Monday, December 15, 2014

Drawing It Over 7 Times (Pen and Ink)

It's been a while since I've really focused on the Pen and Ink medium. I've done a bunch of sketches but this is the first time in a long time I reached for my steel nib dip pens. Not entirely happy with the results but I enjoyed doing this recent drawing.

I'm probably going to have another go at this. The image is too good and worth fighting to make a better drawing of it.

I remember a long time ago an art instructor told this story about an illustrator whose Art Director told him that if he did his drawing over 7 times that he would be more satisfied with the final drawing. At first the illustrator was angry and dismissive but eventually he did the 7 drawings and was happy with the result and made it a common practice after. The art instructor talked about how when he heard the story he did the something and his work was better for it.

I also remember having a conversation with the son of a teriffic watercolorist in which he told me that his father would reuse figures from previous paintings and each time he would refine the figure making it better and better.That watercolorist was David Levine. A great pen and ink artist as well.

Come to think of it I've done images of this person in different mediums in similar or different pose's.

The drawing at left is from my sketchbook done in a little (just a bit) loser or freer style. Maybe something to shoot for.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Pen And Ink Sketchbook

One of the first mediums I was attracted to was Pen and Ink. As a kid I spent hours and late nights (sometimes sleepless nights) copying my favorite drawings from the pages of comic books. I used brush, pen and ink to copy the works or imitate the styles of John Busecema and Alfredo Alcala, Neal Adams, Bernie Wrightson, Frank Frazetta. Latter on I discovered the works of the great pen and ink artist of the Golden Age of American Illustration. Charles Dana Gibson, Franklin Booth, Joseph Clement Coll, Harrison Caddy, Etc.

Pen and Brush and Ink is the medium I turn to when I sketch from imagination. Its fun.
Lately I started doing an exercise using this medium. I collect refference from the internet on subjects I enjoy. I love history (not that I'm a history buff, I just like the romance of earlier times), I have collected some photos of Civil War and  Medieval reenactors, Roman reenactors. I use them to make warm up sketches in pen and ink. I play with it using several sources for one figure or face. Exaggerating or adding features like beards or aging the characters, etc. I also use refference photos that I have taken myself for earlier projects.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Rethinking The Gouache Medium

Gouache was a medium widely used long ago but is so little respected nowadays. Great artists such as Albrecht Durer, Anders Zorn, Winslow Homer, J.M.W. Turner, Francois Boucher, etc. made terrific works in this medium. Illustrators have made works sometimes indistiguishable from oils when seen on the printed page.

On a recent visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City I saw a small piece executed in Gouache that made me think that I was not giving the medium the respect it deserves.

I have been looking at other artists work in this medium so that I can get a better understanding of how to work with it. I also looked up some illustrations done in Gouache.  The work thats out there really makes me wonder why the medium is not so widely used. In all honesty I would probably do more Oil painting if I had the room but because I like switching mediums I would still continue to use Gouache.

The images on this post were made at a time when I am relearning and rethinking how to work in this medium. The painting on the bottom was done on a toned paper which was too thin . The painting above and at right were done with Strathmore 500 Bristol Board. The painting on the right was done on a 4-ply sheet (the thickness of four boards), The heavier the sheet the better. I've also used 300 Lb. cold pressed watercolor paper.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Free Online Sketching from the Model

Great news for those who find it difficult to find models to draw from. There are two YouTube channels that offer either still images of models  or filmed the model as he/she posed. You start out with a series of short poses leading to 10 minute poses.

The first Channel is On Air Video

This Channel records their models in real time doing 1, 2, and 5 minute poses.

The other channel is New Masters Academy

New Masters Academy offers still images of the models posing for 1, 2, 5 and 10 minute poses.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

More Sketches of my Mother

I had a discussion with someone about these paintings I've been doing of my Mother. I was asked why do I paint these pictures of her in her old age. It was suggested that I look for photos of her when she was younger and use those as reference.

My response was;

1- I paint these pictures of her when I visit her. Its a way of passing the time with her when she is at an age that I'm not sure if she recognizes me, not all the time anyway.
I help her with her food, I play her music and as she listens I sketch her and try to talk to her at the same time.
Painting her is an experience for me. It is just as much a memory, a good one, as when she was younger.

2- I find her just as lovable and worthy of painting in her old age as I did before.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Start Is Just As Important As the Finish

One of my biggest weaknesses is that I tend to rush to a finish. A long time ago an instructor asked me if I was trying to finish an oil painting in one sitting. It's taken me a long time to learn that a painting or a drawing needs to be built on a strong foundation, that what I'm painting needs to be carefully examined or all the drawing errors that I glossed over in the start will reappear and weaken the final image. Most of the important work is done at the beginning of a painting.

I made the pencil drawing (above left) with the intention of painting over it in gouache. I took the time to carefully map out where the lights and darks were to be placed. I scanned the drawing so that I would not lose it, just in case I need to start over on the painting. With the drawing scanned I thought it would also make a good under drawing for a digital painting. I opened the file in Sketchbook Pro and painted the monochrome self portrait above.

The painting went very smoothly because I already mapped out  and planned in my mind how I was going to paint the portrait. The time I took to make that careful drawing in the beginning carried me through the entire painting.

Bellow is a YouTube video I made showing and explaining how I made the digital portrait.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Advantages of Working In Gouache

Gouache is a medium that goes back a long way. The watercolors that were painted by Durer were actually done in Gouache which is opaque watercolor. The medium was used to illustrate manuscripts in the middle ages. It has been used by just about any artist you can mention,  Fran├žois Boucher, JMW Turner, George Innes, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, etc. When you hear the term body color (which was used in a great deal of studies by the painter Peter Paul Rubens) it is actually gouache the artist used.
I like the medium for several reasons.
 It is more forgiving than transparent water color. I also love working in transparent watercolor but sometimes I would rather work with the advantage of building the image without worrying about leaving areas white and dreading that irreversible mistake.
Because of its opacity I can build the image in the same way I would paint in oil but without the solvents and without the long drying time.
It's an easy medium to travel with. The set up would be the same as transparent watercolor.
You can read up on the history of the medium by clicking  here
There are some great examples of Gouache paintings at this link
A lot of golden age American Illustrators also used gouache. It would be a good idea to research those illustrations to examine how they used the medium and what is possible with it. Steven Dohanos and Harry Anderson are two illustrators who used the medium often.