Sunday, August 31, 2014

Pastel 10

These are beginning to serve me as a mind cleanser.  I use the colors and shapes and the playfulness to slow down and mentally breathe.  The shapes and colors arrange themselves - I just listen.

Same as the others - 2 minutes of drawing (eyes closed again) - ugly lines.  A few minutes of lines drawn from a cedar branch.  Then some forms started to inspire me, so it was time to pick up the Sharpie - maybe 3 minutes.  Then for about 10-15 minutes the colors just made sense.

18 x 24, Sharpie and pastel on kraft paper.  Click image for closer look.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pastel 9 - King of Rabbits

Drawing with your eyes closed...  The ballpoint stage of tonight's drawing was done that way, and the resulting lines immediately led to this guy.  Face, tail, curve of back, idea of feet up, and heart were all present (by accident) before the Sharpie phase.

Then the Sharpie and recent thinking about playing cards did the rest (except the carrot - that just seemed to follow).  Click to see larger image (and some ball point lines that got ignored - no erasing during these).

18 x 24, pastels and Sharpie on kraft paper.  About 20 minutes - the point is to not over think these; just let things happen.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Pastel 8 and Pastel 7

One of the software engineering teams at my day job has been terrific to work with on a project set by government standards.  Not exciting stuff, and off the path they had planned/hoped for the most recent release, but they took it on with gusto.  I wish great things for their next release, and I thank them for their great attitude and attention to detail.

Our teams have creative names, and this team is called Cereal Sauce.  I dedicated tonight's pastel (#8) to them.  Artistic license grants that I choose the cereal; I went with a throwback to the early Captain Crunch with Crunchberries, when the berries were all red.  It was a favorite of mine growing up.

Number 7, last night's pastel, happened very fast and emerged in a wordless zone.  These have been very freeing and a great release from all sorts of tensions.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Solar Tower

I'm working on a piece I can't show yet.  Later, hopefully.  Mostly, today, I'm working on a large project for my day job.  That will consume most of the evening and into the night.

I took a break to think back over some pieces I did not consider successful at the time.  I ended up looking at this one (above), which was inspired by a conversation with my Dad about a type of solar energy tower that has parabolic reflectors below aiming concentrated beams of sunlight at a large oil filled reservoir at the top.  The heat is then used to generate electricity - I don't recall how.  I should look it up.  But the idea of this hot tower and the concentrated sunlight resulted in this piece, years ago.

I recall when I finished that I did not like the composition, the color scheme, or the quality of my painting.  None of them are great, but they are nowhere near as bad as I remember.

I wrote about this painting back in 2007 when I finished it.  It made me think of my Dad to reread it.  I've missed him more than usual these last few weeks, and he's been in my dreams several times.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Pastel 6 - Trees

This one took more than 15 minutes.  I got into the drawing stage, in particular, and so this was more like 30 minutes.

Again, it started oriented one way and then was rotated 180 before I began with the Sharpie.

During the drawing the most fun was the loops, like crochet stitches, in the roots and bases of the trees.  That creates an unexpected abstract element at the bottom.

For me the most unexpected moment was when the rich sienna was applied so heavily in the upper middle, reaching out like wings.  After the first set of marks with that color, to the right of the tree trunk, I thought I had ruined the drawing (left brain talking) and then I calmly just pushed it even further, adding much more sienna, which worked better than anything my safe left brain would have wanted.  That kind of over-ride is precisely what I feel these drawings are slowly training my mind to do.

All of these are 18 x 24 inches, pastel on brown kraft paper.  Click any image for a closer view.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Church of the Great Outdoors

This is a pencil drawing I did back in 2006.  I have an itch to continue in this line.  This particular drawing was inspired by a conversation with my brother-in-law's father, who told me one day, "I feel closer to God standing here in these trees looking at my cows."  I had, myself, recently become unchurched when this drawing came to me gradually.

I see that in 2006 I was already sneaking fish into nearly every piece.  Click the image for a larger view.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Auto Drawings 7 and 8

 More automatic drawings.  #7 is called "Sensuous" and #8 is called "Yeti."  I'm finding that my mood is somewhat reflected in the end-of-day drawing exercise.  Calmer days tend to lead to calmer drawings.  My most energetic and frenetic days often result in drawings full of lines, diagonals, loops, and rapid movements, with little space or rest anywhere on the pages.

The next in this series go to two page drawings - the single sheet has seemed too small starting with #9.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pastels 4 and 5 - Less Control

Continuing the 15 minute pastel drawings in my garage...  What excites me about these is that they are not what I expect.  I do not know where these are going.  I watch and learn.  Click on the images below for a closer view.

#3 began inspired by a bucket full of gardening trowels.  Great shapes of handles and edges...  But the final pastel is exuberantly something else, (many something elses) so let's call that one private.

#4 and #5 appear below, starting with the pen drawings, then the Sharpie drawings in reaction to the ball-point, and finally the pastel image.  Both of these were rotated 180 degrees; #5 was rotated twice (second time midway through the pastel stage).

I don't like these.  Actually, I dislike these (except the colors).  But they excite me because they are breaking free.  We are traveling.  If you review the work in my gallery, you see a lot of work that is careful and planned looking (even though many of those works are also surprises and wandered their way to a final destination).  These, in contrast, are not careful or planned - at least not in comparison.  I can get much more free, and I hope I do.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Yellow Oxalis Sketch - NC Mountains Aug 014

Camping in the NC mountains this weekend - I had a chance to sit still long enough to sketch some "sour grass" (yellow oxalis).  We kayaked, hiked, drove deep into Ashe County to locate a population of the endangered spirea that our daughter studied for several years in college, and spent some time in Blowing Rock (including pizza at the newly relocated Mellow Mushroom - we miss the old funky location on Sunset - and ice cream at Kilwin's).  The weather was close to perfect.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pastels - 2 - I Think You Can Guess

As I said, I do these in the garage (pastels are a mess) and generally in under 15 minutes.  Sharpie and pastels on kraft paper.  As a kid I loved drawing and coloring on brown paper grocery store bags, cut open.  I tap into some of that child's energy and glee when I color on this brown kraft paper.

Here is the rapid Sharpie drawing that preceded the pastels.  Drawing time less than 2 minutes.  The speed is deliberate to prevent over-thinking (a major stumbling block for me).

So what do you see in the drawing?

I am really enjoying these.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pastels - 1 - Tithonia

As an extension of the auto drawings and blind contours, and to continue my effort to cut out the hesitant, verbal (and second guessing) part of my mind, I began a series of pastel drawings on kraft paper.  These are 18 x 24 inches, done with Sharpies and pastels.  They are drawn in less than 15 minutes, so there isn't time to freeze up.  They are done in the garage, because pastels are a mess.

This first one was inspired by tithonia I could see in the flower bed closest to the open garage door.  And some phlox.  The flowers here don't follow tithonia - they look like more like the way tithonia makes me feel, like birthday candles on bright orange cupcakes.  And to give you some idea of scale, our tithonia plants typically top seven feet tall.  This drawing is way too tame, and too predictable - but it's a start.  The second in the series is more to my purpose (but that's another post).

I have no idea where I'm going to keep these drawings.  Pastels are hard to store.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Flowers from Marcia

Several months ago I began a painting in the mountains with watercolor and no subject.  I wish I had a photo of that, but I wasn't taking as many step-by-step shots then.  I brought it home and it sat for a week.

Our first stop at the local farmer's market is always Marcia's Cut and Carry Bouquet's.  She knows us and our particular tastes in all seasons and usually has a bouquet or two made with our colors and favorites.  We buy a bouquet and several large, loose specimen flowers (sunflowers, irises, gladiolas, dahlias, hydrangea, etc. depending on the season) pretty much every week.

The painting and one of Marcia's bouquets, full of mixed coreopsis and rudbeckia, collided in my mind this particular Saturday.  I drew blooms loose on the painting, using prismacolors, verithins, and perfettos.  I added wrens, which are in our gardens year round and (with crows) are my favorite birds.  Then it sat for several months while I tried to decide how to finish it.  The final version just needed the band of lighter blue that runs through/behind the orange circles.  I made other adjustments, but they were minor.  I finished it this weekend.

This keeps the fresh joy that was my goal.  I don't usually paint flowers, but I sketch them fairly often, and I've gardened since my teens.  I love plants and flowers for their names as much as for their beauty, variety, and changes through the seasons.

Watercolor, pencils a little acrylic, and maybe some ink (I don't recall - but I think some red ink...).  In the original the ultramarine blue (lower left) is not so intense, and is a little darker.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Glimpses from the Studio

My studio is actually just an 8x4 sheet of glazed masonite on a lumber frame over an old couch which acts as storage for my art books and supplies while under the old couch cushions, out of sight, are decades of National Geographics reaching back into the 70's.

Here are several glimpses.  The small gouache portrait in the last shot was inspired by a blurred photo of our daughter dancing a hip hop routine.  The beer cans were brought back from the Czech Republic by a friend who is from there.  The ceramic piece on the wall, with the flame cast fern images, is by an artist friend, Heather DeLisle.

Other things for you to find:  The ugly doll Ox, a patch from the USS Wisconsin, my Dad's slide rule in a case laced with camphor, ribbed arcs with barnacles, Japanese erasers (sea theme), 3-D Manhattan puzzle, a bear bell, peace sign pin from Asheville NC, line drawings by our oldest son.  I'm of the sort whose art space gradually fills up with inspiring, memory laden objects until there is no room, and then I have to do a big clean-up.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Auto Drawing 4-6

More of the bed time auto-drawings.  I'm posting them in chronological order.  These began as formless doodles but figures emerged.  That doesn't happen as much lately - these are several weeks old.

Fox Boat

Belly Dancers


Click any image for a closer look.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Auto Drawings - 1-3

I mentioned a few posts ago that I started using an old notebook for an experiment.  Just before bed each evening I take about 15 minutes and draw, using a Perfetto pencil (graphite on one side, red on the other), with only half a brain.  The right half.

I try not to think too much, and I hang back and watch as my hand just does things.  I have no model or preconceived ideas.  After a few weeks of this I'm noticing some things:

  • The speed of the drawing shows.  This is gesture almost as much as it is drawing.
  • I can tell when a shape is coming from deeper inside or when it is a quick cop-out.  If you look at the drawings over the next few posts, I bet you can tell, too.  I am seeking the deeper gestures.
  • Sometimes something recognizable emerges and I play with it.  Sometimes that's good (the rabbit) - sometimes it's not good (the turtle).  Some are landscapes, some are figures, many are animals, etc.
  • I began working on one half of the opened pages (the right hand, flat leaf) and leaving the other blank.  That went out the window when my hand just took over the other page, too.  Now I draw over the whole surface.
  • It began feeling like a lot of space, and now it feels small, even though I doubled it just a few nights ago when I started drawing on both pages.
  • Some nights I can climb into this and sit and watch like a tired kid at the end of the day - other nights I can't get out of the way.
  • I have no plan or pattern for the red vs. black - I just go with it.
At first I thought these were too personal to post, and a few are - but mostly they're not controversial.  I don't know if they will interest anyone besides me - but I thought I would post and see what people think.  Feel free to comment.  As usual, click an image to enlarge.''

Here are the first three - later drawings become less abstract.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Roeliff - And Furthermore...

I decided there was little to be gained in keeping this as-is.

And actually after not looking at it for several days, there were some definite small improvements that stood out.  They required acrylics, however - or some other opaque paint.

First, the orange object toward the bottom is gone.  Then I heightened and changed the sweep of the rings or motion lines in the lower left.  I also changed several other shapes, to improve the flow of the piece.  And I painted over some blotchy areas on the sycamore trees which were not pleasing and doing nothing for the composition.  A little white highlight for the fish in the lower right...  Probably the largest change is under the sun, where I really didn't like the painting style (too calculated) or the shape.  Once again, some of these changes removed drama, but it's closer to the childhood memories and feelings I'm trying to reach.

There will be more - and maybe more drastic steps.

Below is how it looked prior to these most recent adjustments, so you can compare.  Overall color temperature is just a trick of the lighting when I took the photos.  Click on the images to enlarge.  Feel free to tell me what you think - particularly if you see something you don't like, or have thoughts on what you would do if you had the brushes* in your hand...

* Talk nicely to those brushes.  This piece so far has been painted by Abner, Louise, and Frondine (the usual suspects when I'm doing watercolor).  More about the named brushes at the end of this post.  And back in 2009 when I named them, I posted this: "I am thinking of naming my paint brushes - at least the three I use most often. Is that weird? Paul Klee named his engraving tools... And he seemed pretty sane."

I've read a lot more about Paul Klee since then...