Saturday, February 28, 2009

Life Drawing at Latcham Gallery




This weeks Life Drawing subject illustrates two things; the difference between great models, and just a model being one of them. I don't want to be too critical, but this weeks model did the same pose 3 times, and not by request. It was, at the time, a little dissappointing, but this way you can clearly see the difference between one minute, ten minutes, and 40 minute drawings. The last is pencil crayon on cream Mi-Tientes paper.
If you look at the one minute pose, you can check out how I begin my life drawings. I don't 'block in' or 'draw negative spaces'--the two dead-end methods I doggedly pursued in my art college years. Instead, I begin with a line representing the curve of the spine. This makes it easier to sense where on the page the model belongs, then next, not in any particular order, I place a line representing the two shoulders and the angle they are at, the same for the hips (imagining the ball socket of each hip) and brief lines for arm bones and leg bones. Sometimes I add dots for elbows, knees and shoulder to clarify things in my head. By the time all this is in (15 to 60 seconds) I have a 'gesture' that actually has some human expression to it. The head, also often a neck line & front centre comes next and after that it's all finger crossing and hoping for the best because if this initial phase is in error, no amount of detail, shading or outline will fix it (but maybe a big fat eraser would).

& More Doodle Diary

Third panel, yep, we went to the zoo for the afternoon. We have a years membership and it's the best $165 ever spend. Even for frugal people this is money well spent as divided over the year, it makes for many cheap dates. It is the Metropolitan Toronto Zoo which is a vast tract of partly forested land and landscaped rolling hills. You can walk for hours or soak up warmth & humidity and greeness in the pavillions. We go there in winter for a green fix. Other panels open to your interpretation.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Your Absence has been Noted


I never realized how much identity can be wrapped up in a dog until I found myself walking the woods without one. My eldest dog is to frail at sixteen(more or less, we don't know) to accompany me on a 5K ski run, so Dynamo, my six (or is that seven) year old german shepherd runs alongside instead. Normally lithe & lively, charging madly after squirrels and leaping at the sky to snatch frisbees from the air, she's pulled up lame this week. I don't know why but I am worried. For now, it's leashed walks only and a wait and see approach. If a few days of rest clears things up, Yay! If not, x-rays and bad news is likely.
For a few days longer, I'll be skiing (or walking as the case may be) alone. Her absence has been noted. I thought, since I would no longer be occupied with minding the dog, that I would have more time to think, creatively, hopefully. Instead, my mind fell into those continuous loops of monotonous repetitive thoughts so utterly banal in nature that I cannot even remember them. It seemed that, without a dog to watch for, call for, laugh at, or talk to, I forgot entirely to look up and out and around me and fell instead into my own head, which is not so roomy as I would like to think.
Cats are lovely and grace our home and hearth, but dogs are our public persona, walking at our side, companions of the trail. I didn't realize, though, how much the distraction they provide can refresh the mind.

Image: 9"x11 1/2" 140lb watercolour paper, india ink, watercolour. This image was a doodle diary panel last night, and in some days you'll see that version, but I felt compelled to expand on it, and work on the piece you see here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Southern Exposure, Musselmans Lake


This is a view I won't get to see too often as it requires walking on the ice. I enjoy the change in perspective that the season gives me, and I chose this as my next image as it was something I wanted to hold and preserve in my mind. Also, I don't live 'on the lake' so I don't see the lakeshore facade up close as I can see it here. These people, the lucky ones, have the much coveted southern exposure, and even buried in snow in the depths of winter they are drenched in sunshine. I love the jumbled line of houses, sheds and retaining walls dancing up the hill. When I plotted this painting out in pencil, it reminded me of a musical score, all the little lines being the notes on the page, and I realized that was exactly why the scene appealed to me.

Image: 11 1/2" x 6" 140lb watercolour paper, watercolours. This one drove me nuts. I enjoyed painting the foreground snow & the background sky, being both wet washes. Thereafter, it was pure torture. I hate details, really hate them. After much picking at, and staring out the window, and blatant procrastination, it was finally declared complete. The dark shadow on the far right is from my scanner, as the paper is too big and a shadow was cast somehow.

Plus More Doodle Diary!!!
PS. As usual, click on image to see the detail & the writing. I'll leave any interpretations up to you the reader.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

More Doodle Diary 090131


Click to enlarge if you wish to decipher scribbled text.
1st. panel: is me attempting to photograph husband & dog. It didn't go well. He got grumpy, I got grumpy, dog got treats. I think I ended up with one good shot.
2nd. panel: nothing on my mind that day, at least nothing I wanted to share.
3rd. panel: Groundhog day. Actually, I love winter.
Have fun.

Image: graphite on office paper, 2"x3"

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Life Drawing at Latcham Gallery


Here's last Tuesdays piece. It took me awhile but I decided she is finished. The model, once again, was absolutely wonderful. She did her best to chose interesting poses and I think this one may have been painful as she needed to do much stretching during breaks. The pillow was leaned up against a box that kept sliding away but she was determined to hold the pose for us. That could not have been comfortable or easy. I have a great deal of admiration for the models (and I think most artists do) and am grateful of the work that they do. While I've considered (yes I have) doing this myself, I know I couldn't a) take the pain nor be b)get over being embarrassed about my body, so I'll just have to celebrate what they do with my art. I wish I wasn't so darned shy, because the other artists don't leave without saying a personal thank you. I just smile and nod.

PS. Hope I haven't offended anybody with the very minor nudity. My censor guide is as follows: would I be embarrassed to be seen viewing this in the public library? I use library computers, so I know what it is like. All sorts of people of all ages walk by while I'm there. I still can't get over the guy who spent an hour looking at pin-up girls (they were dressed in bikinis). While there was nothing obscene about the pics, you would think he'd be just a little self-conscious??? I kept thinking, 'wow, this guy must be lonely!!!'

PPS. It seems I'm not the only artist struggling with the issue of the appropriateness of nudity. For a more serious and philosophical discussion of the subject check out Visioneer Windows take on the matter.

Image: 10" x 13" 90lb watercolour paper, acrylic gel medium, acrylic paint, pastel, pencil crayon. I prepared the page in advance, stretching the paper, and painting with a mix of gel medium and ochre & burnt umber paint. I sketched in brown pencil, and then finished with oil pastel.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Happy Family Day!


Hey, Hey!!! Guess what--It's Family Day in Ontario. Yippee! It's a holiday! Which means I'm not really here. I'm somewhere en-route between Parry Sound & Barrie Ontario, possibly stuck in traffic (but not likely, being winter) or eating donuts & drinking coffee, or both. I finally learned how to schedule posts. Nice trick, huh?
So posting another doodle diary, just to keep up the flow. Have fun peaking. The next two days will be very busy, as I have my part-time job to catch up with, so I won't really be back and blogging 'till Wednesday night or later (I'm usually very sleepy at night, so likely later).
Happy Family Day, with or without the day off. Give someone you love a hug.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Silver Hour


The dark time of the year is passing; why do I miss it so?
I love to follow the rapidly changing light of dusk in winter, but I no longer need to pack lights for my evening outing. I truly enjoyed starting out in daylight at 5 pm and returning under starlight at 6. Even on overcast days, hints of sunset can be found in the subtle changes of the colours of the snow and in the depths of the shadows that shrink and grow beneath the trees.
This is the silver hour; about 45 minutes before darkness on a late January afternoon. Overcast, the sky reflects and refracts the light down through the trees and onto the snow. The snow catches and scatters it upwards through the branches, banishing shadows. Hidden behind a silver slate, the sun sinks unseen.

PS. To keep track of my off-leash dog on winter evenings I attach flashing L.E.D.s to her collar. She looks like a reindeer blinking through the woods but at least I know where she is, and can guess what she's up to. I can now leave them behind.

Image: 9" x 12" black canson paper, coloured pencil. This one didn't scan well. In real life, the white and light pencil crayons show up brighter, but the colour is translucent, so the scanning process picks up too much black. Click to enlarge and you'll see more detail.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Yellow House


I've noticed that I've been rather selective about what I blog about. You may even think I live in the the woods and while artistic licence may make a legitimate defense the truth as usual is more complicated.
Art is not all about following the muse, although we may like to think so. It is also the sum of the environment we live in; social, emotional and physical, whether we like it or not.
So I thought I would try a series of watercolours of my immediate neighbourhood. This is partly for practical reasons. My highly stylized coloured pencil pieces require a peculiar and often elusive spark of something (let's call it the muse) so I wanted a project on hand for those other days when I'm feeling less imaginative. In this case, I can work from photograph and attempt to capture, more or less, the same thing that you would see from a similar vantage point. It allows me to give my inner eye a rest and work on some technique at the same time. I'm still not entirely comfortable with watercolours and thought that doing reasonable facsimiles of an agreed upon reality would be very good practice. Thirdly, and not least, as I walk through my neighbourhood, I realize I would like to share it with you, and the discipline of doing this through watercolour will be more than useful.

This is the Yellow House.
It is, in some ways, typical of the neighbourhood, and yet there is no other house exactly like it. This is the sort of thing that attracted me to the area in the first place. Every house has its own character; some are big, some are small, some quite posh, others modest. And while even the smallest ones can shine with pride, others are visibly returning to earth from which they came. I don't know the status of the Yellow House but the snow has not been removed from the porch, dead wood decorates the yard and shrub trees run rampant up the sides. It could be someones summer home or it could be a neglected piece of equity. I'm not sure why I'm starting with this one, but I like to look at it as I pass by. It rubs right up against an architectural monolith that sports seven bathrooms, and snuggles up to a recently abandoned horse farm that sprawls behind it. The farm itself bears tragic story and may have some bearing on the mood of the piece.

Image: 8"x10" watercolour. And I could use your advice. Our community is generously lashed with telephone and powerlines that dominate the views in just about every direction. I wanted to paint them in, but my husband thinks not. It all depends, do I want a pretty picture, or do I want to capture the scene. On the other hands, framing with poles and lines may simply be too distracting. So, hey, what do you think?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Another Doodle Diary 090125


As usual, click to enlarge or to read text.
I don't promise it will make any more sense than usual. If you're already guessing that this will be a regular feature; you've got it. A little like cheating, I'll be using my doodle diaries as interludes between finished artwork and (hopefully) artfully told stories. If you're good at reading between the lines, you'll likely get to know me more than I'd wish as my doodles probably leak all sorts of subconscious stuff.
Tonight I'm just too gosh darned tired to write more.
Have fun.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Glass Girl--Life Drawing at Latcham


Next Tuesday, it will be a nude, but I've begun my Life Drawing session at the Stouffville Latcham Gallery. Yay! This was fun. It was so refreshing to show up with my paper and pencils, all my size and choices. Any medium, any style, any size, no instructor. It felt good.
Everyone had their classy sketchbooks spread before them. I began with a clipboard and used office paper. This was the perfect surface for the rapid 2 minute poses we began with. The model was great; she struck an amazing series of great poses without hesitation. I suspect she has dance training. After the 2 minute poses, she did a pose (the colour one shown) for the next hour. I pulled out my box of pencil crayons and started rummaging around for the right set of colours. They made an amazingly loud clattering sound in the otherwise quiet room full of scribblers. Worse yet was having them roll off the table and onto a neighbours foot. Determined to embarrass me, my coloured pencils kept doing this, naughty things.
Had fun when the gentleman beside me asked me favourite medium, and I said, "these" and held up a pencil crayon. He said, "pastel?", and I said, "pencil crayon", which is pretty darn close to saying "I enjoy dead rats for dinner" (and yes, sometimes I deliberately call them 'pencil crayon' as opposed to the more mature sounding 'coloured pencil' just for fun).
Later, I did a pencil sketch on office paper, and then gave my magic pen (pentel pocket brush) a workout.
I used to hate life drawing in art college because a)I sucked, b)I had no knowledge of basic proportion (you were supposed to work it out on your own), c)we had to use 18x24 paper. Now, finally, it's getting fun. Someday I'll do an 18x24 too, but there's only 5 sessions to go, so it won't be this year.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

More Doodle Diary 090121


Hoping you don't mind me posting my roughies. You are welcome to comment but I won't cry if you don't. If you want to read the scribbles, click to enlarge. I don't promise them to be coherent, though. My first panel was made the day I skied across Musselman's Lake. I kept running into vast slushy areas which was disconcerting to say the least. The ice was probably safe, but I can't say I felt comfortable about it and then when I attempted to take the west outflow into the swamp my dog tripped into a hole in the ice. Definitely time to go and I had to cross the lake to get home again. Before you think I'm crazy, it was -20C and had been cold for days, so the lake was probably safe. All said, probably had something to do with the drowning dream I had a few days later.
The second panel features my manga-esq take on the Obama Inaugural Ball.
Happy Tuesday!

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