Monday, December 31, 2012

Stupid last picture of the year

So it's New Year's Eve, and I am sitting in front of my computer messing around with this stupid image, doing things that I can't really imagine myself doing (and yes, I am going to walk a block and a half and go to a friend's party later on, so I'm not totally pathetic, though this picture does reflect the way I'm feeling at the moment), and it's worth it, for the messing around.

Today while driving, I was listening to some symphony on the radio, and it occurred to me that it was painterly music--all chordal shifts and rich rich harmonies.  Baroque music would be much more linear.  And I just can't seem to get away from the linear.  This started off with big painterly oil strokes (all digital, mind you, so no real mess, though I do have an old leather bag stuffed full of oil paints from when I was in college a million years ago), but I just couldn't keep it up.  I had to go back to the linear, with chalk lines (though you can't really see them here....I wonder what happened).

No matter.  I now have more posts than I had this year, and more than I had last year.  I hope that next year will be filled with even more art.

Thank you all for visiting, and have a great new year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012


I've been thinking about drawings that are done from photographs, and how easy it is for them to look stiff, and trying to determine what makes a drawing look like it was done from a photograph as opposed to from life, because often there IS a difference.  One can tell right away in some illustrations.

So what is it?  Most of my drawing do use photographs for reference, though they never look EXACTLY like the photo at all, or sometimes not even very close.  I just made a calendar all of pictures I've done over the past several years of my sweetie (and this is another one) to give to my sweetie's mother.  I was afraid she might be offended, because most of them don't look like him at all (click on the "Byron pictures" tag if you want to see what I mean).  It's more like "inspired by" or "based off of" instead of ....oh, I don't know....certainly not "copied", but I think that the danger of drawing from photographs is that you take the photograph to be some kind of authority that it really shouldn't be.  Yes use the photo to see where the light falls, and where the forms lay, but other than that, your drawing is more important than the photo, and once that gets going, the drawing itself contributes to your decision-making way more than the photo.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Snow Swans #5 & #6

I don't remember whose blog I was reading, but that person was embarking on a project of doing 100 drawings of something--heads maybe, of something particular like that.  And it's a really good idea--because it's only by doing things over and over again that you learn what you need to learn.  I've done five of these swans so far (the 4th one was dreadful, though I may work on it some more), and I've learned new things with each one.  I probably won't do 100 of them, but I'd like to do enough that I am actually comfortable and competent with this digital medium.  We'll see.

I also made one of these with gouache and water-soluable painting crayons.  I don't like it as much, but maybe I'll post that too.  Or maybe not.

This is Christmas vacation, and I thought I would do lots and lots of art, but somehow the days slip away without getting much done.  It's very strange how I get more of everything done when I am working full time.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Face #21 Finally Finished

It's interesting when you have something sitting around where you can see it all the time. I had all of these propped up along some bookshelves, and some of them I hated more and more the longer I looked at them.  This one I liked very much, just as the bald black and white, but over time I wanted to finish it, so I finally did.....

(But I guess I never got to #29!)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Snow Swan #3

So....more swans, for no reason other than they are fairly simple shapes.  This takes a whole lot longer than I would think it would, but it's all so pleasing....

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Snow Swan #2

I'm supposed to be cleaning up the disaster-area that is my study, but the computer is calling.  So here's another snow-swan.....

Illustration Friday: Snow

Well, it's not snowing here.  It's down-right balmy, and very un-winterlike.  But I can do snow-art.

This is more experimenting with my Corel Painter program.  I see all kinds of folks doing all kinds of beautiful stuff, but I know they must have spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours learning how to do that, and I'm still in the under-a-full-workweek number of hours, probably, and I can only do what it is my inclination to do.

But I'm kindof liking some of the things that are happening.

I am also still working on some traditional media pieces, but they're big, and taking a long time, and if I ever finish, I'll post them.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Exploring new techniques

There's definitely a learning curve here, so all I can say that I am doing is playing.  I'm not trying to reproduce what I do with pen and ink, but to use materials (even though digital) that I don't use otherwise....

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Stretching my Skills

So....I've been taking a class to learn how to use my Corel Painter program.  I bought it a couple years, ago, and never really learned how to use it.  I see that if I am going to be able to do anything on it, I'm really going to need to dedicate some time towards actually learning it.  So here's an attempt.  I even took notes.





And now I think I'm ready for some more traditional media....

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Exercise in lights and darks

So I was reading James Gurney's book (sorry I can't remember the name) and he was talking about a painter (whose name I also don't remember) and a painting of a windmill, and how each of the blades of the windmill was handled differently--light on dark, dark on light, dark on dark, and light on light--and how interesting that is.  So that's what this is all about.  The guy is from a picture in our local newspaper (of a local college basketball player whose name I don't remember either--though one of my students recognized him and commented upon it when walking past my desk this morning).  I made a couple little tonal sketches, and while working on this realized that I do a lot of this in my drawings anyway, but not usually all four.  Getting the light on light was the hardest.

Oh, and here's a link to a page of Gurney's blog where he talks about this:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Illustration Friday: Zoom

Hey--I actually made an illustration for Illustration Friday.  Okay, so I didn't manage to get it in before the topic changed, but since I'm not going to do a "whiskers" picture, I thought I'd post it anyway.  Last week's topic was "zoom".  This is large (or relatively large), 11 X 15 inches, and regardless of how it turned out, I am pleased, because I had an idea, made some sketches, and then executed it, all in one day. Actually, it's not the "all in one day" thing that I am pleased about, it's the planning.  I'm usually not so good at planning.

P.S. The top half of this drawing is now inside the dog.  The dog has an unnatural fondness for watercolor paper, and I was getting lax about leaving things around where he could get them.  Darn.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

More Faces

I guess I'm not done with these after all.  I started a whole new batch.  (I guess this is #19.)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Last Tree

So this is the last tree (I think).  This one is a real tree (though several of the others--most  of the others--were loosely based on real trees), the hated Tree of Heaven behind my neighbor-across-the-alley's house.  I'd actually like to do it again, in a different kind of medium.  The gouache is really thick, and if I thin it, it doesn't resist the ink as well.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

More Trees

Okay....more trees.  It's been a fun day doing these.....

Illustration Friday: Tree

I absolutely love trees.  I can tell you, describe for you, every single tree that I've been able to see outside of every single place I have ever lived in my life--the row of 100 year old maple trees outside of my childhood bedroom window, the larch tree outside my dorm room window in college one year which I thought died in the fall, and I was so happy when it came back to life in the spring, the elm trees with their swirling yellow leaves in the fall in Minneapolis and the giant sweet gum tree that towered over the house across the street, and....I really could go on and on.

But I rarely draw trees from life.  I'm not sure why.  I think it's enough to just see them.

I often "doodle" trees though.  The top one here is a tree I made on Corel Painter while talking on the phone.  And the bottom one is one I made this afternoon with water soluable painting crayons, water color, pencil and India ink.

Actually, I had an idea about these, and, as I learned from doing (or rather, attempting to do) the 29 Faces in September challenge, making one of anything doesn't teach you a whole lot.  You have to do a bunch.  So I started a bunch, and here's the first one.  The second one is drying, but I don't like it nearly so much.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Old and New Projects

So an old project....making fairly quick sketches from pictures in the newspaper.  "Skewed sketches", if you will, where the initial sketch is very quick and loose, and then you slow down to render it, as if those distortions were reality.  I haven't done any in awhile, but they feel like good practice to me.  I've noticed, though, that over time, they've gotten less and less "skewed."  I wonder what's up with that.  If you click on the "Skewed Sketches" tab on the right, you can see all of them, and see what I mean.....

And the new project--interiors--is something I've meant to tackle for a long time.  I just draw people, and I feel very limited in that I have no idea how to draw the space AROUND the people.  So I'm going to (I hope) practice drawing spaces.  Interiors,  in particular, since it's heading towards winter (though I won't believe that until I feel it).  

So here's the first one, at a meeting, where I would have much preferred to simply draw the people (the kind kind people who have never objected to me drawing them during these monthly meetings).  But no, I attempted the space, which is so much less interesting, but, I've decided, necessary.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Illustration Friday: Sky

The Illustration Friday topic is "Sky".  Oh well.  This was an attempt.  I changed the obnoxious black splatters to white.  They were too heavy.  It's still awkward.  I might try another one.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mermaid Fiddler

So this is for the topic "Water" for Illustration Friday.  I actually started it several weeks ago and then stopped working on it, and when the topic came up, I thought, "Good, here's my chance to actually finish this."  I've been working on it all week, and I had hoped to get it done before a new topic was posted, but alas, I did not.

The problem was that I didn't work out the tones before I started, and I was frustrated because you couldn't tell what was what.  My son came in this morning as I was deciding that I was finished even though I was unsatisfied, and said, "Cool!  Oh wait, there's are THINGS in there;  I thought it was just a cool doodle of shapes."  Exactly!

I seem to have a harder time with bigger pictures.  This one is 11" X 11".  More room to get distracted and lose your focus in.

But I am done, and now I will start something for this week's "Sky" topic.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

29 Faces--#17 and #18

So--#17 and #18.  When I start a batch, I always finish the ones I like the best first, and then the dregs.  And this is the dregs.  I think there's another one or two around somewhere, but they must have gotten buried under some other stuff.  I AM going to finish these 29 faces, even though September is long-gone.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

29 Faces--#16

At this rate, I won't get done with the 29 Faces in September until December.  Alas.  I like this one a lot.

Friday, October 5, 2012

29 Faces--#15

The 29 Faces in September challenge may be done, but I am not.  I had to take a couple weeks break from it, but here's the first of the next round.  I am learning some things about doing these.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

End-of-the-month Sketches

Now that I'm trying all these new media, here are some traditional sketches, which seem to be the backbone of my artistic life.  

I'm getting together periodically with three other really cool women to sketch.  Several of us are trying to expand our repertoire to include landscapes, architecture, and SPACES.  I duly took charcoal and pencil to draw with since I was going to draw new things (instead of the usual pen and ink I use to draw people), but alas, I just don't have the patience for it.  I did two drawings with charcoal--one of a person in a setting, and the other of a copse of trees that was structurally interesting, but then I ended up sketching the other women sketching, much more my usual thing.

This is my foot, all crinkled up to make some interesting shapes, on the drive to the Prairie Festival at the Land Institute in Salina, KS yesterday.  Unfortunately the road was not completely straight, so the light kept changing.

This is the first of many sketches sitting in the barn listening to fabulous speakers.  Because Wendall Berry was one of them, there were many more people than there  usually are.  I'd say at least 200 were listening.

  I find I can draw quite well while listening to folks talking.  Drawing doesn't in any way detract from my ability to pay attention to the speakers.

 The only thing I can't draw while listening to is poetry reading.  It's peculiar, but I suspect poetry gets routed through a slightly different part of my brain, and one that either overlaps or interferes with the drawing part of my brain.

But overall, I find this a pleasing collection of sketches.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

New Medium

It's interesting how different media prompts different sorts of pictures.  I've never done scratchboard before, but it looked like so much fun.  So I ordered some little scratchboards, and a little set of tools, and have been having great fun with it.  I did this during a talk at the Prairie Festival at the Land Institute this afternoon.  I was worried that the little scratching sounds would bother the people around me, but my partner said that he hadn't heard it at all.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Old Country Drummer's the picture I've been working on off and on all week.  Way more satisfying than those faces......

Too bad that my scanner isn't nearly big enough for this.  This is photographed, and the quality is really low (plus I can't get it completely flat, so not all of it is in focus.)

Friday, September 21, 2012

29 Faces--#14

Okay, so I guess I am going to make a few more of these......

Saturday, September 15, 2012

29 Faces--#12 and #13

Frankly, I'm tired of these faces. Not faces in general, because faces are always interesting, but THESE faces. This perspective, this lighting, this technique (for these faces anyway). So this might be it for now. I have other projects in the works. I have seen other things that other people have done that I would like to try, so I think I will.

I'm still two days behind on the 29 faces challenge.

Why is the picture with the old woman with the hat smaller here than the one below it? The original is over twice as big. The file is over twice as big. The settings here are the same. I am at the mercy of these computer programs.....

Thursday, September 13, 2012

29 Faces--#11

Too time. Work takes up way too much of my day, and then I have to go to bed.....

29 Faces--#9 and #10

Here are two that I'm not sure I want to do anything else to. Or, I guess I should say that I really like the way they are now, with the gouache and ink rinsed off. I have three others that I don't particularly like at this stage, so I will definitely be working them some more.

But if I work on these two some more, can I call them two new ones, or are they still #9 and #10? Yes, they're still definitely the same ones. But I honestly don't think I can do 29 different ones in one month.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

29 Faces--#7 and #8

I really don't think I'm going to be able tokeep up with 29 faces. But here are the last two of the four I started a couple days ago. I'm going to have to do something different for the next ones, as I have run out of white gouache. For some reason, when I was ordering gouache, I forgot to order white, and just had a little tube left over from something.

But I think these have a lot of possibility. I'm trying to tell myself not to get too fussy with them. The gouache and ink part is pretty crude, and it wouldn't fit to be fussy with the lines.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

29 Faces--#5 and #6

I can see already that this is going to be really hard to keep up with. 29 faces in 30 days. If I can include sketchbook faces, it would be a piece of cake, because I do those all the time. But these more deliberate things. We'll see.....

So there are things I like about each of these, but then other things that I don't. I see you can't really make "corrections" with the black ink, because it has a different sheen putting it on at this point.

So this makes me only two days behind (still). I have two more in the works, which if I could finish them today, I'd be caught up. But then what about tomorrow. This might be too much pressure....