Monday, August 31, 2009

Drawing Five Complete!

I finished drawing five today. I say finish, I may still put white pastel highlights on all the drawings, but the pencil is done. I am very happy with this and the other bent over pose. To finish I spent time on details in the hands: more wrinkles and shadows. I also put a few more shadows on the face. I made her hair longer and darkened the shadow cast on the ground quite a bit. On the exterior contour line, I did not put one around the far arm or foot. Lack of the contour line helped push them into the back-ground. To bring the front arm forward, I strengthened the shadows on the through the middle of the arm and around the shoulder. Finally, I darkened the entire upper torso.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Drawing Five Near Completion

Here is drawing five, close to completion. Today, I worked on the shadows. We artists like to call shadows values. First I worked on the rock's shadows. They were too regular. Rocks, like all natural things, are irregular. They still need further darkening. I added the exterior contour line. After looking at it now; I will probably make the lines darker still. I am pleased with the arm in the background; the value gradation turned out well. Where the hand comes close, but does not quite meet the shadow on the floor, is a nice tension. I'm going to darken the cast shadow on the ground below the figure. The shape of the cast shadow on the ground is more interesting than all the previous drawings.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mid Painting Corrections

For me at least, paintings never go perfectly. And that's OK. I took some photos of the process to correct a mistake in this large painting. The first image in this blog shows my initial sketch of the model. This is conte pencil on newsprint paper. In this drawing, I got the mouth and nose correct. In the middle of the painting, I stood back and looked long and hard. Also my classmates and the class instructor, Cornel Rubino, looked at it with a critical eye. We decided that the mouth and nose were wrong in the painting. The mouth was idealized and not a good representation of the models mouth. Sorry, I did not take of photo of how it looked then. So I examined the model's mouth and nose more closely and did a sketch. The model had a very large upper lip and a small lower lip. The second image shows this sketch. The nose is good, but the mouth is still wrong. Try, try again! Image three shows the second sketch of the mouth. This is it! So then, I painted the mouth and nose again. I also modified the edge of the face near the mouth. Image four shows a close up of the final mouth and nose. The final image above shows the scale of the final painting.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Size Matters

This is a painting I am calling Insolent Boy. I painted it at the Arrowmont School for Arts & Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN. I spent a week at Arrowmont in a class taught by Cornel Rubino. He was a great instructor: meeting each student where they were and encouraging them to advance on their artistic journey. It was a fabulous class where I painted very differently from anything I have done in the past. The class focused on large paintings; all the paintings were at least 7 feet tall. Each day of the week I completed a painting. On Monday I did a pastel drawing of two figures nine feet tall by four feet wide. Tuesday I completed a horizontal painting in acrylic of two figures 9 feet long. On Wednesday, I did a nine foot tall acrylic of a rock star. Then on Thursday and Friday I worked on the painting above. It is on two pieces of paper for a size of 7 feet square. I painted directly from a model. This painting took two days to complete using a ladder a lot of the time to reach the high places. This is about 3 layers of paint, though some areas like the lower right hand corner have only one layer. I allowed the paint to drip when it did it naturally. The photos above are in my studio in Charlotte. I had to re-arrange everything to get this painting up on the wall. I am still working to hang and photograph the other nine foot tall paintings.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Demonstrations on Black Paper

The above images were part of the Demonstrations exhibition. These drawings are all pastel on black paper. Sorry about the shine on the paper; I should use better paper.
Mike Watson wrote this as a gallery statement for the exhibit, so I thought I would share it with you.

The human figure has been the subject of drawings since prehistoric times. Figure drawing is an exercise in drawing the human body in its various shapes and positions. “Life drawing” is the process of drawing the human figure from observation of a live model. Figure drawing is arguably the most difficult subject an artist commonly encounters, and entire classes are dedicated to the subject. The human figure is one of the most enduring themes in the visual arts, and figure drawing can be applied to portraiture, cartooning and comic book illustration, sculpture, medical illustration, and other fields that use depictions of the human form. Figure drawing can be done very simply, as in gesture drawing, or in greater detail, using charcoal, pencil or other drawing tools. If pigment is used, the process may be called figure painting.

Figure drawing instruction is an element of most Fine Art and Illustration programs. Instructors specifically seek to avoid the sort of models preferred by fashion photographers, seeking more “realistic” examples and to avoid any implication of sexual objectification. Instructors often favor models of particular body types based on the unique contours or surface textures they provide. Life Drawing aids the artist in that it is one of the key methods of observation and seeing is a critical part of all art and design.

This exhibit focuses on the variety of techniques that instructors must ‘demo’ in the classroom setting. These pieces are intentionally incomplete, as their purpose is to instruct in the moment and they are not created to be viewed as a completed piece of art.
It is critical to show this type of work so that there is an understanding about the initial, principal, structure upon which all life drawing and for that matter all good design is based. The work is immediate, often taking only 10-20 minutes to create, although quick, these drawings and this method of instruction effectively, visually communicates the elements and principles of design to the students.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Drawing Five Progess during the Gallery Crawl

Last night I drew a lot on this drawing during the Southend Historic District Gallery Crawl. The Gallery Crawl happens every first Friday of the month. My studio is part of the Southend Gallery Crawl, but the NoDa (North Davidson) arts areas also participates. Mark your calendars, the next gallery crawl is Friday, September 4th.

It is a little distracting to draw with so many people around, but I enjoy the conversations that I have with people during the event. At one point in the evening, I put the drawing up on my desk so I could work on the shadow cast on the ground, the hands, and feet. So, I got a lot done on the lower part of the figure. I generally try not to let one part of the drawing get ahead of the rest. I usually work on the drawing evenly, not concentrating on one part over any other.

Drawing Five Started

Drawing five will be the second using the bent over figure. In this image, I have drawn the exterior contour line and begun the initial shadows. This pose is not so grim. The figure is looking up and also pressing up with her hands.

Draw Four Progress

I am close to being finished with drawing four. I am very happy with the face on this one. The reflection in the hair is nice and so is the expression. The pony tail looks good in this drawing. One of the challenges of this series has been the face being blocked by the arms or the rock. The partial face has been harder to get right as opposed to when the whole face is exposed. The shadow on the ground is turning out well. I wanted the shadow to appear large indicating that the rock is very close to the ground.

Drawing Four Started

When I first looked at the photos I gathered for this project, I did not expect to use the photos where the rock was on the models back. Now, in the middle of the project, I have re-examined these reference photos and decided to use them for the next two drawings. The weight is definitely getting the better of my figure now. All the problems of life are winning the battle. She is looking down, her mouth is open breathing hard, both hands are on the ground, and she is almost bent double her torso pushed down on top of her leg.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Drawing Three Finished - Return to Drawing Two

Here is a detail of drawing three which is 80% finished. Now I have returned to drawing two for a while to work on the face and specifically the eye.

I mentioned in my last post that I did this out of a fault: perfectionism. Why is this a faulty? I just wanted to get it right! Julia Cameron talks about this in the The Artist's Way. On perfectionism she says, "It is a loop - an obsessive, debilitating closed system that causes you to get stuck in the detail of what you are painting and to lose sight of the whole." Getting mired in the details is one of the weights faced by artists and me personally. If not identified and stopped it derails me in painting series and other areas of life. I've seen perfectionism cause students to fail out of school. They can't stop and turn the project in!

So, I allotted myself only so long this morning to redo the face on drawing two. Then I will move on. "A paintings is never finished. It simply stops in interesting places, " said Paul Gardner.

The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron, is one of my favorite books. After reading if the first time I made a plan to become a professional artist in three years. One year later, I launched in the world as a full time artist. The book is very powerful. Be careful if you read it!

Monday, August 3, 2009


Here are drawings two and three together in my studio. After taking this picture, I allowed perfectionism to raise its ugly head. I erased the face of drawing two! I was unhappy with the eyes and the spaces between the eyes and the nose and eye brow. Now I am re-working it. Hopefully, the new face on drawing two will be better than the old face. That is a big problem for me, knowing when to stop and when to continue working.

Drawing 3 Almost Complete

Work on the standing pose is going well. A few things are different from the first two poses. The hair in this drawing is lighter or more varied in value; the pony tail does not show; and the ears show for the first time. At this point in the drawing, I believe that the eyes are too small; the mouth is too large, and the face needs more shadows. So I will work on that tomorrow. I will darken the rock near the arms. I am very happy with the stomach and legs at this point.