Figure studio sketches

Practice, practice

Like most of us I like to think that one day I’ll just “get it” and then painting will be effortless self expression. This is very short sighted thinking of course, because it’s the drive to evolve as a painter which motivates me to practice, practice, practice, even when things are not going particularly well. Practice, as in effort. My friends who participate in challenges, like the #30X30directwatercolor2018 challenge which is going on this month, understand this. Paint something every day and you can’t help but evolve, even though on any particular day it may feel like you’re sliding backward.

Suhita suggested doing more than one of the same subject. So after two tries at the pagoda on Stowe Lake, I tried a third, this time from a tiny picture on my phone, direct watercolor. Taking the advise of Marc, to get farther away or work from a less detailed pictures.

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A quick and dirty direct watercolor with fewer specifics yet more fresh and appealing. Here’s the first two:

In the first I got mesmerized by the up close detail. In the second I was far enough away that I had to make up details, when I should have left them out!

Another day I was sketching in Sebastopol with a view of Gravenstein Station. My first try, in direct watercolor was highly frustrating! Not having the pen line to rely on, my watercolor application got too tight and descriptive, choking out the light.

gravstation It certainly represents the scene relatively accurately, but I think I pretty much killed it dead. With 10 minutes left til I had to go, I did this less ambitious sketch and liked it much better.

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Direct watercolor with white pen line added at the end

Another day I decided to practice figures with no preplanning, just drawing/painting directly, from another phone photo.

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I was testing my ability to paint shapes with no drawn or painted line. Great practice but clumsy outcome. And definitely missing the spirit of the music.

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Determined to do a first-thing-in-the-morning direct watercolor I did this selfie in my pajamas while sipping chai (from my computer monitor). It bears little resemblance to me (which haunts me! how to fix it!) but again, great practice.

 

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100People Days 1-3

This was day three of the sketch 100 people in one week challenge. I don’t usually like to be told what kind of art to do, preferring to set my own goals. But when so many of my urban sketch friends were participating, I signed on. (you know FMO, fear of missing out?) Well, here’s what’s happening so far.

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Lamy fountain pen and ink in a 6 X 8″ Hahnemuhle Nostalgie sketchbook

I started out using the Sktchy app, and as much as possible, continuous line drawing. It helps to keep the pen on the paper so you don’t lose your place! The drawings on the right were done first, and look at the improvement already when I made it to the other side of the paper and got clearer about where to draw the lines?

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On Monday afternoon I caught the Muses (in my mixed media workshop) hard at work. Noodlers Red Black ink in the fountain pen here, and it’s slightly water soluble.

On Tuesday I was reading my friends’ blogs and feeling a bit jealous that they live in cities where there’s lots of people to draw. Here at home I have my husband or the goats at the bottom of the hill. Oh, and the cats.

 

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So I headed over to the train depot at Railroad Square in the afternoon, where there were a few men waiting together while they complained about the cost of the ride on the new SMART train. The hipster (pictured above) lingered only moments and left before I could add his girlfriend (who was a great match!)

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People don’t really stand all that still when they’re impatient for the train to come, and then it came, and that was it. So I headed over to Old Courthouse Square where I could sketch sleeping people from a distance, homeless or just down for a nice afternoon nap?

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Then headed back to the S.R. Mall to see what action was there. Not bad! On the left I was trying to capture this beafy guy while he was balancing on the outside of his feet, but he changed positions and so did my drawing. The girls on the left and the right of him were my favorite sketches of the day. No pencil first. I was discovering that when I do the quick pencil thing first, I lose the gesture, so I put it away.

From a seat on a couch in front of a furniture store in the mall I could see the old men who were resting in the chairs in the middle of the mall.The one on the left was gesturing while telling a story. . .caught it!

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Still on the sofa I’m watching the escalator traffic and getting maybe 5-10 more seconds of drawing time than with the people walking by. Then a lady comes right up to me and asks about the sofa I’m sitting on, and I realize it’s time to move on again.

And I get home and look at the sketches and see that almost everyone, even some of the people on the escalator, and the father eating dinner with his son in the food court, all are looking at their smart phones! But you already know, that’s our new world.

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Today I had to wait a long while at Toyota. I decided I was “broken in” enough to use the pocket brush pen. With that I had to slow down enough to use the tip lightly for fine lines and broadly to “paint” in the darks. But what about gray or white hair and a beard? When you have only two values, black and white, it’s challeging to show subtlety?  I realized that every line started to count more and shapes became more important.

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I haven’t counted them up yet. Since I’m headed to San Francisco for the weekend there will be lots more opportunities, and I’d like to try some color next!

How are you doing with your people sketching this week?

Beatles Singalong

On Saturday Sebastopol was treated to a Beatles Singalong at Coffee Catz led by my friend David Klotz, the irrepressible music man I know from Wavy Gravy’s Camp Winnarainbow! David has recently moved to our town and joined the music scene here, so he was a bit surprised when the Cafe filled to overflowing with enthusiastic singers (of a certain age and cultural disposition) who knew most of the songs by heart.

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I got a seat up front so I could sketch while singing, but really I ended up singing more than sketching.  The Beatles were after all, exactly my era, and David encouraged us to not hold back but let our young selves emerge whole heartedly. He started with piano accompaniment which sounded like a bit of his own jazzy arrangements.

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Then moved to guitar, and back and forth throughout the afternoon, embodying the songs, music and lyrics, with virtuosity and clear delight. Another fellow accompanied him on the guitar.

We’re all hoping to hear lots more of David’s music now in years to come! Or you can join him as an Adult Camper  at Camp Winnarainbow in summer.

Day 5: #OneWeek100People2017

Golly, I hope you’re not too tired of seeing all these people sketches. Yesterday was the final day (of 5) to get in the 100 people sketches. For a last minute spree Bettina and I sat/stood in the loft at Taylor Maid coffee in Sebastopol, the perfect place to catch people at that interesting angle looking down. A bonus is that no one looks up to see that you are sketching them!

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Platinum Carbon fountain pen in Stillman +Birn Beta sketchbook (soft cover)

This is a tricky angle because we’re so used to sketching at eye level that we don’t get the perspective right. Her legs were probably not that long when seen from above.

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I kept trying to capture the hand gestures as people talked to each other and only occasionally caught something before they moved on. I think if I sat for 3 hours I would probably have a chance to jump in fast enough. The hand is such a complicated structure that it requires quite a bit of study and practice in itself. I’ll put that on my (endless) to do list!

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It’s always more fun to sketch with a friend, and we had lots to discuss, but when the brain is tied up with such talk, it’s not as able to access the critical measuring and comparing part of drawing, so here I was getting sloppy. Determined though to get this woman’s hand gesture!

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This beautiful young woman reminded us so much of the lasses we saw in Ireland last summer. She was animated in every part of her body as she conversed with the young man opposite.

Painting in the red hair later seemed to rescue this sketch. I mixed up a puddle of yellow, red and a tad of blue and put some skin color in so the sketches seemed a bit more “human” and left it at that.

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Once again, not having to draw the face made it easier to get the gesture and foreshortening. Sometimes I find that my line gets squiggly from the excitement of the moment. The line takes over and wants to describe something quirky. O.K., I say. GO for it!

Day 1: 100 people sketch week

There’s a lot of sketching folks out there this week rising to the #OneWeek100People2017 challenge! So I couldn’t resist. It’s actually a five day challenge, which means 20 people/day sketched any way you want. But if you’re busy, obviously that means fast! Monday is always a very full day for me with my Mom’s group in the morning and Muse Group in the afternoon.

So sleepy-eyed in the evening after dinner I sat down to sketch from QuickPoses.com, a great online resource for when you can’t get out and sketch live. Most of these I started out with watercolor and added ink.

After finishing these I wanted to keep going but it was getting late. These poses are so great!! I think I could get addicted. And to reach the 100 goal I’m going to have to work faster and simpler. Maybe just stick to pen. Later today I’ll be in a grocery store with my sketch buddies capturing live movement with more speed and probably a lot less accuracy.

Why do this? Drawing is one of those activities that improves with quantity, like reps with those barbells or miles of walking/running/biking. And there’s a previous limitation to overcome. 100 sketches in 5 days just might do it.

I find inspiration in so many places. Here’s some of my favorites:  Marc Taro Holmes of course, and Liz Steel, and Suhita Shirodhar. They’re all blogging about this challenge this week and talking honestly about the process. Check it out! And I’ll be back every day to share my own discoveries/sketches.

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Oscar de la Renta at the de Young

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Pelican fountain pen and watercolor in 6X8″ Stillman and Birn sketchbook

A morning spent at the de Young art museum in San Francisco with two sketch-buddies, there to see the Oscar de la Renta Retrospective show .  The show runs til May 30, so plenty of time to see it.  And bring your sketchbook, because it’s a near ideal situation for sketching the figure.  First of all, the figures are posed in stylized postures. Second, they don’t move. And third, they have no complicated hair and facial features, because they’re bald mannequins!  So you can focus on what really turns you on: color, design, textures, and imagining what it would be like to wear such creations!

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I had a moment of freak out at the entrance when I was told that I couldn’t bring my day pack in unless I held it by the handle like a purse!  Right. And where was the third hand to hold a pen?

The problem was quickly solved by putting my pens and iPhone in a pocket, carrying my sketchbook, and checking the rest in the coatroom.

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The exhibition rooms were dark and dramatic.  No place to sit down, but we’d anticipated that.  Sometimes the feet of the model never made it on the page, and in this one I did “her” from two angles to try to get that Cossack-like stance.

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With each figure I took a picture to use as source for adding color at home.

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The viewers were mostly women there with their girlfriends, talking about the fabrics, picking their favorites.  It was a real girlfriend extravaganza.

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The Eastern Influence room was heavy on the animal skins, like this bridal outfit with the minks dangling from other minks or whatever other poor animal.

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We spent some time in this room, deciding which gown we would like to wear.  I tried to think of the last time I wore an evening gown. . .high school prom maybe.  But that doesn’t really count.  Camp Winnarainbow “Kick the Cannes Festival”?

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We all liked this one: soft, flowy, and sooo feminine (and not scratchy on the skin)

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While I was sketching these, the docent came around and I picked up some tidbits.  Sara Jessica Parker wore the white gown at an opening and asked de la Renta to put his name on it, which he did in RED! The pink one flows down three sets of steps.

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About de la Renta Vogue magazine wrote: “Nobody makes a woman feel more like a woman at night”.  (Movie stars maybe.)

By the time I’d painted in the drawings at home I was thinking, how fun it would be to do fashion illustration!  in another life perhaps?

Nursing Home Sketches

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fountain pens, watercolor in 7 X 12″(full spread) handmade sketchbook, Fluid w/c paper

I’ve made some new friends at the nursing home where my mother-in-law lived. My weekly visits coincide with this fellow Chris coming to play and sing folk songs to the residents, who largely sit quietly listening, enjoying and zoning out. Almost all the patients are in wheelchairs. The staff has given me permission to sketch and I’ve become part of the “furniture” in the activities room.

fcactivities2 Funny thing, I always feel better when I leave. It’s a heart opening. My own personal world grows larger from sketching these folks. fcactivities4

Some patients brighten their day, which is pretty much always like the day before, with colorful clothing.

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and accessories.

FCactivitiesFamily visit are cherished.  And music in all forms lifts the spirits and soothes.

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There’s ball “games” for the residents!

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I like to use my fountain pen with the Noodlers Golden Brown ink to start the sketch. The softer line works best for old people whose edges are softened by the years and by inactivity. The Golden Brown ink melts a bit when color is added, and later I go back for some line emphasis with black.

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I’m learning my way around wheel chairs.  They’re as complicated as bicycles!

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Someone’s grandpa.  I never knew either of mine, and I lost my father 27 years ago.

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Such a wonderful face – I couldn’t resist. A friendly man, happy to be sketched.