Saturday, April 29, 2006

Works in progress

I have a number of drawings and paintings that I shall call 'works in progress' as they sit in varying unfinished states for an equally varying number of reasons. Working on images for a long period of time, I tend to lose concentration to a certain degree. Also with limited time, my ability to devote longer periods of time to an image changes,so I find myself doing it in 20 minute sessions or less at odd times of the day or night.

Then there are the beginnings of drawings that didn't go well, but are kept 'just in case'. Its like an archival drawer of mistakes that you cringe at everytime you see them, but still you don't throw them out in the belief that you can resurrect them into glory.

In my drawer of malcontents a couple show promise and I've pulled them out today and done a little work on them. Both in Prismacolor pencils on Stonehenge paper. Sometimes all we need is a break from them to prove that absence makes the heart grow fonder.

The first of three apples on a windowledge was started as a companion piece to a similar setting of tomatoes done a few months ago. The second is more recent and is persimmons on a pewter plate. The apple colour was too harsh for me and still is. I used process red which really isn't a colour I like much. It takes over and makes a drawing its own. The persimmons have promise and I need to work on evening out the tone and working on the other fruit and plate. I can see I have some work to do tomorrow.

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Friday, April 28, 2006

Quick fix inspiration

I stumbled across this site today through a link in Moleskinerie The Soul Food Cafè is a portal for artists and writers alike. It is a safe haven where creativity flourishes. Soul Food Cafè aims to promote creative pursuits as a daily practice. The site is quite literally overflowing with healthy and tasty morsels for every artist. It’s full of tips, techniques, references and encouragement.

The Artist's Loft is a jumping off point for creativity. Be sure to have a look at the Advent Calendars for the past years. Clever ideas for creativity for every day.

There is so much to see in this site, it could keep me going for months!

For those times when the thoughts or images won't come to you in your blog, visit the Creativity Portal and let the Imagination Prompt fill your head with new ideas.

Then there are places like Illustration Friday to urge you on to inspiration.

This Lab cross is one of the collection of dogs I have drawn in an effort to rebuild my portfolio. More to follow...

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

The passage of time

Years ago I drew religiously, daily, fitting it in at every point, going to life classes, being a life model. Then life happened and everything seemed to be in the way of creating. Days stretched into months, then years and more excuses came. No space, no time, kids, work, fatigue, etc. - all the usual. Well about 15 years passed before I picked up a pencil again last summer at the urging of a friend. Now I'm getting back into it and finding my stride again, becoming familiar with mediums and supports and seeing what is new in the art world.

This time, excuses are pushed away. This is something I want for me. I had forgotten how good it felt to escape into a drawing or painting and no notice what else happened in the world during my absence.

Animals or people always were my favourite things to draw or paint but I was out of practice, so I'm building my portfolio again to get into that contradiction of art - the commissioned work. Commissions are a necessary evil. You want them because it brings you exposure and finances. You hate them long term because they lock you into a set mode of art that you cannot break out of, but long to do. Yet, right now, commissions are what I want, so I'm building my portfolio and working on ways of marketing it locally.

I'm 'borrowing' dogs for photos. Drawing friends dogs. Redrawing my own dog that died in December, or drawing images that I find suitable. When the commissions come again, it will be a good thing.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Seeking calm

It is only Wednesday and it feels as though a whole week or more has passed. Work and life in general has been a bear and I feel as if its taking me over some days. I want that place to retreat where there aren't demands or phones. I won't even go into the fiasco of yesterday with chasing loose horses through the woods and security alarms at home.

At an enforced break at work (I have decided to MAKE myself stop and concentrate on me) I found myself drawing what was in front of me. My office. That in itself is depressing enough, as even during some offtime, work still stays with me. I think in future for those breaks I will physically go somewhere else and do a little plein air.

The horses will go up for sale this weekend. It is hard to work and try to find time for them. As well, the mobility of their primary caregiver is limited and it is more difficult to maintain that level of care which they need. They've both grown a lot since they arrived more than a year ago. They've expanded upwards and outwards and their personalities became apparent. Kit, who I've sketched here, is the 4 year old, with the mentality of a 4 year old much of the time. Sometimes a 4 year old on a sugar rush! Lady, is the blonde bombshell, a sorrel quarter horse with an arrogance that can only be experienced. I will miss having them around, but know that they need more time devoted to them that I am not able to provide.

So if anyone wants to buy a horse...

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Anatomy for artists

A good life class can teach you more about anatomy than text books ever can, but its is useful to have a basic knowledge of musculature and bone structure to enable yout o see how the body is contructed. Years ago I religiously went to life classes under Tom Greenshields but haven't done so for a long time. I am currently searchin out some classes. The only ones I have found so far, run during the day and as I work, its impossible to attend.

I have a copy of Gray's Anatomy, well thumbed, as well as several other books on human anatomy. These were mine when I completed human anatomy for my herbalist certification and they've come in handy to revisit from time to time when I need to see how a part of the body fits or how a muscle is shaped.

Figure Drawing and Portraits
is a good place to get started on drawing the human figure and portraits. I was sent a link to Artnatomia which is an interactive program that looks at musculature of the face and how they move.

The Anatomy for Artists Seminar is a concentrated study of the human body for artists, not a Life Drawing course. I use a full-sized skeleton and hundreds of slides to show you every significant bone, muscle and form of the figure, and we take time to "draw notes" from the slides.

Basic Anatomy on Wet Canvas provides a good introduction to anatomy. Human Anatomy for Artists hosts a varity of human figures for reference.

There are hosts of books, videos and classes to help you explore and enjoy painting or drawing the human figure. Explore locally, regionally, globally and see what you come up with.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Cream teas

This image reminds me of cream teas that I indulged in while living in Somerset. A friend's parents ran a dairy farm and offered the biggest cream teas you could possibly imagine. Nearly everything was made with ingredients grown on their farm. Lucious pale clotted cream that had a texture of soft butter; rich red strawberries glistening and sweet or homemade strawberry jam if the berries were out of season; light, flaky scones still warm from the oven, followed with lashings of steaming hot tea, dainty sandwiches and lots of conversation, all taken in the confines of their enclosed flower garden.

It always seemed a little amusing as these people were quite large and robust and they would also serve as well as make the cream teas, balancing china cups on trays filled with food, they would come and stand next to you while you ate and drank. Mostly it was general conversation as we knew them fairly well by then, but often they would simply stand or sit there, beaming, pleased to see people eating, drinking and enjoying their labours.

I miss them. And I miss their cream teas. This sketch was done in my Moleskine with pen & ink and watercolour.

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Sunday, April 23, 2006


Today the sun has finally come out after a week of dismal weather. Grey cloud and cold damp weather does affect my mood without a doubt and the glimpse of the sun today helped a lot.

This has been a weekend of disaster. Once more a mink has gotten into the barn and played havoc with the chickens and ducks. Fifteen chickens were killed and all the ducks injured. We presumed that it was a small weasel or mink because the ducks weren't killed but all had been attacked from behind with varying degrees of injuries. One poor little Khaki Campbell male is in serious shape and may not recover. Luckily the mink didin't reach the pens with the goslings and ducklings, likely because the adult geese were nearby.

This image of of a mink that was trapped earlier this year. It measured about 24 inches long. The trap killed it instantly and I have to admire the animal for its shape and coat and ability to move. However, they are likely the most vicious, nasty creatures that I have come across. We discovered one in an outdoor duck pen last summer that had killed four ducks. Caught in the act, it stood defiantly, hissing at us, defending its kill. Horrible creatures.

After blocking off a hole that he must have come in from, the animal was trapped in the barn. Going into the barn a little later, it had just killed another hen then was disturbed and hid behind some crates. It was then shot.

This is the 3rd mink caught in the barn. We also have to contend with coyotes, foxes and hawks. It becomes disheartening to lose birds to these predators. And by now the initial venture of trying to build a stock of heritage birds has been all but abandoned as the expense and heartache of losing them to mink or others is not worth it.

Perhaps I need to get a big old mean barn cat...or ten.

To soothe my soul, I draw. This is a sketch of a Cornish Rex cat, though I haven't developed it enough to show the ruffled irregular fur that this breed has. I love the elegant, Egyptian look of these cats with almost sculpted features. I don't think this one will make a good barn cat somehow...

To top it off, one of the horses escaped the enclosure and went prancing around the garden, through flowerbeds, over grass and with the ground so soft at this time of year left craters everywhere she went. When I went out to stop her she knew she was in trouble and stood there, like a child caught in the act, head down, looking at me sideways. She reluctantly came when I called her but fought me everytime I tried to lead her with my hand on her halter. She's a big horse and still young and goofy at 4, which makes her a bit of a handful at times. Her escapade set off the other horse who was still inside the enclosure and she got caught up in some rope in the confusion. Just one of those weekends, I guess.

This photo is of the culprit, Kit, taken in the field while the snow was still down. She loves to roll in the snow like a dog. Now she likes to try to find mud to roll in. Sigh.

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