September 15, 2014

Those Last Minutes of Sunlight

I have been slowly "retiring" the sketches from my travel books by making them into complete drawings. I am calling them "retired" because so many of them served as blueprints for paintings. But many, such as the one above, never did acquire oil painting status. Had I run out of time, or interest? Or perhaps there just was not enough information in the sketch to base a painting upon.

Although the drawing featured here was never used for painting, it now has an interesting life as a work on paper. These figures were hastily sketched as the sun was setting, consequently they were in shadows with their features undelineated. I often created paintings with the halos of the sun set, or sun rise around them, but in this case there was evidently not enough information to base a painting upon. There was a mystery to the dark figures squeezing a ball or badminton game into the few remaining minutes of the day, just as I was using those few minutes to make one last drawing of the day. A drawing of two men and a woman in a park in Italy. A nice moment to have revisited.

September 13, 2014

A Store Front in North

It was time to consider art work to submit for the South Carolina State Fair. Those pesky rules about two dimensional art work having to be at least sixteen inches long and completed within the last two years was a challenge for me. I had created well over a hundred pieces in the last two years, probably two hundred - all under sixteen inches. The logical thing to have done was matt and frame one of the 11" x 14" drawings. But I chose to register a painting anyway, giving it the generic title of "Remembrances," so that anything would do. I had one 18" x 22" panel left. I also registered a "ceramic ocarina," of which I have loads from which to choose.

I set to work painting a store front from North, South Carolina on the 18" x 22" panel. I had to work so slowly on account of illness that the paint dried faster than I was able to blend. This created a harder edge to the forms than I would have liked. But I decided to live with that. It now looks a bit like a folk art piece with all the flat expanses of color without texture. This will either become my new style or I’ll switch to slow drying oil paints. The finished painting would not quite fit on my 11" x 17" scanner so I had to float it on the surface - hence the fuzzy look. But this is the gist of the piece.

I have been working on a larger work with better texture but most likely this won’t be ready for the South Carolina State Fair - better for next year perhaps. Or it might be ready in time for the Orangeburg County Fair a few weeks later.

As to the ceramic ocarina, I chose one that looks great but doesn’t actually play. I’ll either have to take the dremel to the mouthpiece and see if I can fix it, or just hope that the juror doesn’t decide to try to play it.

September 9, 2014

Mama Terrors

To my great delight, I found another incomplete sketch of the two actresses from SCSU. Another idea to make into an artwork and a sequel to the first work. The first work I named "Mama Terror." Since there are two formidable women in this picture I have named this one "Mama Terrors." In rendering these actresses, I included the lower half of the stage for its geometry and also to keep the setting in the context of the imagined life. The two contrapuntal spirals were not a part of the original sketch but added later. The facial expressions were something most definitely embellished upon as well.

September 7, 2014

Man Warming His Hands

Today I had a headache. That’s nothing new. I have a headache every day. It is part of my ongoing struggle with chronic illness. But today’s pain was such that it caused the making of art to be rather a strain. Yet I painted, made drawings and exercised despite everything. I was told recently to try to continue to do the things I enjoy despite a life of unremitting pain. This sounds like the kind of advice a person without chronic headaches might liberally dispense. Can joy of any kind puncture a headache, I wonder?

To the sometimes fruitless search for joy I submit a drawing that was done without a thought to beauty or to marketability. In short, nothing that involved too much concentration. It is a drawing of a man warming his hands in front of a space heater. I made him merge with the background in one abstract array of triangles, stripes and rectangles. It is not a particularly joyful drawing but it did serve as a distraction.

September 5, 2014

Drawing of a Man who Became a Boy

When I sketched an adult male model some years ago, for some reason I made his body too diminutive. This gave him the physical characteristics of a young boy. I almost discarded the sketch when I decided instead to complete it and claim it as a back view of a boy. I added some patterning in the fabrics and darkened the background. With highlights of chalk to bring out greater contrast it became a drawing to keep. One more addition to my collection.

September 3, 2014

Memory Sketch of Leland Bell

While in graduate school, I studied with a fine man and inspirational artist, Leland Bell. He was very sick in his last year of teaching and I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to be under his tutelage. I rediscovered a sketch that I made of him in the rural countryside of Beemerville New Jersey. He was quite weak but made the outing anyway. I sketched him as he was lying down to rest. As his body failed his mind never did as evinced by his hands gesturing into the sky as he talked about art.

This drawing was completed today using my creamy pastels and charcoals. I believe I had used the sketch to make a painting or two and now this too is retired into my portfolio.

August 30, 2014

Two Retired Maidens

The last two charcoal and pastel drawings that I competed were remakes of figurative sketches that I had used a reference material for paintings on canvas and tiles. The standing woman was from Haiti and had a wonderful golden color, a delicate form and fine features. She was shivering dressed in a thin robe in a cold studio in winter - hence the unrelaxed pose. Pebelle was her name and I used this drawing in three paintings.

The second black and white sketch was used in one painting, the whereabouts now unknown, and in two or three tile paintings. I had intended to do the entire sketch over again on another piece of paper because her foot ran off the edge of the composition. I opted for moving the foot on the original drawing instead.
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August 27, 2014

Scanning the New Drawings

A new computer, a new scanner. Our new scanner enables me to scan drawings up to 11" x 14" - a luxury compared to the 8" x 10" that I was using previously. The 9" x 12" drawings that I had been scanning for this blog were always nipped a bit too close - cropping off a foot or hand of a figure because I tend to work forms out to the very edge of the paper. I went with the awkward cropping because readers could still get the gist of the composition. The drawing that I've scanned here is a 9" x 12" complete with the figure's intact feet. This recently completed charcoal and pastel features artists rendering a posing model. When doing life drawing I generally draw from unusual positions - above or behind a model. New computers are always difficult to navigate at first. Lets see if this takes.

August 24, 2014

A Second Try on an Abyssinian Cat

My recent charcoals finished, I turned once again to my revisions for The Book of Marvelous Cats. The latest revision was the illustration for Abby Sinian. The original was a cat rendered from a vision in my head. Such visions generally not being very accurate, I decided to look at the Abyssinian breed to get a better idea about the cat’s actual form. Amazing ears on those cats! For the background in this drawing I consulted an old college art history textbook for details from Assyrian architecture.

I found halfway through my drawing that I was using the rough, textured side of the paper rather than the smooth side that I had been typically using for these illustrations. This helped reduce glare when scanning the image, but the tooth on the paper made for a soft textured finish rather than the crisp linear look that I had favored. I hope this means that I don’t have to do the entire thing over again for consistency. For now I’m going with the softer look. I’ve reproduced the finished illustration above along with the original version for comparison. I hope it inspires a budding artist/student/illustrator to always try something a second time.