Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Architecture: Lubbers Hall, Hope College, Holland, Michigan

The class I took sent us out to examine some architecture, take photos, and then draw--using whatever medium we wanted--from the photos.

I tend to draw from life mostly.  It has been excellent training for my eye.  And it gets at what I want to do, which is keep sketchbooks, capturing life around me.  I am a believer in the urban sketching guidelines.

But it was kind of fun to do a series of drawings from photos.   This is the first.

Photos don't move.  The light doesn't change.  You can count and measure.

I enjoyed doing this facade of a local building, in ink.

This is on Strathmore drawing paper, 18 x 24.  You can see a bit of the buckle from the light gray wash.

I'm quite pleased with the minimal approach I took to depicting the brick.  And I think that the window reads well, with the shadowing.  I could never have pulled this off without a photo reference.

More to come...

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Dogs in Brown Ink

Just some simple scenes with my dogs around the house.  And some journaling, to record the everyday routines that I don't want to forget.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

More Glass

I wanted to work a bit more with glass, and with mostly black and white.

First, I did an ink drawing, 18 x 24, of an antique milk bottle from my great-grandfather's dairy.

The red ink for the label was perhaps the greatest challenge for me!  I found it hard to both repeat the font on the bottle, but to do it in such a way that it showed the bottle's roundness.  I'm not sure I pulled it off.  But it's a start.

Next, I worked on a piece that showed one bottle, a vintage bottle from Mennen, from several different angles.  I had a great time thinking about how to construct and crop this.

This is also 18 x 24, in charcoal.  I love working with charcoal, but it is so messy!  I really only use it when I'm in class, in the studio.  I need to think more about how I can use it at home and not have dog and cat charcoal tracks all through the house.

What glass shampoo or aftershave or milk or medicine bottles do you have around the house?  Just the daily stuff we never look at... what can you do to draw it and make something lovely?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Working with Glass

Scribbling depictions of glass can be hard.

I've seen incredible works by artists whose glass, painted in watercolor or oil or acrylic, looks like you could pick it up from the paper and drink from it.

That's not really my goal, since I'm a scribbler at heart.  But I would like to learn to depict glass so that people could tell what it is!

Below are three recent sketches of glass.  Colored glass.

First, a piece done with oil pastels.

Here I had fun with the perspective and with my fellow scribbler in the background.

Next, charcoal with some pastels on toned paper.

Here I am particularly happy with the turn of the label around the three sides of the bottle.

Finally, a jar of paint water, with a paint brush in it.  Done in watercolor and with some journaling.

Glass is transparent, much of it.  And it's hard to think about noticing, seeing, depicting, what is, in a way, invisible.  But of course, it isn't.  Sometimes it is both colored and transparent.  Sometimes it contains something colored.  Sometimes it distorts what you see through it.  Usually, light bounces off of it, revealing dips and turns.

But like drawing dogs or trikes or most anything else, it all comes down to really looking.  To forgetting what you think you see or expect to see and really perceiving what is going on before you.

I think we all need to do a lot more of that these days.  What is really going on in our world?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A One Page Comic Starring a Tricycle

To conclude my recent work with a tricycle, I decided to tackle a variety of crops and angles and piece together a one-page comic.

This grew from my earlier black and white renderings, and the painting I did that had me thinking about Christmas.

Also, I've been thinking a lot about comics lately, and wanting to practice more and get better at it.  So I decided to combine them all.

I drew this out on 18 x 24 Strathmore 400 watercolor paper in pencil first.  Then I inked it.  Then I erased the pencil.

I used Yatsumoto Chinese ink, diluted and layered to get a variety of tones.   I used a brush for all the lines, no dip or fountain pens.

I am super pleased with it.   Particularly the trike breaking the frame in the middle.

This took me several hours, especially the inking!  But it was really worth the effort.

Sometimes, scribbles take longer than a few minutes.  I like breaking up the rhythm.  While I worked on this over the course of a few days, I did one-minute sketches of cats and people to keep myself agile.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Painting a Trike

I had such a good time scribbling the tricycle with white chalk on black paper that I wanted to try a watercolor of the same subject, but using a stark, almost black and white background, and painting the trike in partially positive and partially negative space.

Plus, in the studio where I was working, there was this lone Christmas ornament floating around.  Which got me thinking about how trikes can show up as awesome Christmas presents (I remember riding one in great circles in the basement during the winter when I was growing up).

This is on Strathmore 400 watercolor paper, with Daniel Smith paints.

During the process of painting,  I thought a lot about Christmas, about past toys, and past joys, and how bleak I'm feeling lately about the future.

I am glad I was also painting.  It made me feel a lot less bleak.  It immersed me in the process and in the moment, and now--as ever--that's all we ever really have.  This moment.  Even though we like to bank on a future that looks a certain way, we really have no assurance of anything except the now.

And scribbling is a great way to spend it. I'm sure of that!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Scribbling a Trike

In a class I took last fall, we had a week of working with a tricycle as a model.

Trikes are hard to draw!

I made a lot of scribbles on big newsprint, to get the feel for the thing, but then I decided I wanted to try capturing the shape of it by only drawing the highlight reflections on black paper with white chalk.

I had no idea if it would work.

What I like most about these is that each one took me about four minutes.  Really, scribbles.  Marks.  Simple.  No fussing.

Of course, I think these came out so well because I had scribbled several messy pencils sketches earlier in the week of the same subject.  So I had observed for a while, gotten to know how it worked.

Isn't it interesting to look at these and understand a little bit more about how our minds fill in what isn't there?

It helps me think about how to draw, and write, with more attention to that minimalism; how much do I need to create that's just enough, so my audience can fill in the rest?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Heroic Sketches of a Vintage Fire Car

When I was a little kid growing up in Athens, Ohio, I lived next door to the fire chief.

That was cool.

I loved his car.  I had one of my own, in several ways.

First, I had one I could pedal.

I loved that thing.  If I could get an adult-sized one now, I would.

Second, I had (and still have) a matchbox car which closely resembles his.

So, as I considered my drawing class's assignment to do "heroic" drawings (using something small as a model and drawing it much bigger), I decided to work with the toy of the fire chief's car.

First I drew it using pastels on 18 x 22 newsprint.

There's a lot about this sketch which I like, particularly the shine.  Well, it looks like shine, but on the actual toy, it's where the paint has rubbed off.  I played with that toy a lot when I was a kid.

Next, I wanted to try something less messy than chalk pastels but perhaps just as vibrant, so I tried oil pastels, also on newsprint.

You can see I messed up when it came to fitting the entire object on the page (this is a continual problem of mine... or perhaps I should embrace it as a stylistic strength?).  And, given that this was my first use of oil pastels, I was just learning how to apply and blend.

It was fun for me to do two sketches of the same thing in two different mediums, one right after the other.  It allowed me to see and re-see the object.  It also allowed my mind to wander a bit back to what little I remember of those wonderful neighbors.   She always had fresh chocolate chip cookies.  He let me sit in a big recliner and listen to the police/fire radio.

I am glad I drew these portraits of this vintage toy--it has me inspired to draw more!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year

In honor of the New Year, I post this art journal spread I made for myself just three years ago, at Christmas 2013.

It was right before I got "serious" about a sketching and scribbling practice.  A practice that has brought me terrific joy and appreciation of the beauty in my life.

As I head into 2017, I wish us all greater appreciation of peace and joy, and the permission to pursue the activities that bring peace and joy into our shared world.