Sktchy’s 30 Faces/30 Days, April

Are you doing Sktchy’s 30 faces in 30 days ? I don’t think I’ve ever completed one of these 30 day art challenges, having religiously sketched something every day, but so far this month, four days in, I’m on it!

Of course when you’re sheltering in place it helps to have the motivation of being told what to do every day. And the great thing about this 30 faces/30 days is that you have a teacher’s demo to watch every day. I like to watch while I’m drinking my morning chai.

Day1_30faces1

graphite on toned paper (gray actually, though it doesn’t look so here)

The suggestion on Day 1 by teacher Mike Creighton was to do three quick sketches, 5 min, 10 min and finally 15 minutes to warm up and improve with each try. I just rarely give myself the opportunity of repetition and it really works.

Day1_30faces3

Then I took the 15 min. sketch and added w/c and pastel, inventing the color since there was none in the picture.

Day2_30faces

Pitt artist pen and fountain pen on white paper, direct to pen

Day 2 the suggestion by teacher Dylan Sara was to draw directly in pen, slowly working around from shape to shape, and then use vertical hatching to do the shading. The picture of Jacob Palmer had wonderful shadow shapes to work with. I normally find hatching to be tedious, but actually this was quite fun and I realized that if I slow down enough, I can skip the pencil sketch and go right to pen.

30facesday3

watercolor, fountain pen, and white gel pen on toned paper

Day 3: The teacher Cecile Yadro chose a duel subject and demonstrated different ways of checking the drawing’s accuracy. I just loved that she chose an old woman as a subject rather than some hip young person for a change. I can relate to the veiny hands! There was no need to paint in the stripes on the cat and the woman’s coat. I think the story was already told without. The woman loves her cat and the cat, well, goes along with it.

30facesday4 Day 4 (today) the teacher was Vin Ganapathy, and his lesson was to start with a fast and loose contour drawing (outline without lifting the pen off the paper much) and then work on salvaging the inevitable errors by putting in finer details. The picture was a bit wonky, but that made it more like sketching a caricature, which was fun! I chose paint over hatching for the shadow because it saves so much time! (I can see how the same toned gray paper looks a different color in each picture. I guess due to ambient light in the room.)

 

 

How the Days Get Filled

Well, yesterday Bob and I spent about three hours combined doing a deep cleaning of just one of the wall areas in my studio. And then there’s the hours fixing computer glitches after my computer was upgraded. And there’s the keeping up with phone calls and checking in with friends and keeping up with the (bad) news.

But in between it all some art is happening and it’s my salvation! So yesterday I sat up on the road above my studio to listen to the birds, enjoy the view and do some “Shelter-in-Place Sketching: My Neighborhood”,  a Meet up organized in the San Francisco Urban Sketchers group.

backyard

For the sake of those of you who have never been to my home/studio, and might even live in another country, I labeled things. Clearly sheltering-in-place here is not a particularly difficult occupation, especially in springtime.

I live on an acre on a private road, so there’s not much traffic of the human sort, but still, in the half hour I sat there I got to talk to my neighbor and wave to our postman.

stilldreamingNO

Still glorying in the wonders of our trip to New Orleans in early March, I have done some thumbnail sketches from pictures, good practice for the art of urban sketching which requires that one leave out a great deal of detail and capture the essence.

In the cleaning of the studio I pulled out a portfolio of portrait paintings I’d done in the 1990’s. They were so clean and accurate. Not like these messy concoctions I enjoy so much now. My vision is not what it was then, or even ten years ago, so the painting has changed. The farther away my subject is, the more I must simply get the “feel” of it and  sacrifice accuracy in the process. The result is different, but no less satisfying. I share this in the hopes that you may also accept wherever you’re at with your art as worth the effort to express yourself. That’s why we do it anyway, isn’t that true?

And then I’ve been drawing portraits for the #30faces30days April challenge on Sktchy. But I’ll save the results for another day.

 

Zoomin with the Family

My first experience with Zoom was with the family. Our family is quite small so we could see each other well in Gallery mode (sharing equal space on the screen). Funny thing, these predictable family patterns that pop up in every interaction when you get together.

zoominwiththefamily

Just so you get the geography here. . .Andrew is in Princeton, I’m in my home studio in Sebastopol, California, Ben is in Nashville, and Bob is in the house.

It took a few minutes to school Mom in how to use Zoom, and then I didn’t get a word in edgewise, because it got pretty silly with typical male teasing behaviors. So I took a picture to document this jump into contemporary family communications, and later sketched it. Not surprisingly I captured everyone in their usual roles. I’ll leave it to you to guess what those are!

Would you like to join me in a month of sketching portraits? I signed up for Sktchy’s 30 Faces/ 30 Days – April 2020  It’s a class where you get a video demo/lesson with different teachers every day of the month and can draw from the models they’ve chosen. I did it in January and learned so much! It’s also a way to experience the social connection with others by posting your work and and seeing others’ portraits.

Also you might really enjoy this article in the New York Times called The Quarantine Diaries about creative ways, including sketching/journaling, that people are finding to give shape to their experience of this historic pandemic time.

How (not) to Draw a Car

I’m not much of a car person and normally try to avoid drawing them, but when my Meet up sketch group suggested cars as a subject that would not get us in trouble with the Shelter in Place guidelines, I figured it might be a time to build some mechanical skill of the auto sort.

Sitting out in my driveway I got closer than 6 feet to my car to challenge myself with the extreme foreshortening of the angle. . .

cartalk1

I figured at least I would be able to see the details. I even did some measuring comparison, though it sure doesn’t show!

So I took a picture and determined to try “getting it right” by drawing from the picture in pencil.

cartalk2

The tire looked pretty flat, though the sketch was more convincing, automotively speaking. But was this the same car??

cartalk3

Still determined to “get it right” I tried again the next day, sitting in the same spot and taking a bit more time. If you don’t look at it for more than a couple seconds, it looks almost right. . .until you start to get the feeling it’s waiting to get fixed at an auto body shop after getting side bashed.

If I were really serious about drawing cars I would try again. Only honestly. . .I like the first one best, because it looks like it’s just about to say something interesting. All it needs is a bubble above it with “toot! toot!”

Are you finding things to do that you wouldn’t normally attempt, either because there’s no time or you feel it is too frivolous when the hospitals are filling up with people suffering from the pandemic? I hope so. We all need the frivolity as an antidote to terror.

Bud Book

Apparently the flip side of Corvids, those noisy crows and such, is Buds. At least that’s the case in my little Pentallic Accordian sketchbook which helped me to weather the first two weeks of sheltering in place.

Whenever the sun was out I took my pens, mini-watercolor palette and sketchbook out to the garden to watch what news was happening there. While I sketched buds I noticed other things, like the bumblebees hiving up in the birdhouse next to my studio door, and the pipevine swallowtail butterfly newly emerged from it’s chrysalis and drying its wings on the passionvine trellis. . .

brandnewbutterfly

I stood and watched it with its stuck-together wings blowing back and forth in the wind until they were dry enough for it to fly away, leaving me standing, hair on end in awe.

grapevine

The vintners here in wine country call it bud break when this particular spring marvel occurs, as it did along my house this month. So I started there in my little book.

succulent

I must admit that spring fever got to me while sketching these. I kept looking up to see the honey- and bumble-bees and loosing my place in the complexity of the succulents, but that was precisely the point, to catch the spring fever rather than the viral fever, right?!

 

rhodyapple

The apple tree behind my studio is one of those ancient hollowed out ones that still produces large quantities of apples. In February it attracts the bluebirds and in March, when the apple blossoms bud out, the butterflies seek them out for nectar.

euphorbia

Euphorbias of all kinds love my otherwise rather wild and untended garden. The flowers are blooming now in a riot of miniature bow ties of different sorts.

pipevine

But my favorite spot in the garden is the pipevine, which is blooming and fruiting and attracting the butterflies in ever greater number each year. Here is what is found at this stage. The little orange eggs are “deposited” in the pipevine bank by the butterflies, like the one in the picture above, and next month the hungry munchers with the orange polka dots will be hatched and systematically eat the entire hillside of pipevine to the ground!

chrysalis

And what is this magnificent sculpture? Another chrysalis on my studio wall which I noticed at the same time as the emerging butterfly. But this one is another species – the Gulf Fritillary butterfly, also known as Passion butterfly here on the wall where my passion vine grows. Last time I looked it was a yellow green color, but now is daily turning orange, the color of the butterfly, slow enough that there’s no point in watching it, but I do check in regularly.

budbook

So I can’t help thinking that all this spring metamorphosis provides yet another silver lining to those of us who, while ruminating on the dreadful pandemic news, have time to notice the small things like insects and buds.

Inks and Gesso: Another Free Lesson

Ready to try another free Muse Group lesson?! I’ve taught this one over and over for at least 12 years now. It’s a foolproof way to get excited about making art and to activate creative fancy. You’ll need watercolor paper, inks (preferably with droppers), gesso, and optional: scrapers, rollers, and rubber stamps.

inks_gesso

Click here to watch the video demo. But don’t stop there. Give it a try!

 

Sheltering

As I closed up my studio last night I thought that I had let another day end without completing the various art projects I have going. Common enough. Then I remembered that there are no longer appointments, gatherings, events, classes to compete with my free art making time, and I added this to a growing list of much needed silver linings in these anxious times.

Yesterday I got out a pile of unfinished Muse Group demos, hand made papers and more and started putting things together. There was something about the “leftover” shape of the blue piece below that suggested house so I made it more so, but not overly literal, and here’s what came.

shelter

Powdered graphite patterned textures, acrylic and collage on w/c paper, 10 X 11

What would you find if you pried the roof off any house now?  No, no, best not do that!

Come up to the door and knock softly. Carry a rose to show you care.

Be ready to say “Your lawn is so beautiful and green, your landscaping so artful, your windows so cozy.” Be ready to say “hope all is well with your family.”

Be ready to step back as the door gets closed in your face because you stepped too close.

Go back to your own Place and don’t cry. The people who loved you before still will, but only if you keep your 6 feet, or is it 10 now?

A friend brought her laundry over yesterday to use our machines. We managed a clever hygenicly safe protocol dance to protect both sides from the virus which, most likely, neither of us has, but we suppose could have. Then we stood a good 15 feet apart to chat for a while before moving on with our days. I’m sure others are as curious as I about how other people are coping, hence the desire to “pry off the roof”.

piles

A peek here at the unfinished pile of mixed media work from which I drew to create the piece above. I just measured the pile at 4 inches tall. It’s really a gold mine from which I shall continue to extract gems. The serendipity of the raw occurences ends up being the most satisfying to me.

If you’re a mixed media artist you doubtless have hoarded treasures galore. Now is truly our chance to play with them, and to realize that we may actually be afforded lots of time now to do so. And it costs nothing.

Stay tuned for another video lesson.