Friday, April 30, 2021

Coffee Shop Fridays

When the third wave of the pandemic reached its worst last winter, I found myself longing to sit in a cafe, to drink tea and sketch or write.  Just to be around people as I used to do was a dream.  

So, I dressed up in an artsy black dress and boots, put on the tea kettle, and poured myself a hot Moroccan Mint Green Tea.  I even used a paper cup -- a relic of holding in-person open studios before the pandemic.  
I found coffee shop music on YouTube, set out my acrylic paints and paper, and embarked on an evening of playing with my paints.  Hours drifted by, and I was surprised by what came out of my paintbrush.  
Some weeks, it was abstract art in black and white.  Sometimes, it was collage pieces.

And, sometimes, it was more colorful or realistic.

With the leftover paint on my palette, I felt free to experiment.
I have heard other artists talk about the process of creating in an art journal, and the way that certain types of images just showed up as if out of nowhere.  I didn't think that would happen for me.  But Coffee Shop Friday Nights made things pop out that I didn't know were inside me.  And I enjoyed every bit of the process.

One day soon, I will be able to return to a coffee shop and spend an hour sketching people or writing, or chatting with a dear friend, even.  But I may just keep having my own Coffee Shop Friday Nights for the sake of self-care, exploration and play. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Osher Figure Drawing with Models Kathryn & David

Our semester of Osher classes finished Friday with a fantastic duo modeling session.  Kathryn and David brought us beautifully interactive poses. We started with 2-minute gesture drawings focused on blind-drawing the negative space between and around Kathryn & David.

When you draw two models at once, the complexity can be overwhelming.  Looking at negative spaces provides an entry point to simplify the process and get you warmed up.
We moved on to 5-minute gesture drawings focused on capturing the two figures in action.  Each pose told a story, expressed emotion, and caught us artists up in the excitement of capturing all we could on paper.

We finished with a lovely tableau for about an hour and a half (with model breaks).  

As an artist, you never know which days you will feel "on" and which days your drawings will fall flat. Friday's class was one of those magical days when the models brought an inspiring performance, and my art came alive.  I still have the drawings propped in my studio for admiration.

Many thanks to Kathryn & David for this amazing session!

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

First Pages of a New Nature Journal

Sunday morning dawned frosty and cold, and I thought of the backpackers I knew were out at Raccoon Creek State Park.  David & I had hiked out to see friends who were camping there on Saturday night, and were amazed at the number of folks setting up for the night.  

We visited with our friends around the cozy campfire until sunset.  Hiking the 2.5 miles back to our truck, David & I had been chilly, and had picked up our pace to warm up.  A cold night to spend outdoors, but our friends are adventurers!

Sunday morning, as the sun melted the frost away, the temperatures rose, and I took my travel chair out to admire a favorite old apple tree.  Our kids named this particular tree the Anna Apple Tree for David's Mom who praised the flavor of its apples on a visit. 
I sketched a branch of blossoms -- just one part of an enormous tree just buzzing with honeybees.
My neighbor's dog had been barking at me on and off as I sketched.  It kept me from falling into a flow state where I could let the bluebirds' songs sink into my soul. So, I moved over the top of  Hawk's Hill to the south side, where I had noticed an abundance of violets and wanted to capture their fresh faces in my journal.  

I had just settled into my chair and started drawing when I heard the galloping of small feet behind me, and turned to see my kitty, Miss Boo. She looked delighted to have found me out sketching, and sidled up next to me for some cuddles.
After getting her chin & back scratched and making me feel loved, Boodles slipped off through the grass to explore.

Wishing you a springtime full of sketching moments to follow the contours of a favorite furry friend or facet of nature!

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Osher Figure Drawing with Model Alexx

Model Alexx inspired me and my students on Friday morning with a series of gorgeous gesture poses.  

We began with six, one-minute poses.  I invited my students to group three drawings to a page.  I love how Alexx created varied poses that worked together as a set, and her inventiveness in incorporating a fan.

We moved onto to two minute poses, followed by a five-minute pose (photo at top).

It felt so freeing to draw pose after pose, falling into a flow state, and knowing that with a Sharpie, I couldn't go back and erase. It pushed me to be bold and respond directly to the curves and contours I saw.

For our final long pose (below), I began with a gesture done in vine charcoal, then wiped off the charcoal with a rag, leaving a ghost image of what I had drawn as a guide.  I finished the hour-long pose (broken into 25-minute segments with stretch breaks for Alexx) with my Sharpie.

One of my students, Cathleen, commented that each different medium we use creates different marks, moods, and image styles.  I agree, and I notice that each different medium expresses a different facet of us as artists.
So why not pick up a different medium than what you've been using, and make some sketches? Play around, and see what wants to be expressed within you.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Figure Drawing with Model Amelia

We've been fortunate in my Osher Figure Drawing class to have a different model each week.  Last week, model Amelia brought us fresh new poses, like the one above that she held for 3 minutes.  
In our gesture series, we focused on capturing the interior structure of Amelia's body with a light-colored pastel (yellow here) for the first minute.  For the remaining 2 minutes, we added mass, contours and shadows (purple).
Using complementary colors makes the gestures pop graphically, and expresses the interior-exterior tension in the form.
We practiced drawing hands and feet in this session by doing a 2-minute blind contour in one color -- looking only at our model and not at our paper while following contours (yellow). We used the remaining 8 minutes to draw in our usual style (purple).  

Blind contour drawing, while feeling out of control and uncomfortable, allows us to tune in directly to the contours and forms we are drawing.  I've noticed that my subsequent drawings contain more life -- even if my blind contour drawing look like a pile of messy lines.

We finished with a long drawing for the final hour of class with Amelia in a meditative pose.
Many thanks to Amelia for her elegant and lively poses!

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Art for Self Care: Watercolors for Breakfast

I had planned this morning to have an art adventure before work took me away from the beauty of spring dawning in nature.  I grabbed my backpack & my morning tea, sat outside, and quickly spotted a scene I wanted to sketch.  

Approaching the grand landscape with a 3" x 5" postcard is a wonderful way to simplify, reduce expectations, and allow yourself to play.  And playing with watercolors is one of my favorite self-care practices.

My kitty Boo joined me at my picnic table in the sunshine.
Wishing you a happy spring full of artful self-care and connection with nature!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Osher Figure Drawing with Model Emily

We had a wonderful Osher class today with model Emily!  We began the class with five two-minute gesture poses, and I encouraged my students to draw rapidly, capturing interior structures as well as exterior contours. Emily gave us active, elegant poses to study.

We moved on to drawing the face using shadows primarily.  David set the camera to transmit a black-and-white image, and we started the first two minutes of the fifteen-minute pose with the camera de-focused. After two minutes, we sharpened the image a little, and after two more minutes, we sharpened the image to tack-sharp.  

This approach allowed us to really see the shadow shapes without getting caught up in trying to draw features, and it forced a technique artists often use in the studio in real life, intentionally blurring their vision.  

 We finished up with an hour-long pose (with breaks for Emily!).  Some students focused just on the portrait, and others drew the entire foreshortened pose.

Many thanks to model Emily for her elegant poses and rock-solid stillness!