Friday, October 30, 2015

That Big Giant Dog Park in the Sky

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My art is more than a little autobiographical, although, given the amount of stylization and abstraction, maybe not immediately apparent. I don’t set out make a specific statement, or tell a particular story, I just go. Blank page, white space, orange pencil, gobs of pastel and onwards.
I started this one yesterday…and didn’t like where it was going.  This morning, fresh eyes, and I still wasn’t sure where it was going, but I knew without a doubt where it came from, and why it came to be. 
I wasn’t ready to tell this story until today. I wasn’t ready ready to tell this story until I got it down, in vivid colour in all it’s awkward screaming glory.
My dog died last month. There it is, now you know.
Her name was Dynamo, and I brought her home from the dog pound when she was 6 months old, and wound up tight and exploding with energy like a—Dynamo.
She lived up to her name. We did obedience, rally-obedience, agility, and frisbee. We even did some competitions, and got a little title for her. We also camped and hiked, taught her to swim and love it. 
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Her most important lesson, (and the hardest learned) was ‘THOU SHALT NOT EAT THE CATS’, or chase them, or poke them, pounce on them, bark at them, or stare at them like they are nice juicy animated hamburgers.  And she learned this lesson, not only learned it, but learned to love them, with this the result.
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What an amazing cat-loving dog. 
In her later years, circumstances (my aging in-laws) took her into the environment of public health care, the hospital rehab ward, and the nursing home, first as a family pet visitor, and later as therapy dog (the job was the same, though). Another new environment, and more great behaviour.  The lessons were likely as difficult for her as the ‘cat thing’ though not as obvious to us.
IMG_5234<—that’s June, our friend at the home (Dynamo treated her as family)
She was a better judge of who wanted to ‘say hi’ to the nice doggy, then we were.
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This is how she spent most of her time in her last days, head on pillow with Riker for company.  I’ll say that she had a better send off than my previous dog. She still had her dignity, and her good days, and a reasonable level of comfort. It does make a difference.
She is missed by all the folks and staff at the nursing home we visit, and by us, of course, and although he can’t tell us, I’m sure she’s dearly missed by Riker the Cat.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Autumn Splendour, fading fast

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Coloured pencil, oil pastel, ink. 
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The view from my comfy travelling chair. I’m developing muscles carting my art kit into the woods.
For plein air sketches, I’ve been focusing on those scenes that photo’s don’t capture so well, that need the interpretation of the human eye and mind.
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Oil pastel, using white & transparent pastel as a resist, and scraping back to reveal the white.
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This picture (above) is one I may save to do during the winter months; it’s one of those ‘perfect’ scenic photo spots. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Life Drawing Tuesday

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Life Drawing, 1 hour pose, 9x12inches, coloured pencil & oil pastel.
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Life Drawing, 20 minutes? (can’t remember), coloured pencil on letter-sized paper.
If you haven’t already guessed, my Life Drawing Tuesday drawing’s are from last week. I’m not good at staying up late, and 9:30pm is what I call late, so I blog them another day, like today, which is Tuesday, and one of those brilliant sunny Autumn days. The leaves in the trees are brilliant russet hues, gold, red, and burnt sienna, but fewer and fewer every day.  I really want to get out there, and capture them with my pastels, even as they are falling.
So you might wonder, what’s up with the nudes? Why would an artist who loves nature and natural things, and wandering around and in untamed landscapes, and often prefers the company of animals to people, why would that person want to draw naked people. 
Life drawing teaches so much, just by setting up the circumstance, the limited time, the focus, it forces an artist to use their eyes and their instincts, to just let go, to observe try new mediums and new methods. And teaches me to stay on task, no fridge, no cats, no internet…
And I learned that I am perfectly capable of carting about a complete and comprehensive full colour art kit including comfy chair, which all leads to this:
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Ink, coloured pencil, oil pastel, 9x12 paper.
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Same chair, same tools, same techniques, different subject. And truly, the landscape is as much alive as the models that sit for us artists on Tuesdays.

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And my travelling art kit, all of it.  I leave the camera at home for life drawing, though…

Thursday, October 22, 2015

More Plein Air—another rainbow day

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Yes, a rainbow.  Walking north on the Ninth Line, Musselman’s Lake.
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And rainbow colours in the Coultice conservation lands. (and apples, yum)
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And two more oil pastel landscapes, with coloured pencils, burnished & scraped (scraping off colour with a knife to reveal colours beneath)
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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Life Drawing Tuesday


She sings opera.  This one is done in oil pastel, and coloured pencil. The black is coloured pencil 'inked' in after the oils, which gives it that rich inky look almost like marker.  Most fun in that you can apply red or other strong colours in pastel over top of the black.  Will be doing more of that in the future.


This black pencil.  Nice and crisp, no fancy footwork.



And water-soluble pencil in black.

posted from Bloggeroid

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Room With A View—photo journal, Magnetawan River

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Thanksgiving Weekend, Magnetawan River, the Gazebo.
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Come on in, solar heated. Gazebo, Magnetawan River.
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Dianthus enjoying the last days of autumn.
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Magnetawan River, Maple, dock, and comfy chair.
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The best things in life are free, and yet another golden sun-shining example of a room with a view.
There is more to luxury than things. 
I spent Thanksgiving with some very good friends. They live in the woods, and they live very well  on very little.  They have done this for most of their life, living in the woods without road access, indoor plumbing. Before the age of cell-phones, they did without that too, and for many years earlier they did just fine without electricity.  And it sure feels like a luxury to be surrounded by such beauty.  And for me, a luxury to know such creative intelligent and inventive people. 
Walking in the woods together, fine dining (turkey and blueberry wine on the menu), an endless collection of books to peruse, curios gleaned from the seashore, rocks to jump from for a refreshing (brrr) plunge on warm autumn day, and at the end of the day, a warm snuggly bunk bed to crawl into.
Did I miss anything?  I missed everything, so much were the words fail me, to have the company and companionship of people I am honoured to know.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Having a Plein Air Day--landscape art in the great outdoors

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9x12inches, sharpie marker and oil pastel, image below, the view from my chair.
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So I checked the forecast this morning, sunny, partly cloudy, windspeed 10km/h, temp 10C rising to 11C, windspeed rising to 20km/h, cloudy by noon, rain by 3pm—very important information if you want to paint outdoors a half hour walk from home.  Other important considerations are the input/output ratio and timeframe in terms of how long does it take for that wonderful dark and rich morning cup of coffee to percolate through and beg for release.  No one mentions that aspect in the art books, I’ll bet, but then there is the speculation that Tom Thompson fell out of his canoe to an early death doing just such a thing. 
So maybe I have no need to wonder why I haven’t done more plein air sketches/drawing/painting (whatever you want to call it), but these autumn colours and good weather will not last, and it I really wish I’d started sooner. I never did because ‘I don’t do realism’ so couldn’t see an excuse to go out tramping through the woods (which I do for exercise) and call it art. Dragging all my gear along seemed unnecessary.
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And a whole lot of work.
But I did it.  Having a long neglected serious hiking backpack helps carry the load, and it is a load. This morning was my second day in a row, and my hips hurt.  But I still would love to do this every day if I could, but snow is coming (wet flurries possible tomorrow), so by next week it’ll be back to studio, imagination, and the occasional photo to jog the memory banks.
ooooh, one more picture, in case you’re hankering for a snack (drawing is brainwork, and brain cells need feeding)
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Yes, apples, lots of apples, endless apples in this places, different sizes, different flavours, wonderful apples.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Life Drawing Tuesday

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Another Life Drawing Tuesday.  Second session of the season, trying to keep in mind, it’s all practice. While I was ‘practicing’ I was feeling pretty miserable. I went through a whole ton of A4 paper, and never reached for the ‘good stuff’ even when we got to the longer poses. But some interesting things happened. Above is one of many sketches I did during a 75 minute pose.  I didn’t count how many; it was a wonderful pose, but I could not for the life of me get the anatomy right.  But the light was fantastic, and the casual pose was great, and, by golly, I think I did get it in this one.
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I was experimenting with layered oil pastel to come up with this one.  I was very pleasantly surprised to see how layers of oil colour can be built up on smooth white standard computer paper.  I started with a yellow and built up from there. The yellow caught and grabbed consequent layers of colour.  I blended with white over all for the background and colourless blender for the figure and set in the details with coloured pencil, and pulled out a few highlights by scraping back colour to reveal the yellow beneath.  This was 25 minutes of a half hour pose, and so I had five minutes left to go.
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And an interesting thing happened. First, I was just randomly layering pastels to test out what happens, especially (an oil pastel version of scribbling), but then the lines of my previous drawings where revealed by the shading (impressed line technique if you do it on purpose), so decided to run with the serendipity of it all, and revealed the face by shading in the negative space around it (as opposed to drawing the outline). And ended up with the drawing I like the best.
And that’s how the evening went.
PS. Photos were taken outdoors, and ‘auto-corrected’ with irfanview. I’m trying to spend more time making art and less time posting it but it’s a compromise (I was using bright white paper)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Sketchbook Adventures


Sometimes, okay, many times, sitting at my desk, I stare at the blank space and feel like my brain is bricked. There is just nothing at all happening up there.  So I try to come up with some tools to a least get something down on the page. Anything.
This mornings exercise was to pick a random word (I actually have a random word generator app on my android), and todays word was 'opposite' except I forgot how to spell. But that sparked some fun happenings, and got me going.
Some of my sketches get turned into more finished works of art.



I'm still working on making Simba and Batman a new linocut print. This is a frottage (crayon rubbing) in lieu of a test print of my linocut. It's ready to get inked for a proof, but I love the frottage version so much I'm seriously considering turning it into finished artwork. The only problem is, what paper? It has to be thin, to reveal the line, but I would want something more arty than computer paper.


And in the meantime, I turned Simba and Batman into a finished digital artwork available as a download on Etsy.

posted from Bloggeroid

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Life Drawing Tuesday



Sharpie, all sharpie on letter-sized paper.  This one I did at the end of the night when I was ready to give up. Sometimes that's a good place to be; nothing to loose, because things can't get any worse, right?  I wish I could just scribble and go all the time, as I do like this.





A piece of tail....(sorry, could not resist), this was 2 minute drawing. We had a new model. He is fabulous, very good poses, dramatic and natural. He is a working actor, had a television gig the next day.



And some very bad art. Batman concurs (or is that, just purrs), whatever. Sometimes, you just have to make very bad art to get through to the good stuff. Or at least, that's the rationalization I go for.  This one's pastel, lots of pastel, in this case, all that scribbling did not go well.
posted from Bloggeroid

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