Monday, January 28, 2008

"Green Caterpillar and Dry Sunflower" 1-28-08

Today I'm showing a page from my sketchbook that has drawings from two different days. At the top is a drawing of a dead sunflower head I did on Jan. 25th, on a very snowy, cold day! You can read what I wrote on the page about that. I was trying out my new Graphitint Color Pencils, this one is 'cocoa'. After I sketched it, I used a waterbrush (brush with water stored in it) to pull the color out and create graded values of tone. Then I worked back into the dark areas to push the value range further and define the flower's shape.

Today I found a green caterpillar when I picked up some bricks that were piled by my driveway, it was tucked in some rotting leaves and snow. I can't imagine how caterpillars survive the winter like this. But he looked as fresh as springtime! if you knew me, you'd already know I took him inside to draw and study!

The picture shows him lying on my sketchbook page. 1st I did a pencil sketch with the 'outliner' pencil that comes with the Inktense color pencils. I drew it at actual size then made an enlarged drawing that looks like he's under a magnifying glass. The shadow and the magnifying glass make it look more real. Then I drew him again (small) and tried to add a cast shadow. This didn't work out too well at this tiny size so I pulled the ink black color all around it to 'fix' it. I also show a picture of the sanding block I use to sharpen my colorpencils. I don't keep a very long point on them because they are more prone to breaking then graphite. Click on the pictures to see enlarged views and read my notes on my sketchbook.

Inktense Color Pencil test 1-27-08

I just bought a complete set of "Inktense Color Pencils" from Derwendt. I did some tests with them to get familiar with what they do when dry or wet. The inktense pencils are water-soluble but when they dry are permanent. I found the colors to be vibrant + fantastic!

First I lay down a very pale wash about an inch long and 1/4 inch wide. (the wash I did was a 'dry wash', this is a term that means a light layer or drawing with a light touch to add a light layer.) Then I added, with a progressively heavier touch, more to the strip going left. You can see it's darker on the top left of each color swatch and lighter on the right. Then I used a 'waterbrush', that is a brush that holds it's own supply of water for field work, to pull down color from the top. As I got to the darkest area, on every single color I was amazed at just how brilliant and beautiful each color was! Even the browns, neutrals and mustard color were lovely!

I'm really not used to using water soluble color pencils but I will make an effort to use these till I get the hang of it. My intent is to use them in the field when hiking, to lay down washes that may be worked over with ink or color pencil.
Let me know if you have used the inktense pencils and what you thought of them.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

"In the Barn" 1-24-08

Today I just had to get outside for some sketching! I have a new sketchbook to try out and new Graphitint Derwendt water soluable color pencils. I bought three shades from ASW (Art Supply Warehouse) and can't wait to play. Colors are Warm Grey, Chestnut, and Cocoa, just love those browns! So I grabbed a small bag to put my stuff in, a Royal Traveler by Samsonite. The reason I like this bag is I can sling it over my head and shoulder, flip the cover open and get at all my supplies in the pockets. I like this when I'm out walking and need to stick brushes or pencils in while I'm drawing. The sketchbook btw is "Raffine" 5.5"x 8.5" from ASW. I'm trying it out because the paper is heavier than typical sketch paper and I do a lot with watercolor washes and ink. Let me tell you, I LOVE it!! I want to order a bigger one now.
I had to put my gloves in the picture just to show what I was wearing on my hands while attempting to draw in the FREEZING cold barn!! It took me awhile to thaw out my fingers and toes when I was done ;-)

Enjoy my sketchbook pages, click on them to see better and read my notes. Do you see the chicken standing on one leg? It reminded me of a fairy tale about the cook who made a succulent roast goose for the king, then ate one huge leg because it looked and smelled so good. The King was furious...the cook, a fast thinker, took the King to see the geese by the lake. He pointed out to the King how they all had just one leg! (of course you and I know they were keeping one tucked up to keep warm under their feathers!) The King didn't see the trickery of the cook and showed him how to shoo the geese and make them put their feet down. NO more ONE legged geese for dinner!! hahah.... I should illustrate this story, it's cute.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Color Pencil- Pink and Green Leaves

This is from my trip to the Buffalo Botanical Gardens on Jan. 11, 2008. I'm working from a photo of a stem with pink and green leaves, I still have to find out what kind of plant it is. It's very pretty!

I'm working in an 8"x10" sketch book, first I did a sketch with a mechanical pencil. I tried to scan my progress with the color pencils in stages. I'm working with my new Coloursoft Color Pencils from Derwendt and a few Prismacolor Color Pencils.

The bottom twig tip I outlined with a very fine point sharpie marker, then worked the CP in. I'm still not sure how I'll approach the branch, I might do a watercolor wash then CP but the paper is pretty thin and it might not work too great. We'll see!

"Full Moon" photos

Last night when I went into my upstairs bedroom, it was very dark but for the tremendous light coming in from the window! The moon was so bright. I always look out my bathroom window at the moon at night because it's very dark if I close the door, and I can open the top of my window and take pictures without a screen in the way. I ran and got my camera and took these pictures, all handheld. It looks as bright as day. The first photo, (horizontal) shows a great glow from the town below, reflected, bounced light. If you look close at the right you can see a light spectrum from the ground going up towards the moon, purple at the bottom and going through the spectrum like a rainbow. Very cool!

The second photo is interesting because the clouds were moving, which gave great depth to the picture. I think it looks like a wolf on the left, looking up at the moon and his paw stretched out. On the right it looks like a woman figure, angel?, witch? her arm is bent and the moon looks like her face, she's looking down at the wolf. What do you think?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

"Quick Iris Watercolor Painting"

This is a watercolor I did of the same iris as the previous post, but this time I approached it more spontaneously. No sketch, just direct painting with the brush, I did it rather quickly in a regular sketchbook (thin paper). I'll have to get my chinese brushes out and 'brush up' with them, I used to paint everything with them!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Iris Watercolor Painting #1 1-17-08

I decided to put that little travel watercolor palette to test today. I picked up a gorgeous iris and lily yesterday, sketched it out and started the first stages of painting. My objective here was really to test out the palette, watercup arrangement and holding the light board all in one hand. I want to see if I can use it like this in the field without an easel for little studies. You can click on any picture to see enlarged views.

I show a close up of the arrangement so you can see the watercups; they are actually for holding mediums for oil painting, designed to hold the liquid even when tipped slightly on a hand held palette. They worked fantastic! I had to get over the habit of looking for my watercup on the table! You can see the 'sticky tack' or 'blue tack' in my palette. Yesterdays blog explained that better, so they get tested today and it worked wonderfully! Yay..two experiments that worked.
My hand got a bit tired from holding the board and palette but this set up is supposed to be for quick studies, I worked on it longer than I would in the field.
The pictures are to show the stages of my painting, start to finish.

Monday, January 7, 2008

"Looking to the Edge of Nowhere"

This is an oil painting I did in early November. We've been having a mild fall, pretty dry, so I didn't have to wear mud boots in my field! The painting is 6"x 8". Before I did this one I completed the small oil sketch of an oak tree (4" x 6").

"Oak Tree Along Edge of Feild"

The great thing about painting or drawing outside, en plein air is what you observe...hear, see, feel, smell. This day it was the visit of the bees and teeny tiny spiders. It sounds creepy but when you're used to treking around in nature you learn to just observe the critters for what they are and do, and not get 'creeped out'!
So as a wasp kept landing on my painting and easel, I figured it was interesting. I took pictures of him of course. Then every time I started to paint, a tiny spider would appear hanging from the brim of my baseball cap, I'd lift him off with his thread of silk and put him in the grass, then another would appear on my easel. My guess was they were 'sailing' on their threads down from the beautiful oak tree.

Hiking on my Land, "Long Lane Farm"

Today I went for a hike with my dog Ginger, the weather was so warm I couldn't resist! I think the temperature today reached 66 degrees! It's very breezy, clouds and patches of sun. So we wandered and I pretty much descibed things on my journal pages. Just click on the pics of my sketchbook to read my notes and see the small sketches. This first page I did a very quick sketch (7 minutes), click on it.

This is a photo of me and Ginger, I set my tiny Olympus FE 230 digital camera on top of the fence post and did an auto timer shot. I have my mud boots on, my small three legged stool over my shoulder, and an over-size fanny pack from LL Bean.
I wasn't sure about wearing the fanny pack in front,because I thought it'd make my back hurt, but actually it was ok. It was nice to have it right in front of me to keep tucking my sketchpad and pens into as I walked. My cell phone is clipped to my belt loop.

Page 2 of the journal...I found this great green for such a dreary time of year. It was growing all over the bottoms of the trees, it's very wet on my land.

'Memory Lane' is so flooded I didn't dare go there with leaky boots! But it still looks beautiful, all that water reflecting the sky, dry grasses, great color.

Page 3...I was picking up some dried oak leaves to take back home with me and saw a small spider on one leaf. It was so cool, looked like a little seed if you look quick. I did three little quick studies of it. It keeps raining off and on and I don't have my rain coat.

Golden Field...

This is my three legged stool I bought at Walmart in the hunting/fishing dept. This stool is great but when the ground is, well you kind of sink in when you sit on it!

This is the back side of a fern stem, the tiny leaves are actually curled up and look like seeds. I think it's a 'Sensitive Fern'.

Buffalo Botanical Gardens 1-11-08

Click on any picture to view larger. (the photos of me working are compiments of Daniel M. Cox, thanks Dan!)
Today I went to the Botanical Gardens with the intention to play around with my travel sketching kit that I put together. Well, being that it was my first visit, I found it very hard not to spend most of my time exploring with my 'good' camera (Canon 20D slr). So I did some tiny little sketches, tried out my watercolor pencils a bit, then ended with one or two quickie watercolor sketches. I scanned the 6"x 8" page from my sketchbook for you to see. I don't think I like the watercolor pencils as much as regular watercolor...when you wet it, the colors change so much, they get so saturated and vibrant, I don't like surprises. I guess I'm just used to 'what you see is what you get' with regular colorpencils.

Here are some photos, so hard to pick from so many beautiful flowers and plants! Here's a link to their home page:

"Sunrise" watercolor sketch 1-3-08

This is a watercolor sketch I did just before the sun came up over the horizon. It took me about 30 minutes...I laid on the background sky, trees and field, then the forground trees. It's on the pale side, I was working on sketch paper, not heavy enough to mess around on. My objective was to practice with my small kit for field work. Once the sun came up, I couldn't work on it because it was just too bright to look at.

"Winter Shadows" 1-3-08

This little ditty I did outside, while bundled up in snow bib overalls, boots with wool socks, down coat, wool hat, scarf over half my face and leather gloves. I did the painting (6"x 8") with Oil Pastels that I cut in half so I could fit more in my little field kit. Do you know how hard it is to paint/draw with a one inch chunk of crayon while wearing bulky gloves and fffffrrrreeeeezzzing to death?? I actually worked as quickly as possible, laying down some outlines for the shadows and other shapes with pale grey, then drew in some shadow and tree color so I could finish it inside later. I took some pics with my Canon 20D...even looking at those later, you can't see the colors in the tree as well. That is why it's so important to work from life!

"Watercolor Sketch of a Sparrow"

December 2007
This is a watercolor sketch I did from a photo of a sparrow. I used my small watercolor travel set for practice and did it while watching tv with my son. Trying to get artwork done at any time is a challenge so I practice when I can!

Reinstein Woods 1-10-08

Thursday, 1-10-08 Cold morning but not too bad! I visited Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve in Depew, NY. It's an almost 300 acre preserve with forests, wetlands and ponds surrounded by suburban developments. What a surprise it is to find a place like this when you can walk in and feel like your far outside the city (Buffalo) limits but you're not!

Today was a camera exploring day, I didn't pull out the sketchbook. I saw turkeys, white tailed deer, a beaver (must be the warm winter) chickadees, downey woodpeckers, mallards and Canada geese. I captured so many wonderful pictures of leaves, dead ferns, lichens, mosses and fungi...but...alas the computer Gods were against me when I downloaded them! I lost almost all!!! Heavy Sigh....

But I shall be returning there often as I will be teaching my Nature Sketching class there this spring and summer. I will be planning several different days and time options to accomodate as many as I can. I might also offer a 'fairy house + fairy making' class! Directions to Reinstein Woods: and here's another link about Reinstein Woods:

Avoidance Behavior? Watercolor Play...

Yesterday I had fun playing around with my watercolors, "can we say Avoidance Behavior?!" haha...well I should have been working on a painting but I wanted to test out some colors and tried an experiment with my field kit. Here's a photo of my, um, mess! Well when you're in the middle of working, you know just where everything is. You can click on these for larger views, you can see the painting in the background I want to work on of a kestrel.

It might seem silly, but I think I can write a book for a hundred and one uses for 'sticky tack' or 'blue tack'! I wanted to add more colors to my field kit but there are no more places, so I made some! Where the brush should go, I put three little blobs of sticky tack and smooshed them down. I then put just a bit of wet paint into the divided areas and let it dry. Then the little removable water pan (I mean LITTLE!) I've been using for black paint, so I added a little wall to that and added Naples yellow, I thought it would be good for grasses, people etc. I will let you know if it works, the stuff is amazing, really!

This is a page from a little sketchbook where I tested the colors out. I was comparing reds as you can see, which ones were similar so I didn't have to order new paints. (it's not cheap you know!) The colors at the bottom are tube colors I put into a plastic travel palette, (see it at the bottom of the photo of my 'mess') they're like a repeat of the colors in my large studio palette. I want to see if they'll stay put or will they flake off all over the place? The drawing of the beetle I did from a field guide. I always try to grab something to draw when I know I'll be sitting, wasting time in a waiting room. I have a vinyl 'bible' cover that I picked up at Barnes and Noble that fits a 6"x8" sketchbook and across from it a field guide or other book. I'll post pictures of that sometime, it makes a great little travel kit when outfitted with my 'travel art supplies'.

"Sketch of Field in December"

This is a sketch in oil crayons I did while looking out my studio window in December.I have made up a small kit of easy to carry art supplies and am giving the oil crayons a go. It's been years since I've used them but am looking for transportable color. I always liked using them as you can smear them like oil paint, thought it's a bit harder to do! But they won't smudge all over in a sketch book like soft pastels can. They are a bit hard to get detail with if your sketching with them, but you can if you take your time and sharpen the end with a blade. keep my small kit small...I broke the oil crayons in half, half for my kit, half in a baggie to keep in studio. This way I can try out colors, see what works, what doesn't.