Monday, November 30, 2020

A Quiet Thanksgiving Nook


I sit by this little table in a high-backed chair every morning with tea to plan my day and write in my gratitude journal. My cats love to join me here.

I took advantage of some down time in my schedule to reimagine my creative space.  Refreshing the space and setting out old friends like my colored pencils and watercolor brushes in jars where I can see them brought new energy to this favorite place. 

The morning light coming through the window captured the scene in brilliance for a moment.  

Saturday, November 28, 2020

The November Woods

I've been inspired by artist Cathy Johnson, who teaches me to simplify what I see in nature when I sketch.  She also suggests taking a minimalist art kit into nature. Rather than haul my whole box of 48 Prismacolor colored pencils along with my nature journal and Micron pens, I looked at the day and the land around me, and grabbed 5 pencils to tuck in my coat pocket.  Indigo, sepia, dark brown, burnt sienna, and Tuscan red were all I needed to add color to my Micron pen drawings.

When we got to the backpacking shelters at the midpoint of our hike, I pulled out my journal and captured a sense of the day.  It felt freeing to simplify my color pallet, and to draw the forest rather than every individual tree.  It's a drawing, not a photograph, I remind myself! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Art Journaling as a Stress-Break

Taking the cats for their veterinary check-up is both important to me and stressful.  Three furry friends in their cat carriers buckled into my little Elantra created a symphony of mewling misery as we headed 10 minutes down the road to our vet the other day.  I'm grateful for our team of wonderful, caring & kind vets, but because I have empathy for my kitties, I can feel their distress in the process as they are examined, wormed and vaccinated. 

Thankfully, our cat friends got a good health report.  When I pulled up our driveway, safely home and done, all I could think was I need to make some art.  Once I had the cats out of their carriers and settled back into their familiar space, I grabbed my nature journal and colored pencils, and wandered down the hill from my home to plop on the grass and connect.

Sitting with a stand of nodding grasses and weeds and sketching them felt like magic.  I relaxed.  One of my cats sat at my feet, and we simply took in the beautiful afternoon sunshine playing over the grass fronds.  Deep evergreens in the background created a shadowed contrast to the November weeds.  I began to feel calmer, more grounded, peaceful.  The simple act of sitting with scrabbly weeds and scratching sketches in a journal felt deeply healing.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Figure Drawing Update: Hector in a Mask


New Pennsylvania state regulations on mask-wearing went into effect just as we welcomed Hector to model for our Osher Figure Drawing class.  As a result, everyone in my home studio wore a mask, and my students got to draw their first masked model.  

At first, it felt awkward to try to capture the shape of Hector's face and head, but soon, we realized that the mask served as a sock on a foot or a mitten on a hand to simplify a complex body feature. We incorporated the mask into our compositions, ending up with Hector as a regal knight with a sword.

I felt inspired by Hector's playful gestures with a Thanksgiving pie pumpkin, and we all wished for more time when the final beeper sounded.  A delight to be swept away into drawing!

Hector's 2- and 5-minute gestures with a pumpkin:

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Figure Drawing Update: Amelia

Last Friday in my Osher Figure Drawing Zoom class, Amelia brought us creative and beautiful poses. Her gestures were particularly well thought-out and varied.

I demonstrated how to approach drawing the head and face, and David stepped in to help by providing a second face to compare. 

As we reviewed the collective results of our 15-minute portraits, I talked with the participants about how we as artists commonly draw our own faces on our models.  I think it's part of the connection we feel towards that person we are drawing, our empathy for them and our shared humanity we are expressing.  We are all one tribe, and figure drawing allows us to feel that connection, to practice our empathy, even over the miles via Zoom. Below is a portrait of Amelia-as-me or me-as-Amelia.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Grandmother Hickory Tree in the Mist

The recent warm weather allowed me the ability to sit outside in comfort and draw a favorite hickory tree on a rainy morning.  I'm fascinated by the twisting branches of Grandmother Hickory tree, and the negative spaces created between each curvy limb.  As I finished up my drawing, a crow sailed in to land on the top of Grandmother Hickory tree and cleaved the misty morning with his loud caws. 

Nature puts on a show for me every time I sit still and pay attention.   


Thursday, November 12, 2020

The Benefit of Living with an Art Model Update


In a recent Zoom class, I worked the camera while David modeled. Professor Sue Powers demonstrated using different colors to represent values. Doing this keeps the brain from focusing on outer lines around the body, and builds the mass of the body from within, finishing with a few contour lines on top.  It's easier to see the real construction of the body when you focus on shadow shapes.  Here, I used hot pink as the base body tone, white for highlights, aqua for medium shadows and black for dark shadows.  

This technique helped me to construct a realistic and live-looking hand.  Sue recommended working quickly, and keeping your drawing implement in contact with the paper, even if you only make thready little lines.  Thanks, Sue!