Monday, December 27, 2010

My New Sketchbook

This drawing was done in the
subway. I was able to get the
drawing down very quickly
using these materials.
I bought a new sketchbook. It has toned paper so I can play with opaque white or prisma color pencils using the tone of the paper as a value. Sometimes when I sketched people in the subway I would tint a number of pages the night before so that I can use color pencils to draw with. The color of the tint was usually a warm color that I would use as a middle value. I was able to lay down the drawing a lot faster and think more about the large mass’ of light and dark.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Struggle.

Life has truly been busy, and not always in a good way. I have been living up to the title of this blog in trying to be creative while navigating through life. A personal crisis threatened my employment because it required that I leave earlier for a period of four weeks, I was putting in half days through much of that time which tried the patience of my supervisor, (though I have to really appreciate the fact that he hung in their with me). Money put away dwindled because of needs at home, but I managed to persevere and things are better now. Through that time I kept to my sketchbook, drawing even if it is only a few lines that I can put down- so much of my life, my time and energy go to others, this very private time to draw and keep up with art (books, magazines, articles on the internet, etc.) is what I keep to myself. I managed to keep posting here but not as much as I wanted to, but I kept going. Sometimes I can do more, sometimes the efforts bleed out of me. My sketchbook was like a life preserver to me. There was always something more I wanted to do, to draw and wish I had more time to paint, always more to do. Now I just need to make time to go to the Metropolitan museum of Art- when I was a student I spent almost every weekend there.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Drawing Demo Wash Pencil

It was 4 in the morning and everyone was a sleep but me. So I decided to draw using the materials I usually carry with me when I sketch on the train. The sketch took about 15 min., I speed up the video to half that time.

Here is the final Drawing done in the video.
Self portrait from a photograph I had taken earlier.
In this drawing I tried to keep the details to a minimal. Latter I came across this passage in the book ,‘The Art Spirit’-
“A fine drawing by Phil May has very little detail in it, but what lines he did put down were so significant of his quality of idea that no more lines, or no more details, were necessary.” (Robert Henri)

This is a fine way of thinking about the drawing, especially for the quick sketches in the subway that I usually do, and the wash pencil lends itself to that.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Inspirational Quotes

In my high school years I attended the High School of Art & Design in New York City, and during those years I sat in Irwin (Greeny) Greenberg’s class. Greeny taught painting from life in watercolor and oils. Half way through the class Greeny would stop to give a small lecture on art history. Usually he had a book about some artist that he shared with the class. We learned about Rembrandt, Rubens, Sargent, Eakins, Winslow Homer, N.C. Wyeth. Sometimes he talked about Tolstoy, Charles Dickens or he would pick something in history, some famous quote or some personal experience that he thought would inspire us. I got the idea that what we were learning and doing was part of a long tradition that dates as far back as the cave paintings at Lascaux and that somehow we could make a connection with artist throughout history. One of the books Greeny would quote from was the Art Spirit in which Robert Henri talked about a brotherhood of artist that know no boundaries of time and space but are tied together through mutual interests.
Here I put down a few of the quotes that have remained with me from my high school days and continue to inspire me.

“From the age of six I had a mania for drawing the forms of things. By the time I was fifty I had published an infinity of designs; but all I did before the age of seventy is not worth taking into account. At seventy three I learned a little about the real structure of nature, of animals, plants, trees, birds, fishes, and insects. In consequence when I am eighty I shall have still made progress; at ninety I shall penetrate the mystery of things; at a hundred I shall certainly have reached a marvelous stage; and when I am a hundred and ten everything I do, be it a dot or a line, will be alive. I beg those who live as long as I to see if I do not keep my word.” (Hokusai)

The Great Wave, by Hokus
“Through art, mysterious bonds of understanding and of knowledge are established among men. They are the bonds of a great Brotherhood. Those who are of the Brotherhood know each other, and time and space cannot separate them.” (Robert Henri)

Celestina, by Henri
“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” ( Calvin Coolidge)

Calvin Coolidge
“If the artist is alive in you, you may meet Greco nearer than many people, also Plato, Shakespeare, the Greeks.(Robert Henri)
In certain books- some way in the first few paragraphs you know that you met a brother.
You pass people on the street, some are for you, some are not.
Here is a sketch by Leonardo Da Vinci. I enter this sketch and I see him at work and in trouble and I meet him there.”

Boy with a Green Cap, Henri
“If heaven could only grant me ten more years! Only five and I would have become a real painter.” (Hokusai on his death bed)

Red Fuji, Hokusai

Ealier post on Greeny

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I’ve been playing around with videos lately. Creating an animatic, playing with animation, compiling video presentations of my work and doing demonstrations of digital work. Here is some of the stuff I’ve created and posted and something new as well.

Finish sketch demostrated in video bellow

Lot of fun to do. Mostly flying
blind on this one, a lot of guess
work. Work in progress.
Video bellow.

Masque of the Red Death Part 1 bellow;

Saturday, November 20, 2010

"Outta' My Head', Drawing from Imagination

When I paint or draw I enjoy it most when I am drawing from nature, be it outdoors or painting from a model posed before me. Not so much for the end product but because the experience of it is so enjoyable. There is also the occasion where there is no model available, ( and you can do only so many self portraits ), so I turn to my imagination. I still do like to work this way but I think when I do I am applying what I learned from observation, ( exaggerating and cartooning as well as trying to make it appear as if it exists in the real world ), and when I work from life I am still learning and I like being the student better.

So in my head there is this world that exist peopled by characters from comic books, movies and literature, and then there’s dinosaurs and memory drawings and just doodles that have all kind of reasons for being. It can be fun and it keeps my hand moving.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Painting Trees

A while back I did a watercolor of a tree. It was a tree in my neighborhood that caught my attention, (actually I love trees, I think they all have their own character, they are living things and have a history and are almost always interesting to paint- like people). When I finished it I posted it on line and I remember someone remarking that they thought the painting was nice but trees are a boring subject, my wife agreed saying the tree was nice but people want to see scenery and not just a painting of a tree. I understood her comment to reflect what she and some others would enjoy in a painting, but at the same time I felt that maybe I just failed to communicate what made that tree interesting to me.
I continue to draw trees in my sketchbook and I try to show why I think they are interesting, it’s the same approach I use to sketching people in the subway, I consciously search for some hint of character that would make the drawing interesting. Best thing about trees is that they don’t move, don’t need breaks, their the perfect models.

This was the painting that I posted.
It was a lot of fun to paint.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Shared Humanity

I had a discussion with my wife recently about art. We talked about drawing people and how I said that I try looking for some spark of character that will make the drawing interesting. “ What character do you see and admire in the people you draw?”, she asked.
“Well, I don’t look for a particular character”, I responded. So she asks again, “But what is the character you admire in people that you like to draw?” At this I respond by telling her that I don’t consciously look for a particular character but that I try to get across with pencil and paper or with paint something so familiar that it becomes more than a drawing. By character I mean , (when it comes to people), something that we recognize in the drawing then in ourselves, something in common, a shared humanity, a memory. It needn’t be noble or mean, just honest.
When I observe people on the subway, searching for someone to draw, I may wonder what their life story is. Do they have a family, wife and children, that their going home to? They maybe single or still living with their parents or some relative. Are they taking care of an older relative? It doesn’t particularly matter to the drawing what the story really is but that somehow I communicate some sense of humanity and that you can read the experience of life, not the particulars but the feeling of it. The drawing might wake up some sense of recognition or nostalgia and become something more than clever.

My wife who inspired the discussion and this post

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

My Many Sketchbooks


Sketch for Stalker

I have a habit of keeping several sketch books going at one time. I keep one for sketching from life/nature another for watercolors and yet another for drawing from my imagination or doodling. The one I wind up drawing in the most is the sketchbook for doodling. I usually make sketches trying to recall someone I saw on the train or I just try to sketch different characters. I also freeze the television and draw from the image on the screen. Dinosaurs or maybe some fantasy creature like a dragon are fun to draw. Sometimes these sketches lead to a more finished piece like the one of the T-Rex walking through the swamp.
Another way of keeping my imagination going is to read a story- Poe or Tolkien or whatever else- I would try to sketch the images that appeared in my head as I read.
I have added to my sketching tools a Cintiq tablet and a number of programs- Photoshop, Sketchbook Pro, Corel Painter, etc.


Sketch from my watercolor sketchbook
Sketch of Morgan Freeman in Shawshank Redemption
done while watching the movie on my television
Sketch that latter became a digital painting

Digital Sketches

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Caricatures of Political Figures

I have done many caricatures over the years. Some of my first published works were caricatures I did for Bloomberg Market Magazine.
I continued to build up samples, celebrity and political. They are fun to do and its easy to research and find reference on popular figures. Since they were samples I was not tied to any medium or approach so I did them in gouache, pencil, Photoshop, etc. Here, in view of upcoming elections are samples of the political figures I caricatured.



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wash Pencil and Niji Waterbrush

One day this week I decided to take a walk with my sketchbook during my lunch hour at work. I walked into battery park and started sketching a tree with a brush pen. The next day I took some watercolor pencils and a Niji water brush. Now I look forward to my lunch hours more than before and I’ve taken the same tools and sketched on the train ride to and from work, on the bus on the way to my kids dental appointment.
During that time life was very busy, my 9 to 5 has been a busy place gearing up for various meetings and conferences which I have to print up material for, taking the kids to dental appointments and the eye doctor on the weekend and various other domestic chores. Add to that an assignment for five chapter illustrations which I enjoyed doing but wished I had more time on them. I enjoyed and appreciated the convenience of these tools, somehow being able to spend this small amount of time to work from life, to respond to nature rounds out my day and I always feel like doing more.

My son, sketched on the way to his
dental appointment
Tools I use while sketching. The kneaded eraser
is not much use with these tools
 but I also use mechanical pencils
which are of course erassable.