These were both done with a Fudenosuke, which translates to brush pen. Handy to have good ink in a firm brush tip, in a contained and neat package. Interesting challenge to get the right line width with a variable tool like this. These are based on my front yard and the many odd rabbit habits in it. I call it Rabbit Council, twice.
On the holiday Monday, I went outside in the mild weather and dappled sunlight to sketch our apple tree in the backyard.
It’s getting close to apple harvest time. Our tree, which I pruned last winter (but it needs more) is still a bit unruly. Any time the wind blows or squirrel pass through, apples fall to the ground. It seems like there are more apples on the ground than on the tree. While I was out there losing circulation in one leg and being crawled on by ants, I was also yelled at by a squirrel, eager to defend his territory.
It was a good morning.
My Inchie House swap on Craftster is done, so I can share the photos.
This is my roundup. The two on the right were made by me. The colorful one in position four is the only remaining house from the first batch I made that Friday destroyed. I guess they made great cat toys. This one has had quite a bit of glue and interior patching to get together. The position five house is one of the batch I ended up sending out to partners. There were little differences in each house – colors and decorative bits. I made the tiny animals later and will be offering them to my partners, belatedly. Didn’t get a good view of the roof or windows:
I did pale colors for the tile roof. I didn’t get a good shot of the windows – I cut them out and installed muntins (pane bars), then clear plastic, then translucent white tissue. It made it quite dimensional and neat. I will have to get a photo of it to share with you.
The houses from my partners:
The first to arrive from Austrailia was from NinaPrettyBallerina. Unfortunately, she seemed to have her program set to zoom and didn’t notice that her house template printed out at 150%, so it was huge. I took the liberty of cutting it down and rearranging it. The party banners ended up on the roof this way, but I think it works fine.
This is the only new piece I added to complete her “remodeled” house – this side of the roof. The rest of the original roof became a rug inside. This wall previously was all large windows, now only one small one.
Speaking of inside, she painted tiny furniture for the house. I trimmed it just a tad to fit the new size, but it is so cute – a bookshelf, bed, painting and a floor runner.
Next up, from Loves2Experiment, a tiny poetry cottage. I really like this red door. I want this door on my real house.
An Emily Dickinson quote for the side. Isn’t that roof great?
A party banner along the back. My neighborhood is festive!
Finally, from Doctor Whaddayoudoinghere, a gingerbread house. The gingerbread is foam and the icing is white paint. Pretty cute and came with its own landing pad. Now all it needs is a witch and a giant oven.
I think they make a fine, tiny neighborhood.
Last weekend I finished off my drawing class. For our final project, we focused on an artist we chose from a list provided by our instructor. I chose contemporary artist Amy Cutler. Her style was not dissimilar to mine already, so I figured it would be something I would enjoy and get into.
The first part of the final project was to do a study of our chosen artist’s work. We were to find a piece of theirs and draw it faithfully – in other words, draw a copy of their work. While doing my research reading, I did a number of small, piece sketches to get a feel for her style. She does drawings, paintings in gouache, etchings and lithographs. I chose one of her drawings to draw myself, above. I don’t have a shot of the original image here, only my drawing copy above, but I assure you it was very good. I did it three times larger than her drawing that I found, so that scaling was the most challenging part.
Friday came to help by pawing at my legs, meowing for attention and finally giving up and sleeping in my office chair, for hours.
Moxie, finding that I was not giving out kitty attention, and a sibling in the chair, curled up to sleep on the footstool/storage ottoman that lives next to my desk for when Slick wants to come visit me while I’m on the computer. That white bit of t-shirt material in the corner is her binky. Whenever she (rarely now) gets the urge to knead and suckle, we give her the binky and after a minute she is fine again. Weird cat.
It was nice having them in the room with me, sleeping while I worked. They were my furry moral support. That drawing took forever, mostly because I draw slow and I had to do a lot of work to get the scale right all around.
The other big work of the final project was to create a drawing or painting that combined the artist’s style with our own style. For my synthesis, I chose to do a personal narrative painting. Cutler works in gouache, but I don’t care for them, so I used my preferred ink washes to achieve a similar color value. Also, she does her fine lining with a brush and brown paint, while I stuck with my microtip pens in black. Still, this was a good combination of her work and mine. I was pleased with the finished product. After that, I banged out a quick little paper, which was the third component of the final project. I scored high on my complete final project, which matches how I feel about it.
Drawing class is now done! Completely done. The forced hours of drawing and homework definitely improved my drawing skills and having specific, helpful and informed feedback did help me refine my technique quicker than if I’d simply drawn more on my own. So while I am happy I took the course and raised this skill level, I am very happy to not have class at night and weekend homework. I look forward to finishing my workshop in the basement – it has been so long. I have big projects I want to make and this enormous workshop project will let me get to it.
Time to catch up on the drawing class, now that is is almost finished. Another few weeks and it will be done!
We left off with the photography collage drawing of a person. The next class was drawing skeletons. It was a good way to work on proportion, but also a tad odd since the skeleton hangs from and hook with hinged bones and thus, is out of place compared to live people. Next class will move into portraits.
I ended up using this one in my portfolio, after a bit of cleanup and such. It isn’t great, especially here where was still a sketch, but I was getting a tad desperate.
And to make up for the fact that I’m absolutely not showing you either of my bad or mediocre self-portraits, here is an older drawing.
This is my in-class from when we were working on middle ground paper. I do not like this type of drawing; I think mostly because I don’t like my white charcoal pencils.
We spent a class working on reflective surfaces. This is my third sketch from that night. I took a shadows first approach with it. It doesn’t look great, partly because it is a green glass bottle in low light with multiple light sources, but that is one of the challenges you learn from, right?
A free drawing night. The composition on this one might seem off since half our table wanted to work on different techniques. What you don’t see is a striped piece of fabric, draped and folded under and around the objects.
Here is a shot of that snake-candle holder thing. I’ve drawn this thing three times now in class. It is interesting, challenging and slightly frustrating.
And one night when we had free drawing, I did some color. It looks pretty light, I was still building up layers, but I wanted to use some color since our instructor completely skipped over the single color class that was scheduled and I was tired of charcoal.
This weekend I was supposed to bang out five or six drawings to complete my portfolio, so I didn’t do that at all. I cleaned up a couple old ones that were okay and I will make a new drawing today and turn the portfolio in partially complete. Half points are better than zero points, right? I just cannot bring myself to draw for the portfolio. Plus, I am excited about the final project, which we concurrently started (syllabus conflict what?) so my artsy thoughts are there.
The next drawing class update will be the last, concluding with my final project work. It is what I am most passionate about in this class so far.
More on my Beginning Drawing class.
This is a reverse drawing of our upstairs bathroom, using the same technique described at the end of the last drawing post. We were supposed to draw a dark room with a strong external light source, but this is as close as I could get. It was frustrating at first, but after a while my night vision ramped up and I did a lot better seeing details. That dark shadow by the cabinet is a cat curled up on a black tshirt.
This assignment was to create a specific value drawing with strong lighting and arrangement on a middle value ground. I despised the cheap, ridged kraft paper being handed out, so I bought a sheet of Mi Tienes at Hobby Lobby. They had more “middle” ground colors, but this color matched one of my bunnies, so I couldn’t resist. The goal here is to use black and white for shadows and highlights while leaving the middle value as the ground color. This composition needed more work (blank areas to the left of the shelves and under bookshelf, confusing edge of table next to shelf, fabric on table puffed up on right but looks like bad table angle, etc!) but I once again started too late on a Sunday night to care enough. During the critique, everyone admitted to being creeped out by the bunny. Not the skull. Huh.
The next assignment bordered on abstract, of which I am not the biggest fan. I’m very picky. We were to photograph a classmate with different angles, light, positions, perspective, zoom, etc. and collage them all together, then draw it. Blech.
This is the guy who sits at our table; he was the only one willing to model.
This is my drawing of the collage. I needed a little more fold definition in the middle of the shirt and the face details could have used more attention. The hat stripes needed toned down, too.
And the collage I worked from.
At some point, I must face the reality that I need a dozen new drawings for my portfolio. I am willing to remain in denial for a little while longer. It is driving me crazy that I have a concrete floor, lumber, saw, nail gun and everything I might need for framing downstairs RIGHT NOW and have done nothing at all on it yet. Frustrating. Stupid work. If only there were some way for me to stay at home and do what I wanted while all my bills paid themselves …
Got some more shots, so I can update on the drawing class again. I keep forgetting to take pictures before I turn them in. Usually I’m relieved to be done with them and go straight to bed. I need to stop putting off my drawing homework until Sunday night – I know it is a bad idea.
After the chair assignment critique we moved completely into value drawing. As well, we moved into some exploration of other materials from our supply list.
Usually, this drawing would bug me an I’d have to fix it, but the whole point was to get through experimentation with three different materials, and I didn’t have time to do both in class. Thus, the shapes stayed twisted, bloated or otherwise slightly wrong, but I did create drawings with something new. The far right is vine charcoal, the middle is compressed charcoal, the left is Conté crayons in brown, sanguine, black and white. I think I like compressed charcoal best. It doesn’t blow away in a puff or smear mercilessly like vine charcoal, it gets a nice solid black I can blend around, and it is smoother than the Conté. This is all fine, but I like the charcoal pencils best of all because of the ease of handling. With all these three materials, I have to roll up any long sleeves, wash my hands every time I take a break and make sure not to touch my face or clothes while I work.
Our assignment for last week was to draw a body part and two objects that share shape and or composition with that body part (for three drawings) then cut them to size and mount them on a black board. I had a hard time sorting out what shapes I could arrange to look like a body part without a trip to the grocery store. Slick suggested leaves for a lip curve shape and I maneuvered some garlic cloves to approximately the right shape.
I didn’t really like the finished assignment, but I got the thing done and I didn’t lose sleep over it. This was another assignment for which the majority of the class misunderstood the directions. Many people put together items based only on body part, like a hand with a bracelet and ring, a hand with two glove drawings, and a foot with a boot and a shoe. I don’t know what the other students are thinking, if they don’t care, or if they have limited reading comprehension. Whatever.
The next week we began reverse drawing.
This is done by coating your paper with charcoal and rubbing it in to an even level of shade. Then, using your eraser, blender or chamois cloth, you begin removing darkness where you see light in your scene. So, instead of putting down material to make your drawing, you are removing material to make your drawing; thus, reverse drawing. After you’ve removed all your lighter spots, you can go back in to add charcoal to make the one or two darker shades you have left in your range. When we’re learning new techniques, the instructor suggests we work with simple shapes, like these painted foam spheres and cubes and a painted Pringles tube, etc. The assignments are a big change from these.
I did have a change of status the other day because of this class. I was checking out at Michael’s getting a new kneaded eraser and a pack of paper that I don’t exactly need, but was on sale. As I picked up my items to leave, the cashier asked if I drew. There was an odd moment of a paradigm shifting in my head because before this class, I’d have said, ‘oh no, I just sketch’ but I realized that spending eight or nine hours a week drawing, even while learning, meant that I did actually draw; so I responded with a simple ‘yes’. I draw. I am a person who draws. Huh.
It is difficult to tell you about my drawing class when I keep forgetting to take pictures of my assignments before I turn them in and I don’t get them returned for two weeks.
The continuing adventures of my Beginning Drawing class at LCCC. On a side note, I am not the oldest person in class – although I think I’m older than our instructor. I am in a different place in my life than all other students. It is weird. It isn’t weird because I feel odd or out of place, it is weird that there is a plain and easy reason I am out of place. It feels better to be out of place simply because I already have my degree, have a ‘career’, house and am taking this class for my own personal benefit than to be out of place because I am weird and don’t fit with everyone else. Easier.
The third week we worked with perspective and planes. This weekend’s homework assignment was to draw a room from the different perspectives; floor, chair and standing height.
I chose our oft-photographed fat chair in the window corner where the cats like to sleep. The Captain ended up as part of my scene because he declined to vacate. He did decide, however, to change nap positions towards the end of my session and thus make my middle section different. Fickle beasts.
The fourth week rather sucked. We studied perspective and planes again, by drawing hallways. The hallway chosen was smelly and we had to wrangle our large drawing pads on our laps while sitting on the floor or one of the break area chairs. This was not fun, I have to say. This week, the ruler was suggested for use and I used the hell out of it to get my lines straight and layouts spot on. It helped a little, but the drawing was still not perfect and using the ruler so much really sucked the fun and life out of the drawing process. I had to disallow myself ruler use during drawing – I use the ruler only at the beginning for my starting horizon lines and organizational lines, then don’t touch it again until the sketch is mostly done when I use it to straighten up my lines and fix up any misplacements. I like this method much better. The fourth weekend homework assignment was to do a perspective drawing including near and far objects, etc. I chose to do a downtown view.
I went downtown since Cheyenne has so many good drawing scene options and planned to do the Depot from the plaza, but forgot about the Farmer’s Market. The plaza was packed full of people, produce and roasting peppers. I thought about doing the capitol building, but couldn’t get a good wide view without standing in the middle of the street. I tried the lovely Tivoli building, which has a bench in a good spot for a drawing view, but the sun was right in my face. Finally, I found this bench in the shade of an overhang, with lots of good lines. I skipped the sign, but the building on the right center is the sports card shop and the Hynds Building is a bit left center. I also edited out a dozen or so cars since they didn’t add anything to my scene and I hated drawing them.
In the fifth week we worked on organic shapes and cross contours. We’re also finally using something other than pencil – charcoal! What a mess! Powder everywhere and thick, dark lines don’t ever erase completely. My previously dingy kneaded eraser is on its way to dark and brooding. I don’t quite have the hang of charcoal drawing yet. This drawing assignment took twice as long as I estimated due to my learning curve working with charcoal seriously. The assignment this week was to draw a chair, not a simple or stick chair, with objects and with value! This is the first time we were allowed or encouraged to use value in a drawing.
After about five hours of working on the chair drawing, I quit. I didn’t draw a ground, so the chair floats. The thought of adding in objects and surrounding items, as instructed in the assignment, made me want to cry so I didn’t. I simply quit. I was quite done. The chair looks good, but I didn’t exactly complete the assignment. In case you are unfamiliar with our trashy blue chair which we essentially saved from the Goodwill reject pile, here’s a reminder:
It has buttons and stitching missing, a rip in the seat, the bottom support has fallen out and been poorly duct taped up, all sometime in a previous life. But, this chair is a favorite. I like sitting in it to read and it is pretty comfy. The cats approve, too.
Starting with the last assignment, we’ll spend the next five weeks focusing on value drawing, so I should be able to keep you updated easily. I’m still developing my technique with charcoal, and we have India ink washes, Conté crayons and compressed charcoals to use for value lessons, too. We won’t even touch color until the winding down of the class. I’ll also need to pinch or create new a dozen drawings for my final portfolio. Maybe it won’t be so easy, but I will keep the updates coming.
If you’ve been wondering why I’ve been posting less often, it is mostly because I’m taking a beginning drawing class at the local community college. Yes, I can already draw, but I want to get better at it. Normally, if I want to improve at something, I’ll get a couple books, watch some online videos and read some chat boards in between the real work: practice. And more practice, wait, critique and edit, practice some more. Pretty much everything that can be improved can be done so with practice. However, I don’t seem to be able to carve out for myself time to work on my drawing skills. Everything else comes up as more important or more pressing, or somehow gets priority over a self-indulgent thing like personal skill leveling. Thus, paying money, having a set time, getting a grade and having a class structure designed for skill improvement, all this will help ensure actual improvement.
For all the art supplies I already own, I still had to purchase over half the items on the list. I’ve never drawn with artist’s charcoal (vine, willow, compressed, pencils) – although it does feel similar to taking a burnt stick out of the fire and making marks on a rock. I didn’t have a chamois cloth for shading. I don’t like working large often, so I didn’t have enough 18×24″ drawing paper, or a way to carry the damn tablet. My kneaded eraser was rather dingy, so I got another. While I do have maybe a dozen sets of colored pencils already, I didn’t have the type specified on the supply list. Same thing with the dual-tipped Tombow markers, which I use Pitt markers in place of, personally. Since I don’t mount my work for display, I didn’t have artist tape. There were a number of things I needed to buy. Now I have yet another bag full of art supplies and I’m okay with that.
Drawing in class, with the exception of site specific drawing, is done standing up with the paper on a board mounted on an easel. At first this was quite annoying, but now I find it a natural part of my process; so much so that when a homework assignment called for a scene, I purchased an easel to have in my own house. I may end up getting a portable one still, for drawing outside the house. Working on a flat, tilted or angled surface is still fine for small and medium sketches, my preferred size, but once you get larger than 14×17″ it becomes unwieldy and awkward.
The first week we did contour and blind contour drawings. The weekend homework assignment was to simply create contour drawings of ten items.
I say simply because it is a straightforward assignment, but I say it somewhat facetiously because once you start focusing on your drawings and critiquing them in your head, it becomes more than merely banging out some sketches.
The second week we moved into point of view, line and shapes, organizational lines and some measuring and angle methods to start getting specific about improvements. The weekend homework assignment was to create a drawing of something you would consider a toy. We were meant to use dramatic lighting, arrangement, etc. to make it appear heroic or such.
I didn’t do so much lighting or drama, but I did try to give my Gretchen an interesting angle, at least.
The class is in its sixth week now, but the instructor only returned the other assigned drawings last night. I’ll go home and snap pictures of them tonight. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to tell you about the drawing class without showing you the drawings.
This class makes me fairly happy. I was not really terrible at drawing before, but these months of class will definitely help me improve. I can tell I’m already getting better. It is a creative form of progress that I’m not really getting on my own right now, with no workshop and limited options. I also have limited time, but that is largely because of the class and homework, so that doesn’t count.
We did go to Vedauwoo, in case you were wondering.
Slick and I like to get up there every chance we can, to do some light hiking or scrambling. We missed out on going pretty much the whole summer for various reasons. Finally, we had everything taken care of and decided to go up while the weather was still agreeable. A couple bags with sandwiches, water, camera and sketchbook, dust off the hiking boots and take a short drive; we’re there.
We didn’t take a trail this time, much to my initial consternation. After getting back in the hang of picking my way through underbrush, I was happy again. This rock bunch was our first destination.
As always, the local wildlife was quietly active. This guy patiently and cautiously waited for us to pass by.
We stopped at the second chunk of rocks long enough to eat our sandwiches, Slick to get some shots and me to sketch a smaller rock group.
That’s me in the impossible-to-miss, sun-blocking, vented, long sleeved shirt in white there. Of course.
Here’s my sketch. Quick and imperfect, but practice and satisfying all the same. I think I might have to stop sketching nature and chose man made subjects instead. Nature makes it too easy to draw ‘what you think it looks like’ and I need to avoid that to improve.
A couple hours, a short trip. It is always calming to get out and away from civilization for a while.