Well, we all know what pandemic... seemed like such a good time to draw/paint/clean up old stuff... but what really happened? Completely stalled - maybe even regressed. I did manage to start a few paintings but then the doldrums set in and I'd just leave them to collect dust. A friend (who has definitely NOT stalled) has been urging me to finish this one - and I almost have (but when is a painting ever really finished?) So today when she texted me to say her friends' Bistro had sold the last of the three I'd sent to them I had to choose something to replace them with. So here it is 'Swan and Koi' - secretly, I'm hoping I can retrieve it in a few months and continue working on it, but if it happens to sell, I guess I'll just have to live with(out) it!
I'm still such a novice about colour... if I try to use more than four, I wind up in a hopeless mess.
Last week I had the opportunity to paint from a model with some friends and decided to 'keep it simple'. My friend and unofficial mentor, Brian Smith, recommends the three-colour palette of burnt sienna, white and black (actually, Payne's grey which is pretty close to black). So much easier to figure out the values without worrying as much about the colour... I hope I'll get there someday, but for now, this makes me happy!
I love figure drawing... painting, doesn't come to me in quite the same way but I'm trying to get there. Last week's master class exercise was all about distorted perspective. Not just drawing what we see at a foreshortened vantage point, but to really push the changes in scale. The charcoal sketch above came out of that exercise and started me thinking about painting the same figure in context—say, laying on a towel at the beach with a sun umbrella. Creating the scene brought in all kinds of new variables... light/shadow, composition, colour... My brain got a bit overloaded with all of these possibilities, and I noticed when I started to paint that I was trying to correct the distortion—the very thing that made the drawing so much fun. Some days I feel like such a novice!
Well, we moved, so that took up several months of time... the new digs are further away from the city, which has its ups and downs. A long drive to master classes, but they're down to only 2 per month now that Brian has decided to pare down his teaching time. It creates something of a gap in my drawing/painting though, since I seem to need the group to pull me along - I rarely draw and/or paint unless I have to. Always seems to be something 'more important' to do - something to ponder.
A few weeks ago, I received an invite to a workshop put on by a couple of friends exploring abstract ideas in painting - not my comfort zone at all, so - good challenge. The instructor, Kim Lee Kho was one of Brian's first master class students, and a gifted teacher in her own right. The weekend was enlightening and I found myself getting into it more than I expected.
The painting above came about from first drawing a black & white composition from a series of random instructions (with the caveat that no questions about the directions would be answered) - things like, make a geometric shape somewhere on your page... now make another shape, 50% of that size. Now make a different shape and make that one 20% larger ('larger than which shape?', you might ask - hence the 'no questions' variable). After completing the instructions we were given 'prompts' from a jar that Kim had pre-filled... everyone's prompt was different - one of my friends pulled 'obliterate 50% of what you've done' from the jar - I pulled 'make it ugly' - which had me covering pretty much everything on my page with white gesso and what I thought were random, scratchy black marks then finishing off with a coat of coarse, sandlike medium, resulting in... something. oddly. beautiful...
Two days after the abstraction workshop, I attended an evening called 'Canvas, Corks & Cocktails' put on by an old friend who now co-owns a lovely gallery in Port Perry. It was a fun night where everyone painted the same composition from her instructions... a cash bar and some great music put together by a local DJ rounded out the evening... the resulting painting is nothing remotely abstract, but let's not get smug - there's room for all kinds of art making, right? Even if it is a 'birch tree painting' ;-)
I've been stuck on acrylics and forgotten how to work in oil paint... the best way I can describe the difference is that oil seems to feel alive on the surface while acrylic somehow deadens when it dries. Can't believe I resisted so long! These two portraits were done at an AGO evening class with Kerry Kim - a delightful teacher with a wry sense of humour... I'll have to find other classes of his to join!
So truly grateful for the opportunity of being in Brian Smith's master classes. It's made such a difference for me – not just in the work, but somehow more importantly – to my feelings about the work. I've always immediately focused on things I didn't like in the finished product (although, when are paintings ever really finished?) but my attitude has been changing... I'm still aware of how I can improve and do things better, but I'm able to see parts I actually like too. Seems such a simple thing, but it's a big breakthrough!
Busy with work and stuff so haven't posted lately, but finding I'm really enjoying attending master classes... Only one more week, then done for the season, but very much looking forward to starting back in the fall (well, not that I'm in a hurry to rush through summer... it's hardly arrived)
The extra time spent drawing and learning from other artists has been extremely helpful... find I have more patience in my approach to drawing, but now the painful beginning of painting is lurking in the background... I know that's the next step, but I'm enjoying the progress I've made with drawing - not so much looking forward to feeling out of my element again!
The goal is to get busy and accumulate a good number of pieces that I'm happy to show... of course all nudes may narrow my options, so I have to think of some other compositional arrangements. And then there's the hurdle of finding an actual gallery to show them in... work first, figure out the details later!
Patience, they say, is a virtue... which (at my advanced age), I'm finally beginning to understand. I tend to draw very quickly... in a race with the clock (or the model's need to move out of the pose for a few minutes). I'm learning though to approach the whole thing with the attitude that it's really only chalk on paper... and I'll probably get other opportunities to draw again.
Last weekend I took a drawing workshop with an artist who's work I really admire. He is a talented painter and former graphic design professional who now paints and teaches exclusively. His workshops are fun, interactive - and I always come away with something I didn't know before...
He offers a Masters Class every spring/fall and takes only 6 students per session. I asked him a couple of years ago to keep me in mind if a spot opened, but it always seemed that when he had room, I didn't have the funds and vice-versa. So I was thrilled when he emailed me after this weekend's workshop to tell me that a spot had become available and would I be interested? Looking forward to learning all kinds of new stuff with 5 other like-minded artists!
Check out Brian Smith's work at Drawn2life.
I've been very resistant to work on any graphic design business lately - I think I'd rather be drawing.
Below drawings (same model, two poses) were from an exercise in light/shadow. Erase large areas of light from a coloured background then go back to darken the shadows. A nice way to work, but I always seem to want to bring in too much detail... not especially 'painterly' results, but always something to work on!
I've drawn this model many times. She's about my age, maybe even a few years younger... Her body is a lot like mine - she has folds, wrinkles and varicose veins... Like so many women, sometimes I really hate my body. But when I undertake drawings of Karen, all I see is her beauty.
There's a lesson here - just need to figure it out!
Middle-aged graphic designer... no real axe to grind