Friday, June 28, 2013

Figure Drawing Friday

Female Nude Figure Drawing
Another one ‘from the book’.  It actually started out on a 9x12 support, and, as I always find the greatest challenge is to place the entire figure on the page, I did exactly that, but in the end, I was not happy with the results. The legs transcribed from photo to drawing remained obstinately angular, and I was not happy with the whole.  A precut 8x10 mat fixed that, amazing what cropping and framing can do.  I suppose I should be more willing to edit what I draw, but for me, a figure drawing is a learning process first and foremost. The finished art work a bi-product.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Figure Drawing Friday, and artist reference books

Since I used a book, I can’t very well call it life drawing tuesday, which I’ll likely re-join in September. In the meantime, I’m using an artists reference book. I have collected a stack over the years, but Art Models 2, is my favourite.  There is a good selection of models and poses, and very good photography and lighting, with uncluttered backgrounds leaving it the artists job to turn the image into a work of art.  For the above I used a mechanical pencil, for sharp defined lines rendered onto rough Arches Watercolour paper, and my favourite accent colour, a thick waxy fire-engine red coloured pencil.  For full disclosure, I will say, this, and the one below, are not quite as spontaneous as they may appear. I’ve sketched them first on A4 paper, starting in with roughs, erasure as necessary, a final erase and subsequent heavy outline, and THEN, using a graphite paper I transfer the image onto the water colour (more on this part for another post).
And then the fun begins: once I’m satisfied that I’ve rendered the general outline of the figure, I can indulge in strengthening lines, playing with negative spaces, colour, and more line. I love line—as you can see. And for me, it’s the lines that count the most, so even in the shading I’m indulging in the lay of the lines, so by getting the ‘drawing’ part out of the way, I can lose myself in the abstract, then take a step back and see what comes out.
And here’s the completed figure drawing from last week’s WIP.  This one was a little more generous in colour and sparing in line. I’m working on my Figure Drawing Portfolio for Etsy.  I realized belatedly that my larger life drawings are both difficult to store, and difficult to ship if sold.  So I’m going with brand spanking new 9x12 sheets of paper instead.  I may do the same when I get back into life drawing and let all the other artists make fun of me (well, they wouldn’t really, but they might think it) for making such tiny art.  For those who have no clue what I’m talking about, lets just say that in the world of fine art, size really does matter.
And, PS!!! I found my lost collaborative piece. BIG YAY!  I was wise to cease looking, as I would never have found it. But, yesterday, as I reached for yet another book from my reference library, a lovely fat stuffed manila envelope plopped out. Yep, I’d stashed in a book for safe-keeping, then returned the book to the shelf. Art gone, art found.
It was in The Fantasy Figure Artist Reference Guide. Another book I’d recommend (if you like sword and sorcery), with models of character appropriate body types posing in action, with all levels of dress, from modest underwear (I assume to ensure it’s all ages appropriate) through the various layers of fantasy/medieval dress so the artist can develop an appreciation of the dynamics between anatomy and the volume and drape of clothing.
The Figure in Motion  SUCKS, ‘nuff said.
How to Draw Manga, is pretty good. The influence of manga art (japanese comics) is part of my style. It seeps out here, there and everywhere. On occasion deliberately, but mostly osmosis. I love their renditions of the beautiful boys (Bishōnen). (google it if you’re curious)
And of course, I collect field guides to everything.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cross Border Collaboration Letters from Claudette

Whoot!  Here’s Claudette’s contribution. She didn’t warn me (or I forgot) about the loose pieces; when I opened the envelope blue dots in multiple sizes spilled out onto the carpet.  Her finished piece is on the right, mostly her work, and it’s a collage. See our two country flags squeezed in onto the lower right?  I love the vibrant energies here, and its fun fun fun.
I don’t think the photo captures it, but there is something about the 3d layering of collage that quite literally adds layers of texture and depth, and with all those loose dots and bars spilled onto my desk I’m getting excited about trying some cutting and pasting myself.  I need to find some ‘started’ prints that I’m willing to experiment with, and I will use those pieces as part of my next collaborative piece.
Sadly, at least for now, I cannot find the almost finished collaborative piece that I set aside. I was all ready to attack it with fresh eyes (or, if still stuck, mail it out as is (its a collaboration after all)), but I can’t find it anywhere (and that includes the recycling pile—yes, I was out at the curb this morning picking through my own garbage).

Can YOU spot the missing pieces? I sure as heck can’t. And yes, this is how I work, sad, sad, sad.  Horizontal shelving would be nice….My desk is on the right (only the corner pictured here).  And NO, that is not a box of cheerios in the centre. It is my cutting pad. I do my paper cutting with a steel ruler and exacto knife. My cutting pad is plywood board, with cardboard, sometimes boxboard (yep, from a cheerios box) over top. MUCH cheaper than those fancy schmanzy self-healing cutting pads, and much more recyclable (not to mention replaceable).  It actually works quite well (pats self on the back). Now if I can only get organized….

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My Messy Desk, WIP’s plural

More ‘life drawing’ from photo’s, which makes it figure drawing only. Nope, could not rope any handsome young men to pose for free, aw well….
The matt is one I keep handy for checking my work. The drawing was done in a size to be 8x10 friendly but I transferred it to 9x12 watercolour paper.  I’m in the habit of working from edge to edge so in this case there was(for me) a distracting amount of negative space surrounding the drawing.  Dropping a matt over top made quite the difference.  The book to the right is my substitute for live models. Art Models II: I’ll likely to be buying more.  A book is MUCH cheaper than live sessions, and while its no substitute for a live models, I’m hoping I’ll be better at handling awkward poses and extreme foreshortening by building from my ‘book’ experiences. When drawing from a flat page, I find it much easier to see and draw from the negative space, and much easier to do ‘pencil measurement trick’ for proportions.  Hopefully, this will help me memorize the human figure in more positions and angles, and thus, reduce a little of the brain work that so tuckers me out in evening life drawing sessions (where I have a tendency to yawn a lot).  Foreshortening from a live model is often confusing because we don’t trust the what we see with our own eyes.  Which makes our trust in photography an interesting thought…
Another, just in pencil on office paper.
And ooohhhhh, a VERY Etsy keyword friendly OWL and PussyCAT, now if I could just manage to squeeze in a COWL somewhere in this linocut, it would be sure to get many views.
PS. For those not in the loop, it’s a running joke that if you want to sell anything on Etsy you need Owl’s and Cowl’s somewhere in your keywords. It’s just one of those (to me) mysteriously popular trends. Moustache and Taxidermy seem to be up there too—I can’t explain it either, but I am enjoying working on my sarcastic rendition of a popular theme.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Hitting the Books

Life Drawing Tuesdays are far away in time, forward and back.  Last year, I felt like I needed a break from that routine, not being one who likes being out and about after supper. And, somehow, I found that I just wasn’t wanting to be there. It was a good decision, as I now I miss it more and more. I’ll go back in September, not before. Summer evenings are for drinking in sunsets and birdsongs.
But in the meantime, I have an itch to scratch, so it’s back to the books, of which I have stacks; some of which are old and grainy, newer ones full of crystal clear sharp images, interesting poses, and a variety of models.  Photo’s are no substitute for live models, but since I have no cash to hire, not to think of what the neighbours would say if people cavort nude in my living room (that’s my studio space folks)…but they do make great reference, and can also be very good for learning curves, as you not only have time to sit and think, but can also, if truly stuck, can trace the outlines, and compare the tracing to your drawing, and see where you went wrong, or did not. 
Since I’m still trying to stack my Etsy shop with keyword friendly art, I decided I might as well get something out of my practice and turn this odalisque figure into a keyword friendly mermaid. She actually did start as a sketch of the figure photo, that I worked at with pencil, erased, worked over again, erased (erasure is never complete) and then began, with a blunt 8B pencil, my mermaid drawing, where I let the line flow the way I wanted it it too, and made changes from a standing figure solidly rooted to the ground and influenced by gravity, to one floating in the ocean at middle depth.
Mermaids have been good to me, along with cats, ravens, and guitars. Abstract fine art, on the other hand, has gained me zero views. Which, while frustrating, won’t stop me from the exploration, experimentation and expression that truly creative art is about.  But, I must admit, an occasional sale, whatever the subject matter, is a tangible incentive to sit and do more. And we all need tangibles now and again.
So my little mermaid sketch will likely turn into a linocut;already its scanned and reduced to an 8x10 friendly size, (more shop talk, as 8x10’s can be mailed with flat rate shipping unlike larger art), and I get to do ‘life drawing’ on my own time, and practice the forms, the shapes, the poses that always, because we share an anatomy, must repeat themselves, familiar forms with variations.  So when I get back to the live model sessions in September, hopefully I will feel both refreshed and prepared.


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