Monday, August 29, 2011

Limited Time to Paint Yields New Possibilities

The past week was pretty much a wash out as far as the weather was concerned. I think there were only two afternoons where I was able to paint on my lunch hour.  I painted indoors of course, (I’m able to close the door of the room I work in so I won’t be disturbed), and at home as well. Then there was Hurricane Irene over the weekend. It was actually downgraded to a tropical storm by the time it made landfall in New York City. I spent a lot of time painting indoors. 

The watercolor above was painted at work from a photo I took of my wife some time ago. Having only just under 60 minutes to paint this I worked mostly wet in wet, something I haven't done. Usually I wait for an area to dry so that I can either add another wash of color on top or dislodge and wipe out some of the paint with water in order to make corrections. Since I was working in an air conditioned environment it took longer for the paint to dry and my time was restricted so it forced me to work into wet areas. I liked the results and it's something that I'm going to do again.

The painting of my son on the left was painted in the way I usually do in watercolor. Building up the areas slowly with wash after wash trying to make smooth transitions in the values. This was painted at home where I have more time to do this. I painted this at night and woke up early the next morning to finish it before leaving for work.

I actually use a little bit of both methods in any painting I do. Being forced to paint more rapidly because of time and environment opened me up to seeing more uses for the wet in wet technique. So I added  another weapon to my arsenal.

As an aside, I was mailed a copy of Guide Magazine where one of my illustrations appeared. I posted the illustration before, I post the printed version here. Was surprised to see it as a double page spread.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Persistence Pays Off (Eventually)

"No matter what you do for a living, nurture your art". (Irwin Greenberg)

I spent most of this week resenting my job, wishing I could stay home and continue to paint, (as well as spend more time with the family). I'm thankful for the paycheck and whenever there is overtime I put in for it because we just need that money, but I dream of being paid to paint and having the space to work comfortably.

The reality is that I need to continue what I do so that I can pay the rent, so I continue to use my lunch hour to paint and when I come home I try to get some work done before I turn in. There are times when I wake up early in the morning, anywhere between 3 and 5 A.M., and get some painting done before I leave for work. I do my best to follow that advice Greenberg gave about nurturing my art no matter what I do.

Persistence and tenacity pays off eventually. For one thing I think the work, (in watercolor), is beginning to look better and my ambition is growing. I purchased three large boards today so that I can paint something larger and more challenging than the work I have been doing.

There was a time a few years back where I just about gave up and went in to what seemed to be just living. I had a job, I took care of my family but I still needed something to define me. I've been drawing since I can remember, it was something I did before I ever realized that some people did it for a living or that there were great masters who were remembered because of their art. Drawing was just what I did and what I became known for. "Do you still draw?"- that's the first question friends and family who I haven't seen for years ask me. I really couldn't give it up. So it’s a matter of how best to use the time that I have to be me while holding on to the job and taking care of my family. So far so good, like I said the work seem to show some improvement and my ambition is growing

Sunday, August 14, 2011

My Painting Accepted At A Show

I have avoided submitting work to competitions for so many years for no better reason than I'm a chicken. Its so easy for me to think about everything that is wrong with the piece and either the corrections I need to make or all the learning I still need to do.
So I had to ignore the things I kept telling myself and just submit give it a try.

I submitted one piece to the Salmangundi Club's annual non-member show and I was happily surprised to have the piece accepted. It doesn't matter that it didn't win anything, I was happy to see it up on the wall alongside a lot of really wonderful art.

Having the work accepted encouraged me to look around at where else I can submit my work, so my chicken attitude is beginning to disappear. Hopefully.

The experience is also helping me to reconsider what I would send to a competition next time around. For one thing the painting was so small it was dwarfed by the other works around it. Next time I will send something that will have a better chance of being noticed. I also think I need to consider painting something that involves a bit more than a portrait, (although there were other portraits in the show), this is more of a growing decision than a showing decision. I need to push myself to  make more ambitious paintings that challenge me in areas I haven't really touched yet like a painting with  multiple figures or more involving perspective.

In the photo on the left you can see how my little painting was dwarfed by the pieces around it.

 The challenge for me right now is to do something more than that quick thing like these two piece on the right and below. Both were done because of the necessity I feel to make time to paint daily. I do this in the hopes that at some point a great idea would come to me and then the challenge would be carrying the enthusiasm to the end.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Drawing The Head From Imagination

One of the things I love to do is to doodle as many different faces as I can imagine. It's a habit I've had since high school when my first lessons came from the pages of comic books. My favorite artist was John Buscema and I learned a lot from looking at his art.
I remember buying a piece of original comic art by Buscema and on the back page it had a few doodles that he had done for his own amusement. I learned that he had a habit of making these drawings on the back of his comic pages, some were even better than what he had on the front.

There have been a couple of books put out on these sketches and a bunch of articles in magazines like Rough Stuff and Alter Ego I have them all as well as some originals. I poured over these to learn what I can and from this I developed a little exercise that I use to doodle. In Buscema's drawing you can trace the skull underneath. I found the following Buscema drawings on the internet and am using them here as an example.

On the right I traced the shape of the skull over the drawing to show the structure of the drawing. The more I looked as his drawings the more I kept seeing the skull underneath.

Bellow are two more examples of John Buscema's sketches.


These are some sketches I came up with based on the outline of the skull underneath.

Sometimes I would trace over a drawing I made of these outline's to see how many different face's I can come up with, other times I would just lightly indicate the skull and add the features on top of that.

I might ink them or color them or apply washes of gray.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Keeping My Hand Moving/ Trying To Sketch Everyday

Every now and then I sift through the photos I've taken. I may select one that's not all that clear, a little blurry maybe. I 'm just looking for something to paint in the early morning when I've just gotten up or late at night before I turn in. At other times I've taken photos more deliberately, intending to use them latter. 

The painting on the left was from a very blurry photo I had taken in the park. The woman actually walked into the shot I was taking so she was a small part of the over all photo. The trees and shadows were an afterthought. I used a combination of photos and imagination.

The painting bellow it is of my wife. It was done from a photo I took when we were at City Island in the Bronx. I was painting something else at the time but I used the camera when I saw something that I felt would be interesting to do later.

At home when there is some time to paint and no one is available to pose for me these photos come in handy.

The other two sketches are from my time at battery park .I prefer to work this way, from direct observation but I'm grateful for the photos when there is no one available to pose.

All of these were done in my sketch book and all have the same purpose, to keep my hand moving so that when I have the time to do something I really want to paint I can approach it with a bit more confidence than I would've had If I had not taken the time to practice my craft daily.