Saturday, May 20, 2006

Artist's resources

I wandered across this site last night and it site provides hours of reading on watercolour paint production, colours, paper. The Hand Print site, by Bruce MacEvoy. Here's a sample regarding pigment history. I don't think I have any of this in my local art store...

I've left for dessert everyone's favorite, Egyptian mummy or caput mortuum (no CI name), a tarry brown pigment made from mummies excavated during the 18th to 19th centuries from ancient Egyptian communal tombs; these dried bodies had been embalmed with asphaltum (a petroleum residue) and resins. Pigment made by grinding up these carboniferous corpses was commonly available from the late 18th century up to 1925. (Winsor & Newton closely mimics this historical color in their caput mortuum violet.)

This information sent me wandering in search of other resource documents for artists.

Daniel Smith provides a basic guide to artist's pigments.

Art Studio Chalkboard is a resource for artists and art students that focus on the technical fundamentals of perspective, shading, color and painting. They were compiled and designed by Ralph Larmann, art faculty member in the University of Evansville Art Department.

Sue Dickinson's Painting Tips & Demonstrations -- Sue's watercolor tips are wonderful. If you are a beginner, do not miss her invaluable advice for buying watercolor materials!

Egg Tempera -- Lots of helpful information and links from The Society of Tempera Painters.

The Drawing Board for Illustrators -- Resources, links, articles, and a message board for illustrators from all fields.

Sketching Wild Birds -- A sample of lessons from Trevor Smith's book which covers sketching techniques, behaviour, anatomy, composition and much more.

Pencil Portrait Drawing -- The instruction is organized so you can choose the area of interest to you: Proportions, Features, Shading, etc.

Useful Paper Terms -- Daniel Smith explains the terms used to describe paper and its various characteristics.

Grid Method -- Teaches how to use the grid method to get an accurate sketch.

Tips & Tricks -- The Pastel Artists of Ontario Canada offer advice on pastel safety, keeping colours vibrant, exhibiting pastels, and more.

I've been on a roll with animal sketches this weekend. Here's another couple that I did this morning. Tomorrow, I must make a start on a portrait. Its a long weekend in Canada so I'll have time to get it drawn and hopefully transferred to Stonehenge.

On the farm some new geese arrived while I was away. These are Embden geese, big stocky birds with beautiful blue eyes. They are in a temporary pen now but will be moved out to the fields in the next week or so. They seem more placid than the Chinese brown geese that we currently have and much less noisy!

Technorati Tags: , , ,


In an effort to get back into drawing again after a 10 day break, I decided to take part in a weekend drawing class to find inspiration and get into the swing of things again. The subject of the class was the zoo, and animals are right up my alley. The stars were in alignment as were the pen and brush.

Here are a couple of the sketches that came out of the exercise. Ringtailed lemurs and a grizzly bear. I won't go into the debate of the benefits and faults of zoos, but to say that I don't approve of them entirely, especially for displaying animals that are not endangered or for large animals housed in inadequate enclosures.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Friday, May 19, 2006

Art news

My first copy of Artist's Magazine arrived this week. I have bought copies off and on over the last year but finally relented and bought a subscription. While browsing it I found a number of links to art news and sifting through their links has taken me most of the evening. These little side trips are always interesting but you do lose track of time while doing so.

My little friend 'Dover Cat' and I wandered the ether looking for new sites on art news and found quite a few. Dover Cat is the mascot of an aquatic facility in Ontario and a friend of mine runs the facility. He gave me 'Dover Cat' as part of a bet. Its turquoise, soft and fluffy and even as an adult I still admit to secret squeezes of its soft little body.

Art News Blog is a selection of visual art news, art reviews and art related stories online.

Arts Journal is a daily digest of arts, culture and ideas.

Paul Dorrell Blog
A blog by the novelist and gallery owner, and author of Living The Artist's Life - the seminal guidance book for artists. Each Friday he offers insights that are a result of years as an art gallery owner, writer, and promoter of artists. Subjects both practical and philosophical are delved into.

Working Artist's Journal is Anna L.Conti's blog.
I'm a painter. That's what I really care about. When I'm not actually making art, I like to experience it, look at it, talk about it. I'm especially interested in talking about art with artists and other people in the arts. So this is a place to record and share some of those exchanges.

Art Daily - the internet's first art newspaper.

Zeke's Gallery
Stuff Happening in the Montreal Art World and elsewhere.

Culural Commentary with Attitude: Lee Rosenbaum puts you behind the scenes, ahead of the news. Also writes for Wall Street Journal's Leisure & Arts page and the New York Times (including six Op-Ed pieces). "New must-read blog" by "one of the smartest voices out there."--Tyler Green, Modern Art Notes. "The most interesting new blogger to come along in ages."--Terry Teachout, About Last Night.

Angrypirate: an artist weblog is the work of Alanna Spence.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Vitruvian Man

The Vitruvian Man is a famous drawing with accompanying notes by Leonardo da Vinci made around the year 1492 in one of his journals. It depicts a naked male figure in two superimposed positions with his arms and legs apart and simultaneously inscribed in a circle and square. The drawing and text are sometimes called the Canon of Proportions or, less often, Proportions of Man. It is on display in the Gallerie dell' Accademia in Venice, Italy. It can been seen as one of the first theories of measurements in life drawing.

Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, an example of the blend of art and science during the Renaissance.This image provides the perfect example of Leonardo's keen interest in proportion. In addition, this picture represents a cornerstone of Leonardo's attempts to relate man to nature. Encyclopaedia Britannica online states, "Leonardo envisaged the great picture chart of the human body he had produced through his anatomical drawings and Vitruvian Man as a cosmografia del minor mondo (cosmography of the microcosm). He believed the workings of the human body to be an analogy for the workings of the universe." It is also believed by some that Leonardo Da Vinci symbolised the material existence by the square and spiritual existence by the circle. Thus he attempted to depict the correlation between these two aspects of human existence.

According to Leonardo's notes in the accompanying text, written in mirror writing, it was made as a study of the proportions of the (male) human body as described in a treatise by the Ancient Roman architect Vitruvius, who wrote that in the human body:

a palm is the width of four fingers
a foot is the width of four palms
a cubit is the width of six palms
a man's height is four cubits (and thus 24 palms)
a pace is four cubits
the length of a man's outspread arms is equal to his height
the distance from the hairline to the bottom of the chin is one-tenth of a man's height
the distance from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin is one-eighth of a man's height
the maximum width of the shoulders is a quarter of a man's height
the distance from the elbow to the tip of the hand is one-fifth of a man's height
the distance from the elbow to the armpit is one-eight of a man's height
the length of the hand is one-tenth of a man's height
the distance from the bottom of the chin to the nose is one-third of the length of the head
the distance from the hairline to the eyebrows is one-third of the length of the face
the length of the ear is one-third of the length of the face
Leonardo is clearly illustrating Vitruvius De Architectura 3.1.3 which reads:

The navel is naturally placed in the centre of the human body, and, if in a man lying with his face upward, and his hands and feet extended, from his navel as the centre, a circle be described, it will touch his fingers and toes. It is not alone by a circle, that the human body is thus circumscribed, as may be seen by placing it within a square. For measuring from the feet to the crown of the head, and then across the arms fully extended, we find the latter measure equal to the former; so that lines at right angles to each other, enclosing the figure, will form a square.

There is of course no such thing as a universal set of proportions for the human body. The field of anthropometry was created in order to describe these individual variations. Vitruvius' statements may be interpreted as statements about average proportions, or perhaps as descriptions of an ideal human form. Vitruvius goes through some trouble to give a precise mathematical definition of what he means by saying that the navel is the center of the body, but other definitions lead to different results; for example, the center of mass of the human body depends on the position of the limbs, and in a standing posture is typically about 10 cm lower than the navel, near the top of the hip bones

Life drawing uses measurement constantly to acheive proportion and likeness. Hints from Richard Hatton on figure drawings give the basics of measurement when drawing. Wet Canvas too, provides information on proportion when drawing from life.

Nancy Doyle provides good information on the mechanics of drawing in her site.

Finally, my own life drawing efforts. Not recent, but from my archives. I will find a life class this summer and get back into that stream which I miss. It really does provide wonderful experience and hones your drawing skills.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Building takes time

I am still on a quest to rebuild my portfolio of animals - particularly dogs so that I can venture back into the commission business. It is slow going due to my lack of time that I am able to devote to it.

I have just provided my daughter with a drawing of her dog Jessie - a overly energetic labrador cross but a sweet dispositioned dog despite her energy level.

There seems to be a number of Labrador or Labrador-like dogs in my portfolio. I think the lines of them and other sleeker breeds are easier to draw. I find those little hairy beasts the most difficult with all that fur a challenge to find lines and form in. But I still try.

My goal this week will be to start another dog portrait to add to my collection (or hopefully someone elses). I have more than enough references and friends dogs to choose from...choosing and doing are two different things lately. Someone push me in the direction of my drawing board please.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Artistic blocks

Everyone who has ever put pencil to paper has experienced a time when you try to draw and nothing transfers itself from brain to hand to paper. This is one of those times.

It could be for a number of reasons. I have been away and out of the routine of drawing. I have not felt well. Work and life pull at me and vie for my attention with work and life winning.

Tonight I sit with my moleskine open, trying to reach that space where my mind takes over and the rest of the world disappears, just creativity takes over. But it won't happen.

I've made marks, but they are childlike and don't seem like mine. There again, I fell asleep after supper, woke up and it took me a good five mimutes to figure out where I was. I'm sure that all that is happening in life right now takes its toll and impacts my ability to translate thoughts into images. I won't let it concern me. I know I ican do this. I know others expect me to do this. I want to do this. I will do this. Perhaps just not very well tonight. There is a cringe as I post this image as I know I can do much better. But each drawing has merit, good or bad and is something I can learn from. The challenge is if someone can see something recognizable out of the lines of tonight.

We all want perfection in what we do, but it is seldom acheived or only temporarily and that perfection is often the benchmark in our minds only; to others it is something entirely different. Expectations are often unfulfilled which is why I must learn to not rest my hopes on them. Yes, I expect certain things to unfold as I plan them, but often expectations are simply wishes, dreams and hopes that, in my head, never make it to the cutting room floor, where they belong or to remember to temper them with reality. I am the original dreamer with my heart and nerves on my sleeve. Reality is a harsh place to exist. I prefer the gentler world of dreams as do many artists. It is where creativity comes from. Perhaps that is why I am at a block. Reality has pushed into my life, shoving dreams to the side. I will be looking for those dreams tonight.

Technorati tags: , , , ,

Monday, May 15, 2006

Home again

I have been away from 10 days, business and pleasure - and in my case, illness - my own. About a week ago I developed a horrible cold. One of those that leaves you weak, aching, hot flashes & cold shivers, and it continues still. Of course this was because I decided to take a few days off. I always get sick when I take time off work. Its as if I provide my body with the formula for disaster - its called relaxation. And it doesn't like it apparently.

I had dreams of sitting in prairie fields, drawing the landscape, the machinery and the wildlife. But it wsn't to be. Instead I took photos, sneezed, took drugs, sneezed more, then wanted to go home and nap. The napping part never materialized as I was being entertainer an entertainee for my daughters, so time was spent socializing and exploring the world.

So now I am at home and the cold is slowly lessening its grip but I still feel crappy. That, combined with a 3.5 hour time difference and having an unexpected meeting today when I was hoping for a day off, leaves me feeling drained.

But life goes on. Memories of the landscape cling as do experiences and people, some stressful, some amazing, all unique and nonreturnable.

I will explore the photos that I took and do some drawing or painting then post once my mind/hand coordination is back to some semblance of normality. On arrivval home, I have to deal with horse sales as the two horses are being sold and buyers interested. Lady, the quarter horse, has gone for a two week trial and that looks promising. Kit is alone now and not too perturbed so far at Lady's absence, but won't be sold until it is certain that Lady will not return. That story of equine neurotics is for another day...

For now, here is an update of the persimmons that I started a few weeks back. They are nearing completion and I anticipate another 8 hours of work perhaps to finish them. They are done on Stonehenge paper 9 x 12 with Prismacolor pencils.

Technorati tags: , , ,