Friday, May 23, 2008

Drawing workshop

graphite 4 x 6
copyright Jeanette Jobson

I teach a drawing workshop tomorrow and am finalizing a few details for it tonight. There are 18 people registered for this workshop, so that will make a fairly large group to coordinate, but once things get underway I'm sure it will be fine.

While teaching children has appeal in some ways, I prefer teaching adults, as the interaction is on a very different level as are skill levels and ability to understand techniques - most of the time. My workshops tend to move towards showing the basics of academic drawing techniques and move into observational skills and how to apply them to create realism.

Not everyone has the patience for realistic work and want quick results but a realistic end product. These are the people who end up getting frustrated with the process and time commitment involved. On average, a highly realistic portrait of a person or animal can take me 25 - 30 hours or more, depending on whether there is a background or not. Realism is not for those who want speed.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Quill pens

Duck & goose feathers

There are a number of ducks and geese that wander around the farm constantly preening, fighting and generally leaving feathers of all sorts behind. This weekend as I did some gardening I was picking up large flight feathers from them and as I held them, wondering if I could create a quill pen.

BD & Buddy, my Muscovy ducks, are here having a great time searching for worms in a newly ploughed garden. They LOVE bugs and mice to eat. Yes, mice. Its bizarre. They are my favourite ducks. They are the ugliest creatures, but placid, slow moving and quackless. They hiss which sounds threatening but its their only way of communicating. They greet me each day when I come home, bobbing their heads, hissing and wagging their tails like little dogs. I adore them. They are very large ducks, the size of turkeys or geese so their feathers are perfect for quill pens.

A quill pen is made from a flight feather of a large bird, most often a goose. Quills were used as instruments for writing with ink before the metal dip pen, the fountain pen and ballpoint pen came into use.

Common writing equipment in medieval times were the quill and parchment. The strongest quills were the primary flight feathers taken from living birds in the spring. The left wing was favored because the feathers curved outward and away when used by a right-handed writer. Goose feathers were most commonly used and swan feathers were of a premium grade being scarcer and more expensive. For making fine lines, crow feathers were the best, and then came the feathers of the eagle, owl, hawk and turkey. Quills obtained from living birds in the spring proved to be the best for writing.

The method of making a quill pen is a little time consuming, but achievable with some practice. I have quite a few feathers to choose from but I won't be tackling one of the geese to get a 'live' flight feather!

How to make a quill pen

Keeping with the era of quill pens, I'm still working on my 1460 self portrait, so here's another update. Everything seems to be done in small chunks of time lately as I haven't had a block of time to sit down and finish a more complex piece. Next week...

I'm working on developing the dark background and dress and sculpting the upper portion of the head dress and the gauze. I've been using charcoal for the dark background but its not covering really well at this point. I'll try a little fixative and go over it again for a smooth surface.

1460 Self Portrait
after Rogier van der Weyden's Portrait of a Lady
copyright Jeanette Jobson

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bad day

Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are. ~Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha

Its not been a good 24 hours.

I developed a severe burning pain in my eye last night that kept me awake most of the night. Trying to get a doctor's appointmentproved difficult. The earliest he can see me is Wednesday. Medical care is free for the most part in Canada, but it sure does have its challenges sometimes in terms of waiting times. Anyway, despite it all, the eye is getting better, and I have antibiotic drops to use, so I'll manage.

Then late this afternoon a friend died of cancer. She had been diagnosed only about a month ago. Its sad and all so common lately, this disease. Was is so prevalent in the past or did doctors just not know what it was? Or is it more common now due to changes in foods and lifestyles? Whichever the case, its a horrible disease, deserved by no one and equally damaging to those who die from it and those who watch the process helplessly from the sidelines.

So I crippled through today on little sleep and pain, wearing sunglasses inside and out as my eye was so light sensitive. Yes, its my pity party tonight. Come on over and bring a bottle.

However, I do have a little update on the tutorial for glass that I am developing. Not a large one, as my brain/eye/hand coordination won't let me see the finer details tonight, but an update all the same. I enjoy drawing glass. The precise shapes are like fitting a puzzle together.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Cosmos - finished & Tripod

White Cosmos
Coloured pencil on Bristol Vellum 9 x 12
copyright Jeanette Jobson

This is a close up of the area that was torn. Its the area immediately to the right of the middle sepal of the flower. Its virtual unnoticeable now thanks to some great advice from Teresa Mallen and others on how to repair it.

Finally, a view of the piece from about 6 feet away. We always see images close up on computers, but not as often from the appropriate viewing point. This gives a better idea of the colours, but is still a little pale.

And now for all the Tripod fans out there, his very own video. This was taken yesterday in the front yard, Tripod proving that disabled or not he can still catch pretty well and is really part dog. Ok, sort of. When he's in the mood. And its not too warm. If he's had enough tuna.

Never work with children or animals....


Monday, May 19, 2008

Flower drawing update

CP on bristol vellum 9 x 12
copyright Jeanette Jobson

Its the Victoria Day long weekend in Canada and I haven't had much in the way of commitments until tonight, so I'm trying to catch up on some drawing.

I transferred the cosmos line drawing onto Bristol Vellum on Saturday and have made some inroads into the background and the buds. The flower is slowly coming together but there are sections that I have removed and will do over. It doesn't 'flow' for me. But of course, being a flower, that's my usual dilemma! Now in the process of removing some of the pigment on the flower, a small piece of the paper has lifted off, as I was using sticky tape to lift off the colour. I will try to go over it and see what the result is. Any tips from people who have fixed similar problems would be more than welcome.

I'm aiming for a soft, mottled background , predominantly green and am now introducing other colours into to provide interest. I'm pleased with the background and buds so far. I just need to fix the main flower. I'm bringing colours from the background into the flower and hope that will give it some lift. I want it to remain soft and subtle but not be boring.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Virtual Sketch # 2

Tripod 8 x 10
copyright Jeanette Jobson

Last week I emailed a reference photo to those participating in a Virtual Sketch. This was Rose Welty's idea and she and I participated in one a few weeks ago. We decided to continue on and invited others to join which they did. Ten people in all took part, including myself.

The concept is simple. One person provides a reference image and you have a week to draw it, then post it on your blog. Its always interesting to see the different approaches to subjects. The subjects can push us outside our comfort zones but that's a good thing, its how we learn and grow as artists.

I've had my plate pretty full this week, and worked on Tripod, the cat, off and on during that time. Tripod has many obsessions. One of them is paper and in this instance he was lying on the paper I was drawing on. I don't think I've gone a wonderful job of this. His eyes are too far apart I think. This cat has a big square head, a real tom cat face and I may have over emphasized that and then the paw was a bit of an afterthought, so its too small. But there's always next time.

The following individuals took part in the Virtual Sketch this time and I'd encourage you to visit their blogs and see what they have produced from this reference. All drawings will be posted sometime today, Sunday, May 18th. I say sometime, as we didn't set a deadline for posting time, just the day. As people are spread over the globe, posting times will be staggered. Keep checking in during Sunday and you'll find some amazing art I am sure.

Rose, Jeanne, Stacy, Belinda, Jennifer, Gayle, Teresa, Katherine and Paulette (Teresa's image is posted on Rose's blog as Teresa doesn't have a blog)