I've been experimenting with doing figure drawing with my non-dominant hand, and the results have been really interesting, both in terms of the process and the results. The effort required to draw with my left hand requires all my concentration, so I'm not able to be critical of my drawing while it's happening, which is a very fresh immediate kind of experience, and I think that process makes the resulting drawings more interesting and spontaneous-looking.
I've been really excited about the printmaking class I'm taking at the Ashland Art Center, and last week I had the chance to use the press to make prints from my first copper plate! The plate itself is pictured here. There is a whole series of steps needed to prepare the plate, and then an etching needle is used to draw the design, after which the plate is submerged in a bath of iron solution that essentially rusts out the areas that were scratched with the needle. After that, the plate can be printed. There is so much to learn, and it's all fascinating!
Here is a painting I did of some of the hog bristle brushes I've been using in learning to paint skies and clouds. It would not have occurred to me to use them, but I came across the idea in a painting tutorial, and found them to be really interesting in the way they hold and distribute paint. To the right are a few of the cloud studies I did using the hog bristle brushes. (The painting above is not as loose of a style, and I admit that I did NOT use any hog bristle brushes in painting it. Also, the brushes were too busy posing for their portrait to be bothered with actually painting anything.)
I've been doing more drawing from life lately (which always dramatically improves the way I see) and have been fascinated with the drawing possibilities inherent in shoes. They have so much personality, and so many different forms within the overall structure. Each of these sketches took about ten minutes. (I also don't have many opportunities these days to wear fancy shoes, but I can at least appreciate their artistic merits from the comfortable vantage point of my everyday boots.)
Here are some pictures of the lesson from Friday's color theory class with Gabriel Lipper. We used a black and white image from one of Gabriel's lovely paintings, which is the image on the left. Then we painted the same image with exclusively dark values for the foreground and light values in the background, which is pictured in the center. Finally, we reversed those instructions and painted the face with only very light values and the background with only dark values. It's fascinating to me how all kinds of colors can be used and still create a comprehensible image if the values are correct!
Here are some of the color charts I worked on for the color theory class I'm taking from Gabriel Lipper. The idea is to evaluate colors in terms of their value range (meaning how light or dark the color can be made). For example, yellow is a color that is already pretty light coming out of the tube, while blues and greens inherently have a darker value. Each chart has a value scale from dark to light made with black and white paint, and then each color is matched as closely as possible to the values represented in the black and white row.
On the top are the charts pictured in color as painted; on the bottom, they are shown in black and white, which shows more clearly the values that each square carries.
For this exercise, I didn't have the right size of canvas panels, so I used some old pieces of 300 lb. watercolor paper that had been used previously for various watercolor and ink experiments. I kind of like the effect of the uniform squares over the images!
Happy New Year! I will be starting a printmaking class at the Ashland Art Center tomorrow, so I decided it would be fun to look through some of my homemade print efforts from last year.
I'm excited to learn about all the different varieties of printmaking, the tools, the inks, and the concepts. I've seen countless different types of print art, but know so little about it. More to follow!
I painted these teacups this afternoon after a lunchtime trip to Dobra Teahouse here in Ashland. They have a whole wall of adorable cups with all kinds of designs, so I took a bunch of phone pictures and chose this arrangement. I actually used Sharpie markers to draw in the cup designs (Sharpie markers are great because they are totally waterproof and can be painted over without smearing), and then used indigo, transparent mars brown and some yellow ochre for the rest of the painting. Sharpie would definitely be better on smoother paper, but I otherwise really prefer the texture of the Arches cold press paper. I like the black color I get from mixing indigo and transparent mars brown right out of the tube, but the texture of it is sort of sticky. Maybe india ink would be more manageable and flow better.
Today's post is devoted to Donny Hathaway, the singer/songwriter/pianist who recorded "The Ghetto" and "Everything is Everything". I knew he was an amazing musician, but I didn't know that he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and died after a fall from the fifteenth floor of his hotel room at the Essex House in New York City, which was ruled a suicide. He was only 33 years old.
Most surprising of his tracks that I listened to today was a version of "Misty". Who would think that anyone could transform that particular song (which I must admit has been seared into my memory as a high school jazz band cornball standard...I can only beg the forgiveness of Errol Garner for that misconception) into something infinitely soulful?
This morning I attended an uninstructed life drawing session at the Ashland Art Center. Here are some of the images in slideshow format. (Just click on the image above to toggle to the next one...very high-tech!) I love the meditative nature of the class; everyone is so deeply immersed in the work that there is very little talking, and very little chance to compare work to one's neighbor; the opportunity to draw from a live model is too absorbing to worry about what one's neighbor is doing, although I admit that it's always fun to walk around during the breaks and see what other people are drawing.
This portrait was painted earlier this week. (Alas, weekends are harder when it comes to finding uninterrupted time to paint, so I've been saving up a few things to post on days when I don't finish anything postable.) I've been working from lots of different photographs to try out different ways of rendering images, and I really liked the expression of the girl in this picture, as well as her fair hair and light complexion against the dark value of her coat. I'd like to learn more about how to render hair textures and shapes without trying to paint every strand (which sounds in theory like it would be a good idea, but in practice it gives a really overworked appearance, whereas with experienced watercolorists, it seems like the suggestion is more powerful that the literal details).
Yesterday in my oil painting portrait class, we worked from photographs, and I chose a reference photograph by this great photographer named Walter Pfeiffer, whose work I came across in a recent issue of Aperture magazine, which always has fascinating images and stories. I love all the red in the original image, as well as the facial planes and the expression of the model. I worked out most of my painting during the three-hour session yesterday, and then finished it up in an hour's work today. I used up most of my remaining cadmium red, but it was worth it to spend all that time with such a beautifully photographed image.
Today's post is an image I did in watercolor of Leikeli, a badass girl rapper who performs with her face entirely covered with either a mask or a balaclava. I think it's a really powerful maneuver for a young female performer to remove the requirement for a pretty face from the equation so that the audience can focus on the music (which is fantastic, by the way).
This is an illustration I did based on the work of this amazing NYC subway artist named Jilly Ballistic. (More of her work can be seen on http://jillyballistic.tumblr.com. Her work is a mind trip, totally subversive and post-apocalyptic.) In my version, I was interested first in doing the drawing, as it's interesting that the figure is totally cloaked in hazmat gear but still clearly female. Then I became interested in finding ways to make marks that reflect the proper values, with the bright light spilling over one side, and dark shadows on the other. Finally, the background was made with lots of different kinds of marks and drips from sponged watercolor.
Today's paintings are watercolors of some amazing masks that I photographed last week at a Halloween exhibit called "The October Imaginarium: Hats and Masks" at the Art Presence Art Center in Jacksonville. Lots of inventive work there in all kinds of different media, and lots of great photos for making paintings! More to follow....