May 27, 2016

Flowers and Figure Drawing

Wednesday is Art Day in Battery Park City from now through October.  This week I went to the morning session in Wagner Park, searching for newly bloomed flowers and painted 3 flowers, all growing from the same stem.  I chose them because I could sit in the shade on the artist stools the Conservancy provides!  But it presented me with the challenge of drawing white flowers on white paper - and kept me happily engaged for an hour.

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In the afternoon I arrived in South Cove (2 blocks away) just as one of the big ships was sailing around the tip of Manhattan and heading north up the Hudson River for fleet week.  There were sailors lined up all around the ship looking at the beautiful views of Lower Manhattan.

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I love Claudia, who was our model for Figure Al Fresco.  I've sketched her before and have good memories of those sessions.  Here is my work for our two hour session - photographed instead of scanned because of the paper size.  I had a mat at home that I put around my longer pose drawings just for fun!

From 10 One Minute Poses:

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Our 4 Five Minute Poses:

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My 4 Ten Minute Poses - I only sketched for 10 minutes even with the 20 minute pose: 

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May 24, 2016

Sketchbook Skool 6 Homework

Vin Ganapathy, a teacher in Sketchbook Skool 6, demonstrated portrait drawing and then assigned us homework using his technique.  He likes to do a quick drawing live, then take lots of photos, and use them to finish the drawing later.  He did two people sitting on a couch, but my first opportunity to draw and take photos was when I was sitting next to a grandchild - in profile.

I find it very difficult to capture a likeness of family members, and these 3 are a little better than usual.  Henry was sitting next to me at a concert at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Sydney was presenting a project to us at school.  And Zachary was sitting next to me at a Young People's concert at Lincoln Center.

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The drawings were done with pencil on watercolor postcards that I carried with me.   The technique was helpful, and the photos helped me better draw nose shapes and lips.

 

The very next week in Sketchbook Skool, Dutch artist Nelleke Verhoef imtroduced "Faces" from photo inspirations.  She maintains envelopes containing eyes, noses, mouths, and hair clipped from magazines - and mixes and matches them to inspire random face drawings.  One of her special additions is red cheeks - which is also the name of her illustration studio.

I got a Vogue magazine from my daughter, clipped apart face components, and made my own reference envelopes for the project.   I quickly sketched this face in ink and painted it with watercolor, and may use this technique for my imaginary drawing project.

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May 20, 2016

Monotypes, Ducks, and A Cow

I went to my second Monotype session this week at MoMA and made 3 prints - but only uploaded two here - another ballerina and another Axel print.

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Weekday NYC Urban Sketchers met in Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City this week, and I was completely mesmerized by ducks.  When I arrived I watched a male swimming all over the pond behind a female and a total of 7 ducklings that were scattered and having fun.  I sketched them quickly and spent the next hour watching them to determine their coloration.  I can't describe how much pleasure I got from sitting in the sun, watching and photographing them.  Midway through the hour 3 gangster males arrived and fights began.  But the original male kept them away from his family.  It was very noisy! 

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I quickly sketched one of Dubuffet's four large LaVache paintings when at his exhibit at Acquavella Gallery on the Upper Eastside.  My goal was to paint it with my acrylic paints before putting them away after my abstract painting class ended.  The painting is on a watercolor postcard. 

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Monotypes, Pen Drawing with Watercolor Wash, and an Acrylic Painting - I think I need to focus! 

May 17, 2016

An Abstract Collage

My 3rd and last painting of my FIT Abstract Painting class is finished.  For this painting we were instructed to use different materials and/or processes in the painting, and I chose collage, paint, and ink. 

1.  I covered the canvas panel with torn scraps of papers that I've been saving or making, and mounted the paper with matte medium. 

2.  I painted over the collage with acrylic paints, taking care not to cover up the images completely.  In the next layer I added more collage - of either paper I painted or fabric strips I dyed. 

3.  At the end of our last class  our professor told me she thought that I could push it further.  So I used Daler-Rowney F and W acrylic brown ink for calligraphy, drawing, and mark making for the final layer,  Adding ink was an inspiration from the Hannalore Baron exhibit I saw several weeks ago.

This is the finished 16 X 20" painting:

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These are 6 random closeups: 

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I was very hesitant to take this class because I had no experience painting with acrylic paints and loved drawing, i.e. representational art.  I learned so much and expanded my vision and skills a little - which in the end was my real desire.  But first I had to "shut the monkey."  For those of you who also have a strong inner critic, follow Danny Gregory's podcasts devoted to this topic at:

http:/?dannygregory/monkey

May 13, 2016

Wednesday Art Day May 11th

The weather was fantastic on Wednesday and I was in Wagner Park and South Cove (Battery Park City) for most of the day.  I was looking for flowers in bloom to draw when I turned around and saw a great skyline instead.  The new World Trade Center - Freedom Tower - was centered in my view and I sat on the grass and sketched and painted the view for an hour. 

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In the afternoon, in South Cove, Leticia was our model.  I did twenty 1 minute poses for warm-up and then 5, 10, and 20 minute poses during the rest of the afternoon.  Here are photos of my large drawings - done with a General Sketch and Wash pencil and then "painted" with a waterbrush. 

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May 10, 2016

National Museum of the American Indian May 4th

After a morning gallery-hopping at exhibits of Dubuffet, Hannalore Baron, and Will Barnett, Benedicte, Pat, and I arrived at Battery Park City for Figure Drawing just as the rain started.  Instead we went to the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, New York branch, to see their newest exhibit.  The exhibit, which will not close until December, is called Unbound: Narrative Art of the Plains. The Museum is in the historical Custom House near Wall Street.

Several years ago I learned about Indian narrative art at an exhibit at the Met and I was fascinated by the drawings they did of their life and culture in Ledger Books.  This exhibit also shows narrative art on vintage ledger pages, but most of these Indian artists are contemporaries.  Where noted, color was added with colored pencils.

This is my copy of a drawing done by Comanche Artist Ronald L. Burgess in 2012. 

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This is the postcard for May family events at the Museum and it shows the gorgeous ledger paper used for the drawing.  The artist is not named on the card.

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Some of my favorite drawings were done by a woman artist, and they were scenes of domesticity, instead of hunting and battles.   Lauren Good Day Giago (b. 1987) descended from the 19th C. ledger artist Bloody Knife and was taught beading and sewing as a child.  I loved the bright colors and subjects she chose.

Independence Day Celebration

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Blessed by the Mother and Father  2012 

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May 9, 2016

Print Collage On Wood

One of my high school girlfriends sent me a latter with a photograph and a 5 X 5" X 1 5/8"DaVinci Wood Panel.  She photographed the wall in her local library and wanted to have her family and friends each create one of the panels for her entry in a new home. 

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We could decorate them in any way and had 6 months before we needed to send them back. That gave me too many choices and too much time! My creative ideas are always better when I have limitations. I had never painted on wood, and prior to this semester had minimal experience painting with acrylic paints. And I couldn't even settle on one image for weeks.

One day I noticed my one acrylic painting on a shelf in my apartment, and realized that the image was perfect - a friend bringing a friend a bouquet of flowers.  In that instant I decided to scan, resize, and collage the image to the box.  Jane Davies recently posted a tutorial on collaging art to wood, and I followed her instructions.   Then I painted the sides with acrylic paint I mixed to blend with image.  Here is the original painting and the finished box. 

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It is being delivered today - per USPS tracking information. 

May 7, 2016

Making Monotypes at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA)

There are 120 monotypes in the MoMA exhibit Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty.    

On April 26th MoMA offered a drop-in session for museum visitors to make monotypes.   Education staff from MoMA and staff from EFA Blackburn Studio set up a mini-printing shop on the second floor of the Museum, and we were able to sign in and then spend 75 minutes making up to 3 prints.

Here is a 4 minute video about Monotypes, as an introduction. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLfYVzk0sNiGEYF87Bj0us98NVd-h6aOvK&v=DC8L2O7I0wk

 

We each had a palatte for the ink, a brayer to coat a plexiglass plate, and a variety of simples tools to remove or add ink to the plate.  This was my first experience making an ink monotype, although I've made some with thick dye on fabric.  The methods are not very similar. 

We made our drawings in the ink, or with the ink, on the plate and then took our plate to the Staff who soaked the paper in water and put our plate and paper through the press. 

I took my sketchbook with me because I had sketches of some dancers from two New York City Ballet rehearsals I watched (drawn before it was too dark in the theater).  These were my inspiration for prints 1 and 2.  With the remaining few minutes I sketched my imaginary friend Axel for print #3.  The paper is 11 X 15" and the prints are 8 X 10".

 

 Print 1

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Print 2

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Print 3

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May 2, 2016

Portraits in Public Places

Several years ago I worked my way through Carla Sonheim's book  Drawing Lab.  For Exercise 16 we were asked to draw 100 Faces, and I sketched most of the Faces on public transportation, and painted them with watercolor later.  Since then I always have blank 3X5" index cards and a ball point pen with me - even when I'm carrying the smallest purse. 

Week 3 of the online class Sketchbook Skool - Polishing is Brooklyn Artist Vin Ganapathy, and he showed us his sketchbook portrait illustrations and did a wonderful demo.  He had willing subjects sitting next to each other, and he did a fast live sketch of them on the couch to keep the drawing fresh (15 minutes).   He ended the session by taking some photos, and then later added some finishing details - darkening lines, adding shadows, and adding color with markers.  He stressed the importance of the fast sketch done live for freshness and details added later to improve the drawings.

My drawings are live, but I try to draw my subjects surreptitiously on buses and subways, so I don't have photos.  And because my subjects may leave at the next stop, all are very fast sketches.  My most recent ones are below.

 

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I will keep drawing my subway/bus people until I can beg my friends, maybe on vacation in June, to let me draw them and take photos so I can practice Vin's technique. 

"Continuous Line Contour" and "Negative Space" Drawings

Continuous Line Contour Drawings and the Sketchbook Skool Seeing Online Class (2014)- Brenda Swensen's Class Demo was a Continuous Line Contour Drawing with a Tombow pen and a watercolor wash.  Even though I did these exercises, I spent much more time trying to keep my pen on the paper and felt as if this was a more laborious process than my usual drawing technique.  These are my homework drawings, and after doing a comparison, I rejected the technique for me.

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These are comparison drawings - the continuous line contour drawing in black and white and my usual method with a watercolor wash.  I got lost in the drawing and my usual method was also faster.

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Fast Forward 2 years to the Sketchbook Skool Polishing online class and Koosje Koene's demo of negative space drawing.  This is another technique that didn't work well for me in the past, but of course I wanted to try it again.  I put a complex kitchen stool in the middle of my kitchen and looked at all of the negative spaces.  I began the drawing with expectations that I could draw the stool more easily by drawing the open, i.e. negative spaces.  But I got lost in the process and had another failure.  So I'm again returning to my own drawing methods and that is OK with me.

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April 29, 2016

Comics: Out of My Art Comfort Zone

Danny Gregory taught me about comics in his opening week of Sketchbook School 6 - Polishing.  As a child I read about Archie, Veronica, Betty, and Jughead.  In college I read whole books of Peanut comics by Charles Shultz.  In my adult years I read random strips of Cathy and Dilbert.  Our first homework assignment was to draw a conversation as a comic.  I thought about this assignment for a week while all of my ideas were almost instantly rejected.  Then, as a second week began, I realized that the most important conversation was going on continually in my brain - between my Inner Critic and Me.

My Inner Critic is not a Monkey - like Danny's new book tells us (Shut Your Monkey).  Mine has always been an old lady - a very hypercritical old lady and many of the things she tells me definitely are based in comments from my Mother Marge and Mother-in-law Miriam.   My college roommate had a similar Mother named Mildred - so I usually call my Inner Critic Mildred, so my name for her is not so obviously from my own Family. 

I painted my Inner Critic Mildred for an Everyday Matters Challenge in 2009.  It is an old lady, and I called her a bag lady, with a bag full of scripts:  "Not Creative,"  "Not Perfect,"  "No Skills," and "Why Bother?"

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Fast forward to 2014 and another painting of Mildred, who says:

"Why do you want to make that?  What are you going to do with it?

You will mess it up, and the whole thing will be ruined.

It will never be perfect, so why try?

You need to look for more information before starting.

Besides, it isn't even an original idea."  

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So here is my recent conversation with Mildred in a comic format! 

 

Panels 1-4

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Panels 5-8 

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Conversation if it can't be read from my comic

Critic: You still haven't done Danny's Homework.

Me: I know.

Critic: What do you know about comics?

Me: Enough.

Critic: You don't have any ideas.  You are not original.

Me: I just need time to think.

Critic: You don't draw well from your imagination.

Me: Well enough to draw you!

Critic: Other Sketchbook Skool (SBS) students are drawing great comics.

Me: Mine will have meaning to me.

Critic:  Will they know who I am?

Me:  Inner Critic.  I call you Mildred for hypercritical Marge and Miriam.

Critic:  I think you are wasting your time.

Me:  I'm playing now.  Thanks for your concern. 

 

Our second homework assignment was to draw "a day in our life" as a comic. 

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I love the Sketchbook School homework assignments and after fighting my Inner Critic when I'm out of my comfort zone, I do them.  All except the original poster assignment from Jean-Christophe Defline.  I'm still  battlling Mildred about that one. 

All of the illustrations in this blog post are now the beginning of a book I hadn't used.  It should be fun to record my inner conversations and get them drawn on paper as a comic.  

Shirley Parker Levine
New York City

May 2016

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