Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sketches and Plans

Birds Circles Page
Pentel Pocket Brush Pen on Large Moleskine Watercolor Journal

My most recent postable sketch page. I have 14 Animals ATC Exchange cards done, all of them in pen and watercolor. Many of them with the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen. Every time I use it, I get a little more familiar with it.

Yesterday I also finished my second article for the Coloring Book Club site, which is awesome. New demo is a mandala about 3 1/2" wide that I designed, inked and colored in Prismacolor Premier. I've decided to post the finished art as a teaser, the clean printable version for you to color and all the progress images illustrating techniques will appear with 5 Tips for Shading in Colored Pencils.

Rose Mandala Demo
Pen and Prismacolor on Large Moleskine Watercolor Journal

I'm still doing the last edits on the article but will send it in on time and love how this one turned out. The more of these I do, the more I'm falling in love with my Prismacolors again.

I'm participating in 30 Paintings in 30 Days again this year! So I expect to be posting more and I'm going to be trying to actually succeed this year, start on time and do all 30 of them! 

So this is exciting and I expect to post a lot more often. Enjoy!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Vase and Fruit finishing Lightwell Page

 Twilight Lightwell and Floral Still Life Page
pen and watercolor

Floral Still Life with Five Apples
pen and watercolor on large Moleskine watercolor journal.

So far I've done 10 of 14 "Animals" ATCs and once I finished another Ari cat one this morning I wanted to do something I could post. So I glanced across the room at the arrangement of silk flowers and thought, let's do the first version. I'll probably paint this several times over in different media, but this is a start to get a feel for it. I love the variety in it and the different forms. I love the crystal vase my friend bought me too, will be doing some much more detailed, realist renderings of that. 

Silk flowers are as good as live ones for painting. Sometimes better. Especially across the room, the forms are natural enough and the light strikes them well. For details I might compare them with some of my photos but if I'm not getting that detailed, it's much better to be able to return to the subject again and again!

Ari posed for me in a lovely way while I was typing this up, so I quickly sketched, inked and painted #11 of the series. I love the way he'll do that. He was in an odd pose but I managed to get the gesture and someone's getting a good cat ATC out of this. Next up, I've got a bobcat reference!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Twilight Lightwell

Twilight Lightwell pen and Graphitints on watercolor journal

I'm still working on the Animals ATC Exchange and finished the seventh card this morning - an Asian Leopard Cat in Pentel Pocket Brush Pen and watercolor with whiskers and back lettering in Pigma Micron. Can't post him yet but he's turned out the best one so far, wonderful pose doing a vulture impression on a huge branch. 

This light well is my view from the window of the bathroom on the left going down the hall from my room. It's perpetually twilight, so narrow that all day it gets mostly blue "Sky light" rather than direct sun. The first time I saw it, I went back for my phone and got photos. I still take new ones now and then, fascinated with the Dickensian atmosphere and odd lighting.

So far this is my best sketch of it. The cat's from imagination, I never saw one in that window. Just thought there should be one because cats improve any painting of a window. The city is theirs!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Animals ATC Exchange Project

This post won't have images of my art. Only the images of eleven beautiful small pieces friends have sent me in the "Animals" ATC exchange. It was limited to 15 people and started January, 2015. I've gotten eleven of them and am still waiting for three more. Sadly, life interfered and the project of doing mine to send them out got held up by health and some money problems. It's not the first time that something got put off by forgetting about it till reminded. I meant to do and send all of them at the same time for that reason, not play favorites.

 Some ATC supplies - 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" watercolor paper, archival soft sleeve
and an Ultra Pro archival Top Loader protective display envelope.

Six "Animals" ATCs from friends, top left a lion, below that a cat's face
center row a cormorant on a rock, center bottom a sea turtle
right top a cheetah above a card with a seagull. 

Five more "Animals" ATCs - top row left two chicks, right a tiger,
bottom row a raven, Ari Cat's portrait and a male lion profile.

So at long last, I've gotten started on doing mine. I'm sure the other three latecomers will do theirs too or have done some but just not gotten to me yet. All of these are much brighter and richer in person than the photo. I love them and spread them out to motivate me.

So far I've finished six cards, nearly half the set. My goal is to finish and mail them out this month. I was getting close anyway, finally got to eBay to get the Top Loaders for sending them when I got a gentle reminder from the organizer. 

Mine are all in water media, so far one dog (pet portrait) and one white egret, plus one cat portrait, two Ari paintings and today's is a painting of my daughter's enormous black cat Armand. He's a 20lb long hair who likes camouflaging himself on black furniture or floating around the house like a small bear. I might add some big cats to it or some other animals, just doing whatever creature I think of next. But it's going well and while I can't post them, wanted to update and let y'all know I have painted steadily the past four days! 

Lots of sketching too. I participated in a Weekend Drawing Event on Friday, Saturday and Sunday with Tombow dual tip brush pens in 8 1/2" x 11" sketchbooks, one my good Stillman & Birn hard bound Beta, te Tombow ones in a Target drawing book I got in my Christmas package.

 Black cat from a reference and red geraniums from memory, 8-14-2015
This is the one in archival markers on S&B Beta journal.

Greek waves from a reference by Qty on WetCanvas 

Ionian Sea rock near mouth of Acheron, Qty reference 

Some Greek street cats in an abandoned campground, Qty ref. 

Character "Musky" from my Pleistocene animal novel, Elder's Pride. 
The book is still in editing stage.

White Rose on green foliage from Qty reference, Ari sketch at bottom.

I should have posted the sketches as I did them, but didn't think of it at the time. Will start updating more regularly as I do other projects. Once the ATCs have all gone to their respective new homes I'll post those as batch. I'm having fun laying them out as a group, they vary a little in style and technique butt so far all are in archival pen with watercolor on the same Stillman & Birn "Beta" paper. It's now available as loose sheets as well as in the journals, which rocks since it's my favorite watercolor paper.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Black Cat and Red Geraniums Page

Black Cat and Red Geraniums Page
8 1/2" x 11" W&N Watercolour Markers on WC paper

Two different challenges on WetCanvas inspired me to paint my latest page in my Stillman & Birn Beta journal. 

The lovely black cat's name is Marsha, she owns artist Valri Ary who hosted last week's Weekend Drawing Event. Valri joked that her coat was as black as her heart, but I saw this sweet lady as more lovely and adorable. So had fun painting her with the Prussian Blue Hue marker. It has such a deep value range that the deep darks did for black in most of the painting while the middle values washed out to just the right value for her highlights. In the photo she had distinctly blue-cast highlights, probably sky reflections from being outdoors on a wooden step.

After posting her all over WetCanvas, I read the inspirational "The Next Sketch Is..." game where hte last poster mentioned the next one is a geranium. I didn't have any geranium paintings recent enough for the photo to be in my laptop though I did quite a few sketches from life when I lived in Kansas with my daughter. The plants I had in the windowsill survived for three years, basically a record for me and plants, even bloomed again to my surprise. Ari Cat didn't eat them. It was a nice sunny windowsill that I don't have any more.

So I had a go from memory on the bottom half of the page with Alizarin Crimson Hue, Cadmium Red Hue, Cadmium Yellow Hue, Sap Green and Hooker's Green Dark. I remembered the anatomy and structure well enough to be happy with my loose sketches. Love how the markers come out so bold and wash out so well, it's possible to get very light hues with them as with the cat's eyes and the lighter areas of the leaves.

I had fun and it's great to start getting back to daily art! Warming up to September's 30 in 30!

Also finished the Wisteria page by watercoloring the iris I drew in pen last Wednesday. Both flowers are from life.

Iris and Wisteria Page
5 1/2" x 8 1/2" Watercolor, watercolor pencil, pigma micron pen

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Colorful Peach

Colourful Peach
5 x 7" Pastel on Paper

This small painting took me two days and a number of experiments. I used Unison pastels on Canson Mi-Tientes and loved the way the smooth side kept taking layers. There are eight or nine layers on the more detailed areas of the peach. 

One of the hardest fruits to paint is a peach because of the soft pale fuzz over the whole thing. I added that last and sweated over every light stroke,  but succeeded in getting the haze that appeared mostly around the edges in real life. The photos I took enhanced that and paled the entire fruit, but I worked from life right to the end. I changed the colors of background and surface but not the angle.

I got a bit playful with the shadow and liked the way the colors played within it, so decided to leave that more whimsical than literal. The photo's a little off but in person it has some peacock iridescence that I loved seeing. I could have muted it more to get a more realistic effect but decided not to for artistic reasons. So it's one more step away from literal representation. I knew what I needed to do but that pool of color reminded me of completely different subjects and I liked it.

I can always experiment with these. The realist triumph here was the fuzzes, the shadow can be more transparent next time.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Two Apples pastel on paper

Two Apples from Life
6" x 9" pastel on Moonstone Canson Mi-Tientes paper smooth side

I reorganized my 48 Color Conte to all fit neatly into an old 24 color Conte box, just broke the sticks in half and put two colors in each slot. One red piece is just a touch too long and sticks up, so I started something I'd use that red on. It went well! The apples are on a black refrigerator top but I livened that up with various dark colors and threw in a little reflected color still with the same red.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Colorful Tomato 2

Colorful Tomatoes 2
5" x 7" pastel on paper

Testing out my new Caran d'Ache pastels, the set of 15 has all the colors Charlotte Herczfeld used in Pastel Brands Matter. It's one of my favorite demo videos and one of the few that I ever did any version of the painting. Now this is my second go at it! My first, I drew a wide short beefsteak tomato and used softer pastels on Mi-Tientes.

Once again even my version came out bright and fun! Maybe next time I'll do this with a pear or orange or apple!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Pink Milkweed in the Mist

Pink Milkweed in the Mist
9" x 12" pastel on paper

This simple painting was planned to be a good deal more complex. Once I began it, I decided to dispense with the background as planned. I just went with it from the first strokes and let it happen. 

Unisons on Flannel Gray Canson-Mi Tientes paper, smooth side. Recently, I finally stocked up on every hue of Canson Mi-Tientes that Dick Blick carries, so I'm well prepared and will be doing a lot with colored grounds! I love the range. I love being able to go to the paper folder and riffle through to match the sample I chose for the specific painting I'm doing. Previously I had about a dozen favorite colors, most of it in pads. Now it's the whole range.

I seriously recommend it to anyone who likes working on colored paper. Canson reduced their range a little but upgraded many colors till now the full range is lightfast. The freedom of using paper in that much variety is wonderful. Its texture (especially on the smooth side) is a favorite, sturdy and toothy. Unisons of course are wonderful, one of the best artist grade pastels out there.

September is Leslie Saeta's 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge and I will be participating again, mostly in pastels and water mediums. Sign ups are open now. It was a lot of fun when I did it before. This year I'll be doing many floral studies, both from my garden photos and the new silk flowers a dear friend sent me. I have actual vases now, and they will be a joy to paint!

Enjoy! And have a go - pastels are a lot of fun to paint with. Pick something cool from your yard or the roadside and paint it at home. I'd love to see it.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Bright Pear Reflecting

Bright Pear Reflecting
Pastel on paper, 5" x 7"

A few days ago, I got a lovely set of 15 Caran d'Ache Soft Pastels, a wonderful assortment for a Colourist with bright saturated colors in warm and cool, plus my favorite three earths - yellow ochre, reddish earth and dark brown, black and white. It's a perfect small range. I also finally after literally decades of wanting to do so, bought the full range of Canson Mi Tientes colors in full sheets.

The first time I wanted ot stock that paper in all its colors at home, I was a teenager and it cost too much. For all those years and decades, I bought a sheet or two at a time. Or a dozen sheets a week sometimes when I did portraits in New Orleans, often trying out a new color or two.

I've spent far more on other supplies, watercolors, great brushes, pastels and colored pencils sets. The whole stack cost me less than $80... so my putting it off was rather silly. Now it feels as if I have the whole art store at hand. 

The color I used today is "Oyster." It's also in the basic pad which has been a lot of how I got my Mi-Tientes over the years, convenient size at 9" x 12" and easy to cut those sheets in half for smaller works. I'll be cutting down the big sheets the way I did in New Orleans on a good day, then store them sealed in a plastic tub to avoid attracting bugs. That big a paper stock can easily be bug damaged or water damaged. I may do the same to the big watercolor paper sheets in there and lightly pencil brand on them. Especially the tinted Bockingford sheets.

Last, this evening when I was done, I tried out my new Pentel Pocket Brush pen. It's surprisingly great! I read about it on Gurney's Journey and had to have one. As mentioned, it takes a little learning curve to control the very fine tip, but is wonderfully responsive. Some sloppy sketches before this and then this Ari gesture since he looked up at me squinting with his eyes nearly shut, just, face turned up and ears interested.

Ari Cat from life
8 1/2" x 4" Pentel Pocket Brush Pen on paper

Love the responsiveness of the pen and the very fine lines it can get. Practice will improve these but I'm very happy with this cat gesture!