Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Ursa is a plaster cast of a clay bust I made several years ago.  I have to admit my drawing skills are feeling painfully rusty.  Here is a drawing of Ursa in profile, in preparation for charcoal and white chalk.  I scanned this drawing in hopes of transferring it for a variety of studies.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Study from plaster cast", 4 by 4in, charcoal and white conte pencil

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Drawing from a plaster cast.

"Torso, 6 by 9in, charcoal on paper"

It's probably been 25 years since I last picked up a charcoal pencil in earnest.   Oddly, the pencils labeled soft were very hard and only the one labeled medium was soft enough to be usable.  As a subject I used a plaster cast of a sculpture I made some years back...perhaps a decade. There was a lot of dust on the old girl.
This was intended as a preparation for an oil painting, but I have a feeling I may be getting ahead of myself. I need to sort out some things first, so the painting may have to wait a little while.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

White on white value study.

A difficult exercise.  A small white vase, at its fullest very sphere shaped and an ideal subject for this sort of thing.  I made an early decision to maintain the relative value difference between the highlight and its surroundings.  Its frustrating when working dark to light to run out of useful range of the paint and find, at the last, that your highlight looks dull gray. Like picking out a melody on a guitar and finding you have run out of neck on the last note.

To retain the sparkle of the highlight all the other values would have to be shifted down , or possibly compressed.  Here I tried to judge them relatively - and they would be in a different key than what I was observing. Ouch.  I justify the decision by knowing that with a white subject against a white background, a strong highlight will have a lot of visual impact.

Here also was the first time I  premixed a range of values on the palette. I found this to be extremely useful in that it gets you thinking  about values and their relationships carefully before even touching a brush. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Some thoughts on contour drawing...

I will occasionally tune up my observations skills with a contour drawing.  In its most basic form, a blind contour,  the eye traces slowly along the subjects edge and the hand follows, it's motion captured by the pencil it grips. The hand becomes sort of seismographic trace of the minds eye. The resulting drawing is not really the point, it's in fact not even necessary. You could use a dowel or stick. It simply is an exercise in observation and patience.

I sometimes will do a modified contour where I will intermittently look at the progress of the drawing to check how my navigation is proceeding.   I can make mental notes regarding position and proportion. Something like a real drawing can result from this.  I've included some modified contours from a notebook.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The problem with apples...

Untitled, 5 by 6in, oil on panel
I find the problem with drawing simple objects is that it's so easy to stop observing. It becomes all to easy to arrive at the generic object when assuming no one might guess you are in effect, phoning it in.  A good cure for the laziness is contour drawing, a subject for next time...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Nutty Pot.

"Nutty Pot", 5 by 6in, oil on panel.
I also refer to it as a snotty pot but, yes, I know, it's technically a neti pot, but it does seem a bit nutty. Used for pouring water into your head via a the nostril. It  never gave much relief from my allergies but its occasionally useful for removing  inhaled dust from filing rusty steel or sanding lead paint.  Interesting shape.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A value study on plywood panel - happy accident...

"Vase", 7 by 8in, oil value study

Having plenty of discarded plywood about, I'm experimenting with 
using it as a support.  Here a very coarse piece shows its grain pretty 
dramatically (none of the grain is actually rendered). The scanner 
seems to have exaggerated the effect.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Transition to oils...

"Wineglass",5 by 6in, oil study

Early oil study on canvas paper. Something about working on that stuff is unpleasant, as you might expect. Hard to justify using it since I can probably find something better just laying around the basement.

Oils are tremendously fun. I will try to post my experiments here, including some of the not-so-successful attempts.
"Trailhead", 5 by 6in, oil study

Seeding this blog... watercolors from the past.

Going thru the old notebooks I came up with a few watercolors which survived "the ultimate sacrifice". Trust me, many paintings had to die so that a few should live. I now would consider watercolors to be an advanced medium.  On the plus side, they offer easy cleanup ( I usually used a flame thrower).
"Snowshoeing" 4.5 by 6in, watercolor
"January Morning", 4.5 by 6in, watercolor

"Wine bottle", 5 by 11in, watercolor

Some notebook selections...

Thursday, November 4, 2010