Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pen sketch of a friend...

Pen Sketch of Lin
Pigma Micron 01 on Pocket Moleskine

This was sketched from a selfie a friend of mine posted as part of a photo challenge on WetCanvas.com. I liked all her images and had meant to do the castle or something... but when I got right down to choosing I loved the strong sun she stood in and the extravagant waves of her hair. So I actually kept it very simple and penciled first, getting the contour lines of her long face and very British features. 

She's a great artist herself, especially in oil pastels and colored pencils. I'm sure I might have done better in pastels but I'm still fighting the flu. So tonight it's just a quick sketch in a style I haven't done for years.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Cat portrait, pen sketch

Ari Cat Portrait
Pigma Micron Pen on
Pocket Moleskine Accordion Fold Sketchbook

Nothing yesterday, when I started coming down with the flu. Achy, nauseated, coughing deep and painful and feverish, I nonetheless hauled out a good photo reference of my beloved cat. Penciled first, then inked this slightly larger than most sketch of him. Didn't try for reserved white whiskers though, Not today on a bad day, just another cat study because I love him and wanted to get in some daily art.

I don't know how long this will last. Hopefully just a couple of days, but then I never know if it'll linger for weeks. Pretty annoying when it happens. But I'm still trying to hang on and do something, that and remember to post when I do.

Today was a win despite the flu.

Score for the month is spectacular. Eight pastel paintings. Three serious watercolor and pen pages. That's amazing when most months if I'm lucky I get in one pastel and maybe a page or two of sketching. I have ramped up successfully and will try to continue this. If the weather knocks me down again, then it does... but September is a good month, maybe the best weather all year.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Cat gestures in ballpoint

Ari cat gestures in ballpoint
Moleskine accordion fold pocket sketchbook

When I'm busy and a lot is going on, as happens some Saturdays especially, I try to at least get in a quick gesture sketch of my cat. I did two of them yesterday before settling down to work on the Red Flowering Maple painting. Tonight though, having bathed and dealt with three or four stressors and had home care over, I wasn't up to getting dusty. So I opened it up to fill the last space on the page. 

Ari moves around a lot! Even when he's sleeping I can't count on a pose being more than two minutes. He can be sound asleep but he'll stand up and turn around to lay the other way. He's not paying attention to what I'm doing, it's just how he sleeps - fidgety. Maybe this is the secret to how cats can sleep 18 hours a day and still get plenty of exercise. 

To be a cat lover means getting used to the sight of a sleeping cat and find that adorable. I don't often wake him up but when I do, he purrs and loves the attention. He's also left me the most astonishing cloud of pale undercoat fluff on the middle of my bed, which has black covers this week. Announced his presence with maximum contrast! He sure is a champion shedder!

I love the fuzzy boy and the more often I default to drawing him, the better I am at abstract forms and all animals.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Red Flowering Maple - Pastel

Red Flowering Maple
8" x 10"
Pastel on brown Canson Mi-Tientes smooth side

I started this with a sketch yesterday from a photo I took Wednesday in the Memory Garden at San Francisco General Hospital. I've looked at that tall plant, almost a tree height, for three years now. The flowers are a darker red than I painted because I didn't have the right values to do that, so I altered it and came as close to the value and hues as I could. 

Still, I like how this came out and do know plants vary in the color of their flowers. The sun was hitting the shiny outer surface of the petals in some interesting ways and the greenery was very rich. I had fun with it and have some other photos from this and many visits to work from in future.

There weren't many large flowers with distinct petal shapes in bloom, more daisylike ones and very small flowers on Wednesday. It varies what's in the garden as they remove some plantings and put in new ones depending on what's in bloom, constantly keeping it fresh. Some little orange violas were bright and cheery, I also got photos of bright violet foxglove-looking flowers on a spike head. I might do those another time, but I may have to get out my Unisons to get all the purple hues and values in them.

I enjoyed doing this one, and it'll occupy the black mat that I cut with an 8" x 10" opening instead of 7" x 10" for the Bluebird painting. I'd forgotten I changed the proportions on the Bluebird, so cut one extra mat - now happily destined for a good use! The strong colors will shine against black, I love how that looks.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

White Curcuma exotic flower

White Curcuma
photo reference by Dewi on WetCanvas.com

Yesterday I didn't paint at all, was too tired after doing my clinic appointment. I had planned to do pastel plein air in the clinic garden but my van arrived half an hour early - after some preliminary photos I went out back and there it was. However, before I went, I did mat and frame the Bluebird painting, which does count as daily art to me as it's far more physical than most of my painting.

I used more blending in this White Curcuma painting than in most, contrasting a stick blended texture on the central flower with a blended loose background and some linear accents. I didn't prime the page with sanded primer, just worked directly on the 180lb white rough watercolor paper of my Stillman & Birn Beta pastel journal. I also taped a sheet of tracing paper over the page to protect the art, taped just on the outside right edge to fold over it. This has worked well for six pages of my Pastel Journal and I have high hopes of finishing 25 good pastel paintings in it.

Sketch wall with three of my paintings framed, bluebird is upper right.

So that was some serious accomplishment. I don't think I managed anything on Tuesday either but I could be wrong, posted it if I did. So much for memory, the fibro fog chews it up. The shot helps give me some energy but the outing itself to get it is so draining that I don't usually manage anything afterward.

So much for good intentions. Daily art is still "health permitting" and yeah, there is a reason I'm living on SSI instead of working full time as an artist. If I could do 40 hours a week painting and selling, I would so definitely go back to full time art - but that doesn't work when my disabilities don't permit more than a short session at best in a day.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Charcoal sketches

Charcoal life sketches for Scavenger Hunt #376 on WetCanvas.com. A new list started today, I've got ten days for 26 items. Most of which are tough ones for me. I shouldn't really say tough so much as things I'm less interested in drawing. Everything on the list was "stuff you use for..." things. Vague enough I could find substitutes although the thing is, the things themselves would be depressing to draw. They don't draw me out into the wilderness or the microcosm of a flower or small natural objects like stones.

It becomes a matter of looking down at my life and seeing again how different it is, how circumscribed by chronic disease and deformity. I don't exercise, that's all pain and no gain, usually winds up with sports injury knocking down my function even farther and long recovery in which I don't have the capacity to do the things I actually can do. I don't cook. I don't clean - but I got my pastel rag in for that because I do clean off my pastels and my hands after painting.

I don't look down. When I paint I want to look at color and beauty. Painting my art supplies is invigorating, always makes me want to use them. But reminders of all the Activities of Daily Living that I can't do for myself brings up that endless bitter frustration. Most people can knock that stuff out in a short time and get on with what else they'd rather be doing.

I don't like being reminded of those limits when painting and drawing are the things I can do well, that get my mind off the pain. It's probably why I don't do contemporary fiction either.

Today was a pain day anyway, thus no serious painting, just Hunt sketches. I love the charcoal/white combination for fast powerful rendering though! This page is decent enough to go on the sketch wall - and I got Ari into it, that always makes me smile. I wonder if I can get him in more than once...

Five more Scavenger Hunt 376 items, and I did get my cat in one more time as "Soft" along with one of his toys as exercise equipment. He does bang around the room with it so fast and wild that you'd swear the thing came to life! Bat and chase at high speed! Plus a bottle of olive oil, a water bottle from a watercolor kit since I don't actually have anything resembling a makeup bag and a pill case as something to store things in. Well on my way with this one but I seriously doubt I'll get them all unless I come up with more good substitutions. Yes, I keep food on top of my dresser because that's where the microwave is. I don't have a kitchen in this room or any counter space, so the dresser top becomes that.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Life Sketches in Pen-Watercolor Again

Life Studies 
Pen & Watercolor on Stillman & Birn Zeta Journal

Worth a second entry today! I had fun doing four more objects for my Scavenger Hunt list on what's nearly the last day of it. Tomorrow is the Overlap Day - mine's still active but a new one goes up with a friend's list. I thought I'd try to do all the list but didn't really get much more than usual. Still, it's a good challenge and every time I do it, I get that much more experience at life sketching.

This page isn't as perfect as the last one but I'm happy with the layout and don't think it's so bad that it drags the book down. Small imperfections are what shows it's real art instead of some kind of mechanical reproduction.

Everything was penciled freehand, then inked with the Pigma Micron pens and painted with Yarka St. Petersburg watercolors. I'm beginning to really enjoy this set, especially the unusual new colors. The pencil tip's in Glauconite and the Sofft tool in Shakhnazarskaya Red, a beautiful warm earth color that's lighter and more transparent than English Red. Oddly the pan actually looks darker, it's just an effect of the pigment. Could just be the opacity of English Red.

I might eventually get the full range of these watercolors. Oddly it'd be less expensive to get both other sets than to get one other set and 12 open stock colors to add to one, but I'm not worried about that. Each has a complete range in itself and could be used alone for painting outdoors. The palette box isn't that large and stacks nicely with my Zeta journal.

Pencil gesture of my cat Ari

Ari Cat Gesture
6B clutch pencil on Moleskine pocket accordion fold journal

Sorry I forgot to post this yesterday, got very tired and distracted by home care visit. Saturdays tend to be intense, especially if I'm attending a Johannes Vloothuis class online. I don't usually paint along with him, just take notes and pay attention to what he's doing. It drums his principles of design and painting in deep and then I reinterpret them in my style. I'm much fonder of saturated color and especially greens than he is.

Today I'm going to ink this cat gesture, still observing the real cat. I haven't used washes in this journal not wanting them to soak through to the back. I plan to do the entire journal in pen work - so this ephemeral pencil drawing is recorded for now. Check this entry later for an added image, or I'll do a new one later.

Now he's inked, but I'll start a new entry if I do something more elaborate than inking my cat sketch.

Inking this sketch has given me the urge to go back to the Zeta and do another pen-watercolor page of some kind. I love how those turn out.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Pearl in Pearlescent Pan Pastels

Pearl in Pearlescent Pan Pastels
From life
on Stillman & Birn Beta 180lb rough white paper

Today's painting is an experiment with a new art supply. Always a joy. I'll be writing it up in more depth on Rob's Art Supply Reviews later, maybe tomorrow though as I'm feeling pretty tired. 

Painting a pearl to look like an actual pearl rather than a ping pong ball or something else opaque has been a lifelong goal. I saw paintings in museums as a kid, Renaissance and later, where artists did that. They put nobles in velvet with pearl and jeweled ornaments and draped goddesses in pearl necklaces and it looked as if you could reach into the painting and touch those precious things. I thought of them as the showoff stuff of art. Who needed a wealth of actual jewelry if you could paint it so well you couldn't tell it wasn't real? As many pearls and rubies as you wanted were right in your paintbox!

The only reason people like them is how they look, right? So paintings of them are as cool as the real thing. Not true for food or clothes but may still be true for precious gems. Ironically, today's synthetic rubies and sapphires are quite real and no more costly than cut crystal, they're chemically and physically the same with perfect color and any size you like. 

Being able to paint pearls though, is as rare a skill as it ever was. Bucket list item accomplished! I could have used the regular tints and gotten a good effect, but I like the Pearlescent Pans. There's an extra little shine to everything and the heavy glitter effect of the Coarse mediums is fun, sparkly, like those party nights when your friends toss glitter in your hair right before you dance. 

Pearlescent Pan Pastels Colors
plus four Mediums, Coarse and Fine black and white

The six colors are convenience colors in spectrum hues. I like them as much as the Tints they resemble, they'll give an extra sheen to many subjects. The fine texture effect is subtle and might go unnoticed in a painting, the Coarse is like throwing glitter in it and delightful for that.

Art journals folks will have a ton of fun with these, but fine artists can get good special effects with them too.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Life Sketches in Pen and Watercolor

Life Sketches in Pen and Watercolor
7" square Stillman & Birn Zeta journal
Pigma Micron pen size 01
Yarka St. Petersburg "Extended" watercolors set

I love my Zeta journal. All my life, as far back as I can remember, I've done pen drawing and wanted it to come out like these. I started getting there with certain small subjects from life even as a child because my dad taught me to pencil carefully first before inking. I did a lot of pen sketches of my pet white rat, Puck.

So this week I'm the host for the regular Scavenger Hunt challenge on "Artwork from Life" forum at WetCanvas.com. The host comes up with a list of 26 items to sketch from life, substitutions okay if you really don't have a cat or a figurine of a cat or a cat themed anything to draw. I suggested "Computer, because a CAT file in Windows is catalog," or "Person named Cat" since I know at least one. Several actually if I think back, but that's people not here at the moment. Of course my cat's very handy to draw and he's already in this one. He'll get in again under Animal and maybe under Matte since he's not shiny, and certainly if I do an eye from life it'd be more fun doing his than mine!

As luck would have it, I actually came up with a list that was hard for me. Usually that's other people's lists with items like "Something from your dining room" or "lawn mower" or something like that. I live in one room and the bathroom is separate from the loo, both shared with other tenants on my floor. Not in a suburban house with a car, driveway, living room, dining room, basement, attic, den, bedroom separate from studio, kitchen... it sort of boggles me sometimes how much space people have. No wonder most housemates are always bickering about cleaning up. 

So I did the list and I'm cherry picking the easy ones I have handy in my room. I'm sure I'll find more by the 22nd.

Love the 16 pen cube of Pigma Microns, All Sizes/Tips that I got from Blick recently. I use those a lot, actually use up these long lasting pens. They're perfectly waterproof so it's easy to pencil first and then ink, then start painting over it with a Niji waterbrush and any watercolor set I've got handy. Currently this is my new Yarka St. Petersburg Extended set. Extended has Rose in it and Rose Violet, two very useful colors, plus my favorite Russian (Hookers) Green and Ultramarine and Bright Blue (which I think is a Pthalo). Hansa Yellow. Raw Sienna and a redder earth that I really like, Shakhnazarskaya Red. Lovely earth red a bit softer and more transparent than English Red, which is also in it.

Yarka watercolors are particularly intense too. Very strong color and it dries nearly as bright as it looks wet. The lovely deep brown that predominates in the feather and rock is Voronezhskaya Black, actually more of a grayed brown sepia-ish color that I really love. The set has a warm and cold black. 

I might get the full range of these Yarka watercolors someday. Odd thing is, the cheapest way would be getting three full sets. Getting the two least overlapping sets and 12 extra colors would be more compact, but I'd pay $60 or so for the open stock pans instead of $40 for a third set. So I might just get the other sets in time and keep them stacked together. This was the best one for what I'm doing, though others have other favorites like Paynes Grey. 

Blick's doing a Zorn Palette Contest so I need to think about what I can paint in yellow ochre, Cadmium Red, Ivory Black and Chinese White. Could win $400 in watercolor supplies including 4 big tubes of those colors but also Kolinsky brushes and Arches watercolor block and pad. Very cool. Might go for something inspired by cave paintings since that's so much a cave painter's palette actually...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Winter Pines

Winter Pines
5" x 7"
Rembrandt pastels on Bee Bogus Recycled Rough sketch paper
Photo reference by PaintBoss on WetCanvas.com

A third painting for the September 2014 Pastel Spotlight challenge, "Blue." This photo reference was posted as part of the lesson showing a variety of hues, the surface of the snow was distinctly lighter and more purplish than the somewhat green-cast blue sky. I enhanced those differences a bit but the camera really pushed it farther. Light patches on the snow field were fun, the shadows of other trees were making that foreground area interesting. 

I'd worked out how to do snow laden pines years and years ago while playing with colored pencils, distinctly remembered doing a Christmas card design with them as my first successful snow covered pines. This time I got much more colorful working with pastels and sketched just the darks in the pines in with charcoal, then got at the rest entirely with pastels. As usual on unsanded paper I did some finger blending in early layers, then finished by rough layers of side strokes and heavier strokes over it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Bluebird in Pastel

7" x 10" Pastel on Artagain paper

Photo reference for the above by Dave Slaughter on WetCanvas.com, where it's in the Reference Image Library. I had fun using my 60 Rembrandt half sticks on a pad that I know fits in my backpack with them.

These are practice and field tests for my using those pastels outdoors. I can get some good effects just using these, and the color range is sufficient for anything I want to paint when I'm out. They are a lot of fun and not that expensive. I almost got the 120 color set but I'd also wanted a watercolor set and some Pan Pastels so I went for the smallest set size that'd work for plein air.

It was a good choice. 90 or 120 colors are great if I'm going to be at home but when I'm out I want a smallish set that can be on my lap at the same time the drawing board or pad is. That became a serious point. 

I also think I'm going to be goofing around on the Artagain and Bogus papers with charcoal some more. Love how that goes so fast and comes out so powerful, it's a great sketch medium either under pastels or by itself. Shows up on the sketch wall just fine!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Charcoal Pear, bird sketch, wall crack

Charcoal Pear 

Yeah, just a quick sketch of a pear from life. The same one I did in my Art Lesson actually, though I should eat it soon. I may play with it some more or not. I have two more of them and quite a lot of plums! They're in season!

Also started another Pastel Spotlight painting with the charcoal sketch, fixative and then painted the background loosely with Rembrandt half sticks.
Bluebird WIP
7" x 10" pastel and charcoal on Artagain paper

Lot of fun. I'm going to enjoy doing this little guy. He's from a photo reference by Dave Slaughter on WetCanvas.com, posted to the Sept. Pastel Spotlight as part of the "Blue" theme.

And earlier, I did a sketch I meant to do for a long time. There's a crack on my wall, painted over, might actually be cracked paint from previous layers that looks like a caricature face. I meant to start doing drawings of the caricature faces and creatures I see in cracks in walls or smudges of dirt and all. So here's the start - just the original contour. 

Pen sketches in pocket Moleskine
Right side = Crack in Wall

What made that stand out is that I really did get it accurately without tracing. What I do with it later will be a whimsical figure, maybe a composition of a number of whimsical faces and figures flowing together. The wood grain of the bathroom door has an egret pointing its beak straight up in the air. I might get him sketched tomorrow in dark and light - it's where some varnish dripped on the wood grain, I think.

Last, I went back to the charcoal and pastel on Bogus paper again. Marked off two 5" x 7" areas and then glanced around for something to sketch. Of course someone I love volunteered to model, immediately!

Ari Cat Sleeping
5" x 7" charcoal and pastel on Bogus paper

Late at night, one more sketch. It's been a productive day! Much more than usual. Should do this more often!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Pastel Life Sketch Apple and Containers

Pastel Life Sketch Apple and Containers
7" x 5"
Rembrandt pastels on black Crescent rag mat

Odd little sketch of some things on top of my black refrigerator, using a 60 color Rembrandt half sticks set I just bought a couple of weeks ago. I've actually been back to "daily art, at least a gesture sketch" for a month or two now, barring sick days. August missed only four days. But rather than work back, I'll start posting forward again to share my artistic journey.

Sorry I didn't post anything much so far from 2014! I had several good ones so far this summer so I'll add them as highlights...

Open Road
8" square
Assorted soft pastels on Uart sanded pastel paper
Photo reference by DAK723 on WetCanvas.com

Did the above for a pastel forum challenge with a "Green" theme. Had fun with the clouds, it was a good breakthrough on clouds painting as well as landscapes.

Colourful Lemons
7" x 5"
Unison Pastels on sanded pastel paper

Another pastel challenge from a photo in the Reference Image Library at WetCanvas, a lot of us did these lemons. Best "colourist" painting I had done to date at the time for a "Yellow" challenge. Also in the same challenge, another yellow fruit...

Colourful Bananas
7" x 5"
Unison pastels on sanded pastel paper
Photo reference from WetCanvas June 2014 Pastel Spotlight

This one didn't reproduce as well as the lemons. It was hard to get the reds, greens and yellows all to come through even close to the original so that blue shadow is actually a blue green closer to the green of the leaf. There's more hue and value variation in the bananas than shows but they're smooth gradients. Achieved a fine detailed rendering with quite soft pastels on this.

And more recently, this month's challenge is "Blue." So another photo by DAK723, of a lake scene with clouds, changed quite a bit in the painting:

Lake Scene
8" x 10"
Assorted pastels on Uart sanded pastel paper

I had a lot of fun playing with textures and values on this, also using different textures of pastels at different stages. The blues in the water do not quite go as far toward violet in the painting as they do in the photo, it's actually more Ultramarine values and some mid-blues and greener blues. But cameras lie about color all the time and the photo makes me think it might be fun to carry it all the way to violet on one sometime!

Anyway, there's some high points of 2014 and I expect to post more often again. Some days might be no more than a quick pen gesture of my cat or a still life object, others may have stages of a painting. I'll try to get back in the habit of posting when I've done something. There are still days I don't have even a gesture to show for it due to chronic disease symptoms but I hope to build up to where I can manage at least that every day. My habit is returning!