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. 

August 18, 2014

The Hills of Home

The rolling hills of rural New Jersey were the subject of my latest drawing. This was completed in a rather spontaneous method using quick and easy smudges of pastel and charcoals. The foreground rock was largely imagined and alludes to my training in Chinese landscape painting. Despite the fact that I was not on location when finishing this drawing, I remembered that it was early spring and that the grass in the middle ground was still in its light golden winter color. So I retained a light touch on the middle ground, making a nice ribbon of light contrast to the dark mountain and the foreground rock.

August 17, 2014

New Patterns on Old Forms

I always had a penchant for drawing people who had unusual shapes; legs that were short and stocky or perhaps overly long or thin, an oddly shaped head, long thin hands. The pencil drawing I just completed was of a woman who had a very short thick body with a large head and copious black hair. She was my favorite model and could hold a pose for long lengths of time - even standing. There were few details in my original sketch but I do remember the dark pink bodice with the lace trim and the thin neglige. I had to invent the patterns of the lace, background textures, and floor patterns.

My lack of recorded shading makes many of these revised pattern drawings flattened. But that is fine by me because I am very fond of the flat patterns found in Japanese prints, which I hope to emulate. So the journey through my sketch books of the past in order to glean art for the present continues, replete with pattern upon pattern in a celebration of design upon strange bodies.

August 16, 2014

Big Woman with Black Gloves and Old Lace

One thing that has always been fun to do is create Treasury Lists on Etsy. These are promotional on-line exhibitions of a maximum of sixteen items chosen from their storehouse of online shops. The exhibitions consist of twelve to sixteen squares of images based upon a theme. They can be as creative as one chooses. For my own Treasuries I try to make story lines or paired items that appear interactive in a counterpoint relationship. One example of the latter is my exhibition Gloves and Old Lace. For this I chose both modern well-crafted wearable art gloves as well as vintage gloves and paired them with antique or vintage lace objects that had similar textures, colors and patterns. The result was a succession of gloves that appeared to be reaching for matching texture. This has been how I make an ordinary thing come alive.

I was so inspired by the gloves and lace objects that I found in other artist’s shops that I started “dressing up” figurative drawings that I was working on so that they were wearing such objects. It was almost like dressing paper dolls, and evoked pleasant memories of youth. The drawing above was original a study of a large big boned woman. Now dressed in her lace and gloves, she has taken on a more svelte look. To see the exhibition that inspired this follow the link: Or if this link isn't live go to kozachekart on Etsy, cursor down to "Treasuries" and have a gander.

August 15, 2014

A Magnificent Cat

The cat that used to share our lives was an outstanding example of a well-muscled big helping of a furry beast. He was a large eighteen pound mixed Maine Coon breed with white paws and delicate silky hair that was a shade of champaign pink. He did more than meow. He actually sang cat songs. The cat would climb up high trees and come down forwards instead of backwards like most cats. Our cat was so fascinating that once he passed away we could never find another that was his equal so we remained catless.

The illustration above is for the poem Magnifi Cat from my book manuscript The Book of Marvelous Cats. This one pays homage to our beautiful cat.

August 12, 2014

Looking, Looking, Looking Away

It was one of those grey days in northern Europe. Was it Germany? Was it the Netherlands? I can’t remember. I only had the remnants of a sketchy impression of people at an outdoor café. The sketch as well as the memory bore enough of a trace to use for a new art work. I crafted the new work using my charcoal pencil making wiry nervous lines around the figures and creating cups, saucers and napkins that may or may not have been there at the original scene. There was an onlooker but I forgot who or what he was and what he wore, only that he perhaps somewhat longingly espied the dining couple - a man looking at a woman who turns away to look at something in a distant woods or on a garden path.

I put glasses and a mustache on the man. I did so because my husband asked me, somewhat jokingly, if I was making a sketch of him. I told him that I was not, but then I added the mustache and glasses - making my reply now untrue. I then used my whites, greys and black pastels to create masses of darkness around the wiry lines. And now it rests in my portfolio with the rest of my revisionist drawings.

August 11, 2014

Two Sad Figures

I had an ink drawing of a woman posing in two different ways. I drew her as twins in different positions. I wondered if I should have saved it as a simple ink drawing. I had decided not to, and instead mined my material from the past and used it to fill my portfolio of charcoal and pastel drawings. The drawing is now more heavy and ponderous than the free form ink drawing from which it evolved. But I like the poignant look of reflection in the half closed eye of the front sitter.

August 10, 2014

A Drawing of Three Young Dancers

For my latest drawing, I combined a study of two child ballerinas with a sketch of a dance student resting at a bar. The two ballerinas came from a very old sketch, possibly dating back to the Aparri School of Dance in Princeton New Jersey. The youngster in the black leotard was drawn somewhat later during my stint as an instructor in a summer program at Columbia College. I was almost content with the study of the two young girls but I think that the addition of the background figure, the bar and the wall add dimension and volume. This was completed with my creamy grey pastels and charcoal.

August 9, 2014

Guardian Cat Revisited and Revised

More revisions on the Book of Marvelous Cats. The next cat to tackle was The Guardian Cat. The original drawing I made appeared too weak to salvage so Guardian Cat got a complete make over as did his background. The cat featured is a Maine Coon Cat, which seemed a suitable breed for a watchful guardian. The background landscape with the small abode and shed was taken from one of my photographs of my mother’s ancestral home of Scotland.

After such a revamped drawing, I decided to make a new poem for Guardian Cat as well.

August 8, 2014

Mama Terror

My most recently finished drawing I call "Mama Terror." It was completed from a sketch I made of actresses at the local college here in Orangeburg, South Carolina State University. The actresses were rehearsing a play about a dominant mother figure. The small woman kneeling was in some kind of act of timid obeisance. To complete the sketch I added arches and two scrolls. A fun piece. I can’t wait to find more of them to finish.

August 7, 2014

Party Time for Balanchine's Cat

Turning once again to the work of my Book of Marvelous Cats, I have just finished the remake of the Party Cat. Party Cat rather irreverently wears an American Flag as underwear - or perhaps it is a bathing trunk. This feature, along with the swirling background, the drum and the balloons, were all part of the original drawing. But in the original drawing, the cornet was floating freely in space. This time a large black cat is connected to it, blowing the cornet held in one paw and holding the instrument with his tail. The drum has been redeveloped as well. Instead of a drum from my imagination, I penciled in my Djembe drum with the cloth from Ghana.

The position of the cat was taken from a photograph of George Balanchine throwing his cat into the air to discover interesting positions it might take. The airborne cat apparently inspired some of Balanchine’s choreography.

The Book of Marvelous Cats is slowly drawing to a close with my final revisions. Just about five more to go.

August 1, 2014

Man with a Cat

My recently completed drawing, "Man with a Cat," serves as an interim work between my loosely rendered pastels and my upcoming completion of tightly articulated illustrations for my Book of Marvelous Cats. The drawing is a good transition, not only stylistically but in subject matter as well. The man in the drawing was an old friend from years past. I sketched him some time ago at his home while he was holding his beloved tabby cat. Completing this drawing from a very rough sketch was somewhat difficult on account of the lack of resolution and details in the original sketch. But that opened some opportunities. My husband had happened to have purchased a few caladium plants which I incorporated into the drawing by sketching from life. I included pottery in the background from my own collection. I then invented patterned tiles on the fireplace and in the background floor. The painting above the mantel was also invented. The shoes are my husband’s shoes. Altogether it as an amalgam of findings, invention and memory.