple of the Coronas when I moved and enjoyed them. I mean, I can drink, I’m just not really into it.

A year went by and now I’m moving again because the apt complex is clearing everyone out for renovations. Oh well. I still have this one beer and funny, it’s a Corona because now the Corona virus is on the news all the time. So, if I drink this, I’ll be immune, right? (just kidding) Are you worried about catching the Corona virus?  I don’t think I’ll get it. It seems like every year there’s some new health scare to worry us. I remember years ago when a lady at work got mad at me for saying there’s no chance I’d ever catch HIV. Then there was also bird flu, swine flu, SARS, Ebola, mad cow, etc. I don’t even get a flu vaccine, but I’m not exposed to many viruses, and only had a couple colds in the past 17 years.

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Since I finished my magnolia painting, I’ve been treating myself to the foods I love as a reward. I bought this little chocolate dome at Wegmans. It was worth the $5. It’s chocolate mousse on top of a soft chocolate cookie and covered in soft dark chocolate icing with a chocolate curl. That thing was delicious.

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This is rhubarb. My Dad used to make a great rhubarb custard pie that I always missed. Last year I found the recipe online and it was so good, way better than the rhubarb strawberry pies you can buy. Darn it, I’ve already packed my recipe box, but I think I can look  it up again.

 

Southern Magnolia / sketch

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This is what I’m planning for the background in my next painting.  This background will be mostly dark with spots of light showing through the leaves and some light on the ground. It has big dark green leaves that are shiny in the sun. Most of the leaves are on the other side of the tree so I’ll paint those sketchy and then make the leaves on this side more defined and shaped with more leaves showing on this side than I sketched here.

Kids like to go under this tree because it could be a neat fort with more magnolias around it. They can hide in the shade and peek out.

This Southern Magnolia in today’s sketch won’t bloom till summer but the other variety of magnolia that I drew the branch of  a few days ago will bloom soon. The buds are showing some red today.

I bought a 24 x 36 canvas for it. After I paint this for the  background I’ll paint the early blooming magnolia branch and flowers right on top of it. I think the red and white flowers will look good on top of the darker tree.

The weather forecast is cloudy tomorrow then 3 days of rain. After I sand and gesso the canvas a couple times, I’ll tint it gray and that might dry enough for me to start on the painting at home if it rains.

sketch for swamp painting

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This is my previous sketch of a cypress knee transferred onto an 18 x 24 piece of charcoal paper with more knees and trees sketched in around it. It’s rough. I’m not sure you can make it out. The darker vertical lines are trees. The faint sketchy vertical lines are Spanish moss and the squiggles and shaded areas closer to the top are different types of foliage. I want some sky in the painting but it will be patchy.

I bought a 30 x 30 canvas for it. It’s easier for me to draw larger than smaller. There is room on a 30 x 30 for me to show more swamp water on the bottom, which is dark. The water isn’t actually black. You can see through it and peat is forming on the bottom because the water doesn’t have much oxygen in it so the fallen leaves decay into peat. I’ll also have room on the canvas to extend the view on the sides showing more swamp.

The foliage was bright orange when I was there a couple days ago. I don’t know how long that color will hang in there. We’re getting some rain and wind this weekend, a nor’easter. The storm is coming from the south but the wind wrapping around it is the nor’easter.  That’s ok. I need to sand and gesso my canvas a couple times before I tint it gray then wait a day or two for the tint to dry before I redraw this on it and finish  drawing more trees on either side of what I have here. So I don’t mind hanging around at home if it rains.

This is one of those paintings that could take a long time to finish because of the weather. Like a month or more. After I redraw it on the tinted canvas I want to do a thin underpainting. Then the plan is to paint on top of my underpainting when it’s dry like Matisse did by taping my paintbrushes onto yard sticks so I can stand way back from the canvas to work on it.  That’s a fun way to paint but the paint goes on thick so if I need to build up layers or make corrections I’ll have to wait longer for the paint to dry before I go over it again. When I paint thin glazes I only have to wait overnight for it to be dry enough for the next coat of paint.

If I paint the orange leaves then they fall down, it doesn’t matter. If they fall down before I get to paint them that doesn’t matter either. The swamp is most beautiful in the winter in my opinion.

 

wave / watercolor practice

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The ocean, it ain’t easy to paint. If I try about 100 more times maybe I’ll get it. That’s ok. This could take years. I won’t give up until I do my masterpiece, hopefully before I die. Until then, you might have to look at some bad art. hahahahahah  If you have any advice for me on technique that would be great.

It was nice out today. Not hot or cold, sunny with a nice breeze. Last time I went to First Landing State Park, by the time I left the parking lot was slam packed. I decided to try a watercolor sketch at Back Bay today because I thought it would be less crowded since it’s a holiday, and it was. I enjoyed sitting on a sand dune to paint this.

We might get some rain tomorrow and this week, so I wanted to get out today for a sketch.

I’ll keep all my bad attempts at painting waves. After I have a bunch of them I’ll take them all out with me and that will help me improve my technique if I can compare them to real live waves. It’s like figure drawing. I’ll keep at it but not constantly.  I go back to figure drawing again and again over the years, and I’m getting better at that. I might not do a figure drawing for a long time. but when you put an art down then pick it up years later, you can pick up where you left off. You don’t forget what you learned before. The hands have a memory and it doesn’t take much time to get back in your previous groove. It will be the same for me painting waves.

cypress knee / good news in the art world

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I’m on the Plein air email list put out by Eric Rhodes and I’m getting the info for plein air camps and contests, figure drawing seminars and practice etc. It’s all related to the Plein Air magazine founded by Eric Rhodes. This guy is a genius. I know the email gets sent to hundreds of people, but it seems like he’s talking to me.  Once I got an email headed “Chris, your paintings are good enough.” It was to enter the Plein air mag contest.

I don’t feel like entering. I entered a bunch of times over the years. I saw the winners in the magazine and knew I didn’t stand a chance because all the paintings were fuzzy and mine are sharp.

The first time the plein air week happened in Richmond I entered but didn’t get accepted. I was doing figure drawings back then from the sad stone angels in Hollywood Cemetery. I didn’t know why I didn’t get in. I could only guess.

Those are just a few of the hundreds of reasons why I gave up on spending money on the art world. I go alone to draw in plein air any time. My apathy gives me a feeling of freedom from the art world which I think is corrupt. This is all beside the point.

The money I spent was worth it for plein air camp at the Ghost Ranch. So I’m glad I’m getting the emails because I might go to another event like that. No teachers to follow, no contest, no drama.

Today I was happy to read the email from Streamline. It was addressed to plein air event planners. It talked about how the plein air movement has grown and needs to adapt. The seminar they’re organizing is to plan better  plein air events in the future. Eric said we shouldn’t sacrifice quality for speed. I was happy to read that because I’ve been complaining for years how plein air painters rush rush rush and I don’t want to paint like they do.  He also said that’s one reason why some good artists don’t go to the events.  Did he mean me?

I hope this is a sign of a change in the art world for the better. I could never make it happen. Eric Rhodes could do it.

I wonder if Eric or someone on his staff read my blog. I told my daughter I’m an influencer now. That’s funny because I don’t want anything to do with the real art world. Sarah said that’s the best kind of influencer, the apathetic kind. hahaha She would know, she’s the social media guru.

Yeah, I’m famous. I’ll be dead before the art world figures it out.

The sketch is my plan for a swamp painting. It’s real nice out today and cool. The fall colors look good over there. I might start the painting now instead of waiting for the freeze.  This is my favorite cypress knee from when I was in the swamp last year. I need to transfer this to a larger paper and draw the background trees with Spanish moss on both sides of this knee. I need a big canvas. This sketch will help me figure out what size canvas to buy.

That’s my composition method, find something beautiful, draw it, draw what’s around it.