Can you name this famous dead guy part three, and story of strange bird encounter

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This guy is harder to name. I had to look him up, but if you study art history you might know him. I’ll give you a hint. He’s been dead over 2000 years.images (12)

This is one of his masterpieces. Well, it’s not the original. That one was destroyed.

Now for the bird story.

I’ve had a lot of weird bird encounters in my life. Here’s another.

This morning I was over at the garden working on my sketch and a lady spoke to me. She said, “That crow is interested in your bag.” I looked at the bench where I had taken my pencil box and water bottle out of my bag and laid them on top of it. This crow was on the arm of the bench looking at my stuff so I shooed him away.  He waited till I got right there and flew a few feet away. I went back to my drawing and I saw he was there again on the arm of the bench looking at me. I held out my hand and said , “Sit on my finger.” But he hopped away slowly. Then I put my pencil box and water bottle back in the bag and laid it at my feet in the grass. The crow flew up to sit on the statue’s head and sat there looking at me. I said, “What?” He hopped down and was hopping around my feet for a while and I told him I was trying to work here and he left. So, do you think the crow wanted to tell me something?

Previously on “Who’s the Dead Guy?”IMG_2034

Can you name this famous dead guy? part two

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This one is hard to guess. I never knew what he looked like until I saw his name on the statue. I’ll give you a clue in the photo below.

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It’s easier to get a likeness drawing from a statue than from a live model. I’m kind of slow on drawing. This is my second try. I almost had it yesterday but I could see it wasn’t right, so I transferred my first sketch to the other side of the paper and tried again this morning. Now I think it looks more like him and if I use this sketch and do a more finished drawing it will be better yet. But portraiture is a real challenge to me and I don’t feel very confident in my sketch until I give it a second try.

A statue will never get impatient!

One problem with drawing these statues is the spotty light. They’re shaded. Then sometimes the sun is beaming right down on one of them, but not for long. See my photo  below.

Previously on “Who’s the Dead Guy?”IMG_2035

Crabapple Tree / oil

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Why did I paint this? Why does any artist do their own type of art?  The answer is this. The mind seeks balance.

Imagine all the different types of art. there’s the visual, music, literature, dance and all the crafts are an art too. Imagine all the artists of the world. every nationality has artists. They come in all personality types with all different types of backgrounds and beliefs. There’s no two alike. You might never find another like yourself. All these things shape how an artist reacts to their own life through their art so that each artist will give you a different interpretation of a subject, if left to their own judgement. If an artist is trying to learn from a teacher they will paint like the teacher, but as they go on and work on their own, their own personality will be reflected in their art.

If an artist works at a regular job to pay bills they don’t have as much time to devote to art as I do since I’m retired. Younger people have more stress than I do. They have more responsibilities and obligations. When I was working full time I didn’t do much art beyond pottery classes and things like that because I couldn’t keep up with the job, exercising, raising my daughter, cooking for my husband, housework, etc. I was too tired for art. Also I was depressed for years. Now I’m ok and I tell young artists who are depressed, Hang in there, stay alive, it gets better when you get older.

But, if an artist is pulled in a hundred directions. That artist would want to simplify their art. This is one of the reasons that a lot of modern art is simplistic, the artist needs to balance the chaos and frustrations of the fast paced world with their art. In my case, my life is so boring it would drive you INSANE in less than a week, I bet. But I’m ok because I get into these complicated studies of trees or whatever my next subject is. Plus, now that I feel better mentally, I think I might be immune to any more mental illness.  I’m not going to tell you how bad it was.

Even though I’m trying to copy the colors and values of nature and drawing from life and painting in plein air, my own strange life experiences show up in my paintings. I can see it in there. I read other artists saying they aren’t trying to copy nature, they’re giving their own interpretation of it. I’m trying to copy nature. I can’t imagine something more beautiful. But my painting doesn’t look like nature, exactly. There’s too much of my personality in there. What do you see about me in my painting? Do you see I have patience, persistence, attention to detail? Too much time on my hands? Can you see I’m capturing more than the camera can? I’m balancing the boredom and loneliness of a life with no meaning or purpose with art. And I feel better than I did in years! Isn’t that weird? I chalk it up to painting in plein air. It gets me outside in the fresh air and that’s good for your health, mental health too.IMG_2028

This is a photo of the crabapple tree. The painting took a long time to do and I worked on it at home a lot. I mixed my paint colors in plein air and checked my palette against what I see in real life then went home to do the more time consuming part of the painting. I don’t use a photo for reference, so that’s one reason my tree isn’t like the photo.

 

one hellofa crabapple tree / work in progress

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One day a couple weeks ago I was walking in the garden carrying my 12 x 16 sketchbook when I came across this beautiful tree in the last stage of blooming. A few pink flowers were still hanging on and I wished I could paint real fast so I could capture it like that with some flowers and new leaves coming out. It’s a big crabapple tree and famous because it’s in a book of VA’s 100 most beautiful trees.

I knew I couldn’t sketch it on my 12 x 16 paper because it’s easier for me to draw large if I’m drawing a large subject. That’s one reason why I know my drawing needs improvement. Why can’t I draw small? I can usually draw a figure with a 1.5″ head. A one inch head is too small for me most of the time, but I try to sketch small  figures sometimes.

I decided to use a piece of paper out of my 18 x 24 sketchbook and give it a try. 12 x 16 is the largest size sketchbook I can hold in one hand to draw and don’t need my easel. When I tried to sketch the tree on the big paper it seemed like it kept getting bigger and bigger as I was sketching. ( a sign that my drawing is out of control ) I wasn’t going to show this sketch because the tree looks crowded on this big piece of paper but I wanted to paint it and I thought if I had a larger canvas I might be able to do it. I bought a 30 x 40 canvas.IMG_2025

I did a detailed underpainting of the tree and it looked ok on the 30 x 40 canvas. It’s not squished to fit.  It was a little easier to sketch the second time. There’s another five feet of tree off to the right which I couldn’t get, though. The branches come back down to the ground and form a thick bush next to the tree. Now I’m over half way finished but it might still take another week at this rate. The background trees, sky and grass are finished but the tree and leaves are still mostly in the underpainting stage. The new leaves have a red orange tint and are shiny. It’s too soon for me to tell if my painting will work out. It could be an epic failure, or it might be ok when it’s finished. I missed the time to paint the tree with flowers but I think it’s beautiful without flowers. If the painting is ok I’ll post it when I’m finished. If it’s not ok, I’ll try again next year.

Eastern Redbud / charcoal chalk and pastel / with photos

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Here’s a strappy young redbud for you, appropriately planted in the childrens garden. It looks like it had a growth spurt last year but didn’t fill in yet.

I filled in the background with pastel on this study because I had some smears that wouldn’t erase all the way, and also to make the light on the tree show up more on the light paper.

It’s fun to spot these redbuds when you’re driving. They’re out there by the side of the road all wild and crazy. They don’t get very big but they’re bright and cheery when they bloom. Then when the flowers are down they blend back into the underbrush and you can’t see them again until next spring.

Some other trees of interest are in the photos below.IMG_2020

This tree has roots that have been formed into a circular bench all the way around  for people to sit on or kids to climb on. I wonder how they got the roots to take that shape.IMG_2021

Can you see in this photo how they criss-crossed the stems of these crepe myrtles to make xs? I like the window pane effect of it. And some of the trees look like they merged together into one at the places where the stems cross. Isn’t that a cool thing to do with crepe myrtles?

Korean Rhododendron / pastel

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Loving a rhododendron. This week it’s the rhododendron. Next week it will be a red bud tree. I’m fickle like that.

It caught my eye because the flowers seemed to float over these  graceful stems. The flowers were so bright with the dark green evergreens behind them. And the branches crossed to make odd shaped window frames with lines of sunlight and shadows.

The day I found it I tried to sketch the branches in my sketchbook. My sketch didn’t work but I wanted to try to draw it larger, because I find it more difficult to draw small. When I went back with this larger piece of sanded pastel paper the next day I sketched the branches with charcoal again and it looked better. I blobbed in violet to save places for my flowers and picked some colors for my background.

I simplified the background a lot. There’s more of these bushes, more trees of different kinds, more plants on the ground, a path, etc. All I wanted to see was the dark green behind my flowers and dried leaves on the ground with shadows, and a line of lighter green grass behind my rhododendron. Even though I simplified the background, it was still time consuming because I like to build up layers of pastel until the paper won’t hold any more color. I do an underdrawing and blend it down into the paper. Then I can put heavy coats of pastel on top of that. It takes a lot of time but a pastel can have a solid look if you fill in the tooth of the paper.

I was in the garden working on this 4 times for and hour or 2 each time, but then I worked on it for hours at home on 3 or 4 different days. So, over 20 hours in it, I guess.My hand was getting tired by the end.

The reason I’m excited about this drawing is because I didn’t know if it was working till the end when I drew the branches. To me, it looks feminine and strong. ( and I didn’t have to draw a vagina! ) hahahah ( sorry for mocking feminist art )

I hope you get the feeling of fresh spring air blowing through the branches and moving the flowers.

Path Through Sand Dunes / blue pastel, charcoal and chalk on orange paper

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Let me tell you about a very strange encounter I had with dogs on the beach.

Dogs really love me. I don’t know why. I like dogs but I’m not trying to find dog friends. I can’t even count all the times dogs have run hundreds of yards ahead of their masters just to meet me. I always ignore them and continue walking. I don’t look at them or talk to them or pet them. They put their wet noses on my hand and go back to their owners. I guess dogs can tell I’m not afraid of them, but I think it’s bad manners of the owners to let their dogs run up to strangers on the beach, or anywhere.

The other day I pulled into a parking spot for the beach and saw a bunch of people with big breed dogs at the entrance to the beach. They were just milling around. There were a couple kids no taller than the dogs and the dogs weren’t barking or jumping. I thought it must be a meeting of the big dog club. A couple of the dogs were big enough for the kids to ride. If I had a dog that big I’d make him a harness and train him to lug my stuff.

I decided to walk through the dogs and people to get to the beach. As I went down the cement steps two of the dogs went with me. One x large black dog and another brown dog of retriever size followed me onto the sand. It was real windy so I put down my water bottle to zip up my coat. The dogs stood beside me on the sand and a man was calling the black dog named Zeus, but Zeus didn’t go to his owner. I still didn’t look at the dogs and I called up to the man, “He’s mine now!” The man said, “You can have him!” So, I turned toward the beach not looking at these two dogs who were walking beside me. The people stayed at the top of the stairs and yelled for their dogs and for me to wait. This is funny because I ignored the dogs and the people yelling and walked down to the water with the dogs following me. When I got to the water I turned around and sent the dogs back to their owners. I walked on alone for a little while, but it was too windy. I guess that’s why the other people didn’t go down on the beach after their dogs.

Does that seem weird to you?

I wonder why there isn’t a leash law around here. If you swear on the beach you can get fined $100, but people don’t train or leash their dogs. Some of those dogs are smarter than their masters. It would only be fair if I walked off with their dog and held it for ransom. Right? I could catch one every day.

Live Oak on sand dune / charcoal and chalk

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This tree is so twisted, when I stopped drawing it I thought it looked a little crazy. Does it look crazy to you too, or is it just me? (anthropomorphizing trees again)  When I got home and taped it to the wall, I said to myself, this looks like a neural network. OH NO! This is the INSIDE OF MY BRAIN!! No wonder I thought it looked a little crazy. hahahahah (insane laughter)

This is my interpretation of the tree, close, but not exactly what it looks like. A bunch of them were clumped together so I tried to draw only one. A lady stopped and talked with me for a while. I asked her if this is a live oak and she told me it’s a live sea oak. I’ll look for photos later to verify that. Or tell me if you know for sure about the name of the tree.

There’s some real pretty views from the boardwalk overlooks on the dunes. You can see a long gray blur of these trees all blending together stretching down the beach behind the dunes. I’ll draw the long view another time. They look soft from far away.

 

My New Dog Bites / pastel / after Roaring Dog / with photos

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It’s a Chinese lantern in the Lanterns Asia exhibit at Norfolk Botanical Garden. This was fun to sketch at the garden between rain showers and fun to finish in bright colors on a rainy day at home. It’s good practice for your plein air artist to draw subjects other than landscapes sometimes. And it rains a lot around here.

That black sanded Mi-Teintes  paper is great because it holds so many layers of pastel. And the black adds drama to your subject. If you want to convey a mood, black paper could instantly make your subject scary or sad or elegant. I like to blend my 1st layer in with a blending stump and then put 2 more thick layers of pastel on top of that. IMG_2004

This is Roaring Dog lit up at night.

Here’s what the plaque says, “The Roaring Dog is a Chinese legend of the Erlang god which specialized in assisting the Erlang hunting and beheading a mythical demon. It fought against Sin Wukong in the journey to the Westlands assisted the Erlang god many times in fighting against other gods in the legend of Deification.”

When I was sketching it the tram went past and I heard the tour guide tell the passengers that the Chinese like dogs to look like lions. I thought how much fun it would be to make paper mache armor for a little dog and take it to the dog park and scare the big dogs! hahahahaimages (7)

This is the size dog I have in mind for custom made armor. He’s showing off his new leonine hair cut and learning to drive. wait, no, scratch the driving part.

No Camera Needed