Saturday, November 29, 2008

Looking ahead

As the year starts to wind down I look back over it and some of the successes as well as setbacks. But I also look forward and anticipate new linkages and learning in the coming months.

I will be working on several projects in 2009, one of which will be announced soon. The new header on my blog and a short video will give a little glimpse into one of the projects and will let me explore my own region in a way I haven't previously. I know that this will test my abilities and enhance my skills and I'm sure I will enjoy it thoroughly. Other projects will be announced as they are launched and I anticipate a busy and very productive year.

For those interested in knowing, the lighthouse in the video is located at Cape Spear, the most easterly point in North America. Its isolated, windswept and fascinating. The view stretches across the Atlantic to Ireland and England, its roots. On a clear day you can watch whales breech and blow in the water a hundred or more feet below.

David Blackwood's depiction of the lighthouse is classic and popular.

Meanwhile, I've finished my portraits for the swap and shipped them to their new owners. Now an exhibition next weekend to prepare for, as well as a board meeting and Christmas party, things never come singly it seems. I'm still waiting for those extra hours to be tacked onto my day or learn the ability to do without sleep!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Midnight sketches

I have always read at night, even if only a few paragraphs, but over the last few months I have also done some sketching. I may review some art magazines or read something that sparks my imagination and then sketch what is in my mind or try to recreate a piece from memory. I find it relaxing and a way of testing my memory and/or imagination. Its not always successful but always interesting and quite relaxing.

There are far too many mice in the barn, but luckily none in the house, so this is out of my imagination - somewhere. Actually there was some train of thought attached to it about an illustration of mice for a book or card, but hasn't come to life since.

Inspired by a drawing in an art magazine. I loved the contours of the face. I think I was quite close to the original drawing when I looked back.

I love drawing eggs and am fascinated by the texture and shape and the challenge of getting the values to look believable. This sketch was done after studying the drawing 'One Basket' by JD Hillberry.

Sketching propped up in bed may not be relaxing for everyone. Some nights I find that it keeps me awake and wanting to do more, but most of the time I can shut my sketchbook with a sense of satisfaction that I've accomplished what I perhaps did not have time to do during the day.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Chestnut study

I love chestnuts. Not particularly to eat, as they sort of taste like mealy potatoes, but they're amazing feats of engineering and reproduction as well as being fascinating to draw.

A bag full of chestnuts was gathered from various trees around town and will be overwintered to hopefully sprout next spring. The seed breaking out of the casing is always attractive even if the casings are vicious to pick up. Definitely a survival mechanism there!

The almost wood like grain on the chestnut and colour is beautiful and is a drawing waiting to happen. I did this study as a preparation for a more detailed piece.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Oils 4 x 6

I wanted a change from portraits, and wanted to clear my oil palette of old paints before tackling them again, so I grabbed a handful of clementines and headed to the studio. The light was too bright here - I should have set up a lamp to give more drama to the scene, so I gave myself a little artistic license to intensify the shadows.

I go through phases of needed colour and paint and then retreat to graphite or charcoal again. The frustrations of my current self portrait in oils make me kick myself for not practicing more in oils, when it used to be my medium of choice at one point.

I will try to do a couple of paintings a week if I can fit them in, just to ensure that I don't lose touch with painting.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Revisiting the past

B - the pout

Quite awhile back I did a drawing of my youngest daughter, captured when she was about 3, and obviously didn't want her photo taken at the time. The only photo I have of this is a tiny wallet sized one so the detail is not good. But I wanted to try this again. Even now the drawing isn't large that I've done, around 8 x 5, but I so love that expression. I may attempt it in watercolour if I can transfer it to another sheet, as right now its in a sketchbook.

I did a quick sketch of another photo of my daughter, this time with her own daughter who is about a year or so younger at the time. Not quite the same, but an interesting contrast.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Achieving a likeness

Update - portrait
coloured pencil 9 x 12

I'm still fighting with portraits and hope by the end of today I will be done with these. either that or I will take a break from them. Sometimes too much working and looking at a piece just makes it worse instead of better.

I'm not completely happy with this current portrait as I feel the face shape isn't quite right, not giving a good likeness. The colours are fine and the shading's working but there's that niggling that I could get a better likeness. I'll wait and see what my current victim says and adjust or go forward from there. Or worse comes to worse, add it to the 'never to be seen again' drawer and start over!

I rarely work with a grid, so all my drawings are freehand. I sometimes mark out features within a grid for placement then draw freehand from there if I really want a good likeness. Of course, I didn't do that with this piece and now am regretting it.

There are two schools of thought regarding portraits. Those who want an exact likeness from life or reference and those who want a broader version that captures the 'essence' of the sitter. Both should be recognizable as the individual, no matter which method is used.

In the move to my new studio, I keep 're-finding' pieces that I did. Some are pieces that I wasn't keen on so put them away to perhaps work on another time. Its time to go through these and see if I want to rework or do over. There are many projects spinning round in my head and never enough hours to work on them.