Coeur d’Alene Figure Drawing get-togethers have started again at Terry Lees studio, and I am so happy. There is nothing as greatly inspiring to an artist as drawing with other artists. Practicing from a live model really improves my art skills significantly. This week was drawing from a nude figure. The human form changes with even a slight shift in weight distribution or a little change in the direction of gaze.
Last night we did a few 5-minute and a few 20-minute poses. I am obviously a little rusty after three months of no practice. Or, even a lot rusty. By the last 20-minute pose I was able to say, okay it is coming back. So, on the way to improvement always.
It will be a clothed portraiture 3-hour session. You bring your own supplies, to draw or paint. As a group, we ask that you use odorless spirits if you are using oil paints. There are benches and easels in Terry’s studio to borrow. The cost is $15 for each session (to help pay the model), and it goes from 5:30 to 8:30 pm on select Mondays… Terry lets us know about the dates he is able to schedule a model via email. With good attendance, we have even had a class each Monday night before, so spread the word.
Practicing figure & portrait drawing or painting. Driving down to Coeur d’Alene ID to Terri Lee’s studio last night I experienced another evening with fellow artists, painting and drawing from a live model. This is actually an alternate definition of “Heaven” to any artist. Figure drawing always improves my art.
Our model normally does nude figure poses in multiple positions allowing quick impressions and sketches. This evening she remained clothed for three hours, taking the same pose each session for 20-minutes with breaks between. The increased time enables us to get up close and concentrate on her facial features. She is a young lean gymnastically active figure. Her features include dark hair, smooth soft pastel skin, and beautiful green eyes. We all loved her bright red Christmas turtleneck sweater and her charming personality. I look forward to figure-drawing with her again.
Since Terri is off taking care of sculpture work in Montana, you can see a cool video about his sculpture process here. It was an all-female group this time and some gorgeous work came out of this last winter session along with friendly chatter about the ways of life for an artist.
I will miss these Monday night drawing sessions so I plan on getting more involved so Terri doesn’t have to handle all of it. Having this kind of opportunity to meet others and improve is absolutely priceless. I love my artist dates hanging out with “birds of a feather” as I strive to improve my individual art skills by hanging out with people more talented than myself. It is so inspiring to talk and share secrets with like souls in this creative profession. Every time I make the effort to set up my supplies and drive down to Coeur d’Alene ID to make it to this my soul comes home with lasting a smile. It is an infusion of hope and inspiration with contact with other artists.
I was so happy to travel to Coeur ‘d Alene for figure drawing class last night at Teri Lee’s studio. This is the first sketch portrait I did of our beautiful model. I used a piece of soft sienna chalk and then started to darken areas with black charcoal. Unfortunately, when the 20-minute timer went off, I had not completed the shadow darkening with the charcoal.
As the model rested, I did the self-critic thing that all of artists do, cause you know we are our own worst critics. Oops! The eyes were way off and crooked, and her corneas were absolutely humongous. It was not an accurate likeness but it was a great start after a few months off. I resolved to pay better attention to width in the next session.
Improving My Art
Life drawing is quite challenging as it strengthens my drawing abilities. It’s a favorite artist retreat for me and it really charges up my batteries. Some of them are my best friends there, and I love to be surrounded by them. The artists that attend are at all levels in the profession, some just learning, some are equal, and a few are phenomenally better than me. Artists are a special breed in the creative pool of life, and it is just fun to be around others like yourself. Learning from another artist is the way to go.
My third attempt was done using my favorite pencils for sketching which are the Palomino Blackwings. They are gloriously soft and easily darken with very little pressure, but, I wish they were not so expensive. $2.50 is way too much for a pencil drawing tool, but I do love them.
Carefully placed her features as I remained conscious of making her face closer to me I laid the basic sketch out in the first 20-minute period and then in the second 20-minute session I focussed on rendering each feature in more detail. This sketch was a much better representation of the model even though it was a little too slender. Not bad for not actually measuring every step of the way.
There is a clear definition of who is who in the two characters in the dinosaur fight at this point. So, my focus moves to the use of my watercolor pencils to render foliage, grasses, and outlines along the darkest edges of the animals. When you look at the lines created with the pencils here they seem very dull but wait till you see how a little spray of water brings the color vibrancy right up. After a simple spray from my water mister, the colors start to show so very bright. I am able to blend and move the color any way I’d like with my watercolor brushes from here. The next step for me is to put a pallet of acrylic paints to make final details with. The brightest highlights are first. Then careful rounding of the teeth surfaces, dotting of the skin scales and delicate whites of their eyes. It is amazing to watch how careful changes in water content change the opacity of the acrylic paint. I can have a fully opaque or transparent application with just a minor change in water content. The last two images show how the foreground can be loosely finished using a combination of watercolor pencil strokes and paint strokes to help fill it all in. I ended up giving this dinosaur painting to a grand-nephew visiting us named Jonah. The finished painting can be seen anytime at the artist’s website gallery.
Welcome to Dinosaur 01 tutorial. Dinosaurs are a subject that I have illustrated previously. Here is the initial sketch of a dinosaur layout.
You can see the horizon line skyline wash and the neutral ground surface watercolor wash outlining where they are standing. I thought a Stegosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex facing off would be interesting subjects to paint. I imagine an armored vegetarian with a spiked tail facing off with a ferocious meat-eater that has tiny little front arms.
This fight could never have taken place.
Remember that the T-Rex didn’t show up till millions of years after the Stegosaurus had already gone extinct. Neither of these characters was alive at the same time period.
Even though the basic reptile skin will be in greens I use a red or brown base to lay in where the darker shadows will be on their body forms first.
Beginning with T-Rex’s body surfaces it immediately becomes apparent that the tail of Mr. Stegosaurus could easily get real lost in all the T-Rex surfaces in the immediate vicinity. So, I find myself being really careful about how I keep the two separated.
I use different colors to separate their surfaces. A sepia brown-based green on T-Rex makes a noticeable difference between his tail behind. The horned tail of the Stegosaurus is darkened with magenta around his armor plates.
This was a design for a unit called the Bluejay Firemen in California (T-shirts). I used to work as an artist for copyartwork.com, that was a site that would contact me with small jobs in the $25-50 range. They needed me to draw up a quickly sketched design. Which they would approve or ask for changes.
Then, I would create a vectorized digital art file using Adobe Illustrator. It was one of the ways I paid bills between other jobs.
The only info I received about this design was a picture of their helmet and the firehose nozzle. The rest of the information like pictures of bluejays and firemen were found on the internet. You would not believe the pictures that come up on the internet when you search for “firemen”. I had no problem finding muscular men in fireman outfits for this project. Whew.
A Northwest Wildlife Waterhole mural was up for bid at a local adult family home. I called and got what information I could over the phone about the desired subject, asking about the surface type and dimensions so I could estimate costs. The next step was to sketch an idea to use as a visual aid while discussing the project with the owner. After meeting with the owner the next day, the mural project eventually died due to a lack of funding. How many times does that particular scenario occur when you are a self-employed artist? Mucho! All is not lost.
Back at the studio, the pencil sketch lies on the drawing table catching my attention. I really like the whole idea and it says, “Paint me!” every time I notice it. This simple pencil sketch becomes an inspiration to render the scene in watercolor. So, I get out a sheet of 300lb WC paper and begin to place the animals in altered positions across the landscape.
Setting up the paints, brushes, and pallets begins the watercolor journey for this wildlife waterhole creation. I put a brilliant sunrise sky over a snowcapped mountain top in the distance. The reflection of this sky is next on the water surface. The scene comes to life as layers of watercolor are applied to the meadow and waterhole shoreline.
More washes are applied to each animal character and I begin to see a 3-dimensional quality begin to appear with the values as they develop.
The final painting is pleasing to the nature lover’s eye. Okay, my husband points out multiple times that you would never see that scene in real life. Killjoy, of course! I know that bears are not friends with moose, elk, fish, or anyone for that matter. Elk and deer are not buddies either, but all of that wildlife is beautiful to this artist so they are together in this painting. Logic does not always have to be present in an artistic adventure, silly boy. Both the originals sold.
Baby & Mom or Jesus are the subjects of this family snapshot showing the “Smooch, I love you!” moment, between a mom and her baby. It used to be a common practice for me to fully draw any idea out on paper before laying it out on any kind of canvas for painting. So, I’d typically end up with a pencil drawing and a painting of anything I was illustrating.
“Baby & Mom K4006” is a 24″w x 18″h pencil drawing on sketch paper inspired by the above photograph.
I started on a rub-out oil on board painting in the middle of December. Right when the layout began to take shape on the canvas, a great Christmas carol played on the radio. The words captivated my imagination, and immediately changed the people in the painting into the characters sang about in the song.
Mary, did you know
that your baby boy will one day walk on water?….
In 2004, this painting won a place in the west coast USA tour going from Seattle WA to San Diego CA for the Seattle VSA disABILITIES Art contest.
I received an unusual call right before the paintings were sent off for their year-long trek. They asked me to change the name of the painting. Having a religious reference in the title was not appropriate. Really? I was surprised and called them back saying the title was openly stated on my entry form from the very beginning. I would not change the painting’s name. If that is not acceptable, return the painting to me and choose another. They decided to go ahead and send it on tour and there were no problems that I know of.
When I received Baby Jesus back home, I took it to a show at a garden nursery, and He was sold on the very first day. I did not see very much of either the sketch or the oil painting before they found forever homes. The customers had no problem at all with the titles of the pieces.
The Dragonfly in the Sun 01, this tutorial had a really neat start. My husband came in from the garden laying a perfect little dragonfly on my desk. An absolutely perfect specimen of a critter that I had never seen so up close and personal.
I had never seen one up close and holding so still. There are four wings and you can see through right through them as they glitter. They almost look like the stained glass in church windows with clear glass. His body is a deep dark blue with flecks of green and black shadows but it also had a metallic gleam to it. The legs are long and spindly below the wings. What a wonderful opportunity to study a physical presence that never stays still while it is alive. I immediately took pictures of him from all views and began going through my sunflower pictures, because that is where I see dragonflies most of the time.
It begins with a sketch of the layout. Then I slowly add an alizarin crimson background wash. You can see my photo reference in the front on the left. My messy pallet up above and the water and brushes on the right along with paper towels. I try to remember to start the wash on the left and work to the right so I am not resting my palm on the wet surfaces as I work.
See how you can see the main images show better as the background becomes separated from the foreground.
Notice how the wet parts seem so much darker than the parts that are partially or fully dry on the left. When working with watercolor it is truly amazing to see how much paler the pigments are when they dry, it forces you to try bolder amounts of pigment as you paint. Scary but great fun when you finally try it out.
The painting of a Muley Doe C1919 standing by a birch tree begins with a pencil sketch. You may notice that I concentrate on marking where darks are located as I begin to sketch. The intention is to make the tree and the deer shape intermingled and in a looser rendition style.
By blocking in the majority of the background with light washes allow me to reserve areas of white that will be needed later on. The tree bark and branches are the majority of the whites that I am worried about. Those along with the whites needed on the surfaces of our doe that will be shining in the light.
The next step for me is to identify where the darkest areas are at. As I begin to paint those darker areas with more opaque mixtures of watercolor, the layout seems to work out well. With a more visible mixture of watercolor, I begin to see 3D shapes begin to appear. Things begin to pop-out and show their shape.