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5 posts from August 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday Morning Skraw - Drawing Lesson 3


Good morning!  Let's draw a tree together.  How about a big ol' oak tree.  Trees can be fun to draw and they really are not that complicated.  However, the more you practice drawing them and indicating the branches, the leaves, the bark, and how the light hits the tree, your trees will look wonderful.  Just remember, your impression does not have to look like mine or anyone elses impression - it just has to be your impression of the tree.  That is what makes art so wonderful and unique - is that the way you draw, the way you paint, the colors you use, and your brushstrokes are uniquely yours.  We can learn from each other, but ultimately, take what you know and what you learn and make it your own.  Be creative.  Let's give your tree some pizzazz.


Let's start by sketching out the general shape.


You can sketch in some random branches at this stage, or wait a bit, it's really up to you because some of these branches will change.  You'll see why in a minute.


When you look at a tree, you may notice that it has shapes, or clusters of leaves, and then you may notice that some leaves are in shade and others are in sunlight, and still others are somewhere between the shadow and the light.  

How you represent your tree is up to you, but here are some hints:

Pay attention to how the sunlight is hitting the tree and how the branches and leaves indicate the light.  

Understand that you are not duplicating the tree branch for branch and leaf for leaf.  Drawing or painting a general indication is quite enough.  Unlike a portrait where every shade, every shape of color, every highlight, everyTHING needs to be exact.  Having said that, I think I'll stick to drawing and painting trees for now because portraits, although I have done a number of them, give me a headache.

Use your kneaded eraser to erase some areas of the branches that you may have drawn earlier.  Add more shadows, and make the shadows different values (some darker than others.)

Don't draw in every leaf.  Goodness, scribble.  And besides, scribbling is more fun.

Remember to also add light and shade to the trunk of your tree and maybe a shadow area indicated on the ground. 


There you go.  Now my tree is nothing to write home about, but it's my Saturday morning oak tree and I think I'll keep it.  

I want to see some of your sketches! Photograph your sketches and email them to me.  

Have a great weekend and get out there and draw!



Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fun Before the Festival


In the last 2 weeks I have been painting nearly every day preparing for the Matthews Alive Festival in Matthews, North Carolina this coming holiday weekend.  I'll be setting up a tent and showcasing my artwork to all the visitors who stop by.  I love the meet and greet and the children who walk by with their painted faces and their cotton candy.  It is always a lot of fun regardless of whether or not I sell anything.  I've been painting some little things.  Small paintings that I can complete so that I have something to sell.  I've sold a number of my paintings in the last few months and I've been commissioned to do a few as well, so I have definitely been busy in my studio.  


Alison has been coming over too, in between all the remodeling she is doing on her charming new home here in North Carolina.  She is getting settled in just fine and loves her new home.  It has been fun having her come over and paint with me too, though, as it is motivating to have her here in the studio with me.  


I love Alison's abstract, colorful paintings.  You can't help but feel good just looking at them.  So, I've included some pictures here to show you what she has been up to in the studio as well.  She has been working on this lady.  Pretty cool don't you think?  She hasn't given her a name yet.


And this very colorful array of flowers she calls "In the Garden."  You can't see the texture of the paint in this picture, but the texture of the acrylic paint is really great.  Alison paints in acrylics and she uses the most brilliant colors.

I'm going to start calling Alison "Miss Peter Max." 

Of course, I'm Miss Conservative and stick with traditional oils ...


I finished this one today, and I call it "Rolling Acres"  8 x 16 Oil on Panel.


I finished this one yesterday.  "Sailing Buddies" 8 x 10 Oil on Panel.


And I'm working on this one.  It's still in the underpainting stage.  I think I'm going to call this one "Old Lonely Barn." 

So that's what I've been doing folks ... painting away to the sounds of Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and of course Glenn Miller.  Alison and I both love Big Band music.  It's great to paint and listen to the sounds and bands of the 1940s and 50s.

Hope everyone is having a great week! 



Saturday, August 15, 2009

Saturday Morning Skraw - Drawing Lesson 2


Today's drawing lesson will be "Three Pears."  Just follow along with me as we draw these three little guys the best we can.  Remember, this isn't about being perfect.  You are not trying to replicate the picture so perfectly that it looks like you traced it or took a picture of it.   Drawing is all about "what you see" and "what you can do."  No matter how advanced you are in your drawing skills, or painting skills for that matter, there will always be others who are better than you and others who are not.  And, who determines who is a better artist?  Well, don't let that voice in your head fool you.  If Picasso and Pollack had listened to what everyone was saying about their work, the art world would not be nearly as exciting or interesting.  Art is subjective.  I must admit, though, that I need to remind myself of this often to keep going myself.

We will be using as our reference image a beautiful painting done in realism by Christopher Stott.  He is a Canadian artist who has brought the visual of simple objects to new heights and visual appeal.  I love his work.

Ready to grab your sketchbook?  Well, let's get to it!  Grab your sketchbook, your pencils, your kneaded eraser, and an open, creative mind ... (Note: At any time, you can click on any image in this post to get a larger view).


If you recall, last week I explained how everything can be broken down into basic shapes, and that is where we are going to start.  Again, perfection is not key here.  Simply pay attention to the "idea" of the shape - how you perceive the shape to be.  As you can see from my own drawing, although it is sorta shaped like a circle, I put my own spin on the basic shape of the first pear by also trying to achieve the angle of the curves.  It isn't perfect but I don't really want it to be.


If you look closely at a pear, you will notice that it is kinda rounded on the bottom and bottom-heavy.  You will also notice that there is this odd shape on top, so let's break it down a bit.  How about we draw a circle on top ...


Now, connect the 2 circles with 2 slightly curved lines ...


And erase what you perceive to be any unnecessary "mapping" lines.  When we put down "basic shapes" to suggest an object's perceived "overall shape" we create what I call "mapping lines" as it is the basic shapes that help us along our path of discovery while we draw.


We seem to have the shape down for the first pear nicely, now let's focus on the second pear.  Again, we want to draw the "basic shape" as we perceive it to be, paying attention to where it is located relative to the first pear, and also the size and shape relative to the first pear.  It looked to me as though they were about the same size.


Now, draw the smaller circle on top, then I want you to use your eraser and your pencil to make any corrections you see that need to be made until you are satisfied.  Remember, we are not trying to trace the original picture here, and we are not trying to duplicate the reference image - we are only trying to pull information from the reference image to create a drawing of our own interpretation.


Now for the third and final pear in our drawing.  Start with a "basic shape."  If you notice, it looks as though the third pear is settled a bit further from the first two pears.


And lying on its side.


You've drawn a lot of circles today, aren't you proud of yourself?  Now add the connecting lines of your 2 circles and then use your eraser and pencil to take out what you don't need and correct what you perceive to be necessary.


How about we add some stems to these babies ...


Now, this next step is a little more difficult, but the more you draw, the more you will be able to see the shapes of the shadows and the shapes of the highlights.  Here, I have put down a map of where I see the shadows to be.


Next, I fill in the shadows with the darkest value from my pencil by using greater pressure in the shadow area.  Next, I let up a bit on the pressure and scribble in some mid tones.  Then, I use my eraser to suggest the highlights on the pears or "that" place where the light source is hitting the pears directly.  By shading the pears like this you will be giving them shape and dimension.


Finally, there is a reflection onto the table below the pears (not all a shadow but mostly a reflection).  The shadow for these pears is directly under the pears as the highlight indicates that the source light is coming from the front and above (follow me?).  That is why I don't have uniform shading in the reflection, but if you don't want to add this, it doesn't really matter and entirely up to you.

There you go!  Hope you enjoyed our Saturday Morning Skraw!  I think next week we might try a landscape.  How about it?



Thursday, August 13, 2009

Portraiture is Painful


Monet once said "Painting is painful," and I would have to agree, but as for today, and for me, Portraiture is painful - very painful.  No wonder I've been cussing more in the last week.  Trying desperately to capture Matthew's sweet personality, bright eyes, and rosy cheeks has been a chore - but well worth it.  I am anxious to finish his portrait, let it dry, and varnish it.


I've been working every day for over a week now on this painting, and tonight the frustration kicked in, but that may have been because I'm tired.  Really tired.  I've been standing at the easel for hours and hours, but I did have company for the last few days.  Alison has been coming over and taking a break from her remodeling project at her new home to paint with me. 


I can't wait to show you her painting.  I love the way Alison paints.  She uses bright, vibrant colors and she paints in acrylic.  I told her that her paintings remind me of Peter Maxx.  Pop Art.  Really cool.  But, in the meantime, I struggle with this painting.  I am almost done with his face and hair and then I will work on his clothing and body with a more impressionistic brushstroke. 

The background will be my next big struggle.  I can never figure out what I want to do with the background for a portrait until I have scraped off a ton of paint.  As for the blue that you see, that was just my way of putting something around his face and figure, but that will change.  I may try to replicate the reference image (below), however, I don't want him sitting on a rug.  Maybe a rock, what do you think? 


Monet was right - "painting is painful" but Renoir once said "One must, from time to time, attempt things that are beyond one's capacity" and that I must agree.  I find portraiture to be my greatest challenge and my greatest satisfaction.  I want the skin to look luminous and the eyes to sparkle and look real.  I want to see the roundness of the cheeks and the wetness of the lips.  The real challenge for me is perfecting every value within the color of the skin and the eyes so that it looks uniform in shadow and in light.


I suppose when I want to pinch his adorable cheeks, then I'll be done with his face, and for me, that is the most important element of this painting - his adorable face.

Would you like to see my reference image:




Saturday, August 08, 2009

Saturday Morning Skraw - Drawing Lesson 1


I've had so many readers ask me if I could give them lessons in drawing that I decided to start something here just for you.  I'm going to call it the "Saturday Morning Skraw" (Sketching and Drawing) and today will be the first lesson.  I'm going to start with the very basics and work up to more advanced techniques over time, but I thought this would be a good start for everyone who is interested.

I enjoy drawing in the morning right after I wake up.  I keep my sketchbook on my night table with my pencils and eraser.  It's a fun way to start the day.  You'll need a sketchbook or some white paper, a kneaded eraser, and preferably some drawing pencils (I like Staedtler or Reeves), but if you don't have them, just use a handy #2 pencil.  Let's get started!


First things first - how to hold your pencil.  This is called the basic tripod pencil grip and this is the most common grip to draw, however, you won't be using this all the time.  When you draw, the best place to be in your brain is in the right hemisphere because that is where you will find your creative self, and there are some tricks to get you hoppin' over to that side of your brain.  When you use the basic tripod grip, you are actually still in your left brain because you are using your fingers and your wrist to maneuver your pencil while you draw.


Then there is the overhand grip and you will enjoy using this grip for shading and drawing too.  When you use this grip on your pencil, you are using your right brain and your entire arm to shade and draw.  This is also the best grip to use when making ellipses and circles because your arm will give you better results than your wrist and your fingers.  I like to draw using this grip when sketching on canvas at my easel with charcoal too.  It is much easier to draw with the overhand grip when your surface is vertical (like it is on an easel) than if I were to use the basic tripod pencil grip.  Try it sometime, you'll notice a difference in how it feels and your control.


Every object has a structure, or a shape based on either the cube, the cylinder, the sphere, or the cone, and if you look at any object, it can be broken down into elements of one or a combination of these geometric shapes. The shapes are not always perfect, but if you look you will see them within every object. 

A solid object has 3 dimensions - height, width, and depth.  When you begin to see objects as a combination of geometric shapes, it becomes easier to draw what you see.

Let's start with something simple - a cube.  Make 2 squares like you see above.  They don't have to be perfect, but try to make them about the same size.


Now, connect the 2 squares like you see above.  You have now created a cube.  If you start every drawing with the basic ingredients of simple geometric shapes first, then it becomes easier to correct a line for a curve or add detail.  I use the analogy "You have to have a foundation before you can put up the frame, and you have to have the frame before you put in the drywall, and you have to have the drywall before you can paint."  Start with the simple foundation of basic shapes, no matter how imperfect they are to begin with, you can always make adjustments to your drawing as you work.


Now, let's add some detail and take out some detail.  Remember, the eraser can be your best friend when you are drawing and sketching.  So, we have the basic structure - a cube.  Let's begin by erasing some lines that would not be visible since we are drawing an open box.  Then, add some simple detail, like the little half circle in the front, then draw the lid paying attention to the angles of your lines and where they are relative to your other lines in your drawing.


Shading and values are something you will learn later, but if you want, go ahead and copy where I have shaded the box including the cast shadow.  Try to visualize the direction that the light is coming from and what part of the box is turned away from the light and how the shape of the box will cast a shadow.


Now, let's try something different and a little more challenging.  Begin by drawing an ellipse.


Add a cone to that ellipse.


Draw a half circle on top of the ellipse and erase the inner side of the ellipse.


Add some detail and some shading.  Yummy.  That wasn't so hard now was it?  Drawing is a lot of fun and it takes practice.  Just remember, the more you practice, the better you will get just like with anything you do. 

Have Fun!


I don't know about you, but this tutorial made me hungry for a chocolate ice cream cone.  I think I'm going to go get me one.

Lesson 2 next Saturday morning!



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