Sunday, March 12, 2006

Warm and Cool Pigments


I have felt like a received a most enlightened lesson this week. Awhile back one of the members of the "artworkbooks" yahoo group spoke about Jeanne Dobie's book "Making Color Sing". I have read about it before on Bruce MacEvoy's great website Handprint but Bruce hammer's away at the "old school" who espouses the use of fugitive pigments like Rose Madder Genuine and Alizarin Crimson or Aureolin. I liked his review of her book but since she used these pigments I thought it wasn't worth the time- how wrong I was. Her palette discussion is just one of a treasure load of excellent color theory lessons.

One of which rang so true and made so much sense was on warm and cool pigments in your palette. I always thought of colors by hue and chroma. I didn't think that there were inherent characteristics that prejudged the outcome of mixtures. Like mixing French Ultramarine blue (FU) and Cadmium Yellow (CY). I always got mud from this combination but didn't understand why- FU gave beautiful violets when mixed with Permanent Rose (PR) why did it fail at creating green. One reason is that CY has a little red in it as well as FU and when combined it gave a orange bias to the mix which cancels the blue. Therefore a better choice would to use a cool yellow like Winsor Yellow or Hansa Yellow Light and a cool blue like cobalt blue or even better- phthalo blue which bends a little towards the green and makes better greens. Well, there are many other such discoveries that I made that I am questioning my current palette even more. Pigments such as Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber are pigments made from 3 pure pigments. Jeanne makes a great case against such "impure" pigments; by using more pure pigments you have a greater chance of getting more exciting mixes. I'll have to experiment a bit and we'll see, but I feel my next uses of color will be more informed. I am a little unsure I have to throw all of the earth pigments out- as they provide such a easy way of creating deep browns and grays- but I will be a little more educated as I continue painting.

One other quick discovery is the spare use of opaques which I've always agreed on but never understood why. Using an opaque with another opaque creates dull and unmanageable mixtures. Although I haven't done many experiments with the Opaque Triad- I could see her point. Whenever I've used two opaques the mixture was hard to work with - even frustrating.

Great discoveries.

Not Traspassing!

No kidding- this is the sign that for many years hung on our neighbors fence next to our office. It was one of those things that brought a quick smile each time you saw it no matter how many times you saw it.

Recently the owner passed away and his kids have been cleaning up the dump. Somehow it will be extremely sad if all of this great sketching material was carted away. It gives a certain ambience that enhances the "artistic" presence of an architectural office in the industrial west side of Salt Lake.

I sketched this beauty on my lunch hour Friday.


Sketching at Church


Something good to eat


I was featured on last week- on the drawing and sketching blog Helen South writes.

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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Yellow and Blue don't always make Green

Here is some color testing I did of Green. I am not yet finished as I want to see how Cad Yellow and Pthalo Green mix when glazed over. I have more success in mixing green (or shall I say I like the mixes better) when mixing P.G. with Quinacridone Gold. The various mixes with Q.G. are quite lovely.

Cad Yellow and the various blues I used failed to really impress me with the outcome except maybe for Cerulean Blue and Cad Yellow.



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Grotesque Profile


My copy after Da Vinci's sketch - J. Herbin ink with Bamboo pen

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Triad Color Studies




Tonight I went through three color triads I carry in my 12 well travel palette. The Opaque Triad, The Old Master's Triad, and the standard color triad (with a few handicaps). On future sketches I am going to try painting with these palettes (with the exception of the standard as I already paint this way) to understand the color relationships and also the potential of using fairly limited color palette. I really like some of the color relationships that are possible- -I really like how some of the opaque colors mix rather flatly yet dynamically- I also like the combination of Burnt Sienna and Payne's gray - they really are a great combination.

I also have come to a conclusion that I don't like using the cadmium colors (I use Cad Yellow and Cad Red Scarlet)- They tend to take over the mixes - which is a change since usually the yellow paints I've used in the past have been kind of wimpy (I wish I could find the perfect mixing yellow- any suggestions out there?). I also like the transparency of the watercolor not necessarily the opaqueness from some colors. I like the Opaque palette but Indian Red is another hard color to use but I really like the color triad- I will experiment more-much to discover.

Does anyone have any good suggestions on harmonizing a color palette? What to look for? Good tips? etc.

Having fun with an abandoned sketch


Here was a sketch that could have possibly been abandoned when the person I was sketching moved on. I ended up embellishing his hairs into Babylonian locks.

I also have been experimenting with mixing color right on the page especially with flesh colors. Adding a bit of permanent rose into a wet area of flesh color adds some life- maybe not like Charles Reid but I really like the unpredictable nature of mixing on the page and the strong colors it creates.

Sketching my little girls



Here are some sketches I made Friday night - there were quick. I've yet to get their likeness just right- it is hard to get their features just right when they always move. sigh... I guess I keep trying.

Mimi's curls get a little out of control on the upper right hand sketch- oh well, I got carried away.

Bert Dodson in his book "Keys to Drawing" says that restating lines are to be consistently used to gain confidence and skill- but I'm not sure if it adds authenticity or just screws up the sketch.

Oh, and I finished up this first handmade sketch journal I made last summer- (I've begun to use the new sketch journal I made in January). Approximately 81 sketch pages I drew- It was a lot of fun and this sketchbook seemed more special than any I had before made. It seemed like the first sketchbook really. I have really grown with each sketch I made and they seem so alive to me. They have their own life and look unique from anyone else's. I haven't worried that they aren't perfect drawings but have been concentrating on trying to convey the emotions I felt at the time. This is a goal I don't know if I will ever attain but desire to communicate my thoughts and feelings into these quick records of my life in a way a skilled writer uses words.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Color Study Journal


Here is the first page of my color study journal. It is the present state of my watercolor palette. I have been zeroing in on a color palette for the last two years and I have somewhat settled of late. This entry shows that I have recently switched out three colors. I am dumping cobalt blue as it is so close in hue to ultramarine blue- although cobalt blue makes better purples I use Ultramarine blue and burnt sienna quite a bit; I'm exchanging CB for my off and on love affair with Payne's gray. I also changed over to Carmine instead of Permanent Rose- I thought it might be a better magenta red. And I changed out my winsor newton Cerulean Blue to a Daniel Smith Cerulean Blue. Daniel Smith's is more cooler than WN's - I am having some grief with this change as I like WN's cerulean blue hue better.

The main reason to make these changes as I am trying to maximize my watercolor's palette's ability to carry at least three color triads. A standard (Ultramarine blue, Carmine and Cad Yellow); an opaque palette (Cerulean Blue, Indian Red and Yellow Ochre); and the old Master's palette (Payne's Gray, Burnt Sienna and Yellow Ochre). Plus a personal bias towards earth tones (my love affair with landscapes) using Quinacridone Gold, and Burnt Umber in addition to the other earth tones already mentioned. I carry a warm red (Cad Red Scarlet), and a mixing green (Pthalo Green). The Pthalo green is so intensely powerful that I usually overuse it. I'm also having grief with Indian Red as it is also incredibly powerful and almost too opaque and muddy. But I am determined to use it until I understand it better.

This journal is made up with alternating pages of Fabriano hot press and cold press papers as to see the effects of color on each paper type (you can see from the image above that I duplicated the study to see the effects of the paint on the paper- hot press on the left and cold press on the right). I will mainly use this journal to record my color experimentations. I found that the color studies I made in my other journal get separated in all the day to day recordings and I find when I need to reference back to these studies that it isn't close at hand- therefore the need to maintain a separate journal.

My new Figure Study Journal



Here are the first three pages of my new figure study journal. One of the three new journals I made as a goal for 2006. This journal is the hardest to pick up as I am so intimidated by sketching people. Especially if the sketches don't either look like the people you sketch or they make them look wacked, fat or just flat disgusting. Jenny, my dear wife, was upset at me at the sketch I did of her. The profile of her face (full stretched out) is off and makes her look as if her face was smashed; and to top it off the detail of her face made her look fat- and that almost got me a night on the couch ;-). Oh well, I'm no Monet and my family are the unfortunate victims of my education. [hopefully you can read through my hyperbole- my wife and family are very supportive- Jenny is just waiting for me to be able to draw her as beautiful as we really see her].

Self portraits are fun- and you can do almost any bizarre pose.

Sketching Felines


Here are two of our four rambunctious cats. Tiger, our only male- and mitzi - our 6 month old female. Sketching cats on the move is somehow less intimidating than people. Although you may not get their features quite right they still look somewhat like cats.

Sketching from Memory


Sketching from memory is a real drag. It usually means that my subject either moved or else I ran out of time before I needed to move on. As it sometimes goes that when people notice you drawing them they either get uncomfortable themselves and fidget and move around and I lose their pose- like this sketch; or they start exchanging glances at you wondering what the heck you are doing--- either stalking them if you have a conspicuous sized sketchbook and they don't see you sketching or if they realize they're being sketched they will not know what to do and become uncomfortable.

Instead of stopping and moving on to another subject I tried to finish the sketch and created this unfortunate drawing. I know there are some artists who are so good at sketching the human figure that they only need a few critical features before they have the whole likeness. Artists who can multi-task like this when sketching is a skill I desire to attain. Gesture drawings look at making a 30 sec - 1 minute drawing as effective as possible.

Memory, Observation and Blindness


This was a study using three sketching techniques that Bert Dodson sets out in his classic book "Keys to Drawing". I sketched a banana from memory, the next on observation and the last as a blind contour. The observation and blind contour is by far the most interesting. It is interesting to note that sketching from memory usually entails borrowing figurative metaphors from my cognitive side which usually screws up everything. When I depend on symbols and memory my drawings suffer greatly.

Winter Sketching


Winter can be so bleak but I am always so excited to see all the beautiful trees loose their leaves and I am able to see their naked frames. Trees can have the most beautiful structures. To think when spring comes that thousands of little leaves will find their way beautifying this graceful beauty once more.

This drawing/sketch seemed a little two-dimensional because I spent so much time given texture to the tree that I didn't spend much time on value and light study. Interesting nonetheless.

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Sketching in Church



Here am I enjoying my time listening [maybe enjoying drawing a little bit more ;)] to the speakers at Sacrament Meeting at two separate times. I find that as I am sketching people that I really need to observe keenly so I can get a satisfying sketch. Usually I rush because people are moving too quickly and I really stink at capturing people on the move. These drawings focus on either other Ward members listening intently or sleeping.

One of my serious goals is to study and understand figure drawing. I really want to excel at gesture studies like Sketchcrawl creator- Enrico Casarosa

A New Direction

As much fun it is to post these drawings - it seems to take a lot of time to spend scanning, proofing, editing, and posting to the internet .... etc. etc. than I find I have time to do. Mostly I find that I am able to do this on Sunday evenings as the family is winding down and myself as well.

So....I think I will take a new direction at posting only on the weekends so I can feasibly take the time and not feel forced to do something I actually enjoy. If not I don't find myself posting at all. Actually, I am drawing quite a bit lately- meeting and exceeding my 2006 goals I set. So Tonight I present the sketches I have produced over past couple of weeks....

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Nostalgia & Technology


Last Weekend I took my three kids (11, 5 and 2) to the BYU Museum of Art to find some sketching material. I planned ahead and brought their sketch books, crayons, coloring books etc. to get them in the mood as well. The MOA had a exhibit called "Nostalgia and Technology" which was a historical look at industrial design or daily ephemera that our parents and grandparents would use day to day. These items were truly works of art. Well, the plan worked at first and I was able to get two sketches done - about 45 minutes until they started to loose it. I put away the sketchbooks and decided to wander through the other exhibits.

I have found that 1 1/2 hours is max for a museum visit for this curious "touchy feely" group. As soon as they got climbing on sculpture (yikes!!!!) and touching a Andy Warhol "Marilyn" and the visiting Maynard Dixson pieces I knew it was time to take a quick exit before security kicked us out with a resounding "do not come back".

Next time I might try the Bean Museum of natural history-- stuffed taxidermy would make great sketch subjects without raining security on top of us. Oh well, they all told their red-faced dad that "it was really fun" and when could we go back again? I had to think on this one a little more carefully.

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2006 Goals


Members of the EDM group have been talking about art goals for 2006 and I have thought about what I wanted to do this year as well.

1. Two drawings per week (would love to move up to daily sketching- but I have yet to prove it to myself- so I will set a realistic goal).
2. Make three sketchbooks- my next sketchbook, a sketchbook just for color studies, and a sketchbook for figure sketching/painting.
3. Redesign web log- with the intent to get a Wordpress site up and going.

When I first started to pick up my sketchbook frequently again (back in 2000) I struggled with the idea of "making time". I finally found out late 2003 that if I could make my sketchbook small and light and get a sketching kit that I could take everywhere I go I could finally make the time. The time being found in the found times in between everything else in our busy life. It started to work and I not only began to improve and enjoy myself as I would hope but I found that I wanted to do more.

Soon I found like-minded people on the web and got inspired by all of the great work they were doing and found that this little sketchbook I was carrying around with me was actual a graphic journal. I have really taken strongly to this idea and found that I didn't need to create large gallery type pieces of art- my art was a take along in progress work in the form of my sketchbook.

I have enjoyed sketching but found I was disappointed in the sketchbooks available and the watercolor sketchbooks were too expensive and too large for my needs. I decided to make a sketchbook which at first became a spiral bound book of bristol paper then I quickly went to arches hot press water color paper. Then last spring I was inspired by others on the web to make my own hand stitched watercolor sketchbook. Now after 50 sketch pages later I am about to finish and begin another. This last sketchbook has already became a treasured piece that has my little children always asking to see what I've done new. The sketches and paintings of my kids have become favorites and they always look at them and talk about what I've done. I can see now it will become an important heirloom to our children and their future posterity. It could be considered art by others but now it is too precious to us as a family heirloom.

Since 2004 I have made five spiral bound sketchbooks (my first attempts) and I'm just finishing up filling my first hand stitched hardbound Fabriano 140# Hot Press sketchbook. Part of my goals this year is to make three more sketchbooks (already accomplished) - I now need to concentrate on sketching daily (eventually) without sacrificing my family, church and professional responsibilities. I have found that sketching has been an incredible boost to my sanity and helping me maintain a personal creative output (and really a more happy person as well). Whenever I have felt down and focusing on the problems at hand I have stopped sketching- I then have to pull myself up by the bootstraps and begin again- it is easy once I start but that inner critic tells my I can't and shouldn't. Sketching is truly great therapy.

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