Monday, February 1, 2016

Mallard Duck: Female

Continuing work on the female mallard.

Building the second layer of color. This surface will take even the cheaper pencils, the studio level and throw-away pencils, so I am using them on the bottom layers.

I did do a wash of solvent, especially on the water to mimic watercolor and the fluidness of water.

Although the complimentary colors are beginning to be covered, their inclusion is adding to the richness of the final colors. This will give much more dimension to the duck than the photograph.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Beginning a new Duck Drawing

New Drawing: Female Mallard

Working on Colourfix paper.

Sketch on colourfix paper

Working dark to light.

Starting with sage green colourfix paper, I used white to get the sketch onto the very dark surface. When working on a dark background I do find using vivid and light complementary colors helps to give the focal image more impact.

Note: Colourfix is a fine tooth Pastel and multi-media paper by Art Spectrum. This is an Australian company, but most on-line fine art retailers will carry it. I got mine from Cheap Joe's in North Carolina.

 It comes in a wide range of colors, formats and you can now buy the surface in jars to make your own papers. Worth trying for colored pencil.

Starting with the dark, I spent time studying the colors of the bird. I used shades of purple for the underpainting, purple, lilac and lavender Primsacolor pencils along with some of my studio whites.

Colourfix has such texture that you can use the cheaper, less satisfactory pencils in your stash in your underpainting. You can even use Crayola pencils.

I choose the colourfix sage green to enhance the feeling of dark undergrowth. These ducks were in shallow water in a very weedy stream.

This should give the feeling of deep, dark woods.

Already I can see way the duck will stand out in this image, even after I add the yellows and browns to the background vegetation. The duck will be the focal point. Yes I will have to add the details missing from the reference photo. That is ok. I am the artist and I can do this.

Underpainting and Reference photo
     With the purple underpainting, even when I add the browns for the feather colors, it will not be lost in the dark background color. With a good underpainting the colors will be richer and more saturated.

   I think this will be a good drawing.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Drawn-In, Art Party

I enjoy working on artwork with other artists.

I find it inspires me and challenges me to be the best I can. When alone, I have the tendency to slide, lose focus and get lost in my work.

Having others in to work with me, or just knowing I will need to show my artwork helps keep me focused.

So about once a month I invite some of my former students and other local artists to come over and sit in my sunroom and have a draw-in.

An  art making party.

My enclosed, back porch is the location. With windows on 3 sides it is a bright, airy room even on our frequent, cloudy days.

With a gas fireplace, even winter afternoons are comfortable.

Those that meet vary in age and experience. I have high school students and seniors, beginners and teachers. We all bring something to share (we need to keep our strength up!)

And we spend several hours either drawing or painting.

This month 4 of us met.

Barb's Calla Lily
Start of the day
Barb's Calla Lily
at the end of the day.
Barb, one of my former students, is my age, but lack confidence in herself. She is a gifted artist with a strong desire to draw, but wages a war with life to find even an afternoon to get out her pencils.

Paulette Tries Charcoal
Paulette's First Charcoal
Paulette is a friend who simply loves art. Until recently she never even tried to create art, believing that artistic ability to be some rare and elusive animal. This month we introduced Paulette to charcoal. I think we have a love affair starting.

Brenda will use this in her classes
Brenda is a art major. A local celebrity in the art world and an experienced watercolorist. She teaches classes each year, introducing others to the satisfaction of expression through watercolor.

And then there is me.

A retire semi-literate artist who simply loves to draw and paint.

Made some progress on my Pelican in Flight
Background takes a long time!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Pelican in Flight

Starting, outline and beginning the background
Birds have always fascinated me. They are so different. Rendering feathers is totally different from hair and fur. And their body structures. To totally different depending on life styles, flight patterns, etc. So often when you really look at them you see such primitive body structures that have endured for thousands of years.

Having done a pelican roosting on a pier, the next one will be a pelican in flight. Here, you will be able to see the structure and breath of the flight feathers, wing span and attitude while it hovers in the wind.

While these are known as common brown pelicans, I find the range of colors and values on them fascinating. They are not a solid brown, but almost spotted and speckled going from almost a cream white to a brown so dark as to be almost black. the flight feathers are dark on the top, but a beautiful, silvery gray on the underside.

Starting to define Pelican
I had intended to draw it to matt to 11 x 14, a standard mat size, but I rather like the look of it coming out of the background, so will most likely have a custom matt cut, that allows it to come out of the "frame".

What do you think of a drawn border, bands of dark blue and gold?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Making a Portrait Look Like Her

Finally getting my Horse, Rider and Dog colored pencil painting actually look like the subjects. The horse was easy, the dog  a little  more, but the tick coloring is a challenge. But getting the rider to look like her was a little more trouble.

I had not realized just how much she looked like her mother until I tried to draw her. Also, you can plainly see her native American heritage in her bone structure. But finally it is looking like her. Finally both her youth and her heritage are showing in this piece.

I was interrupted in working on this by the necessity of going out of town on family business. Being interrupted made it hard to get back into the right mind-set for working on it.

Its funny, but sometimes you can draw for hours and sometimes nothing works. Its a strange gift.

Just a little more shading and it will be done.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Why Is Large Art Considered Better And More Professional?

The case for smaller art.


One of the things one critic mentioned when judging a show or exhibit to be “amateurish” is the size of the artwork. “Artists work large” was the idea. When he saw a show of relatively smaller sizes, and for this I am not talking about small or miniature art, I am talking about 8 x 10, 11 x 14, even 16 x 20. It seems that anything less than 18 x 24 is amateurish.  I know that many college level classes specify larger art but I am still mystified why this is thought to be better. Why is larger better? Why is only large "Serious Art?"


I have done one really large canvas in my life, 36 x 48. It took a lot of time and skill. But I can really say it took more skill, or vision or creativity than my smaller works. Certainly not as much as my miniatures.


And now I have this really large landscape on my hands. I have shown it at several show, and it is greatly admired. But who wants something that big? I have it on a side wall in my sun room, the only wall big enough for it. And I look at it and say. You know, I get it. It’s a great painting, but I also know why, while I have sold many other paintings and drawing, people walk past it. Its huge.


Ok for an attention getter, but not something people want.


So while I do like the painting. It is an accomplishment, I am painting smaller, more initiate works of art.  I do have to ask, "Why is larger more serious?"

Large Painting

Monday, June 29, 2015

Graying Out The Background

Still working on the mockingbird at the feeder


Once the blue back ground on my mocking bird drawing was dry I realized it was much too vivid. What you saw when looking at it, was the background, not the gray mockingbird.


The blue did not compliment, or complete the drawing, it competed or distracted from the subject. So it had to go.


But not completely. It needed to be grayed out. Rather than putting a wash of gray or black watercolor over it, or even a thin layer of orange (blue’s complement) I decided to use gray colored pencil, then blend it with the blue watercolor to mute but not eliminate the blue background.


While it will take hours to complete, it will be well worth the effort. The temptation to press down, to cover this large area quickly is great, but you have to resist it. A soft touch is also necessary. You will want to press down, using pressure to get the most complete coverage in one pass. This is not the best way. Slow and steady. Soft, even strokes will give the best coverage, most workable coverage.


For this background I did switch to Derwent’s color soft pencils, the Dove Gray. This is a medium toned warm gray. I like the color softs by Derwent because they are English pencils, a little thicker than my American or German made pencils. As such the cores are also a little thicker and not as subject to breaking as the thinner American and German pencils.


The background of gray went on fairly well. Watercolor does make a nice, medium toothed surface that takes the colored pencil much better than blank watercolor paper.
I am much happier with the overall effect, even though I have not yet finished blending in the background. You see the bird first here, which is what is important.

I am going to use a liquid medium to blend the gray over the blue for a smoother, more uniform look.