Saturday, June 27, 2009

Portraits and ponds

I haven't made a lot of progress with the portrait today. Fatigue has overwhelmed me and after shopping for groceries, cooking and cleaning up, a nap was the order of the day. I must be getting old, I love my naps.

I've wiped the eyes several times on this portrait and they're still not what I want, they're too blue. I want them grayer so they don't become the focal point. I've blocked in colour and some values so everything looks a bit bright here.

I haven't decided on a background yet either. I'm toying with an African plains background as the portrait is The Lion Cub. I may play around with that and see how it goes or perhaps leave it a muted blue/purple which would complement the ochres of the towel.

The spell of hot, muggy weather definitely changed today with fog rolling in and a cool breeze. It must be the weekend! But on the way home in the evening the sun was setting over Gallow's Pond. With not a breath of wind to disturb the water, the reflections were perfect and I had to take a photo.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Trees in bulk

Trees behind the barn
graphite 8 x 10 Moleskine

When I sit on the sofa in the living room and look straight ahead, this is part of my view. The wood shed attached to the barn and trees, trees, trees. I am surrounded very literally, by trees. As a visitor commented, they seem impenetrable, they grow so thickly. So drawing them as they grow is a challenge.

There are a variety of trees; aspen, poplar, birch, juniper, pine, spruce and labernum are all in my view here. Then there are the honeysuckle shrubs and lilacs which are the forerunners for the trees.

So how to tackle them? Simplification seems the best method. I try for overall shapes and values then start adding more form and depth to them. As I don't want minute detail at this distance, it seems to work well. I don't have to worry about individual leaves or textures, just the impression that the trees give 'en masse'.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Portrait update

I've started blocking in some colour for the portrait and still need to refine the features and adjust some proportions. The hands are in a unique position, like she's plotting something secretly and they'll be worked up as I move ahead.

Right now she has a rather serene look, almost Mona Lisa-like. This photo is taken under artificial light and doesn't really show the colours well, despite tweaking on PS. But for tonight, its the start and a weekend is coming up so I may well have some more time to work on it.

I'm feeling more comfortable with oils now and can predict what they'll do and how colours will behave. The learning curve back to oils has been long and only now am I approaching where I was many years ago when oils were in daily use for me.

It really does go to show that if you don't use it, you do lose it. Or at least lose some elements of it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The lion cub

Now that small people are no longer visiting, I can pull out the oil paints and get tucked into a new portrait.

I took a photo of my grand daughter just after her bath, wrapped in a lion towel. The hood of the towel was the lion's face and the triangles of fabric made up the mane. She posed for me, no doubt with an eye on getting her hands on the camera, and I took a photo that turned out well. The natural evening light was just right and the child stood still for a rare moment. The planets were aligned.

I have decided to do an oil painting of this pose and started the charcoal underdrawing of it on an 11 x 14 gallery canvas. I want to make sure that the drawing is accurate before I begin painting. However, even then, I can adjust as I go along. I'll spray this lightly so it won't smear then come back to finish the drawing tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Operation Aborted

Ducklings - Bowering Park
pen and ink/wash

Several of my blog readers have reported problems accessing this blog through Internet Explorer and get the dreaded 'Operation Aborted' message, sending you to a Microsoft problem reporting site.

Some bloggers have stated that changing from the inline comment form, to a popup or separate form, has helped eliminate their version of the problem. Presumably, the problem, if this is going to be effective, will be seen only in single post mode, not in archive or main page view.

The Real Blogger states:

Blogger Support acknowledges the problem, and notes
This only affects viewers using IE to view the blog; for right now, blog owners can either move the Followers gadget lower in their sidebar, or remove it altogether. Either action will eliminate the pop-up dialog box in IE.
Two weeks after the latest problem was reported, though, this problem continues. And some bloggers are recently reporting that their blogs have this problem, and it's not apparently solved by removing the Blogger Followers / Google Friend Connect gadgets, or by changing the comment form from "Embedded below post" to "Full page" or "Popup".

The longer that this latest version of the problem goes, unsolved or unacknowledged by Blogger Support, the more confusion this causes. People who would like Following / Friend Connect, or the inline comment form, on their blogs, won't be installing them because they are uncertain what will happen to their readers ability to access their blogs. And if the original problem (problems) which existed before May 2009 continue, or if new non Blogger caused problems occur, we won't know about them because we wait for Blogger Support to fix the known (or perceived) problem with Following / Friend Connect.
Based on the above information, I'm not sure what I should do. It seems until Blogger Support fixes the problem, I don't really know what the problem is! I'm am hesitant to remove Followers and have those individuals lose their links on my page and I my connection to them. So I will remain status quo for a few more days until I hear more information. Until then, my recommendation is to use Mozilla Firefox, as that does not seem to have clashes with Blogger.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The pond

Most of my visitors will be gone in a day or two and my ability to devote some time to drawing and painting will return. I've been sketching plein aire and not very far from home. Its amazing what is on your doorstep, almost literally, that can be explored and seen in a new light.

There is this little pond on the edge of my property. The ducks and geese swim there and its a stopping point for some wild ducks in fall and spring. The trees and bushes have closed in around it, making it secluded and quite sheltered and the excess water flows out via a small brook into the marsh to the right, feeding hundreds of blue flag irises which will flower next month and are quite spectacular when they do.

I made the start on this piece and had it about half done when the black flies drove me inside to complete it. As long as I can get the bones of a piece down, I'm happy and can finish it provided I've gotten the base values in.