Sunday, January 31, 2016

Scroll Finished in Gouache and Pen

Award of Arms Scroll painted and finished

Detail - gold and red ornamented capital A letter

The grand finish on my Award of Arms scroll for the Society for Creative Anachronism.  I also got a detail photo of the big gold capital A in progress, though taking that photo showed me I needed to do a second layer of the gold. 

I used a 23.75kt gold dot from Jerry's Artarama, called "shell gold" because in the Middle Ages you would get gold ground fine as a pigment from a goldsmith, mix it with gum arabic and store it in a clamshell till it's used. Basically watercolor in which the pigment is real powdered gold. The best gold paint ever, anywhere, actual gold made into paint. 

Awesome cool and I always loved using it. These projects for the SCA let me really have fun with this sort of thing. Some scribes copy from medieval sources directly. I tend to freehand them and adapt designs and motifs, sometimes create my own in the spirit of the originals. This one combines style elements from more than one page in the same document, the Luttrell Psalter, dated to between 1320-1340 AD. 

Award of Arms is given for service to the society, which is extraordinary in the amount of credit and applause given to people who cook or clean up after events and meetings, do the paperwork of event permits and organize things. One way to gain rank is to be a really good fighter, win lots of tournaments and teach fighting and related arts. Another is the Arts & Sciences, my path, getting good at medieval arts and teaching them. Third is Service - the folks who check people in at events, cook and serve feasts, clean up after events, always stay late and get things done when people need help. Award of Arms is the start of getting rank in the Society - but if you'd notice, all three paths involve some sort of altruism, at least teaching people in your branch.

It's a unique balance that makes for well run, luxurious events that cost relatively little to attend compared to say a Renfaire, but are totally immersive. I've enjoyed it whenever I had access to it - something that takes having a car or a reliable ride to the local group, so that varied. If my housemates or the people giving rides weren't into it, I didn't really get involved. When they do, I love it.

This is going to dovetail nicely with my equine studies too because regionally the group's got a lot of equestrian activities - and that means painting or drawing knights on horses wearing gorgeous caparisons, but my own pride means I want to draw them and their steeds as accurately as Leonardo da Vinci or Botticelli, not as sort of awkward "hooved cat" animals. 

This is becoming a good chunk of my offline social life and it's a lot of fun. So watch for more medieval calligraphy and illumination among my posts. I've finally got my stuff together for it!

Dip pen came into it again with the pretty red decorations on the big letter. I used a Crowquill dip pen, which is the small handle with the teeny tiny pointy nib. Those are fun, like using Pigma Microns or Rapidographs but changing colors fast and easy, wipe with a facial tissue easy! I didn't have red ink yet so used Vermilion watercolor, which matched the Vermilion gouache that I used in the border and harmonized the big letter with the border. Now that it's finished I'm very happy with the colors in it!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Cara the Nubian Goat - pen drawing

Nubian Goat head and neck in pen drawing

Today I went to some photos I got earlier of my daughter's farm animals and chose a good face reference of Cara the Nubian Goat. When I was getting the photo she was standing off in a good full body position but I walked closer so she came right up to the fence. She's very friendly! Wanted pets and attention, some raisins if I had any, which I didn't. So next time I'll bring raisins out. Getting a full body photo of her without the fence in between might be tricky!

Though if I sketch from life I might manage to forget the fence. There's always that!

It's fun drawing these critters. Warming up my pen drawing for more SCA scroll work, need to do some good calligraphy soon! I'd like to have that scroll done well before Gulf Wars and send it with my daughter when she goes to that week long event in March. Maybe even have two scrolls done before she leaves, but that's looking a bit dodgy unless I can pick up the pace. One at a time!

Update - I did get going on the scroll and did the hardest part - the calligraphy with a dip pen. The big fancy capital A is more drawing and pretty easy as it's penciled out and designed. The painting once that's done will be a breeze, it's just painting in gouache and fairly simple, not even a lot of shading so much as coloring and then freshen the lines with the Pigma Micron again. But the calligraphy had me sweating and stressed, the farther I got with it the more I dreaded making an irreparable mistake. A couple of lower case A's that need definition can be cleaned up with a small brush and some white later on.

Award of Arms scroll in progress with calligraphy done and border inked.

I'm very happy with how it looks. It'll be even better once the border design is painted. I might add a few gold details at the end.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Animal sketches and nature

 Gum Ball, Horse and Rooster Page pen and ink

Horse and Goat line drawings, pen on paper

Pigma micron pens and a small Pentalic wirebound journal in hand, yesterday I got in some good drawings. The first 3 1/2" x 5" page has a Gum Ball - seed head from a sweet gum tree - drawn carefully in pen and ink with stark black shading for its shadowed half. It looked really interesting. Same page I sketched a horse from a small plastic model Sascha lent me and a rooster from my own photo. The rooster's fairly detailed and recognizable, he's the sweet tame one who's not good for breeding because he's an odd mix instead of a pure Lavender Marin. 

Unfortunately, roosters can't be neutered without an operation harder than spaying a female cat, vets just can't do it with how they're built. So he's probably for the pot since he shouldn't breed. Sad really.

Second sketch page has a horse from life just in a clean contour drawing above a La Mancha goat buck also in contour drawing. I could paint either with any color or markings I wanted but kept those drawings simple. I'm still familiarizing myself with their anatomy. 

As I go out on horse shoeing trips with my daughter Kitten, I'll be doing more horse gestures and other farm animals. This is fun. Got a cool photo of our own goat Kara, the pretty horned one. She's black with pale gray-white ears and a slightly crooked horn, all the other goats are dehorned so I'll be basing goat horns mostly on Kara's. She's a different breed from the others too but I don't remember off hand, will post when I ask again since I forgot. Heh, fibro fog zaps my memory on too many things but the body proportions of the farm creatures are starting to become familiar!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Scroll border

Scroll border 

Well, been out of touch for a while partly due to weather and partly activity. Not much art but lots of outdoor activity. I went to a one day SCA event last Saturday and came back all stoked for medieval art again. 

I'd penciled this scroll border starting on the first event I went to a few weeks ago, then finished penciling sometime in between. Today I finally inked it and though I don't have a photo of it, put in guidelines and text layout, then penciled the text for an Award of Arms scroll. This is a Society for Creative Anachronism award given for service to the club by the particular Kingdom and the Kingdom always needs more of them done. 

I designed it after a manuscript page in the Luttrell Psalter that I copied out of a book that's currently up in the attic. I'll be matching the calligraphy to its period and hand lettering with a dip pen most likely, having gotten to play with them putting names on scrolls at the event. Found out I was still good at black letter calligraphy, the Old English type of style actually named Quadrata Textura.

So I'll be replacing my dip pens since those are buried, or getting extras if I can find them. I put a Speedball Calligraphy Set on my next Blick order and will be getting it soon to take advantage of the current huge coupon - 25% off orders over $225 is huge. I often plan orders to be $200 or more to get the 20% off coupons but they just beat that, so I'll be saving even more on everything.

I got somewhat blocked by working on this scroll, procrastinated on the inking but didn't sketch anything else till I got to this point on it. Now I may have to wait for the pens so I'll go ahead and sketch, paint, draw whatever comes to hand. Today was a really good day. 

Had some bitter cold days where my hands ached too much to do anything but today wasn't bad at all. Hopefully milder weather will continue - and hopefully I'll keep posting more often as I get back into daily art or art related activity.

I've got no more excuses since my stuff actually is unpacked and organized too!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Equine Studies

 Left side page, pencil on paper

Right side page, pencil on paper
Large watercolor Moleskine journal.

I did these pages a couple of days ago while out at one of my daughter's horse shoeing stops. Stu is a show horse, very beautiful and graceful. He was well behaved while his owner held his head and my daughter trimmed his hooves and nailed his new shoes on. She actually did a bunch of horses that day but my fibro caught up with me so I didn't do any more sketches.

I meant to pen and watercolor these, but once I was finished I decided I liked the look of the pencil drawings as themselves. Sometimes that happens even in a watercolor journal.

It's part of art to know when to stop. These pages are good in themselves and while I may work from them or from any sketch on them, graphite lasts as well as anything else I could put on them. Might spray fixative since I'm keeping the graphite but I'll take it outdoors in the daytime for that.

Having finally gotten all moved in, I shouuld be posting more often now and will try to get back to daily art! It was hard for about a month, even though I did quite a few drawings getting photos wasn't always easy and sometimes I forgot to date them. So let's go forward from here!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Cats and Horses - Changed Plans

 Kitten Kyra ATC colored pencils on paper

Horses page, large Moleskine watercolor journal, coffee and watercolor

Well, plans change! Sorry I haven't been posting. I have barely been online since I moved on December 18th, 2015. Running aronnd offline traveling across the continent and then getting all my stuff sorted out meant very little online time.

My original plan was to stay in my daughter's house for a few days, at least till after Christmas, then rent a house at the amazing low rate of $200 a month and live comfortably on my disability payments, reduced by local cost of living adjustment. That budget does work in my favor, because the California increase was not adequate to the real costs of living in San Francisco. My budget here would have been better even in the house with all the bills. I used the last California-sized check to buy furniture for the house.

Then the owner decided not to move to New Mexico after all. Meanwhile I'd been out to the house and daunted by the fact that the driveway had a gate in it down a long rutted country lane that I could not walk that far on a good day to let in a guest, plus they'd have to phone me to get me out there to do so. Forget picking up mail, there wasn't even a mail box. Just some more lane going past a single neighbor's house that opened onto a real road right next to the post office. The people who live there do a lot of hiking.

I do not. I would need to use my power chair to go that far if it was paved, which it wasn't. I'd also need it to get from one end of the way too large house to the other and be heating or cooling enough house for half a dozen people on one disability check when I'm too sick to handle either extreme cold or heat. It would be a wonderful deal for a spry, healthy person who likes hiking and has a strong constitution for weather, plus a car. For a can't drive mobility impaired guy it would have created total dependence on my daughter every single day for everything and if anything went wrong, having to go out in Weather to get a cell phone signal. It was a nice house, but I could not live there anyway. There was no way to tell till I got here. 

So I moved into my daughter's house. I've been doing horse drawings and occasional chickens since I arrived. Yesterday we finished the massive task of unpacking everything in the stuff from the horse trailer and getting it sorted into the shed, the house or the attic. Some things I'm just sharing with the family. My five glass vases are up safely out of cat range with her glass pitchers and vases, seen and not wrecked in the kitchen. Kitchen stuff is stored or shared. Clothes in a tub tucked out of the way.

Art supplies amazingly mostly came inside after everything was said and done. I've got a few things out in the shed but all oils and acrylics are in here, all stored art is in the attic with framed pictures, almost all pastels, colored pencils and oil pastels are in here with me. I'm pretty sure all watercolors are too. There's stuff stored in the attic that I was planning on unpacking over at the rental house, but that's all staying in the attic. Anything that cold or heat would permanently damage is inside. 

I'm not sure if the spray fixative cans survived being out in the cold. One can of fixative that got left by a friend in a car after an art meeting during a Kansas winter became unusably cloudy after the freezing and thawing, but if they are, I can replace them. I should check them before I place my next Blick order. Pretty sure the Spectrafix doesn't work that way, but will find out. Everything else came through pretty well. There were a lot of things far more expensive than fixative cans that I was worried about cold, heat and moisture damaging that came through all right. Some papers and books seemed slightly damp but nothing got too warped and it'll flatten as it dries.

From several days before the move till now I've been overdoing it, on my feet too long doing too much every day. I can finally rest. Will get back to blogging regularly from here on out, back to daily as soon as I can. Now that I'm all in one place I can start working on having a set of habits again!

The posted art - little Kyra is Ari's new friend, a several months old kitten found and rescued at the rental house. Best thing about the rental house thing was finding Bumble Kitten. Ari cat loves her and he plays with her often. Colored pencils on paper. The horses are from life from riding along on my daughter's horse riding trips. I finally got coffee dark enough to give me a good mid value by using boiled down coffee that got left on the coffee maker too long! It's probably even darker now that it's evaporated for some days. Loved coffee paintings but had never successfully gotten dark ones done before!