Friday, February 23, 2007

Friday, Feb. 23, 2007

Just a sketch done in my sketchbook and then painted with my Derwent Inktense ink pencils. Thinking about possibly making it a regular painting sometime. Maybe just put blocks of color behind her and the flower like a vague fenceline that ends so there is lighter color behind her hair, which would be dark.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007 - More Portrait Sketches

I did another portrait sketch based on Michael R. Britton's Art Academy newsletters - this was in the April 2006 newsletter( showing the figure lying down and foreshortened. He did his version in watercolor and showed how he placed a rectangle around the head to get the placement right.
I did the same thing when drawing mine so I'd have an idea where everything went - it did help a lot. Then just erase the lines of the rectangle and shade in your parts and go. This is graphite on Strathmore drawing paper about 9" x 11"

And the day wouldn't be complete without another nose - so here you go.... :)

Monday, Feb. 19, 2007 - Collage Work

Today in class we all took bits and pieces of old paintings in - put them in a pile in the center of the table and everyone took what they needed to create their collages. I'm not sure anyone was thrilled with their outcome and I know I wasn't because I didn't really plan it - just started slapping the bg paper on and then the center berries. So there is no real rhyme or reason to this and my fingers are covered in acrylic matte medium and they are sticky even though I've washed my hands several times since coming home. Oh, well, art isn't always fun. This is supposed to be pyracantha berries and leaves - one of the monthly projects for February at WatercolorWorkshop, a Yahoo group, was to do a painting of pyracantha. Since this is watercolor torn up into collage pieces and glued together, it counts, I guess.

The temperature got up to 45F today - a heat wave after much of last week. When I got out of the car today it sounded like our house was melting - drip drip drip down the eaves and gutters full of ice. Interesting - what would you do if you came home and found out your house was melting? :)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Sunday, Feb. 18, 2007 - Year of the Fire Pig

Today is Losar, the Tibetan New Year! The Year of the Fire Pig.

I believe both of these little sketches/paintings are from previous WeekendDrawingEvents at WetCanvas ( so they were from the Image Library, I'm sure - I don't think I've ever taken a photo of a pig in my life - although piglets are cute, in a pigly sort of way :)

This last one came from a photo also from WetCanvas (by ladybuglane and called Singing Pig) - just testing out my Inktense watersoluble ink pencils in my sketchbook.

Saturday, Feb. 17, 2007 - More Snow + Noses

Well, more snow today - all day long and into tomorrow so I'll be staying in - again. But now I have my new supplies to play with!

Did test the colors by laying down dry color and wetting it - they are intense colors - the bright sunny colors make me want to be somewhere warm and sunny and bright...

Sorry, the top colors are shaded by the sketchbook but the colors are: Sun Yellow, Tangerine, Poppy Red, Fuchia, Sea Blue, Teal Green, Apple Green, Leaf Green, Deep Indigo, Baked Earth, Bark and Ink Black. Makes me think of the Bahamas...

Also went back to my How to Draw Lifelike Portraits from Photographs book by Lee Hammond and studied noses.

And then pulled up Michael R. Britton's May 2005 Art Academy newsletter and read Understanding the Nose. Hammond talks about making a grid for the features to get them placed right but also says the face should actually be measured like this:

The nose is measured from the bridge, between the eyes DOWN to underneath the nostrils - and distance is EQUAL to the distance from the bottom of the chin UP to the nostrils.

Britton says placing the nose right and getting it right is the most important way to start a portrait - it is the classical method of portrait drawing, which is centuries old. He says dividing the face into thirds (as we are often taught) is just a general rule and you really need to get past that to draw accurate portraits because some people have long noses, some have short - some have long chins and some have short = makes sense, yes? Also, by thinking that the placement of the eyes is the starting point and putting those eyes 1/2 way between the top of the head and the chin, you start out with an incorrect drawing and it just gets worse as you go along.

So, working with the information from Hammon and Britton, I used the grid system (1 inch blocks to place over the photo you're using and then 1 inch blocks on your sketch paper to transfer the image accurately), I did 2 more noses.

Don't you think the side view looks sad, or anguished?

Friday, Feb. 16 - Art Supplies

In the last 2 days I received 3 orders from Daniel Smith (, Dick Blick (, and Cheap Joe's ( for art supplies! It's like a holiday around here opening boxes and sorting out the things - all purchased with gift certificates I received for Christmas or birthday in December and January :) What fun!

Now I know you artists will want to know what I got - a set of Inktense pencils which I've been wanting to try, a smaller, more compact travel bag to carry back and forth to class (the large Pittman I had was killing me because I was carrying everything in there!). I also got an Arches travel journal, a sketch and wash pencil, some tortillons for blending pencil and charcoal sketches. And best = a new palette from Cheap Joe's from Homee - it's watertight and blue with a large white mixing area inside and it fits in the bottom of my new travel bag. Whoo-eeeee!!! Now if that doesn't inspire you to create, what will? My new bag is sitting on top of a new Jasper tray (a plastic tray like a porcelain butcher tray - but plastic), and a new Arches coldpress 140# block of watercolor paper - 10" x 14"

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Thursday, Feb. 15 - Ice Storm

Yesterday we got hit with snow, sleet, freezing rain, and
over everything at least 1 inch thick.

Beautiful but deadly with power outages and broken limbs coming down on houses, cars, roadways. Luckily we didn't have to go outside at all and today looks the same with temperatures not getting above 20F so it won't melt.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2007 - Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day. Today I hope you have someone special in your life - or spend some quality time doing something you love to do, making yourself your Valentine. Never forget to care for yourself and for other's in your life.

Here's the Valentine's card I made for my Sweetie, Jerry, from a photo I set up of my coffee cup and two Dove chocolates.

"The need for love lies at the very foundation of human existence."
His Holiness, the Dalai Lama

Monday, February 12, 2007

Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2007 - Green Hat

Well, yesterday's class wasn't a total bust. I did finish the Green Hat painting and I'm pleased with a lot of it and I think it looks more like a watercolor than most things I paint.

Today, I'll be working on a Valentine's card for my Sweetie and staying in away from the snow, sleet and freezing rain that's outside today.

Monday, Feb. 12, 2007 - Eyes

In class today I showed the 3 horrible portraits I've been trying of the redhaired girl. I've really been doing lousy work on these. I worked more on the first portrait of the redhaired girl with the dreadlocks. Sandy helped me with the nose (laying down masking tape to reshape the area, she had me lift out and blot and lift out and blot until I got back to almost white paper there and a better shape - but she just couldn't get through to me how to do the eyes so she finally just did a study for me of eyes and I watched very carefully and knew what she was doing and then did my own set beneath her set and - yuck! Oh's a difficult learning process to get the features right but I will learn.

Then I finally just gave up, gave Sandy the painting and told her to "have at it!" and she did lift some whites, shape some things better, work on the eyes - so whatever is good about this portrait belongs to Sandy Maudlin, not me. And I will keep this portrait was started by me - but made to look more human by Sandy Maudlin :)

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Sunday, Feb. 11, 2007 - Surprise from a Friend

Yesterday I received a surprise in the mail. I thought it was a mistake. I got two boxes from One was an order I placed - one wasn't. Hmmm...reading the insert, I found out it was billed to my friend, Ron Ray! He had sent me a book on drawing by John Ruskin titled, The Elements of Drawing.

Thank you, Ron! What a sweet surprise for this old broad who's been grumpy for days!

And this gift makes me think about connections. Many people say the internet is a time-waster, a mess, full of junk. That's true. But it's also a way for we humans to make connections to other humans we normally would never come in contact with in our lifetimes. We can talk and chat and share - anything from a recipe to a sob story or our love of painting or tango dancing. What a world we live in!

And I got my Border's gift certificate at the birthday celebration last night + a gift certificate coming from for more art supplies :) I am a happy girl!

Saturday, Feb. 10, 2007 - An Artist's Way of Seeing

I finished reading a lovely book today by Mary Whyte called, An Artist's Way of Seeing. Mary is one of my favorite watercolor artists. She lives and paints in South Carolina, and also teaches - oh I'd love to be her student for a few months! I recommend this book - it's written like an artist paints, full of wonderful descriptive passages and it contains some of her wonderful portraits of the Gullah people of South Carolina.

I also recommend her book called, Watercolor for the Serious Beginner, not only for her technique and style explained but for her wonderful paintings inside the book.

Tonight we're going to Jenny's house for the get-together for all those in the family with birthdays in January and February (Moe, Donal, Fritz, me). If I get what I asked for I will be spending some more time in Border's Bookstore buying art books and mysteries and sipping White Chocolate Mocha coffees (they have shaved white chocolate on the top - yum).

"Mixing color on the palette is like watching butterflies come to life." --- Mary Wyte

Friday, Feb. 9, 2007 - Sixteen Little Red Noses...

Well, I've done two more portraits of the redhaired girl - both horrid. So I'm not sharing them. Instead will share the studies I've done in my sketchbook.

A few decades ago there was a silly man who wrote silly songs. His name was Jim Stafford. He still performs in Branson, Missouri. These studies reminded me of one of his songs titled, Sixteen Little Red Noses and a Horse That Sweats." The song had nothing to do with either the number 16 or noses or a sweating horse but instead was a blues song that went:

"My wife ran off with the garbage man.
My wife ran off with the garbage man.
Now I don't miss that woman
But somebody's got to empty my cans."

My sketch has nothing to do with red noses - but maybe the cold temperature for days and days had made me think of red noses!

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2007 - Green Hat Started

We are digging out of 6.5 inches of snow this morning! The worst snowstorm we've had in years but it's a light, fluffy, almost dry snow so not heavy - just don't know where to put it when you're shoveling out the drive and cars! The watercolor society meeting was cancelled so we don't have to go out today so we'll just be snowed in for a while. It's great to be retired.

Here's the second sketch and portrait I started in class Monday - the sketch is on newsprint and the wc portrait is on Fabriano Artistico coldpress paper. I wish I hadn't made the hair so dark and stiff looking but kept the whole painting very loose and free. Live and learn.

The photo was done by a WetCanvas member, yabby.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Monday, February 5, 2007

Here's the sketch I did for the preliminary work for the watercolor portrait to be done in class today. I transferred the sketch (just the line drawing) to the watercolor paper and started from there. I did two so I could put one painting aside while working on the other - this helps me not overwork one sometimes.

Sorry for the wrinkles - this is on newsprint - 11 x 14 paper.

What I liked about this photo is the red dreadlocks on the girl, so will focus more on that than an absolute likeness.

The photo was taken by a WetCanvas member called jocelynsart and she called it Extentions.

And here is the beginning watercolor needs work - I really messed up the nose and the eyes need more work so still more to come...

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Some practice sketches from the new book Jerry bought for my birthday (How to Draw Lifelike Portraits from Photographs by Lee Hammond). This is just to work on shading shapes before going into portraits. I've also begun a portrait on large newsprint paper - 11 x 14 - for class Monday but not finished yet - just the bare bones. Had a house full of people today as Jerry hosted a photography workshop here to share some of his still life/black box techniques and 17 members of the TriState Photography group showed up for it. It was a great success :)

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Two sketches from a photo taken by Jerry when we were in Belize last June. This man, a native Mayan from the Blue River Village, was called "Old Pedro" (he was probably about 45 or 50). He took Jerry on a nature trek up a mountain to a cave. I didn't go :)
Old Pedro had a nice face and you could tell he was well acquainted with smiling.

Jerry's photo is below. I think I captured Pedro's smile and smile lines better in the first sketch. But I didn't get the angle of the upturned head at all in the second sketch - it was hard to make the nostrils as large as I see them in the photo. I've found that I'm doing these quickly, as a sit and watch tv at the same time - and I think I need to really focus and work on these in my art room away from other distractions - and maybe measure distances on the photo vs the sketch as I go - maybe time to work larger, too. As much as I love my little Exacompta 9921 sketchbook, it's just a bit small at 5 1/2" x 8" and I could use a bit more room. So those are my excuses and time to stop making them and get serious - larger paper, more measuring and working at getting the features right - or just make generic people which is what I think a lot of artists do - you never see the photo of the person they are working on, do you? Just the finished painting.