Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Two for the Road

My touring art kit

My personal items for 3 months
with pannier to carry them

The adventure draws near. The house sitter moves in tomorrow. After a family wedding in Hilton Head, we will make our way to Key West and begin riding the Atlantic Coast for South to North. Check our progress here.

In the top photo you see my sketch pad, my Koi paint set with waterbrush, my Moleskein watercolor sketch journal, my micron pens and brush, pencil and eraser. The mesh bag will carry them. In the bottom photo you see all my clothing for on and off the bike plus toiletries and the black pannier that will carry them. Bob has his own pannier, then we have two more with camping gear (for necessity only), bike tools and repair items. There will be a stuff sack on top of the rack for the tent, Bob's big shoes, and miscellaneous items. A handlebar bag carries small items, a bento box houses my camera, and a small triangle bag carries snacks. Life is simple on a tandem bicycle.

My art will be small, but very fun.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Drawing Class: Spring Calla Lilies

"Spring Callas"
Pastel, 12" x 14"

You may have wondered if I continue to attend drawing class, and I do. I never seem to be able to finish anything in the few hours we have to draw and apply pastels. This is by no means finished, though I took some time tonight to apply more pastel. We've been working on florals the past few weeks. These two large Calla Lillies were a much easier subject to tackle than a large bouquet of Daffodils, and I love the shapes.

Bob did a demo showing that everything is made up of core forms: cylinders, spheres, cubes, and triangles. He reminded us that the shapes are modified by perspective. Here you see the Callas are an inverted cone with a shallow sphere on top. If you think of the basic core forms, it's much easier to draw the subject and refine the core forms into the specific object.

If you enjoy Calla Lilies, you might enjoy revisiting this piece that I did in watercolor. The subject was Bob's daughter's unique wedding bouquet. She liked the painting and I gifted it to the happy couple when they bought their home last spring.

This is my final drawing class until summer when I return from my major adventures. In August, Robert Semans, my instructor, will be teaching a drawing workshop for the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society. The class runs August 12 to 14, so people who work could attend by just taking a Friday vacation day. I will be coordinating the class. See SCVWS workshops for information.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Another painting in progress and a demo

"Flute Practice"
16" x 15" watercolor
Arches 300 lb. hot press

Dick Cole demonstrates his approach to art
Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society

This piece is granddaughter Kelly and Grandpa Bob playing the flute last summer when my son's family visited from Vermont. I've done a few other pieces of Kelly alone from the photo, but I really like this picture of the two of them. I took my drawing to Ted Nuttall's workshop and Ted suggested very tight cropping with Bob's flute and Kelly's dress sash being cut off by the frame. He said when you have two people, it's difficult not to have them pulled to either side of the page, weakening the composition. He noted that he really liked the connections I had with various shapes overlapping the music stand. He even suggested putting in a dining chair back visible in front of the players in the photo. A little daring and I'm not sure I am that daring -- we'll see.

I spent a lot of time on my freehand drawing. I had struggled so with Jamie's piece because the initial drawing was flawed that I knew I must get this right before putting brush to paper. I really worked to get the appropriate gesture for Bob -- I love the way he is standing with his right shoulder lower than the left and his left leg canted out a bit. Also, his head was thrust forward and slightly down.

Tuesday night I painted with my art group, so I got to finish the drawing and put the first transparent layers of paint on the piece. As you can guess, Bob and I have been very busy prepping for our East Coast tour on our tandem bicycle. I hope to do more on this painting in the next few days.

Sunday afternoon I took time to attend the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor demo given by Dick Cole who is teaching a workshop for us this week. Here you see Dick working on initial layers of his landscape. I had to leave before he worked his final magic. He brought many samples of work and they are just gorgeous -- he uses a full range of values and the results are fabulous. I noticed him featured in a photo along with Betsy Dillard Stroud, and other well-known artists in one of my art magazines, when they were all teaching at Yosemite. Like many artists, including Frank Webb, Dick made his living as an illustrator. The training produces some very good fine artists.

If you live in the San Jose, CA, area, remember that all the SCVWS demos are free and open to the public. You will find a list of events on the website. I will be leading this fine organization in 2012, and I hope to meet some of the people in my blog neighborhood at our many events.

Friday, March 11, 2011

A long time in finishing

14" x 18"
Watercolor on Arches 300# hot press

Not much art happening here since attending the Ted Nuttal workshop, and that's been tough because I am all fired up to do figures. We are in the final preparation stage for our East Coast tandem bike tour. You can read about this pre-tour work in our journal. If you care to keep up with our tour, we update the journal daily, unless wifi or a hotel/library computer is unavailable. In a future post, I will show you my little art supply bag for the trip. I hope to capture local color, landscapes, and people along our route in small sketches or watercolors.

I finally finished a piece I started of granddaughter Jamie towards the end of the workshop. Part of the challenge was correcting errors in my hasty drawing. (Ted emphasized the importance of a very accurate drawing and boy, is he right). I put the lovely Arches 300 pound hot press paper to the test. Using the original Mr. Clean Magic Erase, I was able to relocate almost all the features on Jamie's face. You can check out the before correction piece here. I felt much better about making the change after reading Myrna Wacknov's recent post. Ah, if I could create art like she does!

The source photo goes back to a July visit by my son Jeff's family from their Vermont home. Jamie and her mom were sitting on the cement patio using their laptops amidst the laundry we had hung on the pullout clothesline. Jamie was obviously deep in thought and did not attempt to look like a model in this shot. Because Ted focused mainly on faces, I decided to crop the piece, but sometime I want to do a "Social Networking" piece, and perhaps include the laundry. I think of friend Hallie who would surely give the piece an unusual twist.

I used Ted's approach with multiple layers of very thin transparent color that is not necessarily the expected color. I worked from a black and white copy of the photo, and the colors of Jamie's clothes are different than the original . I included some of Ted's "sloppy dots" in the hair and clothing. I mainly worked on this piece the last two Thursday night gatherings of our South Side Art Club (all 5 of us!). My fellow artists were a great help with their critiques. I almost gave up on the piece, but they encouraged me to push on. I always learn so much when I see something through to the finish. I am debating whether I want to add more alternating layers of transparent warm and cool colors in the background, alla Ted Nuttal.

My next piece, on the dawing board now, is a revisit of Kelly playing the flute with Grandpa Bob. You can see a couple earlier pieces I did here, where you can see a preliminary sketch and my reference phot, and here, where you can see my transparent acrylic. This time I am painting both Kelly and Bob and I consulted with Ted Nuttal on how to crop. He explained that with two people you have be careful they don't separate into two individual pieces. He was pleased that I had overlapping shapes. He suggested cropping Bob's flute on the right, and Kelly's sash on her dress on the left. He made one other suggestion that at this time I don't dare try -- including a part of a dining chair in front. Hallie would surely have thought of it and that never occured to me. One of my fellow artists likes the various rectangular shapes of art on the wall and the patio door, but at this time I don't plan to include them.