Sunday, February 27, 2011

Renewal of Faith in our Youth

Last night at the Barnes and Noble I met a wonderful young man and his little brother. He is 14 years-old and his brother is 8 years-old. They were there with their mother and the 14 year-old (I will just refer to him by his first initial, B.) complimented the sketch I was working on. Well "[he] had me at hello!" I was so flattered. He later mentioned me to his mom, so I asked him if he likes to draw. He also keeps a sketchbook. I offered him the blog address of Tommy Kane, Genine Zlatkis, and Kurt Hollomon.

B. was not only well-mannered--not for a fourteen year-old, but for a human being--but, surprisingly interested in what this 49 year-old woman had to say. None of the disinterested shoulder shrugs when asked a question, none of the looking everywhere but in my eyes when spoken to. He sat down with his notebook and wrote down the blog addresses and talked to me. His little brother, T. stood by and listened. It was an incredible experience because the kids that I have contact with are disinterested, disrespectful and rude. It was so refreshing to witness a true young man. I hope that his interest in drawing continues throughout his life and his dream of being a veterinarian is fulfilled.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Old School

Freesia with a little artist's license

Inked the top two (from life drawings) the birds are from photos--prefer the .005 to a .01 pen tip

On the morning train

On the bus (.01 pen)

A little collage and a little acrylic
I am disappointed. I recently found out that some of my favorite journal artists don't do all of their drawing freehand. When it comes to drawing faces, they trace a photograph onto the substrate and then work it in their style. I was so impressed by their talent and drawing ability. I know that some of them do both, trace and draw freehand, and I am not implying that these artists ever kept the tracing a secret. In fact, they show everyone how it is done. I am still impressed with their talent to make beautiful art, but, I don't know how to explain it... I was brought up thinking that is "cheating." I went to art school for a year and a half back in '79-'80. I was one of the least talented when it came to drawing. I dropped out, but returned three and a half years later to the Fibers program. Still being one of the least talented in making art and thinking I wanted to design knitwear, I transferred to another school--not an art school--and was considered one of the most talented when it came to drawing models for my clothing designs. Why? Because the Fashion Design major was a really new program and it didn't have a big number of students yet. The school was filled with business majors--in my classes that meant Fashion Merchandising students who couldn't draw. It was great! I was the best, finally!

I am a big fan of the Tommy Kane/Danny Gregory genre who do all of their drawing freehand and in ink! No pencil first like me. They are old school. They don't prepare backgrounds while doing housework, in an almost assembly line sort of way. I understand the need for art on the run--to fulfill your creative desire when your full-time gig is non-creative and time is short. I also get that so many people love to create but can't draw and it is so frustrating that it defeats the purpose of being creative. I get it! But I still think there is something to be said for those who can draw beautifully.

It is a little like the abstract artist who sells paintings for 6 figures, but can't draw. I'm not talking about artist like Picasso, who did abstract art, but could draw beautifully, but the artists who don't learn the basics before they start swirling paint on a canvas and call it art. It was the same when I was trying to sell my hand-loomed sweaters. The designers who sold these simple rectangular, drop-shoulder baby sweaters for oodles of money in the boutiques--no surface design or anything. They didn't even know how to knit, let alone use the knitting machine, but made a name for themselves and money. Urgggh! It was so frustrating.

All in all, I learn something from everyone and am influenced by them all, but if I aspire to be most like any artist, it would be the old-timer type that really has a grip on drawing.

Stepping off (the soapbox) and putting on a little makeup (to cover up the green tinge I am showing).

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Half Century Gone

TOMA and I are home from work today because of the President's Day holiday. We were awoken from a nap to a knock on the door. "Is that your car," they asked. It was the tree service hired by our neighbor to the right to cut down the 50 year-old ornamental cherry tree whose trunk is on his property, but the branches hang over ours. I immediately called my neighbor to verify that he ordered these people to kill a healthy tree. "Yes, I know I told you..." No, he did not--I would have tried to talk him out of it!

This spring I will not have beautiful pink blossoms that fall and make a blanket of "pink snow" on the ground. Next fall no gorgeous yellow and orange carpet on the grass. When I lay down for a nap in the afternoon, no view from my bedroom window before I fall asleep.  The birds will not have a place to wait their turn on the feeder. The squirrel will not have a place to discretely eat his/her peanuts. During migration no convenient rest stop for the long trip. Just yesterday TOMA and I came home from food shopping to find a hawk sitting in the tree and it allowed us to study him/her for 15 minutes from the bedroom window. We'll have none of that anymore. Just the retched view of the ugly, trash filled row homes across the street.

It was really nice to sit on my swing in the spring under the green canopy knitting or drawing. I am so sad. It took them an hour to destroy the life of a healthy 50 year old tree. It provided shade, cover and I bet a good climb for a child or two. I feel like I just watched an animal get tortured and murdered.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Some New Work

Just a couple of things I've been working on.


Mr. Blue resting after a long night flight.

Drawing before adding color. Mostly drawn from memory, but hind paws changed after observation below.

Freesia actually gave me enough time to sketch the way her hind paws are positioned while sitting upright. She also allowed me to do a quick study of her face.

This was the one that needed to be salvaged. I collaged over the background twice with copies of old paintings. Still not happy with it. I just don't know what to do with it at this point.

So at least I am working. I am drawing mostly from imagination and I just acquired a bunch of photo calendars of birds, butterflies and Italy, so I have some inspiration and a drawing to color over the next couple of days.

Baci e abbracci

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Black and Blue

It has been a while since I have written, but I have been drawing and painting. I have been inspired by my new books that finally arrived, especially the Pam Carriker book. I decided to add some wings to my cats--more like wings to fly rather than the wings of an angel. My cats are not angels, but I think at least one of them would love to fly away. My poor little Black.

Black would be so happy if she was the one and only cat in the house. The other two fight with her constantly, so out of frustration and depression Black eats too much. She is having a little problem jumping as high as she used to so she started a diet today. I feel her pain. Food is often consolation for frustration and boredom and I feel bad denying her, but I want her to be healthy and live a long life. All three of our cats are very affectionate and vie for TOMA's and my attention. The girls share the living room and Black and Blue share the bedroom. Black is our creative child as she will follow TOMA or I into our respective studios. Anyway on the way home from work we stopped and picked up some Blue Buffalo dry and wet food. It is supposed to be healthier so I am surprised that they all like it.

I was quite disappointed last night. I messed up the background on a drawing and will try to salvage it tonight. I am kind of happy with this other one though.

Mr. Blue after his adventure in the clouds.  When he flew past the moon he thought, "I must be named after the beautiful blue moon. Mommy must think I am beautiful too."

Baci e abbracci

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New Sketchbook

I purchased a Strathmore Visual Journal (Mixed Media--3.5 x 5"). I love new sketchbooks, so much promise in those clean white pages: the promise of only good drawings. Well the first drawing is okay:


I have a few sketchbooks at the moment. No themes, just different sizes and paper. The Hand Book sketchbook has lots of bad drawings so I don't even like to carry it in case someone asks to look through it. Yuck! The Moleskine has lots of collage a la Teesha Moore, and the Daler Rowney has mostly drawings from life--probably the best of all of them, but also the biggest and heaviest. I can't figure out which is the right sketchbook size or paper, the right medium--watercolor, colored pencils, ink, watercolor pencils, gouache or most importantly what is my style.


I am a bit frustrated with myself, and in a bad mood, so one last picture and a piece of advice: don't have a box of Girl Scout cookies--Caramel deLites--at arm's length when in a bad mood. Gosh these cookies are good!

Baci e abbracci

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I did a drawing of a flower arrangement at work the other day. I used watercolors, Verithin colored pencils, and Prismacolor colored pencils. I thought it looked pretty good for my level of skill. I just couldn't let it go without using a black pen.

I have been studying the style of two artists that I admire: Tommy Kane and Maira Kalman. They have totally different styles and I like them both. So I thought I would try for the Kalman style by not using my trusty pen and outlining everything. It just didn't look right so I thought I would use a .005 pen instead of the usual 1.0 but I still don't like it.

To be honest I prefer the Kane style. I would like to be able to cross hatch successfully, but just can't seem to manage it. I'll keep practicing. The truth of the matter is that one needs to find their own style and be satisfied with it. Copying other artists' style is not the way to go. Of course it is impossible to not be influenced by the artists you really like. In the world of journalling the artists that I find influence the most people is Pam Carriker and Teesha Moore. Each woman has a unique signature that is apparent in other artist's work. I am a big fan of both women. Maybe I'll be happy with my own style one day.




Practice, practice, practice...

Baci e abbracci