Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sketchbook Miscellany

Finally there was a day when I could sit outside and comfortably sketch without feeling the oppressive heat suffocating me. My husband was working on a lawnmower in the garage. I sat in a camping chair out front, in the shade. Of all the things I was surrounded by, this dirty old gas can is what I chose to sketch! (well, technically, I guess everything out there is dirty!) I sketched it in pencil. Then I used tracing paper to transfer it to watercolor paper. I knew of this technique, but believe or not, I had never tried it. I think one of the advantages of it is not worrying about messing up the original sketch. Definitely something to remember if you've lost your confidence or if you would just like to try painting with different techniques!

Sketches from posemaniacs. I had just about forgotten this site existed until someone posted some sketches they did. I filled nine pages (9"x12" sketchbook) with 30, 60, and 90 sec gesture drawings. Then, I went to random pose and did these sketches, untimed. I'm not sure how long they took, 5 mins or so? And for the first time, I realized I could keep the same pose and sketch it from a different angle. (The two on the left are the same pose, rotated slightly.)

This was done mostly while watching Pirates of the Caribbean. I paused the scene at the pier to draw the two men. I loved the guy's face on the left. Very unique! Started as a blind contour in ballpoint, so his face is somewhat skewed, but I like how it gives it a caricatured look. Then I drew the skeleton, bottom left, from memory. I have a photo of a skeleton head that I drew from next, to see how much I had retained in my memory sketch. More meerkats, started blind contour, shading and texture then added. This page was fun to do. See the tilted girl? Do you do that? Seems like there is always at least one drawing on my page which somehow ends up cockeyed!

This is self-portrait #11 of 100. (A redo of it, actually, as the first one was a disaster!) After the first sketchbook I bound, I actually made another, thinner one, using a different paper. Easier to carry around! My first one is a little wonky and I discovered that I had folded the pages against the grain instead of with it. So, this book actually turned out much better! However, I've now made another discovery. I really DISLIKE the Canson XL 140lb watercolor paper I bound in it! (I think it might be their student grade. ) Everything I've done on this paper has turned out dull and sort of fuzzy. It doesn't hold up to scrubbing at all! Here, I had a sketch that I really liked. I made a small mistake near the chin area, and using a technique that Dan told me about, I tried to gently scrub it away. And, I emphasize that I was gentle! Terrible results! The paper disintegrated and nothing I did would fix it. I only realized that it was the paper, and not me, while reading Cathy Johnson's Creating Nature in Watercolor, which I just purchased. (I love the book, Cathy!) Suddenly I realized that I had not done a single painting on this paper that I liked! And really, I think it was this blow to my confidence which started the whole block I've been suffering lately!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Bitten by the Dog Days of Summer

Whew! It's been ages since I updated, longer if I go back to the last art I posted. This summer hasn't been great for me. I am not prone to sulking or depression, but I'm an outdoorsy type and Houston just had the hottest August on record. I do not like heat, especially with high humidity. It had me thinking about Boise, and wishing I still lived there. I lived right on the Boise greenbelt, which runs straight through the middle of town next to the Boise river. From the greenbelt I walked to Boise State University (not as a student), the library, the post office, the grocery store (when I only needed a few items!), 8th St marketplace, the zoo, numerous parks. You get the idea. I was outside all the time; lots to draw too. So, in my sulky state, I complained about not having anything to walk to...everything is spread out. Not that it matters because who would want to walk here?! And what the heck is one supposed to draw around here, a barbed wire fence? To compound my problem, after doing numerous remodel jobs in the house, which was exhausting but satisfying, I got out of the habit of sketching. I made a sketchbook, then another. But when I picked up my pencil to add the first sketch, I couldn't get into my groove and it turned out terribly and now I have to look at it every time I pick up my sketchbook. I have struggled with trying to get it back for several weeks now. (Upper left: morguefile photo: ref id# 208873 by LU311 done in pencil and watercolor; Upper Right: A very small gesture sketch of a fleeting moment, done in ballpoint. )

For Labor Day weekend, we had my brother-in-law's family come for a visit. My 7 year old niece, whose work I've posted here before, loves to draw. I gave her a sketchbook last year and in it we are writing a story and illustrating it. We drew tons this weekend, all of it from imagination (very unusual for me). I was really getting into the groove by the third day, feeling like that dreamy child again. In the story, my husband and niece and I are always getting captured and we have to use our super powers to get free and conquer the bad guys. After watching "The Spy Next Door" (Jackie Chan movie), we suddenly remembered we were Master Ninjas. I do wish I had remembered to scan in some of our artwork to show you! I know that you would have been impressed with her talent!

Here is a very quick sketch of my niece. She looks very serious here, but believe me, she is nothing but energy and giggles! I asked her to be my model and hold still. I laughed when she instantly went rigid with her arms straight down at her side, her eyes unblinking. After I got her a little more relaxed, with her arms folded, she asked me how long this would take, to which I replied that sometimes it could take hours. Her eyes went huge! This sketch might have taken five minutes; that is all she could take.

I have since filled six pages of my larger sketchbook, hoping to break this spell. I think it is working, I do feel lighter/less burdened. Left: Wishing at was at the Urban Sketchers Symposium. Pencil sketches from photos posted on their site. Orange background added in Photoshop. (It made the sketches stand out more.) Right: Sketches with my Lamy Safari using morguefile photos as reference.

And the heat has finally broken. We are only in the seventies today, as we are getting pummeled by Tropical Storm Hermine. It has been dark and rainy all day, but to me it is much preferred over August's weather. This is the view out of my studio window at the moment. Let's hope that I've gotten over my moping and that I remember next year, when it is summer and miserable again, to at least keep drawing as that is what normally keeps me happy!