Thursday, February 26, 2009

Figure Drawings...A Classic Charcoal Drawing of the Female Model, and a Pastel Experiment with Red Line

For the first half of our figure drawing group last night I focused on doing a traditional, realistic and fully rendered portrait of our wonderful model. The lighting was great, the pose was classic, and I really focused on trying to make a "good" drawing.
Sometimes I have to remind myself to slow down, look, really draw what I see - don't go too crazy with color all the time. I'm pretty pleased with this drawing - I like the composition and the values I captured. I wish I had a little more detail in the drapery, but it's not too bad.

But, I couldn't stop know me by now...I have to draw to sides of every model! And the idea of drawing with the red line was still itching me, so I tried it again. This time I started with a light pencil drawing, then did a red line over the contour, then slowly built up shadows with sap green, pale blue, and pthalo blue.

I like the way the colors worked together, and I think it's an interesting drawing - one that you could look at again and again and still find new moments. Now I want to try a new color for a contour line every time I draw!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The 25 cent Drawing

Ages 2 and 4, my kids are just starting to enjoy the occassiona visit to Chuck E Cheese. Today Jack discovered the "drawing booth" and had about 4 25 cent drawings made of himself. I have to be honest...I'm afraid this could really hurt my portrait business...

Friday, February 20, 2009

Figure Drawings...A Variety of Drawing Techniques and Media

This was a five minute pose, and I worked with a black Prismacolor marker (it says archival...boy it does stink!) with a thick and thin end on a canvas pad. I think this technique has potential...when I get some time in my studio, I'm going to play around with adding some paint!
This was actually the last pose of the night, we worked for about 40 minutes (a pose inspired by Henry Yan's book!) I think I lost a little information in the legs, and I'd like to add some more drapery, but I'm very pleased with the lighting and the overall feel of the pose, especially the twist in her back.
This pose was lovely and very dramatic from my side of the room - I had mostly shadows, and only a sliver of highlight in some place defining the figure. For the first 25 minutes I spent WAY too much time on her face - I actually placed a sticky note over her head for the second 25 minutes so I wouldn't touch it any more! (i do that to my students...if you are working on the face, chances are I'm going to put a sticky note right over it! But least i do it to myself, too!) I love the mood, the lighting, the drapery. I think I may polish a few spots, add some more shadows in a few places, but that's it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Red Tree

Last night north Georgia had some pretty intense weather moving thru the area, and the kids and I were outside watching the clouds speed accross the sky and waiting for Dad to come home. As the sky grew darker, I was glancing accross my neighbors yard and was struck by the beautiful combination of colors in her front yard - a vibrant red tree against a creamy bunch of grass with the dark grey sky in the background. I took a quick photo to remember the combination.

I could picture using that color scheme in a figure drawing...creamy skin, deep grey-blue shadows, and red lines defining the form. So, when I drew Mike last night, that's what I tried!

In order to make it work, I had to draw the red lines last - on top of areas of blocked in color.

I think for the first attempt, it's not bad. I like the effect that the red line creates - a very different feel, and energy, to the line. If it had been black charcoal, I don't think it would have been as interesting a drawing.

I draw again tonight, and I think I might explore this pallette once more!

The pose looked so great from both sides, so for the last hour of the class I used a grey mat board, a white charcoal and a black charcoal pencil to draw Mike from the opposite side. I think it's OK so far, but i may go back and develop the shadows and hilights a bit more. I think the drapery is an important element in creating the sense of space in this drawing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Newest Drawing Book in my Collection

Aside from the occassional jewelry splurge, buying great books about art is my favorite "treat". I was lucky enough a couple weeks ago to attend a figure drawing session where a fellow artist brought a book to show me by Henry Yan.

I ordered his book, "Henry Yan's Figure Drawing: Techniques and Tips" and just recieved it today.

It's fantastic. A huge collection of figure drawing, ranging from 5 minute studies to 4 hour portraits, complete with style tips, media, drawing techniques to name a few. I have already learned a few key points just from the light read-thru that I have completed. (My favorite tip so far ...concerning shadows...."Remember to use soft edges for form shadows and hard edges for cast shadows." Henry Yan, H.Y's.F.D.T.T., p.103) Even though I may have intuitively been doing that in some of my drawings, reading that assertion will help me to emphasize that aspect of my drawings in the future (or manipulate that technique to my own accord)

The book is heavy on illustration and direct and to the point when it comes to the descriptions and instruction - a very good balance, especially since looking at his work is a visual equivalent of many semesters of great figure drawing instruction.
look forward to pushing my techniques because I am inspired by his great work. I also inspired by some of the great poses in the book...I look forward to trying them with our models!
All Images in this post : Henry Yan


Thursday, February 12, 2009

One Gorgeous Model, Three Drawing Techniques

The wonderful Maureen was our model for figure drawing group last night, and I tried three different techniques over the course of the evening

Of course we always warm up with gesture drawing - and I grabbed a red nupastel similar to the color I used last wee. The Nupastel is pretty dense - providing nice, crisp lines as well as easily blocked-in shadows.

The last drawing of the evening was a ten minute sketch using a black Sharpie marker on a canvas pad. I've never used a canvas pad before, but I like the feel of the surface.

Rumor has it that sharpies are not "archival", so I'm going to investigate and play around with adding layers of colored glazes, hopefully to add interest and to help preserve the image.

The bulk of the evening was dedicated to the blue drawing, which is a mixture of Nupastel and water on a gessoed masonite board. (I am not thrilled with the surface...the board was a store-bought gessoed panel, and I added an extra coat of gesso. AS I was drawing, the layer of gesso I added was scraping off of the original gesso - leaving little scratches in the surface. Next time I'll prep my own masonite panels, or sand the prepared surface in order for the gesso to stay on better)

Of course now I am experiencing a familiar debate in my I add color? Do I glaze? How much further do I take this drawing?

While I love the blue, I have a painting very similar to this already...I will keep you posted as I finish it up!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The First T-Ball Game...

Jack had his first 4 year-old t-ball game last night. We were so excited. Got a new glove. Practiced catching and throwing and hitting in the back yard. Talked about running the bases and how to cheer for our teammates. And of course, listen to the coach.

When we got to practice, I think Jack ignored the dirt for about 4 seconds. After that, whenever he wasn't holding the bat or a ball, piles of dirt were being constructed. Although I did shout "Jack - stop palying in the dirt!" A couple times I tried REALLY hard not to interfere (those of you who know me are saying "yeah right!")

So I'm watching and think "he's not getting enough chances to hit...he's not getting to throw the ball enough..." and thinking that I need to shove my hubby Dave out onto the field to help get things moving.
Being the fabulous hubby he is he calmed me down and reminded me "it's just the first practice, they'll get everything going. Don't worry"

So practice continued, ending with 10 little boys running the bases (laughing) about ten more times, kicking up dirt and slamming into each other.

As we were preparing to leave, I was wiping the six inches of dirt off Jack's hands and raving about his skills at bat and how well he threw the ball - trying to be positive and encouraging, hoping he'd just remember what he did.

He looked right at me with big, wide eyes and an enormous grin and said "Mom...Coach Tony knows my name".

I'll take it.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Critique Night...Mojitos are a must!

I had WAY too much fun Saturday night at Patti's house...many new and old artists friends gathered for a group critique and of course lots of food and beverage! What a wonderful evening...Patti made a traditional Polish dish (Go beef and cabbage! should be a Polish battle cry), and everyone brought fabulous dishes to share. (Check out my girlfriend's Jalapeno dip recipe below!)
Everyone brought a work to share - new or old (like 5 years in the making!) it didn't matter - it was great to see what everyone was working on.
I highly recommend hosting your own critique night - all you need are a few friends with some work to share, ask everyone to bring a dish, open some wine (or make Green Tea Mojitos...if I get the recipe I promise to share - they are AWESOME) and set up an easel - you are all set! As artists we need to get out of our studios and share our work - our triumphs, our frustrations, our tips and feedback for our cannot exist in a vacuum!
My favorite new recipe...a must for any party!
Jalapeno Cheese Dip
2 regular packages of cream cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese
1 small can of crushed Jalapeno peppers (drained)
1 small can of chopped green chilies (drained)
1 cup mayo
Mix all of these ingredients together (if you want an extra kick...add an extra small can of Jalapenos!) and spread in a 13" x 9" pan.
1 roll of Ritz crackers, crushed
and sprinkle evenly on top.
half a stick of butter, melted
over crackers
Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
Serve warm or slightly cooled with Tortilla chips.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Figure Drawing...Three Red Nupastel Gestures of the Live Female Model

Just a few gestures from last night's open figure drawing session here in Woodstock. I grabbed this red Nupastel out of my box, and was pleasantly surprised - it was denser than some of the other nupastels (I don't know why) and I could control the application of the pastel very easily.

Great poses, Tina - thank you :)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Figure boots and white pillow

A couple of gestures from last night's open figure drawing session at Shane's studio... I was using a piece of vine charcoal on it's side to block in large areas of shadow, then used a hard charcoal pencil to draw in some more detail. I especially like the feel of the arched back.

I did two pieces from the long pose. The first was a mixture of charcoal, water and white acrylic paint on watercolor paper. I kind of like this piece...I think the black boots would have been more dramatic had the model not been draped. But it was about 17 degrees here last night, and full nudity would have equalled a frozen model!

The second drawing was pastel on mat board. The lighting was a little more dramatic from this angle, and there's just a hint of the thigh-high black boot resting on the pillow.

You know that painting I was working on yesterday? Well, right now it looks like this.
Hopefully I'll have better news later. It was not good.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A work in progress...painting from a gesture drawing

The other day I started preparing some masonite boards to paint on. I had an Idea in mind, based on a phtoto of an actress, but it wasn't quite working when I started to paint.
So yesterday when I was in the studio, I glazed over the bad beginning with black and gold. Then I dug thru the (very large because I never throw anything away) pile of gesture drawings that I have done and looked for one that would work on this size board.
I loved this drawing of Katie - it was about a 5 minute pose, and the tilt of her head, the wisp of hair falling forward, the angle of the knee and the gently turned-inward foot, the profile of her breasts were really subtle and beautiful. I am often attracted to poses where the figure is "enclosed" in a way.
Here is where I am at with the painting. I'm trying to find the right balance of finish/immediacy that I had in the gesture drawing...also making my line quality as interesting as possible. And there's always the challenge of making the figure and environment work together.
And of course, my Jack was also hard at work. He went thru a whole pile of scrap mat board that he painted on, so I let him paint on my other big sheet of masonite. Who knows? Maybe that'll turn into a great collaboration in the future.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A quick update...

Babies will be waking from their nap any minute, so here is a quick look at the painting I am
trying to resolve in my studio...
To see the previous layers of this painting.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Nothing beats a great frame

I love having events on my schedule - it gives me a push to finish paintings and frame some work! In February I'll be particitpating in Trinity School's Spotlight on Art, the school's annual art show and sale. I just got two frames today - and I LOVE seeing how a painting is enhanced by a frame. I have been very happy with "Moment to Moment" since I finished it...but now, with the frame, it looks fantastic! I can't wait to hang it in the show!