Saturday, December 12, 2009

Glimpses of winter

Snow squalls happened on and off during the day.  Late this afternoon the sky was heavy with snow, with glimpses of yellow, pink, and pale blue as the sun started to set.

I started pulling out some Christmas decorations and found them good fodder for practicing with my camera.  I was focusing on a mountain ash tree in the garden and caught the lights of one of the window decorations.  I like how the camera created the perfectly round shapes out of focus and pulled the berries on the tree into focus.  I still have so much to learn with this camera.

A ceramic angel lit by candlelight was my next experiment.  Shutter speeds are still something I need to practice and this image isn't as clear as I like.  When in doubt, read the manual....

As the afternoon closed in, juncos gathered at the bird feeder to stock up for the winter night ahead.  Such funny little quarrelsome birds.  Its nigh on to impossible to take a good photo of them as they move so fast and so much.  I caught this little fellow perched on the hop vines by the thermometer.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Portraits and technology

Last night I sketched the next portrait and started adding some colour.  I still need a background for this and haven't quite decided what it will be.  I have some thoughts floating around but there is no 'aha' moment yet.  As the painting develops as well as the background a title may come to mind. I should have a better image tomorrow as I'll have some decent natural light.  Well, provided it doesn't snow too much.

This piece is done on a half sheet of 300lb arches paper.  I'm waiting for more of this paper to turn up as I got a good deal on a mailorder price.  Everyone else must think so too, as its backordered.

I've been setting up a new printer tonight.  I had an early Christmas gift of an Epson Artisan 810 that virtually stands on its head and spits nickels.  The reviews of this printer are excellent and I haven't found anyone to say anything bad about it so far.  It has a six color process (Black, Cyan, Light Cyan, Magenta, Light Magenta, Yellow) and with the appropriate paper, produces the artistic, “giclĂ©e” level prints that Epson’s higher-end inkjets have built their reputation on.  And its wireless technology so I can lose some of my spagetti junction in the studio.

I just need to figure it all out, one function at a time.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

One complete. Many more in the wings

I was up before the snow flew this morning and finished off the tiny watercolour portrait that I started last night.  I don't think I could work on this scale for long periods and its a lot more challenging that you first think.  I seem to want to fill the space and over run it, fearing that I'll never get it all in, which I usually don't.

I am starting a drawing for a new portrait.  I have the face blocked in, but need to work out a background now and that may take a little research.  It will be another watercolour on 300lb Arches paper. I always feel a surge of excitement starting a new piece.  There is something amazing to see a face appear out of a sheet of white paper.

I also played around with some photos using old-but-new blocks that I ordered after seeing some of Neil Hollingsworth's paintings using them.  I asked him where he found the blocks and he let me know, so I ordered some of  these rather sweet reproductions for myself.  I just need to get some natural light to paint or draw them.  The mornings are too dark to see a thing before I head to work.

I have so many ideas in my head and they sometimes come out in a jumble with projects and pieces all vying for attention.  One at a time.  Mostly.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A handful


I wanted to draw or paint something tonight, but didn't know what.  I've finished a few projects and commissions and find that I have a bit of a lull after that, as if my brain and body slow down for awhile. But I still needed to create something.  Funny how there's something inside that insists on certain actions.  Probably similar to the same voice that makes you get out of bed for ice cream at 3am.

I browsed through images that I have and came across a photo of Geoff Meeker.  Geoff is an independent communications consultant and writes a blog, Meeker on Media, that is published in The Telegram.   I know Geoff on Facebook and had asked him awhile back if I could use this image that was on his profile there.  I liked the lighting and the colours that the computer screen he was facing reflected back onto the skin.

So this is a tiny version of Geoff that I started tonight.  Its artist trading card size 3.5 x 2.5 in watercolour on Strathmore cold press.  I thought I'd show the initial sketch as well as where I am so far. I have the base layers of colour and shape in, I just need to clean up edges and intensify the shadows.  At this size, watercolour pencils come in handy for the details, as I never seem to have a lot of luck with those teeny tiny brushes with two hairs on them.  They frustrate more than satisfy.

But that will have to wait til tomorrow. For now, a little knitting of a cowl, then some sleep. With more snow predicted, it will make the drive to work interesting no doubt.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

29 years later

Today marks 29 years since John Lennon was fatally shot outside his apartment in New York City.  There was stunned silence around the world, then outrage, then sadness that one of the world's most talented musicians was silenced forever.

While most people think of Lennon as part of the Beatles and the amazing musician that he was, his first love was art and he did attend art school at the Liverpool  Art Institute for three years (1957-1960). His primary medium was line drawing which became illustrations for three books that he published in the 1960s.  Lennon originally created a portfolio of drawings in 1969 which he entitled "Bag One". These drawings depicted John and Yoko's wedding and honeymoon and he presented them to her as a wedding gift. The Bag One suite represents the only hand signed prints available by John Lennon.

His music lives on.  His art lives on.  Isn't that something we all hope for?  A little piece of ourselves as a legacy to the world.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Experiments and snow

An experiment on Myrna Wacknov's blog, Creativity Journey, inspired me to try it myself.  Myrna was trying watercolours on regular printer photographic paper and I just had to join in the fun.  The slick surface has similarities to yupo, in that it doesn't sink into the paper, but pools on the surface.  You definitely need a loose style to work on this and I enjoyed trying to create a face on the surface. 

I love the way the paints run into each other depending on how much water I use or pigment.  I may go back into this with some inks to add definition or perhaps add another medium to it.  With a big box of photographic paper from a large box store, it gives me an economical way to experiment with the surface.

Yesterday was a day full of snow.  Today was a day full of snow clearing.   This is my little car sitting in 16 inches of snow waiting to be dug out this morning.  The snow on the window made me think times when artificial 'snow' in a can was used to decorate windows inside years ago when I was in the UK.  I guess I don't need that effect here do I?