Museum app

Experimentation and Discovery!

fountain pen, w/c, gouache, white gel pen on toned paper

I thought it might be interesting to contemplate and document my loopy and sometimes treacherous path of art discovery in the area of portraiture and figura-ture over the past month. Discovery as in experimentation.

Starting with this one a month ago. I remember starting out with the idea that this would be a quick and expressive sketch. An hour later I was still correcting and laying in more layers of paint, which wasn’t at all what I had in mind when I started. I think I was distracted by the handsome fellow in the picture. Reminder to self: whether it’s a landscape or building or figure, don’t become too enamored with the visual subject matter. 

Sailor fude fountain pen, colored pencil on white paper

After a break traveling and sketching scenery I resumed sketching portraits, mainly with the aim of discovering the personality of my own line making. I found that this is a lot more fun than trying to make a pleasing picture. I’ve never been partial to colored pencils, since watercolor is so much more fluid and immediately saturated. But since I’m not used to colored pencils there was more freedom expressed without the need to “get it right”.

Sailor fude pen and pencils on loose white paper

So I turned the former sketch over, a loose sheet of unidentified paper I found in my drawer, and told myself I could just throw it away, so anything goes. And plunged in. Again, fun. I’d tapped into the secret I’d known and taught for years.

Reminds me of the paperweight I was given years ago on which is written “What would you attempt to do if you could not fail?” In this case, I could not fail because I wouldn’t ever have to show it to anyone. Then I realized that showing it to others would never result in failing either, because who cares!

Sailor fude pen, w/c, white gel pen on toned paper

So I go back to my toned paper sketchbook with more confidence in my ink line making, which is crude and scratchy in a way I am liking, and I realize that the shadow shapes in this subject are so fabulous that I can play with watercolor, running one color into another wetly. Soon I can’t stop painting, but at least I don’t hang out too long trying to make it “right”, so maybe I’m learning something.

Sailor fude fountain pen, diluted black ink, white gouache on gray toned paper

So what the heck, now I figure I’m ready for a selfie, to celebrate my allowing the gray/white hair I’ve been coloring to emerge and help define the freedom of my senior status. Those of you who know me will say, oh that doesn’t look like you Susan, and in a way you’re right, but she’s there somewhere. . .and not least of all in the scratchy lines.

Next day I did this one of another older lady. Same materials and half the time. If I were smart and not so distractible, I’d do 10 more.

just black ink on gray toned paper

Instead I did just one more in the 15 minutes I had before the call to dinner. I think I used the Lamy Joy pen. Why in heaven’s name I sketched the pipe first I don’t know, except that I liked the shape and wanted to make sure to fit it in. But as you can see, the nose fit into it better than the mouth. So, big deal, I drew another pipe stem and made it darker. Problem solved. There was no time to add the white value with the gouache. and I don’t miss it at all in this one.

All of the portraits above, except for the selfie, were drawn from the excellent photos available for this purpose on the SktchyMuseum app I’ve been using. Gratitude for all these fine poses! Can’t imagine a better resource for us portrait artists. Check it out!

Pentel brush pen on computer paper

I’ll finish this post with some practice drawings, copied from the Spanish illustrator Inma Serrano, whose workshop I’m taking: Capture Your City in Motion.

And here I’m sketching from picture of figures in motion on internet sites like Pinterest. All warmups for the real thing of capturing the action live. Gulp. 

Character studies

I’ve almost filled up my Stillman and Birn Nova sketchbook with the three toned papers: beige, black, and gray. Time to order another I think. The Museum app keeps offering not only these great poses but inspired portrait art from artists all over the world. Have you tried it yet?

gouache and white pencil on black toned paper

Abandoning refinement in the service of drama here. The particles suspended in white gouache make for a chalky surface revealed in all its roughness when painted wetly on a black surface. You have to just let it do its thing and be ready to move on! Next portrait I painted on black though, I dispensed with the white pencil drawing which did not dissolve and could not be erased.

white and blue gouache on black paper

Rick N. is another favorite on the Museum app, willing to offer his visage in the creation of characters like this ? mad magician?

white gouache, period

No background or hair or clothing needed here! It was done in minutes. Brilliant pose Roxana!

w/c, white gouache and white gel pen on beige toned paper

By this day I was ready to take my time and try for a bit more refinement.

brush pen, watercolor, white gouache on gray toned paper

This one got a bit out of hand very quickly, drawing with the brush pen!

watercolor, gouache, white gel pen on gray toned paper

It’s fun to go in at the end of a portrait with some unexpected color bounce. Really the green is just an exaggeration of what is there. And it works so well with the violet tones.

Pathos

The Bumblehummer in a recent post turned out to be a female Rufous hummingbird, for those of you who wondered. Positive identification occurred when I emailed the local Audubon society and in the process made a new friend! Kim is a wealth of information and answered a slew of bird questions I hardly knew I had. And now I have an invitation to go birding with the Gals Go Birding group. And Kim even teaches a workshop for people like me whose vision is fading, called Birding By Ear

Undoubtedly there will be more birds arriving on the blog, but today I’ll slip in a recent portrait . ..

gouache on gray toned paper (Inspiration from the app, now called Museum

.. .which I have named Pathos, because the beauty of this woman rests in the utter depth of feeling her face conveys. Her heart breaks for the suffering of humanity, which knows no bounds. Her own suffering is etched on her skin, even while she glows with the light of compassion. One’s eyes brim over just by gazing on her image and the heart muscle jolts awake.