27 June 2015

Recent miscellany

Anarda and I and the teens went on our Sketchcrawl around Burbank on Tuesday morning, so here are a few of my drawings…not the best I've ever done, and not quite finished in some instances, but considering I was simultaneously in charge of 22 teenagers and THEIR sketching experience…

This was a hard one--Anarda commented later that it probably wasn't the best place to start our sketch crawl, but it was first on the route.

I started doing a color demo for the teens with my teeny tiny Altoids tin palette of colors, but we got moved on by some electrical workers who needed to open up a panel in the sidewalk right under where we were sitting, so I had to finish this one later.

Didn't quite get the scale of this right--wanted to fit the entire marquee into my page. Oh well…

This one wasn't a great likeness, but I was so intrigued by the morning light reproducing the giant shadow of the palm tree on the white wall that I did a (rare for me) pencil sketch. I'd like to paint this sometime and do it justice. I took a reference photo just in case.

Later that same week...

I had lunch yesterday afternoon at LEMONADE in Studio City, and came away with a drawing of…Granville. Well, I was on the patio at Lemonade and Granville was directly across the street. Doesn't seem fair that there's no drawing of the place I actually lunched. I guess I'll have to lunch at Granville next time and draw Lemonade!

The tower is kind of tipsy, because I was so focused on the lettering that I drew the tower in segments around it afterwards, but since I was a bit tipsy myself the last time I was at Granville, it seems only fitting.

The color palette on the restaurant was kind of boring to paint--all browns, grays, and blacks. Lemonade will be more fun!

And now…back to Every Day in June, before it becomes July! I'll post something later…

If you would like to see some of the kids' drawings from the sketchcrawl, you can go to the library's Facebook page for teens: Burbank Public Library Teen Page.

21 June 2015

EDiJ: "Wash"

For EDiJ "Wash," I found a photograph of some laundry hung out on one of those circular washing lines. I've always wanted to have one of those. I don't know why they are so much more alluring than the two poles with lines strung between them that I have in my own back yard--maybe it's because they spin, and the clothes seem like they can enjoy a carousel ride while drying.

Anyway, I was going to do the usual for the Every Day in June challenge, which was to draw the scene as accurately as possible with my pen, and then watercolor it. But I have lately found myself becoming bored by that routine. I'm not a big fan of drawing, first of all--I'm all about the painting--so I get impatient sometimes and short-change the drawing in order to jump into the COLOR. So this time I decided I'd go backwards and do the exact opposite. Some Facebook artist friends work that way, and I have thought of trying it myself.

I went to the art store yesterday to pick up some supplies for an event at work, and indulged myself with some Micron pens in colors--blue, red, sepia. So I decided to paint this "freehand" first, in basic blocks of color, and then go back in with the pens to define the details and have a little fun.

Painting without drawing first made me have to pay more attention to the negative space, particularly the whites. Since the clotheslines are white, I had to paint around them with the green background or the colors of the clothes. I wasn't too successful in some instances, but I figured the pen would save all, afterwards.

So here is the rough painting…

And here it is after the addition of the pen detailing.

Conclusion? I don't think I have the knack of this yet--some parts are overworked while others aren't detailed enough--but it could be something fun to play with until I do!

20 June 2015

EDiJ: Fashion

The prompt of "fashion" didn't really inspire me--I'm not a trendy person--so I started looking through my "reference photos" file to see if anything provoked an idea. Nope. But when I switched over to Family Photos, there was Mom, at age 33, with the one really extreme hairdo she ever went for--a marcel wave. It was such a departure for her that I decided it should be memorialized, and that fashion could encompass hair as well, so I did a close portrait of her, taken from this photo of the three of us.

I had to extrapolate colors, since the photo was black and white, but she loved pink so the pink and green figured dress was a natural assumption. The big boatneck on the dress is also a fashion statement--Mom was always stylin'.

Portraits are tough. The essential thing to capture is the most difficult--the expression and sparkle in the eyes. I didn't quite get it here--she looks a little more static and not as lively as she did in the photo. But I think the likeness is fairly good.

19 June 2015

Teen Sketch Crawl

One of the things we decided to do with our teens at the library this summer is keep a sketchbook. So we did a sketch journaling workshop to give them ideas about what kind of sketchbook to get (or make), what kinds of tools they might like to use, and what kinds of things they could draw in the sketchbooks once they started. I made a page on our teen blog that covered the same sorts of things, for those who weren't able to attend the workshop.

The second part of this journey is to go on a sketch crawl! We're having a "meet-up" on Tuesday morning, and walking around downtown Burbank for about two hours to draw. In anticipation of that, Anarda and I went out yesterday to walk the route, scout out picturesque possibilities, and decide on our stopping points. We did a couple of 15-minute drawings at each location to see what we could accomplish in that division of time.

Here is one drawing I did, of the front of a business called, appropriately, The Story Tavern. This is just a detail of the top part of its facade. I didn't finish the stained glass part--Anarda was strict with me about stopping when the timer went off, just as the teens will have to do. Another of the reasons to do some actual drawings is to have examples for the teens. I only had time to do the basic drawing at the stop…

…but I then made notes on the backside of my paper as to what colors were present, so I could go back afterwards and…

…add some watercolor at home.

I also wanted to show them that their efforts didn't need to be perfect (I messed up the American flag! notice that I skipped a stripe), and that they didn't even have to follow their notes if they had better ideas (I made the lantern a rusty green color and changed the stained glass colors to green, blue and purple). The purpose of this sketchbook is to record where they were, what they saw, and give them a trigger memory.

I think it's going to be a blast! I'll report back.

EDiJ: Transportation

I have been so busy with (and therefore so exhausted by) Teen Summer Reading that I haven't done too much sketching or painting lately, but the prompt "transportation" came up at the same time that a FB artist I follow went to Cuba and posted a bunch of wonderful photos of his trip, so I used one of his wife with an old American car (the use of which abounds in Havana) as inspiration for this painting. I know that our technology is better, and it's good these gas guzzlers are off the road here…but one could wish that American cars still had this level of pizzazz.

This is from James Richards's photo, and the model on the left is Patti Grogan Richards. I'm afraid I slighted my attention to her somewhat, since the car was the star of this painting! I think she will forgive me…

07 June 2015

Every day in whatever month this is...

I dropped the ball with Every Day in May because of the painting for Daryl, but then discovered Every Day in June, so I've been giving those a shot, rather sporadically. I haven't shared anything here lately, so here are a few in a row:

"Shell game"—because I'm feeling snail-like in my progress!

"Music"—another view of the jukebox

"Clean sweep"—a quick 5-minute sketch while waiting at the car dealership

"Be Seated"—at the Americana at Brand, still waiting for the car. I was drawn to all the pattern!

"In the garden"

I sat on a chair on my lawn and stared straight up at this while drawing it, and then had to wait 10 minutes for my eyes to adjust to the light before I could paint!

29 May 2015

Commission! Part II

The evening of the day I finished the drawing, I couldn't resist going in with a few washes and colors, working for about an hour more, and then went to bed. Boy, was I sorry the next morning, when I saw that the color choices that looked good in low artificial light were not quite the right tints in the light of day! So I spent some time correcting those, and then took the painting object by object, moving around to let one part dry while I worked on another. This is a big painting for me, with a lot of detail, kind of ambitious. About four hours in, I thought I was going to have to scrap the whole thing--it looked like a giant paint by numbers disaster. But…I have felt that way before and pulled it off, so I kept going, hoping my commitment wasn't misplaced.

I took a lunch break, and then painted for a few more hours, until I just couldn't sit in the chair any longer. I was mostly done with the objects, but still needed to introduce some darks, and to put in all the shadows underneath the objects. That had to wait for tomorrow--I made some dinner and binge-watched Dexter season 2 for the evening.

Next day, I did all that, and then it was time for the background. And...I froze. I usually start with the background, but this time I thought it was important to see everything finished before choosing what atmosphere to give it. But after all this work, what if I chose the wrong one and ruined the whole thing? My first idea was a plain smooth wash of some neutral color, but then I thought, it's Steampunk, it's Victorian, why not do something daring?

I consulted a few artist friends about my striped wallpaper idea, and everybody said go for it, but they also wisely said, Test it on another piece of paper and hold it up to the painting to see if it works! Smart friends. So I found a cool vine pattern, I painted a series of wide and narrow stripes in peach and burgundy, and then put the vine in, and…it looked terrible with the picture. Also, the tape bled along the edges, the vine was surprisingly hard to paint, and I was done with tedious and fiddly. So I went back to the wash idea. I then made washes in about eight colors. I hated them all. And at this point it was 2:00 in the morning, and I had to get up at 6:30 for work, so I delayed the decision again.

Tonight I went poking through my paintbox and found a tube of Daniel Smith Shadow Violet. It's a beautiful dark smoky purple, but transparent and granular, with a weird kind of turquoise after-image. I did a sample swatch and decided that was the one. So I did the wash.

My paper must have had uneven sizing on it (or oily handprints--it was the top sheet of a new pad of paper), because it soaked up the color on half of the background, got splotchy in the middle, and the other side was three shades lighter with the paint sitting on the surface! So I resolutely turned my back and walked away (almost impossible for a "messer" like me), waited for it to dry, and then went back in with another two layers on that part.

Before I did the wash, though, I did one final touch-up and had a little bit of fun. One of the book covers had gold lettering on a deep blue-green cover, and the title wasn't reading at all, once I painted around (or tried to paint around) the gold with the blue. So I got out some metallic gold Twinkling shiny paint and went in with that to make the letters sparkle a little, the way they do on some book covers that use foil on raised type. Then I thought, why not move the sparkle around the page? So I put tiny hints and touches of it on the gauge, the goggles, a few little strokes on the bubbler box and the candlestick. Very subtle, but there will be a sparkle when light hits it.

Then I thought, Oh, what the hell, and I gave the skull a gold front tooth. Hey, it's Steampunk, maybe he was a sky pirate.

Here is my finished painting--a combination of the real (the candlestick was my mother's, the books were from my shelf, although with different titles), with the stand-ins (gourd for skull, box and toilet paper tubes for the bubbler, vase for the beaker, my reading glasses for the goggles), and the two-dimensional models from the internet (photos of the goggles, the skull, the pressure valve and tubing). You can click on it to see it bigger.

The paint did a really cool thing, all on its own--that cloudy part coming up from the candle, like someone had just blown it out and there was smoke? That was completely accidental. What are the chances?

This painting is larger than I have worked for a long while (18x24), is drawn with pencil to make it more realistic, and is probably a lot more complex and involved than Daryl ever expected (I think he figured on a pen sketch with some watercolor detail, which is the kind of thing I have given others of our friends), but I don't regret it--this was a great challenge, albeit an exhausting, tear-out-your-hair one. Thanks, Daryl, for helping me to push myself. I hope you like your painting!

As it happens, Daryl is leaving his part-time gig at Burbank Public Library to become a full-time librarian at Los Angeles Public Library, and TODAY was his last day--so this also serves as a going-away gift!