Monday, September 27, 2010

Life Drawing Class

First Saturday

I have been struggling find time and the will to make art myself. Oh, I teach, and do a lot of drawing there, but with trying to promote the gallery and working on the upcoming Miniature Exhibition, I frankly, had not take the time to do art for arts sake. There is always something more pressing to do. The house is dirty, the plants need attention, etc, etc, etc. I had almost talked myself out of it again last Saturday.

Figure drawing started up again last Saturday after the summer hiatus. As usual, I find myself fighting depression and feelings of being a fraud. I almost scared myself into doing something “more important”. This time I made myself go. I needed it.

It was good to get back to basic—real live drawing. First pose lasted a bit more than the scheduled 20 minutes. Gary, one of the other artists in our artist co-op takes charge of timing and lighting. He brings on of his spots from his photography, and kind of oversees the pose.

Thankfully the oppressive hot weather seemed to break by Saturday, so the gallery was comfortable. We still needed the little fan for Lynn, our model, but we were able to turn off our loud, stand alone air conditioner. One of the drawbacks of being in an old, historic building is old pre-central air wiring!

Support and Media

I was really Interested in the different approaches by the artists. Most of us use large sketchpads, spiral bound to keep the pages together, but not all. There were several newsprint pads as well as one artist who brought a box of full size drawing paper sheets. These sheets or pad were put on easels, but one artist brings a more manageable size pad, which gives her the freedom to walk around the room for just the right point of view. Since she works off a pad she can comfortably hold, she is not tied to one spot.

With this variety of formats is a variety of media. While everyone has an array of pencils, other media is also employed. There were charcoal pencils, vine charcoal sticks, pens, pencils, colored pencils, conte’ and water media. One artist routinely “sketches” with watercolor washes.

There are 5 more Saturday s of figure drawing and I hope I can make several. It is my day to “sit” the gallery next Saturday, but I will bring a small pad, and I will be there to help check in work for the Miniature show the weekend of the 22nd, but I hope to make the others. If so, I will post some of my sketches.
I really needed the session of simply drawing. No other object in mind but drawing.
The feel of the conte in my hand and not being the one in charge for a change. I could simply draw.
Have you ever attended a Figure Drawing Class? I would be interested in hearing about it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Crafting supply tools

I don't know about you, but my stash of pencils, mostly colored pencils is a mess.

Over the years I have quite the collection. At one time, this was not a real problem, as I simply keep them in portable silverware caddies, the plastic kind that are made to carry around outside. I had a couple and I could divide my pencils by color. I did not worry about brands or types. Ignorance is bliss!

Worked find, until I started having to take them places. Then I needed to keep them from rolling around and falling out. Many of my sets I keep in their tins, but as you add more colors, there are naturally, no slots for those.

And I am too cheap to buy enough of those pencil rolls.

I need one for each type, Inktense, Graphtint, pastel, etc. and for those I work with constantly, I still need to divide the stash by color family.

What is a cheapskate to do?

Well, Helen South, in her blog, & sketching, has a list of things you can make to organize yourself and your studio.

So now I have to dig out my fabric stash and get to work!

of all the crafts listed, this one is my favorite, the pencil roll.

My thanks to Cassie for posting this on her blog, You Go Girl!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

No Derivative Works Please

More and more you read these words in prospectus and show outlines. That along with the wording “nothing based on published photographs or under the direction of class or workshop” All works must be original. Still. Many show personal complain that they still get work based on photos published in books and on the web. So obviously, many people do not know just what is meant by derivative work.

A derivative work is defined as one that is substantially derived from another underlying work. The dictionary also notes that such a work, when based on a copyrighted work is an infringement if permission is not obtained prior to execution. Understand? No. Well if you can tell where it came from, it is a derivative work.

This used to be quite common in artwork. All over the world you could find these works and art historians could trace their origins. With the establishment of copyright, and intellectual property, it is now a definite no-no.

Fair Use

Well, what about fair use, you ask. It truth, fair use has nothing to do with creating new works of art, which collage artists around the world repeatedly fine out. This clause in the copyright laws is actually meant for critique and publicity. Reporters and critics covering art shows and doing book reviews, etc, can show snapshots of or include excerpts from works and shows they are reviewing. It was never meant to say you could take parts of other works and incorporated them into your own work. Most shows do include a clause in their prospectus explaining that images can be used to publicize that show or gallery. This is also fair, and does not effect the actual copyright holder’s integrity.

When is reference not reference?

But I only used that photo for reference in my painting, isn’t that fair? Well is it? Why did you use that photo? Did you copy the layout of it? Mimic the colors and lighting? Use the same stances of the people? defines reference, number 8 as: “use or recourse for information”. This is the meaning that our reference photos should have.

I am doing a painting with a horse, oh; I need a picture of a horse so I know how many legs a horse has. You should use those photos for information only, the actually composition of your painting must be your own if the painting is to be submitted to any show or competition.

If you copy the composition of a photo, you are copying the photographer/artists work, their artistic vision. There is a huge temptation to do this. We all have calendars, books etc, that contain photos we would love to copy. But remember, this makes it a derivative work.

When is a derivative work not a derivative work?

Well, all I have to do is change 10% of it and it is my own. Or simply reverse it. Where this myth came from I don’t know. But it persists. Not true, people. Simply change a few things around, reversing the photo, etc. does not mean it is ok to copy. How do you know the photographer did not reverse the print before it was published? And there is no truth to the 10% rule at all. If you can recognize where it came from, it is copying. And don’t think simply doing it in another medium makes it ok. It does not.

Now there is definitely a difference between derive from and inspired from. One is totally based on the previous work, the other has it own composition, style, texture, etc.

Royalty Free photos on the web

There are tons of sites on the web to view and download photos. Read the fine print. Even on the stock photo sites, these works cannot be copied for artwork. The fine print even states that you cannot use these for derivative works. If you find a photo you like, you must get permission in writing from the photographer to use it. The site you find it on may or may not be the site of the photographer, and I would be cautious of any site that does not protect or mark the photos. Many websites unfortunately, make free with photos, drawing and paintings found on the Internet. Yes, Virginia, things on the internet are covered by copyright laws.

As artists we want to showcase our own creativity.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Open House

Saturday, I will be attending the open house for Arts resources for the tri-state. This fine art group serves the areas of West Virginia, Eastern Kentucky and Southern Ohio. Each year they sponsor a series of fine arts classes for young people in drama, dance, visual arts and more. This Saturday, September 11, 2010, there is a preview and sign-up day. All the teachers for the programs will be gather in the old High School Cafeteria, now the ballroom ( and you should see it!). They will be there to answer questions, demonstrate their programs and general enrich your lives. Many of the teachers do take on adult students too, so everyone can come. The Open House Starts at 2:30 but who knows when it will end!

My own classes are for Fine Arts, Painting and drawing. The Junior class focuses on drawing as the foundation of visual art. I like to take the students through the process of developing their artistic vision. Right now, the class is focusing on the human face, which is one of the first things people try to draw, but using this to develop powers of observation. But I will also be helping them develop a sense of composition and color. We will be having sessions that include Chinese Calligraphy, ink wash painting, some watercolors and more. With each session I do include some art history that flows naturally in with what we are doing, including some interesting aspects of American history.

The arts in our children’s lives are very important. It is a fundamental to a well-rounded education, and helps in all areas of learning including reading, math and science. Art teaches problem solving. These courses are a wonderful supplement to their education.

If you are in the area, stop by The Renaissance Art Gallery and the Renaissance Art Center.

The Arts Center website is here:

And this, of course is us!

The Renaissance Art Gallery
900 8th Street, Suite #20
Huntington, WV 25701

Gallery (304) 525-3235
Appointments: (304) 453-3187

Gallery hours are:

Friday & Saturday 12-4 pm, Sunday 1-4 pm
Studio hours Monday 10-Noon, Wednesday 1:00-7:30 pm and Saturday 10-Noon

Monday, September 6, 2010

the Value of Value

How do we get our drawings and paintings to look 3 dimensional?


This is the subtle manipulation of color that tricks the eyes into seeing a flat object (such as in a drawing or painting) as having depth.

How do we do this?

1.) Decide on a light source, ea, where is the light coming from and how strong is it. It is easier if you light your still life this way, but you can exaggerate what is there.

2.) Notice any light or dark areas, and exaggerate this a little

3.) Make sure your objects are "grounded" so they do not appear to be floating. All objects that are sitting on a surface have a very thin dark line at the bottom. All objects. This is where the object meets the surface. Do not forget this or the object will be floating in space. You might not notice, but you will notice the object just doesn’t look right. You might start looking for structural defects, not realizing the only thing wrong is this missing dark highlight!

4.) Don’t forget highlights. Very often your darkest shades need to be right along side the strongest highlights.

5.) Remember light bounces. We are talking about contour shading here. This happens with all colors, not just black and white.


People wonder what simple tricks to use to make their work look dimensional. They are looking for shortcuts. Some magic trick. Sorry to disappoint you, but it takes work. Hard work and attention to detail.

Drawings are the result of hard work and study. This does not need to be formal, but it is necessary for you to study what you want to draw.

This does applies to "drawing from my head" work. Because you are using your imagination, it is no excuse not to use your understanding of the real world to compliment and reinforce your imaginary one.

Use value to make your images come alive.