Friday, August 31, 2012

Spring City 2012

Fence Line Rabbit Brush, 9" x 12" Oil on Canvas Panel
This week is Spring City's plein air competition. All of the paintings contestants have done in the last few days have been turned in and the show is hung. The weather was challenging and the painters had to dodge thunderstorms, but it was a good time to be painting outdoors and I'm happy with the three pieces I did for the show. 

This is one of the biggest plein air shows in the state, and one of my favorites. Tonight was the opening reception, and the main exhibition, awards and sale will be tomorrow, Saturday, September 1st. The hours are from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. There's a wide variety and a lot of very good paintings on display, as usual. For more information about the show go to: . Hope to see you there!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Русская женщина (A Russian Woman)

Русская женщина, 12 "х 9" угольным карандашом на бумаге
Google Translate can be so much fun!

The woman who modeled for us at last Thursday's drawing class was from Russia. Once again I decided to keep it simple and use only charcoal pencil in a 12" x 9" sketchbook. The picture above shows the finished sketch.

For more about drawing sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "sketching" or "drawing."

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sketches from a Marble Statue

14" x 10" "White Charcoal" and Charcoal on Gray Paper
A few weeks ago I was visiting the Brigham Young University Museum of Art when I saw this statue on exhibit in the museum's lower level.  The marble statue depicts Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael as Abraham sends his wife and son away out into the wilderness.  Despite the unpleasant story it tells, I thought the statue would provide excellent opportunities for sketching.  Drawing from plaster casts - or in this case, marble statues - provides an opportunity to study how light shapes an object, and how bounced light reflects back into shadows. Since there is no variation in color or texture, you are able to clearly see and study the behavior of light on the larger form undistracted by other factors. What you learn from doing this can be applied to paintings of real people, or anything else for that matter.

A week or two after seeing the stature I obtained permission to sketch it, so I headed to the museum with my gear.  I forgot that it was Education Week at BYU and the campus was crowded.  It was hard to find a parking place close to the museum, but by circling the parking lot a few times I found a spot.  After meeting with the museum's Collections Manager, I headed downstairs and commenced drawing. Lots of people stopped to visit as I sketched - something I always enjoy.  Even security guards stopped briefly to chat.  That was a Tuesday and I did the drawing shown at the top of this post.

The drawing shown above might seem detailed to some, but my concern was for the larger shapes and I dispensed with minutiae.  The image below of one of the eyes shows the level of detail in the drawing:

Detail of Drawing
Tuesday I visited again for a second sketch, from a different angle, and on Friday I did a third angle. Here's last Friday's drawing:

It was on Friday that the man who restored the statue stopped to see the work.  He visited with me as I sketched and explained the fascinating story of the statue's restoration.  The statue is titled, "Dismissal of Hagar and Ishmael," and was carved by William Theed in England during the nineteenth century. When the restorer got the statue it was in seven pieces, with chunks missing.  He told me how he had cleaned the statue and put it back together, patching gaps where parts were missing.  I had no idea!  The repairs were not obvious to me, and I still couldn't see some of them even after he pointed them out!

One of the museums curators stopped and talked with me during the course of my drawing Friday. We talked about some of the museum's exhibits and I told him how much I enjoyed and now miss some past exhibits, especially Edward Austin Abbey and Carl Bloch.  He told me about an exhibit that the museum is planning to have in a year or so, so now I have the skinny on what's coming!

The three afternoons at the museum were, I think, time very well spent.  I enjoyed being there, in spite of wearing myself out.  I hope to return from time to time for more study.  Many thanks to the Brigham Young University Museum of Art for allowing me the opportunity to sketch there!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sketch Everything! Part 1

Above is a photo of some of my sketchbooks. They range in size from little 4" x 6" sketch pads to 18" x 24"s (not pictured.) A few of the sketches in these sketchbooks are included below. I consider sketchbooks to be indispensable tools for developing and continuing visual arts skills and ideas to any degree. Painters aren't the only ones who use them. Sculptors, illustrators, potters, architects, furniture designers and many others find them invaluable to their creativity and productivity.

In the past few years I've slacked off on sketching. In a conversation I had with the recently retired director of the Springville Museum, Vern Swanson, he emphasized the importance of using lots of sketchbooks. That is where ideas are discovered and developed, information gathered, and skills sharpened. I realized I needed to get back to actively using sketchbooks. Now I keep sketchbooks in my car, my day packs, and accessible wherever I go. I try to use them every day. 

This is the first of an on-going series about using sketchbooks, at least from my perspective. These posts will appear on this blog from time to time. Many of the sketches in these posts will be from older sketchbooks, and as the series progresses, it'll begin to include more recent sketches. There are several other posts already in this blog about sketching. you're welcome to explore those by clicking on "sketching" on the "Labels" sidebar and following the links.

Sketchbooks aren't the only places you can sketch. I've sketched on loose leaf paper, church programs, and even paper place mats at restaurants. Sketchbooks, however, provide the handiest places for your ideas, and are less likely to be lost. Here's one of the very few sketches on scrap paper I still have, This one in blue ball point pen ink:

But what goes in a sketchbook? Anything and everything! Mine have a wide range of subjects, methods and reasons-to-be. Here are a few examples:

A flower outside of a Pennsylvania home, and a lamp in a Washington D.C. motel: 

A stick and artifacts in a Utah desert:

A landscape near Pittsburgh:

A couple quick plant studies, and the back of a dog I had many years ago, sketched when she didn't know I was looking:

Any object, no matter how simple or mundane, can be put to use in a sketchbook. A kitchen chair in Pennsylvania for example:

Or if that's not challenging enough, how about a wicker chair in Utah?

Many of the sketches in my sketchbooks are simple gestures or line studies, drawn from life:

Here's a couple of quick sketches on a sketchbook page done at different times in the past week:

In part two I'll present other ideas about what sketchbooks can be used for, including a little about developing ideas for finished artwork. As mentioned earlier, these ideas are from my perspective. If you have any ideas you would like to share about sketchbooks you're welcome to put them in "comments."

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Sevier River

18" x 24" Oil on Canvas Panel
This painting is of a place I wrote about here. On the left side of the painting are the red bluffs I wrote about in that post. The painting was done over a year ago, in spring or early summer when the West Desert's plants were still relatively green.

The wind was strong and gusting the day I arrived there to paint - wind typical of such open country. Early in the setup a moment's inattention allowed a gust to topple my gear, spilling paint and solvent all over everything, including the canvas panels in their holders. An attempt to catch the easel and keep everything upright was lost in a tug of war to the stronger wind.

I was upset and about ready to quit the day's painting trip! But calmer thoughts countered my gusty temper. There was still plenty of time. Some of that time was used to clean up everything as best I could. There was another can of paint solvent in the leather paint bag. The easel was turned so that the large sail-like canvas panel was edge on to the wind instead of flat to it. There were ways to brace the easel against the wind. Soon enough the painting was begun again.

Despite on-going battles with the wind the painting progressed. Then the moon arose, casting her reflection onto the river's surface. That was just one of the things that made me very glad I had stayed and tried again. The day's painting trip was well worth the wind's trouble.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Last Thursday's Drawing

Pastel on Gray Paper
This is last Thursday's sketch from the weekly drawing class I attend. This was one time I felt the need to break out the color. The photograph doesn't show the drawing's color as well as I'd like, but hopefully it will give you some idea. It was done with Faber-Castell Polychromos pastels and Conte pastel pencils on a toothy gray paper. This was the first time she's modeled for our class and she was a real classy model.

For more about drawing sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "sketching" or "drawing."