11 December 2018

Still Life

I decided yesterday that today I would paint a "real" painting, that is, using actual watercolor paper instead of working in my sketchbook, and with a subject from life. As it happens, I was at the market while having these thoughts, so I picked up a few pieces of fruit that only show themselves around December so I could arrange a still life. I had just been watching Brenda Swenson's contour drawing lesson on YouTube, which featured a few persimmons, and I have always liked her negative paintings of pomegranates as well, so I combined those and added in a lovely pale yellow pear.

I did this as a mostly continuous line drawing while on the fruit; but once I started doing the leaf pattern on the plate, things got tricky, and I ended up lifting my pen quite a bit. Still, the overall drawing has the wonky feeling of continuous contour.

Today I decided to break out the "good" paints as well; I used my designer collection of Paul Jackson paints made by DaVinci. The features I like best about them are their creaminess and intensity of color; and some of them granulate really beautifully as well. I've noticed that they do take a little longer to dry than those in my other paint palette, which is weird, because more than half of those are M. Graham, which have honey in their ingredients list and therefore should stay damp longer. I'll have to ask Paul about that.

Black uniball pen on 140 lb. Fluid watercolor paper, Jackson watercolors, Escoda paintbrushes.

09 December 2018

Facebook header

I wanted something doodly to do while waiting on hold with the phone company the other day, so I made myself another Facebook header. I apparently made it a little deeper than the other one, which fit perfectly, because a tiny bit of this one is being cut off. This is quite similar to the Yule card I made for one of my Sketchbook Skool recipients, because I ended up liking the theme of Yule symbols from nature, but I just realized I forgot the most important one—the Yule log! Oh, well...

Uniball Vision fine-tip black pen, watercolor.

I wonder if there is a market out there for custom-illustrated Facebook page "covers" for people and businesses?

05 December 2018

Yule cards

One of the artifacts of the Sketchbook Skool experience (that is even more popular since SketchKon brought some of us together) is that they organized a holiday card exchange, wherein you get five or six names to whom you send cards for the holidays, and receive some in return. You aren't supposed to share them until after people have received them, but all mine have been mailed, and none of those people follow my blog (so far as I am aware), so I'm going to go ahead and post them.

The theme was supposed to be JOY, and though that word is a good one, when it comes to religious overtones it has a bad vibe for me. Back when I was a juvenile fundamentalist, some masochistic individual in my parents' church decided that JOY was an acronym for "Jesus-Others-Yourself." That hierarchy haunted me for many unproductive and self-effacing years. So when it came up for this prompt, I decided to turn joy into joyous, and follow it up with yule, with which no one seems to have a problem even though it's pagan and not Christian, mainly because all it brings to mind is a nice cozy fire. (The "yule" was also prompted by my first idea for a card, which was, naturally, a pun.)

These card "designs" were a good exercise in lack of planning for me. Some people got really elaborate, but I decided that I would allow these to be spontaneous and unique, and I would do them as and when I found time. I did prioritize the three that were going out of state, and did the ones closer to home a little later.

Here is one that I couldn't resist for my new penpal in Australia:

This one below went to Salzburg, Austria (each of those trees was made with one continuous pen line)...

And this one to Victoria BC, Canada.

This one went to Tacoma, Washington...

This one to Marietta, Georgia...

And this one, fulfilling the obvious cliché, to Los Gatos, California!

I hope all the recipients enjoyed them as much as I did making them. I did fancy envelopes too, but neglected to scan them, because they featured people's full names and addresses and I didn't think that would be appropriate. But they know who they are!

01 December 2018

Urban signage

I decided to take a break from working on my next lecture for class yesterday afternoon and head to the Encino-Tarzana branch of the Los Angeles Public Library to look it over. I usually go to the West Valley Regional Branch, but I stopped there on Tuesday to check out something to read and was underwhelmed by their offerings.

I also had an ulterior motive in mind; usually, libraries are good places to practice your urban sketching of people, because they are so focused on whatever they are doing—reading, working at the computer, or just looking fixedly at their phones—that they are easy to draw, staying in one position for prolonged periods, and sufficiently engaged that they don't notice you staring at them as people sometimes do in a café. So I brought along my Moleskine and a uniball.

Alas, it was not to be: The moment I walked in, I was approached by a woman who used to be a regular patron at Burbank and who recognized me from there; she wanted to reassure herself that she wasn't going crazy and that I did indeed work at Burbank. I mumbled that I used to, and tried to disengage, but she kept the conversation going with observations about the paltry nature of LAPL's branches, the superiority of the Burbank Public Library, etc., and then tried to ascertain why I was there—did I live nearby? I wasn't going to answer THAT, so I politely excused myself and headed over to the teen section for refuge.

I decided, as I usually do when visiting a teen section at an unknown library, to take photos, in case I want to share them with students later on. I took three of the collection, and then turned to the seating/computer section to take one more, but was informed loudly by a man sitting in the section that he didn't consent to me taking his photo. I explained that I wasn't even looking at him, I just wanted a photo of the space, so he looked down and covered his face with both hands, I snapped the photo, and I thought everything was good.

When I left the library 20 minutes later, the man followed me out to my car to tell me that it wasn't cool for me to take pictures of him without asking his permission. I explained that it was a public place so he should have every expectation of his likeness being saved, by security cameras if by nothing else, and he retaliated by whipping a pencil and piece of paper from his pocket to write down my license plate number. Yeah, good luck with that. I guess quitting my library job still wasn't sufficient to get away from the "eccentric" people who apparently inhabit every branch in Los Angeles.

Anyway, I still wanted to sketch, so I paid careful attention on the way home and spotted this vintage liquor store sign. I found a parking place in a large lot across the street and managed to do 95 percent of the drawing before someone decided to sit behind me and honk their horn to let me know they were expecting me to move and give them my space, even though I had given no sign of leaving. I didn't; and they eventually gave up and went away, not without roundly cursing me out through their window. Sometimes it seems like a high price to pay to get in a little sketching that is intended to be relaxing and creative!

Here is the sign, positively larded with neon. It must be a fun one after dark.
Uniball, Moleskine journal.

25 November 2018

Virtual meet-up

Some of the people who came to SketchKon proposed a virtual "meet-up" tonight between 4-6 Pacific time (most of them are back east or central, so later for them) to try our hands at painting Pasadena City Hall again, this time from photos. I decided I was game, and found a photo from high up in the Westin Hotel when we were there for the weekend. Here is the photo:

I decided to stick with my current theme of continuous-line contour, which means drawing everything you can without lifting the pen from the paper. It makes for some interesting empty spaces in whatever drawing you are doing—City Hall looks like a castle in the sky. I made the contour drawing, and then tried to capture those yummy sunset colors from the photo.

I am enjoying revisiting continuous line contour—it lets you be free to be wonky without worrying too much about perspective (or anything else). This was fun, we'll have to do it again!

24 November 2018

Back to basics

For some reason I am having a hard time jumpstarting my drawing and painting habits lately, so today, following the example of some people from SketchKon who are newly enthralled with Brenda Swenson's continuous-line pen drawings, I decided to go back to basics. I took myself out to breakfast after my chiropractor appointment this morning, and did a couple of china-and-cutlery drawings while waiting for the food to come, and then drew my English muffin
with jam.

When I got home, I watercolored them, and then decided to try an experiment in a completely different style from my usual. This drawing is also continuous line—I didn't lift the pen once—but the doodley nature of it makes it easier to hide the crossovers and weird places where you get stuck and have to back up on a line to get to the next bit. This one was big fun—I think I'll try some more!

Thanksgiving recipe

This is my new go-to vegetable recipe for big gatherings, so I decided to turn it into art:

It again proved popular this year, except for the mushroom-haters in my family. But even they have to agree that it's better than the infamous mushroom-soup-canned-beans-french-fried-onions sacrilege. I hear the howls of outrage from all of you who love that, but I'll bet it's all just a nostalgia thing and if you tasted my haricots verts you would give it up forever!

Uniball pen, watercolor, all done with the scent of carmelizing onions pervading the room!