Thursday, March 29, 2012

What Happened When I Forgot My Sketchbook.

I ordered art supplies that arrived yesterday and was excited to try them out during my morning coffee shop drawing tradition.  I packed my new 24-color Pelikan opaque watercolor set along with a beautiful new size 16, synthetic sable-haired brush.  I arrived at the coffee shop, opened my bag, and realized that I forgot my sketchbook.  Ugh.  Being resourceful I grabbed the local San Diego CityBeat magazine and opened it up.  I busted out the pen and started drawing.  There was something liberating and spontaneous about rendering on the newsprint.  I also enjoyed negotiating with the existing type and advertisements.  A good experience.

Raven Skull (Ball-point pen, marker, and watercolor on newsprint, 10x8.5").

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

How It Begins.

 The start of a new painting... pencil on gessoed illustration board (Crescent 100.3)...

If I work on canvas, I usually draw the contours with a brush and thinned oil mixture of transparent maroon and ultramarine.  But since illustration board is so conducive to pencil, I went with the more controllable medium.  One concern I have when painting over a pencil base is there can be a tendency to preserve the lines and hold them as sacred, resulting in a tight painting.  I'm going to make a concerted effort to use them as guides and make intuitive and spontaneous strokes.  Using larger brushes often helps with this effort.

Next step: oil.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Art: Rachelle.

Rachelle (Oil on gessoed illustration board, 7x7").

This was a good learning experience.  There were a dozen times I wanted to retire the painting, but I kept marching on.  At various stages, it felt too "comic-booky," with strong outlines for the eyes and other features. I felt that the drawing and values were strong, which left only one thing: edges.  So I went back and started to assess all of my edge work.  With a long haired sable brush, I softened edges.  I mixed transition colors and applied them between adjacent values that required an intermediate value step. And then I tried to notice the little things -- the small accents of color that informed shape.  Generally speaking, I'm pleased with how it turned out.  That last step -- taking a shape-and-value accurate painting and getting it to transcend into something nuanced, painterly, and emotional -- is difficult and something that can't be taught.  You just have to fight with it.  I'm still learning.  This was a good step.

It was also my first time painting on gessoed illustration board (Crescent 100.3).  I only applied one layer of gesso so I worried that the paint would soak in too quickly and I'd lose my wet-into-wet ability, but I never encountered that problem.  The other concern was that the surface would become slippery and paint would easily lift off, but that didn't come to fruition either.  I enjoyed the surface quite a bit -- more than Masonite.  I added texture to the surface when I applied the gesso, and some of that texture can be seen in the painting.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sketchbook: Skull Reliquary.

Skull Reliquary (Pencil in Moleskine, 3x6").

It can be easy for me to fall into a groove when visiting a museum where I gravitate towards artwork in my visual wheelhouse (i.e. strong draftsmanship, representational, etc), while briskly bypassing others.  It's not something I'm proud of, because a lot can be gleaned from art outside of my artistic Venn diagram.  As a result, I have a new edict where I try to spend time in front of pieces and genres I would normally ignore.  I was rewarded by my new-found effort when I encountered this Papua New Guinea skull reliquary sculpture in the Oceanic art section of San Francisco's De Young Museum.  It was an amazing piece.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sketchbook: Bull Vessel.

Bull Vessel From Elam (Opaque watercolor in Moleskine sketchbook, 5x8"). 

Went to the San Diego flea market last weekend and picked up an interesting book titled The Age of God-Kings.  I did this piece based on a photo from the book.  I started using opaque watercolors (a pan set made by Pelikan) and they work quite well in the Moleskine.  Its paper can be unforgiving to water media and frequently freckles, but the opaque watercolors give me a fighting chance.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sketchbook: Lumo.

Lumo (Watercolor and colored pencil in Moleskine sketchbook, 5x8").

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Art: Flamingo Skull

Flamingo Skull (Oil on wood, 20x20").

Saturday, March 03, 2012

Sketchbook: Angela.

Angela (Watercolor and gouache in Moleskine sketchbook, 4.5x8").