Friday, September 28, 2012

Water and Charcoal and Hair

I did a little more work on yesterday's handsome fella from the Vogue pictorial. 
still wrong-side-of-paper-y, waffle-facey, but finished

This guy certainly has a wild, curly crop of hair, and I certainly had a bit of fun depicting it. It may not look absolutely realistic, but isn't that what artistic interpretation is all about?

You may notice that the blackest spot on the drawing is in his right eye (on the left.) It was a mistake. I kind of like it. A cold, adult beverage was on my windowsill (how did THAT get there!?!) while I was drawing, and apparently, the black charcoal pencil absorbed a bit of condensation. When I went to darken up the outline to his iris, the line came out as a dense, black blob, which I blotted up and then stared at. Hmm. Charcoal and water might be friends.

And I might have to go see Anna Karenina. Should I read it first, or not?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Viscious Cycle Defeated?

Just for Practice. Not for Keeps.

In my determined attempt to learn to draw better, I'm also learning to overcome my paralyzing fear of failure.

Fear of failure used to keep me from starting very many drawings or paintings. This type of program does not lead to artistic excellence. How can one become a better artist, a better illustrator (because "drawer" just looks too wrong!) when you're terrified of putting pencil to paper for fear of failure?

Now I've gotten to a nice place where I can (often) muffle my inner critic and make a drawing, knowing that it won't be and needn't be Portfolio Worthy. And then I can move on and do another.

Here's a drawing that was just for fun, because I made it knowing full well that it would not have enough of a value range to look right, based on a lesson learned a few days ago:

But I made it anyway, because Handsome was sitting next to me and my Kraft pad and a couple of pencils were in front of me. (I have ordered, and am awaiting delivery of a couple of oil-based pencils and a lighter beige pad. Yeeha!)

Here's a drawing that I started this afternoon, knowing full well that I was drawing on the "wrong" side of the paper, and the texture pattern was going to be too pronounced...based on a lesson I learned a couple of days ago.

from a Vogue Mag photo: Cute actor from Anna Karenina movie

But I made it anyway, because I'd already used the "right" side of the paper, and I didn't see the sense of wasting the "wrong" side. I kind of like him, waffle-face and all, and I'm going to work on him some more. Because sometimes, a person can just draw for practice. 

Or even, for fun.

Monday, September 24, 2012

A Headache, a Remedy, a Quiz and a Contest

Today, I came home from work with a headache. Not full-blown enough that I needed to go straight to bed, not full-blown enough that I wanted to use up one of my Imitrex injections, but a headache, nonetheless. One that settled in the back of my skull and interrupted my thoughts and made me not want to go to the gym and pound away on the treadmill. 

So I opted to watch a movie. And to keep my hands busy, I did some very un-detailed gesture-style sketching. Sketching often relaxes me, but to make sure that this episode was super relaxing, I used a "graphitkreide," a thick, solid "crayon" of 2B graphite, with a big, old rounded tip, on kraft paper. There was NO WAY I was going to get detail, which freed me up from trying to get all but the most general forms and gestures on the paper. = no room for stress, and hopefully, a headache cured and a relaxing afternoon.

It worked! After twenty minutes or so, my headache had disappeared! Hooray for ART!

Here's where the quiz comes in. One page of my sketches:

Don't be harsh! I was looking at the screen, not at the page!

The Quiz

Was I watching a movie set in...
A. The Future
B. The Regency Era
C. The Victorian Era
D. The American Antebellum Era

Click to become a Follower, slip me your answer in a comment, and be eligible to win this wonderful little book:

With pages like this:

And this:

It's a sweet, small book with many lovely color reproductions and black and white sketch reproductions. It could be yours! I'll pick a random winner from the correct answer pile and mail it to you! 

Thanks for reading; thanks for following Kismet.


Friday, September 21, 2012

A Quick Lesson Leaned

There are two sides to a piece of paper.

One is good for drawing on with a charcoal or a pastel pencil.

One is way too textured. 

Detail (above) of my sketch of Handsome, showing the craters and pits in the wrong side of the paper--wrong for this use, anyway.

I'm still thinking that I can find those oil-based pencils locally--so to skip the mail order wait--but I feel that I will very soon succumb to my urge to just place an online order.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Not too sure about the hair: OR the cross-eyed, metallic man!

I love good advise from people who know what they're talking about. So when a couple of illustrators who really know what they're talking about commented on my Not To Sure About The Hair post, suggesting that I try Lyra/Rembrandt oil-based pencils, I was on a mission to do just that!

My village is too small to have an art supply store, but after the dentist chair yesterday, I skipped into the art supply store in Saratoga Springs, thinking to treat myself to a few of those pencils. Kind of like when Mom used to treat me to a clam roll at Howard Johnson's after the dentist, a couple of million years ago.

The pencil section was hip-deep in watercolor pencils, with nary an oil-based stick in sight. Nuts!

Back home, I double-checked my colored pencil stash. Water-soluble...water-soluble...water soluble...and AHA! a set of Lyra "Super Ferby" totally fat, metallic colors colored pencils! They didn't claim to be "oil-based," but "long-wearing" and "non-soluble" kind of sounded like "oil-based" to me. Yahoo!

There were a few drawbacks. 
1. The colors ran the spectrum all the way from pastel this to pastel that;
2. The values ranged from light to light;
3. The leads are about a centimeter wide, meant for little kids, I suppose. They are really CHUNKY pencils, and hard to see exactly where the point is hitting on the paper, when in use. 

I chose a light red for the darks and a silver for the whites (which pretty completely matched the color of the gray paper I chose to draw on.)

And yes, he's not only made of metallic colors and identical values, he's also been drawn cross-eyed. Sorry, Fella!

I think I'll be placing an order with Blick. In the mean time, watch for my next study, metallics on white paper. The "Ferby" leads were smooth and soft and left a luscious line.

Side Note on the Side Bar Boxes: With the happy distraction of the wedding out of the way, I did manage to upload my novel, Kismet, to Barnes & Noble for you to purchase for your Nook. Of course, I have the book on  my desktop computer, but I may download it to read on my Nook, just for the fun of it. Humor, history, romance, mystery and  adventure, all for only 99 cents!

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Upside to Sjogren's Syndrome -- 100th Post

This is what happens when farmers have free license 
to prepare the wedding conveyance.

This is what happens when two fantastic young people 
grow and raise all of the food for their wedding.

I spent the last weekend surrounded by friends and family, and smiling so much and so continually that my cheeks hurt. And crying, too, but that was all on the inside, because when you have Sjogren's Syndrome, you don't have tears, and you can't wreck your mascara. At least you can't wreck your mascara by crying it off.

My stepson and his sweetheart, the pulchritudinous couple, above, planned and executed a glorious wedding weekend. They supplied the caterer with most of the food that was served, including vegetables, pork and chicken, honey and maple syrup from the family farm. The florist added Liz's gardening products to his beautiful decorations. The owners of the reception site, a Catskill Mountain farm that had been in our family, long years past, made a special display of family history for everyone to enjoy. The list of professionals and avocationals who contributed to making this wedding special goes on and on.

And I made the dessert spread, and the wedding cake!

Theme: Maple Syrup and Honey, both products of the farm

They'd requested a small wedding cake--just enough for ceremony--with a buffet array of a variety of other treats. I put my usual artistic pursuits on hold and did some kitchen creation, pumping out cupcakes, cookies, mini cheesecakes and pumpkin squares, and more. I saved all of the portioning and garnishing, not to mention, the assembly of the wedding cake, for the morning of the wedding. I was rather strung out by the time I had to leave for the ceremony.

But it all worked out for the best.

Yes, it all worked out for the best, 
and Handsome and I danced 'til we dropped.

Congratulations to the newly united Mr and Mrs Frisbee.

Maple Nut Bars
(my favorite of the wedding desserts)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8" x 8" pan and line with enough foil that the foil sticks up over the sides of the pan.

Make the crust:
Whisk together 1-1/2 cups flour and 1/3 cup brown sugar (unless you have maple sugar around that you're willing to pulverize and use up;) then cut in 1/2 cup softened butter. Blend until mixture resembles coarse meal, then press into the greased and foil-lined 8 inch square pan.  Bake 15 minutes.

To make the topping, combine 3/4 cup of maple syrup (use Grade B, a darker, more flavorful syrup, if you can get it,) 1/2 cup brown sugar (or, again, maple sugar,) a beaten egg, 2 tablespoons of melted butter, 1/4 cup of heavy cream, 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Beat well, then stir in a cup of chopped pecans or walnuts. Pour batter over half-baked crust. 

Return the pan to the oven and bake until set, about 35 minutes. Lift out of the pan, while warm, by the foil. Cool, and cut into small squares. Enjoy.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Is that a Monkey in your pants, or...

It's not every day that I laugh out loud while listening to NPR on the way home from school at noon. (Noon, you ask? Yes. Our school has done some slashing in the arts department, and elsewhere.)

BBC News comes on right after Joe Donahue finishes up his Roundtable. After a couple of world news stories, they reported that some men had been arrested in India, at an airport, after airline personnel noticed bulges in their pants. Really. The men were searched, and found to have monkeys in their pants. As in MONKEYS, albeit small ones, IN THEIR UNDERWEAR

Apparently, this is not a new phenomenon. Apparently, they were not the first to attempt profitable rare animal smuggling.

I will file this away in my brain for when things get really tight. 
In my pants. Just kidding!

My 100th post is next, and it's not going to be about monkeys in underpants.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

In Between the Other Stuff

Here's some recent fun, which wasn't fun at all.

We were in need of a coffee pot. Although I cringe at the environmental waste produced by throwing away all of those little K-cups, I have to admit, the best tasting home-brewed coffees I've had of late come from those Keurig coffee makers. And you can use regular ground coffee in them, with some kind of adapter, right? I could  purchase yet another $15 drip Mr. Coffee that I'll have to replace in a year or two...or I could rationalize spending a prohibitive amount of money that I kind of don't have on a Keurig thing that will last and last...OR...I could find a used Keurig on Craigslist!

What a great idea! 

Except that you get what you pay for.

We almost thought Handsome had it working at one point, after disassembling it and tweaking this and that, and I was considering it my Steampunk coffee maker--with all of the exposed tubing and electrical elements--but now if it's my Steampunk anything, it's my Steampunk doorstop.

Yes, you get what you pay for. And it might be a good idea to ask for a demonstration of an item, before you hand over the cash and drive away. Or to just stay home and draw!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Not too sure about the hair....

Given my apparent propensity for drawing manjaws on many of my portrait subjects (whether they deserve them or not) I thought it was time to sketch a manjaw on a real, live man. But then Handsome left for his home-away-from-home job, taking his sturdy jaw and dimpled chin, so I once again turned to the vintage photo archive.

There was no name on the back of this handsome fella's photo.

Label your photos!

It's not very noticeable, but I did use my fingertips to smudge the chalks on this portrait. I don't think it's either an improvement over the not-smudged technique used on the Chalk Baby, or that the smoother look is a detraction. It's just slightly different. I'll continue to experiment with both.