Friday, May 24, 2013

Sketchbooks - Sketching from Photos.

12" x 9" Oil Pastel from Magazine Photo
Concerning traditional painting, whether it's people, landscape, or what-have-you, there's nothing that takes the place of drawing or painting from life. To be there with the subject, see how it's form turns, and how light and color dance across it's surface is to experience the subject fully and in ways no other means can provide. A painting shouldn't be just a matter of fact report on the subject, but should convey a sense of life and experience.

9" x 12" Graphite from Book Photos
As subject matter, photographs are second-hand information. Photos don't provide all the information that being with the subject does. Also, cameras interpret the subject in ways suited to their own electronic and mechanical dispositions. Depend too heavily on a photograph for your finished work and you might as well sign it “Nikon” or “Kodak” and send the proceeds of any sales to the camera companies. Kodak could use them.

12" x 9" Graphite from a Photo of Mine
That being said, there is sometimes a place for the use of photographs in painting and drawing. The best illustrators are very good at drawing from life, and use that to inform their use of photographs. Photos are very helpful if your subject is perhaps a quick athlete or bird in flight. When practicing drawing, photos allow the beginner time to work on their hand/eye skills without always having to find a model or worry about changing shadows.

9" x 12" Oil Pastel from a Photo of Mine.
The vast majority of my works are made from life. I attend drawing sessions every week and draw or paint directly from the model. My plein air paintings are made entirely on location outdoors, with the occasional touch up done in the studio, car, or wherever. No camera is ever used.

8" x 6"  Owls are Pen and Ink from Book Photos; Glasses are from Life.
However, I'll sometimes paint studio portraits, working from sketches made from life in conjunction with photographs I took of the subject. Someday, if I ever make large studio landscapes, I might use similar methods.

12" x 9" Pen and Ink from Magazine Photos
The sketches shown in this post are out of some of my older sketchbooks, and were done from photographs. Years ago, photos provided some valuable practice material for me.

9" x 12" Graphite from Magazine Photos

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Color Portrait Sketch and a Little Extra Something

Pastel on Grey Paper, 12" x 9"
It's been a while since I've posted a color portrait from the weekly drawing session, so here's one from a few years ago.

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

And now for some random rock 'n' roll:

Can the words "upbeat" and "blues" go together?

Friday, May 10, 2013


11" x 14" Oil on Canvas Panel
The painting that starts off this blog post might look a little familiar. It was done at the same spot I painted at a few weeks ago. Indeed, I've painted here a number of times, and will likely paint there again. The paintings never turn out looking quite the same. You can read about the last time I painted at this spot here.

The main differences between this painting and the previous one are that more space in the composition was given to the mountains and less to the road. Also, the canvas panel is a slightly smaller size.

But there's another reason I painted this scene again...

A couple weeks ago I was headed out to the weekly drawing session. To be prepared I took pastels and oil paints in case I wanted to use one of those mediums instead of the usual charcoal. And I took the painting of the bench trail to show to the others who attend the drawing session. As I struggled to get everything into the car, I set the painting on top of the car so I could focus on loading the equipment.

Do you see where this is going?

Have you ever put a drink or sunglasses on top of your car as you dealt with other distractions before driving away, and forgot about what you had left on the roof? Well...

I. Forgot. About. The Painting!

It was rush hour and traffic was snarled. It took some time to find a place to turn around and go back for the painting. When I reached it, this is what I found:

None of these tire tracks are mine. I checked.
There was nothing left to do but turn the painting over and identify the victim. With a hefty sense of denial, I thought that maybe, just maybe, the front of the painting wasn't damaged too much. That is - until I turned it over and saw the carnage. Here's a sample. The whole picture would be much too gruesome:

Road grit and grime were heavily embedded in the entire face of the painting. The paint layer was pocked and gouged. There would be no fixing it. Two cars went around me and a third waited as I picked up my rectangular roadkill. Then I continued on to the drawing session where neither the painting nor my misfortune were shared with anybody. Two days later, I went back up onto the bench trail and made the painting shown at the top of this post to replace the one I lost. Unfortunately, I didn't have another 12" x 16" panel at the time so I used an 11" x 14" panel instead. A few days later I confided my sad tale of woe to the owner of Terra Nova Gallery, who, alarmed - and amused - suggested I make a blog post out of it. So there you have it.

Maybe the Museum of Modern Art would be interested in the tire tracks, if I give it an obscure and obfuscated enough title...

Saturday, May 4, 2013


This blog has a mix of sketches, drawings and paintings ranging form ones very recently made to ones several years old. The drawing shown at the top of this post is one I did a few years ago at the weekly drawing sessions. It was drawn with charcoal pencil and "white charcoal" on grey paper. I have done so many sketches and drawings at those sessions over the years. It's important to keep practicing and learning. It's also useful, I think, to occasionally go back and remind myself of some of the lessons I've learned from those drawings. Besides that, I'm not doing much with the drawings so I thought posting them on this blog from time to time might be a good use for them.

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

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

New Show Opening This Friday

Here's an email flyer about a new show opening at the Terra Nova Gallery this Friday, May 3rd (and a few other goings on). Eight of my plein air landscape paintings will be in the show. Opening night hours are 6 - 9 PM. Call the gallery or check their website for hours for the rest of the month. The gallery is at  41 West 300 North in Provo, Utah. Their phone number is 801-374-0016. Here is their website. Come visit and enjoy the artwork!

Terra Nova Gallery
Art Happenings
In & Around
The Valley
Dear James,

New and fun events listed for you to enjoy, a new exhibit at Terra Nova Gallery, First Friday Art Stroll and more.

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Our Own Backyard:Landscapes of Utah

Come & see some beautiful landscapes from our own backyard. This exhibit runs May 3-31 at Terra Nova Gallery.

Learn More...

Downtown Provo 
First Friday Art Stroll

Galleries in downtown Provo are open late every first Friday night for the Downtown Provo Gallery Stroll. The event is free to the public and often includes refreshments and live music. Of course you'll want to start at Terra Nova Gallery, and continue to other downtown venues.

Learn More...

Linda G.Paulsen Featured Artist at Window Box Gallery

Linda has an exhibit at the Window Box Gallery the month of May.

Creative Collaborative

May 14th Emilie & Branden Campbell - Photographer & Neon Trees Bassist.

Learn More...

Pressure Paper &Ink: Fine Art Printmaking @UVU 

UVU Library 5th Floor Gallery
April 17th to May 17th
Artists Reception April 19th, 6-7pm

iExhibit 2013 Call for Entries 

iExhibit 2013 is an open juried exhibit of artwork created/captured/modified using an iPhone, iPod Touch or an iPad.

Learn More...

A long-standing tradition, the Museum's Spring Salon was begun in 1922 and continues to be the foremost showcase of Utah art in the state.
April 20 - July 7, 2013

 Learn More...

The exhibition examines American identity, emphasizing the multicultural perspective intrinsic to the American experience.

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39th Annual Summer Snow Master Class Workshops

OK, so it's a bit "outside" the valley but what a wonderful opportunity to learn from some GREAT artists. Check out the program at Snow College.

 Learn More...

Kelmscott Press

The Kelmscott Press provides Utah artists low-cost access to professional collaborative printmaking facilities for the production of original etching and relief print editions, at every skill level, and under environmentally safe conditions.

 Learn More...
Terra Nova Gallery
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