Friday, December 29, 2006

Traveling Moleskine

My Moleskine is always with me - even if I don't often make an entry. I thought I might add a couple of the pages from my old and tattered Mole. This was at one of last seasons Nationals games.I am on the road a lot and I thought I would include this on of my breakfast. I also made a promise to make more marks in my Mole - something I have yet to follow through with.

This is another road trip. I usually wake up to Robin & Company on CNN Headline News. Must appologize for the likeness of Robin - it doesn't do her justice.

I have been experimenting with watercolor in my Mole and have found that I get the best results when I prepare the page with an absorbent ground. I use a thin coating and it seems to allow the watercolor to brush on evenly instead of beading up the way it does on plain Mole sketchbook pages. I will be trying out the new watercolor moleskine next.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Freehand Sketching Book Review

One of the books that I have recently found very usefull and would highly recomnend to anyone interested in learning freehand pen and ink drawing. The book is Freehand Sketching: An Introduction by Paul Lasaeu. He has a very good step by step approach.

I did some of the exercises in his book and tried soem of them in my small sketch book to see if I could mimic his style a little.

This is one of the first, using a still life arangement. I copied this from his book.

Next he did a simple landskape example step by step and this is my mini attempt at that exercise.

Those were followed by a slightly more complex landscape in the same fashion.

These are some of my own attempts with a little bit of color added.

A house I have always thought would be great...Overlooking the ocean with a wrap around porch.

I am amazed at how well this little Strathmore sketch book holds up to watercolor - maybe I have figured out the right amount of water to use and have become a bit more patient.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Small Steps

I usually carry a small (3.5”x5”) sketchbook with me most of the time (either my Moleskine or a Strathmore). Some times I manage a presentable sketch, but most times I end up just doodling a bunch of thoughts. I am on the road a lot so my sketches/doodles tend to be of my hotel room or if I have time to get out and about some of the things in the area. Usually I am beat by the end of the day and don’t do much but crash in my room. I can relate to the “Block Problem” many of us experience and that often prevents me from doing any drawing.

These are some of the sketches from my little sketchbook.

<- Cafe Umbrellas

Window and Bird Doodle ->

One of my goals is to learn to use watercolor with my pen and ink sketches. In search of helpful examplesand guidance I came across the book “Work Small, Learn Big!” that showcases 17 different artists and their sketching and painting techniques. Great book! I really enjoyed the articles about each of the artists especially Don Getz, Tony Couch, Janice Donelson, Dave Beckett, and Gerald Brommer - and all the rest really.

A lighthouse sketch of a Tony Couch illustration. ->

I have not had the opportunity to take any classes in watercolor so I have been experimenting a lot and reading books. The first and one of the most helpful has been Kate’s (Cathy Johnson) First Step Series book “Painting Watercolors”. Kate’s book helped me understand some of the little details about watercolors and how to use them – I still keep coming back to her book a lot.

Another book I really enjoy and find it really inspires me is John Lovett's book “Watercolor For The Fun Of It: Getting Started”. He has a very exciting palette and an interesting approach to watercolor. A couple of my small attempts at his examples:


Friday, December 22, 2006

My How Time Flies

It has been far too long since my last post. I have been busy, as usual, but also lazy. I have also been sort of searching for what it is I am looking for in my sketching. I first thought I wanted to recapture the passion for drawing of my youth. However that was a different time and in some ways a different person. So I floundered about, reading books, exploring the art of many others and even looking back into my photography past. I tried getting interested in fast sketching with pencil and it was fun – sort of. I tried to work with water colors but I need serious help there. I was going to take a course in nature studies using colored pencils through the Smithsonian – but the class canceled at the last minute because there weren’t enough participants. I keep coming back to my pen and ink as a foundation. My biggest problem is that I seem to get really mired in details. My drawings get overloaded with detail. Maybe I should try a fatter pen to keep me from getting to much detail. Even though I have waded around in the sea of uncertain direction I have managed to sketch from time to time. It would seem that the urge to draw would never coincide with the time needed – life gets in the way.
During a visit to our home in CB last summer I managed to get out a couple of sketches. This one a quick ink sketch of a coffee shop and the other of a small tugboat in the marina.
The first sketch of the tugboat was a quick pencil sketch.
I liked the boat enough that I did an ink version.

I am looking forward to the holidays as time to catch up on this past year and maybe get back into the routine of posting more of my thoughts and sketches.

Friday, June 09, 2006

More Pen Brush Play

Playing w ith my brush pens again. I tried some experiments to see what I could do with them. I can see that brush pens can give lines lots of expression. The more I play the more I discover.

The first is the old apple core study...

then I tried my keys...

and then a face.

It still reminds me of comic book drawings. But there is something interesting about the process and the finished product.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Exploring Body Parts

Life, once again, gets in the way. I have had little time to draw of late and what time I had was short. So, if you don’t have time to draw the whole figure, then draw an interesting part of it. I was doodling around and was experimenting with various body parts.

Mostly in graphite but I also experimented with my Pitt Artist Pens – I bought a set of the Gray shades a while back and hadn't really done much with them.

The reference for some of these was Bridgmans Complete Guide to Drawing from Life - hence the muscular appearance.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Ladybug, Ladybug Fly Away Home

I am not a real fan of digital cameras, at least not for serious photographic work. There are serious archival problems with digital that have not been addressed by any of the technologies in place to date. That's not to say that digital cameras are not useful - I do have one that I use a lot for quick reference photos. But for real serious photos I still rely on my film cameras. But, I digress from my intended purpose for this post.

The other day I was waiting for my lovely bride, enjoying the sunny afternoon when a tiny ladybug landed on the knee of my blue jeans. I decided to experiment with the macro mode of my little digital camera. It was touch and go, there, because the sun was quite bright and it was difficult to see the image on the view screen. The macro mode also requires a very steady hand or a tripod – since I didn’t have a tripod handy and if I did it would have been awkward to try and set it up to take a picture of my knee. So, it was to be a hand held operation. Several tries later and coaxing the poor ladybug to stay put I managed to get one sharp image.

For those interested the camera is a Canon PowerShot SD400 5mega pixel model. It has a macro mode and a 3x optical zoom and 12x digital zoom. It is a very small and compact camera – probably the main reason I bought it. I am happy with it for what I use it for.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Playing in the Pitt

The other day I picked up a Pitt Aritst Pen (brush nib) and played with it a little. I also picked up a Pigma Brush as well. I had fun with them both and can see it will take a little practice to get the results I want all the time. The Pigma is a little narower than the Pitt but the flexibility is about the same. The Pigma comes in lots of colors as does the Pitt. I had a hard time finding individual pens - instead of sets - of the Pitt pens in art stores. I finally found the black ones at Office Depot! After you get used to them they really provide a lot of expression in pen and ink line. They remind me of comic book illustrations.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Some Metro Art and More From the Margins

Last week was a very intense week. I attended a seminar on Simulation Modeling and Analysis – read heavy on statistics. To avoid the traffic and parking I rode the Metro (subway) to and from the sessions. I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to do a little sketching. The ride is not very long so I decided to try sketching heads to start with. I did a couple on each trip in. On the trip out it was to crowded to try and draw – there are lots of stops so trying to draw standing up is near impossible – need an extra hand to hold on to a support.

The seminar was really good – but even a good seminar will have some slow moments. So, as the math began to get deeper than I needed I doodled in the margins of my notes. Well, there was five days of this and I tend to doodle a lot. I used my fountain pen for almost all of these doodles.

My first couple of days I tried heads, as I mentioned, a couple were good and others dismal. I still find myself noodling with the image and trying to put more detail than I need, in my opinion. I am trying to improve my sketching speed! But, as Dave Rankin would say I tend to draw rather than sketch.

I thought I would try my hand at hands one morning and that was not so good. I really got wrapped around the details and lost the image I was after. The fact that some people move their hands around a lot made it difficult as well. So, I need to really concentrate on speed – to capture the shape that caught my eye and worry about the detail later.

After my questionable effort to capture hands I thought I would try one of the EDM challenges – to draw a mouth. This was particularly interesting and I really had fun with this. It is extremely enlightening when you begin studying the mouths of those around you. The amazing range of subtle and dramatic differences could fuel drawings for a very long time.

In spite of all the marginal art I really did get a great deal out of the seminar. I expect that I will be applying many of the concepts presented in the very near future.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

On the Fourth Day of Class...

On our fourth day of Beginning Drawing our instructor had us playing with watercolors. I made some valiant efforts to follow instructions and just throw some paint on the paper and see what happens to it – when it is wet and when it is dry. When I did all that I ended up with what looked like a gray mess with puddles of watercolor all over. So I used a wad of paper towel to lot some of it up. Wow! The gray went away and I had some really bright colors left. I let it dry for a while and added some more colors using another wad of paper towel to dab it around . Fascinating! And Fun.

Then I experimented with some masking fluid. Sort of drew a tree shape with it. Then I put down a wash that didn’t really go down as planned but I left it to dry. Then I peeled of the mask and added some color to my tree. It is a bit…uh…different but interesting.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Barstool Doodles

On my last trip to the North I decided to stay at a Holiday Inn that has a Pub. Of course I went to the Pub for dinner and decided to sit at the bar. While I waited for my meal to arrive I decided to doodle away at the bottles on the bar back counter. So, I whipped out my little 3”x5” sketch book and began. First, using pencil on a couple and then one in pen and ink.

Of course this is drawing in a very public place and since I was sitting next to the waitress station I was observed during my efforts. Even though I only had one person comment on my doodling. It was fun and I think if I practice some of Dave Rankin's techniques I could really develop a collection of people. As always - practice - practice - practice.

I used a 9B pencil for the pencil sketches and did not erase anything. When my drawing instructor saw them she said I should just use pen and ink since I don't erase anything.

I used a brown Pigma Micron 005 pen for the sketch below. It was an experiment with the scribble style of crosshatching.

I even made an attempt at capturing the likeness of one of the waitresses as she made trips to the service bar for here orders. Not as quick a sketch as I would have liked but it was a step in the direction of improvement.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

"Fast Sketching Techniques" Reviewed

“Fast Sketching Techniques” David Rankin has clearly mastered the art of fast sketching and he presents his approach to this skill in a very easy to follow and interesting book. In his book he describes very affective ways to increase sketching speed as well as improving observation and recognition skills. He presents an approach and provides exercises to hone these skills, describing the tools and techniques required. I, a novice, found the book enlightening and inspiring. I felt the book provided an approach using pencil sketching that I could also apply to other media, like pen and ink or charcoal. Improving recognition skills using David’s exercises would improve sketching, drawing and painting techniques. It is a book well worth having.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Tribute to Emma

I thought I should post a tribute to Emma, our cat. She will be 19 in a couple of months, if she survives. Three years ago she was diagnosed with kidney failure and the our veterinarian said that she would only live 3 months unless we hydrated her subcutaneously each day, in which case she might last 6 months. We tried the hydration but it only made her life miserable. We decided to forgo the hydration for more quality time with Emma. We began mixing pumpkin pie filling with her canned cat food – a suggestion by our vet. It has made a difference – she is still here. About a month ago our vet came by the house and examined Emma and decided that she had suffered a minor stroke and was rendered blind. The vet said that she felt that Emma was on her last leg and would probably pass within the next four months. Of course the vet did qualify that by saying that this was Emma and she didn’t always do what was expected. Well, Emma is still here and aside from bumping into things from time to time she is getting along quite well. She will leave a very large hole in our lives when she finally does pass, so we intend to enjoy her as long as we have her. Below are a few sketches and experiments of Emma’s likeness.

A little watercolor and pen and ink experiments. More to come, if Emma will sit still long enough!

Friday, March 17, 2006

Getting a Little Class

As I mentioned I am taking a beginning drawing class at the Smithsonian. My instructor is Trinka Margua Simon, and she is excellent. The class is 8 weeks, meeting once a week, and each week deals with some aspect of drawing and each week uses a different medium. Week one was learning to see flat and place objects on our work surface in the same relative location and size that we see them. The medium was pencil. The technique was to place three of the still life objects at the most extreme positions of our vision at the very edges of our paper – did I say this is a large piece of paper? – and then add additional objects in between. We were told to measure and take care in placement and sizing of the objects. This is my result.

After the exercise Trinka told us that we would never use those techniques again. These were very technical approaches to puting objects in our drawings that would probably never fit our vision.

The next week, day 2, of the class we worked with Charcoal. I have not worked with Charcoal before so this was going to be new and wondrous. This weeks topic was volume. Learning to give shapes in our drawings a three dimensional appearance. I learned a great deal about Charcoal in the short 2 and a half hours we had. I definitely have a greater understanding and appreciation for the medium. I found out that you can only put so much Charcoal on the paper and then it will just fall off. I also found out that the harder Charcoals will produce richer blacks but is more permanent – can’t be erased. I had always envisioned working with Charcoal as being very messy. It is, sort of. It is a lot easier to clean up than I would have thought. Anyway, this is my first Charcoal effort.

As you can see I managed to leave a lot of finger prints - I'll have to clean that up.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Back to the Waterfront

I really like the waterfront, no matter where it is. It could be in a small coastal village or a large thriving metropolis on a river – on a lake – on the ocean. Must be all those years I spent in the Navy. So, this small town of Colonial Beach on the Potomac River has several interesting marinas, including some boat repair facilities that I find fascinating. This drawing is of one of the towns fire boats. It is another of my detail riddled pen and ink drawings that I intend to add color to eventually. Hopefully the color will hide the ink smear.

I have begun experimenting with some fast sketching based upon some of David Rankin's exercises from his book "Fast Sketching Techniques." I will be posting those as I get them scanned and time to get on the web.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Where am I? Where have I been? Where am I going?

I have been very lazy about getting new posts up - it has been, what, more than two months since my last post! I have no good excuse for this absence. But, I'm here and I'm going to be posting a bunch of stuff over the next couple of days.

I have been trying to keep up with most of my favorite EDM Blogs but there are getting to be so many that I like!!

I started a beginning drawing class at the Smithsonian and its been really fun. I have played with charcoal, soft pastels, watercolor and the usual pencil/graphite mediums. I have had to work on some really large paper – 18”x24” – that I haven’t done in a long time. That can be really scary trying to fill up a blank space that big. I still have about three more classes – the class meets once a week and that doesn’t seem like often enough. I think I might look into some local classes – the Smithsonian is about 45mi. away and the parking can be a real bear and the metro takes twice as long to get there ( I should consider that an opportunity to sketch in public – huh).

Anyway, this post is to say that I am still alive and promise to be more active in my Blog postings.

For now I will sign off and get busy with my scanner and see you all tomorrow.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sigh. . . Time to Take Down the Decorations

It's that time again. Time to take down the Christmas decorations and put them away for another year. I sat having my coffee and realized that I had not skecthed any of the decorations for EDM # 46 so I grabbed my moleskine and my artpen and went to work.

After I finished taking all the decorations down and sat recovering from the effort I started to add in some color. I am pleased with the result because it brings back the beauty of our Christmas each time I look at it.

Quick Sketch . . .

Well, depending on the size of your gas tank you might have time to whip out the ol' moleskine and skecth the gas pump while it pumps away. I tried and got this far.

Would like to have put in a little more detail but didn't have time. Should do this more often and maybe draw someone pumping gas the next time.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Key West Daydreamin’

One of my favorite towns to live in is Key West, FL. I lived there for a few years in the late ‘70s. I lived in an old house on Duvall St. and used to sit in my hammock on my balcony and watch the tourists walk by. I decided to sketch one of the buildings I used to see on my daily bicycle rides around the town. I used a photograph from a book by a friend of mine - 'Portraits: Wooden Houses of Key West' by Sharon Wells & Lawson Little. Lawson taught me a great deal about photography in those days.

This building is sort of off the beaten path on what is called Solaris Hill – hills are a joke in KW because the highest point in KW is about 21’ above sea level – down near the shrimp boat docs. It is a bar, when it is open for business. It changes ownership almost as often as the weather changes.