Tag Archives: mixed media

self portrait as ghost / mixed media

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ok that was fun. I  had an inspiration to draw myself with white and silver oil paint sticks on watercolor paper then use the same blue watercolor all over top of the paint sticks to see if I could make a transparent effect. The oil paint sticks resist the watercolor. I hope it looks ghostly. If it’s working I might use the effect again some time.

As I was doing this, I wondered if there’s a face morphing program that an artist could use to make a ghostly look. I saw an app that could put your face on a hot dog! It was a scream! I think I remember the beginning of face morph programming. Was it when Michael Jackson did his video where he sang, doesn’t matter if you’re black or white? He had good looking people of different races and sexes blending into each other. Now you can do it too. Those guys who code computers have to be geniuses.

Do computer programs have an imagination? Would they give you a ghost if they weren’t programmed to have a ghost as an option? I think they are limited to what the programmer could put in which isn’t the whole brain of an artist. They have a limited number of choices to work with for the creative process, where my brain has limited experience, but more than an app. As always, feel free to opine.

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Daffodils / mixed media

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I’m not crazy about the yellows I got with my oil paint sticks for this one. I hoped it would look yellower on a violet background. They’re still too green. I might try again with pastels next time it doesn’t rain. But I saw some other plants blooming that I also want to sketch so I’m not sure if I’ll continue sketching daffodils or just wait until next year and do a painting of them.

Today when I got back to my car in the parking lot at the botanical garden, I saw a squirrel sitting at my front tire with something big and white in its mouth. When I got in the car the squirrel ran over to the trees but came right back. I sat there for a few minutes getting my things together for my next stop and the squirrel came back to my car. I heard this scratching sound under my car and got out to look. The squirrel ran away but came back and started scratching again so I started the car and he only went about 15 ft. from the car then came back. I inched forward and saw him going to the trees. I wonder what he was stealing off my car. That was weird.

Orchid / mixed media

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I was alone in the greenhouse on Saturday. It rained all day but it was nice to be there sketching. Then later a photographer came in and spoke to me. I asked him if this is a slipper orchid and he told me it’s a pitcher plant, which makes sense because the bottom center petal is pitcher shaped, but it doesn’t look like the other pitcher plants I sketched in the past.

I used oil paint sticks and watercolor.

The sun finally came out! YEA! I’m going back to work on my sketch of the daffodils later when it warms up a little.

I saw a bad art movie on Netflix, Velvet Buzzsaw. It’s about bad art first fascinating then KILLING art world elitists. Does the really bad art kill ordinary people too? I watched the whole movie, like you have to look at a car wreck.

Orchid with buds / mixed media

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I drew this much larger than life so I could do the detail of the red veins in the petals but it’s showing up on my computer screen close to the actual size of the orchid.

The flowers are oil paint sticks and the background and the yellow inside the petals is watercolor. I also used my yellow paint stick in the petals.IMG_2202

This is my charcoal sketch from the day before. The bud opened up a lot in one day. I erased this sketch when I went over it with the paint sticks, so I redrew the flower on the left using the paint sticks. I didn’t need to do it again with charcoal because it’s easier the second time.

There are a few more orchids I’d like to draw. I’m not sure if I’ll do it this year or wait till next year because one lady working in there said, “Oh, you’re back.” She didn’t sound happy about it and I ignored her, but now I feel like I should try to find times when she’s not there if I draw in the greenhouse again.

I love gardeners despite that important lady. Gardeners grow my inspiration.

Orchids / mixed media

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February’s not so bad around here, if you love orchids. The growers are showing off their finest ones in your nearest greenhouse. I spent a few peaceful hours sketching them at Norfolk Botanical Garden. It was nice to get out to draw on those rainy cloudy days.

I used my oil paint sticks for the flowers and watercolor for the background. That’s why my orchids have a sketchy look. It’s not easy to draw a sharp line with the oil paint sticks. And I was drawing on white watercolor paper with a white oil paint stick, so it was hard to see what it would look like with the background colored in. For the shadows on the orchids, I used a silver oil paint stick because it’s the only gray I have and I thought it would look too dark for shadows on white orchids. I went over the silver with white. I scraped it off with my palette knife and went over it with white again.  After I put in the dark watercolors I thought the silver/gray looked ok.IMG_2199

First, I did a detailed sketch with charcoal. If you draw a line with an oil paint stick and it’s in the wrong place, you can’t erase it. This helped me to get the shapes and sizes of the orchid petals so that when I used the oil paint sticks There would be a better chance of my flowers fitting on the paper and coming out graceful like the orchids.

As I was going over this sketch with the oil paint sticks, I was erasing my charcoal. I could see enough to draw with my white and silver oil paint sticks, but I didn’t want my charcoal line to show through the paint stick lines. So, this sketch got erased during the process, and replaced with the looser sketchier version of the orchids shown above.

That was fun. I think I’ll go back and draw another type of orchid.

jellyfish / mixed media

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In the aquarium they’re graceful, delicate and so beautiful but they don’t look  good when they wash up on the sand. In fact they look scary and gross on the beach and you might want to stay out of the water if you see them.img_2191

My models move, but slowly, so I thought it would be easier to sketch them with oil paint sticks since that medium forces me to draw faster and looser.

I sketched them on watercolor paper then painted the blue background with watercolor. The oil paint sticks resist the watercolor from going into the paper. It was almost like drawing blindfolded because I couldn’t see the white oil paint stick on the white paper even if I looked at the paper. I could see a little shine from the oil paint stick but it was dark in the aquarium so I moved back away from the jellies exhibit to see what I had and really couldn’t see it until I put the blue background on the paper over the white oil paint stick. I could see the pink sketch as I was drawing.

They have hair like tentacles which I couldn’t draw with my thick clunky oil paint sticks but I like the texture of the paint sticks on the watercolor paper.

The aquarium has a real laid back atmosphere and zen sound effects. They have some great marshy overlooks outside on a nice trail. It gets crowded in the summer but I can sketch more for a couple months without getting in the way of others.

I’m excited because in March I’m moving again. This time within a mile of the oceanfront and only 3 miles from the aquarium. I’ll be able to bike over to the aquarium because the road has a wide sidewalk the whole way. I’ll be able to walk to the ocean, the Neptune Festival, shopping, dining, etc. I’ll be much closer to Back Bay too, but it will take longer to drive to the botanical garden.

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.

Torch Lilies / mixed media

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Look what’s blooming like crazy in Jan! It’s so bright I used my florescent oil paint sticks. They have a big clump of these Torch Lilies at Norfolk Botanical Garden. A gardener told me they started to show buds a month ago then last week they really opened up!

It’s so nice to stand there sketching and take in the colors on a gray day like today, and tomorrow it’s supposed to rain, so I’m glad I got this sketch today. I did the watercolor background when I got home.

portraits of ladies / blind drawing exercise / mixed media

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A lot of contemporary artists do this blind drawing exercise so I wanted to give it a try.  I did double blind because I picked my colors blindfolded too.

Before I blindfolded myself I arranged my work table with a pile of my watercolors and a jar of water next to them, piles of oil pastels in groups of dark medium and light and a jar of terpenoid next to them, a pile of paint brushes and my paper. For my first experiment I put some watercolor on the palette which I could feel but then I couldn’t tell if my brush was going into the paint because I was blindfolded and I didn’t cheat by looking.  I stuck my finger into the paint. So, for my next experiment I picked up my random color of paint and opened the tube and dabbed it directly onto the paper in several places then dipped my brush into the water, which I could feel for.

It was fun! The first few blind paintings didn’t work at all and I wanted to keep trying. I did six and I’ll show you the two best two.

The thing I like about the one above, is the eye seems to have floated off her face to the right. IMG_2163

Her dad was a glass maker.

The funny thing about this one is, I did draw eyes nose and mouth, but they got lost somewhere and her head looks transparent.

So this is my latest attempt to be contemporary, though technically, all artists alive and working today are contemporary. But art style labels don’t always apply.

Did this exercise improve my drawing? Even though I goofed around with it most of the day, I’d say, no. It was fun, but it won’t help my drawing improve. So, what is the real point of this exercise? To make modern art easier for someone who draws and paints in an old style? If either of these looks like real contemporary art, then the exercise did that for me.

Also, sometimes if you’re working on a project and getting nowhere, you can play around one day with this blind drawing exercise and take a break from the thing that’s not going well. Then go back to the other project mentally refreshed.