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.

“I paint German artists whom I admire….

Oct 7, 2019
“I paint German artists whom I admire. I paint their pictures, their work as painters, and their portraits too. But oddly enough, each of these portraits ends up as a picture of a woman with blonde hair. I myself have never been able to work out why this happens.” – Georg Baselitz

In September I chose to draw faces for my daily drawings project. I restricted myself to a dip pen and ink in order to play with line weight and simplified drawings. My reference material consisted of portraits drawn or painted by some of my favourite artists.

I was trying to create faces, but I wasn’t too concerned if I was creating recognizable drawings of the original artworks; instead, it was more about studying how other artists used various brush or pen strokes to create marks that resemble facial features. In some cases, like the Modigliani faces, they are very stylized and I wanted to understand the simplification process he used. After working like this for a month, I feel like I have only brushed against something that I would like to thoroughly dig into in order to develop my own personal shorthand of strokes to render eyes and noses and profiles. I’ve decided to continue on with this subject matter for October and I will post my results in early November. I will continue to post my drawings most days on Instagram for anyone that wants to see how it’s going.

“The whole culture is telling you to hurry, while the art tells you to take your time. Always listen to the art.” – Junot Diaz

August 6, 2019

My June daily drawings:

This is the third time in the last three years that I’ve spent a month drawing hands and this time around I decided to make sure my hands were always holding something. I chose five different media to use for six consecutive days each, starting with a black pigment pen and then moved to graphite. In these first drawings I was playing around with leaving some parts of the drawing less developed than other parts. Third up was Copic pigment liner with Koi Watercolour Brush Pens. For the last twelve days I worked with India ink and a brush – first on white paper, then on a grey ground for the last six drawings. I like to use the ink mixed with water, creating a series of washes that get darker as I proceed. I added a bit of white to a few of these as well.
Overall, I think the drawings went well and I really enjoyed creating them – even if some are kind of weird (like those odd fingers and the tiny pear on the 19th and the weird boneless hand on the 21st). For a little walk down memory lane, here are my 2018 hand drawings and my 2017 hand drawings. Next year I’ll have to come up with some new variation, but I will definitely return to this subject.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. – Thomas Merton

June 24, 2019

These drawings are from my sketchbook from late 2018 to earlier this month. Looking back as far as November reminds me of some of the ideas that caught my attention for more than a day or so. One of the reasons that I skip warm-up drawings in my sketchbook – other than a shortage of time – is that I can’t think of anything I want to draw. But when I look back, I don’t find the drawings boring – even when I’m looking at the same stack of white cups drawn over and over. And that is what I love about art – the way it makes normal everyday ‘stuff’ seem interesting again – even if it didn’t seem that way when I was drawing it.