Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Watercolors of the Skeleton

I have the great good fortune to work with a skeleton in my drawing studio.

These two cropped portraits were done with attention to composition.  I used ink and two colors of watercolor (or maybe three in the second one, as I think I see two blues there).  Both are 18 x 24 on Strathmore 400 drawing paper.

You can see the paper buckled.  To be fair, it isn't intended for watercolor.  But I liked trying it anyhow.

I think you can probably tell that the skeleton had been posed in a nice office chair when we drew it.

Working on these pieces made me think a lot about myself as a professional and the many many many hours of my life I spend in an office chair.

Thoughts about mortality and the passage of time and the need to make money and the need to make art (which never really makes money) whirled around me as I worked.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

More Work with Bears

Having returned from my travels to Gaylord, Michigan, where I discovered my struggle to draw bears realistically, I pulled out one of my bear models and decided to practice with it.

This is a polar bear model, I think by Safari.  In these pieces I am working on slick, cartooning paper with a Pentel Pocket Brush pen.

This is a completely different set of tools and effect than working with a fine-nibbed fountain pen on multimedia paper.

The brush is less controllable.  The surface is slippery and absorbs nothing.

The more loose, less tightly controlled drawing experience let me think about bears and their shapes in a new way--a little more generalized.  Looking at the bigger picture, and how the body parts work together.

In this next piece, I decided to try a large pencil sketch (18 x 24) of the animal, just to see what would happen.

Definitely getting more bear-like!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Relax with Pen and Ink

Just a thought for the day.... with a detailed sketch of my Hero bent nib pen.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Studying the Black Bear

Having had some trouble capturing the likeness of a bear on a previous trip to Call of the Wild in Gaylord, Michigan, I returned, intent on spending an entire hour-long session working only on the bear.

I needed to study it slowly, carefully, and see how it came together physically that made it not look like a dog or a pig or a cat or a toy.

I took only a few black pens.  I wanted to focus on shape and observation.  No color today.

You can see the notes I made on the drawings, talking to myself, noticing what I was noticing and what I struggled with.  I'll review these in the future, when I go back to draw bears again!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

More from Call of the Wild

From another session at Call of the Wild in Gaylord, Michigan.  This time I used black ink with some watercolors.  But I wanted to keep the colors minimal.  I wasn't going for realism.  Just some value.

I was also continuing to think about the composition of the pages.

I was doing pretty well until I got to the bear.  And then I discovered bears are SUPER hard to draw.  How to depict them so they don't look like a dog, or a pig, or a teddy bear toy... or anything except a real bear?

This is a challenge for another drawing session.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sketching at Call of the Wild

I had the chance to return to Call of the Wild in Gaylord, Michigan, to sketch from the taxidermy collection there.

I took a stub nibbed fountain pen with blue ink.  No watercolors today.  Just "black and white," except, of course, blue and white.

I was also thinking specifically about the design or composition of each page or page spread.  I wanted to include some of the facts about each animal along with the drawing, and to have the pages look attractive.

I was enjoying the way the different pages cropped the images.  The turtle is cropped, but the duck runs off the page.  Changing these approaches kept me in the fun of experimenting and learning.

Part way through the bufflehead, my pen ran out of ink.

Note to self (and others) always have at least one extra pen on you!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Architecture: The Anchor of Hope College, Holland, Michigan

This is the last architecture drawing I did, using photo references.  Obviously, I did it last fall, when the leaves were still on the trees.

This is from the campus of Hope College, in Holland, Michigan.  If you have ever been there, you'll recognize the top of the campus anchor, with the chapel in the distance.

I liked the composition of taking something small and putting it in the extreme foreground, so it appeared huge, and then having something huge appear in the background, so it seemed much smaller.

I did this piece, from start to finish, in one sitting.  It took about two hours.  I used two pencils, mostly an Ebony pencil, and then a Blackwing for the darkest darks.  I think this might be the first large pencil drawing (18 x 24) that I have ever done.

I think I might like to do more with pencil in the future.  Like charcoal, though, it is so fragile.  You have to spray the heck out of it with fixative so that it doesn't smear when you close the pad or move it from place to place.

Still, I like the black and white basics.  Working like this is helping me learn values, that's for sure.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Architecture: The Rose Window, Dimnent Chapel, Hope College. Holland, Michigan

Continuing on with a few assignments from a class I'm taking to draw architecture (or features of architecture) from photo reference.

I would never have been able to do this detailed pen and ink drawing from direct life observation.

Well, okay, maybe I could have.  But it took me several days.  And I would have had to carry a big drawing board, and ink and brush and water.  Drawing from the photo reference was nice.

This is 18 x 24 on Strathmore 400 drawing paper.

I'm inspired to do it again, in color.