portraits

The Last of #30faces30days Challenge

By the final days of the #30faces30days challenge on the Sktchy app I was more interested in trying out some techniques I’d already learned than following the prompt each day. The pictures provided were so fascinating – they’re called “Muses” on the Sktchy app- that I couldn’t wait to draw the new one each day. Here’s the last two of the month.

30faces30days29

Watercolor and pencil on gray toned paper

This Muse’s hair was not white/gray and his shirt was patterned. I’m learning to leave out some parts to make the whole more interesting, and loving what happens on the gray toned paper.

30faces30days30

(sorry for uneven lighting here and rippled paper from wet applications!)

Thanks to Margriet Aasman, a Canadian illustrator and teacher on Sktchy for so many useful ideas about color and final application of pastel pencil. I was trying out a bit of everything on this portrait and loving the deep purples and dark reds for this Muse’s dark skin.

#30faces30days continues. . .

I think I’m getting addicted to painting faces, after 26 days this Sktchy challenge, which is also a course with different teachers and lessons every day. When I look at faces now I see minute variations in skin tones and am constantly mixing colors in my mind, while my fingers twitch in anticipation of sketching and my eyes can’t help but notice how the ears relate to the nose and eyes, etc., etc. I curl up on the sofa in the evening to draw and paint the muse (the picture which is one of thousands of available faces on Sktchy) of the day. Although it’s better to do all this with a live model, I’ll settle for Sktchy in the meantime!

The 30 days is almost over, and I feel like I’m just starting to get the hang of it. Here are some of the past few days’ sketches.

30faces19

Day 19 the lesson was to “let the light be your line” with teacher France Van Stone, who is a genius with graphite. But watercolor is my thing, so I made the point by slapping on some rich background negative painting at the end.

30faces23

(on gray toned paper) Lesson 23 was “Drawing Shadows with Minimal Lines”, with Patrtick Hochstenbach, but being a painter, once again, I went for color, dashed in some extra lines at the end, and really liked the effect.

30faces24 (on toned paper) Lesson 24, again with France Van Stone with graphite, was one of my favorites. I loved being told I didn’t have to finish everything and maybe it would be better if I didn’t!  And what a fabulous face to draw!

30faces25

(toned paper) Lesson 25 Lending Your Portrait a Hand with Margriet Aasman was challenging because I like drawing hands only slightly more than windows in a tall building, meaning not much. But Margriet makes you look at each joint and curve so you start to see how different each is. Nevertheless I think my impatience shows in the outcome here.

It’s all good though. Lots of good practice and learning to apply to the portrait project I’m working on at The Living Room these days. I’m up to about 17 portraits with stories now and will share move of them soon.

 

30 Faces/30 Days on the 18th day

I’m still at it most (not every) days, trying out the prompt on Sktchy’s 30 Faces/30 Days challenge. Each day comes with a teacher’s tip and a photo of a “Muse” to sketch. I’m learning so much, and finding some new teachers with different approaches to infuse into my own portrait work.

The following are my sketches, with the names of the teachers who gave the tips listed. You might want to look them up, or have a try at the challenge! It’s a course this month, for only $30.

30-30negativespace

Look how simple! Just drawing quickly in pencil, and picking two shapes , negative/positive, to add color. (teacher Chantal V.)

30_30sculpt

Using line here in a sculptural way. (teacher patrick Hochstenbach)

30_30Teeth

I did love it, for the first time ever, doing teeth! (Teacher Margriet Aasman)

30_30markproportions

Marking off proportions first for greater accuracy. (Teacher: France Van Stone)

30_30warmcoolshadows

Contrasting warm and cool colors. What an expression, huh! (teacher Gunhild Hope)

30_30energizingline

This one on gray toned paper. Making lines with energy!  (Teacher: Margriet Aasman) The gray paper somehow makes it easier to tone the skin color. There’s almost no white here, just a tad on the lip and not even in the eye!

 

The Sweetest Cat no longer in this world

We’ve known for the past month that our beloved Phil, the sweetest cat in the world, was preparing for his final passage. It almost seemed he was waiting to spend his last days with the boys who grew up with him. Who can know such things? They lavished him with attention in the two weeks they were here for the holidays and he responded with steady purrs and the kitty conversation Phil was known for. He passed away on the evening the full moon rose.

philcollage

All my students and many folks who came to open studios over the years will remember Phil, because he was the official greeter, happy to receive a neck or belly scratch from all visitors.

I’ve gone back in history to find sketches and paintings of Phil I have posted here on the blog. The above collage is his “official” portrait, hanging in our home along with other beloved pets.

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I was never able to sketch or garden in our yard without the company of Phil. He would nudge me to let me know I must give him attention before I could get on with my business.

phil

When I was trimming plants in the garden I would have to take special care not to snip his whiskers or tail, because he couldn’t seem to get close enough and was always talking.

phil

Phil would eventually find a spot on the bench to nap after a long spell of purring.

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Phil was a teenager when he adopted us about 17 years ago, just showing up and insisting in no uncertain terms that we belonged to him!

sunrisePhil

He acquired the habit of throwing himself down suddenly in front of people on our walkway, exposing his belly, with a clear message that he was to receive love before one could proceed.

sylvester

And then Sylvester showed up, and his devotion to Phil was so complete that even though Phil gave him the message, in no uncertain terms, that this property was  his territory, Sylvester persisted. . .and eventually they came to terms with the arrangement and became Phil and Syl, eating, sleeping, and lounging together. When I finally got around to doing Sylvester’s portrait, I knew it would be incomplete without his best friend.

Recently on the cold winter nights when Phil was so weak, Sylvester warmed him with his body and checked on him throughout the day.

This may not be the end of my portrait-making of Phil, though it is the end of Phil, the sweetest cat in the world, who we will never forget! The boys want to plant a tree in the yard for him above where he is buried.

We would love to hear any of your memories of this lovable feline family member!

30 faces/30 days

Another one of those 30 day challenges? Yeah, I’m afraid so. This one was right up my alley, so I couldn’t resist – Sktchy apps‘ draw 30 faces in 30 days. Sktchy app “is a portrait artist’s dream come true. Join to share your art, connect with fellow artists around the world, find and save inspiring reference photos and participate in our weekly Portrait Party.” And this month you can also get all kinds of tips on interesting ways to fertilize your practice of obsessive portrait sketching!

So I signed up for it. And I’ll be sharing some of my portraits here, for better or worse, because that’s what always happens when you plunge into a challenge!

30.30blind

Day one gave tips on warming up with blind contour drawing. I hate to say this, but I like this blind contour (meaning you don’t lift your pen/pencil once or look at your paper while drawing) drawing better than most of my other faces.

 

30.30day

But I couldn’t resist doing it again, not blind. I like the first drawing better, it’s more interesting.

30.30Maura

My son was still home, along with his partner Maura, and they enjoy sketching too, so there was a fair amount of time spent at the dining room table sketching each other.

30.30AndrewNaw!

and I was having difficulty catching him at the right angle and in the right light, so I ditched the idea of getting a likeness and went rogue! So the image here is total invention, with the earrings being the giveaway.

30.30candlelight

And then as we were waiting for dinner, and sketching in candlelight, where I couldn’t even see the colors in my palette. . .

30.30vanishingpoint

This was a new concept for me – finding the vanishing point on a face! illustrated here. The models or “muses” on Sktchy are often wonderful subjects to draw!

30.30hair

Another great Sktchy subject! I wanted to add color to this, but was afraid I’d mess it up. Don’t you love his hair?!

I’m still at it! More coming.

Portrait Project

The conversations about homelessness are everywhere in our county. So many kind hearted people, who have secure housing, are struggling to understand: how could it be that there are 200 people living in all manner of tents in the pouring down rain and mud of a popular public trail!? We wonder, who are these homeless folks and how did they come to be on the streets?

I have been slowly finding my way into conversations with women to try to understand how this can happen in a county where there is considerable concentration of wealth. Most of the women who come to The Living Room have at some point suffered “on the streets” without shelter. Some have been living in their cars or minivans by the roadside or in parking lots. Others have been staying in emergency shelters and, after long waits, secured transitional or more long term housing. Aside from those similarities, each of their stories are as unique as their personalities.

For the past couple months I’ve been doing watercolor portraits of some of these brave women who have shared their stories with me. I’ve been struggling to condense their complex histories, experiences with homelessness, as well as their strengths and hopes for the future, into a few sentences to put on their portrait.

They want to be seen, not for their homelessness but for their humanity and individual gifts, and this is the pact I make with them. Their stories have been a gift to me, but as I begin to share the portraits I realize that this gift elevates the whole discussion of homelessness to one of our shared humanity. As we listen to each other’s stories we realize that our personal sphere of caring and responsibility has grown and our hearts have grown with it.

And so the Portrait Project at The Living Room was born. The intention of the project is to raise public awareness, raise money for The Living Room’s extensive services for women and children at risk, while also raising the self-esteem of the women.  We will be exploring local venues to exhibit the portraits, events like panel discussions with experts, and publishing a book of the portraits and essays on homelessness.

Meanwhile you’re probably wanting to read the stories too! Over time I will be sharing them here. And I hope you will participate by sharing any ideas about a possible name for the project or venues for an exhibition. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to participate in some way.