Thursday, June 30, 2011

Life Drawing June 30

After an interesting interlude in the land of the pencil, I am back to working with charcoal, pastel, and charcoal pencils. Today I even availed myself of china markers (which probably aren't even light fast) because I like the waxy devil-may-care way they inspire me to handle them.

I went into tonight's session determined to get loose and work almost entirely with the side of the chalk (which I managed) and to get away from former ways of seeing and drawing the figure (which I did not manage much). These are more free than others, and my journey through pencil-land may have helped with my use of the pastels - I don't know. I do know I was happy to get back to the chalky way of making marks.

We had one of the regular models who inspires me. She has beautiful shoulders and grace. She refers to herself as a "big girl" - and she is above average height for a woman - but I think her poses are elegant and femine. She also holds her hands in lovely ways. Some of these drawings show her age (she is in her sixties, I think) but others do not. She has thick, lovely straight hair, cut in a simple bob.

I really enjoyed tonight - and I did struggle a good bit with unfamiliar means and methods. Several of the drawings (not shown here) are pretty terrible, actually, but they are well outside my comfort zone, and so I'm actually pleased with them. The work I did tonight has me reaching for a different way to see and draw the figure. Right in time for another session on Saturday.

These are all on newsprint except the final one, which is on Strathmore drawing paper (a pretty smooth sheet which held the pastel better than I expected). The first is a 2 minute pose, followed by a 5 minute pose, two 10 minute poses, and finally a 20 minute. Click any for larger images. I'm content with all of these as showing progress and as fairly good records of what I felt and saw in each of these poses. I can do a lot more, though, and that's what is making this nearly an obsession. I haven't been this passionate about learning something in a long time.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Playing with my Food

We went to the farmer's market Saturday and I bought a tomato that required some play. I decided he needed a sweetheart.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Life Drawing June 23

I went to figure drawing this evening and was disappointed to find out that a model I have been hoping to draw again had been scheduled for this evening, but she had been injured (sports) and would not be joining us. I hope it's nothing serious.

We had a young athletic male, instead. It was a challenge and a pleasure to draw his youthful lines (we have had a run of older models), particularly the larger curves of his biceps and pectoral muscles. But I couldn't seem to get going until almost half way though. It was a back pose that finally got me moved over to the right side of my brain.

A later pose didn't do a thing for me as a whole, and so I focused on his hands and the curve of his buttocks and thighs. Hands are new for me - I've had almost no practice - and they are particularly difficult. I'm not pleased with these, but they're not a bad start. I have to figure out what I want to do with hands, and I have to better understand the underlying anatomy and the overall forms, I think. I recently bought a book on the figure which concentrates on anatomy, and it has a special section for hands and feet. I will give it a careful look, now that I wrestled with this drawing.

The final pose of the evening dissapointed me - it didn't seem to offer me much of the figure from my position. But then I noticed his blanket over the ancient studio armchair, and I brightened up.

All of these are pencil on fairly smooth Strathmore drawing paper - 18 x 24 inches. Click any image for a closer view.

We had a larger than usual crowd (6), and three of us talked art and figure drawing books and teachers for the 20 minutes before starting. That was really good for me, too. I'm getting to know a number of the others by name, and we expect and hope to see each other each week.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cotton Exchange - Wilmington NC

This is also from our beach trip, several weeks ago. This is in Wilmington, NC.

I loved the yellow awnings on this old red brick building the minute I saw them from the yogurt place across Front Street (the Fuzzy Peach), which had attracted a crowd because they were giving away their product for one hour that Saturday. So while the rest of the family went in to check out all the shops in the Cotton Exchange's restored interior, I stayed outside under a tree, sat on the curb, and drew this sketch. Ink and colored pencil in my parge moleskine. I don't use color much in my moleskines, but this required it.

A photo of the Cotton Exchange can be found here (scroll down and you'll see it, but with red awnings at that time).

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Carolina Beach - May 2011

Several weeks ago we took a brief trip to Carolina Beach, renting a little condo on the ocean. I did these two sketches from the porch/balcony in the front, the first in brown ink and watercolor, the second in Micron pen. We played in the waves, walked the beach, went out on the Kure Beach pier for a beautiful sunset, and did some wandering, shopping and eating in Wilmington, which is NC's port city. We also went to the Fort Fisher Aquarium. More sketches in later posts...

For me the beach is a place of intense light and negative spaces. Few places are visually more fractured looking than the dunes at the NC beaches. I love them, but have not attempted to draw them before.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

October Pumpkin 2010 in June 2011

I bought a huge pumpkin for Halloween last year (post here). I couldn't stand the idea of putting it out to freeze and then rot in the winter, so I just moved it into the garage (a two man job) and got to happily thump and talk to it all winter, as I was coming and going from the house. In April I finally put it outside, after the last chance of freeze or frost. This is how it looks in mid June, sitting at the edge of the wooded strip behind our house, and where I can see it many times per day as I go up and down our stairs. The watering can beside it is for scale - it's a full size outdoor watering can. I love the idea that last year's pumpkin (which is something like a huge mute pet to me) is still whole and well in the following summer. I know this is odd, but I'm very fond of huge pumpkins...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Life Drawing June 16th

Today's model was a long, lean, older male with nice muscles and even nicer bones. The poses did little for me, though, until we got the first long one (25 minutes) and I requested a pose from the back. I had realized that he never turned his back to us - and (as I explained to him) I find the back difficult and would love a chance to try drawing his. He said he didn't care for his back, and that was why he didn't usually use it in poses.

Au contraire, I think he has a long, elegant back, and his muscles and bones were even better there than in frontal views. I did the best drawing of my evening. Fascinating vertebrae and hip shadows. Click on the image for a much larger view.

The other two drawings here were 10 minute poses. All drawings were done with pencil in large sketch and drawing pads. I sat down for the first time ever during life drawing. I think I will go back to standing next week.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On our recent beach trip we went to the Fort Fisher Aquarium, and then took the ferry to Southport on our way home. Few of the creatures are still for even a moment - fish often swim continuously - so this spiny lobster was my best subject. I only had a few minutes, though, before the rest of the family would be ready to leave for the ferry and lunch, so this was done in less than 15 minutes. Black Micron pen in large moleskine.

Then I had a similar short span to sketch the top of the ferry. So this was done furiously fast, in a stiff breeze, in a crowd of people and cars. The black guard rails became the focal point, for me, defining the shape of the upper decks.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Face from the Crowd

I have a collection of black and white street photos, with people caught at random in the images, so I can sketch even in my hotel room on trips. I haven't done one in a while - and I was never happy enough with the previous results to want to show them to anyone. But the quantity of sketching I've been doing lately, and the life drawing, seem to have moved me to a different place, and I can capture more of my impressions. I can get out of the way and let my hand do this...

So this is one face from a crowd, zoomed in. I was fascinated with the shape of his eyes and brows, the way the reflection on the glasses interferes with full connection, and the mouth and chin. There are so many interesting forms and lines in older faces.

Pencil sketch, 8.5 x 10 inches. Click the image for a larger view. This took about 45 minutes and I enjoyed every one of them.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Sketching with Mom

I went sketching with Mom recently - the first time she's tried drawing from life in several years, I think. It was fun. We went to Pittsboro, near where she lives, and drew the co-op market. The periodic cicadas were making their weird alien sound in the wooded areas around us, rising and falling in volume. And a mockingbird sang with all his might in a tree beside us as we sketched, changing his tune to so many different things that sometimes we both burst out laughing at the contrasts.

Then we had about 20 minutes left for one more short sketch, so we went to a graveyard in Pittsboro's center, where flags were already installed for Memorial Day, and we spotted a stone angel on a tombstone. We sketched the angel (the sun was getting quite hot by the time I finished - the view I wanted did not allow a seat in the shade). The little girl remembered on the stone below this little sculpture did not reach her ninth birthday. The little angel is heart wrenching. Pencil in my large moleskine.

I would like to do this again with Mom soon.