“We go forward, looking in the rearview mirror.”- Marshall McLuhan

September 25, 2017

July 8, 2017, 5.5” X 8”

I have just not felt like painting lately. I’ve done a bit here and there, but nothing that has amounted to anything. Instead of paintings, today I’m posting some of my favourite drawings from my current sketchbook. In January I started my daily drawing project in order to improve my drawing skills. In June I realized I was not seeing the improvement I had hoped to, so I started a fresh sketchbook with the intention of drawing 30 minutes a day minimum – including the time I put into my daily drawing. It’s gone well and I feel like I’ve been a bit more experimental and playful as a result. Here’s a small sampling.

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“Color is the place where our brain meets the universe.” – Paul Cezanne

August 14, 2017

July Painting Challenge – Conclusions and Notes

Panel Preparation
  • Started with 20 Exhibition Wood Cradled Panels from Opus – 15 were 8″ X 10″ slim panels (3/4″ deep) and 5 were 8″ X 8″ deep panels (1.5″ deep)
  • 3 coats of gesso applied to each panel with a light sanding between coats
  • 6 panels were covered with found paper and another 3 coats of clear gesso with a light sanding between coats
  • 9 panels were gessoed in black, grey or Venetian Red gesso
  • 3 panels were covered with gesso tinted with acrylic paint – light blue and yellow
  • The edges of all of the panels were gessoed black and I covered them with green painter’s tape while I was painting
Daily Process
  • Each day I started with about a half hour of drawing, often of the same subject that I would then paint. I found this very helpful to get a feel for the values of the subject matter with graphite or charcoal prior to taking on the paint.
  • I began most of the paintings with a very quick charcoal sketch directly on the panel.
  • I spent between one hour and an hour and a half painting each panel.
  • I painted with two spot lights – one directed to my subject matter and one to my easel and kept the blinds closed in order to control the light.
Random Notes
  • I played a lot with outlines which flatten the image, but then adding volume into the objects themselves with gradated values.
  • Trying to keep the edges sharp was tedious with oil paint and my lines became very inconsistent as a result, which annoyed me. Distinct outlines also created issues regarding shadows and light reflected off the edges of objects and how to portray that in a simplified manner.
  • On Day Fourteen, I decided to soften all of my edges – with a favourable outcome.
  • I should have known better and not cut the a lemon off on two sides on Day Seven. There was no way I was going to be able to make that lemon 3 dimensional after that. And I completely forgot to add the shadow under the bowl.
  • I really need to avoid outlining round objects until I learn to draw a better circle. This was a problem in Day Seven and again on Day Thirteen.
  • My lights were quite bright and the room fairly dark, which sometimes resulted in a fairly dark painting, as in Day Nine.
  • On Day Twelve I roughed in a few colours onto the pears and was about to start blending them in and then decided I liked it how it was and I just stopped.
  • Prussian blue is one of my favourite colours and it turned up in eight of the paintings and the combination of Prussian blue and burnt umber appeared in six of them.
  • The last 3 days I used all of the same colours.
 The biggest gain I achieved from this project was developing an increased ease at just jumping in and starting and not thinking about how it’s all going to turn out – and that has made it well worth the effort.

“If you are willing to do something that might not work, you’re closer to being an artist.” – Seth Godin

July 3, 2017

June drawings complete and all in one place:

Last summer I challenged myself to draw every day in the month of July. I’m not sure I saw a lot of improvement over the course of the month, but in the end, I was pleased with my small book of ink and watercolour images. These were my favourite drawings coming out it:

My intention with my 2017 drawing challenge was to improve my drawing skills. Yet, six months in, I haven’t seen the dramatic change I had hoped for. My ability to accurately foreshorten objects is still atrocious and creating volume is hit or miss. I decided that I need to change something in order to see the return I’m looking for – I need to put more effort in and actually work to improve rather than just show up. So I’ve upped my game and committed to drawing for a minimum of 30 minutes each day. Now, before I pick up my Moleskine to do my daily drawing, I begin in my sketchbook – playing with different media or styles or maybe doing a blind contour or other drawing exercise. So far I’m pleased with the result and a little excited about where this might lead.

In June I started out playing with different media each day and that was fun – for a while. Unfortunately, my little Moleskine books have thin pages and I gesso and sand them to eliminate show-through. This creates a fairly smooth, not-very-absorbent surface that limits which media perform well. I’m currently pretty attached to a combination of Copic Multi Liners and KOI Coloring Brush Pens. But rather than commit to a medium or particular items to draw, this month I’m just going to go with what I feel like. We’ll see how it turns out.

 

“Art has always been the raft on to which we climb to save our sanity.” – Dorothea Tanning

March 20, 2017
Another Cezanne Lemon, Mar 18, 2017, Oil on Canvas, 10" X 10"

Another Cezanne Lemon, Mar 18, 2017, Oil on Canvas, 10″ X 10″

Only a couple of things to post this week. The first is a new copy of a master lemon painting. This one is from “Fruit and a Jug on a Table” as featured on the Museum of Fine Arts Boston site.
Colour Wheel 1, Mar 18, 2017, Oil on Canvas Paper, 12" X 12"

Colour Wheel 1, Mar 18, 2017, Oil on Canvas Paper, 12″ X 12″

I completed the next lesson in my Craftsy class – creating a colour wheel with Burnt Sienna, Yellow Ochre, Titanium White and Mars Black with a 50/50 mix of black and white standing in for blue. It was an interesting idea and I thought it turned out fairly well – especially as I avoided using multiple brushes by working with a palette knife instead.
Colour Wheel 2, Mar 18, 2017, Oil on Canvas Paper, 12" X 12"

Colour Wheel 2, Mar 18, 2017, Oil on Canvas Paper, 12″ X 12″

I liked this format for a colour wheel so much that I decided to go on and do another one using primaries and secondaries directly from the tube based on Betty Edwards recommendations in her book Color: A Course in Mastering the Art of Mixing Colors. Colours used are Cadmium Red Medium, Cadmium Yellow Pale, Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Orange, Cobalt Violet and Permanent Green. I added Titanium White and Mars Black for the tints and shades. I could have done some smoother gradations on this one, but it serves its purpose all the same. And no brushes to clean!

“One must go on working silently, trusting the result to the future.” – Vincent Van Gogh

March 6, 2017

So my February drawing challenge was to draw from photographs using black ink and grey markers. I had thought drawing from photos would be easier, and although the actual drawing was easier as everything is already flattened, I did not enjoy it as much. It was a pain to find images that I liked and I doubt I’ll do it again. The grey markers were to help me notice value more, but it wasn’t until the 13th that I clued in that I needed to shift how I was working and focus on the various values of the forms rather than drawing outlines in black and filling them in with grey. There are a few drawings that I like in the group, quite a lot that I don’t care for and some that I consider cringe-worthy. And that’s ok. It’s an experiment and it’s all good.

What I gained most in February was more ease in jumping in and being less precious about the result. I’ve reached the point where I care less about how each drawing turns out and more about the practice of drawing.

I completed the second and third lessons in my Craftsy class with the result of the third lesson below. And although I understand the point, I’m getting a little tired of painting the same subject over and over. Apparently I have a short attention span. We’ll see what lesson four brings.

2017 March, Paint & Palette Essentials, Lesson Three, 14″ X 11″

2017 March, Paint & Palette Essentials, Lesson Three, 14″ X 11″