Stop looking and see!

While setting out along the creek at Lithia Park looking for something to sketch a few days ago, I had a nice plan. I wanted to capture something that had incredible texture and tone, challenged my ability to render light and shadow, and had interesting composition. I walked around for almost two hours, looking for that one perfect framing, surrounded by the sounds of the burbling water and singing birds. Little breezes washed by me, the other wanderers chatted cheerfully, and peace permeated my thoughts, but still, I felt I hadn’t found that spot that met my guidelines, carefully selected from my art training mentally. As I began to notice the trees around me, I thought it might be a good idea to take some reference shots of different species to someday use them in a constructed work, and I did, but still couldn’t find somewhere to sit that satisfied my urge to sketch. I never stopped to draw, and ended up just scratching out a few graphite value exercises in my sketchbook to feel like I had accomplished something. I then meandered home, somewhat disappointed.

Later on, in the evening when I was importing my photos, I was shocked. Every single one would have been such a wonderful thing to have drawn and studied in its natural setting, with texture and lighting gloriously presented. But instead of taking advantage of these opportunities, I failed to see them, looking for the ‘perfect’  which, of course, never happened. I now wish I had just stopped, and looked really, at those things which I had already surrounded me, rather than trying to be analytical and choosy, because my perfect was not really that great, and not nearly as good as what was actually there.

It made me think how many of these little chances to draw applied to life in general. Some things have happened over the past few days that have brought up, well, the past. In searching for the ultimately great, I seem to have missed the immediate moments that really were great. That doesn’t mean that they are no more to come; that’s an endless black hole that sucks in joy from looking at the past. Perfect, though, was already surrounding me.

I thank those trees, that let me take their pictures and then taught me that they were there all along, and no doubt will be there when I return for me to ply my skills upon. Only this time, I think I’ll not look, but see.

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Lonely

Create. Be original. Labor. Work. Make new things. Engineer your future. Discipline. Time and again. The lonely path. Excel in isolation, then make your statement known. Conform. Then, in the security of your current success, express your reality. No. No. I find my path now. I find my expression now. I won’t wait for some temporal approval. Fight. Now. Break. Shatter. Kill their thoughts. Make them stop. Make them think. No. Make them believe! Break them apart. Then bring them together…wait. Sad… No bringing can work. Breaking is what we do. Break. Break… Until, the pieces are so small and so similar… So homely. Break and glue. Hot glue? Yes, of course! Hot glue the pieces we’ve broken to form a new society, something flexible and somewhat… Er… Transparent…. No. It won’t work. Sadly. Artists. Come on. Look seriously. So, the new… The real new. Umm… Doesn’t exist. Sorry. No one to hold the torch or fan the flame. The real new is… Drumroll please… You! 

In progress Surrealist Attempt

The third project in my painting class is a surrealist painting… it’s been interesting, because we had to pick an artist to study, and I picked relatively opaque artist Leonora Carrington, whose artwork has a very dreamlike quality. She was the companion of Max Ernst for a while, but, after he was captured by the Nazis, she became dangerously depressed while nearly alone in France, eventually being committed to and eventually escaping from an asylum where she was experimented on in the typically grotesque fashion of early 20th century psychology. She travelled to Mexico, and lived there producing paintings, drawing and sculpture all the way until her death in 2011. She was the last of the living Surrealist painters, and was sadly neglected in most literature surrounding the movement.

The painting I am working on trying to emulate her style:

Conflict of the Senate
Acrylic on canvas, 2016, work in progress

So much more work to do, but we only have one more session to complete the painting, so I’m deciding on what details to embellish or add.

I’ll post the finished image after it is varnished and framed.

Here’s a link to the Wikipedia article on Leonora Carrington; she is worth a look!

Color Theory Project 2

Project: Monochrome Painting

Criteria: Clean border, single color with black and white, highlight and shadow, gouache with water on cold press illustration board.

Color Theory Project 2
Color Theory Project 2

Based on Christian Coigny’s photo titled ‘Modesty’

After several painting projects in the few art classes I’ve taken, collectively about eight or nine paintings, I really wanted to pick a simple, clean human form. We were directed to use a single color, along with black and white, and after I had picked my picture, I decided on a warm yellow ochre. We were painting on Crescent illustration board, and after I had painted on it, I realized that the stock provided at both the local art store and the school bookstore was of the ‘university quality’, which, according to Crescent, is not recommended for the majority of wet media. Unsurprisingly, the board warped under the initial washes for the background, as I was still experimenting with gouache’s capability for color spreading. I had too little time to begin again, however, and it doesn’t detract from the work too much.

This was my first human figure painting in any medium, although I was concurrently working on a impressionism style landscape with a figure, and I found the proportions difficult to acheive at first, even after sketching it out with a grid. However, after some prompting from my professor, it seemed to come together. The hair was the last part I painted; I didn’t want it to stand out, so I under emphasized the highlights that were present in the photo. I consider this painting a moderate success, at least by the criteria set forth for the project.

Miniature Landscape – Fall In Spring

A Saturday Afternoon
I decided to paint on a Saturday afternoon, springtime, but the scene that came to mind was a fall one. I’m not entirely sure why this was, but maybe I’m just interested in seeing the changes from a summer of what is going to be hard work change to when times might be more stable.
The work is on a Art Advantage canvas wrapped board that I primed over the initial white gesso with my titular favorite color, titanium buff, which I team allowed to dry and over painted with a combination of cadmium red, burnt umber and cadmium yellow medium. My mixing colors were bone black and titanium buff, and I noticed that the inherently warm tones worked well to create an almost effortless tone that titanium white makes harder to achieve.
I varnish in Gamvar for a light gloss shine. I’m planning on framing this one and giving it as a gift.

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Hillside

Painting I First Project

I recently began my Painting I class at the local community college, and we have finished our first project, a monochrome still life:

Still Life
Still Life

We were not allowed to work on this project at home with a photography, so it was completed in three two hour sessions over the course of a few weeks. All students picked different colors and were allowed to create their own composition. It is painted entirely in Titanium White, Mars Black and Pyrrole Orange acrylic, so essentially it contains only three pigments as all three are single-pigment paints from Golden Acrylics. We were not allowed to use any medium save water. We were also allowed to experiment with brushes; the brushes I used were a #10, 8, 6, and 4 flat, a small house painting brush, and a small rigger for details. The graded criteria were:

  • Accurately portray highlight and shadow tonally
  • Effective composition
  • Differentiate between textures

This painting was somewhat successful in that the metal can is undeniably shiny, but the difference between the driftwood and artificial flowers is not as distinct as I would have preferred. Also, I had to switch positions during the still life, so some of the proportions are constructed, and not very well at that. I have not yet received a grade for this project.

Shadowy Times

 

After a  bit of a hiatus due to life events and school, I have finally made some time to post of few of my recent works. This one is after a photo book of New Mexico, and I enjoy the contrast of light and dark from the sky and snow. I consider it moderately successful, but the perspective is skewed from the photograph and the trees could user some detail work.

Forest of Shadows
Forest of Shadows

It was done with acrylics on canvas board in about an hour… I may spend some time touching it up later on, as well as varnishing it.

Seeing is drawing

Bananas

The exercise that I was using today from my Keys to Drawing book is drawing a pepper from memory, and then from life. I didn’t have a pepper, so I used a banana. The drawings were limited to 40 minutes each, although the from memory drawing took significantly less time, and I will share my theory on why this was after I discuss the process.

From Memory

The from memory drawing went very smoothly, almost too quickly. I focused on adding little shapes that would define a classic banana shape without over doing the symbolic part; I was very satisfied with it as a whole, until I did the still life version.

From Life

Drawing the banana from life was an entirely different experience. I found myself paying more attention to the shadows and details, and it was seemingly more difficult. It was also the longer of the two drawings, taking about 15 minutes more until the time limit was up.

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Banana Duo

Conclusions

Why did the still life take longer than the from memory drawing? And why was it more difficult? The reason for myself can be found in the stem, mostly. I took a very cursory amount of time on the stem in the from memory drawing; in the still life, I found myself fascinated by the inner details of the fibrous bits, angular and curvy shapes co-mingling into a cohesive and not unattractive whole. I don’t think the still life turned out better, but I do think it turned out more accurate, that being the purpose of the exercise in the first place.

Next steps

These exercises are obviously not meant to be one-off, but rather a set of disciplines to apply to my art overall. I’m excited for the next one, drawing a tinted glass, to get a feel for incidental shapes like light and shadows, which I feel really bring out the character in a drawing or painting.

Outta This World Theme – Friday!

For today’s theme drawing, I was volunteering at the Rogue Gallery and Art Center, so I used a  somewhat clean medium(Faber-Castell Polychromos colored pencils)  to draw a rendition of a spaceship used in the poster for the landmark German expressionist sci-fi film, Frau im Mond, by the legendary director Fritz Lang.

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Childhood Memories

The original poster, when I saw it, brought out some of the childlike innocent optimism that there was so much to discover and experience in the universe, and even though that is still true, experiencing it with our senses is becoming an ever distant naivety, crushed at every turn by the reality of the harshness of anywhere but our little blue planet. Even though we seem doomed to experience other planets only in proxy, our imagination still takes us to habitable planets in our lifetime, bringing into lovely detail impossible vistas and incredible travels. It is something about our creativity, that ability we express in so many ways, to take us places that may not even exist, that I both enjoy and appreciate. Not only does it feed our adventurous spirit, but it speaks volumes about our spirit as a people, for good and bad.