Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A No Pressure Pencil Exercise: Three Princesses


This drawing was done from a photo for a weekend
drawing event.  It is a pencil sketch, 81/2 X 11 inches. 
When really relaxed and using junk paper and pencil,
when there is absolutely no pressure to draw well,
you can be free and relaxed with your line.  You
can make lines filled with life and movement…
COMMITTED, BRAVE  lines drawn with ABANDON.
The secret is to do this when under pressure or tense
because you are using expensive materials.  The secret
to solving this is  to work around others and to use
and destroy some nice papers without sadness because
you have learned something.  Maybe not something
astonishing but something as simple as “ I need to vary
my line more.”  This simple understanding is really worth
much more than a sheet of paper.

I have included  two close-ups for you to see  my line.
It was done on junk paper with mechanical pencil… a NO
pressure exercise.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Proportion: Christmas Calico Cat

6 x 6 Acrylic on stretched canvas.

Definition of Calico Cat: Calico refers to the color 
pattern of the cat not the breed.  The color pattern 
occurs in a non-predictive manner.    

I have been on a quest to capture the essence "catness ". 
I have struggled with the facial proportions.  I must be 
painting my mental image of "catness" and not what is 
really there.  I have never owned a cat and I believe 
familiarity with an animal makes it easier to under-
stand its proportions.  With this painting I kept 
stopping and putting it aside, so I could look at it 
with fresh eyes and evaluate where I was 
proportionally off. This was very helpful since my 
original painting was off in the relationship of the ears 
to the head and the length of the face from the nose 
down. This painting is closer to looking convincing 
than many I have done. After I finished it I asked 
myself why? Yes, my measurements and angles 
are more accurate.  I started to investigate cat 
facial proportions and found that pentagonal symmetry 
is applicable to a cat face, as well as to many other 
creatures. We as humans love symmetry.  We find
beauty in it.  Maybe this is why I like this cat painting 
better than most I have done.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Exercise: Two Hour Portrait: Old Man

I posted this larger so that you can see the brush strokes.  It is  acrylic, 8 x 10 inches on stretched canvas.  It was done in 2 hours.  Portraits can easily be overworked. I wanted to limit my time so that could not occur.  Yes, I am guilty of overworking, just like many of you. It is quite easy to keep changing and changing, but after a point the freshness is gone.  I am not a professional portrait painter, but I do enjoy painting people with character evident on their faces.  I also love brush stroke.  When I paint, I want the brush stroke to show.  I do not want it to look like my colored pencil paintings, which are very realistic.  The smallest brush I used was a # 7 old, frayed. round.  I also used a 1/4 and a 1/2 inch flat brush. The flats help to define the planes, the round makes the lines.

Monday, October 15, 2012


 This first photo is after 2 hours and 15 minutes
I put in two more hours to finish.

Done from a photo for the October 12 weekend Drawing Event.  Acrylic on stretched Canvas 8 x10 inches. Living on a peninsula between the Sea of Cortes and the Pacific Ocean, sea life is very much a part of life here.  Some years ago in Magdalena Bay on the Pacific side of the peninsula, I was lucky enough to see a  live seahorse. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pacific Sea Nettle

Colored pencil on dark blue Colorfix paper.  Around the edge of the painting you can see the paper color.
I used Prismacolors.  On the dome of the jelly where I wanted a smooth, shiny, blended surface, I used a stiff brush to blend the colors together. The painting is 6x6 inches. I took the photo at the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco. I am fascinated by these beautiful, monsters of the deep.

It has been a very long time since I really enjoyed doing a painting.  But this was fun, quick and a bit abstract.....making  all of my many practice paintings worth it. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Three Hour Colored Pencil Sketch... The Fawn

The Fawn is Prismcolors on coffee colored Mi-tientes paper 6 x 7 1/2 inches.  It was done from a photo for the October 6, Wetcanvas Drawing Event.  It is a practice piece done simply for the enjoyment of making art. There are so many reasons not to produce work. I am not in the mood,  I am not engaged by the photo, there is just too much detail, it won't be a masterpiece, I don't like how it looks as I begin, it isn't perfect, my measurements are off........and on and on.  I am sure if you are reading this blog, you have experienced these thoughts.
But, this summer I visited the studio of  Joaquin Clausell (1866-1935). He is a Mexican Impressionist. His studio is located in Mexico City, in a wonderful old building, now the City Museum.  He used his walls to practice upon.  There are no canvases in his studio now.  There are just four walls painted from floor to ceiling with small works. It appears that he used these walls for practice work out problems, to think about composition, or to simply to play at the end of a day.  It is a breathtaking, enchanting glimpse into the mind of a practicing artist. This was certainly not meant to be a display of his finest works, but it shows us much more, his problems, his sometimes not so perfect solutions, and some amazingly fresh masterpieces. This all came about through PRACTICE.
So, if you ever get a chance to visit his studio, please do, you will not be disappointed

So here is my practice piece after 2 hours.

And after 3 hours.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Exercise: Plein Air Sketch...Using Colored Pencil

This Sketch was drawn at Playa ( Beach) Los Cerritos on the Pacific coast of the peninsula while spending a day relaxing on the sand under an umbrella. The picture is of a portion of a hotel that sits up on a cliff above the beach.  It was done on watercolor paper (which is very textured) because that is what I had with me.  I used my pencil nubs, since they are small and take up little room. I didn't have every color with me.  I just grabbed a handful of nubs, put them in a small plastic container along with a pencil sharpener and I left the eraser home.  In this sketch, I went back in at the end with a pen to define and darken some areas.  Drawing from life, instead of a photo, is good practice.  You learn to work quickly to capture the fleeting light and to improve observation skills.  You also learn to filter out details and simplify what you see concentrate and ignore wind, bugs, people and everything else that disturbs. You become lost in the creative process.  Drawings like these are more about the process than the product.  Remember that the fewer materials you bring, the easier it is to work and the more fun you will have.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Two to Tango...Acrylic

Two habanero chiles on a small blue glass plate.....again the chile theme.
When I took the photo, I knew that these two possessed  the tension of
tango dancers.  Orange and blue compliments are a longtime favorite
combination.  I did an under painting in order to work out the values
before applying the color.  Below is the monochromatic under painting.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Exercise Warm and Cool Colors.....Avocado Paintings

These paintings are an exercise in working with warm and cool colors and their effect on a simple cut avocado. I thought when I did them that I would like one over the other.  I really can't say which I like better.
They both began with an under painting done in a limited palate in order to get the values correct. The cool under painting was done with ultramarine blue, burnt umber and white and the warm under painting was done
with red oxide, burnt umber, yellow oxide and white. Then they were painted a second time adding more colors, opaquely in some areas and as glazes in others.  The under painting shows through in areas of glazing.
I also worked on loosening up.  Such a simple subject could be boring without the movement the brush stroke creates. The warm painting was done last and the brushstroke is looser than in the cool painting.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Semana Santa .....on the Beach

It is Semana Santa (Holy week). How fast it has arrived.  This means for many, many Mexicans, camping on the beach. It is the most popular beach holiday of the year.  I took the picture that I used for this painting
on Easter Sunday two years ago.  This family was playing on the beach trying to make each other fall down in the sand.  I was captivated by the girls hair and clothing blowing in the breeze. I loved the playfulness of the scene, the smiles and laughter. With their kind permission, I snapped several  photos.  The painting is acrylic on wrapped canvas. The beach is very much a part of life here.  La Paz is on the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean is less than an hour to the west.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Golden Cownose Rays

This is probably the most abstract colored pencil that I have ever done.  The photo was taken, looking into the water, of a group of about 50 migrating rays off of the coast of Espiritu Santo Island in the Sea of Cortez.  The water here is amazingly clear turquoise and blue infused with a golden glow from the sun.  It never ceases to startle and amaze me.  How lucky we are to have such a beautiful and clean sea, at least for the present. But large mega developements are nipping at our heels. The economic down  turn, has a positive side:  less hotels and tacky "exclusive" developements, less contamination of the environment.............and preservation of our WONDERFUL NATURAL WORLD. At least for now, we are OK.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Sketch of Young Woman

This is just a quick practice exercise.  Portraits are fascinating because you need not only to capture a likeness but more importantly the spirit of the person.  The subtle turned up corners of  her mouth indicating the beginning of a smile, the twinkle in her eyes, the impishness of  her demeanor are all difficult to capture.  But, these are the small elements that bring life to a portrait.  Practice is what makes it possible to concentrate on these subtleties.  Once you are no longer so concerned with proportion and facial structure you can begin to work with line to describe a bit more of the spirit.  So, I keep practicing.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

After Gustav Klimt

This is a two hour painting, acrylic on illustration board, done during an open studio studio class demonstrating  the use of line during the Art Nouveau Movement.  It is in the fashion of Gustav Klimt, based upon the drawing "Standing Robed Woman" c. 1916.
     Gustav Klimt has been shall I put main man, since I was old enough to learn the names of artists.  His amazing use of pattern, shimmering gold leaf and flowing lines had captivated me as a teenager and has not disappointed me since.
             But, even with his amazing talent.....there were doubts..............

“I can paint and draw. I believe this myself and a few other people say that they believe this too. But I'm not certain of whether it's true.”
                                        Gustav Klimt

   How well an artist knows this feeling.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

I think it may be a good thing!

My camera finally died this morning.  The above photos were taken with a borrowed camera.  I quickly threw the three paintings on the floor, borrowed a $70.00 US dollar........ Amazon bought used camera.........
from a friend, took four shots and WOW...WHAT A DIFFERENCE IN QUALITY.....THIS CAMERA IS SO MUCH BETTER!!!!!! My camera will be "retired".  My next problem will be how to get a new camera without spending a fortune or going to the USA.  I will do my best to keep the blog going in spite of this.
The Triptych is in nearing completion.  The middle, Oncidium, is lacking a darkening of the foreground  yellow petal and some background work. The other two still need a few more adjustments. I will do a final posting when I have a new camera.  But for now, I am taking advantage of this photo to get a better idea of how the three work together and to post in order let you know that, I have not given up.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bird of Paradise

This is a colored pencil work that I did several years ago, done from a photo taken in my garden. I have been caught up in the holidays and travel these last two months and apologize for my lack of posting.  But, looking at past work always gets me motivated to begin again.  I do feel renewed, looking closely at this painting makes me want to lift my pencils once more.  Breaks like this often make one feel bad, somehow negligent. But in reality they are quite good, as long as you do not fear picking up that pencil or brush again. Oh yes! there is always a bit of trepidation, but that passes as soon as you get into it again. Who knows what this year will bring?  There is so much to learn and with a clear mind and a little motivation the adventure will continue.
Happy New Year