Saturday, June 29, 2013

Flattened by Photoshop

Photograph. Photoshopped.

In my eternal quest to figure out how to paint the human face, I have been, mostly, painting from pictures that I find in magazines. It's convenient, and it doesn't involve "putting myself out there" where I am sure I'd face massive ridicule for my inability to paint a realistic face. Which is dumb, but it's the truth.

And I wonder why I can't paint a face that doesn't look flat and dead.

Now, much of this can be attributed to my lack of skill, but I think that my choice of reference photos is adding to my difficulties. It's hard to see contours, and to differentiate between planes of the face, when working from photos that have been stripped of all of their planes and contours. 

I resolve to do more sketching and painting from live models, 
and from my own photos.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Two Takes, or rather, Take & Revision

watercolor in 5" x 8" sketchbook

I took a break from cleaning, weeding and other related School's-Out-Catch-Up-On-Housework yesterday to sketch my front porch. The background is the memorial park across the street. OH how I need to figure out how to draw/paint trees! (Interesting note: My BS is in Forestry, so I know trees. I know a lot about trees. Just can't convincingly portray them.) I am not getting too hung up on it (today) though, because this is just a small, quick, simple sketch.

...but there was a blandness, a lack of...

I think it makes a big difference.

HERE is the work of 
Jamie Williams Grossman, 
who can make trees look like trees.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Snapping out of the Funk

I'm not a General Funk, but I am in an Art Funk. I'm down on my abilities, which makes me put off drawing and painting, which, of course, does not do anything for those abilities...vicious cycle. Gee! If I recognize this, you'd think I'd do something about it. 

I'll post a couple of in-progress shots tomorrow, but for today, let's catch up on Learn Art in One Year!

Lesson 7: Furthering Your Technique.
1. Put some distance between your eyeballs and your drawing surface. Get the "big picture." Step back when painting.

2. Don't hold your pencil or brush like a little kid who's learning cursive--loosen up and back away from the point.

3. Use your whole arm, wrist, hand rather than just your fingers.

Good, concrete advise. This book and these lessons may not be the object of snarkery that was my original intent.

Friday, June 21, 2013

READ. (after you watch this video)

the color spectrum, 
and patience in spades:

Support your local library.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Swan Lake Pas de Pitch Dark

My lovely friend Wendy took me to the ballet last night. At
Jacob's Pillow. It's an internationally known dance venue named after...a rock formation? I should read up on it, and my large, glossy, colorful program probably explains it, but the photos of dancers are so lush that I haven't bothered to read the accompanying words, yet.

So. Sitting in absolute darkness, I sketched. Here are some of the wacky, sometimes slightly recognizable results: 

The topmost, rightmost character is actually not bad, for not looking. Roughly in proportion, and sporting the male dancers' butt. (He's not armless! His arms are just straight out.) Poor guy on the left, though--he seems to have lost his arm and it's flying a few feet in front of him.

I like the outstretched arm at the top of this page. Not bad for blind, in a totally scrunched-up way. 

Dancers scribbled on top of dancers: a worthwhile exercise in figure drawing.

And the dancing was pretty nice, too.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ten Thousand Hours


I can get lost in John Singer Sargent's watercolors. How can this happen? (A rhetorical question, I know how it happens. Years and years--what is it--ten thousand hours? of painting to produce works like this.)

I came across the photo of the watercolor, above, while reading Brian Neher's blog entry today. I scrolled up and down and up and down again a bunch of times, looking at those paintings. I can't wait to have some time to paint again, but the world's turning a little fast right now! 

For one thing, I'm in charge of a huge library book sale. It finally starts tomorrow; part of the Annual Whipple City Festival
And there will be a parade (with Grand Marshall President Abraham Lincoln--HEY--we don't fool around!) We have lots of parades in the small village of Greenwich (not to be confused with Greenwich Village)--parades that require floats, and so that's where my paint brushes have been of late:

...painting signs for floats. I won't be riding in the float, dressed as a dinosaur or a scientist, because I'll be down in the library book sale room, hopefully making the library tons of money selling used and donated books...and forever hoping to run across treasures like those Yale University Press books!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Everything at Once!

So much craziness lately! All I can say is, events, commitments, occurrences, medical's all happening RIGHT NOW, and not leaving much time for art, which should be evident in the way my posts have slowed down. However, I did find a moment to work on a little sketch at the farm, this morning. 
6" x 7", pencil in sketchbook. wish I'd had some colors with me.

It was actually therapeutic. I was trying to forget about off the recent discovery that the small crunching sounds that woke me up were not the pitter-patter of squirrels in the attic, but rather MY DOG EATING FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS WORTH OF HEARING AIDS. 

Yes. My husband's hearing aids, which had been on the bedside table, were in little pieces on the floor. Under the bed. In the dog's mouth. Handsome thinks that some parts are salvageable. 
don't let the wide-eyed innocent look fool you. lift the chin and you find hearing aids.

One of the things I love about the man--he's an optimist.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

"Technique & Method" Lesson 6

Lesson 6 starts off beating around the bush, but it stresses efficiency. (Which is really kind of funny.) Use the right tools, the right techniques, and you'll save time. Save yourself from making unnecessary movements. From expending excessive effort. 

and..."Method ...calls upon the mind to determine the best order in which to carry out the various phases of execution."*

and...An artist must know when to use a pencil and when to use charcoal. And then...the details!

1. Use clean paper and mount it (with clips or tape) on a smooth, rigid drawing board. 

2. Slip a couple of sheets of paper between the drawing surface and the smooth, rigid board.

3. Don't slant/tilt the drawing, but keep it straight. 

unattributed drawing found in a Google search

4. And keep your elbows off the [drawing] table! 

5. The softer the pencil, the darker the tone. Beginners should have a soft, an HB and a hard lead pencil.

6. Sharpen carefully.

7. Use an eraser to eradicate mistakes, and hold the paper firmly when erasing.

*p. 15, Learn Art in One Year, by Robert Gerard

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Watercolor Asea

Ahoy, Matey! The hot sun's fryin' me brain 
and the fair wind's twistin' me collar.
That really doesn't make any sense.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Angst and Aah

Is this a universal phenomenon, or is it singular to my situation: When I sit down with a serious intention to make a seriously fine, realistic and meaningful(?) portrait, it comes out like this
Ask, from yesterday's post, matured about ten years

and I beat my head against the wall.

And when I sit down with my sketchbook for a quick, 
little bit of fun, like this
Handsome at Owen's Graduation, looking like a jolly old elf

I can smile at the results?

So is there a thesis in this, somewhere? 
Artistic Intention: Self-sabotage and the Sketchbook 

Or something like that. I'm not really asking, just making an observation. I think I know the answer.

Loosen up, Woman!