Sunday, August 31, 2008

Figure Drawing Techniques...6

Ok it's not a's a puppy...but the basic principle of figure drawing can be applied here as well. These four photos show the progress just from an hour of sketching - I have a ways to go - but I thought I'd show you how I got started.

This is a cute grey dog, whose breed I'll have to post later cuz I forgot. It is a custom portrait for a gift - I can't wait for the owner to see it!

I started on medium grey matt board. The first few minutes is just getting the gesture of the body correct. Making sure I have enough negative space around the dog to allow for framing. (the pictures are cropped...actual page is larger)

Then I slowly block in areas of shadow. This is done with vine charcoal which is very easy to manipulate and erase if necessary.
I follow that by further defining the major shadows and shapes, being sure to work on the whole dog as to keep proportions acurate.

I start to further define the toes, ears eyes and nose, using a hard charcoal pencil.

I slowly add the highlight, again thinking of the whole dog. I want to develop the whole portrait at once - not get caught up in just the eyes or the paws, which can be very easy to do.

So that is where I am now...I will keep you posted on my progress! And here's a shot of where I was working. At the kitchen table. Even though I have a studio in the basement. But it was hot down there! And there's AC up here! Cut me some slack!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Figure Drawing Techniques...5

Black and white figure drawings can lead to succesful figure drawings in color. Black and white allows you to focus on proportion and a range of value. When you add color, there is a whole new element that you must study in order to use it succesfully.

The color phenomenon that I want to talk about here is the relationship of blue and red, and how the pairing of blue and red can enhance a drawing.
In this figure drawing, there were two different light sources falling accross the figure. If I treated the light the same way on both sides of the figure, the figure would have appeared flat. By choosing to have a warm (red) side and a cool blue side, it adds dimension to the figure.

Red and blue have a jarring personality - take a bright true blue and place it next to a true red and your eye vibrates a little. The eye does not read red and blue in the same way, causing a vibration (this phenomenon always makes me think of 3D glasses). As artists we can use this to our advantage.

When you have a highlight, such as the one on her hand, you can make the white highlight "pop" a little by using a shade of red on one side and a shade of blue on the other.

Highlights will appear brighter if you use a warm color on one side and a cool color on the other.

Fellow artists - have you used red and blue with a purpose? Share your work and your technique! Post a comment and a link to your work!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Favorite New Word

OK. Sometimes what Jack says makes me laugh...

He got out a deck of number-flash cards that his Aunt Vienna gave him (even though they have Disney Princesses on them...go figure) and was saying all the numbers. So I'm watching and listening


"Fifteen, buddy"


"Uh Jack...that's a ten"

Zeroteen. Definitly my new favorite word.

(Click on the title to see Jack painting!)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Latest Commission

I'm just getting started on a commission for a local auction house. The owner has asked for a view from the back of the auction house in the style of Leroy Neiman - lots of color and exciting brushwork, not too much detail on the faces.

So here's the start! And now I hear Arianna waking up so that's all I can share for now!

Saturday, August 23, 2008 little ones

I'm not posting everyday or creating everyday, here's why...

and I think it's a pretty good excuse :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Figure Drawing Techniques...4

One thing I encourage my students to pursue is a extensive DRAWING LANGUAGE. This means that you have multiple styles, techniques, tools, applications, and experiences to draw from when you are creating. If you only ever knew how to use a graphite pencil and make realistic portraits, then that is all you will ever do. But if you start drawing with charcoal...or pastel...or watercolor...then try to be abstract...or will find that the more knowledge you have about materials, techniques and styles, the broader your range becomes, the more succesful your art becomes.

Of all the things I invest my money in, the things that bring me the best bang for my buck are my art books. One book that has introduced me to a broad range of style and technique is "Drawing From Life" by Clint Brown and Cheryl McLean. I've had mine for 11 years and I still love to absorb information from it's pages.

From this book, a few of the techniques I've tried... (my drawings are on the left - click on any image to view it larger)

Drawing with a geometric the drawing done by Lin Xiang (who was actually one of my undergrad profs!) .

Drawing using a wide variety of the drawing by Jim Dine.

Creating drama with light and the drawing by Sidney Goodman.

There are probably hundreds of ideas to try and grow from in this book. If you're learning about drawing the figure or have done figure drawing for years and feel like you need a jolt of inspiration, check this book out!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Happy BIrthday!

Now I feel two youngest siblings (there are six of us altogether) share the same birthday exactly a year apart. Today Carmen turned 23 and Jessica turned 22. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

In honor of me getting to post whatever I want on your are two portraits of them I shot while taking intro to photography at Buffalo State College. They were really good models! Of course they were young enough back then to still do what big sister told them to do...
Love you guys! Happy Birthday!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Why buy original art?

This is an excellent composition/essay on why you should buy original art. Bravo to the author!!!!

Getting ready for my next show

I have to get some framing done! I've had two drawings selected for a juried show held by the Atlanta Fine Art League.
If you've never heard of the Atlanta Fine Art League, check them out! I've also done a portrait for their Art From the Heart Project. An amazing group of portrait artists have done free portraits of fallen soldiers for their families. The display has traveled all over Georgia, including Stone Mountain and the Governor's Mansion.
If you are a portrait artist in Georgia and you would like to do a portrait, visit the website to review the volunteer process. If you are outside Georgia, there are many organizations doing this type of project - I'm sure you can find one that would greatly appreciate your time and talent!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Story of Anne's Portrait

The total number of portraits I have created is probably well into the triple digits. The vast majority are pretty traditional, realistic portraits drawn from photographs. Every once in a while I have a client who really lets me have some fun! My good friend and fellow artist Geri has eight children, and numerous grandchildren, and I think she's determined to have me paint every single one! That's cool with me!

My favorite portrait for Geri so far was the one of her daughter, Annie. Geri sent me a pile of photos. Most of them were snapshots, and Anne was too far away to get really good details in her face. She did send this one photo that was a great close-up, even though it was older. The only problem with using this photo as a reference was the color- it was pretty washed out, and there wasn't a lot of light/shadow to define the contours of her face.

So I searched for other sources of inspiration to merge with the photo of Annie and create an interesting custom portrait.

I found this image (I think it's Drew Barymore) in a magazine and LOVED the colors and the light and shadows on her face. I also adore the work of Francisco Clemente (I first saw his work in the movie "Great Expectations" with Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow). I love the exagerated eyes and the combination of line and color.

So, going back to Annie, I worked on watercolor paper mounted to foam core and started layering all of these elements into her portrait - drawing with charcoal and pastel and painting with watercolors and acrylics. I think I ended up with a unique and beautiful portrait that went way beyond just copying a photo.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Figure Drawing Techniques...3

Developing a complete range of light and shade on a figure drawing can be a daunting task when you are working under time constraints. One technique I love is actually starting on toned paper.

By beginning on a medium grey or tan surface, I can add both highlights and shadows to the form, creating a sculptural feel to the model. On a light grey surface my favorite highlight is actually a very soft blue. I've also used light purple which gives a cool effect.

It's important to remember to slowly develop your lights and darks - saving the brightest and deepest spots until the very end. Also, always consider the whole figure at one time. I have been in many situations where I made one part of the figure look fantastic, only to realize it didn't match the rest of the body!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Portrait Drawing from the Live Model

Earlier this summer I had a show of my Figure Drawings at Ann Litrel Art in downtown Woodstock, GA. As part of the Opening Reception I did a live portrait drawing demonstration. And, just in case I wasn't nervous enough, I was using a sanded-textured paper, a surface I don't normally use.
Sarah was a beautiful model, the lighting created interesting shadows and I actually enjoyed the surface I was using. I really enjoy drawing from a live model verses drawing a portrait from a photograph. There is a sense of life, vitality, and of the moment that you are engaging with the model. Drawing portraits from a photograph has it's own set of challenges, and I find that I can overcome those challenges if I continue to draw from the live model.

One of my favorite portrait drawings from the last year was this one of Shanti. Her hair style, the rich colors in her skintone, the beautiful gesture of the hand - I love every element of this drawing.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Figure Drawing Techniques...2

Constance Payne. Or as I referred to her in my mind - Constant Pain. She was a professor of painting/drawing during undergrad school. Half the time I couldn't tell if she was my biggest supporter or my worst enemy. But at the end of the day, when it came to improving our drawings, she was always right. I hated that.

Connie taught my 3rd semester of figure drawing. By this time I felt like I was doing a pretty good job of drawing naked people. By the second class, Connie shouted that "you are allterrible!! There's no volume in your drawings! You're drawing cartoons!" and dismissed the model. She then announced that we will not go back to drawing the figure until we master something much more difficult. The egg carton.

WHAT??? An egg carton? But I've been drawing the figure for TWO WHOLE SEMESTERS! That's awful! So for two whole weeks all we drew were the insides and outsides of egg cartons.
When we went back to drawing the figure, I began to notice that I looked at a knee a whole new way - it wasn't just a bend in a leg, it was the same shape as that bottom of the little cup that holds an egg. So is a shoulder. And so is the tip of the nose. The parts of the human body aren't flat, but multi-dimensional. There are numerous plannar changes that create the volume of the figure.

And The drawings DID improve. I was no longer creating outlines of a human form, but the volume of the form. My figures were no longer paper dolls, but sculptural and dense. Eventually they became less geometric and more organic, but the principals of planar changes still held true.

Constant Pain. Ya gotta love her.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

My One Month Etsy Anniversary

It has now been a whole month since I have joined etsy...with all the forums, tag updating, picture uploading, blog research, team joining, treasury making, and everything else that goes along with trying to make a name for yourself in cyberspace, I'm left with this...

when will I ever have time to play spider solitaire?????

But the good news is - I sold my first Original Pastel thru my Etsy site - yay! I will miss this drawing, but I'm also excited for it's new owner - up in Corning, NY!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Artistry...a hereditary talent

This group of drawings represents three different generations of artists in my family. The more traditional figure drawing on the left was done by my great grandfather in Warsaw, Poland over 50 years ago. The more abstract female nude was drawn by his daughter - my great aunt Barbara - also in Poland. And the more colorful figure drawing I did about 4 years ago. I love the way they resonate with each other and our styles - though vastly different - all have similar elements. I especially like the way my shoulder and the shoulder on Barbara' drawing have almost the exact same line leading down to the hand.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Living With Original Art

My husband and I have moved a few times. Buffalo to Fort Worth, then to Poquoson, VA, and now to Woodstock, GA. In each house, it started to feel like home as I hung up my art on the walls. I also have lots of beautiful pottery (although some is hiding until little fingers stop being so destructive) and some very cool switchplate covers. All of these pieces were either bought or traded from fellow artists. When I look around my home, I don't just see art - I see the people who created it, I remember their stories, and the fun I had sharing our work and experiences as artists.

I love it when a piece of mine finds it's (okay a little over the top here) destined home. I had that experience with a fellow artist, and collector, who used corsettes as subject mater for some of her sculptures. She bought a large painting of mine for her master bedroom. The colors, the frame, the relationship to her sculptures - my painting had found it's home.

Sometimes it is hard to let go of a piece that I feel strongly about. Either it was a struggle and I overcame the problem, or the subject matter was special to me, or I just fell in love with the piece. One of the most difficult things is having the confidence in yourself to let something go. I must believe that I have more great works ahead of me, and that my art cannot exit only for me.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Few Recent Pieces

I've been lucky enought o have found a great group of talented and supportive artists here north of Atlanta (that would be OTP...not ITP for my fellow Georgians). We draw a couple times a week from the live model - when the weather is not too oppressive! So right now we are taking a break while the August nights are sweltering, but here are a couple of drawings I did before the summer got too hot.

These are both drawings of a model named Mike, who is THE BEST model I have worked with in the 15 years I have been drawing from live models. He is truly dedicated to his craft - he knows that's it's more than just holding still - he researches poses, brings supports, props and blankets, and genuinly understands that he is a vital part of the artistic process. Thanks Mike!

And how do I repay you? By turning you into a human pretzel! The picture on the left of Mike turning away was only a 30 minute pose - I can't believe he held it that long! The standing pose was two hours - the light and shadow were beautiful.

The pretzel pose was my idea...the standing pose was decided on before I got to the drawing session....Mike now has terror in his eyes if I arrive on time!!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Figure Drawing Techniques...1

I love to draw and paint the figure. I also love to teach figure drawing and painting. There are several techniques that I routinely employ, both as lessons and in my own drawings. Hey - I promise never to make my students do something I wouldn't do!

A typical session of figure drawing will start with quick - gesture - poses, that usually last anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes. These drawings are important for several reasons - they get the artist to really look at the figure and assess the large shapes quickly, they warm the artist up, getting them familiar with the materials, and the model. Any athlete will tell you - the warm-up is a vital part of the game.

It took me a long time and a lot of classes to start to embrace gesture drawing - but now I love the pages of gesture drawings, sometimes even more than my pages of drawing longer poses.

One gesture technique that I find very effective is "thick and thin" - blocking or massing in the largest shapes of the figure using a 1 inch piece of pastel or charcoal on it's side, then overlapping that shape with more descriptive lines using a charcoal pencil. With a few quick marks on the paper, usually in less than 2 minutes, you can develop a very nice figure drawing.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Artistry...a hereditary talent

My three year old Jack has loved to paint and draw for a long time now. I never make him try to draw something specific or use a certain technique - I just make materials available to him and encourage him to GO! Here he is working in what was my studio, but I guess now at the very least it's our studio!

Truly abstract! So gutsy! Picasso had said something along the lines of "spending his whole life trying to draw like a five year old"...I can see why! Oh, to go back to just creating for the love of creating...

Artistry...a hereditary talent

I'm sure we've all noticed over the years that we share certain traits with our parents. The good (I can draw like mom!) and the bad (my knees are knobby and I have a temper...just like DAD!). I have recently been the lucky recipient of a pile of artwork from my great grandfather on my mother's father's side, as well as some artwork from my mother's Aunt. The journey of discovering who they were thru their art has been amazing.

The most startling revelations have come from the similarities between my artwork and their artwork - never, ever crossing paths, but yet somehow we are connected.

A sample comparisson-

A drawing of a knight on a horse, one drawn by me a few years ago (drawing from a statue) and one drawn by my great grandfather over 50 years ago in Warsaw, Poland. I had no idea that this drawing of my great grandfather's existed.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

A Few Recent Pieces

I'd love to share some drawings and paintings that I've created over the last few months!
The painting on the left is our Goddess of a model, miss Stephanie, who is such a great model! She took this lounging pose on a sofa that created such sensous was so fun to draw - and exagerate these beautiful lines her body created.
Well, all I did during the drawing session was the basic outline - it wasn't until I got home to my studio that I had a lot of fun adding color and texture and pattern. I used paint and acrylic and charcoal and pastel, and then got out the sandpaper when I had too much fun and needed to go back a bit...but it all worked!

The drawing on the right is a multi-media drawing of an awesome model (HI MIKE!) who was emulating a pose by a real master of the figure, Paul Cadmus. I had a large sheet of watercolor paper that had been drawn on before, but I wasn't too happy with it, so I gessoed it over and it created a great surface for a new drawing. The background was many shades of blue and grey and gave Mike a true atmosphere to occupy.

I used to only enjoy drawing women...maybe because I thought I could bring a more personal experience and understanding of the female form...but lately I've begun to enjoy creating stronger, masculine pieces as well.

What I hope to share

Thank You for visiting my brand new blog! I hope to share my art and my life with you.

I not only love to create art, but I find great satisfaction in teaching others how to achieve their goals in drawing and painting the figure.

And of course I'm a wife and a mother and a sister and a daughter, so you may find stories, anectodes (complaints!) about some or all of them here as well. But believe me - I love all of them and I wouldn't be who I am without them!

Enjoy life - it goes by way too fast!