Shrimp

First, I drew the shrimp with a fine ink pen and laid in a background of water-soluble graphite.

First, I drew the shrimp with a fine ink pen and laid in a background of water-soluble graphite.

Next, I added india ink with a watercolor brush to reinforce some of the contours.

Next, I added india ink with a watercolor brush to reinforce some of the contours.

The fun and messy part was adding some ink drops and spatters.  Lots of experimenting!

The fun and messy part was adding some ink drops and spatters.  Lots of experimenting!

Finally, I added some light pastel markings along the shrimp's shell and blended them together. 

Finally, I added some light pastel markings along the shrimp's shell and blended them together. 

lefty righty

Drawing done with right hand in graphite

Drawing done with right hand in graphite

Drawing done with left hand in ink

Drawing done with left hand in ink

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.

Right hand with graphite

Right hand with graphite

Left hand with ink

Left hand with ink

my first etching!

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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!

This is how one of the proofs came off the press.  There is a line in the center of the plate that I wish was not there, but the overall design held up well, I think.

This is how one of the proofs came off the press.  There is a line in the center of the plate that I wish was not there, but the overall design held up well, I think.

Here is another proof, which I touched up with some watercolor to darken the background, trying to make the line less noticeable.

Here is another proof, which I touched up with some watercolor to darken the background, trying to make the line less noticeable.

watercolor glazing is so cool

Early in the painting, I laid in a background with some ultramarine blue and perylene maroon pigments.  (Daniel Smith's perylene maroon is one of my favorite colors since I stopped using that dastardly fugitive alizarin crimson.)

Early in the painting, I laid in a background with some ultramarine blue and perylene maroon pigments.  (Daniel Smith's perylene maroon is one of my favorite colors since I stopped using that dastardly fugitive alizarin crimson.)

I felt that the background was too purple, so I neutralized it with a very watery glaze of lemon yellow.

I felt that the background was too purple, so I neutralized it with a very watery glaze of lemon yellow.

Once I had darkened the shoes themselves, I wanted more warmth in the background, so I added another very pale glaze of perylene maroon.

Once I had darkened the shoes themselves, I wanted more warmth in the background, so I added another very pale glaze of perylene maroon.

In the end, though, I decided to use another layer of sap green to bring it back to neutral for the finished still life.

In the end, though, I decided to use another layer of sap green to bring it back to neutral for the finished still life.

hog bristle brushes for watercolor?

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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.)

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shoe drawings

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.)

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Value lessons

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!

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color value charts

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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. 

 

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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!

printing 101

Today I made a print from scratch at home, which was really fun!  Here is the initial sketch for the print.

Today I made a print from scratch at home, which was really fun!  Here is the initial sketch for the print.

Next, I transferred the image onto a piece of linoleum using tracing paper and carbon transfer paper.

Next, I transferred the image onto a piece of linoleum using tracing paper and carbon transfer paper.

Here is the linoleum, getting warmed up with a heating pad (which makes it easier to cut).

Here is the linoleum, getting warmed up with a heating pad (which makes it easier to cut).

Here, I have carved the design into the linoleum, and have centered it inside the frame of the paper size I'll be using.

Here, I have carved the design into the linoleum, and have centered it inside the frame of the paper size I'll be using.

Now I've applied ink with a roller...

Now I've applied ink with a roller...

And at last, here is the finished print!

And at last, here is the finished print!

forays into printmaking

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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!

dobra teacups

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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.

Best music today: Donny Hathaway

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?

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ashland art center life drawing class

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.

one of this week's portraits

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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).

portrait class

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.

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leikeli47

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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). 

today's work

This is one of the figure drawings from the Croquis Cafe, a free online figure drawing resource.  I've been drawing from it almost every day.  This was today's best effort.

This is one of the figure drawings from the Croquis Cafe, a free online figure drawing resource.  I've been drawing from it almost every day.  This was today's best effort.

I painted this figure from a magazine photo, and was interested in trying to make the marks to describe the background.  I spend lots of time with the figures, but am just now learning about rendering the surroundings.

I painted this figure from a magazine photo, and was interested in trying to make the marks to describe the background.  I spend lots of time with the figures, but am just now learning about rendering the surroundings.

Again, an image cribbed from Cassanda Jean, done in watercolor and Sharpie marker.  It's interesting that Sharpie is totally waterproof (although I realized today that it's not alcohol-proof, as the copic markers will totally smear it around).

Again, an image cribbed from Cassanda Jean, done in watercolor and Sharpie marker.  It's interesting that Sharpie is totally waterproof (although I realized today that it's not alcohol-proof, as the copic markers will totally smear it around).

I've been enjoying the artwork in a graphic novel called Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, which is illustrated by Cassandra Jean, a fantastic comic book artist.  I have been very interested in finding out what kinds of materials can be used to create different marks and images, so I imitated this example trying out lots of different things, including copic markers, gouache, and india ink.

I've been enjoying the artwork in a graphic novel called Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, which is illustrated by Cassandra Jean, a fantastic comic book artist.  I have been very interested in finding out what kinds of materials can be used to create different marks and images, so I imitated this example trying out lots of different things, including copic markers, gouache, and india ink.

jilly ballistic

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.

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halloween masks

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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....