Monday, February 27, 2017

#38: Singing

Last year I bought a Singer Featherweight machine. I had been reading about them on quilting blogs, and discovered they are all the rage with quilters. A week after receiving my first machine from eBay, I bought another one from a lady in the area. I have acquired more, but that's another blog post! More recently, I participated in an acrylic painting class. For our third class we were supposed to bring something to use for a still life painting. Oops, somehow I forgot that message. However, I did have my sewing machine with me, so what the heck. Why not! Oh my.... now I know why not! Black. Shiny. Detailed. That's why not!

What I liked about this painting: 
I am actually quite pleased with the impression of a black, shiny machine with silver details. She shading on some of the details, the pin cushion for example, lends a 3D effect to the painting. 

What I might do differently:
The perspective on the machine is all wrong. This was actually my second attempt, and there are areas that are still off. I am not enamored with the background. I realize now that the machine actually looks like it is falling off the back of the table! 

Abra cadabra.... the table edge has moved!

What I learned:
I learned to make black without using black! I mixed Cadmium red, Ultramarine blue and a dark yellow. It really didn't look black, but on paper, it works. The instructor was adamant that I not pull out my tube of black as she says it really looks flat and has no vibrancy. I'm not certain mine has vibrancy, but.... 
I was quite pleased with the impression of silver that I was able to create using various mixes of white with my black. Nowhere on the painting is pure white used. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

#37: Doc & Duke

We toured Ocala, FL. This area is also called the "Horse Capital of the World" as there are more horses, per capita, than anywhere else. The area has a huge Thoroughbred breeding and training presence, but there are other breeds represented as well. While there, we took a carriage ride past some of the farms. Doc and Duke, sweet black Percherons, provided the horsepower.

I decided to make notecards for fellow travelers, I decided to try the black gouache and white charcoal pencil technique I had learned in an online class with Val Webb. 

What I liked about this drawing:
It always amazes me how much can be done with black and white. I love how the character of the horses seems to come through. I like that the dots, bits, buckles and hames look like silver. 

What I might do differently:
I needed to take more time smudging the white, and blending it into the black. I didn't have any paper stumps or tortillons, but I'm sure I could have improvised with something - or I could have put the piece aside until I had the chance to visit a shop. Well, heck, I could still do that! I should have used more of a dry brush technique for the hairs sticking up between the ears. 

What I learned:
I forgot to leave the eye white. I think had I been able to use charcoal to make the eye black, instead of using the white charcoal to make the white areas of the eye, the effect might have been different. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

#36: Adventure Trails

While traveling on the Grand Circle we had the opportunity to see ancient petroglyphs (images scratched into rock) and pictographs (images painted on rock). No one is quite certain why the ancient ones left the images, and what their true meaning might be. However, there are a number of images that are found throughout Arizona, Utah and Colorado. We can only guess at the interpretation. 

I wanted to emulate the Indian images to tell the story of our Grand Circle tour with Adventure Caravans. I wasn't pleased with my finished piece. There was too much contrast between the small pictographs and the background image, so I tried again.

At the end of the tour I gave the second finished piece to the president of the company who happened to be touring with us.  The possible interpretation of the images is: Many people danced together and traveled from one valley to another for 42 days. The community was moved, and the people experienced success and happiness in their new location. 

12" x 18" watercolor on rag paper

What I liked about this drawing:
I liked the color variations of the background, especially the splatter. The background is very reminiscent of the red rocks we saw throughout the tour.

What I might do differently:
I began with a mottled yellow background and then used a masking fluid to reserve the lighter colored area for the pictograph images. It might have been interesting to vary the backgrounds of the images, so that they had more shading of yellows and lighter oranges and reds. 

What I learned:
After I viewed my first attempt, and realized that I didn't like the contrast of the spiral images and the other pictographs, I remembered the "disappearing purple" technique I had been introduced to at a drop-in "paint with me" session in Arizona. After masking the pictographs I wanted to remain light colored, I painted the spiral in a  light purple. Then, when I put on the layers of oranges and reds, the purple grayed out and became a subtle shadow. 

Monday, December 7, 2015

#35: Greetings

I can't believe I haven't posted since May. 
I can't believe I have ONLY posted 34 other pieces of art.
I can't believe....

I have actually finished a lot of pieces - I just haven 't cataloged them. I am guilty of not working on my art, as I've gotten involved with some other things that manage to steal the day away! I have a new grand baby. We have been traveling. I have been quilting. I have been taking care of horses. Busy!

This fall my husband and I went on a trip with Adventure Caravans. We spent 32 days visiting a number of National parks in the southwest. We saw amazing things and met amazing people. Among those people were Clif and Joan. Clif celebrated his 80th birthday with us. I hope I look that great and have that much energy when I turn 80!

For once I thought ahead and began a drawing of Clif and Joan standing on the rim at Canyonlands National Park. I presented it to Clif at his Birthday party, along with a poem. There is a lot of 'artistic license' in this picture. I loosely used a photo I had, but much of it was just made to look similar to what I had seen.
Colored pencil on vellum
6 X 9

What I liked about this drawing:
The colors didn't come across in the photo. They are quite vibrant when viewing the original. I like how I was able to blend the color pencil and bring in the colors of the canyon. In some areas I feel like I was able to show the depth of the canyon and the sheerness of the walls.

What I might do differently:
Some areas of the drawing are flat. For example, the area just over the heads of "Clif and Joan", and a bit to the left. I'm thinking I should have added more shadow to bring that hillside into three dimensions. 

What I learned:
I suck at drawing people! Poor "Joan and Clif" look pathetic. But... I also learned friends are not as critical. Clif loved his drawing and said he was going to have it framed with the poem!

This drawing led to my creating some other 'art', and printing it out to make greeting cards for each couple on the trip. I made six cards. Each had copies of the art work printed on white paper, approximately 2 1/2" X 4", layered on card stock with a label on the back identifying the piece, date and my name. The images were taken from the following:

Kaibab Squirrel - Jacob Lake, AZ
Pencil 5" X 8"

Thor's Hammer - Bryce Canyon
Colored pencil on vellum
8" X 9"

Cathedral Rock - Sedona, AZ
pastel on paper
11" X 17"

Bighorn Ewe & Lamb - Capitol Dome NP
Pencil 5" X 8"

Adventure Trails
12" X 18"
(This painting will be described in a future post)

Our travel friends enjoyed the cards. Several said they would never use them. Some said they were going to get them framed. 

I enjoyed the challenge of making the cards and think it is a wonderful way to celebrate our travels, providing a nice memento for our friends. I am experimenting with different papers that I can use to simply print the art directly on the card, and not do the layering of papers. We will be traveling again this winter, so I'll try it again!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

#34: Hollyhock

It was a rainy day. It was dreary and grey. I decided to bring some color into my day by drawing. I also was a bit behind in my online class, and had not tried incorporating a bee and a dragonfly. I like hollyhocks and I found a few pictures on the Web to use as reference photos. As I was half way through my drawing, I realized one of the reference photos had some water drops on a flower. I had never tried those, so decided to add some as well.

#34: Hollyhock
Colored pencil on 9" x 12" vellum

What I like about the drawing:
I used the technique I learned for drawing shiny fur to bring out highlights in the flowers. I think it was quite effective. I worked to make the leaves look 'blotchy' by adding small blocks of color. This seemed to work on most leaves. When I thought I had finished the drawing I realized it was very plain. I added the fence, and later some soft color,on the sky. 

What I might do differently: 
My bee, and to some degree, the dragonfly don't look grounded. I am going to add a bit of shadow under the insects to see if it helps make them look more realistic. I made an error in the composition and of the drawing. The water droplets look more like the bee peed on the flower!

What I learned:
I was really pleased with the way the foundation of dark umber created dimension in the flowers.  I was finding it difficult to lightly color he sky without pencil lines showing. I made a "puddle" do color on a scrap, and rubbed a cork in the puddle and then rubbed that on the paper. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

#33: Iris

On a beautiful spring day I went outside to begin cleaning up my gardens. You know, weeding, dividing and moving perennials, that sort of thing. I noticed one perfect blossom on my dwarf iris plant. It was stunning. Since I had already tried drawing some iris from a  picture for my online Heirloom Garden class, I decided to try drawing one from life.

#33: Iris
5" X 8" colored pencil on vellum

What I like about the drawing:
I was really pleased with the depth of color I achieved by using many layers of colored pencil. The petals are very rich and almost look velvety. I used sgraffito to lighten up edges of the petals and expose under layers of different colors for highlights. 

What I might do differently: 
I used the wrong side of the paper. This is a rough vellum and up until this picture, I had been using the smoother, back side. I had a very difficult time covering the white of the paper. However, that may have been a 'happy accident' since the layers of colored pencil contribute to the richness of the end result.

What I learned: 
I discovered that I could burnish with the violet pencil, and still have other color show through. I tried burnishing a test spot with cream and didn't like how it dulled the colors. So, since the annoying white indentations of the paper continued to show,  I had no choice but to keep rubbing.

Sitting in the iris bed

Friday, April 24, 2015

I've Been Framed!

The picture below is another of my friend's pups. I have used the gouache "ink" technique on dogs with black and white before, could I pull it off on a totally black dog?
I sent my friends the drawings of her dogs, Brae and Shasta (#30). She loved them so much, she had two of them framed as a gift for her husband.

I like how she included the original pictures, and notes I sent her about the drawings on the back of the frame. She plans to get the last picture framed at some point in the future. 

#31: Brae

Reference Photo

What I like about the drawing:
Not much! Yeah, it looks like a black dog, but I don't think I captured Brae's personality very well. I am fairly pleased with the white charcoal highlights, however. 

What I might do differently:
I made Brae a bit too fat! Oops, sorry about that, girl! My gouache was not thin enough. It isn't visible at first glance, but if you had the picture in front of you, and held it a bit sideways, you would see areas that were quite thick and a even a few bubbles. 

What I learned:
It would be helpful to test the gouache on a scrap before beginning to paint. In a previous gouache drawing I lost sight of the lines of the drawing. This time I made a copy of my sketch before I covered the original with gouache and I found that helpful to use as a reference.