Sunday, November 29, 2015

Cats from Life with Serval Zouletta

Cats from Life Page
Pentel Brush Pen and Watercolor on Moleskine 

There they are, two Ari cat life studies in pen and watercolor, five Zouletta Serval studies in pen and watercolor. I used Sepia, Quinacridone Burnt Orange (to warm the mix in Ari's fur), and Payne's Grey for serval paws and Ari cat's background. 

Zouletta was much more lively tonight at Big Cat Hospital. The folks at Big Cat Rescue put a camera in the cage whenever one of the big cats is in for treatment, so volunteers can watch to see if they're recovering okay. There's a number to call in a cat emergency, this is entertainment but also volunteering  to check on sick, often endangered big cats. 

I first got into it with Skippy the Bobcat, who had a lot of Internet fame. I posted a painting of him on Facebook an raffled it to support BCR, wound up carrying 15 months of taking care of a bobcat with that painting so feel very good about it.

Now the cat in the infirmary is Zouletta, who ate an acorn. They had to give her surgery to get it out of her small intestine. She's doing better tonight, less lethargic, less miserable looking. She gets up and moves, turns around, washes herself and the Cone of Shame is gone. I don't know if she's had a bowel movement yet but she's definitely recovering well and if she hasn't, I think she will soon. She's on the mend.

Beautiful Zouletta turned showing her face several times so I managed to get her profile, she moved too much for a full face view. Still, that's not bad for big cat studies from a live, restless big cat! I'll bet when I get to visit the Arkansas big cat rescue place, I'll find at least some of them awake and repeating poses. Good practice for when I make that trip!

Sleep well, Zouletta!

I'm also maknig progress on my novel, neck and neck with the deadline. Need to finsh by midnight tomorrow night and have only 3,606 to go. So I've got a good chance of getting it done. Wrote 4k today along with serval sketching. So that rocks. Hope I can get this last sprint in!

Cats from Life

Cats from life in brush pen 5 1/2" x 4"

Two studies of Ari in my large Moleskine along with a serval named Zouletta Serval. She was on the Big Cat Hospital live feed and that's a life drawing opportunity too. It's the same thing, the cat moves, I can't scroll back but just have to watch for repeat poses.

I plan to finish the rest of the page with cats from life, probably studies of Ari but maybe another sketch of Zouletta. She is a lovely cat. She had a transparent Cone of Shame on but I didn't document that for posterity, just failed to sketch it. I could see her head and ears well through it.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Dinosaur and Sake Set

tyrannosaur sketch and sake set
in blue Graphitint pencils dry

I got in some sketching this morning and finished what I meant to do with the opposite page - sketch a reconstruction from that view of the skull. Not 100% satisfied with it though I do like how the arm and mouth came out. Something about the head angle made it hard to do the face.

I meant to wash the watersoluble pencils but didn't, particularly because I liked the way the pottery looked without a wash.

The sake carafe and cups are from an ebook I bought on sale, "Urban Sketching" by Marc Taro Holmes. I enjoyed his video on Urban Sketching: Birds and snapped up this ebook today on a Black Friday sale. The only sale item I bought this year, money's tight. It's a good ebook, fascinating and right on topic for all the sketching I've been doing in 2015. 

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Life Sketches in Brush Pen

Sketches from life in Tombow brush pen

I used up one of my Tombow brush pens sketching the boot. Liked how it came out as the fading dried out ink gave me some soft middle values. The cat sketch I did on the 18th looks a little grumpy and isn't one of my best, but the later one on the 25th wasn't bad. Other stuff includes a plastic pear mostly from above, my lighter, Swiss army knife and salt shaker.

This sketchbook is nearly full! That's a good feeling, need to keep going with it.

Not much for a week but I spent most of it writing on my really lousy Nanowrimo novel. Up to 36,828 words on it and will be caught up for real in a day or so when I get back to it. Not much drawing till end of month unless I do one pastel painting - or get the novel done and still have energy to sketch!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Two Pears from Life

Two pears from life, 7" square

I got an unshapely, lumpish pear for lunch yesterday and set that up with the pretty artificial pear to draw them. Played with the background and shadows, like the soft edge I got on the cast shadows. The lighting is a bit intensified and I deliberately kept the flat surface white as contrast for artistic reasons. It's actally cream, the journal hasn't got bright white paper. I could have gradated it in very light color but didn't want the texture to distract from those soft edges or change them.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Tyrannosaur and Hollyhock, Part 2

Tyrannosaur and Hollyhock Page
photo references by Joanne_N - pen and watercolor on large Moleskine

Yay, finished the good page. I wasn't sure how I'd handle the background, but a mistake provided the answer. I got a terrible blotch of the grayed blue I used for the plaster bits in the skull falling right at the tip of the bottom jaw. Splashed out onto the brown too and so I spread it over the shadows strengthening them, touched that color in over the brown anywhere I saw shadows. 

I first tried to lift it out but it was stubborn. So I used the blue again, with a little violet and a little brown to gray it, and started working around the head blending it in. That worked! I can see it when I really look but it blends in optically as just one more light-dark variation in the misty background. Looks deliberate. Turned out that was the best color and value to set off the brown skeleton.

The photo reference had a much darker background but I like the blue mistiness better for a painting. The brighter colors of the hollyhock worked nicely to set it off. I'm happy with this page. Still thinking of sketching a reconstruction of the tyrannosaur on the facing page, maybe with a magnolia because those are very ancient, primitive flowers.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Tyrannosaur and Hollyhock Part 1 - Ink

Tyrannosaur and Hollyhock Page
5 1/2" x 8 1/2" on large Moleskine watercolor book

This time the Weekend Drawing Event host on is Joanne_N, who's got wonderful images. For once a dinosaur landed in the lineup! First drawing of it is just the skeleton head and arm, though I like the pose and may attempt to do a reconstruction later. Had a bit of space to the right so adapted the pink hollyhocks photo to fit in it, noticed the hovering bee after that was done and added it. 

The weather's been beating me up, so I'll treat these as today and tomorrow's art and give them watercolor or other coloring tomorrow. Haven't yet decided on what to use except it'll be a water medium!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Kitten Kyra

First sketches of Kitten Kyra
Tombow dual tip pens on sketchbook

Today's art and yesterday's art, all caught up. Last night sketched the kitten full body sitting on a kitchen chair, today using the same reference I slowed down to sketch just her pretty face. I got her face a little too long on the first one but the second has her proportions and expression better. Very young cat.

I'll be moving back to Arkansas in a few months, probably end of February, when my adopted daughter Kitten gets her tax return and can afford teh trp to come get me. She went out to take a look at the house I'll be renting and met this adorable little waif at the house, miserably wailing for food and attention.

Took her home, washed her, fed her, found out Kyra's a loving, snuggly, sociable cat who likes everyone, human or animal. She's going to be Ari's new companion. I've been thinking of finding him a playmate for a long time and in she walked. The best cats pick themselves.

Ari tends to get along well with female cats and kittens, while Kyra loves everybody, purrs, greets and gets cuddly. I think they'll get along well! So here's the start of sketching my new model - and her unusual markings. She has points, but she's a calico in the dark areas! Dark brown ears and tail, ginger patches next to the brown and one ginger hind foot, very pale body and white patches within her points. One little brown spot on her pink nose. Sweet, cute and unique!

This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Pears from Life

Pears from Life
Neocolor II artist crayons on large watercolor Moleskine

Today's painting is actually catching up for yesterday, unless I get in another sketch or something I'm still one day behind. I probably will though. This took me a while since I did the first layer lightly and washed it. The whole page curled up when I did and you can see that original wash in the background that I didn't color over because I liked it - a mix of black, Ultramarine and white layering.

I used the same light green artificial pear for all three views, rotating it to see it at different angles. It's not perfectly symmetrical and I also deliberately let it vary a bit in my rendering, not worrying if I made it a little fatter or shorter. I played with color on all three versions and pushed one way back by fading out the colors with white - which showed up more in the photo than the original. But color adjustments in photos are tricky at best, get one area looking true and some other area will be washed out or too dark or too blue or something.

It's one step more intense than the chalky looking thing in the photo, more like a solid Naples Yellow than a pale grayed beige. The shadows did do that double ring effect too. Values are about right, it just paled out because of what's probably gamut issues.

Oh wow! 200th post! Just noticed that! Yay, been at it a while with this blog. Onward!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Autumn Leaves, Two Views

 Autumn Leaves 1 
Tombow dual tip pens on sketchbook

I worked on these at the same time. First sketched the leaf shapes in pencil on the second one and inked the black background with my Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, then while that ink was drying took out some Tombows to sketch two of the referenced leaves in Tombows. The colors on the browned leaf are a little closer to the photo in this but lighter in value. I liked the effect. Sketched water ripples without filling in any dark around them, it was a study for the colored pencils version and I liked how it came out. This one makes up for yesterday's weather day, no sketching. I slept like my cat yesterday and barely managed to make coffee let alone do anything else.

Autumn Leaves 2
Pentel brush pen and Prismacolor Watercolor colored pencils
large Moleskine watercolor journal

This one I put more thought, layers and technical detail into. I washed the first flat layer of colored pencils in pink, gold and bright canary yellow for the three leaves. When that flat color dried, I used a scribing tool from Derwent to incise the veins so that going dry over dried wash, I'd have clean bright contrasting lines. That worked great. Last, with several colors per leaf, I went over them detailing and doing the water drops over portions of the yellow leaf.

I'm happy with this and posted it as my entry in the Blick Colored Pencils contest, theme Autumn. Definitely happy with it as the example of my work. Much faster using these techniques than my old colored pencils stuff!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Ari Cat from Life

Ari Cat from Life
8" square Tombow grays on sketchbook

I'll probably add more cat gestures to this page or something, he moved before I could get his body in. This is a typical life pose. He turned his head twice looking to the side and I had to wait for him to look back, then got up and walked away to eat. After all I was only drawing him, not offering yogurt or reaching to pet him. He's not always that keen on posing!

But he will sometimes come back to a pose again and again. I don't think he really minds it either, just knows I need to learn to draw fast!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Pines from Memory

Pines from Memory
Tombow dual tip brush pens on sketchbook

Another fast pines study in Tombow pens, playing with shapes and strokes. I added a contour sketch of a group of pines behind them to complete the page and a bit of water to the right, lake or sea that's calm. Not unhappy with this one, these tree studies. Sometimes less is more. I considered doing something in the sky and decided against it. Maybe next time.

Weather's been doing a number on me and the heavy activity of the past few days was more than my back or hips could take. So I've been taking it easy since I went out that much, the stairs wrecked my knees and the weather's picked up the theme with erratic pressure changes. All adds up to some recovery time, during which sketchbook is a major achievement.

Nanowrimo stalled and choked due to chronic fatigue but I'm not worried, it's still early in the month and always goes this way.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Rose and Rosebud in colored pens

Rose and Rosebud, 8 1/2" x 5 1/2"
Stabilo Point88 washable colored pens on large Moleskine watercolor book

Had fun with the rose reference from smudged-blue on, it was very pale pink with strong yellow-orange depths in the center. So I went about following those hues and was right about the pink Stabilo pen washing out just right for it. 

The background at first I just put several defined leaves hatched and layered in greens, blue, orange, violet. Then decided to fill in around and between all of them with random hatching, a type of background I often used for tonal areas in pen drawing. I used both greens and brown with a few accents in orange and violet because they go so well with green. 

Sure enough they washed out to a great muted midtone but all my inked lines remained strong yet softened. That's an effect I'm very fond of, It looked pretty good dry but the wash let me bring in very pale hues and shade the rose in the lightest parts, something difficult with pen work alone.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Cat, bird and botanical sketches

Ari Cat from Life, Two Views
Pen and watercolor in small Moleskine watercolor journal

Early today before I went out, I saw Ari looking at the wall and sketched him rapidly with the nearest pen, a Pigma Micron. He was so beautiful and his tail went at a lovely angle. Then later I sketched him again in another pose with the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, gave it plenty of time to dry and watercolored with my Lukas 1862 pans set of 48. Combining Sepia and Payne's Grey gave me the smoky middle-dark tones of his tail and back perfectly, his tail is grayer and less brown than his back and his feet have touches of that coolness.

Then I went out on my usual every other Wednesday appointment and got done fast, started playing with the pocket brush pen again in the waiting room using my own photo of a pigeon.

Pigeon in Brush Pen and Derwent Graphitints

I made up the mysterious cool grey of his feathers by using Aubergine violet and a cool blue-green together, then added Dark Indigo in the lower shadows and Cloud Grey over the mix on his back. Legs are Cool Brown, shadow is Cloud Grey, then washed and was very happy with the effect. The bird had an odd little shape of white at the base of his tail that I reserved to keep in. Fun little project. I also got new pigeon photos yesterday on Voting Day along with possibly a seagull among them, won't know till I sort the pictures. 

Botanical sketches in Derwent Graphitints

Finally dispensed with pen work when I noticed some dried leaves on the ground and sketched them. By then I was out in the garden and just intrigued by the dead leaves, rearranged them to my liking. Over where I waited for the van, one lone white flower appealed to me so did that in Graphitints too, using my water brush to pick up some color off a yellow Derwent Art Bar for the bright center of the flower over the initial Chestnut rendering. 

Happy with all these pages, it's a good day when I can journal more than one page and not hate any of the drawings. If you do any art journaling, I'm sure you know the feeling!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Pines and Fall Foliage

Pines and Sumac 8 1/2" x 11"
Tombow pens on sketchbook paper, memory 

Fall Foliage, 8 1/2" x 11" photo by BeeG on WetCanvas
Tombow pens on sketchbook paper

Yesterday was a good day, sketched in the morning with another lesson for my email student on pine structures skeleton and loose rendering, plus some red sumac from memory because I love it. I used the Muted Palette again for this one and liked how it came out. These full page sketches are bolder and a lot of fun.

Then in the evening wrote not one but two short chapters in my Nanowrimo novel, a vampire non-romance titled Forever Mine. Basically it's about a bad relationship and in the early chapters of their hazy limerence, some warning signs are already there. I'm about one day ahead already and that's great, the novel writing challenge is well in hand.

This morning I decided to work from a reference and liked the scattering of bright leaves in BeeG's Fall Foliage photo reference. Changed it to add more pines behind the tree and in the far distance, another demo. Love the way these big bright pages go fast and bold, it's not like doing little sketches in pencil that don't always show up on camera.

Today is Voting Day and tomorrow I've got my appointment, that's going to be a lot of exertion without enough rest in between. Plus this week the exterminator's supposed to be coming to fumigate and clear up the bug problem in my room. That'll take a lot of prep and everything on the shelves needs to get bagged and set aside, some serious disruption both in art and life. Not going to be fun and I'll very likely lose some days to stress and exhaustion in it. There's a limit to what home healht care people can do to help with my art supplies, some stuff I need to pack down myself and hope to get it done before they show up.

So wish me luck on all the overexertion. I may wind up sleeping like my cat when it's all done.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Harvest and Hand Page

Harvest and Hand Page
Tombow dual tip pens in sketchbook, 8 1/2" x 11"

Today tried my second new ten-color set of Tombow pens, the Portrait Palette. I was a little unsure of the pale colors, but very happy with them now. They're quite pale highlight colors. One's yellower than the other, perhaps I should have used that for the overall fill since my hand looks a bit pinkish. But the value range is very nice and I was happily surprised by how well it came out.

I've drawn my own hand from life many times. I get very self conscious of it, sometimes my hands get swollen and puffy from joint problems or other health issues and that irritates me. Today wasn't that bad and at the same time I've gotten much better at sketching - enough that I was surprised at how well it came out after getting true to proportions. On bad days if I drew my hand accurately it looked like a caricature. 

It's also minus a number of errors I used to make on hands. When I got right down to it, sketching my hand was no different from sketching a rose or my cat's leg or anything else. Well, maybe a bit more of an unfamiliar object, my cat's leg and anything else on cats is so easy now because I've done hundreds, maybe thousands of cat sketches first. Still it feels good to recognize all that practice in other things helps in tackling a difficult subject!

Yeah, my hands are funny looking, but I would not trade that for normal hands that couldn't draw this well!

So if you have trouble drawing hands, don't give up! Your best model is the one you aren't using to draw with. The more often you try, the better results you'll get until one day this happens - and your results look like a recognizably human hand! Never mind any sausage fingered successive approximations, the more you sketch, the closer you will come!

Also try to put your hand into a cool pose when you do it. Just splayed flat is a good way to get a blobby starfish with off proportions and weird squiggles for joints. Practice on a lot of different shaped objects just getting the contour line right, then go back to your hand forgetting it's a hand. Don't think of them as fingers and thumb, think of them as shapes of shadow and light, contour lines, overlapping forms. Really don't move your hand till you're done with the outline either, it's hard to get exactly the same pose if you move. Do the contour line first and then any shading or details.

I darkened most of the contour lines to make the drawing show up on a light background but could as easily have sketched a dark background around it. Either way works - and using a background is a way to fix if you get the line a little too wide somewhere. Just carve into it with opaque background color.

Have fun and try this at home!