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Monday, September 15, 2014

Drawing A Personal Subject, My Mom






A few times out of the week I visit my Mother, after taking care of her needs I sit down for a while and sketch her. When I was younger, in high school, my Mother would sit down and rest from her busy house work and pose for me. I wish I kept all those sketches of her, though I have a few from those days. Other family members posed for me too ( I use to draw my brother as he slept in the bed across from me), but Mom posed more often and she still does.


The drawing never gets boring, even if its a similar pose or angle, I try to improve from what I did last time. Sometimes I'm surprised that somehow there seems to be something sad about the drawing and I don't know if that's more her or me. One time, though, she surprised me. My Mother is now 91 years old, her eye sight is all but gone, she see's very little out of one eye and the other she is blind. She has dementia so her memory seems to come and go and I can hardly understand her speech. Sometimes I can catch a few words so I know there is meaning behind what she say's. But she surprised me once as I was drawing her, she looked straight at me and said, "Hey. What are you doing?" and then she began to laugh out loud!. I wish I could've froze that moment and drew her laughing, would have been like one of Rembrandt's final self portrait where he painted himself in his old age laughing- as my teacher Irwin Greenberg put it, He laughed as if to say he took the worst that laugh could throw at him and he won, he made to his old age unbroken.


For these drawing's I continue to use the water soluble pencil along with a water brush. I have a raw sienna, sepia and black pencil. If I want to add color I use a small travel set of watercolors. These are the things that I take with me everyday to sketch on the train ride to and from work and whenever I see an opportunity in between and after that time.


Bellow is a sample of one of the sketches I did of my Mom, this would have been around my senior year in high school or my first year of college.




Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Don't be Afraid To Mess It Up





It really helps to not be afraid to mess things up. I did my best not to worry and splash paint around- it did help to have a strategy though. I made a careful drawing and then went to bed for the night all the while plotting at how I was going to paint the picture.

I enjoyed pushing the water around, applying a cool blue wash over the warm colors of his face, deepening the dark areas by applying washes of color. It turned out to be fun because I wasn't afraid to mess it up and have to throw it away.

Not that there aren't still some things that bother me. I should have placed the figure better on the paper so that his left elbow doesn't run off the page and I'm not sure about the rendering of his left hand. But overall I'm pretty happy with the painting.

Another painting I did recently was a landscape. I took my brand new pochade box outside. My son Jason came with me and painted alongside me. Initially I liked the painting but as I began to live with it I kept wanting to change things in it. One morning I woke up and looked at it and began applying paint with a palette knife. I decided that I did not like the painting as it was so I was either going to make some bold changes or throw it out. Again, just not being afraid to mess it up made all the difference.

Detail of landscape painting.




















Friday, August 29, 2014

Sketching With Watercolor Pencils





“Get the few main lines and see what lines they call out.”
Robert Henri






Lately I’ve been sketching with these water soluble pencil’s like a kid who discovered a new toy.


I like being able to work back and forth from a watercolor wash to putting some pencil lines back into the drawing once it dries sufficiently. All though once in a while I render a bit more than I think I should, working this way is helping me to work quicker, jotting down only what is important. Sometimes I rework the drawing a bit later on but what I actually start out with is a bit of a line drawing with some wash, the drawings of my Mother (on the left and below) I have a little more time to work on. The quote by Robert Henri above is a handy reminder of finding and starting with the  few important lines, getting down what is essential first. The watercolor pencils help me to put these things down quicker.

 
“The sketch hunter moves through life as he finds it, not passing negligently the things he loves, but stopping to know them, and to note them down in the shorthand of his sketchbook.”
Robert Henri


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sketching With Water Soluble Pencils






Water brush
I had used water soluble pencils before, but after purchasing a video by Artist James Gurney called Watercolor In The Wild I started using them again.


I use them on the subway and when I visit my Mom. All I need is a couple of pencils and a Niji Water brush. Sometimes I use a small watercolor set. I have a Windsor and Newton Field Box With 12 half pan's. It's small but I want to try to find something even smaller especially for when I'm sketching in the subway.


Its been a while since I took my sketchbook outdoors. The park near my job has been closed for over two years while they work on what I can only guess are repairs of damages from the last big storm in the area. When time permits I will make some trips to City Island and then the Botanical Gardens, both in the Bronx.

Recently I took my oils and my new pochade box and went out to the parkway near my home with my son and painted some trees there. My son used a set of watercolors and painted alongside me. But that's a story for another post.

Bellow I included the link to James Gurney's website as well as the link to his post on his video and where you can purchase it.





Windsor and Newton Field Box





James Gurney's blog Gurney Journey   http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/

Blog post on Watercolor In The Wild Video   http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/2014/08/watercolor-in-wild-releases-today.html
















Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Paintings and Drawings for Sale On Etsy










I've been thinking about this for sometime and I finally got around to opening an Etsy account to sell my work.

Selling or promoting myself is not something I'm particularly good at so this is going to be learning experiance for me.

For thing is to keep prices fair and reasonable. I remember getting advice from an older artist, he said to do a bunch of small works so that people who can't afford to buy the larger ones can have something in their price range to purchase. I'm going to have a mixed range of sizes of course. Some of the work is sold matted and ready for framing.

Please have a look at my store front, the link is here ArtInABusyWorld

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Struggling and Growing




Day 1


“Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do.”
Edgar Degas


There are times where all my faults seem to show up as I'm painting. It feels like I don't know what the heck I'm doing. That's about where I am with the things that I am currently working on- It's been a struggle.

"Paintings that you work hardest at are the ones you learn the most from, and are often your favorites." (Irwin Greenberg)


Day 2






I've started a number of paintings over the past couple of weeks and all have been a fight to resolve drawing and value and color, sometimes it seemed I knew little about any of those things.

The way I see it this struggle is frustrating, but good. I have to get past this sinking feeling of failure, hoping that as I strive to get past my shortcomings my work will be the better for it.

"Give yourself room to fail and fight like hell to achieve." (Irwin Greenberg)

Right now it's a bit deflating though.



Day 1. A start I have to get back to.


This struggle brings to mind a story Irwin (Greeny) Greeberg told his students (of which I was one). He said that when he was in school he noticed another kid making a drawing of a man and a donkey. He talked about how he was so impressed with the drawing, it seemed so perfectly executed, flawless. He was amazed by that students talent. A couple of years went by and Greeny struggled through art class' and matured in his work. He saw real personal growth as he tried his best to go beyond his ability. Later he saw that same kid again drawing the same man and donkey. He had never gone beyond what he knew.










Tuesday, July 29, 2014

My In-Between Weekends Sketches


Gouache painting done in my sketchbook

The hardest thing about starting a painting is knowing I only have a short amount of time to paint. It’s very difficult to break away from the work and go on with the rest of my day. I wish this was something I could do seven days a week.


On the week days, if I manage to get up early in the morning, (about 3 A.M.) I’ll have 3 hours in which to work before I head out for my 9 to 5. In the evening I can steal a couple of hours, but in either case it’s hard to do an oil painting or watercolor knowing I have to leave or stop soon. So during the week I try to fill that time with in between stuff. Little gouache sketches, pen and ink, pencil drawings, etc. Sometimes they may be things I want to paint latter but mostly random stuff most of which gets tossed out.




Gouache painting done in my sketchbook
This self portrait in oil I did on the weekend
The main goal of these in-between sketches is to keep me prepared for the weekend where I can devote more time to painting.