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6 posts from July 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Random Sketches

Take a stroll through my sketchbook...

Below are my random 5 minute sketches.  Well, some of them may have taken me 10 minutes.  They are quick sketches - in other words, I wasn't all that concerned with accuracy as much as I was about just having fun.  They are rough, quick, and part of my sketchbook that I thought you might enjoy glancing through. 


A quick sketch from life, Bob was watching television and I was sitting on the sofa sketching him.  I look at this old sketch and remember how young the children were.  Glen was usuallyin his playpen (pictured behind Bob) and the toy box was always open (under the windows).  


Sometimes, whenever I see a picture in a book or a magazine, I enjoy sketching it.  Don't know this young boy, but I enjoyed sketching him.


My daughter Sarah asked me to sketch her Bubba bear, and so I did.


While looking through a book on Edward Potthast, I decided to do a quick sketch from one of his paintings.


It was right after a young Elizabeth Smart had been abducted from her home in Utah.  I paused a picture of her that was on the television and did this quick sketch of her playing the harp.  I'm so happy she found her way home.


I did this quick sketch after seeing a picture in the Carolina Magazine.


I think I did this from another picture in the Carolina Magazine, but I can't remember.


I drew this from a picture in an old book I had on drawing.


I have the most adorable picture of Matthew that I took when he was 4 years old.  I remember getting up one morning and sketching the picture.


This was a sketch from life as I was sitting in a rocking chair and admiring my son lying on the sofa all curled up and asleep, so I grabbed my sketchbook and did this quick sketch - then I covered him up with the quilt so he wouldn't get cold.


A quick sketch from life, my mother was sitting in a recliner in our family room and "thinking" as she often does.  So, I grabbed my sketchbook and did this quick sketch of her in her pajamas.


I can't even remember how long ago I did this sketch, but I do remember that it was from an image in a book on drawing.


I did this quick sketch as well from a book on drawing years and years ago.


While looking through a book on Renoir's life and paintings (he is one of my favorite artists), I decided to sketch one of his paintings.


A quick sketch from life, Sarah was asleep on the sofa.  She had been reading a book and fell asleep.  I covered her up, put her book at her feet, and grabbed my sketchbook to render this drawing.


Just the other morning (around 4am) I couldn't sleep, so I sat up in bed, grabbed an old drawing book and my sketchbook and rendered this drawing from a picture in the book.


I was sitting in the waiting room of Presbyterian Hospital Matthews waiting for my mother as she was in surgery to have her gallbladder removed.  I was nervous, worried, anxious, concerned, and feeling alone sitting there in this big empty waiting room and so I rendered this sketch as I waited for that door to open - the one behind the chairs - and my mother's doctor to emerge.  He finally did emerge, with good news that she pulled through the surgery with flying colors, and one less gallbladder.


My daughter Sarah and I did a 5 minute sketch together from a picture in a book as a reference.  This was mine.  I suppose I'll have to post hers here too if she'll let me take a picture of it.


This was a quick sketch I did about 10 years ago of a woman sitting on a bench in an ad for something in a woman's magazine.


And of course, there are the quick sketches that I did so long ago that I don't remember where the reference came from, only that it was in a book.  I do know that I struggled with the eyes and the mouth - funny how much hasn't changed over the years.  I still struggle with drawing and painting the eyes and the mouth.

I have a lot more sketches, but I seem to have misplaced a few of my sketchbooks.  When I find them, I'll post a few more pics for you to squinch your nose at.



Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Matthew's Portrait in Progress


No laughing at this video, okay?  I can't help it if my mind goes blank staring at and talking to a camera.  I would never have survived as a broadcast journalist - or an actor.  Forget it.  Me and camera's don't really mix.  Anyway, today, I was working on Matthew's portrait and in this video you see me hangin' out in my overalls trying not to totally screw things up like I did with his last portrait.  Naturally, the first part of the video recorded, the second half did not.  Leave it to me to totally screw this up.  However, you may learn something in this video - like what not to do ...



Friday, July 24, 2009

How to Stretch Your Own Canvas


Live from my UStream Show today, learn how to stretch your own canvas...

I'll be back on at 5pm EST today showing everyone how I sand and prime my canvas before I start the sketch.  Hope you'll stop by!




Thursday, July 23, 2009

Live Streaming on UStream from Inside My Studio!


What fun!  I think.  I am live broadcasting on UStream from inside my art studio!  If you would like to stop by and see what I am painting and doing in my studio, then stop by, hang out with me, look over my shoulder at all my mistakes, listen to my music...

No commenting on my gray hair.  Ya hear me Beth?  Ya out there?  I'm not coloring my hair.

My online show is called "In My Studio" with Artist Susan Vaughn.  That's me.  Duh.

I thought this would be a good way to force me to finish this portrait of my son, Matthew.  Soon, I hope, I will figure out how all this works, so bear with me while I try to figure out how this live stream works, but I am definitely live streaming - how do I know?  Because I see myself and that makes me very afraid.

Hope you'll stop in and chat with me!  Check out my show!  It is currently a dry disaster, but it is kinda fun, even if I am just talking to myself right now.


Well, here is tonight's streaming from my studio. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hello in my messy studio. You won't believe what I did after this video. I tried to do Matthew's eyes and got things so screwed up that I scraped everything off the canvas. I have the worst reference photo. I tried to use it but couldn't see his eyes. I sure made a mess of things, so I decided to start from scratch. I told Matthew that when I'm a master portrait artist, I will pull it back out and try again. I'm such a duntz, but hey, it's my first video stream, so cut me some slack, okay?



Sunday, July 19, 2009

Drawing Lesson by Jon Gnagy - Snow Scene


Just what we need - a snow scene to cool us off from this summer heat.  I took a break today from my laundry and was snooping around the web for information on Children's book illustrators when I came across this video of Jon Gnagy.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  I used to sit in front of the television and watch him draw - mesmerized by his perfection and ease of hand.  "I want to do that!" I'd yell to my Mother "Mommy! I want to draw like that!" 

Jon Gnagy Introduction

He was the first person ever to teach art on television back in the 40s and 50s.  By the time I rolled around and discovered him, I think we were watching re-runs.  Still, he was amazing and he still is.  After discovering this video on YouTube - My goodness you can find anything can't you? - my son Matthew sat beside me on the sofa and was just as mesmerized as I used to be when I was a child.  You can't help but want to pick up a pencil or a piece of charcoal and draw like Jon Gnagy.  

Jon Gnagy was a mid-westerner and although he was mostly a self-taught artist, he did attend classes at the Kansas City Art Institute when he was a young man.  Did you know that Andy Warhol claims he even learned to draw from Jon Gnagy - at least that is what he says.

Jon Gnagy Draws A Seaport Village

Jon made everything look so simple and his lines were always perfect.  How did he do that?  And so fast too!  A self-taught artist, Jon Gnagy was an art director for an advertising agency in New York before entertaining the masses blessed enough to have a television back in 1946.  That was the year my parents got married.  His show was called "You Are An Artist" and was broadcast on NBC-TV.  For some reason, he switched to CBS-TV in 1950. They probably made him an offer he couldn't refuse, but that doesn't make sense either, because from what I understand he didn't make a dime from the 700+ telecasts he created over a period of 14 years at CBS and NBC.  He did, however, create an art set called "The Jon Gnagy Learn to Draw Outfit" and earned royalties from every sale - including one that my mother purchased for me in the 1960s.  (Would you believe I googled "Jon Gnagy Learn to Draw Outfit" and I actually found it on Amazon.com!  What's even more amazing is that they have both of his art sets and you can still buy them!  I might just get this for my little ones)


I still remember it.  The kit had black, white, and gray pastels and charcoal.  The gray pastels were for the mid-tone shadows.  It was all so grown up for me back then.  I don't recall that I really understood how to use everything he had in his kit, but I liked to pretend I did and when his show came on the television, I would pull out my Jon Gnagy art kit and plain paper and draw my heart out.  I drew so much in fact that I would take my drawings to my neighbor, Mrs. Johnson, who lived alone and she would give me a Mary Jane candy for every picture I brought to her.  


Would you believe when I was in my 20s, I went to visit Mrs. Johnson one day.  She was much older and still living alone.  We had not seen each other in years.  She took me down to her basement and I could not believe that my childhood artwork was still taped to her walls together with artwork from her grandchildren. I couldn't believe she had saved them.  She told me at the time that she thought I was so talented and that I should be an artist one day.  Sadly, She passed away long before I ever had a chance to let her know that her words of encouragement shaped me into the artist I am today.


I learned to draw cubes and cones, balls and boxes, cylinders and shadows from Jon Gnagy - and Mrs. Nye, my elementary school art teacher who had the greatest influence on my career as an artist.  So you can imagine how my eyes popped out of my head today when I found these videos!

And, because it is never too late in life to ponder these wonderful Gnagy lessons and listen to him speak - he had a great television voice - I thought you would enjoy seeing this incredible telecast yourself. Actually, I think most men spoke with this kind of inflection back in the 40s and 50s.  It's kinda funny.

John Gnagy Draws a Snow Scene

Jon Gnagy passed away in 1981 at the age of 74 at his home in Idyllwild, California.  I hope you have enjoyed your time with him!  I know I have!  Makes me think that among the 526 other things I already do, I really should make some art tutorial videos.  I just don't know when I'm going to find the time.  Maybe I'll just have to settle for sharing these wonderful Jon Gnagy videos with all of you wonderful readers out there.



Thursday, July 16, 2009

Friends & Photoshop Actions


Before we moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, we lived in Woodbine, Maryland on 3 acres in a community of only 15 homes all on about 3 acres each.  It was a nice community and one of the best things about it was our neighbor Lisa and her 2 children, Alison and Conner.  Lisa and I became fast friends and so did Sarah and Alison.  Moving didn't make a difference that much except that we didn't see each other as often.  We've putted our way up and down the interstate to Maryland and back a number of times to see them and they've come to North Carolina to hang out with us too.


Well, about 10 days ago, Alison, Sarah's bestest friend on earth came for a summer visit and although we couldn't afford to do all the things we normally would have done as in past summer visits, they have had a wonderful time together.


Today I took some pictures of the girls and every one of them was great.  I know that theirs is a friendship that is going to last a lifetime and I couldn't be happier for Sarah and Alison.  I, too, have a great friendship with Lisa and know that that too, will last a lifetime.  She is funny, she keeps me grounded, and she is a devoted and dear friend.  I love friends like Lisa, and tomorrow she is flying in, staying the night and flying back on Saturday with Alison.  It's going to be sad to see them go.


The pictures I took of the girls were so good that I decided to find one that I loved (impossible because I loved them all) and then run some actions on it, print it off on HP Photo quality paper, and then frame it and give one each to Alison and Sarah.  Memories of a great summer together and a cherished friendship.

So here's the deal - I can't decide what picture to use and frame for the girls, and so I am going to ask you for your advice.  Which one would you choose?


This is the original SOOC (Straight out of Camera) image.  Following are the color Actions from Totally Rad's Doug Boutwell Action Set and PW's Action Sets 1 & 2 as well.  Doug has got the best Actions ever, and yep, I enjoy using PW's Action Sets too.  I can't imagine ever needing any other Actions ever. I really liked this shot of the girls with Hannah, and I ran some Actions on this picture and want to know which Action you think brings the best out in this shot.  Then, that's the one I am going to use and give to each girl for their end-of-summer gift.


Technicolor Dream World (Totally Rad)


Super Fun Happy (Totally Rad)


Sparta (Totally Rad)


Soft & Faded (PW Action Set)


Rusty Cage (Totally Rad)


Oh Snap! (Totally Rad)


Lux Soft (Totally Rad)


Grunge Rock (Totally Rad)


Fresh & Colorful (PW Action Set)


Bullet Tooth (Totally Rad)


Boutwell Magic Glasses (Totally Rad)


Boost (PW Action Set)

Don't you just love Actions?  I mean, all you have to do is load the Actions into Photoshop, open up your image, click on the Action you want to use and Photoshop takes care of the rest.  Couldn't be easier.  

Now for a number of Black and White Actions that I think are great ...


Sepia Tone (I think this is PW Action Set)


PW's Black & White - Custom 31% Opacity 43% Fill (PW Action Set)


Milk & Cookies Black & White (Totally Rad)


Black & White Beauty + Define & Sharpen (both from PW Action Set)


Brooklyn Black & White (Totally Rad)


Bitchin' Black & White - Custom 80% Opacity (Totally Rad)

And last but not least ...


Awesome Black & White (Totally Rad)

Now do you know why I need help picking the best Action for this picture?  I have lots more actions, but good grief, I had to pick my favorites and that is what you see here.  My girl could not choose which picture they liked best, much less which Action to apply to it, so come on people!  Help me out here!  

The image is going to be printed on Quality Matte Photo Paper and beautifully framed - 8 x 10 for their bedrooms where they can display the picture on their nighttable or dresser.  

I am giving it the Title "Best Friends" and I am going to place the text along the line of the top of the Baby Grand Piano.  Then again, maybe across the bottom centered under Hannah.  Whatta ya think?

Decisions, decisions, decisions.  And this is only 1 of about 100 pictures I took this afternoon and they were all great!  But if I showed you all of the other images (other than the few at the beginning of this post) we'd be here till doomsday.  

Opinions Please!!  Thank you!  All readers who help me choose the winning Image and Action will receive a very wet kiss from Hannah (If you don't know who Hannah is, well, that's the little white fluff ball in the middle.)



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