Friday, November 30, 2012

Taiwanese Woman

12" x 9" Charcoal Pencil on Paper
Our model for last night's drawing session was a cute Asian woman who's modeled for fashion photographers. Once again I wanted to keep things simple and focus on values. This sketch was made with charcoal pencils. A kneaded eraser was used to help bring out the light areas.

The charcoal pencils I use are various brands, lengths, and hardnesses, though I tend to favor the softer leads. They are "sharpened" with a pocket knife. I'm not too finesse about it. I'm also so stingy that sometimes I'll use a pencil for as long as I possibly can.

No sense in throwing away a perfectly good pencil!

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

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Rainy Day Sketchbooks

This is part four in an on-going series about sketchbooks.

What do you do when it's too rainy outside to sketch outdoors? Or too cold or too dark? Actually, none of those conditions necessarily preclude sketching outdoors. But on those days you really can't get out, say, you're down with a cold, or waiting between appointments, or what-have-you, what can you sketch?

Outdoors is my preferred place to sketch, but - as has already been shown in an earlier post about sketchbooks - there's plenty indoors waiting to be put to work in a sketchbook. Anything and everything can do. The day pack shown at the top of this post was purchased in Northwestern Pennsylvania in 1982 and has seen a lot of outdoor time in one Eastern state and three Western states. I still use it to this day. But on this particular day, I just propped it along the base of the living room wall and made this sketch.

The knife shown above didn't look like that when it was given too me. It had a flimsy wooden handle and "sheath" which were soon broken. I made a new and better shaped handle for it out of durable mahogany. The sheath I made from an old worn out leather jacket. One day I set it on a tabletop and did this sketch.

The various shapes and facets in the brass candlestick shown below held my attention long enough for a sketch:

I was curious about how the shadows and reflections would play out if I took a plain white coffee cup, set it on white paper, and illuminated it from three directions. The next sketch shows the result:

The other sketches in this post were all drawn in graphite pencil, but this empty green pop bottle made a good subject for a study done in colored pencil:

Here's another soft-bodied subject, an old L. L. Bean carrying case for camera equipment:

This cast iron skillet served as a model for me one day:

This exotic wood turning was from Nepal, I think. It was in the home of someone I was visiting in Utah for a few days. During some quiet time in between other places to go and things to do, I sat down and made this sketch:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Reflected Light

Pastel on Gray Paper
Here's another portrait from the weekly drawing sessions. From this angle there isn't much direct light visible on the model's face. What interested me in the model's shadowed side was the way light bounced from her white clothing into darker areas of her face, illuminating her jaw, underside of her nose, and the area between eye and eyebrow. Note that the reflected light is not as bright as the directly illuminated areas of her face.

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

Friday, November 2, 2012

Escalante Part II, and a New Exhibit

6" x 8" Oil on Panel

Tonight (Nov. 2, 2012) a new show opens at the Terra Nova Gallery, "Great Things, Small Packages", and runs through the 28th of December. All works are for sale. Two small paintings of mine are in the show; plein air oil paintings I made in the Wasatch Mountains. You're welcome to come see my paintings and check out the rest of the show! Terra Nova is located at 41 West, 300 North in Provo, Utah. They can be reached at 801-374-0016.

But now it's about time I finished writing about this year's Escalante Canyons Art Festival. You can read part 1 here.

After dropping off my entry for the plein air painting competition and spending some time at the artist' reception, I headed off into the desert to find a place to camp for the night. It seems my usual way to find a place to camp in unknown territory is to drive down some dirt road after dark, then find another dirt road and follow that until I come to a likely spot. This night, I found a nice sandy spot amongst the pinion and juniper trees.

Having made camp, I decided on a night hike. The full moon was brilliant, and there was no need for a flashlight, though I kept one handy in my day pack. The dirt track led to a sandy wash which I followed as it meandered through the expansive desert night. Stars near the horizon seemed to bob and weave as the rising desert air distorted their images. The sand gave gently beneath my steps. As I wandered along the desert wash, my mind wandered many other trails; different kinds of trails which frequently intersected and intertwined with the sandy wash somehow. What else is there that can sharpen the senses and open pathways for the mind like a desert night hike?

Before breakfast the next morning I walked back down the dirt track to the wash. There I saw the footprints I had left in the sand the night before. Superimposed over my footprints were small paw prints - tracks of a small coyote or kit fox that had followed my trail.

Later that day I went back into the town of Escalante. There I signed the painting I'd entered into the show, visited with other painters and enjoyed the exhibit. That evening I went to an entirely different part of the Escalante Desert to camp. After driving several miles down another dirt road, I camped on some slickrock. In all the low spots in the slickrock and in the surrounding sand were thousands of moqui marbles. They were also found embedded in the slick rock and nearby cliffs of Navajo Sandstone. I had never seen these iron oxide concretions in the wild before - and they were in such abundance. I honestly - and maybe irreverently - wished I had brought along a slingshot. Those little round iron and sandstone balls would have made perfect ammo! Instead of doing that, I made the painting shown at the top of this post.

That night, under the stars and full moon, I stood on the elephant-hide-textured slickrock and watched the flood of moonlight wash across the Escalante Desert. Some movement several yards away caught my eye. Something large was flitting around near the tops of some pinion pines. As I watched, a large bird with a wingspan of maybe two feet or more flew toward me. It made no sound as it circled me, slightly above and just a few feet away! I turned to face the silhouetted bird as it circled me one and a half times before it departed into the desert night. Just a curious owl?

Cooking Breakfast
Bath Time, Such as it is, in the Escalante Desert.
The next day was spent exploring mesas and trails, and making a couple more paintings, one of which is shown below. Weather began moving in as the day wore on, making painting challenging as the lighting changed from sunny to cloudy and back again, over and over before changing to scattered rain showers. That evening I returned to the Arts Festival and to the happy discovery that my painting had sold. Afterwards was the long drive home, getting there around 1 AM.

6" x 8" Oil on Panel