Sunday, October 30, 2011

A life drawing from a museum mount

A bit more practice working from life--well, the poor animal is dead and stuffed.  Took a bit of a break before hitting the painting table in earnest and wandered around the Museum of Nature and Science before settling on this fellow.  I had drawn this specimen many times before as an art student.  Glad it is still in the museum.

I like to use watercolor in this inexpensive sketchbook.  The paper wrinkles up but the washy color goes onto this particular paper with a soothing flow.  In fact, the whole experience was soothing and without pressure.

I was inspired to do some more sketching from life after I came across Matteo Grilli's amazing watercolors in his blog.  Check it out--you won't be sorry.
What do you think--remarkable works, no?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Amulets, talismans, and stuff to hang around your neck

 Was throwing away a box of old papers and came across this sketch, probably done 20 years ago.  All the hanging sorcerer/witch/troll things really appealed then, and still do now I suppose.

I'm pretty sure I know why.  I remember coming across this illustration by John Bauer when I was in tenth grade.  It still blows me away.  And I remember most the amulet and stuff hanging from the troll. And then Brian Froud brought amulet-wearing creatures to a further genius-level in his books and images drawn for the movie The Dark Crystal. My hunt for things like that has gone on for years.

 Amulets, talismans, and hangy-pendant-things are real sources of creative fire-ups for me.  Not being a person who wears them or indulges in any sorcery or that sort of thing, I don't know much about their meaning.  But I've always liked to draw them and occasionally I make them.  I collect them too, since I am kind of a compulsive collector.  But I only collect the ones that seem to have a life or soul that twitches that of my own. The bunch above hangs from a nail in the wall of my studio. Well, the cross in the upper left hangs around my neck most of the time.

 This one I found in a drawer in a dingy junk shop.  The Steyning Athletic Club was founded in 1951 and still exists today in Surry, England.

 The old Auberge Du Coucou medal has the address embossed on the back: 9 Rue Danielle Casanova, Paris. The amazing ceramic bird pendant I bought from SpiritedEarth on Etsy.

This is a two-sided cross. Another discovery in a very cool antique store years ago.  One side depicts St. Francis of Assisi, the other St. Anthony of Padua.  Two of my favorite saints.

As a little kid I had read about the "holey stones" and their power.  The thing that really intrigued me was the belief that if one looked through the hole in a stone (only a natural hole will work) the other-world of supernatural and non-corporeal beings will be visible. That has not worked for me yet.  
As a kid, (when my family would go fishing) I spent more time searching the stream beds for a stone with a hole in it. This is the one I finally found.  It's the only one I ever found.  Sometimes I do wear this one around my neck.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Yet another toothy bird

Leaving Home. Acrylic on wood, approx. 3 1/4" x 5 1/4". Private collection.
I just finished re-reading Great Expectations. It was my favorite Dickens novel back in 9th grade, but that was pretty much all I remembered of it, outside of creepy Miss Havisham waving about like a ghost in her rotting wedding dress.  This painting has little to do with the novel, but I like the idea of leaving home and taking along nothing but great expectations. Like Pip, this bird is leaving home.  Unlike Pip, this guy's only expectations are in his dreams, as nobody's given him a pile of money. He's the lucky one.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Little Fish for Dinner

Acrylic on canvas (detail). Original painting is 12" x 30".  Don't really know, but may be re-working this one for awhile. Oh well, here's what it looks like so far.

I do like this--especially the color layering.  I'm not really crazy--I know it's a far cry from its mountainside inspiration.
 If there's room at the gallery, this one'll be up for the Favorite Things show in November at Sk3tchbook!

Thanks for looking!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Painting sequence for a new work

 A couple pages from my sketchbook.  I chose the birds in the upper left side for the subject of the painting.

 The preliminary composition sketch
(with an extra bird). I used Prismacolor pencils in the colors (sort of) from the mountainside (in the previous post).

 This is the largest (serious) painting I've done since high school (it's 12" x 30"). I very much like small pics, and always resented the idea that paintings have to be big to be legit.  On the other hand, some walls are big, and I don't always need to stay comfortable.
Obviously, the first step was coating the canvas with Cadmium Red, then painting the birds in with black.

 I roughed in "shadows" with light blue, and added a sea green sky as an underpainting.

 The warm oranges and yellows were next, and I warmed the sky with some glaze layers of yellow, to bring it up to the chartreuse of the just-turning leaves.

Kind of hard to tell in this photo (sorry!) but I added the red-violets I saw in the mountain rocks.  Softened the sky and mountain with some glazes of white, then some ochre glaze over that. Last, a pure turquoise eye for the big momma bird.  The painting needs more layers of glazes, and my signature. 

I will post some details of the finished painting next.
Thanks for visiting!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Color source for a new painting

 Last week went to the Western Slope.  The Aspen trees were pretty dramatic. I liked the light green and yellow with the turquoise sky.

Driving by an old burn site, I noticed that the Gambel Oaks were creating the color scheme I wanted (along with the  rocks and sky). Gambel Oak is my favorite mountain plant--even more so now that they'd given me a new idea for the color in a painting.  Yellow-gold, chartreuse, and orange, mainly, with red and turquoise as accents.

Just finished the new painting, so will post it next, along with the prelim sketches.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


 A Moonlit Journey, acrylic on canvas, 4" x 12", private collection. Journeys symbolized by boats in art have become such a cliche, although some of them do hit you seriously in the gut.  But we're all on journeys--so what?  This guy is enjoying his ride.

I was asleep at the wheel and varnished this one before I took the photo--so I apologize about the glare.
We were in Arizona awhile back and I saw a painting of a cactus (what else?) that had some subtle layers going on in the background which I loved.  My attempt to use layers gave this pic a feeling of mountains or a bushy landscape in the background. 
And I watched Ken Burns' Prohibition last week--I loved it! That's where the hat came from.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pages from my sketchbook

 Lately have simply been able to dismiss my inner critic.  Good riddance to him!  My whole life has been a struggle with that imaginary and sinister figure [Some art director, the nebulous public, another phantom artist?] who clasped his bony hands, peeped over my shoulder, and sneered at every drawing I worked on.

It's been a nice change, not to care even whether or not I myself like what I'm drawing.  Right now, at this time, I'm done with all that fretting and perfectionism.  Most of the pictures in my sketchbook please me not at all.  But the process of drawing them does, and it's all that matters.

Like a vacation, it probably won't last.  But while it does, I'm simply flooding pages and other surfaces with my scrawl. It's a pleasure, and it's a remarkable thing for my creativity and mental health. That creepy critic?  Probably not dead, just banished to the basement or the crawl space--for now at least. 

Just finished a new painting of a bird in a boat.  I'll post it next.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Owls, continued, and a new owl painting

 Most people like owls. I am no exception. These are from my sketchbook--a few pictorial thoughts drawn with a micron pen this past summer.  Anthropomorphic is pretty much usual for me.
 Found this little brass owl on Etsy last week. He's hollow, about 3" tall, and worn.  A great inspiration for more drawings. Anybody have any ideas on its age?

Lonely Little GhostOwl.  Acrylic on oak wood, approx. 4 1/4" x 6". Private collection.
For some reason, a bunch of paintings done recently have little hills in them, with the figures featured almost as portraits. The reason? No idea.  I could make something up, but often the creative impulse happens in the unconscious mind and I just let that be.  That's pretty boring to those who are curious about the background stories of artwork, and I know lots of artists who make inspiration stuff up. I don't.

Next blog: More birds!
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