Drawing people

I have a daily practice of drawing people. If no one is handy, I use the SKTCHY app for reference. I do two types of sketches. A five minute timed sketch and a Cheater Blind Contour sketch. I use brush fountain pens for the the timed 5 minute sketch. This helps with my brush skills. The other sketch, I use the big fat chunky Higgins Indian Ink Chisel marker that I received in my Artsnacks box back in May. I love that marker. I use the Uniball vision for the fine line.

Here are some examples of those people. Four of these were assignments from Make Art That Sells Assignment Bootcamp. You’ll see more of these over the next couple of days….

Sketchbook with my “tools.”

Sketching with my iPad

I was the biggest skeptic of digital “art.” It seemed too easy to draw over photos. Every time I saw a digital portrait on Instagram, I passed because I thought it was too perfect. Then I joined the SKTCHY app on the iPhone and I saw more digital portraits. Some looked way to perfect, but others had that look where you can tell the artist did it by observing, not copying. I was still skeptical.

Then I saw the David Hockney exhibit at the Met. I walked into a room where there was a large Digital screen and on it were David Hockney’s paintings done on the iPad using Procreate. There is a feature where you can loop the drawing process and they were playing that on the screen. You can see the entire drawing and painting process. I was enthralled. Amazed. SMITTEN. I sat down on the floor not caring who was around me and I was in Heaven. WOW.

I walked out of there with a whole new appreciation of digital art and how it can actually BE art. You can use the iPad as a sketching tool. A tool to create cartoons and animation. I have even mimicked collage on the iPad. I follow a Hong Kong artist named Rob Sketcherman and I was impressed with his digital urban sketches. (Alas, I haven’t seen many posts from Rob lately, I hope he and his family are ok with Hong Kong’s issues.) I starting to use the iPad to urban sketch and I love playing with various features to see what happens. There’s always the “Undo” button if I don’t like something. I also like that I can pull a painting or sketch into Procreate and work from the original to create something new. I did that the other day with the Unicorn post.

Below is an example of an urban sketch (on location) that I did back at the end of June. I have been wanting to get out and sketch more but I have to adapt to the new world we have now.

At least I can still get out……


Sketchbook fun

It was a wet stormy day the other on Independence Day. Usually we get hit by a passing storm in the evening. Sometimes we just get “heat lightning.” Other days we get the whole kickass “boom- booms- light- show” and then no rain at all.

On Independence Day, we got the whole show and we kept our fingers crossed that it would wash out the neighborhood armageddon of fireworks. It didn’t, but gratefully it wasn’t as bad down here as it was when we lived on Long Island.

Chloe and Mack do not like “boom boom’s” of any type. Chloe shivers the whole time and if a thunderstorm happens during the weekday, either John or myself get a Chubby Chi cemented to our lap. Mack barks at them as if that actually would make them go away. Doesn’t work. Don’t tell Mack. He thinks he does a great job protecting the realm.

This has been a difficult time for us and we know we are not alone. We are doing the best we can and trying to be smart about when we leave the house. We stick to a routine of working from home (my temp studio is in the garage) and around 4:30-ish we make dinner. After dinner we might take a ride to sit by the Indian River or the beach (it’s usually empty later) and sit until sunset. Sometimes we take Chloe and Mack. We have our daily routine, with or without rain.

Below is a page out of my sketchbook. The furred babies would not be happy to be out in the rain. Although Chloe does appreciate umbrellas. Mack could care, wet is wet. He’s a pig, he’d roll in the mud if we weren’t watching him.

Three Hour Tour

This boat was capsized for a long while. I found this sketch among the ones that weren’t posted. It was done in a homemade sketchbook using Fabriano cold press paper, which you can see is quite textured. Since this sketch was completed, the boat was moved over by a marina. I guess someone will attempt to fix the water damage. The water near the causeway bridge is quite shallow and for some reason tipped boats are not unusual.

Emmy by the pool

Emmy has a coiled rope wrapped “boing” that we put her on outside. She’s in an screened enclosure so she’s safe from predators. When I go for my morning swim, Emmy talks, chirps, whistles and I mimic her as I am swimming. I sketched this the other day, after my swim.

Done digitally on Procreate:

Emmy by the pool

The first time I ever saw a unicorn

The first time I saw a unicorn, I was on Chincoteague Island. I was painting plein air in the woods on Assateague… I was trying to capture the memory of when Paul Beebe saw Misty for the first time…I rubbed my eyes, (ended up with pastel all over my face), but yes, it was still there! A REAL unicorn! It shimmered and it was almost ethereal, like it was a vapor, or maybe it was a mist rolling in. I don’t know but I’ll never forget when I saw that unicorn!

The unicorn

This was a painting that I did several years ago. I came across it recently and thought it would be perfect for an assignment/prompt from Carla Sonheim’s ‘Best of 365.’ I added the unicorn with Procreate.

As far as painting it on location in Assateague, this is true and I actually was trying to capture the feeling Paul Beebe had when seeing Misty for the first time (as described in the story; Misty of Chincoteague.’)

Maybe some day I’ll meet another unicorn on Assateague.

My thoughts on pre filled Watercolor palettes/sets

Sketchbook Skool posted a nice article on pre filled watercolor palettes. https://sketchbookskool.com/blog/watercolor-palette-guide/

There were lots of goodies on that post and yes, these are nice watercolor palettes. I have been wanting to try to QOR watercolors but I can’t quite justify the purchase to myself except for collecting a watercolor set that I just don’t need or probably won’t use as much. I do have the Pocket Palette that I filled with my own colors and I use it all the time when I am out sketching and I don’t feel like squeezing out paint. (photo below)

I read the article and I know that Sketchbook Skool has a lot of beginner artists and this was my advice to them:

 A suggestion to Beginners would be to hold off on the more expensive, expansive sets and just start with something basic.  Beginners are better off buying a small plastic palette and squeezing on some tube paint on the palette to carry with them.  You can get a lot of painting done with just 3 colors. A cheap Prang set is OK to start with as well, to see if you even like painting with watercolors.  A pet peeve of mine is the colors in the sets aren’t always colors you are going to use and some of these sets are sickeningly expensive. To spend a lot of money on a fancy set with colors that don’t get used is a waste of hard earned money.  Go with a few tubes instead.

 Also, Watercolor isn’t for everyone and with so many other portable water media like gouache and acrylic, and even watercolor pencils and crayons out there, it might be better to limit spending on fancy expensive sets and instead, play around with a limited palette of a couple of colors in different media to see what fits you. Don Colley uses Faber Castell Pitt pens extremely effectively.  Roz Stendahl is a Queen of Gouache.   Rob Sketcherman uses the iPad. James Gurney switches it up with watercolor, gouache, casein and also oils. There are even water soluble oil paints. (Check out Gurney’s videos and you’ll be amazed how he works with a limited palette.)

The point is, start BASIC.  Experiment.  Play with the materials.  Cathy Johnson and Roz Stendahl, for example, teach the way I learned as an artist.  And I had 8 years of learning between an art focused curriculum in High School, then studying art and getting a degree in Art from college.  You need to know how to mix colors.  every new color purchased should be run through your other colors to see how it blends and mixes. Cathy covers this in her books and her blog, so does Roz.  Make color charts.  Terry Ludwig of Terry Ludwig Pastels STILL carries around the oil paint color chart he made on scraps of canvas when he was young.

As you grow (with daily practice), you pick up skills and preferences.  There is no magic palette or magic brush or pencil or pen.  There is ONLY constant daily practice.  ANY practice, just do it.  I painted over 600 (give or take) plein air paintings (not including the over 80 something sketchbooks) and only about 250 plein air paintings don’t make me cringe, and many, I can proudly say, look pretty damn good.  But I didn’t learn that overnight.  It was years of practice.  

I am adding this comment here, it wasn’t in their comments: Some of you have seen me write this before…Anyone learning to draw and paint has to understand that Tom Brady did not jump out of his bed one morning to say, “Hey, I want to be the greatest Quarterback ever” and then walked on the field and won the Super Bowl. No professional athlete does that, unless you are a three year old thoroughbred with the potential to win the Kentucky Derby. Even thoroughbreds have a few races under their saddle. Every single human athlete, EVERY one, practice their sport for many, many years to get where they are. The same thing applies to artists. You don’t get to be good without practice and most are masters in the later years in life. Why? Because of the many many years of practicing their craft.

I’ll leave off with this:

I learned to paint oils and watercolors from Joan Shih.  Most of you probably never heard of her but she was an excellent educator and painter.  She was a purist and “No tricks” were permitted in our watercolors.  I learned from an amazing lady.  Her color palette consisted of a warm and cool red, a warm and cool blue, a warm and cool yellow, two greens and neutrals…..Cadmium Red Deep, Alizarin Crimson*, Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Cerulean Blue, Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Deep, Hookers Green Light and Viridian, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, Raw Umber and Ivory Black. ( I can still hear her accent as she said the names of the colors.)

*Alizarin Crimson is a fugitive (fading) color that many artists have replaced or use a synthetic permanent version now.

What do I use today?  I use all of those colors or have them handy in each media I use except Hooker’s Green Light.  (Titanium White gets added to opaque media) but here is my disclaimer:

As I have grown as an artist, I developed my OWN preferences, 

Quinacridone Gold is my yellow ochre, Raw umber was replaced with Burnt Umber, I rarely use Cobalt or Cerulean Blue anymore,  I use Cascade Green and Sap Green now and only use Viridian for really green grass or trees, and I love Quinacridone Coral as my red.  I like purples and oranges from a tube. I love Indigo Blue.

 In my Pocket Palette that goes everywhere with me, I have Ultramarine Blue, Pthalo Blue, Sap Green, Cascade Green, Quin Gold, Imperial Purple, Indigo, Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Orange, Organic Vermilion, Carmine, Quin Violet, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber.  Each and every color was carefully selected for maximum use for all scenarios.  I had to leave out the Corals or the Moonglows to go with colors I used most of the time or that I know I will need the out sketching or doing small paintings on location.

You color palette is as individual as you are.  Don’t be afraid to experiment to find what works for you.

Mapping this moment

I haven’t done a map in a while. I decided to post one for the call for artists for the ‘They Draw and Travel’ Blog. They requested that artists submit a map that records this moment in time. Art in the time of COVID-19.

I decided to map our morning walk. We are fortunate to live in Florida in a less densely populated area. Lock down meant not being able to go the beach but we could take neighborhood walks.

Our morning started out in our circle which looped a little over a mile. We lapped it three times before we started to get bored so we started to leave the circle and we love our walks and all the creatures we see. We’re always exited when we see something new. Currently, plumerias are blooming and there are these umbrella shaped trees with the most gorgeous flowers.

We see many of the same people, some are recorded on the map.

And if you look carefully, there is an aquatic ‘map monster’ in the neighborhood who has grown since last year.

A word of caution for non Floridians; ALWAYS assume a body of water has a gator.