Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Feathers sketch

Feathers pen sketches on paper

Some fountain pen sketches of two loose feathers picked up outside. The chickens molt and their feathers float around the yard, one was curled and fluffy, the other straight and smooth. One has a gorgeous green iridescence over black that I will paint one day, the black chickens are so spectacular, the other feather was nearly white but I didn't try to convey value.

Still down with a pretty bad bug, very annoyed to be sick with so much going on and so many artistic things I want to do.

Using my fountain pen daily should help avoid its drying out and clogging, even if I only scribble or doodle.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Cats and Other Life Drawings

 Cats in Pen 3 1/2" x 5"

 Hens and small objects in fountain pen

These two pages are today's art. I've come down with a brutal cold that has me exhausted, aching, snuffling, miserable and nauseated. Yet today I got outside ad sketched with a fountain pen my friend Stan gave me - it's awesome. I love the expressive line. Fountain pens are unique for sketching and give a livelier line than Pigma Microns.

Pencil sketch of trees on printer paper

Yesterday I started Johannes Vloothuis's class "Essentials of Drawing Landscapes." He insisted on our using printer paper, so I turned over a Blick package inventory list and used that. It had to do with the texture of the paper being smoother than vellum drawing paper. His sketch methods are quirky and unique to him but fascinating.

Unfortunately due to the bug I fell asleep after two hours of class, so I will have to catch up on it by downloading. Managed to attend half of it though!

I hate being sick and will still struggle to do daily art.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Cats from Life in Pen

Kitten Kyra and Cat Ari sleeping condensed

While looking for Bombay India Ink Pen Cleaner, I went through all my tubs and found where the cats hid the three big Catnip Carrots. Flung those out into the room and the kitten went crazy. All three played wildly but that kitten was ridiculous, doing somersaults and handstands while strangling, kicking, chewing and washing it.

She wobbled and chased the cats around. Even grumpy matriarch China got silly and chased the kitten. Much feline gaiety later, they all crashed out so solidly they held still for more than two minutes! So I had to sketch them. I didn't pencil first either, both are just pen sketches.

The other page I did wasn't pretty, just swirls and bits of calligraphy practice and lines of block lettering in various colors in crowquill. A disorganized color chart for my Bombay India Inks. I should have just replaced the wheel of inks, got most of them anyway. But they're a little easier to store not in the wheel. Had fun with them sorting out and putting away all my new scribal goodies. 

One of my next projects will involve cleaning out my wooden scribe box to have a good place to keep these inks and dip pens and things!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Stallion and Dogs from Life

Ballpoint pen sketches of horse head two poses, dogs, hooves and feet.

Today I played with a bigger sketchbook, 9" x 12" and sketched in ballpoint pen so that I'd have a loose expressive line without worrying about pressing too hard. That can be a problem with brush tip pens or Pigma Microns, if I get carried away I mash the tips and lose their precision. I have a heavy hand. Works well in ballpoint where by going lightly I can sometimes get a nice halftone scribble too.

The paper isn't one of my beautiful archival journals or sketchbooks either, it's just a 30 sheet sketch paper pad that specifically says for illustration or perfecting techniques. It doesn't even say Acid Free. Anything that comes out really well on this probably ought to get sprayed in Make It Acid Free buffer from Krylon.

My daughter trimmed two horses at that stop, but the two year old filly was restless and bounced around a lot. Her owner was in the way of her face for most of it though I got her hooves. The stallion was sweet, patient and calm. He kept moving his head between those two poses so I was able to draw his face well. That owner also has four super friendly dogs and I sketched some of them as well, may eventually draw them all. They're fun.

Earlier we visited and she trimmed some Clydesdales. They were gorgeous and if I'd been a bit more awake I'd have drawn them too. Definitely want to have a go next time! The owner's a new customer who breeds Clydesdales and likes Kitten a lot so we'll be back in six to eight weeks looking after the giant sweet tempered horses. Maybe next time I'll sit a bit closer to them and find a good vantage point. They were stunning and very mellow.

You don't need expensive supplies to start up daily life sketching. Bob Davies recommends using the back sides of printouts and letters you get, just stick them in a report holder and sketch with whatever pen or pencils some company gave you for free. We have access to almost unlimited sketching materials.

Back in Leonardo da Vinci's time, paper was rare and all of it 100% rag expensive stuff not much cheaper than parchment. Sketchbook space thus was limited and his page layouts show it. I've been getting into medieval and Renaissance art lately - but one thing about it is a reminder of how lucky I am to have the copious supplies I do and wonderful vivid pigments with a wide variety of effects.

My Blick order came today, two days faster than the guaranteed date. I'm back to being close to a distribution center in a state that's not charging sales tax on it! Whee! It was so much fun. About a third of the order was goodies for Sascha, bound sketchbook, calligraphy pens, Pitt Artist Pens, manga paper and her own Pentel Pocket Brush Pen.

Remember how I struggled with that for a month before I began taming its thick-thin line? My granddaughter Sascha got it on her first try and loved it. She turned those big brown kitty eyes on me and bounced at me. I had to get her one for herself, she promptly used it last night to fill the first page of her sketchbook with a close-up big anime face. Well, eye, nose and hair, very emotional ECU on a character's eye. Striking design. The kid still has extraordinary natural composition skills.

I'm fondly looking at ten redundant colored inks knowing that this time I'm going to use them a lot more often. Once my stuff comes down from the attic it'll be fun, I'll have some to share when bringing this stuff to SCA events to the scribe table. Art is fun at home but even more fun out with other artists!

Plus I've got the gold leafing kit now, but I have a contest to enter that won't involve using it so that can just sit to the side for its own projects. April 16 is a contest for Pre-Print design - three different award scrolls need an original design in pen on paper that'll be printed up for volunteers to color. This is actually period, the calligrapher, gold leafer and painter weren't always the same person. Some people don't do calligraphy, just enjoy painting pre-prints.

I like doing my own illumination, the painting and gold details are the fun part after the stress of avoiding errors in calligraphy. In drawing, I make fewer errors and fixes are easier. I pencil first of course but I don't try to copy the shapes of calligraphy letters in pencil and work to those - though I might for the Pre-Print Competition. I want to create entries for all three of the awards, in the hope one of mine will win and be used regularly, colored and painted by lots of people all over the region.

I always wondered who designed the pre-prints and how they were chosen. Now I know and it's a great system. I need to do some offline research too and make it a nice authenticity project because I'm up against people like university professors who have been doing scrolls and research for decades.Against that, I have, basically, art and design experience. It's a fair challenge, a real stretch! I will be happy if any of them win and glad to have entered if none do. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Cats in Pen from Life

Ari and Kyra, cat and kitten drawn from life

Today's daily art is little life drawings of both my cats, old fluffy Ari boy and young Kyra the Bumble Kitten. She's now wearing a collar that Sasha made for her, hasn't objected to it at all. Looks cute on her and does break the smooth line of her neck fur slightly.

Her contours and markings are tricky because she's in constant motion and usually folding or bending or jumping. Her gestures are graceful but I'm mostly drawing them from memory even while watching her!

The other thing I did today was begin designing my next scroll project and choosing a text. Haven't decided yet but did figure out one of the figures will be a cat washing herself and got a good gesture sketch on the practice paper. That sketch is too light to photo well but when I get to drawing it on good paper I may get a photo - or might wait till the entire scroll is done for photos. Depends on what I feel like doing at the time and whether I did other art on any given day.

For today I was still productive and thus happy.

Tomorrow supplies arrive!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Goat and Cat Pen Drawings

 Nubian goat Cara resting, from memory in pen

Nubian Goat Cara resting, Ari Cat full body and face, all from life, 

Today was an exercise in visual memory. I stepped outdoors for a smoke and saw Cara the Nubian Goat resting in the goat pen on her side. She looked interesting and though her features were hard to see in the light, she made a great silhouette with her pale gray ear distinctive. So I studied the lines of her shape, just watched her for a while, then came in and drew her immediately.

If you do this with things that you see outdoors or on the road, it speeds up life drawing a lot. You're not at a loss when the bird or animal moves. Very often life drawings get finished with the memory of a pose I just saw because the stupid bird will fly away or the cat will roll over and tuck his head down so that a second sketch would just be a furry rounded lump.

Naturally I was curious about how accurate my memory drawing was, so I went back outside to see if Cara had moved. She hadn't moved much, though she stretched her neck out to look at me. I think she'd been watching the road before, her neck wasn't that long at first. Sketched her fast outdoors, then came in and saw my fuzzy boy crashed on the back of our futon. Had to sketch the beautiful, contented Ari cat again, he just demands that sometimes with his beauty. 

He's now in an un-drawable pose up on top of the bookcase with his fluffy knees up, back a soft curve between them and tail tucked under his butt - sort of a furry lump slopping over the edge and recognizable more by color than anything else. Otherwise I might stop for yet another life drawing!

Both of these pages are on my Borden & Riley Drawing Pad, sized 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" and perforated. I love those little drawing pads, they are so convenient for life drawings and tempt me to sketch immediately by not being so large I'd have to do a lot of things to fill a page or work large. For anyone who likes to work small they're wonderful. Unfortunately, Blick discontinued them so I don't know where else I can get them. May have to go back to cutting ATC/ACEO blanks out of larger paper or buying those in packs.

I'm back to daily art again, what a relief! The big scroll project occupied me to the extent of blocking out the impulse to draw anything else until I finally decided to sketch first before working on the scroll. I'm not used to large projects any more, though I was back when I used to do scrolls regularly. Now I'm going to do more of them and try to establish a rhythm of working on longer projects. I'll still post them when they're done and progress photos when I need to say to myself "I got something done!"

Scroll progress is part of daily art. Large projects don't need to be completed to count as daily art. I must get used to that idea and not get intimidated by them!