Monday, December 29, 2014

Three Resolutions
 Prelim sketch-in-progress: Listening for Elves; 1895


 2014 was a different year for me art-wise. Rather than try goal-setting, which just makes me cranky, I just tried being a bit more organized, something I've stubbornly resisted in the past. It worked pretty well, because it bought me time. As a result, I learned more.
 Detail of a head-study sheet.

The addition of some structure carved out time to take workshops, get out and meet artists, and dig into social media for active study instead of aimless scrolling. And while my sketchbooks have always been used hard, I was able to expand that use, and man did I learn.
Preliminary sketch-in-progress for Lunatic.

I'm not much for resolutions either, but am caving in to three:  
Gonna keep a lid on my stubborn, keep to that bit of structure, and hope to keep learning in 2015.

Thanks for reading this, and for checking in now and then.

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Wilde Victorian Ghost
 Canterville Ghost sketch (detail)

This first sketch was meant to be pencil-only, thinking prelim, but I kind of got carried away with it. Been working on the next poster design which will be in the same manner as the previous three, complete with a detailed border. (You can see another at ) The Canterville Ghost--from the story by Oscar Wilde--will be the subject.
This is the ghost of Sir Simon (he's the somewhat humorous Canterville Ghost) in his rendition of "Jonas the Graveless, or the Corpse-Snatcher of Chertsey Barn". This is the whole sketch (already posted on Instagram). His awkward stance is not at all pleasing, and I'm still not settled on which of Sir Simon's disguises to feature, since all of them are gruesomely inspiring.

The back-story: I'd needed a new poster subject, and unfortunately had few ideas. But I had been mulling over the setting within a proscenium arch--or some such theater-like design for a border. Luckily, it being Christmastime and all, I had ghosts on the brain, and I recalled Wilde's wonderfully peculiar story. Sir Simon's spectre seemed a perfect fit for a stage-setting, as I love his melodramatic personality, penchant for disguises, and his creativity.
Another detail of the experimental sketch, which helped me with: 
The transparency of the ghost, the 15th century costume, a Victorian-style headstone (the ghost is 15th century, but he's trying to scare a Victorian family), and some other props, including the sexton's spade and a lantern.  

Next up, lots more sketches and thumbnails, crammed into the spaces between all the Christmas preparations. I'll post them after the 25th.

In the meantime, thanks for the visit. Hope your Holidays are merry, bright, and a bit haunted!

Monday, December 15, 2014

In the Bleak Midwinter

Winterabend in Fischerhude. Otto Modersohn.

Winter stirs me up, especially winter as a subject in art. And the bleaker the better!
When I saw this painting for the first time, I became an instant fan of Modersohn. It didn't hurt that he included a lonely house with orange light in the window either--also a subject of which I am enamored.

Modersohn was a co-founder of the Worpswede School
along with Heinrich Vogeler--another artist whose work has influenced me!

 Here's Modersohn ca. 1884, coming weirdly out of a dust cloud.

And another, contemporary painter of bleak winter scenes...

...Andy Fletcher. 
He knows how to paint bleak. He knows how to paint period.
Check out his works here:

and thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Value Study and A Goblin-in-Process
Value Goblin.

The photo above shows my latest project-in-process; The Cupboard Goblin. With every artwork I hope to learn more of course--and definitely appreciate that learning. 

Value control, among many art concepts, has been one of those goblins that have historically vexed me. I've always had to work hard at achieving the right amount of contrast in my illustrations, but lately have come to realize that, in part, it's the incredibly bright light I work under that has thrown me. Can't change the fact of that light-need, so some help was required.
I've gleaned many tips to help me (with this and a crowd of other art-goblins). Some have come from books, but most have been gifts from other artists.  One that helps me with value is to Photoshop-change the color work to black and white in order to check if the value range is working.
But by far the best, and fastest, value-check-tip was given to me by my friend, the artist Ruth Fiege--this red filter. A quick peek through it is usually all I need to keep me on the right value-track. Thanks Ruth!
And then there is the absolute bargain of learning from the internet, and blogs by artists remain a staple. While waking up with coffee, I check out blogs. The artist Katherine Thomas recently posted about the value of "The Extra Hour" spent when you think your work might be finished. Before reading that, I might have contemplated my work for a bit, or futzed with it until I was satisfied, but now I'm giving it a set time period. 
Somehow, committing
to a specific time period gives me the discipline I needed to truly study whether or not the work is complete. While I may spend more than a hour in the finish, I'm working hard not to spend any less than that hour studying the piece. And it's truly helping. Thanks Katherine!

Be sure to visit Ruth Fiege's site and Katherine Thomas' blog

Until next time, thanks for reading my post--hope you found it valuable!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Old Witch, Part Two
Hello again!
In the previous post I showed the prelims for the border (above is a detail of the stonework at the top)...

 ...but I hadn't shown my source for the border design. So here it is, snagged from a Dover clip art book. It's a lot of fun to let something like this generate fresh imagery!

When the design was all planned and sketched onto multiple layers of bum wad, I placed them onto my light table ( ) for tracing onto a sheet of 140 lb watercolor paper. Cold press is my choice most often. I chose a human femur for her cane, just for the subtle malevolence...
...and went over the pencil lines with pen, brush, and india ink.
I limited my palette to five colors--raw umber, burnt sienna, cadmium red, cerulean, and
ultramarine-- basically the primaries (a yellow, two reds, and two blues). Here's a preliminary wash of raw umber and cerulean over the pen work.
Building up the layers, bit by bit.
The obligatory and over-used hand-and-brush shot...
...and a detail of the peeping scribe at the bottom of the border. I love hand lettering! Finding a font, nudging, changing, and embellishing it, and then adding the paint results in a particularly pleasurable feeling.
Here's the staged shot of the final art with materials and reference props.
The poster--one of a series--will be available in 2015.

Thanks for following up on this--hope you enjoyed the process!

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