Thursday, February 20, 2014

Doodling, Lettering & Just Playing Around

I am trying to draw and paint more, it is true.  But I had been trying to make every picture I do a perfect finished product.  I was not spending any time just doodling or screwing around or trying something outside my comfort zone (and possibly failing).  Below are some examples of me just playing around in various medium.

Believe it or not, only two colors were used for this:  pthalo blue and burnt umber.  I do not mix colors well and it is something I am working on.  I saw another artist do a wonderful snow scene using those two colors and I knew I had to try it.  I think the colors on the mountain are quite stunning. I overworked the sky too much but that is okay.

Once upon I was quite the accomplished letterer and calligrapher.  I created wedding invites and seat placement cards.  Alas, my skills have atrophied considerably since high school (as can be seen above).  With the advent of new, high quality yet inexpensive calligraphy pens, I am looking forward to sharpening my skills.  Plus it is fun.

I filled the bottom of this practice sheet with a little line work using two different weight faber-castell markers (XS and S).  Then I decided to play around with watercolor and grey marker.  I like the figure and his stance (how he is shifting his weight on one leg) and I like the line work on the rocks he is standing on as well as the distant mountain. Not sure if the color adds anything, but that was not the point, the point was just to be creative.  

This doodle was done with several different brown/sepia inks, everything from marker to Winsor & Newton peat brown ink with a speed ball nib and even a little conte crayon for good measure.  As has been abundantly clear, I love brown/sepia inks.  This was just me playing with a bunch of tools that I have acquired over the last decade.

Below is some details of the page. I like the variety of lines that can be achieved with a dip pen or brush.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Half a Moose

The reference photo I used was cropped and only showed half of the moose.  Rather than fill the caboose of the moose myself, I decided to leave half a moose.  It gives it a weird, ethereal vibe that I quite like, especially with the light washes.

As with the backyard tree, I used a simple color palette of browns (raw sienna, burnt umbar and van dyke brown) but added a splash of green for contrast and pop.

                 Pen & ink and watercolor on 246 lbs acrylic linen paper 9x12

Here is the initial sketch using winsor & newton peat brown ink and kuretake comic pen nib G model.  Lately, I have been using a variety of markers to draw as they are convenient and portable.  I forgot how wonderful it is to draw with a dip pen and nibs.  You cannot produce the variety of weighted lines with a marker that you can with a nib.  Much of line work is obscured by the watercolor washes, but that is okay.  It was still fun to do them.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

To Make an End is to Make a Beginning -- The Return of Pastels

Pastel painting is my true passion.  While I am enjoying watercolor immensely, working in pastels is where I feel most expressive.  Hard to believe it has been nearly a decade since I have painted a landscape in pastels and 2 years since this.

This is another Key West sunset, taken while on a Wine and Wind sailing tour.  It was a great time and a perfect end to a wonderful day.  I had debated about trying this sky in watercolor, but ultimately I felt I could do it more justice in pastels.  Plus, my beautiful Unison pastels have sat neglected long enough.

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
TS Eliot
Little Gidding

                                     Pastel on paper mounted on board 16x20

The room set up and photo reference.  Since I have flattened my high school easel for my watercolor work, I am using a table top easel for the pastels.  I like this new set up as it allows me to paint in watercolor or pastels, without wasting time finding my tools.  If you look closely, you will notice the sky in the photo is different from the final, I felt the color gradation was too jarring and needed to be softened.

 A detailed close up of the setting sun. I blended some of the colors in the clouds to give them a more atmospheric look while left the strokes in the water rougher to show motion.  Notice how the grain of the pastel paper peaks thru in some areas, but not in others.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

The Road Less Traveled By

Outside my window, beyond the tree and stockade fence is a protected wooded area that will never be built on or developed.  It is a little piece of sylvan space in our urban sprawl, and I love to peer at it from my perch in the art room. It always inspires me and makes me smile.

In the course of the last few weeks, I have been going through the accumulated wealth of art supplies that I have purchased in the past decades, from as far back as high school to now.  One of the treasures that I found was my Ames Lettering Guide from back in the day when we did not have fancy-smancy computer fonts and I hand drew calligraphy.  And since the view outside my window always makes me think of Robert Frost's famous poem, I decided to add the first and last two lines of the poem to this sketch using the lettering guide.  It was much fun.

                                  Pen and Ink, Watercolor on paper 10x7


Saturday, February 01, 2014

Tiger, Tiger

TIGER, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
The Tiger
William Blake

I bought a bunch of new paints, including several different greens (yes, I know, if I was better at mixing colors, I would not need so many greens. . .but new paints are cool) and I have had a photo of a tiger for years. It was the perfect excuse to use the new greens.

I love drawing big cats and tigers most of all, but this is the first time I have painted one.  It came out a bit more "cartoony" then I wanted (his face is a bit too long, more like a lion's), but I can see several technical improvements in my painting from even a year ago.  I like how the colors are layered on top of each other (wet-on-dry) and the brush work on the stripes.  It has truly been a long time since I drew directly with a brush.

Watercolor on 140lbs watercolor block 9x12