sktchy

Blue Ink Brown Ink

DeAtramentis blue document ink on 9 X 12″ Canson Mix Media paper: sketched from pics on Sktchy Museum app

Playing with my new inks here! These document inks by DeAtramentis are insoluble when dry and they don’t clog your fountain pen. As you can see here, sometimes when diluted the red pigment separates out in a lovely way.

I used this as an exercise in speed sketching with fountain pen and brush, trying to just capture the features that struck me the most about these poses. Working from right to left (cause I’m left handed) in order to not smear wet ink, it turned out that the ones on the right were the warm up. It’s hard for me to exaggerate features as I intended. I just get so lost in the joy of putting down line and shape and color to paper and my brain shuts off. Guess that’s why I’m so addicted to figure drawing! 

DeAtramentis document Brown ink

Slowing down here and trying out some other ideas. My favorite is the guy in the lower left, done in about 5-10 minutes but with the experience of the others to teach me what to avoid, like over working! 

watercolor and gouache on beige toned paper

Such an adorable pixy face and that bird’s nest hair! No rushing this one, I just kept putting on layers and let the watercolor blossoms do the work of the “nest”.

watercolor and gouache on beige toned paper

Sometimes watercolor really doesn’t work well on this toned paper, so what you get is frustration and unwelcome texture (not to mention curled paper!) I’ve thought I might paint over this in rich creamy gouache and see what happens, but it’s probably smarter to just start over or move on. Not much point in using the toned paper if you’re going to cover it all up with paint!

Looks like Sktchy has a 30 day April watercolor portrait challenge going on. I’ve done a few of these and always loved them. They helped me get in the habit of finding time for at least a quick bit of sketching every day, even when there’s a hundred other things begging for my time!

A Cascade of Portraits

fountain pen, watercolor, white gouache in beige toned Nova sketchbook

Time to catch up on posting portraits from the past couple months. It’s my way of archiving and maybe getting ideas for new directions or more practice on old. All of these portrait subjects are from the Sktchy Museum free access archives. Many thanks to the folks who offered these great poses!

Here we go! This fellow above has the kind of face just made for portrait artists! Life experience chiseled into every dip and turn of the physiognomy.

I’m beefing it up here with lots of watercolor texture, splatters, wet crawl-backs and the stuff watercolor loves to do, if you let it.

fountain pen and gouache on w/c paper

As always though, bouncing back and forth between the quick-and-simple to “clear the palette” after getting so detailed.

Started this one with a fine liner pen, adding w/c textures in layers.

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

Can you tell that my main interest here became this fellow’s black hair and beard, the texture and color – blues and indigos. I never got back to finishing the rest in similar detail. Best to stop while ahead.

pencil, w/c and white gouache on beige toned paper

It’s really about the hard working hands here. What is she doing with this lapful of herbs? I imagine the simple hard working life of my ancestors. Rising before dawn, in bed by nightfall, and all those hours with no screens to lure the mind away from the tasks of the moment. . .like sorting herbs.

brown and blue de’Atramentis Document Inks and white gouache on beige toned paper

I wanted to try out my the new colored inks I bought for my fountain pen sketching, and ended up using them in dilutions as paint as well, and even mixing them with white gouache for pastels. 

If you got this far, thanks for coming! Questions and comments welcomed.

Splatter Your Background

pencil and watercolor in 7 X 10″ Field Watercolor Journal

(thanks to Julie Kim whose picture is on Sktchy Museum)

Why is it so hard for many of us to “stay loose”, especially when drawing and painting the figure?

I’ve been seeking the cure for tightness for many years. Here’s what generally helps: 

Speed for one. Set your timer and go for it.

Splatter for two. Load your brush with juicy pigment and fling it across the paper, or tap the brush handle on your finger to knock the drops off the brush.

Willingness to dirty up the page for three.

Spritzing the paper with water so control is lost. (Of course often that results in messes, but sometimes they are messes that work!)

fineliner pen, watercolor, white gouache on beige toned paper

(thanks to E.W. Parris whose pose was on Sktchy Museum)

And painting outside the lines! You can always go back in to delineate shapes with value. And often I’ll glaze the background color into parts of the figure to get color bounce.

my student work from Bianca Rayala’s Etchr workshop: pencil and watercolor

This pose was the source for Bianca Rayala’s Etchr workshop– my copy of what she demonstrated. To get the wonderful splatter background you splatter the colors used in the figure and then spritz with water so that they run and the paint dissolves into parts of the figure, creating lost and found edges. It’s one of those easy techniques that looks hard.

my student work from a Pedro Loureiro workshop on Etchr

More messy drama. Wet on wet background drama and some spicy bounced light for this lovely Guatemalan lady.

Now are you ready to get messy?!

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.

Faces

gouache on gray toned paper

A fellow from the Sktchy picture archives – someone I’d like to meet !

What to say about this – dividing the face into fractals of color – why not stripes and dashes and thick and thin – adding and subtracting but mostly adding! That’s the beauty of gouache. You can just keep going. Come in at the end with pure color accents. That red on the tip of the nose and ear, blue in the shadow and pure white to pop. 

gouache on beige toned paper

I had to paint this redhead. Red goes with turquoise, green. Red like my hair was, and sort of still is with the help of hair coloring over the gray. Haha!

Packing Memories

I’ve had the strangest feeling about moving lately, that I’m not so much packing belongings as memories and layers of personal and shared history. And if I had a more efficient/useful/reliable way to accomplish the memory thing, there would not be so many things to find boxes for!

For instance, the wind chime, a gift made by my friend Ellyn that reminds me of her warm and wonderful heart every time I see and hear it. Or the beaded talisman made by Muriel to guard my studio door. Or the metal frog fountain-head from our pond in our Albany home, dating back to when the boys were into tadpole-ing and bringing critters home to take up residence there.

The boys (well men now) are a great deal less in need of these reminders of childhood than I.  They are too busy writing the big scripts of their lives, while I am enjoying the reruns.

So these things got packed today along with birdhouses and nests and rocks from my collection. The nests that were too fragile to pack have been distributed to key locations in the yard.

This one is my favorite, nestled in the bosom of the old apple tree behind my studio, inches from the tiny new apples. The history that I leave behind is somehow as essential as that which I take with me to re-plant in the fresh soil of the north. I can finally imagine how all these mini tasks are the structure of ceremony, that of continuance as well as rebirth.

Meanwhile the evening portrait painting continues, as I pursue a variety of poses on Sktchy and much needed practice with gouache.

I have more control and dexterity with watercolor, but love coming in with the opaque white gouache at the end to perk up the toned paper and make the eyes sparkle.

Characters

white pencil and gouache on black toned paper

We all love characters! They wake us up and make us realize that being a human is an amusing business, capable of endless entertainment. And Derek McClure, of Sktchy fame, is one. . .or many as you will see here. I have sketched him in his many personas. He photographs himself at angles that distort and amuse. My lack of skill with gouache and BLACK paper help me to relax a bit and just give it a go. 

watercolor on beige toned paper

Here he is again! eye popping and jaw dropping his challenge to “paint me!!” I draw it with pencil and then just, gulp, dive in anywhere to start painting. Eventually it starts to look like someone, and so I throw caution to the wind, and keep painting, glad that no one’s looking. Telling myself that I don’t HAVE to post this on my blog. The best part is the end, coming in with white gouache for the highlights and white pencil or pastel for the hair. And, well maybe I’ll post it after all. I always do.

Portrait Art for Sanity Sake

watercolor on beige toned paper in Stillman + Birn NOVA TRIO sketchbook

I always learn a thing or two from Canadian artist Margriet Aasman on Sktchy. In the demo that inspired this portrait of mine she used red and blue pencils for some strategic lines and then proceeded with watercolor. It just really perked things up! along with some white accents on the toned paper. The hard part, as always, was getting the nose in the right place in this slightly off center pose.

It was easier to draw the second time. Figured I’d try it again, this time with gouache, for me a more difficult medium.

gouache on white paper

Honestly I almost gave up on gouache again, enough to throw caution to the wind with the hair. And that turned out to be my favorite part! The lesson in this, as always, is relax, take a chill pill. Painting is not meant to be torture.

watercolor on white w/c paper

Another of the Sktchy lessons in the 30faces30days March series was with a Russian artist Michael Solovyev. He uses the strangest scraggly looking brushes and makes it look like magic. He kept saying you don’t paint the figure, you paint the light!  By the end I was ready to give it a try. He’s right of course. The other brilliant thing he said was to keep the contrast down in the shadow areas. 

colored pencil, watercolor on gray toned paper

Then Andrew posted a picture on Sktchy and I couldn’t resist painting it. I got this far and it was really looking like him and that scared me. So instead of adding more paint and possibly ruining it, I stopped and photographed it. The look is androgenous and angelic, neither of which I would use as adjectives to describe my son. 

So I kept going, and then stopped again. The values weren’t right. 

So I added darker value to the side of his face and called it quits. It’s always an arbitrary stopping point. I run out of patience, time, skill, whatever and it’s time to move on!

gouache on black toned paper

The NOVA Trio toned paper sketchbook has three tones: Grey, Black, and Beige. For a while the beige was my favorite, then grey, and now black!! I love the drama of it, and by the time I finished this one, I’d decided to go over to the gouache side for a while.

Gouache on black toned paper

And today Andrew and I both decided that gouache is where it’s at. It’s F’in lit! (Can you tell I’ve been hanging out with a 28 year old?) I mean, so much drama at your finger and brush tips! especially on black toned paper.

Meanwhile we’re showing our house for sale, which means vacating the house a bit each day after making everything shipshape. Even a bit of art making helps keep us sane.

More Faces

Most of the Muses on the Sktchy app, that is the folks who submit their picture for anyone to draw, most of them are themselves artists. Just as most of the figure models for figure studio groups are themselves artists. And that makes for some great poses with that elusive and greater sought after trait. . .Character! Here’s some more of my portrait practice.

gouache and pastel pencil on black toned paper

Those of you who are doing the #30faces30days challenge this month may recognize this muse, but do a double take. The model is a white man, but very quickly my drawing steered into person-of-color-with-a- Portland-style-man-bun territory, which I liked very much.

The caption here should read “it’s about the eyes”, and I considered cropping off the rest, but that would be too startling.

Some day maybe I’ll finish the head wrap, but by the time I got to it I was worn out. It just begs to be decorated, but then I would have to do more with the face to compensate, and I thought I’d better leave well enough alone.

I slowed down on this handsome Indian face, starting with light washes and gradually building up. Green worked really well in the shadow shapes. It’s always a bit scary to put that first brushload of green down, but it even works well in a glaze over the warm skin tones.

More 30 Faces 30 Days

I do love faces! And Sktchy is doing another 30faces30days challenge/course, this time 30 teachers demo-ing pencil drawing portraits. Not really my thing, so I’m doing a parallel play thing, painting the poses that are chosen.

watercolor, pen, pastel pencil on gray toned paper

A difficult pose, this one, chosen for that very fact. The human countenance is so rubber. It swells and shrinks in different gyrations of expression. 

A theatrical pose. One imagines an actor on stage in a tense scene of morbid anticipation.

white gouache and white gel pen on black toned paper

I loved the challenge of painting the white and light values rather than the dark. It’s the kind of reverse thinking that tickles new brain cells.