Tag Archives: practice

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.

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Diana fauve / try try again

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That painting I did last week was sooooo bad. How bad was it? Matisse rolled over. I tossed it.

They don’t give any information about technique in my Matisse book. It’s trial and error here. At least no one will ever say I fear failure. I’m learning something about fauvism by trying to copy the style. This is what I got so far.

Fauve means wild animal so my painting should be bold. Last week I was hesitant so I daubed. Matisse would h8 that. This time I was more deliberate with my brush strokes.

In fauvism you’re supposed to convey an emotion with your color choices. I hope I can do that. Imagine Diana, goddess of the hunt. She represents the feminine ideals of independence and chastity. She can kill her own food so she doesn’t need to rely on some god to bring dinner home and she’s better off without being in a relationship with some god because those guys cause all kinds of mischief fooling around with mortals and chasing nymphs etc. She’s alert and at peace with nature. She’s strong.  I hope I can capture her attitude.

Trying to paint in a style I’m not used to is challenging. I’ll try again. If you know anything about it please advise me. Thanks for the likes on that last post which was a really horrible painting. I appreciate the support.

Ariadne charcoal after Ives

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Isn’t she beautiful? She’s made of marble and you can find her at the Chrysler Museum, Norfolk VA.

Continuing with my portrait practice, I went to the museum because it was raining. I have all my practice portraits of the famous dead artists taped on the wall and I don’t like any of them. They’re all going out with the garbage. I’ll keep this one. This gives me some hope that I’m getting a little better at portraiture. Why did my sketches of the dead artists come out stiff looking compared to this? I think it’s because this time I had a more graceful model.

The myth of Ariadne goes like this: She was the daughter of King Minos. She helped her lover Theseus escape from the labyrinth then they ran away together to the island of Naxos but Theseus abandons her there. The plaque says Ives made her looking down because she had a broken heart but not for long. Bacchus, the god of wine sees her on Naxos and immediately falls in love with her and they are happily wed.IMG_2054

Durn, my photo looks fuzzy. I’m not a real pro with a camera, as you can see. I’m including this pic so you can see for yourself if I got a likeness.

Wine makes her happy

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When I started drawing this statue I thought she looks high. She’s smiling and her eyes are half closed. Then I saw she has grape leaves in her hair. She must be drunk!

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This is my model. She’s in a large formal garden at Norfolk Botanical. I’m still doing portrait practice by sketching statues because they’re free and they don’t move. My friends and family don’t want to pose long enough for me to get a finished drawing. At least if I do find a free live model some time in the future, the time I’ve spent sketching statues will help me get a likeness.

After sketching a bunch of statues of male artists, it was nice to draw a pretty girl. I’ll go back to the sculpture garden with the famous dead guys again and do more of them but I took a little break from them.IMG_2049

This is another pretty girl in the same formal garden. Unfortunately, her nose is broken which will make it more of a challenge to draw her. I’ll have to use the magic of art to fix her nose after I get a little better at portraiture.

About ten years ago I practiced figure drawing and portraiture in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond. I got the inspiration to draw the stone angels and was working on that for about six weeks when a good friend died suddenly and I was totally shattered. I hung around in the cemetery a lot for a couple years and drew most of the angels. It was the best therapy for me. Every day I was reminded that I’m still alive because I was standing over all these dead people. Hollywood Cemetery is very special. I’m not superstitious. I never saw a ghost, but the cemetery was my refuge from the world and it made a better artist out of me. And it helped me recover in some weird way, when my life went down the tubes back then.

After spending a lot of time sketching in the cemetery I wanted to draw some angels that were broken. I figured out how to draw a missing hand on a broken angel by copying a hand of another angel to fit. I felt like I kind of fixed the broken one when I could do that, and I knew my drawing skill was improving. That’s why I want to try again by putting a nose on this broken statue’s face.

I was very happy to find all these statues at Norfolk Botanical so I can continue to what I started ten years ago.

Can you name this famous dead guy? part six

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I’ll give you a hint. Italian neoclassical sculptor.Amore_e_psiche_(1)

This is one of our dead guy’s masterpieces.

The plein air report for today- Flies were biting my legs. It must be that time of year I have to pack bug spray with me. Then it started raining. So, that’s my excuse for not finishing this sketch.

Previously on “Who’s the dead guy?”

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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

studies of wave anatomy / charcoal and chalk

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I’m still getting the hang of drawing waves. That’s my excuse for hanging around on the beach when it’s cloudy and a little windy in the mid 40s. I stood between 2 sand dunes and didn’t feel cold. The tide was high when I was there yesterday and today with bigger breakers and some curl in the waves. A beautiful mist was blowing off the top of the waves.

I spend a few minutes observing the waves. How many are breaking, building up or going back out. Can I remember the shapes they take in those steps? Then I start scribbling. I took a little break from sketching and observed again before I could continue and I thought, I’m studying wave anatomy. I have to be there. I’ll never understand it from a photo.

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These studies are for the big plan I have to paint fog on the beach. My canvas is 19×38, too big to take out on the beach, so I’ll have to paint it at home. Especially since I’m planning on taping my paintbrushes onto yard sticks so I can stand back from the canvas like Matisse did. The size of the canvas, the wind on the beach, the yard sticks, make it seem like it might get messed up on the sand. I have my color rough from the beach in plein air, so my colors and values will be close to life if I mix them again at home. I’m almost finished with a full size sketch for my painting. If I can do another wave study or two, maybe I can combine the best parts of all my wave sketches into one scene. I really need to have my plan worked out in advance because this is a difficult challenge for me.

Do you remember the story about how Turner lashed himself to a mast on a boat in a storm and painted? Sketching on the beach in this weather is tame compared to Turner. He must have been a real thrill seeker. But if an artist is really there on the scene painting I get the feeling of the atmosphere or spirit or something intangible from it, like Turner had in his paintings. do you know what I mean? That’s what I want. It might take the rest of my life to achieve it.