“The art of life is to show your hand.” – E.V. Lucas

July was all about drawing hands – mostly with graphite. This is the fourth year that I chose to spend a month drawing hands. I want to say that I have clearly improved since those drawings back in 2017, but I really like those first images. I do have a few favourites from this past month though. I quite like July 17 with the bizarre angle and the energetic, sketchy look. I also really like the 30 second blind contour drawing from July 8. That was one of those days when I just had no time and no patience and just wanted to get it done. Beyond the hand drawings, as much as I am missing my favourite Starbucks cup, I like the way my painting of it’s remains turned out on the first of the month. 

For the sake of comparison, here are links to the previous months of hand drawings. 

Hand drawings from June 2019

Hand drawings from November 2018

Hand drawings from August 2017

JUN 20, 2020

“It starts with this: …”

“It starts with this: put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” – Stephen King

June was another scattered and chaotic month and I didn’t even try to do anything intentional with my drawing beyond just showing up everyday and spending time at it. 

It was a month where I found my materials provided me some inspiration. On one of my trips out into the world (beyond work), I found a pack of pens on sale at Staples. When I picked them up, I had thought they were pigment pens, but later realized they were paint pens: Derwent Graphik Line Painters to be precise. The set I have is #2 – which includes 5 colours: ‘High’ (light blue), ‘Brilliant’ (dark blue) ‘Envy’ (green), ‘Clockwork’ (yellow) and ‘Bricklane’ (red). These pens are fine-tipped at .5mm, opaque and permanent once they dry, but while they are wet, they are water soluble. It’s not difficult to get them to spit out a bit of extra ink that you can use as a wash or splash across the page. I played with some of these techniques – not nearly as artfully as the people on YouTube, but it was interesting (June 6 – 8). The fact that they are fine makes it a bit tedious to fill large spaces, but I intend to pick them up again soon. 

I found myself drawing hands a few times in June and at the end of the month I resorted to graphite – which turned into my plan for my drawings in July, which I hope to post in the next couple of weeks. 

Thank you for checking out my work. 

“There is intelligence when you are not afraid. “ – Bruce Lee

So I’m only two months behind in posting my daily artwork. I hope to be caught up by the end of the summer and back on track for the fall – I figure a global pandemic should warrant leniency. Above are my daily drawings / paintings from May – a bit of a scattered mess really – and so it is appropriate that I provide a scattered mess of thoughts about them.

It was another month where I didn’t feel all that inspired, but kept at it regardless and found myself playing with materials to make things more interesting. My peppers on May 3 were done in gouache – a medium that I haven’t used for many years, but nevertheless had in a drawer and enjoyed working with again. May 7 I found myself combining grey scale markers, a dull pencil and watercolours. It’s an odd combination, but I kind of like it and the strange mix of textures. My impulse online pandemic shopping included the Gamblin Reclaimed Earth Colours (how could I NOT buy them – they are limited edition and really pretty!) and for my May 9 painting I wanted to work with the Rust Red. I like the palette I used in this painting and may revisit it again at some point. Sadly it reminded me of Starbuck’s Lemon Raspberry Loaf that I haven’t seen for quite some time. My May 10 ultra green pears were a combination of pigment pen, brush and ink and watercolour. I came very close to not drawing at all on May 16 – somehow life was just overwhelming that day – but instead I experimented with the Procreate app and an Apple Pencil and ended up with this odd chair drawing. I definitely have a lot to learn about this medium – perhaps I will delve further into it at some point. May 17 was the first painting in my series documenting the very short life of the tulips near my front steps that I inadvertently planted in sub-optimal sunlight conditions. I spent more time playing with water colour this month – on the 18 and 20. May 21 is my abstracted rendition of the Alberta Gallery of Art – a building fashioned of large undulating swathes of metal. Can you tell I was reading about Lawren Harris on May 22? More tulips on the 24 and 16 – these were the early days when they were still young and alive (no spoilers – really). I have always loved rendering fabric and I did so with a varying degree of detail on the 25 and 27. May 29 may become a painting – I like the strong line of the profile I referenced from Antonio Pollaiualo’s Portrait of a Lady and the de-emphasis of the details of the face. Back to markers for the last two days of the month mainly because they are quick and fun to use. 

All in all it was a haphazard month, but I made it through and didn’t miss a day. Sometimes I sit down to draw and it feels like such a chore and I wonder what the point is, but I push myself to follow through and just do it. Sometimes on those days I walk away afterwards feeling like all I accomplished was checking a box – only to return the next day and think “hey – that’s kind of cool, I need to do something like that again!” Of course other days I come back and wonder what I was thinking, inclined to crumple it into a ball and forget I had bothered. And none of that matters really. What matters is to come back. Over and over. And eventually what I draw will become something I’m proud of.

Thanks for checking out my work. Come back soon to see how June and July went.

Do not be afraid of being wrong; just be afraid of being uninteresting. – T. Carl Whitmer

It’s June and just more than three months into this global pandemic – these ‘unprecedented’ times – and although in a lot of ways I am settling into this new and ever-changing normal in some ways, I am feeling very erratic in my art production. And it shows in my artwork from April. I‘m going to optimistically say that I’m starting to have more days where I feel like I have a bit more focus, energy and time to apply myself, but it is a very slow trend in that direction.

I am still creating art every day. Some days that may just be playing a bit with watercolours (it seems I’m watercolour challenged, but I’m still trying) and other days I will do quick blind contours or quick line drawings. I find pulling out materials that I don’t often use or have maybe never used, helps – if for no other reason than there’s very little pressure to achieve any particular standard. Right now my intention is to continue drawing or painting every day. And as I get to it, I will post my artwork here.

“I don’t know what kind of an artist I am.” – Jasper Johns

Ok, so March was a busy month for me – and that was before the global pandemic arrived. I had great aspirations at the beginning to experiment with various approaches to create tone with line so I could discover the one I liked the best and could then refine it. I had it all planned – angled parallel lines, then cross-hatching, then squiggly lines and then something else and early on, as you can see, I just crashed and burned. I managed to create one small painting the first weekend, but right after my smeary red cream pitcher all of my plans just went off the rails. 

I did continue to spend time every day drawing – even though it was often a few minutes of blind contours. Or it was a few minutes playing with the thick Faber Castell brush markers that I bought on impulse and have in only 5 colours. And really, life happens and the best laid plans and intentions need to adjust to that. 

March was an odd month, but even though at the time, those 5-10 minutes of drawing seemed like I was just checking a box, I’m actually kind of pleased with the results. And I’m reminded that any one or two days (or the entire month) really doesn’t matter. It’s all about continuing on. While quality and focus and  those high ideals are fine, at the end of the day, it’s about showing up and doing what I can and letting the quality bits float to the top when I view the month’s, or the year’s work as a whole. And so I continue. 

“You have to learn to feel confident about the prospect of failing, because it’s so inevitable.” – Andrea Zittel

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

It may be mid-April, but here are my February daily drawings. March was a very busy month and although I managed to draw or paint every day, I am only starting to get caught up now and I have a ways to go yet.
In February my theme was produce. I played around with quite a few different mediums and there are a few that I quite like and a lot that I have to chalk up to having tried – even if the results are mediocre. Everything counts and I just keep going.

 

 

“All artists are two-headed calves.” – Truman Capote

February 3, 2020

These are the products of my 2020 Daily Art Project in January. In 2020 I am trying to replace one of my drawings with a small painting each week and so far this is going well. If I can manage more than one painting in a week that will be great, but once a week is my starting point.
My theme for the month was basic forms and I chose as my subject matter a set of 6 geometric forms. In most of my drawings and my paintings I was trying to pay attention to the variations of tones within the planes of the shapes – the side of the square that is totally in the shade is not just a flat tone but changes from side to side, etc. I was also trying to avoid lines where I could and instead emphasize the change of tone on either side of the line and trying to keep those lines soft. 
 
For the paintings, I’ve been using Gamblin FastMatte oil paints. Although this line of paint was designed for underpainting, I was attracted to their matte quality and in practice, I like that aspect of them, but I’m not really fond of the texture of the paint itself. Some of the colours are quite stiff out of the tube and I am mixing them with Gamblin Galkyd Gel and Gamsol which helps, but they really do dry quite quickly and often by the time I’m finishing they are no longer that easy to blend into. I intend to continue with them until I either change my mind or run out of the colours I have. We’ll see which comes first. 
I returned to graphite for the last four drawings in January mainly as I found myself short of time and graphite is an old friend that feels comfortable and quick – and I have a variety of options in the graphite family. In order to keep my drawing loose, I like to use a dull pencil – as I did for the drawings on the 28th and 29th. Then for a contrasting experience on the 30th and 31st, I switched to a series of mechanical pencils with different grades of graphite. I find the precision of the fine-points influences me to approach the drawing differently and I quite like the result I achieved. It has made me think it might be fun to spend an entire month on graphite in varying forms to explore the options and results. But not in February…..

“There are no happy endings. Endings are the saddest part, So just give me a happy middle. And a very happy start.” – Shel Silverstein

December 31, 2019

Happy New Year!

Another month of daily drawings completed and my third year of daily drawings done. I have big plans for 2020, but they will take time – good thing I have the entire year! I will continue creating art every day (or most every day) and will post the results here as I go. Just for fun, here are my images from December 2017 and December 2018.

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” – Leonardo da Vinci

December 9, 2019

November was month three of faces as my drawing subject and, to be honest, I’m pretty much done with this for the year. The fact that the year is almost done as well is a relief. In November I redrew 29 of the same faces that I chose in October. The first 17 were Canadians that I admire with the remainder originating from other countries.
I changed my medium for November, starting with pencil and adding ink. I had thought that drawing first in pencil – eraser in hand – would result in a lot more accurate likenesses – and in some cases it did. I think I did somewhat better in having eyes that lined up and jaw lines that made sense, etc. Some of the individuals are even recognizable, but the improvement was not to the degree I had hoped for. When I next return to drawing faces I will work to level up some more.
Throughout the month, I played a lot with various approaches to achieve an effect I liked. My initial pencil drawings were quick and simplified. For the first five drawings, I continued by laying down light grey washes of India ink, slowly building up to black and finishing with the dip pen in black ink. I did this to avoid the ink washes smearing when I laid them down over the lines, but this left me feeling like I was outlining things at the end and not actually drawing. So with the November 6 drawing, I just stopped using the pen altogether and I continued on that way for a bit, adding all of the lines with a brush and ink. This wasn’t ideal as I was unable to achieve the same fine lines with the brush – and I really missed the variety of line thickness that I can create with the dip pen. On the November 17 drawing, I returned to my dip pen but used alcohol ink for the drawing before adding the India ink washes over top. This ink behaved a little differently – it tended to bleed a bit more and as a result, all of my lines were thicker. I liked the look of some of these drawings though. I switched back to the India ink on November 26 with Stephen King because I needed to use finer lines on his glasses. There was a bit of smearing when I put my washes down over top, but not that bad. And frankly, I was a bit bored with all of the faces by then. I finished the month with this same process and I feel my last few drawings turned out fairly well.
Overall I’m pleased with the results this month, even though I did not come up with a single approach that I consistently liked. And I never really found a great way to represent hair, eyebrows or teeth. I learned quite a lot and I enjoyed drawing this past month. Sometime in 2020, I’m sure I will return to faces again in some form. In the meantime, on to Christmas subject matter for December….

“I am not altogether displeased with the shirt-front.” – Paul Cezanne, after about 115 sittings for a portrait of Ambroise Vollard…

November 4, 2019

For my daily drawings in October I decided to continue drawing faces, but to increase the challenge a little. Before last June I had always shied away from drawing faces as I found it very intimidating. Last year and again in September, I used other artists’ work as my reference. This made it a little easier as the original drawings or paintings were already artistic interpretations and therefore once removed from realistic representations. The artist had already made decisions about what to keep in and what to leave out, etc. The fact that I could never reproduce the finished drawing or painting accurately didn’t bother me – I was happy if it looked like a face.

In October, it was a real challenge to turn to photographs as reference. Now I had to make my own decisions about how to simplify the visual information in the photos into a line drawing. I continued to use a dip pen and ink in order to avoid getting too precious. Of course, it meant that my accuracy is sacrificed, often resulting in uneven eyes and bizarre proportions – and I’m ok with that. Overall I am pretty pleased with my drawings in October. Some of them are even recognizable as SPECIFIC people.

In November I am leveling up again. This time I am working with photos, but I am going to begin in pencil and then build up both line and tone with a dip pen, a brush and ink washes. It’s all experimental and I’m working to come up with a process that works well for me and provides a result I’m happy with.

I’ve decided to redraw all of the same faces from October to make it a bit more interesting. So far it’s been fun to look at the two drawings of the same face side by side. I’m posting my drawings every day or so on Instagram and will post all of the drawings together in early December.