Saturday, May 30, 2015

Rose and Ari Page pen and watercolor

Rose and Ari Page
pen and watercolor

Pigma Micron size 02 moderately fine, with Yarka Professional watercolor. Three days of pen drawings, with watercolor added today. Took some time with the page rather than rushing through and didn't add color until the whole page was done. The rose is from one of my garden photos, three pebbles and my cat are from life.

He doesn't pose for very long but I love him so much. I've been penciling while he poses and inking later referring back to him in whatever pose he's in to get values and markings accurate. Managed to get his eyes pale blue in the bottom right pose where they're visible.

Unlike most cats who have black eyelids, his are almost white and very startling against the black hair rimming them. They make his big round eyes look even bigger. I love him and capturing those subtle details is hard on that scale, but well worth it.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Two Spring Irises in Pastel

Two Spring Irises
Pastel on sanded paper

It's taken me almost a week, maybe more than a week to do this painting in three sessions. I sketched it loosely in Holbein pastels, mostly with side strokes. Some spotting on the paper meant I did have to layer heavily or I might have added last details to the first loose light expressive rendering. I liked it a lot. But my second layer developing it became tight and dull, it lacked texture and the flowers lost their graceful shape.

Took me days of sketching other things and staring at it on the wall to figure out what to do next. That even involved erasing a bunch of leaves and a stem, working over what I had with softer pastels and adding both lighter and darker tones to the flowers because I had those tones in the larger Great American set of 60 half sticks. I had the right greens in the softer set including a dark olive. It worked once I used the right pastels.

I might have made it work with the Holbeins and their limited palette but only if I'd really erased out everything and been willing to settle for some hue substitutions I didn't like.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ari Cat in Gouache

Ari Cat in Gouache

I love my fuzzy boy. He's a great model both for photography and painting. He's gorgeous and sweet and will hold still all of two minutes sometimes for sketching. 

As for gouache, I recently replaced my favorite gouache set but find I really miss my porcelain flower palette. That little round seven well porcelain palette was my favorite for mixing acrylics or gouache. Nothing ever stains it and what's left in the wells rewets as easily as the pans do.

This painting was done with a new Niji waterbrush. My old one is more worn than I thought. I got much finer details and better thick-thin strokes, flicking strokes, with the new one. Of course this makes sense. Nylon brushes wear out in two or three years and I've had that waterbrush for four. I've also used it so often that it gets more wear than any other brush.

So I was happily surprised that the new one handled easier. I do wish they made a size bigger than "Large" that went to about a size 10 or 12 round brush for a bolder stroke, a bigger broad stroke for filling large areas and laying in first layers. But until then my three new ones will keep me painting away.

I enjoy most water mediums. The one cool thing about gouache is the way I can work wet on dry, finish a painting in multiple sessions. I let the mixtures dry in the lid of my Pelikan Opaque Watercolor 24 color set and was able to go back into those mixes to continue without having to recreate them. 

I may have a go at some small landscapes with this medium next. The pans are very handy and the Niji does work well with them, as easily as with transparent watercolors!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Fruit from Life

Fruits from Life
9" x 12" pastel on paper

I have another pastel in progress and some loose sketches on white, but this came about because I just stacked that pear ontop of some other fruits. I loved how it looked and decided to pant them. The light over there is very strong from the window and they just attracted me.

Soon I'll finish up the irises I started, but don't want to post the stages until I know I'll finish. I'm disappointed at an intermediate stage. Might brush off the background or soften it as I work it over.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Ari Cat Sketches

Ari Cat sketches, some from life
Brush pen on paper, 9" x 12"

Today was a day for just spending time with my cat. Six or seven times he jumped up and took over my lap, sometimes sleeping till my legs went to sleep. He started out by armpitting me first thing when I woke up and spent the whole day snuggling on and off. He shoves his whole face into my armpit and head-bangs softly. It always makes me laugh, he gets so intense about it.

When he was little he'd run and put his head in my armpit whenever he got scared. If there was a storm or dogs barking or neighbors yelling or he had a bad dream, he'd run up and nuzzle my armpit and shiver. Then comfort himself chewing the armpit of my sweaters. He was a serious woolbiter, Siamese like to do that. Now he's a big grown up cat of 15 pounds, 15 years old. And he still likes to cuddle and just be my kitten again for a while.

So I sketched him again during some of his non-lap moments. He's the one cat I've had the most practice with and sometimes the trickiest with his markings.

More pastels tomorrow maybe.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Ari Cat Life Sketch in Derwent Graphitints

Ari Cat Life Sketch
Derwent Graphitint pencils on paper

I meant to do this as pencil and wash, but the only wash it really wanted was very delicately around his blue eyes.  I went very lghtly around them in Indigo and then just touched the brush to the blue line drawing it in, dissolving it without bleeding the black pupils into it. After that I couldn't distract with the wash on the rest of him, just let his pencil textures stand.

I like Derwent Graphitints for sketching, subtle color muted with graphite and as pencils they're very soft. Around 8B soft, good and strong for sketching. They've been favorites for a long, long time.

Look close and you can see several colors mingled in his fur and paws, while I used a deep green instead of black for the scribbled lines of the pillow and sheet. They were black but I changed them for purpose of the drawing. He likes laying on the bed in exactly my spot. They say cats don't like our scent but he always curls up in my place on the bed or in my laundry to get it on himself. Every cat needs to know he has me and of course I get paw-scented and face-scented all the time so cats I meet know I've got Ari for my painting buddy.

He just meowed for early supper so I'd better go feed the model!

Ari Cat life sketch and Irises from photo, 9" x 12"

Two more sketches, this time with Tombow brush pens on a wirebound sketchbook a friend gave me. It's not archival but the Tombow pens aren't lightfast, making it a good place to work things out for future paintings. Thinking of doing those two irises in pastels with the Holbeins on Mi-Tientes Touch.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Flowering Trees, pastel

 Flowering Trees
5" x 7" pastel on sanded paper

I started this yesterday on the second sample piece of Pastel Premier paper that Dakota Pastels sent me. I'm not sure why I took so long to do anything with the X-Fine white piece when the Medium grit Italian Clay piece was so satisfying. I was a little put off by the extra fine grit, didn't think it'd hold much pastel.

Oh was I wrong about that! The superfine grit held a lot of layers. I had to mix colors on this little darling because I was working with a 36 color set of Holbein half sticks, not my usual big selection with a deep dark violet available! 

I can also happily report that Pastel Premier responds very well to a watercolor underpainting or water wash. I'd heard it becomes a bit sticky with rubbing alcohol 70% wash so I went for watercolor. Wow. It performed beautiful. Here's my tonal underpainting in Winsor & Newton Artist watercolor (vintage pan set from 1998 or so, when they recently changed the name to Professional.)

Flowering Trees
tonal underpainting in red-violet watercolor

I like how the underpainting looks too. t came out well. I made a few changes, mostly hose two shadows on the left looked cloned so I pushed one back and connected it across the painting while making the forward one a bit larger. There's enough layers of bushes showing to give a little depth.

I had fun with this, a spring painting to celebrate the return of my body functioning again! I'm starting to have good days so I'll hopefully paint and post more now as we go toward summer!

Speaking of which, last Wednesday I forgot to post the two pen and ink with watercolor pieces I did while I was out at the clinic garden getting rose photos and lots of spring flower photos too.

 African Tree from Video
ATC size 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" pen and watercolor on paper

Started out in the morning watching yet another nature documentary and fell in love with this classic African tree from a big panoramic scene. So sketched it from life after a couple of rewinds. Fast little pencil gesture, inked and then tested the Borden & Riley 90lb drawing pad for light washes. It curled a little but didn't soak through and flattened again just fine leaving the pad upside down overnight, didn't even need to weight it. Fun little pads, pity Blick doesn't carry them any more. Wish I'd stocked up on them when they were available.

San Francisco Street View from Life

This is actually a view from outside my front door looking toward the left. There's a bright mural across the street enclosing a closed storefront that used to be a Kwik Print or something like that, then these trees in a row on my side of the street. I didn't put people into it this time, the street was fairly quiet and I was rushing to get the pencil done before the Paratransit van came.

Once I got on the van I inked it, doing squiggly and rough lines in motion and straighter clean ones at stops. Later on in the waiting room I did the washes. But the basics of the scene are still from life, it doesn't matter when I ink and color something like this.

It was fun. It feels good to be able to sketch from life. Most of my life I wasn't good enough at it to capture the scene so got very frustrated and only sketched a detail or two, now I sketch better and can detail at will. Put in the pigeon from memory, they are always around and I like them.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

May Daffodils in Pastels

May Daffodils
8" x 10" horizontal
Pastels on paper, photo reference by DAK723 on WetCanvas

Breaking out of my art block, today I did a bad watercolor sketch that I won't post, followed by a couple of daffodils in a limited palette. I liked the reference and was frustrated by something about the one I did on March 28, so replaced that with this one. Liked it a lot more.

It's spring! Enjoy!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Colourful Apples in Perspective

Colourful Apples in Perspective
8" x 10" pastel on paper

This painting took all of April if you count the planning time. The Spotlight challenge theme was on atmospheric perspective. Most of the references were landscapes with rows of receding blue hills, something I've always liked and enjoyed painting. I just didn't feel like doing the obvious and chose the one and only still life reference, three apples in a row on a white table. 

The far apple was actually the red-gold one, the front apple a red-purple in the reference. My first thought was to reverse their colors and exaggerate atmospheric perspective, since the yellow was quite warmer and brighter than that front apple. So I switched their colors, worked it out, did the first layers on non sanded paper and ran into a lot of days when my back went out. Other than tiredness and pain, I can't say why April was that slow.

I finished and posted this on the very last day of the challenge but at least did it!

Maybe I'll do more in May. I hope so! It's hard getting back in the rhythm of daily sketching and painting when the elevator's out and I keep overdoing it.