Saturday, March 28, 2015

Of Painting and Markers

Here is another.....
....from the arroyo series.  I didn't even know I had a series until uncovering this one lost in an old painting pile.  If you were to walk straight ahead under this little bridge you'd eventually come to the other two painting locations.  A lovely place with many memories.....

From that same town is one done late on a warm Spring evening sitting alone under a street light.  This is actually a repainting of the original plein air piece.  That one is owned by some friends:

Alamos Evening, 8x16

And for a change of pace.....

I was waiting with Noelle sitting in front of a Michael's and decided to drop in to look around.  They had some cool toned card stock in various sizes on sale.  Always on the look for better drawing instruments I stumbled on some white markers that work great.....and cheap.  I usually use either gouache or a Signo Uniball white pen for accents on toned paper, but these white markers looked enticing.

When I got home I made up some small 4.5 x 6.5 pocket sketchbooks for gouache, markers and whatever.  To try out my new toys I sat in our carport sketching the paint cans and tools cluttering things up from our current house project.  The white marks come from those Michael's markers.  Check them out.  I think they are only $1.99.

House Painting, abt 4x5

Small Sketchbooks and new white markers

Once again, Thanks For Looking and hanging around.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Gone With The Wind

 Our informal Portrait Group.....
.......meets every Thursday at Studio 12 during the rainy months.  We drag all sorts of people in off the streets to pose for us.  This woman runs a boutique here on the island next to Roby King Gallery.

I've been doing quick ones on 9 x12 Canson paper using oils.  Works great but the paper does make the paint sticky after a few minutes and blending is impossible.  Cheap, though, and I don't blend all that much anyway.  I think they call it 'tiling' the paint.

I give myself 45 minutes to an hour to do one of these so I've been able to jamb in four before our session ends.  Good practice.  Here is another in Raw Umber, white and some Ultramarine Blue mixed in for the intense darks.

The face portion is three times the size of the colored one and you'd think, because it's easier to paint larger, that it would have come out better.  Oh well.  Tomorrow is another day.  (Wasn't that the last line after 3 1/2 hours of watching Gone With The Wind?)

And another exploration of face color from two weeks ago.  Her I used Quinacridone Red, Cad Yellow Light, and Prussian Blue....and one of Daniel Corey's favorite simple palettes.   His blog is HERE.

Stern looking....but this was about color....and I like that.

Thanks for looking.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Jane Wallis Marker Drawings

Jane Wallis..... someone I have painted portraits next to for years in our small group.  She, and her husband Mel, taught art at one of our local colleges but have left formal teaching to do their own thing.  Their website is HERE.

We were at the PAWA (Plein Air Painters of Washington) winter event together.  She had left out her little sketchbook and I opened it to find these wonderful marker drawings.  Off handedly she said, "Oh, those.  Yeah, I've done them for years."

I said "So why didn't you write a book?  These are great!  I'm impressed!"

"Well....(she's from Oklahoma so drawl that out a bit)....because you've already written one."

"Aw, shucks, you betcha'."  (I'm from Minnesota.)

So she let me photo some of them with my iPhone.  I think they are about 4x5 inches.  I haven't talked to her about them yet but they obviously seem like studies in advance of paintings which would explain the grid work.  I begin with a black ink pen.  It appears she uses a light marker and then sculpts in, over and around her initial marks to pull out the form with darker tones.

I find them very painterly expressions which allow for soft edges and lots of textural elements.

You can see those initial marks pretty easily in this one, especially behind the large tree.

Of course, her strong drawing skills show through in each of them.   Knowing that little flicks of light and dark marks can make the illusion of a group of diners sitting at tables takes a bit of know-how.

There is some paint on the upper corner of this one so the grid must be for transferring the drawing to canvas.  I think I'm going to have to make a trip over to their place to get the real low-down on all this.

When I marker draw I begin with a fine tipped felt pen because I'm fascinated by line and how lost I can get in the flow of it going on the paper.  It also provides extra detail for later.  Jane's go the other direction, emphasizing form with less delineation.  Her paintings are soft expressions of exuberant but closely related color and evoke a lot of feeling when I see them.  I've never seen any of these drawings done as paintings.

I'll be reporting back.  In the meantime you might find her technique of interest.

Thanks for looking.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March Demo, 18x21

.....I love doing them.  For a while I thought it was 'showing off' but realized that it never felt like that because I'm seldom satisfied with the results.  It feels like my energy and visual acuity levels go up when I've got a bunch of people expecting something from me....and I like to make people happy.

I began with a ten or twelve minute marker drawing just to scope out the shapes of light and dark masses and get a composition.  It mimics, but doesn't attempt to accurately copy, what I'm looking at. And, while I'm at it, there is still a place left for my Marker sketching workshop on Saturday.  Go HERE for details.

Nancy seems to be my official photographer and took some photos of the process....about two hours.  For the painterly minded, I use mostly Rembrandt paints supplemented by Utrecht, Windsor and Newton and Gamblin where necessary.  You can see me using a large 'egbert' style brush during the blocking because I like the unpredictability of it.  The rest of the piece uses Silver Bristlon Flats in various sizes.  It was done on a masonite panel with three coats of Utrecht gesso applied with a roller and lightly sanded between coats.

Loosely sketching it in.
The 'egbert' establishing initial color and tone.

Competed blockin, moving to value and color adjustments.
Close to the end, just before the final adjustments and doodads.

Every time I think I am going to be more reserved in my color and looser in paint application, this kind of thing happens.  The first plein air painting I completed was at a week long workshop.  I spent the whole week working on it.  I knew I had gotten to the limit of my painting skills at that time.  The instructor, Ron Lukas, came around and, after staring at it a bit said, 'Well, you sure aren't afraid of color.' and walked away.  To this day I'm not sure if that was a compliment or a subtle suggestion.  Ron was like that.

Thanks for looking.  See you out and about.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Marker Sketching on Pi day

Marker Sketching....

.....simple to complex.  My Marker Workshop is this coming Saturday so I thought I'd get the juices flowing a bit.  There are two spots left if you can make it.  We always have a blast.  Don't worry about materials because for about $25 I can supply you with everything you need.  Find out more at the Winslow Art Center HERE.

Whether you draw something simple or more intricate, the magic of quickly creating the illusion of form on a blank page still happens.  In many ways the simpler forms are graphically more interesting plus much faster to create:

A simple form.

For those of you too far away to attend the workshop and watch a demo, here is a re-creation of how I did the 'Volks' sketch:

Beginning lines.  Got to start somewhere....

So how to begin?  I look for the simplest and most easily drawn part I can find that can also serve as a visual 'measuring stick'.  I didn't know how far to the right the roof line would go but was fairly confident about the vertical rear that came first.

The window fit itself in that space pretty well....but I looked carefully before committing to it.
Looking with care I noted how the shape of the window fit itself into the very first lines.  This is where the whole thing could have gone south on I looked and thought it through several times before going ahead.

Rear wheel made it....whew.
As the drawing built itself up it became faster and easier to draw.  I still had to look carefully before putting in this rear wheel.  I imaged what it would be on the paper and placed it in, doing the very rear fender first.  This completed my 'yardstick' for the rest of the drawing and everything else could be more easily judged from that.

By lining things up vertically and horizontally with what I had down, the car could be finished.

It made sense to complete the car before the background or front tree was drawn.  Notice how I made several mistakes on the driver side of the windshield.  I wasn't too concerned because it was fairly hidden behind the tree.

Completed drawing before adding the marker tones.

Drawing complete.  I couldn't get all the marker tones erased but you can get the idea.

Now for the markers.  This is where magic happens.  I can't show you the steps in adding the values but suffice to say that I use a 30% gray marker to separate all light struck areas from those in shadow (or dark).  I go over everything with that 30%, leaving the white paper just where I want to maintain the lightest light struck areas.

So.  There you go. situ.

If you work in markers I'd love to see your drawings.  Later this week I'll post some marker sketches of a friend that uses these tools in a different way.....and the drawings are beautiful.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Portrait Workshop, March 6,7,8th

This Message Made My Day.....
...........Darrell Anderson is my kinda instructor!!! I was just telling a friend how my portrait class with you provided me with strong technical concepts or approaches but more A MULTITUDE OF ONE LINERS THAT STUCK WITH ME TO THIS DAY! You I get as a person but better as an instructor! Have fun Darrell Anderson! "The beginning is the DIFFICULTY whereas the end just HAPPENS and will always be out of your control".... ME"

I try to teach in a way I'd like to be taught myself...but adapt it for each person's different style and skill level.  Admittedly it doesn't always happen just the way I'd like but after fifteen years of teaching art many of the instructional hiccups are worked out.

This coming weekend is your opportunity.  We cut off admissions for the portrait workshop on Wednesday.  Take a look and then contact the Winslow Art Center for more info: HERE.

What materials you choose are up to you.  Conte' with white charcoal pencil can make a beautifully expressive piece.

Gouache is simple to use and easily correctible and I love the way the colors work together.

 Watercolor either works....or not.  There doesn't seem to be an in-between but the luminosity of color is it's uniqueness.

And, of course, oils have the textural and sculptural qualities that make them so deeply expressive.  Here's another:

And, lastly, is simple paper and pencil.  I like it because it is a very direct and personal expression of both the artist and the subject.  

Unabashedly I'm trying to interest you in trying a weekend of portraiture.  This opportunity will come and go, and I likely won't be teaching another for at least a year.  I'd like you to come.

Contact the Winslow Art Center HERE for details.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Three From This Week

PAWA...... not the hip way to say 'power'.....  but it is the organization Plein Air Painters of Washington who had their winter get-together last Saturday.  We eat, we schmooze and we paint from models and still life.  If you are in Washington and paint outdoors you should join.  They are nice people.

These are paintings I did that day, the model in the morning and, not knowing what else to do, the still life right behind me in the afternoon.  Each took about two hours.

I had fun with both.  With 'Trudy' it was the cool colors bouncing into the shadowed side of her face against the sparkles of warmth from the spotlight.  In the still life I played with the steep angle of view as the setup was almost directly under me.

PAWA Still life, 20x20

By the way, my Portrait Workshop is next weekend.  We already have people coming but have room for a few more if you can make it.  Contact the Winslow Art Center (HERE) for more info and to sign up.  I'll post about this again in a day or two.

Two days ago a good friend invited me over to paint a little still life she had set least that's what got communicated to me.  So, expecting a simple little arrangement of maybe a few apples and a vase or something, I went over.  I painted.....and I picked the backlit spot just to make it more difficult. 

I had to go back.  Not only was it a bit of a challenge but the flowers kept moving all over and doing some jazzed up blossoming.  There was even one that completely vanished.  I don't know where it went....into hiding.  Tulips and daffodils do that.  I had to name the painting 'Blossom Blizzard'.....what else?

Blossom Blizzard, 15x18

Thursday, February 19, 2015

An Early Spring, 10x12

I don't remember where.....

.....I was originally headed.  Somewhere between the house and the car I saw this scene at the driveway turn around.  So much for what it was I was originally doing.

The linen that had once held yesterday's problem painting got re-purposed to do this one.  Rather than  canvas on board or stretchers, I've lately been taping pieces of loose cut linen or canvas or paper on plywood boards using packing tape.  I've seen Richard Schmid and John Crump doing the same thing and I liked the way they could just wipe off paint that got beyond the edge, recreating a sharp line around the piece.

This is what I did when in Italy last Fall and liked the way it worked.  As long as I had enough plywood boards to mount to, I could keep just ahead of the ones that were still drying before peeling off the tape.

And I used it Tuesday when I painted a patio scene in Nancy's garden....wiped it off....and today when it was portrait Thursday....and I'll likely wipe those two also.

About wiping off (which I've been doing a lot of lately).   It's easy to think what gets wiped off is  to me a bad painting.  When I was learning, my friends and can tell you that was the case.  It was the swearing that gave me away....  I should have wiped off more, actually.

Now it's about a painting not getting where I need it to go.  It might be technically fine but if it isn't saying something new or adding to my visual vocabulary, there's no reason for it to stick around.  It isn't exciting me.

As much as I liked the scene this painting of early blooms was almost a wipe off.  It turned back from that when I saw the cool light on the shadowed side of the large tree and then saw it again in the blooming shrub.  Not only did that add to making the forms but it set up a warm cool vibration for the eye.

Don't forget the upcoming Oil Painting Class, the Portrait Workshop and the Marker Workshop through the Winslow Art Center (HERE).   ....and the Italy trip in October.

Thanks for visiting.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Arroyo Footbridge, 9x12

Combining a plein air painting, a photo and my memory.....

.....brought this into existence.  It took all three; I wouldn't have attempted it from just a photo.

The painting source, done just around the corner in the same Sonoran arroyo, gave me the color notes.  The photo gave me the structural/shape information...but of course I changed some of that.  My memory brought forth the feeling of being there, the smells, the hot wind, the cool of the shade, the occasional passing kids and the fact that the photo didn't record the intensity of the glow under the bridge.  I kinda' like this one.

Plein air season is fast approaching.  Time to begin getting my gear ready.  What am I saying?'s always ready!

Check out my schedule of classes and workshops in a previous post HERE.

Thanks for checking in..... and here is the painting I drew color ideas from:

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Unexpected Quiet, 10x12

Only a block or two....

.....from a major shopping mall you can find this hidden sanctuary of quiet.  I missed until Rob Weiss told me about it.

The day was overcast and drab and I almost fell into the 'there's nothing to paint, go home' trap....but I went ahead despite the cold and gloom, tramping the painting gear down the trail.  I was still unconvinced but no sooner had I sketched it in than the sun lightened the sky long enough to let me get the essence of what was there.

This one really is just 'big shapes' and 'do-dads'.

Speaking of Shapes and Doo-dads, this is a good time to answer the question I frequently get: "What's the difference between Notan and Marker Drawing?"  That question has been bothering you, right?  So here you go.... I'm doing this so you can sleep at night.

Notan on the Left, Valued Markers on the Right

So here are 2x3 inch drawings done in each method.  While these are done from the painting it's the same method, but larger,  I'd use out in the field before committing to canvas or paper.

Both are design tools, used to accomplish the purpose of studying our world.  The information they provide is slightly different and they build on each other.

Notan gives quick immediate feedback on the overall dark and light pattern in a subject and, since drawing and painting are really just illusions about the effects of light, this is absolutely necessary information.  Light and Shadow/Dark have to be kept separate or there is no illusion of form.  Notans  are fast to do and re-do as you modify your design concepts.

Valued Marker Drawing is almost as fast as Notan however, where Notan gives a broad graphic definition, valued markers move things up a notch toward rendition to include some detail.  Here the detail of the sun bleached curved trunk focuses a point of interest lost in the Notan study.  Other do-dads, such as reeds, water reflections and tree shapes are also part of the overall design and feeling.

The Valued Marker Drawing only adds one more value if you disregard the black ink from the drawing.  It keeps the Notan structure but adds in more of the transitional values.  It's here I can make decisions, within the structure, of how to guide the eye.

I do both, but decidedly more valued marker drawing because when I wander the world I'm not always interested in the graphic structure in black and white.  Notan gives me intellectual information.  Valued Markers also let me have some fun.  I recommend you try both.

Having said that, I teach a Marker Drawing workshop on March 21st.  Mitch Albala teaches a Notan workshop in the beginning of May.  Check them out at the Winslow Art Center website HERE.

By the way, Gabor Svagrik has a good blog post on making progress with your painting when you are feeling artistically blocked.  Great advice.  I wish I had written it.  Find it HERE.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Classes, Workshops and Italy

Things come up so quickly.....

.....I'm lucky to make it to stuff it myself.....but I wanted to give a heads up on several events:

Painting to Your Next Level, Session 2, begins February 24th.  Class begins at 9:30 and runs until mid afternoon.  I leave at 1:30 but the studio is open for everyone in the class until 4:30.  Open to Oil, Gouache, Acrylic, Pastel....did I miss any?....and to all comers.

Portrait Intensive, March 6th, 7th and 8th.  Friday will be a demo and talk from 6:30 to 8:30.  I do this so participants will get full days worth of painting on Saturday and Sunday, which will run from 9:30 to 4:30.  Open to all media including good old paper and pencil.

Marker Workshop, March 21st, 9:30 to 4:00.  This is a fun course in how to use valued markers to quickly make sketches and studies.  Painless art instruction!  Beginners very welcome.  If you need supplies I can supply them at cost.

Italy Extravaganza.  Any time I go to Europe it's an extravaganza.....but in this case we will be drawing and painting the Italian landscape, cityscape, people or anything else that happens to get in our path.  The details are currently being hammered together for somewhere around the second week in October, 2015.   Pencil it in!

Information about all these classes, workshops or extravaganzas can be found by going to the website of the Winslow Art Center HERE.

Hope to see you in one of them, at least.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Thanks

'Grocery Run'
Wanted to post a 'Thank You'..... the recent flurry of people who have ordered my book 'Value Sketching With Markers'.  I think you'll enjoy what you pick up in the book, whether you are a sketcher or painter.  If you don't have one but are interested it's under the tab at the top of this page.

The drawing above I did yesterday coming home from grocery shopping.  It is just three values, white from the paper, plus a 30% and 60% grey marker.  I could have gone one more level darker in selected places but as it was it gave me the information I would need for a painting.  I contemplated accenting a few small bits around the larger house.  When in doubt, stop.

Here are two recent visual excursions.  These have all three marker values in them.  The point of drawing this way isn't to create a accurate rendition of what I see but to condense and move values around to simplify what is out there.  I makes for pleasing, more easily understood, artwork.

'Incoming Tide'

Still Life Study
When sketching outdoors I use 30%, 60% and 80% values of grey because there is generally so much light outside that the darker values get raised.  Indoors 30%, 70% and 90% seem to work best.....but it's your call.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Foggy Friday, 11x14

'Foggy Friday' is a continuation.....

......of the previous post, 'Estuary'.

This is the morning painting when the fog was just barely beginning to lift.  Rob Weiss was close to a finish about the time I began so his painting got the full Friday fog feeling.  (Alliteration....couldn't help doing it....)

Rob's painting, a similar view, is on his Facebook page HERE.  Scroll down and find the painting (he also just posted it on his blog HERE)....and notice the great painting he did for Black History Month while there.  Outstanding.

In this one the light in the sky was beginning to show more color as things progressed, doing a little color mirroring of the driftwood. That wood actually took most of my time.  So many little color shapes to balance.....

By the way, here is a shot of what happens when you put three thickly painted wet portraits (two of which I liked) in the back of your van next to a rolled up sleeping bag.  That bag had sat back there for months without moving a bit....until that day.  Every time I took a corner it removed a little more paint.

And I didn't even get a monoprint out of it.