Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Painting Left Handed Continued

 Still trying to continue painting left handed while my right is in a splint healing. Been relying on gouache since I can make changes more easily. The hardest thing about painting left handed is that my brain and hand seem to have difficulty communicating. I try to put down a line or a brush stroke one way and my left hand seems to want to go in the opposite direction.It's easy to get frustrated because I'm never putting down exactly what I want when I draw or paint, but then again I was always critical of the work I did right handed but at least I had better control then.

I have another visit with the Doctor in two days. Hopefully they will change the splint so that it no longer covers my hand entirely and then I will be able to get some use out of it.

I think I did better on this painting of my Mother but there are areas in the painting that I just gave up on because they were to difficult to do left handed.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I Continue To work left Handed Waiting For My Right Hand To Heal

This is turning out to be a really difficult time trying to continue working with my left hand while my right hand is healing. There are so many things I can do a lot easier and automatically with my right hand. At the same time I have to focus and concentrate a lot more and it takes me longer to put down a line because I am using my left hand and I guess that’s a good thing.

I’m trying not to think of this as 
 lost time though I can’t paint or draw anything of quality right now it is still a lesson in discipline. It is a matter of continuing to draw and paint daily and to solve problems and right now the problem is training my left hand to do what my right hand did. The great thing is that I find myself relying on my sight more. I was so quick to draw what I thought I saw depending on my hand to give a close translation of the image in front of or in my mind. Now I have to rely less on my hands and double check that it works according to what I’m looking or thinking about. It’s a lot more work and for right now I’m not thinking of doing any ambitious painting but I am dreaming about it.
 The drawing on the left is a start I made in line because its hard for me to put down values with the same control I had with my right hand. I'll re-post when I finish it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Relearning To Paint And Draw With My Left Hand

Draw lines, young man, many lines; from memory or from nature-it is in this way you will become a good artist. (said to Edgar Degas)-Jean Dominique Ingres

With my right hand still in a splint I continue to try to sketch left handed. I keep Ingres words to a young Degas in mind and I try to fill pages of lines- letters, numbers, shapes, etc. Anything in order to practice making marks with my left hand. At first I couldn’t even draw a circle, now I’ve gotten a bit better at being able to control my lines and shapes.

One of the practice pages of letters and numbers
written left handed.

The biggest challenge seems to be how to hold the pencil, pen or brush comfortably in my hand and to be able to move that hand in a way that would leave the type of mark needed. I see improvement in being able to control my hand. I’m learning that the painting is created in my mind, the hands can be trained to translate the image from my mind to the paper or canvas. There is another quote from Ingres that points to this:
One must keep right on drawing; draw with your eyes when you cannot draw with a pencil. -Jean Dominique Ingres

I had this dour look on my face on purpose- just wanted to paint an expression on my face.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Resolve/ Learn To Paint With My Left Hand

I have had a miserable week just pushing myself to try and sketch. My right hand was operated on last week. The ligament and nerve damage was repaired and now I have to wear my splint for six weeks.

I can’t move my thumb or use my right hand. I am trying to sketch with my left hand but it takes a great deal of patience since I don’t have the same control I would have using my right hand. Still, since I have to wait six weeks I’m going to have to fight through the frustration and try to paint with my left hand. The computer software helps but I would much rather use traditional media. I find that if I can tape down the paper or prop it on an easel it’s easier to work and the more I generalize and not try to get into details I can come up with something that looks okay. I still want to get the image to look as though I would’ve done it with my right hand.

I think these next six weeks can teach me a lot if I have the patience and discipline to continue working, I can’t sleep the time away.

  The top painting was done in Photoshop, the drawing bellow it was done in pen from memory. The bottom was done in transparent watercolor, all were done left handed. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Sitting On My Hands and Thinking About Painting

Although my right hand is still in a splint I took it off long enough to make the sketch at left. My hand got numb about three times before I put it back in the splint.

It's hard to not do anything.

The only other thing I managed to do is the brush drawings I am posting bellow. I made a little hole in the splint large enough to stick a pencil or brush through it. I can hold the pencil better this way but it's still difficult to write or draw.

I remember when I was in Irwin Greenberg's class he would tell us to sit on our hands and think about what we are going to paint before we start attacking the canvas. Maybe the best thing to do right now is to think and doodle about what I'm going to work on when my hand gets better.

Colored in Photosop.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Never Giving Up / Sketching through Injury

The head in profile was drawn with my left hand in sketchbook Pro.
Life has a way of bringing unexpected  surprises at your door. Not all of them good.

About two weeks ago I sustained some serious injuries which included my right thumb nearly being severed. There was ligament damage to the thumb and my right hand remains in a splint. My four fingers are also covered by the splint even though they are intact and uninjured. All this makes it very hard to paint.

I started drawing during my stay in the hospital using what fingers were free at the time and when they put the splint on my right hand I tried drawing left handed. Because trying to retrain myself to use my left hand is difficult and frustrating I switch the pencil, brush or pen from hand to hand. I can still use my right hand though I can’t use my thumb yet.

I can’t begin to express how much I long to be outdoors with a set of watercolors and paint what’s in front of me or to be able to take my French easel outside and paint in oils. Art has always been important to me and now I realize how much it is a part of who I am. It’s like a conversation I’ve been having all these years with a very close friend, (myself?). A conversation that is never finished and I long to return to again and again.
This was done in Photoshop holding the stylus as best I can in my right hand.
For now I’ve been relying mostly on my Cintiq, using Photoshop and Sketchbook Pro to work out some digital sketches but I would love to be able to grip a paint brush. That should happen hopefully in another week, God willing. Still, I don’t want to lose a single day so I use what I can to sketch.

There are other injuries but I don’t care to re-live them here, I only want to say that I thank God that I’m still here. Also want to thank all my friends and extended family that has helped me and my Family, especially the Pastor and his Wife and the members of the Bronx Christian Church.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

More Digital Sketches In Sketchbook Pro and Corel Painter Essentials

There are a few things that keep me coming back to digital work, (1) Its new to me and I like learning new mediums. (2) Its super convenient, no set up or clean up. (3) I don't want to fall behind. I see a lot of older people who are afraid of the computer, (I had a coworker who was a supervisor and was afraid to send emails. He would always ask his assistant to send them until his boss demanded he do it himself). I want to stay current and at the same still work in the traditional media that I enjoy. All media present a life long challenge, not just to master the technical aspect of the tools but to use them expressively. Its the image not the medium that is important.

The first two images on this post were done in Sketchbook Pro. This program is inexpensive and easy to learn. Although I know I haven't learned all this program can do. I can't afford to take classes so I look for videos and tutorials on how people use these programs to learn as much as I can.

The third piece was done in Corel Painter Essentials. I think this program came free with my Cintiq. I wish I could afford the pro version but this version is a lot of fun to use. I really wish I can take a class on this one because it has a lot more tools than the Sketchbook Pro. The good thing is what I don't know doesn't stop this sketching from being fun to do.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sketching In Tradirional And Digital Media

The two sketches included in this post are done from photo's I took at Zuccotti Park. The one at left was done in oils. Although I wasn't happy with the sketch I much prefer to work in traditional media. That's not to say I don't like digital paintings. I have seen a lot of really wonderful paintings done digitally. However I also see that the quality of their work is due to their knowledge of art and traditional drawing and painting skills. In other words the computer is just another medium and not the artist.

There are advantages to working either way.  For one thing with traditional media you have a tangible piece of art that can be framed and hung or sold. With digital media you have a much more portable piece of work that is easier to reproduce.

The painting on the lower left was done in Photoshop. I had a much easier time with this one I think mostly because of having done the previous sketch and also I liked the photo I used for this painting better. I tried to imitate the same look and feel I get in traditional media. I used mostly dry media brushes in Photoshop and the layers were at varying degrees of transparency.

I included a video bellow In which I captured what was on my screen as I worked on the digital painting.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

From Battery Park to Zuccotti Park

A little while ago I took a trip to Zuccotti Park on my lunch hour. Normally I would be doing my water color sketches at Battery Park but I wanted to take a look at what was happening and I took my digital camera with me to take reference shots to use for future watercolors.    

I told myself that this was history and I should go there to take a look and maybe have some record of what was going on, but actually I agree with their stance and wanted to get a closer look at what they were doing and saying. A closer look than the evening news would give.

I wound up staying a little bit beyond my lunch hour, talking to some of the occupiers who were willing to give an earful to anyone who would listen and thumbing through the books at the makeshift “Peoples Library”.
I took plenty of pictures, printed them and filed them away. Life had been so busy these past few weeks it took me a while before I could get back to them. I started to thumb through them early one morning and started the watercolor sketch on the upper left. Wish I had time to do more. I woke up at 3 in the morning and painted till it was time for me to get ready to go to work.

The sketches below are from the last time I was at Battery Park. The leaves were only just starting to change into their fall colors, another thing I need to find the time to paint.

This graphite and wash sketch was painted at the park on my lunch hour. I made the color sketch below using this drawing and some photos I took at the park that day.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Another Sketchbook Finished.


I finally got to the last page of my sketchbook. This one took a little longer to complete with all the distractions I had recently. I like being able to look back at it and see where I have grown. I think this sketchbook has changed some of the ways I approach watercolor. I'm not as afraid to mess one up by playing with the paint a bit, working into wet areas as well as glazing one color over another. I think I need to look for a heavier paper though. these sketchbooks are 80 lb, something heavier would stand up better to corrections and lifting paint up.

 The subway sketch on the left was quickly sketched in pencil and the paint was added latter when I got home.
The watercolor I did of battery park bellow was done the same way.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Another Illustration Assignment

Working on an illustration assignment, a new picture book and a new website has kept me busy for sometime, Unfortunately I haven’t been able to post anything lately because I’ve been so busy.

I will post the new illustration assignment after it is printed. For now I will post an illustration I did a while back for Guide Magazine. I tried something new with this assignment. I created all the elements of the illustration separately and then put them together in Photoshop by cutting and pasting them in the program. I wanted to see if this could be a faster way of working. It allowed me to work quickly and to easily make changes in the artwork. I was able to move the images around, resize them or change color and value right in the program. Since each element was on a different layer I could change one area without affecting the others.

The first two images show the artwork done in pen and ink and watercolor on paper then scaned into Photoshop. I used the lasso tool to select the image then copied and pasted it onto a new page with a transparent background, cleaned it up by removing the white around the image so that the image is floating on the page.

 Here I put all the elements together in separate layers and moved them around and resized them till I'm satisfied with the arrangement. I will still move them around as the illustration develops.

Here I start to work on the background unifying the picture and working any rough or unwanted edges into the background.

 This close up shows how I worked in the smoke from the explosion into the background.
 On the left  the picture is nearly finished. having done all the different parts as separate drawings on 8.5 X 11 sheets of paper allowed me to work quickly on the final image in Photoshop, at least for this illustration in which the background was uncomplicated.
I first save the image as a Photoshop document, preserving all the layers just in case I need to make anymore changes I then save it as a jpeg image.

I bring back the jpeg into a separate Photoshop document and tweak the contrast and the levels till I get what I want. Like everything I do I have to live with it for a while before I decide how I feel about the final image, to decide whether or not this way of working was a success and if I will use it again.

Here is the final illustration.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Creating Picture Books/ Adventures In Self Publishing In The Digital Age

I love telling stories. When my oldest son was 5 years old I started creating picture books for him about these cartoon dinosaur characters I made up. I would put the books together using the copiers on my job and give them to him. I was very happy to see that he liked them enough to take them to school with him. I made two more stories about the same characters, though I never got to finish all the illustrations for the last story.

I got lots of compliments from people who saw the books so I printed out a few more, even sold some.

When my son grew older I wrote another story that matched his age. He loved that one too and I went all out on the illustrations on that one. I liked the idea, it was about a kid who tried to imagine what it would be like to have a dinosaur as a pet. I thought the story had a sense of humor and I worked hard on the illustrations, working and reworking them till I got what I thought was the very best I could do.

The printed book was done on quality paper. The first version was in black and white pen and ink drawings with some gray tones. Later I colored the drawings in photoshop. Friends who are illustrators and writers encouraged me to take the book around to publishers but I never found a publisher for the book, ( although  I probably just gave up to easy). I tried self publishing but the final price of the book was to high to expect for anyone to purchase it. After a time I pretty much gave up on the idea of publishing.  I had a few other ideas that I wanted to also publish but those were dashed as well.

 Recently I decided to try and create an e book out of the pet dinosaur idea. At first I did it for myself but then I considered how much has changed in the publishing world. Electronic editions of books are selling very well and cost nothing to make. If you have the right software, you cut out the printer and the distributor so that the creator only split’s the cost with the bookstore. How wonderful. It makes it hard to understand why some e books are priced so high, although at $1.99 I think I priced my first book to low but what’s done is done.

The e picture book can be purchased at the Barnes and Noble website, (I have plans for putting it on i Tunes and Amazon as well).

I also decided to rework the first ideas I had and sell them as e books as well. The illustration bellow is the first one for the next story, "Catch the Moon".

Friday, September 30, 2011

Painting Through A Busy Week


The past couple of weeks have been a busy one creatively. Finished an illustration assignment, completed and uploaded an e-book on Barnes & Noble website- (A children’s picture book I will feature in my next post), got a request for another illustration assignment and all the while I continued to paint and draw. 

It’s important to me to continue to paint, to do work that is personally important because that is where I find who I am, how I see things and how I will grow as an artist.

The two watercolors are opposite’s in their approaches. One,(top left), is done in higher contrast and brighter colors. I wanted it to look fresh and spontaneous. I actually had a tough time figuring how to balance working wet in wet and then waiting for the paper to dry to continue to layer washes over it. The 80lb sketchbook paper was to light for painting this way so I had to use some opaque white to make corrections, however I don’t think anyone would notice it unless I point it out.

The other,(at bottom left), is more subtle in the modeling. Still working in the same way (wet in wet) and allowing the paint to dry I continued applying wet washes over dry paint. I carefully applied daubs of paint to make the transition from one value to the next as subtle as possible.

The following weeks look promisingly busy. I will have to keep in mind that I need to make time to paint every day, (even though I’m working on illustrations and technically still drawing and painting).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fighting My Way Through A Painting

There are times when painting is difficult and there are times where it’s near impossible. Either way it would not seem right if it did not challenge me. The watercolor at left was done in my sketchbook during a weekday. I worked from several photos I took at Battery Park. When the weekend came I started a larger painting based on the same photos. 

I started the painting on a 22.5” X 15” sheet of 300 lbs. cold pressed watercolor paper. I began with a very careful light pencil drawing which took me most of the day to do. After I completed the drawing I decided to try masking fluid, something I rarely do. I applied it to the areas that I wanted to leave white. It turned out to be a very bad, near disastrous mistake.  The bottle of masking fluid was very old so when the gummy liquid dried it stained the paper a bit and proved difficult to lift off. 

I first tried to scrub areas clean. When that didn’t work I began to use an exacto knife to scratch out areas and then I painted over those areas with casein white paint. I also used the casein white to cover the stains that where left behind by the masking fluid.

A lot of work and a lot of fight went into this painting and I’m not sure how I feel about the finished painting. I like some passages in the painting but I hope the whole painting works and not just a nice bit of painting here and there. I think I have to live with it for a while to decide if I really like it but there is honestly nothing more I want to do with it at this point. It either works or it doesn’t.

 The detail on the right shows signs of the fight I had with this painting. Scratching out the bearded area actually left a nice texture to the beard. Still I would have rather painted in the texture than to show the signs of struggle.