A whole sweetmeat squash propped up smaller subjects so two friends and I could draw them. Starting in pencil, I then drew over the pencil lines in ink. Next step: on a light table I put a tissue photo copy of the line drawing. On a fresh sheet of Lanaquarelle paper I did a looser watercolor sketch using the base drawing as a guide. Scanned individually to be used as PhotoShop layers, I then assembled them in that program. I enjoy the not-quite-registered effect of the separate layers. Celebrate autumn!
January is the perfect month for allowing fresh ideas to come forth. Yesterday, while flying from Oakland, CA to Seattle, I was awed by the prominent peaks of the Cascade Range as they pierced the low cloud layer in all their frosted beauty. Ideas for teaching started coming into my mind like so many flashes off the wing of our aircraft.
Curiously, the good old Schaeffer calligraphy fountain pen flashed into my mind. I've done very little sketching with this pen, but it offers so much as a drawing tool. This morning I pulled it out of a drawer and it was ready to go to work for me. Here's what I drew:
Coffee cup at drawing group meeting. Schaeffer pen (fine tip) and colored pencil.
The regional calligraphy conference, "Letters of Joy," will be held at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, WA on May 1 & 2, 2015. I'll be proposing two new 2-hour mini-classes, one of which will be a little workshop on using calligraphic fountain pens for sketching and letter writing. Why use a calligraphy fountain pen? Because the broad-edged nibs in these pens give us thicks and thins which create more textured sketches. In early days, hand-cut quills were used for drawing, yielding the original quality of varied line width.
As confirmations take place, I will post more detailed information about all 2015 classes I'll be teaching.
Once in a while, I take time to do a small oil painting. And once in a great while, I find a pomegranate in a bin of them where the pomegranate has a full crown. This one was a beauty, so I decided to paint its portrait:
Earlier this week, the "study in red" above appeared randomly as I helped a friend fix dinner. She put the hibiscus on the counter, I made a cup of tea and casually put that on the counter as I pulled out some watermelon to slice for the meal. My friend walked into the kitchen and was struck by the still life that had been created unintentionally. She insisted I sketch it. Even though I felt more like sitting down to eat rather than drawing, I quickly drew and painted the grouping. Voilà.
A trip to the produce department in the autumn is a feast for the artist's eyes, isn't it? Among the predominantly purple veggies I bought a couple of weeks ago was a gorgeous savoy cabbage. I decided to render it in two layers: a fine line contour drawing and a loose watercolor layer. Here are both the parts, and then, the combined image.
For the line drawing I used a 000 tech pen. After placing the line drawing on my light table, I put a piece of 90 lb. watercolor paper over the drawing and loosely painted the cabbage which was perched nearby. I scanned both renderings and combined them into one image in PhotoShop.
To see a photo of the purple vegetable collection, including this Savoy cabbage, please click here.
I have four lively reasons for not having posted any new artwork for awhile: two Ameraucanas, one Speckled Sussex, and one Welsummer. These are chicken breeds, for those who are not poultry-involved! I've had my chicks for a week; they are as entertaining as four downy clowns can be. This morning I brewed a cup of coffee and sat over the brooder box with a brush marker and managed to wake up enough to capture a few quick (by necessity) sketches of the babies as they pecked, preened, pestered, and collapsed for sudden naps. To see photos of the chicks, please visit my blog.
My yard is attracting robins. Slim, paler ones that are busily collecting nesting materials - rotund, chesty ones that are on worm-plucking duty, and one extraordinary one that was meditating in the fig tree yesterday. Against the clarity of the blue sky, this robin was beyond plump. I looked at it from below, in awe, taking time out from my weeding. Once back in the studio, I made a small sketch. Today, using the sketch, I created the cartoon below. Welcome, robins!
Brought togetherby the desire to practice sketching, two friends and I have gathered over tea one morning a week during these later autumn months. We've drawn objects in my greenhouse, objects placed on the table beside our teacups and muffins, scenery outside the window, and items in the interiors of our homes. Whatever presented itself, in other words. Last week I selected as my subject an endearing symbol of Yuletide in the form of a small woollen, fur-trimmed elfin doll: Father Christmas. He was perched upon a wooden box on my friend's buffet. Once back in my studio, I completed the sketch by making a frame of lettering consisting of international names for the familiar figure. Digitally colored in PhotoShop and placed before you on your monitor, he has now hopped from the buffet onto the internet. Good Yuletide Cheer to One and All!
How beautiful are the colors of the eggs laid by the hens from our son and daughter-in-law's small farm! Looking at a basket of them, newly collected, never fails to inspire me to want to paint them. So, last week, in honor of Easter coming up, I did just that. Something slightly tragic happened during the time I was painting them, but before I reveal what that was, here are the hens that laid the eggs (minus the Leghorn, who laid the one white egg - she's probably off-camera in a nesting box, laying her daily egg): Correction: The Barred Rock hen lays pale brown/buff eggs, not green eggs. I now have my own Barred Rock and therefore, I know :-).
One little aside: the egg has been used symbolically for thousands of years. It represent fertility (as do lilies and lambs) and new life, which is why it is associated with the festival of Easter, named after Eastre, the Anglo-Saxon goddess of the dawn and the spring.
To paint the eggs, I set them carefully on the small desk in my studio when the light of day was rapidly waning. During brief periods while the watercolor was drying on the sheet, I dashed into the kitchen to work on dinner preparations. I went back and forth a few times, drawing at first, then applying light washes of color to the egg composition. Here's a photo showing 5 of the eggs on my desk.
By the way, drawing and painting eggs is an excellent exercise in careful observation of shape and shadow! And, in the case of these eggs, a worthy exercise in subtle coloring.
After I had some color on all the eight eggs, I made another trip into the kitchen to tend dinner, and upon my return, beneath the edge of my desk, this is the alarming sight that met me:
Three of the eight lovely eggs had rolled off and smashed to the floor in my absence. Not only was it sad to lose them but my still life with 8 eggs was seriously impaired. So with very little daylight left, I pressed forward painting the five remaining eggs, imagining the play of light, shadow and color on the now-missing three. Dinner was served quite late that night, but my tribute to the Hens of Hazel Dell Farm and their beautiful symbols of new life was finished.
Recording my daily life has always interested me, even when I was a child. Out of volumes of artwork I've done over the years, I've saved few of my off-hand journalistic sketches. Recently, while searching for something in the basement, I came across a page of drawings I did in March, 1967. They were done on the back of a sheet of my mother's historical writings about the place we were living at the time: Cadiz, Spain. Looking at this page, I remember my bedroom very well, with its single bed, handwoven Spanish bedspread, and my desk with my books. On closer inspection, I see that I was reading The Pearl. These items are recorded here, along with my napping poodle mutt Barby.
Why put this page forth? As I look at it now, as one who teaches journaling and sketching techniques, I can see that my "style," such as it is, has not changed in all this time! A few ink lines contouring the subjects, a few details, and a quick, loose swipe of color or shading are all one need put down. This way of quickly recording images or full scenes serves me and my students well. I call it "capturing simplicity." If you are interested in taking a class with me, please write. Soon I'll be posting a page on this website describing upcoming study opportunities in addition to the North Cascades Institute (there, the focus will be nature sketching) page already posted.