Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Everyday Matters challenge: Musical Instrument

Here is some work that I think fits into the latest Everyday Matters Group drawing challenge. Like Jim, I have a few. I hope that's OK.

Here are various sketches of my son's cello teacher, Ben Myers. He's a professional with the Baltimore Symphony and is an excellent cellist.

Pencil on paper 9" x 12"

Pencil on paper 9" x 12"

Oil on canvas 8" x 10"

This is an oil sketch (another uncompleted painting) of Ben's brother-in-law. They play together in a trio with Ben's wife who plays piano. You can check out their wonderful music here: Gemini Piano Trio

Oil on canvas 20" x 24"

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Foreshortening and Golden Retrievers

Click to enlarge
What could this be about you ask? Well in the past two days the two subjects have come up separately on Laura's blog. So I thought I would combine the two and do a sketch of my dog Dusty using foreshortening as a main ingredient. As you can see from the humongous nose, I was right in his face. His nose just a few inches away from me. This is a common pose for us when I have a treat and he's patiently waiting for it.

Here is my thought on foreshortening: There is no such thing.

OK, let me explain. When I am drawing or painting something in a representational way (non-abstract) I try to completely focus on the shapes of color and value in front me, and how they all relate to each other. All of this is in an effort to disassociate any "labels" in my mind from my subject. Such as this is the eye, this is the ear, and so on. It's called "Right Brain" thinking. For more on the subject read "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards. (and no, I'm not her agent)

Using a term like "foreshortening" in your mind while you are drawing is just another hook into the left-brained world of labels and symbols for things. In the end, my drawing has the same effect, I just didn't think of it as foreshortening while I was doing it. I just compared distances between shapes I see in the drawing of Dusty's face to his actual face while I'm drawing it.

Now if you will excuse me, I'll try not to trip on the way down from my soap box. :o)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

And now for something completely different

I have been so busy commuting to and from work, being a dad and husband the past few days, I haven't had time to work on Captain Chris since Monday night. I hope to get back to it, and hopefully finish it this weekend. In the meantime, I thought I would share something I have been having fun with lately. Meeting Doodles!

At my day job I attend a lot of meetings. I just can't seem to keep my hand off my notepad while the meeting is going on. I'm paying attention to what's going on, but the doodles seem to find their way onto the page while I am talking/listening. Sometimes they are sketches of people in the room, and sometimes they are just made up.

But to make it more fun, I have started to scan my doodles into my Mac and then print them out on water color paper. The I go at them with water colors and a bush. You can enjoy a little series of them by
clicking here.

It's quick and satisfying.

Monday, May 23, 2005

It may be Monday, but I can pay bills tomorrow! Or Captain Chris: Session Three

I'm starting to add the darkest value now. A 50/50 mix of Transparent Oxide Red and Ultramarine Blue.

When I got up this morning, my plan was to balance my checkbook and pay bills when I got home from work tonight. But, I was really in the mood to get back to this portrait. So, I figure, hey, get up early tomorrow morning, get the kids off to school and then take an hour or so to deal with the financial details of life. I am fortunate to have a job that I don't have to show up to until 11:00 am at the latest (I'm in the news biz you know) show I can take the time in the morning.

So, before dinner tonight (have you noticed a food theme yet? Carolyn made an incredible salmmon stuffed with crabmeat) I spent a little time with the captain. Funny thing was, while I was working on this, the model called me on the phone. If you have read earlier posts, you know this portrait is of a neighbor who is a gifted 17-year-old. He called to tell me he just decided what college he would be attending. The funny thing is he knows nothing about this portrait. Hopefully it will make a nice graduation gift.

Anyway, here is the next session with "The Captain". I added more of the darkest values in the painting. A very warm "black" mixed from Transparent Oxide Red and Ultramarine Blue in equal amounts.

With any luck, in the next few days, you'll see some actual color hit the canvas. Once again, sorry about the glare. I have to find a better way to photograph work while it is still wet. If anyone has a suggestion, please post.

What a busy weekend!

My wife and I are doing a bit of remodeling to the house. I spent the weekend preparing the family room for a new floor. I removed the carpet, and screwed down the subfloor but got no painting done on Captain Chris's portrait. I hope to get some work in on it tonight. And there you have it, more reasons not to paint...

Friday, May 20, 2005

Captain Chris: Session two

The Roast Pork was great, but now it's time to get back to work. As I mentioned earlier, it was a crazy week at the office. We had to get a major presentation together and I put in some hours last Sunday getting ready for it. I have a great boss who gave me the day off today as a reward for my hard work. Down to the basement I go to get in some time painting.

So, on to the next step. Not a major one. Just starting to define the darkest values all around. I like where this is going, but I think I needed to add some more Cobalt Blue to the mix. The values aren't quite dark enough yet. But that's OK. I'm going to let this dry a bit and hit it again a little later this evening. Sorry about the glare. I'm shooting this in my basement studio and the lighting is far from optimal when it comes to photographing wet paint.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Captain Chris: Session One

Man, what a week. I had a crazy project at work which meant putting in some long hours. Thus, no blogging on my end. But, everything was done by noon today so I took off a little early. And my great boss gave me tomorow off too! I got home around 4:00 and decided it was a good day to continue this painting. (or start it rather) So, I went down to my little part of the basement, turned the lights on, fought the glare.(one day I will have a proper studio) Got situated, and proceeded to take this image from a pencil sketh to an oil painting. This is what I have come up so far:

Step One: Get a paper towel and rub some Transparent Oxide Red into the canvas. This one is 16" x 12". Then, you have to start "drawing" with the brush.

Step Two: Here, I am trying to put the right shpes in the right places. You have to compare everything at this stage, If you don't get the "drawing" right here, the rest of the painting will telegraph all the fundemental flaws.

Step Three: I'm just adding in more background value here. Getting ready for the next stage of the painting...

Ooops.... Dinnrer's ready. My wonderful wife has a pork roast in the oven that is ready to be devoured by a family of five. So, I gotta go...

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Let's move on... Next project

I think I am going to park the boys on the dock for a bit. I'm moving on to something that has recently caught my attention. A neighbor of mine has a seventeen-year-old high school senior that is a very creative individual. He is artistic and very involved in the Theater program at his high school.

He recently wrote, directed and starred in a play at the school in which he plays a pirate captain. I photographed the play and thought I might get a portrait out of it.

Tonight I produced the following pencil sketch:

Sketch for "Captain Chris" Pencil 12" x 9"

Next will come a color study or straight to an oil portrait. Check back in to see what happens...

Back at the easel

I worked at home yesterday. I didn't have any meetings at the office so I thought if I worked really hard and got my design work done I could spend the evening painting. The jokes on me. All I did was get three boards gessoed.

Well, I guess you have to start some place, huh?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

My latest project which I probably won't finish

I was really happy with the "Edisto Clouds" (see last post). I worked from a photograph I took while my family and I were on vacation in Edisto Beach, SC. So I thought I might try a small series from the same time. I started working on the following painting of a couple of boys down on the dock by the sound. I have had two sessions with it so far:

Session one: consisted of a block-in with a color that will serve as a base for the overall color scheme. In this case,Utra Marine Blue with a lot of mineral spirits to thin it out. I'm just trying to get the the drawing set up at this point.

Session two: is where I'm starting to lay in a little color every where and make corrections to the drawing. I also focused on putting in the dark values in the dock. I quickly realized I had a lot of drawing problems. I stopped working. I didn't lay in the dark values in the figures because that's where the inaccuracies of the drawing became the most apparent to me.

So this one has sat on the easel for several weeks without me touching it. I have to ask myself why. Perhaps it isn't the interesting image I thought it was. Is the focal point strong enough? If I haven't been compelled to keep going on it, so maybe it isn't.

I'm seriously considering slapping some gesso on this and putting it out of it's misery.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Not so recent past history

I was very interested in painting when I was in art school back in the 80's. But after graduation the need to make a living meant, if I wanted to at least stay in a related field, more graphic design than illustration and fine art. I had no idea how to go about making a living at that, and it wasn't something they taught you in school.

So for 15 years or so I focused on my career and family. Always wanting to pick up a brush, but always finding reasons not to. In 2002 I decided the best way to make myself paint was to maybe take a class at the local community college. I thought if I painted in calss, and someone was giving me assignments I would force my self to get back into it.

After six weeks of producing a lot of crap, I painted this picture of my twin children:

The Twins - Oil on canvas - 24" x 20"

They were about five years old here. Occasionaly they would still get out of their bed

s and want to sleep the way thay did when they were babies. At any rate, I thought it was an OK painting. Just OK. I was dissapointed that I had to do this from a photograph. To do the kind of painting I want to do, I need to work from life. I'll go into the reasons later.

Back to the timeline. A year or so went by and I let things slide. Always finding something else to do besides paint. So it was time for another class. I wanted to get better at drawing the figure from life so back to the community college I went. I actually had a pretty good teacher and I got a lot out of the class. Here are a couple of drawings that I produced at the time:

Female Nude - Pencil - 18" x 24"

Male Figure - Pencil - 18" x 24"

My Daughter Caitlin - Pencil - 9" x 12"

And then a big thing happened that changed the way I was looking at life. My mother died.

I had never had someone that close to me die before. When you lose someone in your immediate family circle it makes you realize how short our time on this earth is. And then it makes you question how you spend that time. So you would think that I would have gotten up every moring and started painting before I left for the office, huh? Or each night before going to bed?

Didn't happen. I dabbled here and there but nothing of any consequense magically came out of my brushes and landed on my canvases.

Two years went by and then it happened again. My wife's sister died at the very young age of 56 from cancer.

So now it's time to get serious. I have to make a living and raise my kids and try to get them through school and all that stuff. But I have to start devoting some time to this or before I know it, it will be too late.

My sister-in-law's funeral was on a Friday. The next day I woke up and started this painting:

Edisto Clouds - Oil on board 30" x 10" click to enlarge

I worked on it all day Saturday and all day Sunday. I had a few minor sessions with it in the following week, but the foundation was laid on those two days. The house was very quiet. We were all in a somber mood and I was left alone in the basement where I work. We had all retreated to different parts of the house to reflect or just try to absord what had happened.

I think my sister-in-law may have been with me helping out with this painting. I think it's the best thing I have done so far.

Friday, May 06, 2005

I'm new to this

Ok, so I work for a very large media company (that shall remain nameless). I am a web designer by day and spend my time creating and thinking about online journalism. But unlike the usual point of view on this topic, I am not an editor or reporter. I'm a graphic designer.

Lately, blogging has had an impact on the industry I work in. This blog is my way of discovering what this trend is all about and how it effects what's happening on the web. But I thought if I wanted to get the full impact of what the blogging experience is all about, I should take a more personal approach. So I am going to explore the other professional interest in my life.... painting.

Like many artists I know, we make our living in related fields that pay the bills, feed our families and get us through life. I'm no different. My creative passion has always centered around painting, but the requirements of life have tended to pull me in other directions.

BUT... as a 43-year-old-man, I have started to see enough of life to know that it isn't eternal. I have seen some friends and family pass from this earth and I am reminded (heavily) that our time on this planet is limited. It makes you question how you spend your time.

If I had my choice, I would paint everyday. But I have daily obligations... commute, work, commute... Bla, bla, bla....
I have realized, that I need to find/make the time to paint. Because time is running out.

I thought my struggle to find that time and my struggle to be proficient at my art might make an interesting blog, and be an experience that I can take back to my day-job in a fullfilling way.

We'll see what happens............