Tag Archives: charcoal

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.

 

a plan for a watercolor / charcoal

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I didn’t finish this sketch because it started to rain. That’s one of the problems  of your plein air painter. There was a 10% chance of rain. I don’t know if you can make this out, but it’s a path through wildflowers with a few trees. All the little dots are bright yellow and orange flowers. There will be hundreds of them in the painting.

I need to do roughs like this before starting my painting so I can work out a good composition first. This helps me to decide things like, should I use a horizontal or vertical format for my painting. How many trees can I fit into the picture, how much of the sky and background trees will be seen, what part of the painting to start on first, if I need to eliminate trees, and so on.

If I want to get a finished looking painting I need to get a good plan for how to do the background, middle ground and foreground. When you don’t do a finished background it’s a less finished and more sketchy looking painting. If you figure out in advance things like where to make different textures or focal points there’s a better chance the painting will come out like you want it to. It’s a good idea to have less complicated areas in the painting too so the viewers eye has a place to rest, and to work on shadows so they’re interesting to the viewer.

This is the old school process that I learned long ago. Take the time, follow the steps and it will work out much better. It’s not a waste of time to figure out a good plan first.

Now I have to stretch a piece of watercolor paper and draw it again. Then I can start painting the bright flowers on the white paper and block them out with masking fluid so I can paint green foliage right over top of them and when I take the masking fluid off later the yellows and oranges will still be bright spots.

It’s warm here but it will cool down soon. We might not have any frost for a few more weeks though, so I have time to try another watercolor before I get into my big plan to paint the swamp this winter. I was happy to see the wildflowers in full bloom. I’ve wanted to do a painting of them for a couple years but missed the  chance  because I was into painting another scene at the time they were blooming.

cypress knees / charcoal and chalk

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When I was a young girl I fell in love with a beautiful swamp. I wished I could capture it and take it home. I took photos but they didn’t do it justice. Eventually I went through my boxes of photos and threw away the ones that didn’t have people in them. Over the years, I visited the swamp when I had a vacation at Virginia Beach.

When I started drawing in Plein air I thought about the swamp but it’s kind of a haul from Richmond, so I drew at other beautiful places. I never planned to retire to the beach until my daughter moved to Norfolk and told me she’s settling down. I’ve been here two years now and I often go to First Landing State Park to walk on the trails. I sketched there a few times and once tried to do a painting of the swamp but it didn’t work. I need a big canvas then I’m sure I can get it.

The swamp looks best in the dead of winter. Those tiny branches get a bright red glow in the winter sun. After a good frost the water looks clearer. It’s more reflective then. The black water will be a challenge to paint. I’m starting  to work out my plan now.  I’d like to get a big canvas and tape my brushes to a yard stick and stand back to paint it, like Matisse, because that’s fun, so I should probably do that at home. People would think I was really nuts if I took a big canvas out there and taped my brushes to a yardstick, when I am actually quite sane, hahahahaha. Not that I care what people think…..

dead trees in marsh / sketch

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Nature is so beautiful when it’s stark and bleak, even a little spooky. Two of the trees have sloppy nests, probably egrets because I saw a couple today standing out in the sedge.

I need a bigger piece of paper so I can fit the marsh grass on the picture, but I had to get a few of the dead trees sketched first.

What else is spooky at First Landing State Park? Spanish moss. ooOOooOO And the cypress swamp! oooOOOooo I definitely want to paint both of those too.

I walked a long way on the trail from two different entry places and decided to go off it a little and sit on sand to sketch. I thought no one could see me, then a little beagle came up to me and we said hello. Then he went back to the path, so I guess his human was up there.

a view from the Sky Line Rd. Canon City CO.

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This morning I was talking to a guy and when I told him I’m an artist he gave me some great info on the most beautiful places. Canon City is around 40 miles west of Pueblo on 50, my favorite road. I was looking at it on the map last night. I drove through it going east long ago but I didn’t know about the Sky Line Rd. I was glad the young dude told me to check it out.

Pueblo is at 4600 ft. and it seems fine to me. Canon city is at 5500 ft and the Sky Line Rd. runs on top of one of the ridges up higher. When I pulled off 50 to the Sky Line Rd. at first I thought I was driving on a paved foot path, it’s that narrow. The guy asked me if I was afraid of heights. I’m not. But screw up and you could go down like Grace Kelly.  The road is one lane, one way and when I got back down I was on the other side of the hill from where I started and I got kind of lost in Canon City. After a mile or so of driving next to the ridge in a residential neighborhood I saw some guys working and asked how to get back to 50. I was going the wrong way on the right road. After that I was confused which way was east for a few minutes.

Then I got a sandwich in Canon City and went back up to sketch. I got too much sun. Darn, I bet there’s not much shade at the Ghost Ranch either. Maybe I should get some sun tan lotion. I didn’t pack it.

I might go back tomorrow morning. I bet the light will be better. Then I’m thinking of leaving Pueblo and moving to the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Pretty sure I’ll be able to find a room.

When I’m traveling I think it’s good luck to give the spirits what they ask for. I’m not really superstitious, but if someone who looks like a bum asks me for money I give them a buck, if they ask for food or tobacco I give it to them. Tobacco especially, spirits love that stuff. Yesterday I a guy who was sitting outside my motel said excuse me ma’am, then started telling me his misfortunes. I gave him a couple bucks and a banana. Tonight a girl told me she’s homeless and hitchhiking with her boyfriend. She wanted a cigarette so I gave her one. She didn’t ask for money. Then she wanted food so I gave her a couple muffins and a yogurt. I hope this keeps me and my car safe.

Marsh at Pleasure House Point / charcoal and chalk

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It was so nice to be over there. The weather is great! This is a big holiday weekend  so Pleasure House Point will have a lot of visitors. I’ll get back out next week with my watercolors and try to paint this. I’d like to use a bigger paper so I can show more sky and water. I think the biggest challenge will be the edges where the top of the sedge overlaps the water edge. I’ll probably do a couple practices on scrap paper.

A watercolor might be my last art project until I’m at art camp in New Mexico. I should start getting my things organized this week and pack art supplies. I’ll be off the grid and under the radar for a few weeks but when I get back I’ll tell you about my adventure. Driving across country alone is a zen thing. It’s a beauty and vast.

horse sketch in charcoal with model horse

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It took me about 1/2 hour to get this far. That’s ok for a start. I’ll take the proportions when I get back to work on it and see if I got it close to accurate. I only eyeballed it till now.

We have had a lot of hot and humid weather lately. Now it’s raining. A few days ago I went over to Pleasure House Point to scout for a scene to paint with my watercolors and the sand was too hot. I had sandals on, I could feel the heat. I decided to go early in the morning but I can’t get motivated. The weather is kind of sapping my energy. It will be better this weekend, they say. I did find a place to sketch where I could have some shade to sit next to a small tree. I might stand up in the sun to sketch, but I can sit in the small shady spot when I take a break. It will be great to draw and paint in plein air again soon, I don’t think it’s necessary to break a sweat for the sake of art though. Life makes you suffer enough, art should be fun. I’ll go back to Pleasure House Point eventually.

Meanwhile, there’s this horse. Maybe I can do something with it for an art project. I have an idea or two for it.

Beach in charcoal and chalk

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It was hot but cloudy with wind, so that made it tolerable for sketching the view from the overlook on the boardwalk going over the sand dunes. The bench was too hot to sit on, though. That’s ok, I like to stand up to sketch. I didn’t stay long.

I’d like to try to paint this with watercolors at home. I took my color swatch charts and picked some colors to work with. It’s almost a monochromatic color scheme, especially since it got cloudy. I’ll keep it kind of monochromatic with some faint tints of color when I paint it and see if I can get the values close to reality. The horizon line was fuzzy from the distance and straight so I’m going to try on a scrap of paper first to get the look I remember. If I use gray in the sky, I should probably use gray in the water and avoid the bright blues which I’d rather use.

That’s the plan. Keep your fingers crossed.

horse sketch part 2

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Now I’m getting somewhere with it. YEA!  I took the proportions of my model by holding a pencil at arms length, resting my arm on my easel to hold it steady, closing one eye and putting my thumb on the pencil at the height of the body from the bottom of the hoof to the top of her back and compared that to the length of the body. The height equaled the distance from her rump to the middle of the front shoulder. So I knew the proportion was close. I made corrections on the head and neck to make them look right with the body. Then I drew her blaze with chalk because it makes the head shape easier to see. I also redrew the legs making a faint line at knee level and drawing circles where I thought the ankles should be. I didn’t erase all the measuring lines.IMG_2296

WOW! That’s a bad shot! hahahaha Nothing’s in focus! I had it set on auto. That’s ok, I never said I could take a decent picture with my good camera.

I put in in anyway so you can see how badly lit my model is on that shelf and if I drew it in proportion.

The plan is to transfer this sketch to a piece of watercolor paper and try to paint it. I’ll move my model to my work table where the light is slightly better and draw it one more time. I could still make corrections. Then paint with watercolors. I have some ideas in mind I’d like to try with the watercolors.

horse charcoal sketch

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It’s too hot and humid for me to enjoy drawing in Plein air and that’s ok because I have a lot of other things taking my time. At least I got this sketch done from a model horse. I love horses for subjects. They’re the most beautiful animals.

I’m trying to get used to drawing horse anatomy. The more practice I can get now, the easier it will be to sketch live horses in plein air in the future. That’s why I left that line at his knees. I drew it when I measured the proportions of the horse. Then I tried to visualize the muscles and did a little shading. It took me 4 hours or so to get this far and that’s all the visual info I need at this stage.

If the weather stays this hot I’ll transfer this sketch to watercolor paper and do a watercolor sketch of it next week.  I’m also thinking of a place I remember in the shade to get back outside drawing. There’s not much shade on the beach. I walk there but don’t take my art supplies because by 10:00 I’ve had enough sun. IMG_2273

This photo shows my model on some books to bring him up to eye level. He’s made of china so he’s too reflective.  I took the photo so you can compare my sketch to the model for accuracy. Darn it, part of my easel is blocking the model in my photo. Funny, I didn’t see it when I was drawing. I guess that’s because the camera has a different perspective.