Tag Archives: practice

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.

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Red Horse, Yellow Sky, Blue Grass

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I was putting this off because it was kind of difficult and I didn’t have the time to concentrate on it. First I had to redraw my horse sketch from a few weeks ago onto watercolor paper and make corrections. That took a couple hours. Then I couldn’t decide what colors to use. Finally I decided it would be best to start with the background and do the horse last like I would if it was an oil painting. Too many decisions! I tackled  the sky, grass and horse as separate experiments, using two Inktense pencils on the wet blue  paper for the grass. It was kind of fun pushing the paint around to make it as even as I could on the horse then lifting out paint with a paper towel where I wanted highlights. Now that I got one horse sketch finished I might try again with a different model horse. It’s still too hot out for me to enjoy painting in Plein air unless I get out at the crack of dawn.

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.

self portrait / unfinished charcoal

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Do I look like this? I don’t know. It’s not finished. My hair is brown and gray with a blue fringe, and I usually wear glasses. I’d like to do my self portrait with my fun “bucket list” hair do. I’m not drawing the glasses.

It’s hot and humid out today so I decided to try to sketch myself. I have my easel in the bathroom in front of the mirror. There’s enough room to walk around it but the light isn’t good. I worked on the sketch for an hour or so then did other things and then went back to it. I’d like to put some pastel in for color.

I’m not photogenic. There’s a photo of me somewhere but I don’t keep them. The good thing about doing a self portrait from life is that maybe I could make myself younger looking. Then I could say, look, I don’t need to buy the app for that! hahaha I’ll try to finish this so the blue stays in my hair forever on the blog.

 

another try at sea and sky watercolor pencils

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Last year I sketched waves with charcoal and chalk. This year I want to sketch them in color. I think the watercolor pencils have a grainier quality than regular watercolors. I’ll do some comparisons with the watercolors in tubes this year. It seems like I picked a difficult subject for Plein air painting because waves never stop moving. I’ll keep working on it but there are so many great views around here and I’m not on a deadline. I’ll try out my Inktense watercolor pencils drawing other scenes before I get the hang of painting of the ocean. It’s not just painting waves, it’s also that I want to paint the bubbles on the sand and that looks even more difficult.

Yesterday we had nice weather but it was too windy to stand on the beach at the water’s edge. I sat on the leeward side of a sand dune and it was great. It took me some time to plan my sketch with pencil and pick my colors from the charts I made. Then I realized I forgot to bring a piece of soap along. If you put soap on your paintbrush before you dip it in the masking fluid it saves the brush from getting gummed up and ruined. For this experiment I used my white oil paint stick on the sky as an alternative to masking fluid and used regular masking fluid to block out the white foam on the breakers.

After I got my sketch planned and picked the colored pencils I wanted to use I came home to paint this because I had enough sun. I’d buy a beach umbrella, but those things can be a hazard. I don’t need to stay out all day painting in plein air. I can go back any time. This could take months or even years, but eventually I’ll get it.

Sea and Sky / from memory

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This is my third try to represent a wave, painting at home from memory with my Inktense watercolor pencils. It’s on the back of a flop experiment. That’s why it has some smudges showing in the sky.  It’s another experiment, this time trying out masking fluid applied with my fan brush to mask out the white clouds, and  white oil paint stick used to mask out white foam on the wave.

I’m guessing which colors from the set of pencils to use after finally finishing with the big project of testing each color pencil by making washes from the darkest concentration of the color to the most washed out lightest version of the color.  That’s why I call that  that exercise  a gray scale. If black is 100% and white is 0% using gray, when you do a gray scale of a color you can estimate the value of the color. Some of the colors don’t get any darker than 30%. I have 3 pencils that go to black in the set, which is good.

Now I need to go back to the beach to see if the colors I picked are close to the colors of nature, or if I can make a better color.

It’s going to get unseasonably hot out there today. I’m not sure if I’ll go to the beach today or wait till tomorrow when it might be more comfortable weather. In the summer, if I don’t get up at the crack of dawn, it’s too hot to paint in plein air in the sun. In the winter, I have to wait until afternoon when it warms up enough to go out. That way I’m not suffering for art.

The time I spent goofing around at home with these pencils is going to help my chance of success when I seriously try to do a nice finished painting. You learn a lot through play. You can take a class and a good teacher can help immensely  but you still have to work on your own for a long time to get anywhere with art, at least that’s my experience.

 

an art exercise I can’t avoid / watercolor pencils

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A month or so ago I bought this set of Inktense  pencils on sale. There’s two trays in the box and each pencil has the color on the end.  One day I was sitting on a sand dune trying to pick a color and they all fell out of the box. I tried to reorganize them but it looked like I have a lot of dark colors which are hard to tell apart from looking at the colored ends. I wondered if I had doubles of any color and how the lighter more water washed versions of these colors would look.

One reason my first attempt to use the pencils was a total flop is because I can’t pick my colors, so I knew I had to do this rather time consuming practice project. Just like back in my art school days, I started making gray scales with them starting with the dark colors.

I tried doing my gray scales on dry paper then putting water on top and also tried making the paper wet first and doing my gray scales into the wet paper. The look was the same to me.

Then I realized I have to number them or I still won’t know what pencil makes what color. If I cut up my strips of color and tape them to the pencils the lid won’t fit on the box so I just put a piece of tape over a few pencils at a time and numbered them in case they get mixed up again. I can get a few pencils off the tape and try them out in Plein air and number my combinations then put the pencil back under the tape. I also left white strips between the colors because the water really brightens up the colors which all look gray when drawing on a dry paper. That way if they get mixed up I have spaces to match colors to pencils.

So, this is my plan. Take the whole set out with my colored strips to try to match the colors I see in nature and make notes of which pencils I used to get those colors. I haven’t even done half of the set and my hand got tired of holding the pencils. I’m left handed so I switched to holding the pencils with my right hand and it worked ok for this experiment. The sooner I can get all these pencils categorized the sooner I can get back out and try my hand at painting with them.

In the long run this exercise will give me a better chance of success in my next try on painting a scene. The thing I’m really hoping for is to put them in the basket of my bike and go farther off the beaten path than I could go with my oil paint supplies which are bulkier and heavier than the set of pencils. If I can get some good color roughs with my watercolor pencils then I can do a larger oil painting  at home. I want to paint that black water but I’ll never get a big canvas that far down the dirt road. I can’t drive there in my car but I can bike it.

Magnolia in the Wind / with some thoughts about inspiration

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This flower is too sexy for my blog. Too sexy for my blog.  Too sexy OMG.

Oh well, I draws em like I sees em.

Inspiration. Where does it come from? I can only talk from my own experience here, so feel free to opine, as always.

I think it comes from outside myself. It’s nature or other art, or a good teacher, or music, literature, everywhere you see something that grabs you. When I was young and worked full time and exercised every day and had a house, husband and kid, I wasn’t into drawing and painting. I still had a lot of ideas but when you’re young and you have a lot of obligations and distractions it’s easy to put art on a back burner. I always knew if I lived long enough a time would come when I could concentrate on art. To me art and craft are the same thing. Back then I was inspired to take a pottery class or two. I was inspired to make gingerbread houses and carve pumpkins among other things. Is the inspiration to sew or cook something special less than the inspiration to paint? I say it’s all the same. If I don’t feel like painting it’s because I’m on something else.

I had a lot of stress back in those days but I don’t think stress kills inspiration in my case. It’s that there’s only 24 hours in a day and I like to sleep too. There were a few years when my mind was in a turmoil. Art gave me the chance to” live in the moment”. It’s a good break for your mind if you’re under stress. I think all that advise you read about living in the moment and giving up the past, whatever is eating you, is too idealistic. It’s not like you have switches in your brain where you can just turn off thinking about that bad thing. When you can spend a lot of time alone you have to go back over it again and again until you figure it out. Then you can get some peace of mind. There’s a lesson to be learned from whatever your mind is fixated on. You have to face it. Masking the problem with pills won’t stop it from coming back. Plus the meds could suck the spirit out of your work, if you’re an artist, by numbing your brain.

The main thing about inspiration is that it requires time alone to work for me. It helps to eliminate some things from your life if you’re a very busy person.

About this drawing: It was so windy that flower was blowing all over the place. I drew a moving target. It was real good practice because after drawing so many magnolias I had to work faster and observe then sketch and observe again when the flower blew back. I had to work faster and it wasn’t too bad because charcoal doesn’t show up on this paper anyway, so, just skip it. With flowers, if you get it wrong no one knows.

 

Navy Ships Anchored on the Elizabeth River / charcoal and chalk

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Ships and boats are all around us here. I should get some practice drawing them. Yesterday I went over to Fort Norfolk to check it out and it was closed for Presidents’ Day, which I forgot about, but the guard at the gate told me I could park in their field on the outside of the fort to sketch.  It was great. The ships are close because the river isn’t too wide there. It was sunny and not too cold and I had the place to myself.   A lot of people could see me from the tall buildings all around but it was safe because the guard was probably watching me too. Since you have to show a photo ID to get into the fort it might be the safest place on the waterfront to sketch. I’ll get back over there again soon. It’s the oldest fort and they have guided tours.

The ships weren’t easy to draw. My sketch kept getting bigger as I was working on it which means it was out of my control. Control, sometimes you want it, sometimes you don’t. If I was always in control of my sketch that means I’ve mastered drawing. So, there’s still room for improvement. My ships aren’t in exact proportion either, maybe that’s not noticeable.

alternative media for plein air sketching / watercolor pencils

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It’s fun to try different media and techniques. This is a close up of my first attempt using Aquarelle watercolor pencils, which were recommended to me by my blogging friend, Vivienne Lingard. I’m looking for something that would be easier to transport than oil paint and the supplies I need for oils. I tried oil paint sticks and they’re bright but clunky to draw with. Pastels can be heavy to take out in Plein air, but sometimes I pick a few to take along if I can guess what colors I’ll need, so I don’t have to lug my whole box of pastels down a path. There’s also a wide variety of markers I could use in plein air. And my old favorite, charcoal and chalk.img_2189

I sketched a few Chinese Paperbush flowers from memory for my watercolor pencil  experiment since I’m not finished with that painting and I want more practice drawing the flowers.

I have very little experience with watercolors, so this will take practice.

This winter weather is keeping me at home too much. I think I’ll check out the Virginia Beach Aquarium and find some bright fish to draw if they don’t object to colored pencils.