17 September 2011

Saturday workshop with Frank Eber

Today, I went to an all-day workshop at my local art store (Continental Art Supply, in Reseda--if you live in Los Angeles and don't know it, go there immediately!) with watercolor artist Frank Eber. His work is really gorgeous--I put his blog link in my "favorite blogs" list, but here it is as well: http://frankeber.wordpress.com/

It was an enjoyable yet extremely humbling experience for me. When I paint, it is very tightly, usually quite planned out, and I guess not very characteristic of watercolor technique. It is my own style, and I enjoy it, but I also want to expand and try other things, and I so love watercolor that actually reflects the medium in its beautiful slapdash-looking swashiness.

Frank works wet, layers his washes, and does just enough but no more to barely indicate what he's painting--a boat, a cow, a taxi, a tree--and yet when he's done, it is arresting, evocative, and looks exactly how he intended it to look. I know (because he said so and also because you can see it in his work) that he has pushed himself hard for years to achieve the ease with which he works; but we all want to think that we can do something once or twice and master it, don't we? Sadly...no.

This is the second of two paintings we worked on for the day. (The first one was too embarrassing to show, and I'm not thrilled with this one either, but this blog is about showing efforts as well as successes, so....) He had a great teaching method--he would demonstrate step one (a graduated wash, for instance), we would return to our desks and execute it, then he would show us step two, and we'd do it, and so on. It was an effective way of learning a lot of information in a short period of time. It was also interesting to watch the other students and see the 10 different renditions that originated from the same source material and instructions.

A well-spent Saturday.

15 September 2011

Another book painting

The Alex Awards are given every year by the American Library Association to 10 books written for adults that have special appeal for teens. One of 2009’s Alex Award-winners was Sharp Teeth, by Toby Barlow.

You hear the word “werewolf” these days, and if you are teen-friendly (or movie-savvy), your thoughts immediately jump to the Twilight franchise (Team Jacob). But that’s not this book at all. Although many of the characters in the book are lycanthropes—shapeshifters—it is not the most important part of the story. While it is significant that the characters are able to turn into wolf-dogs, the story is about so much more than physical identity. Set in the streets and hills of Los Angeles and roaming down into Mexico, it follows a meandering trail amongst such characters as a kindly dogcatcher, a battered wife, a pair of bridge-playing bully boys, a curious cop, and some distinctly unsavory drug dealers. It explores the complexities of loyalty, loss and love in a truly poetic fashion. And Sharp Teeth
is written in free verse, with a broad, epic feel to it reminiscent of Homer. I always hesitate to use the word “unique,” but I can’t think of another book like it. It’s dark and violent, humorous, sweet and touching.

I painted this because the teens in our high school book club chose it for next month's book; then we couldn't get it, so we had to choose something else. I'm hoping we read it later in the year.

This painting feels unfinished, but I'm not sure what else it needs. Background? spatter? more details? I may go back in and tweak it some more--I did it on a day I didn't have to be at work until noon, but the 11 a.m. deadline to get ready to go put a time limit on what I could accomplish. But I decided to go ahead and post it, and go back to it later with some distance.

11 September 2011

EDM Challenge #224: Draw a jug or pitcher

I collect odd pitchers, and I particularly like anything that fits in with my chosen decor, which is Arts and Crafts-inspired as to furniture, dishes, etc. I found this one in a junk store, and was captivated by it. It's made in Japan, and has the quirky personality that I like from many of the Japanese pottery wares from the 1940s and '50s. (I collect wall pockets from both American and Japanese potteries from that era--I'll paint one of those sometime soon!) I particularly like that it has a lid, so that if you don't use up all the milk or juice at breakfast, it can go right in the refrigerator; and that the little fruits are 3-D, like majolica. Also, the artist picked a color scheme, and then decided to throw in an extra color at the last minute when it came to the handle and knob, which is fun. I drew this first in pencil, then outlined in ink and painted in watercolor, on Canson XL watercolor paper, 140 lb.