Monday, September 15, 2014

Drawing A Personal Subject, My Mom






A few times out of the week I visit my Mother, after taking care of her needs I sit down for a while and sketch her. When I was younger, in high school, my Mother would sit down and rest from her busy house work and pose for me. I wish I kept all those sketches of her, though I have a few from those days. Other family members posed for me too ( I use to draw my brother as he slept in the bed across from me), but Mom posed more often and she still does.


The drawing never gets boring, even if its a similar pose or angle, I try to improve from what I did last time. Sometimes I'm surprised that somehow there seems to be something sad about the drawing and I don't know if that's more her or me. One time, though, she surprised me. My Mother is now 91 years old, her eye sight is all but gone, she see's very little out of one eye and the other she is blind. She has dementia so her memory seems to come and go and I can hardly understand her speech. Sometimes I can catch a few words so I know there is meaning behind what she say's. But she surprised me once as I was drawing her, she looked straight at me and said, "Hey. What are you doing?" and then she began to laugh out loud!. I wish I could've froze that moment and drew her laughing, would have been like one of Rembrandt's final self portrait where he painted himself in his old age laughing- as my teacher Irwin Greenberg put it, He laughed as if to say he took the worst that laugh could throw at him and he won, he made to his old age unbroken.


For these drawing's I continue to use the water soluble pencil along with a water brush. I have a raw sienna, sepia and black pencil. If I want to add color I use a small travel set of watercolors. These are the things that I take with me everyday to sketch on the train ride to and from work and whenever I see an opportunity in between and after that time.


Bellow is a sample of one of the sketches I did of my Mom, this would have been around my senior year in high school or my first year of college.




Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Don't be Afraid To Mess It Up





It really helps to not be afraid to mess things up. I did my best not to worry and splash paint around- it did help to have a strategy though. I made a careful drawing and then went to bed for the night all the while plotting at how I was going to paint the picture.

I enjoyed pushing the water around, applying a cool blue wash over the warm colors of his face, deepening the dark areas by applying washes of color. It turned out to be fun because I wasn't afraid to mess it up and have to throw it away.

Not that there aren't still some things that bother me. I should have placed the figure better on the paper so that his left elbow doesn't run off the page and I'm not sure about the rendering of his left hand. But overall I'm pretty happy with the painting.

Another painting I did recently was a landscape. I took my brand new pochade box outside. My son Jason came with me and painted alongside me. Initially I liked the painting but as I began to live with it I kept wanting to change things in it. One morning I woke up and looked at it and began applying paint with a palette knife. I decided that I did not like the painting as it was so I was either going to make some bold changes or throw it out. Again, just not being afraid to mess it up made all the difference.

Detail of landscape painting.