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

Blog post on Watercolor In The Wild Video

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. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Comedy Of Art College

From a college sketchbook

I read an article recently that pointed out how useless art colleges are in turning out artist who can make a living from their art. The article was not talking about graphic designers, or animators but about the fine art that hangs in galleries.

This did not come as a surprise to me having experienced first hand the misery of art college. It was however a shock back then because I had come from an art high school, Art and Design, and had the opportunity to have been taught by some excellent teachers. The highlight of those years was the early morning painting group that I attended with Irwin Greenberg and Max Ginsburg . We gathered together every morning before the start of the school day and painted from the model for about 2 hours. Greeny and Max would work along side the students and after some time had gone by would make their rounds to offer instruction to each student.

At that time, (I don't know if they do the same now) The High School of Art and Design allowed you to pick your major (Illustration, cartooning, photography, fashion, etc.) and with  Greeny's help I was even able to manage getting into his class. The memory of that time continues to inspire me today.

Then I went to college.
From a college sketchbook

First I majored in illustration, which wasn't too bad and If I stuck with that, who knows I might have graduated. But I switched my major to fine art and entered the "Twilight Zone." let me share some highlights......

In one class while the model was posing the instructor played classical music (nice) and said that he wanted us to draw more from the music than the model in front of us (okay)  and then he turned out the lights. It was pitch black in the room. The model was posing, I couldn't see the model, I couldn't see my paper, I couldn't see my hand. If I could see the instructor I would've thrown my charcoal at him .

Another time I was asked to make a very careful drawing from the model. Which I did. When we were done the instructor asked us to rip the drawing into pieces then arrange the pieces randomly to form a new image. I failed her class.

Then there was the model who was also a performance artist and decided to combine the two as he posed for the class. Somewhere during the performance he found his way underneath the model stand, carrying it upon his back as he crawled on his hands and knees like a turtle across the room.

Oil sketch done while in college
If I could think of one thing I was most bothered by it would be the time I brought an art book to class on the work of John Singer Sargent. The instructor asked If I liked Sargents work and I told her that I very much did. She smiled and continued with the class. The next session she came with copies of articles about Sargent. She gave them to me and asked me to read them. They were all negative articles. At another session she gave me another article comparing  Alex Katz to Sargent???  Their work couldn't be father apart. What bothered me was that she wasn't trying to build on what inspired me or on my tastes but trying to change my mind and direction altogether. But then I guess that is a big problem with how art is taught in college, you should be able to pick instructors who you would want to learn from and usually if there is a good instructor space is limited and you get whatever else is left to fulfill your credit requirement.

 At one time French academies  (I know that's a bad word for some) were where you got instruction in everything but painting. To learn to paint you would have to be accepted in to a painters studio (atelier).  It would be nice if art colleges would work with artists ateliers so that students could get the instruction they prefer. There should be some program with art schools and local art galleries as well. A show once a year in a local gallery promoting new talent in their senior year would be a good way to introduce the artist to the art world.

In my humble opinion of course. 

Bellow is a video that was attached to the article I read.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Painting Isn't Always Fun

 "Don't call yourself an artist. Let others name you that. 'Artist' is a title of great weight." (Irwin Greenberg)

 I read an article recently about being a professional artist. The author said that if you, as an artist don’t enjoy the process of painting then you are doomed as an artist. I don’t know if I agree with that. 

The process of painting isn’t always fun. It’s a challenge to push yourself beyond what you know or what you’re used to. The results are often deflating. You start out with such high hopes and sometimes the final result is less than what you were aiming, but it can still be an advancement because you set out to do more than what you’ve previously done even if it’s just hoping to raise your skill level. In the midst of striving to be better you’re going to encounter frustration. It’s going to be difficult, but the fruit of that struggle is that you do in fact grow and so does your confidence. Like exercise you push yourself every inch of the way and though it’s possible to enjoy what you’re doing as you’re doing it, the big payoff is the results.

"Aim high, beyond your capacity." (Irwin Greenberg)

In that same article I read, and I wholeheartedly disagreed with, the authors opinion that in order to be a professional artist you have to concentrate and specialize in one medium. So many artist come to mind, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Rembrandt, Sargent, Degas, Daumier, etc. All worked in more than one medium. Why wouldn’t you want to? It’s nice to be able to choose the best medium to create your image.  It seems to me the comment was more about marketing yourself than being creative or being a professional artist.

In my opinion I would rather strive to be better and be open to new possibilities. Stay curious and don’t settle. And that sounds like fun at the very least, rewarding too.

"Grit and guts are the magic ingredients to your success." (Irwin Greenberg)