Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Kitchen Project - Sort Of

Pen and watercolour on scrap photocopy paper.

As part of the Sketch Book Skool online course I took recently, Tommy Kane did a meticulous drawing of his kitchen. He literally spent 4 or 5 hours sketching, cross hatching, painting and coloured penciling a view of his kitchen. Then he challenged the students to do the same. He argued that, even if you do not normally work slowly and meticulously, the practice even 2 or 3 times per year will have beneficial effects on anyone's art.

I have been meaning to do this exercise but have not made time to really commit. As I sat during a recent violin lesson, I decided to try a view of Claude's kitchen. All I had was the back of a photocopied ferry itinerary form a recent trip to Galiano so I used what was at hand. You can see the print coming through and when I tried to add some colour, it was clear that would be a mess. Generally, I'm not much of a cross hatching fan. It is far too detailed and time consuming for my sensibility. But having done this quick little version on the spot, I thought I should revisit Tommy's lesson, belly up to the kitchen counter and give it a shot on decent paper.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Animals from Real Life - Maplewood Farm

These renderings of ducks, sheep and goats are not nearly as "successful" as some of the other drawings I have done. But somehow they are so much more evocative and poignant than paintings done from random photos found online. It is a very personal thing. I can picture the ducks floating around the mucky pond at Maplewood Farm, as legions of tiny children passed behind my bench and quacked their greetings at the green headed mallards. Or the feeling of a tiny goat, nibbling at my bag through the fence as I stood drawing his brothers and sisters, is still fresh in my mind as I look at the crude pen drawings  of ears, horns and heads. Artists I admire say it all the time. Nothing beats the plein air experience.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Shallow Rooster

I drew this rooster from a photo I found on the internet. It is a perfectly fine painting in watercolour, pen and coloured pencil. But somehow the whole thing is lacking soul. I did not even take the photo so I have no connection to this perky rooster. I had no memorable experience as I drew. I have no idea what the context of the photo was. This was a fine practice exercise, but I have more feeling about the work I have done in situ, even if the final "result" was "worse". I think I  need to get over to Maplewood Farm tomorrow and find some chickens in the flesh.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Rooster with a mutant puffin beak. 

 These last two were done in a hand sized accordion book, on paper that was super absorbent. It was like painting on paper towel so I had to work fast! It was fun but I missed being able to mix paint on the paper. This might be the beginning of a rooster series. But I'm not announcing that.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

More in the Fern Series, And an Interloper

And a Gate Crasher
Celebrating a Messy Page
Hart's Tongue Fern

Trying to get to 7 in a series, just because. The original idea was a series of 7 ferns. It seems that the theme has morphed more into the green and orange colour scheme. Interesting to see where the final two in the series will go.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Canadian Grown Papaya

Okay, I admit it. Canadian Grown Papaya. That's a lie. But as I look at the yellow poppies, butter cup, tree peony and dandelions in my garden, to say nothing of the riot of green foliage, I feel like my surroundings are are the same rain soaked palette as this tropical beauty.

Ferns 2 - And Thoughts of Abandonment

This is number 2 in the fern series. It was a case of having a brilliant idea that I was unable to execute. I wanted to catch the strange perspective of looking down on the uncurling fronds as well as show the darkness of the soil under the plant. After watching Tommy Kane's Sketch Book Skool video, I decided to follow his example and never abandon a drawing or painting. There is a discipline in sticking with something and there is always something to be learned. The coloured pencil helped this a bit and I like the orange underpainting. And the overall colour scheme is nice enough.  I got lost in all of the funny shapes and then impatiently started putting colour in without really looking. The dark paint got too opaque and was sloppily put into the circular gaps at the base of the frond and stem. The learning? Be more patient and keep looking.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Questing for a Series

I heard on a TED Talk that if you publicly state what you plan to do, you are less likely to do it because the brain subconsciously ticks the plan off the list in your head. By proclaiming the plan, the brain is fooled into thinking the task has been completed. So here I go again, blithely ignoring popular psychology and crowing about another grand plan.

Series 1: Ferns
1. Work in a series of 7, in this case, 7 pages.
2. Finish every drawing you start. No abandoning duds.
3. Draw daily. I'm already pretty good at  this one.
4. Make notes. i.e. learn some facts, in this case botanical notes. Check.
5. Leave something to continue the next day. Leave a starting hook. Oops
6. Vary the media or style. Watercolour, pen, coloured pencil. Yup
7. Stop making rules and get drawing.

It's 9:30 on Day 2. Time to get drawing. I think Roz actually meant 9:30 am but now is always a good time to start sketching.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Guest Artist

My Daughter's Artwork
What says Happy Mother's Day more than a hand painted card, hugs and a beautiful breakfast on an artfully set table? I have two fab daughters and I feel loved. It is a very happy Mother's Day for me. I am blessed!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Night Sketching at Trillium Park

The girls are learning to drive so practice hours behind the wheel is key. Tonight's destination was Trillium Field downtown for the Sunday night soccer game. As chief driving instructor, I found myself with an hour to spare while they played soccer on a chilly evening that felt more like October than May. The light rain on my paper turned my night sky to speckly star filled. I used Roz's trick of pulling paint straight from the pan onto the page to get a lovely intense dark with my water brush. 

Of Cones and Learning Something New

It seems that every time I see another sketchbook artist's work, I get a new idea. I've been doing Danny Gregory's Sketchbook Skool and have been very inspired this week by Roz Stendahl's meticulous journals. The words prolific and zany come to mind. She really is an artistic force to be reckoned with. So after seeing all of her notes alongside her paintings and drawings, I thought annotating my own work might be a good way to learn a few new things. I really like to write on my journal entries anyway so why not expand my mind at the same time. Here is my brief cone study after a walk in the neighbourhood.