Tag Archives: practice

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.

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