Thursday, April 30, 2009

Figure Drawing in Charcoal and Pastel from the Live Nude Female Model

Another sublime Wednesday evening here in GA, and another blissful night of drawing from the live female model! Our lucky group had a new model, who was just lovely - long beautiful lines, great expression in her face and her poses - just wonderful. This is a quick, 2-minute gesture drawing.
I have to say - I am usually very big on avoiding the face (I have sticky notes in my drawing box if I spend too much time drawing the face - I'll actually cover up that area if i work it too much!) but I could not help myself last night - she had beautiful features, and I did this quick 5 minute sketch of her face during our warm-ups.

And I continued to break my no-face rule the rest of the evening! I was working on anther piece of teal mat board, this time using light and dark blue to start the drawing and slowly adding in black and white as we neared the end of the pose.

Although this is pretty close to how the light was falling across her nose, it doesn't feel quite right yet - maybe a little more work on the high light and it'll be better.

And of COURSE I had to break out my nupastels and a small piece of colorfix paper and get a little crazy! This small abstract portrait of the model was the last 25 minutes of the pose, and I just tried to have a little fun and create some interesting color combinations!
The model was kind enough (and very patient!) as I snapped a few portrait shots of her...I really want to do a painting of her...I'll post it as soon as I get to work!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Art of Selling

OK this is not my was forwarded to me from my dad, who is a RE broker in WNY...

The Art of Salesmanship

A young man from Wisconsin moved to Florida and applied for a job at a huge everything-under-one-roof department store.

During the brief interview the store manager asked, "Do you have any sales experience?" The young man replied, "Yeah, I was a salesman back in Wisconsin. I worked at a car dealership, a general department store and I also sold real estate."

The manager took a liking to the young man and gave him a job saying, "You can start tomorrow. Be here by 9:00 in the morning and ask to speak with Tom Barnes. He is the assistant store manager and he will show you what you need to do. I'll come down after we close and see how you did." With that they shook hands and parted ways.

After the store closed and the doors were locked up , the boss went to see how the young man's first day had gone. After looking all over the store, the manager finally found the young man sitting on a box in the stockroom, hunched over and looking exhausted.

"How was your first day, son?" he asked.

"It was difficult learning about all the departments and products you sell here sir," The young man replied.

Then the manager asked, "How many sales did you make today, son?"

The young man replied, "Only one."

The manager then asked, "Well, how many customers did you talk to?"

Once again, he replied, "Only one."

The manager responded, "Just one? Our sales people average 20 to 30 customers a day! How much was the sale for?"

"$101,237.65," he replied.

"$101,237.65!" exclaimed the manager. "What the heck did you sell?"

The young man responded, "First, I sold the man a small fishhook. Then I sold him a medium fishhook. Then I so ld him a larger fishhook. Then I sold him a new fishing rod, reel and a whole tackle box full of lures and stuff. Then, I asked him where he was going fishing, and he said he was going down the coast. I explained to him that if he was going to the coast, he was going to need a boat. We went down to the boat department and I sold him a twin engine fishing boat. After that, he said he didn't think his Honda Civic could pull it, so I took him down to the automotive department and sold him a 4x4 Expedition."

The store manager, with a look of astonishment on his face proclaimed, "A guy came in here to buy a fish hook, and you sold him a BOAT and a TRUCK?"

"No sir!" The young man said. "He came in to buy tampons for his wife. While I was showing him where the tampons were, I said, "Dude, your weekend's shot. You should go fishing."

Friday, April 24, 2009

Figure Drawing...Live Nude Female Model with Drape, A Classic and Sexy Charcoal Drawing

Our figure drawing group met last night and as we were setting up, my fellow artists and I were browsing thru drawing books looking for inspiration to pose our lovely model. There was a sublime drawing of a female draped in a white shirt - she was sitting with her back to the artists, exposing her shoulders. This is our pose. I was working on a teal piece of mat board and drew with a white charcoal pencil and a black charcoal pencil. I went back and forth with including more drapery in the background - I wanted an environment for the figure, but did not want it to distract from the model.

I think (now seeing it on screen) that I need to make some adjustments to the drapery on the chair - perhaps the contrast is too strong and taking the focus away from the model. A little tweaking is needed!
We had to take a short break from drawing last night as we stopped to watch an intense thunderstorm move thru Woodstock. There was some hail where we were, but apparently not as much as there was back at my house! Even this afternoon in the 80 degree weather there was still 2 piles of hail by our drain spouts. Jack had a pretty good time playing!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

So you wanna be a pole dancer....Painting a Mural in Pole Dancing Room

Apparently there is a BIG craze in the fitness world...learning to pole dance! I can only imagine that it would be excellent for abs and arms...I won't discuss how it can positively impact OTHER areas of your life, but I'm sure there are many fringe benefits as well!

The dance studio where I take Zumba classes (and more pilates and kickboxing in the future!) has just installed a pole dancing room, and it looks HOT. VERY sexy! Deep purple walls, velvet drapes, black lights. I am painting a few figures on the wall to pull it all together...
(what's funny is that I think this is the EXACT SAME purple in my guest every time i see it I keep thinking "who knew the missing accessory was a pole?)

I started by sketching the figures on the wall in white chalk, then painted in the light only with white paint. I added a black glaze to fill in the negative space. I will add a third dancer on the left, I just have to find the right picture! VERY sexy!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Main Street Art Festival in Woodstock, GA

If you live in GA, you know any Saturday in March or April that ISN'T raining is a day to be spent Outside enjoying sunshine and activities! We were lucky enough to have a beautiful day yesterday for a festival on Main Street in Woodstock, GA. Part of the fun was a Chalk Walk competition held in front of Roomscapes Gallery. Artists of all ages could sign up and particiapate. It was SO much fun to watch the children develop their beautiful drawings, turning a lovely shade of alien blue as they blended the sky and water and flowers!
There were also many teen agers and adults particiapting, from amateur to professional, putting together a joyful and colorful array of designs.

This is my may recognize the design from this project. It was a last minute decision for me to participate, so I grabbed the collage and a flower catalogue for inspiration and headed down to the event.
What a great day to be outside, get a little dirty, be creative, and watch other artists at work!
You can also see some great photos here!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Working on a custom charcoal portrait of a baby boy for Mother's Day

OK. I saw Oprah's first post to her Twitter account, so what to do with the rest of the day????

Work on a charcoal portrait! This is where I am after about 2 hours of drawing - charcoal on "natural white" drawing paper. I'll get some better photos after I work a little more! So far I'm very happy with the mouth and the eyes, and I think the hair is coming along...I just need to give it some dimension. I'll keep you posted!

PS...There's still time to place a custom portrait order before Mother's Day!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Figure Drawing Technique - Mixing Watercolor and Pastel Media when Drawing from the Live Nude Female Model

Figure drawing group was a lot of fun, as usual! Everyone was hopped up on left-over Easter candy (of course we balanced this out with some Red wine) and we had one of our favorite models. I say that a lot...I love all of our models!After a series of gesture drawings, we set up this lovely pose that really showed of our model's long limbs. It also had wonderful shadows and light. I started with watercolor on a piece of Colorfix pastel board (board meaning mat board, not masonite - there are both versions available). I just aimed to wash in the major details and composition, being sure that I was going to utilize my page effectively. I did not want perfection - I wanted an interesting first layer. Next I used light purple and blue Nupastels to start blocking in color, checking my proportions and starting to really see areas of light and shadow. I occasionally grabbed my brush again, dipping it in water and washing away areas of color that were too strong or needed re-shaping.
I continued to add color, including fuscias and pinks and oranges to warm up her skin tone. If i needed to re-define an area, I used the watercolor to create a line or my black charcoal pencil.

It was very handy to use the watercolor brush when needing to make a change - I actually took off almost 3/4 of an inch on her backside because it was too long, just by softening the area with a wet brush. The same for her head - the scale was a bit too large for the body, so a quick wash over the hair and i easily adjusted the mistake.
I like the colors, the mix of the media, and the variety of definition - the detail in the upper knee, but the simple outline of her left foot. I don't feel that the point of focus is clear yet, so I may make some minor adjustments. I am glad I experimented with this paper and mixed media...I look forward to trying it again!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Turkey Corn Chowder Recipe

For Easter Sunday this year I was in charge of making a turkey. This was a big step up for me, considering two years ago I messed up two of the easiest jobs there are for a Holiday Dinner... bread and salad. Yes, I screwed up bread and salad.

So I'm happy to report that I did not mess up the turkey. It turned out very good!

Now there is one great benefit of being in charge of making the get to keep the left-overs, and let's be honest...aren't the left-overs the best part of a turkey? So I picked the bird clean and had about 5 cups of lovely turkey. I had it in mind that some kind of turkey chowder would be nice, so I hunted the web for recipes. I found several different variations, each with an aspect that sounded good to me - heavy cream, bacon, Parmesan cheese. So I tried my own version using my fav parts of each recipe.

Here is the recipe I used today

Turkey Corn Chowder

4 pieces of bacon
1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs of celery, diced
(honestly I think my dicing and chopping are exactly the same)
3 large potatoes, cubed
2 cups chicken or turkey broth (I used the drippings from my turkey)
2 cups half-n-half
2 cups whole milk
1 can whole kernel corn (15 oz)
2 cans cream style corn (14 oz)
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
about 5 cups cooked turkey, cubed
salt-and pepper
garlic salt

Start by cooking bacon to crisp in the bottom of a large pot. Remove bacon to paper towels, leaving drippings in pot. Add in onions and celery, simmer on medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Add in all ingredients. I started with the potatoes, then broth, then corn, so that my milk would not scald the bottom of the hot pan. (I also quickly blended the whole corn with my cream so that I could make the chowder creamier, then added to the pot) Add turkey. Crumble up bacon and add to pot. Add black pepper to taste.

Let it come to a slow boil, then turn down heat to low and allow to simmer for at least 30 minutes. Potatoes should be soft.

(My neighbors were over just before dinner, so I enlisted them as taste-testers, and I'm pleased to say that the 1 yr old gobbled up a whole bowl! And because this makes such a big pot of chowder, I brought over a big bowl this evening to share. Mrs. Neighbor called about 3 minutes later to say hubby was enjoying it very much! So it has been taste-tested and approved!)

Here are a few ingredients and variations you may try.

I'm looking forward to trying this again using lass dairy (dairy gives me insomnia and acne). I think I'll check out the cookbook "The Sneaky Chef" for ideas on using a creamed cauliflower instead - I have a feeling the half-n-half would provide enough "creaminess", and adding another vegetable would be nice.

Some recipes did not add the bacon to the pot, but suggested crumbling atop the bowl.

Other ingredients you may add - fresh garlic, jalapeno pepper, sweet potatoes.

Other suggested spices - dried chili pepper flakes, dried thyme.

If you have any other ideas or a favorite chowder recipe to share, please do!

(from experience...while the bacon is cooking is a bad time to check on the children. Bacon burns very quickly!)

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Legend of Floyd, a Nude Figure Model from WNY

Every once in a while I'll think back on certain classes, teachers, models, and fellow artists that I have worked with in the past. One model that has reached "legendary status" is Floyd. He modeled for figure drawing classes at UB and Buffalo state. In fact, if you talked to any art student in Western New York, chances are you could say "have you ever drawn Floyd?" and they would answer "yes!" and an enthusiastic conversation would ensue - his crazy poses, the elaborate stories of his background and how he came to be a figure model, etc.

Floyd was easily in his mid-to-late 60's, and sadly, the first man I ever saw naked in real life. Yes, the scars run deep.
But he was incredible. He had a pose we called "tripod" (get your mind out of the gutter). He would lean back on two hands, and support himself on one leg, while the other leg was up in the air. His butt was lifted off the ground. He could support himself in this suspended position for like 5 minutes. It was crazy.

I'd love to hear from artists in Buffalo and around that area if Floyd is still working the modeling circuit...inspiring future generations of artists...

These drawings all date from 1995-1997 I believe...proof i never throw anything away (much to my hubby's dismay)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Building a Body-Builder, a Custom Portrait of a Body Builder in Acrylic Paint

So my girlfriend Cherie calls me and asks "Have you ever painted muscles?" and I said "Sure". And I show her some of my drawings of male models and she says "No, Kristina. MUSCLES. Like this"

"OHHH. Muscles. Sure I can do that!" Cherie wanted to do something special to thank a good friend, body builder Mat Duvall. She showed me this incredible moment where he had just heard that he won a major competition. Cherie felt that it not only reflected his great physique, but the moment also showed his belief in God as he thanked Him in his moment of victory.

This picture show how I started with a monochromatic lay-out of the major muscles, making sure I was getting a good composition.Here you can see me starting to layer acrylic paint. At this point, there is no white on my palette - the lightest color I was using was a creamy beige. I wanted to save the white until the very end to make the most important high lights "pop".Cherie and I spoke often as I updated her with the painting's progress. That's always so much fun for me - to share with my clients how the project is progressing, to hear their feedback, to join in as the excitement and anticipation grows. We talked a bit about background color, muscle shape, and how much definition to give his Superman tattoo. Every element is important!

In the end, I think this turned out to be a great painting. I love the square format, the layers of color, the pose, the negative space around his figure. And I think Cherie titled it appropriately
"I can do all things thru Christ who strengthens me".
Thanks Cherie for letting me be a part of this great gift!
PS...keep an eye on my blog for follow-ups on Mat Duvall, his professional career, and the opportunity to purchase prints of this painting.

Blog Feature!

I am always so flattered when someone likes my work, and incredibly honored when another talented artist features my work on their blog! Jennifer Cameron of Glass Addictions has a Friday Feature that takes you on a tour of an artist's workspcae. What a great way to get to know a little bit more about the process behind the work! Thanks for sharing my workspace, Jenny! I hope you all check out her links below

The link to my interview on her blog

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Two Drawing Styles, One Beautiful Model - A Traditional Charcoal Drawing and Colorful, Modern Pastel Drawing

Great open drawing session last night at Shane's Studio (those are his amazing paintings behind the model.) Addie took a very sexy lounging pose, with her arm over her head...not an easy pose! But gorgeous. This is my drawing after 20 minutes. I tried to keep it light and establish the whole figure (head to torso...although the legs were lovely, I thought the face and hands were so pretty and focused my attention on that portion)In the next 20 minutes I added more dimension and value, defining the gesture of the hand and the features of the face. I was also trying to keep the focus on the face, so many parts were intentionally left "sketchy", like the elbow coming forward and the exposed breast. I could still add a few more highlights with a lighter pastel, but i think this is ok as is.
And I really wanted to have a little fun with color last night so I moved to the other side of the room and did a small, quick abstract of her profile and hands. I love the top 2-3rds...maybe I'll crop it when framing!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Tip for Creating Better Yourself a Skull

If you glance thru almost any book that teaches portrait or figure drawing, you will find a section on anatomy. Knowing the skeleton, and the major groups of muscles, and how they behave under our skin is of vital importance in making successful figurative or portrait art. (Even if you deem yourself a "cartoonist" or "abstract artist" - that genre still needs an understanding of the human form. But we can debate that later)

My drawing above is copied from "Drawing from Life" by Brown and McLean. And while I learned a lot of technical info by copying from the book, a lot of the problems are already figured out for you if you are copying a 2D source to a 2D drawing. To really challenge yourself and to fully understand the shapes of the skull, I recommend you
buy a plastic skull. (This is not only a great investment in your artistic endeavors. It's awesome to put in the window for Halloween!)

Set up a simple still-life of the plastic skull and draw it from many vantage points. Get to know the landmarks of the zygomatic arch, the orbital bone, and the mandible. See how angles change and intersect. Study the size and shape of the whole skull.

When you go back to drawing a figure from life (as in my sketch of a live male model above) you will be more in tune with what is happening beneath the surface of the skin. You will be more sensitive to the subtle shifts of light and shadow as the skin stretches over the form of the skull.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A conversation with Jack

Jack "Mommy can I have some milk?"

Me "I'm sorry honey, the milk is expired."

Jack "Does we have any milk without spiders?"

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Paul Ruiz...Amazing Portrait Artist

We had another fabulous Critique Night with our drawing group last night (I'll post pictures later). I wanted to quickly post a link to an AMAZING book by an incredible artist that our host, Bruce, shared with us. This book by Paul Ruiz is a cover to cover delight of figurative drawing and painting. You will be floored by his use of texture, different weights of paint, colors that go into the space yet others that rest on top of the surface, his incredible drawing language, and his ability to transport you to another dimension with very little detail.

Another delightful bonus. Mr. Ruiz has a fantastic Art Blog that offers timely and useful advice to all artists. I find this incredibly generous. I really admire artists who want ALL artists to achieve their full potential, and are willing to give great advice to help us all get to the level we desire. I highly encourage every artist to check out his entry on Artists in Uncertain Times.

Paul Ruiz ia an artist who is not only relevant to the art world because of his incisive and original portraiture, but because he speaks to the current situation of artists in our world.

An excerpt from an interview wth Paul Ruiz

BS: So what are the specific social implications of your art? Is there a specific message that you strive to convey to viewers?

PR: Before dedicating myself to full time practice, I spent nearly ten years working in a highly regulated, technology driven environment. I could not help but be affected by the growing extent to which our human relations and interactions are being mediated by technology. For me, being involved in the ritual and process of painting itself is a way of resisting this tendency of contemporary experience, of provoking a shift in the opposite direction - a shift from the generic, ephemeral and virtual nature of technology and media-saturated experience, to the specific, hand-crafted and material one of making and engaging in art.I aim for my work to provoke reflection on the importance of this in our lives, to affirm that art making is not merely self-indulgence. I believe it is fundamentally linked to our capacity and need for a broader aesthetic, social and cultural awareness - I believe this to be quite an instinctive human aspiration.

(This is Kristina) I love that quote!!!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Two Drawings of Male Nude - Inspired by the Figure Drawings of Cadmus

Two drawings from last night's figure drawing session! We asked our model to re-create the two poses I talked about yesterday, inspired by Paul Cadmus' work. He did an amazing job, and they were great poses. I did not draw them from the same vantage point as Cadmus, but I like them anyway. However...I will keep these poses in mind because they really were amazing from the other side of the room!
In the top drawing I spent alot of time on the supports/environment - the lighting was wonderful, and by adding in the supports I could double-check my relationships of arm to arm, elbow to knee, etc.
The second drawing is in graphite, which I haven't done in YEARS because I adore charcoal so much. I started with a 3H, then used an HB, then finished with a 6B to push the shadows a little further. It was hard to not BLEND which I always do with charcoal - it was more controlled and purposeful in my drawing. Overall a great night of drawing!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Figure Drawing - Male Nude Model, a Charcoal Drawing on Grey Board

We had one of our best models last night at Shane's studio. Mike does amazing gesture work, and also has a very strong "stage presence" which helps us create powerful drawings. He puts a lot of thought into his poses and takes great (physical!) pain to hold poses for a long time.

This is about an hour and a half drawing, done with charcoal pencils in grey, black, and white on grey mat board.

Mike is also posing for our drawing group this evening, and I'm inspired by the work of Paul Cadmus - Mike reminds me of his models - so I think we will do some poses inspired by Cadmus' amazing figure work.