Friday, December 7, 2012

Drawing it all together

 We are really getting down to the finish on the 3 Red Pears Still life work.
But several students are moving on already. Exploring all aspects of perspective as well as the mechanical objects we surround ourselves with.

Even that which we use to record our activities!

Nothing is exempt from the artist's eye.

But back to the 3 Red Pears.

Getting the draperies right
Work done on Pastel Panel
Gray Charcoal paper

Each student is working at their own pace and the project is developing nicely. Each is also working on different supports. One person is working on purchased pastel board, masonite with a velvety texture. Another on gray charcoal paper, while another student is working on pastel board more like mat board.

Working on Pastel Board-mat board
This is giving this project more individuality than is often the case in class work. It also frees the students as they are not to tied to blindly following the teacher but able to give greater range to their own concepts and vision.

This project will soon be at an end. We will all have learned a lot about lighting, composition and colored pencil.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Drawing Classes


Busy week at the Renaissance Art Gallery studio. Wednesday’s drawing classes are all working on different projects. Some are doing their own version of the 3 Red Pears still life, but others are on different subjects all together.


working on perspective drawing
One student is preparing a portfolio for college entry and is working on a perspective drawing. Another is starting cartooning.


Evening classes are working with color pencil as a medium and learning the tricks of the trade, so to speak of working with these wax based pencils.
Using a solvent on Colored Pencil
beginning cartooning

Friday, November 23, 2012

Squash and Pomegranate, a Drawing in Colored Pencil


Done yesterday instead of cooking them.


Worked on pastel board with colored pencil. Not completely happy with this pastel board for colored pencil. Still have not found the perfect support yet.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Working on Still life--Still

Making progress on the still life drawings of 3 red pears.

We worked last week on thumbnails and the idea of creating the layouts there first. Thumbnails are a good way to work out problems in artwork. You can make sure of your design. Also, you can discover what is going to give you trouble in the larger work, and work out solutions. This is a way to "audition" your objects.

You can also work to isolate and identify both the basic shapes and what is important in the design.

Basic layouts and sketching are blocked in, and we are working on the base layers. Some are working in colored pencil others in graphite
We all started with the same 3 red pears, but each layout is different as each artist finds what is important to them.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Doing thumbnails can help you work out both the layout and make sure you understand the values you want to work into your artwork.


Thumbnails, to be effective should be done in the same aspect ratio as the finished work.


So decide how big it will be.


We are working on 5x7 still lifes. Our thumbnails were worked 2 1/2 x 3 1/2, which is the same height to width ratio.


Each work will be done on different surfaces, and has a different viewpoint.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Back to the Pears - Still Life


A good still life takes some thought.
Take your time setting it up and look at it from every angle. So a few sketches to see how it looks.
Try doing a few gesture sketches to see how the relationship develops between shapes.
Go over the values and see if there is enough contrast to be interesting.
Walk around it and change the lighting.
  • Change your point of view.
  • Try sitting
  • Try standing
  • Get closer,
  • Get further away
  • try different media



Monday, November 5, 2012

Gallery Opening: 12th Annual National Miniature Exhibition

In an interruption in what I was talking about, Sunday saw the opening of the 12th Annual National Miniature Exhibition at the Renaissance Art Gallery in Huntington, WV. The show will hang through December 9, 2012.


That is a funny phrase, the show will hang. It was a lot of work hanging most of the entries, but not all were paintings or drawings. Quite a few were dimensional art and a place to safely display these 3-d works was important. We wanted to show them off, but keep them safe and sound. Being on older building we have very deep window ledges, which are really ideal for this. We are a ground level room, and the window ledges are at waist height, for easy viewing.


The reception went off well. We were very crowded, almost as crowded as our walls! There is this mass of absolutely fabulous work, and mine.



Monday, October 29, 2012

Last of Autumn Beauty

Leaves in Huntington
Today it is rainging.

The temperature is falling, and it seems as if autumn if over.

The storm named Sandy is making big changes in the weather.

Last week was really the last of autumn here. So fall is short this year. Often autumn lingers into November in West Virginia, and trees can still hold on to some of their glory. But driving through the state yesterday, I watched and much of the remaining leaves fell. Along with the steady rain and rising wind, we beat it back to the south-west part of the state before the coming snow.

sugar maple leaves

Today there is snow in the mountains. The Golden leaves are gone for another year. So here are a few reminders.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Still Life: 3 Red Pears

Three Red Pears

A still life.


Wednesday Art Classes at the Renaissance Art Gallery are starting a new still life. We have done still life drawings before, but we have worked from still life settings that I assembled.

This one is different. 

This one the students have assembled. 

They all must contribute to the set-up and concept.

3 Red Pears in a white bowl.

First we had 3 red pears.


Very nice pears.


And a white bowl.


Not bad.


Sitting on the table it was fine, but could we do more? Change the way we look at the setup?
3 pears with room lighting
How about looking at the lighting?
Pears taken with flash
Lighting is an important part of any work of art. Where is the light coming from? How strong is it? How does it effect the shadows and shading?
Working with different light and light sources we could see just how much different lighting effected now only shadows, shading but color itself! Opening the blinds and setting the bowl where the natural light from the window could fall on it, totally changed the entire look of the still life.
3 Red Pears, photo taken in natural light


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Miniatures Ready



I finally finished my miniature oil paintings for this year’s 12th Annual National Miniature Exhibition at the Renaissance Art Gallery.

This years Miniatures, 2x2, and 4x6

I did not think I would get them done. I am not completely happy with them, but they are not as bad as some of mine have been in the past.


I do think I am getting better. Not at the top yet, but no longer on the bottom.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Working with Charcoal

Charcoal is probably the oldest art medium there is. Maybe mud is older, but charcoal has endurance.

One way to get into this medium is to start with toned paper.

You can buy "toned" paper, ea. paper that comes in colors and tints, but working on paper you have toned yourself is very different.

This week students of the Renaissance Art Gallery got the chance to tone their own paper and learn about more than charcoal.


Each took a piece of what is essentially, white drawing paper. Using drafting dots, they secured their piece to the table, and after drawing an 8 x 10 drawing area on the paper began to tone the paper.


Using flat block of charcoal they applied a thin layer to the entire surface of the paper. This not over covered the paper, but revealed the grain or texture of that particular paper.


Discovery:  It isn’t “just paper” Each brand, type and press of paper has its own unique characteristics. These can enhance or fight your artwork, but now students are aware of it.


Then they were to take a paper towel and smear the charcoal all around.


Discovery: neatly folder towels and simply bunched up towels did give different results, as did spreading with your bare hands or with a stiff brush

Now on to the artwork.


We have various white objects for students to work from. A white candle, white rocks, a square white box, a white vase with white roses in it.


Yes they were all white!


Taking charcoal erasers, cotton swaps, brushes, vine and willow charcoal and blending sticks they were to remove/add charcoal to create drawings of these white object, but without drawing an outline first, simply start removing charcoal in the basic shapes.


Discovery: Notice the shades and shadows, follow the light patterns.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Painting and Pizza boxes

What is going on at the Renaissance Art Gallery? How come people coming into the Gallery on Wednesday s are carrying pizza boxes? It is a pizza Party at the gallery?

No, it is simply the easiest way to carry wet canvases for the Wednesday evening class. Advanced students can work on still life oil painting, learning to glaze paintings like the old masters.

Studying the old masters is a time-honored way to learn.

You can see the demonstration painting, Growing Orchids, develop each week at the Renaissance Art Gallery in Huntington, WV.

Each week the painting will develop as layer after layer of oil pigment is glazed over the previous weeks dried layer. It is a slow process, this build up of color, but a rewarding one.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Drawing What You See, Not What You Think You See

Drawing what you see, not what you think you see

Sill life set up
Sounds funny, doesn't it. Of course you are trying to draw what you see. But doing it can be tricky. I had a student, a man, doing a simple drawing of a still life. (drawing from life can be an real eye opener!) It was of a shallow bowl containing 3 apples. He worked on it for a while, then I stopped him to really look at the drawing and see what was developing.

Still life With Fruit
Now, this bowl was on a box, at eye level. But he drew it as if he were looking down on it. His minds knew it was a round bowl, even though from the angle he was looking at it, he could not see the roundness of the bowl. But he kept trying to draw it as it was, not as he actually saw it.

what was drawn
The same thing often happens when we try to draw a chair. If the seat is near eye level, we will see a rather flat rectangle, but our mind will almost force us to draw that seat larger, big enough for our, well, backsides, to fit on it! So what happens is that we have a chair that appears to be falling apart!


Learning to draw exactly what we are seeing, from the viewpoint we are looking at right now can be hard. But this is the key to learning to drawing. You must retraining your vision. Actually, your vision is fine, but you have to learn to trust it. To believe it.

After a certain age, when you have mastered holding and controlling your pencils, and other tools, what you need to do to learn to draw is to master perception. And to learn to see what is actually in front of you. And fight the inclination to draw anything other than what you actually see from the “now” point of view.

You need to fight the urge to jot down the short hand symbols you have relied on. Now there is nothing wrong with this symbolism. This symbolism is what allows us to learn to read. (One reason it is not necessary to try and teach young children to draw realistically before they are ready. Very young children are immersed in this symbolism, and it is necessary to where they are in the now).

Later in life, you do want to get beyond the symbolism. Lollipop people are not good enough. If people cannot make it beyond this, make the jump from the symbolic drawing of extreme youth to some level of realism; most will give up on art. At least, they will give up on drawing. It always surprises me how many painters and other artists really cannot draw, and do not like to draw.

You might think the ability to draw would be fundamental to any artist and art student, but sadly it is not. Many painters do not draw well, and never draw if they can help it. This is sad because they miss out on one of the greatest joys of art. And it is more than anything this inability to see well. To focus on what is really there and reproduce these “real” shapes.

The First Step

The first step in this drawing is finding the basic shapes in things. Getting down the true and real relationships between objects and even parts of objects and their placements. Yes, this involves perspective but don’t panic, we aren’t going there now!

Mostly it is about placing things where they belong and in the right sizes. It can be as simple as that. Getting things where they belong, and sized correctly in relationship to other objects you are including.

Many people will say, well what is wrong with his drawing, it is creative. It is only creative if that is what he wanted to do. But you see, he thought he was drawing what was before him. This is what he wanted to do. When I point out to him what he had actually done, he was stunned. So no, it is not "creative".

Above the still life
Look at what that still life set up would look like from above, the angle he was drawing. Here we do see the curve of the bowl. But we see very little of the side. Also we see the fruit from on top, not the side view

Now the still life set up as he was viewing it was from straight on. From eye level, the round bowl appears as a straight line, with the side of the bowl in view. And the fruit, from that angle is seen totally differently.

I want people to be able to really see what is in front of them. To be able to really see and record what they want. If you want to change the view, let it be because you have decided to, not because you cannot do anything else.

Still Life with Fruit

Monday, August 6, 2012

Life Along the Ohio -Landscape - Green Bottom

Life Along the Ohio - Green Bottom
S. Tschantz

Painting of Green Bottom

There are so many beautiful scenes in and around us. We become so busy that we stop seeing them. We see right through the absolutely wonderful world we live in.

Painting the landscape can bring this back to us. Help us see what is right before our eyes.

This landscape focuses on the backwaters along the upper Ohio River. The rivers of the central US are still important to transportation and development. Seen as arteries of the country for transportation and industry,  it is easy to forget or overlook how important they are  to the health and wealth the natural world.

While based on a visit to the Green BottomWildlife Management area, it is typical of the scenes often missed as we rush by on our highways.

Take the time to really look at this incredible world around us.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Saying Goodbye to a Friend

This week I lost a friend. Not just me. But many, many others. I had never actually net her, but have for years and years talked to her through the internet. We met on We met and talked about our paintings, where we wanted to go with it, discussed other people’s art, both contemporaries and the old masters.

She shared with me stories about her children, and with 6 she had many stories to share. Also about her causes. Kathleen as a caring individual who like to help. And she was a wonderful cheerleader! Always there with praise and advice to others.

This week she lost her battle for life. 5 weeks ago she had a terrible accident and was severely burned. How quickly life changes.

“She's gone. I thank and love every one of you.”

A simple statement on Facebook. After weeks of struggle, she simply could not make it. Kathleen is gone. Caring friend and mother has gone.

Kathleen Neff was a friend.

We will miss you Kathleen.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Drawing start in your head. Drawing is the result of what you see. Seeing is not simple. Yes you see with your eyes, in the light goes in, stimulates the cells at the back of the eye and send a message to the brain, but it is the brain that does the actually “seeing”. Turning these impulses into a mission and is responsible of our understanding of what we see.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Working with Tinted Charcoal

It rained.

It poured.

Then it rained some more.

The perfect day to lose yourself in a new or at least changed medium.

I have wanted to work with my tinted charcoal pencils from Derwent for a while, but just did not seem to be able to find the time to really explore them.

The one time I really worked with them, the results were spectacular! That was in my figure drawing class on heavy black pastel paper. There I simply drew with them. But I did want to understand more about working and blending with them.

I had thought I had more black paper, but I did not, so I changed gears and tried a sheet of textured gray pastel paper. This paper, by Strathmore, has great tooth. The color is not solid gray, but flecked with shades of gray.

I drew with the charcoal pencils,
But I was not happy with it.

The still life I chose to draw is simple, Grapes a pear and several apples. One green, and two red. I wanted to see how I could develop the colors.

I did decided to draw directly with the charcoal pencils, as for this drawing I did not want to introduce the gray of graphite. Also, I wanted to see how hard it would be to make corrections with these pencils.  

I found blending with a cotton swab
gave very good results

I sketched in the basic shapes of the still life, and then went over the relationships and sizes. I did sharpen the pencils for sketching, and did make corrections, simply using a stiff brush to remove any lines I did not like. A soft, kneaded eraser did lift any powder, but I tend to draw lightly, and none of the charcoal was worked deep into the paper fibers.

blocking in a shape

heavy color before blending

working with a cotton swab, I blended
the shades together

first layer after blending

Now, these pencils did tend to lay down quite of bit of the tinted charcoal. I was not completely happy with the colors as they went down. Not a look I liked in this work. Using a cotton swab, I rubbed the colors in, and was actually happier with the colors and look. So I started to layer on different colors and blend them together, first with a cotton swab, then at the end with a tortillion to get sharper, cleaner edges.

I am rather pleased with the results.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Renaissance Gallery Art: YUPO...WHAT IS IT?

Renaissance Gallery Art: YUPO...WHAT IS IT?

My friend and fellow artist, Lillianne Bowersock gives you a good discription of a new art paper, and shows some of her interesting artwork.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


What is sketching?

Light quick drawings to capture a moment, a scene or even a felling. Sketches are not necessarily meant to be finished drawings, but often form the basis of larger artworks. Sketches and sketchbooks have been eh source of many great works of art, and give us inside into the thinking process of many great artists. They also have been a way for artist to take notes.

A sketchbook is personal. You can share it if you want, but you do not have to. It is ok to write in a sketchbook. You can note down the colors you see, notes on what you want to use in another work, anything that works for you.
Sketchbooks can be used to capture the overall look of something or record details that you see

Back to sketching

Start by simply drawing and lightly filling in the large blocks. Noticing the difference in value between things far away and close up, and in between. Even if all you do is place big blocky shapes, getting these correctly from your point of view is a tremendous accomplishment.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Mixed Media

Just what are art media? Well, anything that you use to create a work of art. Rather broad definition, isn’t it? But that is the point. Anything you use to create a work of art is a medium. And you can mix it up! While many of us in our day-to-day art are purest, using a single medium to create a work of art, you do not have to be. Either with your day-to-day artwork nor in special works.

Mixing media however, does take understanding of them. Some media mix readily, others do not. In order to know, you have to experiment with them. it is not enough to simply read about them and follow the rules. Acrylics under oils, don’t mix colored pencil and graphite. You need to understand why and what are the results. Sometimes these bad results are exactly what you want! So playing with art and art materials are an essential part of art education.

I have to admit, that I did not have a lot of respect for mixed media. I did not understand it. Mostly I thought of it as bad collage. It is not. What it boils down to is using what you need to get your vision across.