Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Early Spring on the Bench Trail

12" x 16" Oil on Canvas Panel
Often I'll return to favorite spots to paint again and again, and the paintings always look different. This location along the bench trail was painted just a few weeks ago on a little 6" x 8" panel. You can read about that here. Last week I returned with a 12" x 16" canvas panel and painted it again. That painting is shown above. The widely different sizes effect the appearance of the finished paintings in more ways than just their apparent size, and each has it's own particular qualities. It's hard for me to say just why, except that the smaller paintings appear "looser" and have what I call a sort of "gem-like" quality, while the larger paintings might seem less loose (although they're painted with bigger brushes) and are more atmospheric. I enjoy painting both large and small for their own reasons.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Woman from India

The weekly drawing session continues to provide a rich and wide variety of models for us humble drawers and sketchers who work to stretch ours skills to ever higher levels. That, and the chips and salsa ain't bad, either. For this sketch (done a week and a half ago) I used a darker paper with a warm gray tone. The darker paper worked well, I think, for the model's dark complexion. I only wish I had enough time to draw the colorful Indian clothing she wore. The darks were drawn with the usual charcoal pencils. Instead of "charcoal white" for highlights, I used a pale pinkish Conte pastel pencil more suited to the papers warm tone. Drawing dimensions are around 14" x 10".

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

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sketchbooks - Sketching Nature

Wintertime Pennsylvania Birch Tree
Sketching in Nature can be done any time of the year, at least in places I've lived, but this time of year - Springtime - is particularly good for it. Spring fever and sketchbooks just fit together! Here are some thoughts about the natural world, along with some sketches (directly related to the text or not) I've done in the past.

Forget- me-Nots, Unidentified Leaves, and a Frog that Wouldn't Stay Still!
There's not much that draws my heart, mind and soul more than the natural world. Walking into a deep Pennsylvania forest - with it's rich, moist smell, it's dappled sunlight filtering through the tall, thick surrounding wild green of elm, oak and maple, and it's sounds of abundant life – I'm greeted with what seems like an embrace to me. Fireflies in summer, a red eft on a green mossy bank, the ghostly light of glow-in-the-dark mushrooms called foxfire, the white dappled sides of a whitetail fawn; these and many other things are part of the magic the deep forest is full of.

Gesture Studies of a Hawk in a Pennsylvania Forrest
Or – the dry, electric air and wide open views of the West, whether flooded with unhindered sunlight or brooded over by isolated summer thunderstorms. Here are landscapes with multiple personalities, full of it's own variety and surprises. Here are silver frogs in the desert, or white mountain goats on high ridges of jagged tundra, their dark eyes and horns resembling pairs of exclamation points as they observe my climb.

Dead Cottonwood in a Utah Desert Canyon
The desert's dryness keeps watch over artifacts of people who walked here long ago. Many of those artifacts bear fingerprints of the souls who shaped them. The manner of their works reveals something about their hearts, minds and attitudes. 

Rocky Mountain Flora and Utah Lake Shells

Blue-gray limestone bears record of primitive life incomprehensibly more distant. And there are those high overlooks that reveal so much geology, so much sky, so much - that even though I can see it all I can't wrap my mind around it. Those kinds of places show much more to me than I'm able to take in. Perhaps to some degree everything is like that, and on every scale.

One doesn't always have to travel deep into the wilderness to enjoy the benefits of sketching nature. Simply sitting down on your own lawn* near some bushes or under a shade tree can provide a wealth of subjects to study. 

A Study of Pine Cone Geometry

The sketch shown immediately above was made when I came across a strange plant growing in a Pennsylvania field. Making that sketch and taking notes enabled me to research the plant upon returning home and find out what it was.

The study of natural things includes not only natural history but also the history of humankind. So many people don't see themselves as part of nature – part of this Earth. Many surround themselves with - and even ingest – artificial things, which way too often provide us with nothing beyond the here and now. The study of nature can not only benefit us here and now, but opens pathways that extend beyond our own life and times, and offers means for positive change. When I sketch in the wild, I'm not just sharpening drawing skills. I'm not only studying nature. I'm also learning about myself. And I'm learning something about you.

*Note: a lawn that isn't over manicured and drenched in herbicide and fertilizer is highly recommended.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Another Profile - Indian Girl

14" x 11" Charcoal and White Pencils on Tan Paper
Last Thursday at the weekly drawing session we had two models. The girl pictured above was with her father, both of then decked out in their impressive Powwow regalia. I chose to draw only one of them because experience has shown me that when I try to draw two people in the time I usually take to draw one, I end up with two half-drawn people. I have drawn her father before, and look forward to working with both of these models again!

For this drawing, I got out the Strathmore "Toned Tan" sketchbook again. Most of my effort went into drawing her head, especially her face. Because of limited time, the colorful jingle dress was only slightly suggested, and kind of looks like a plain buckskin dress in this drawing.

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