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September 29, 2015

Watercolor Paintings Week of September 21st

When I was in the gardens in Wagner Park last week, I tried to paint loosely and without a preliminary simple pencil drawing.  I found it very difficult to paint the yellow flowers, and at the end I sketched one with my pen and then added watercolor just to remember the actual shape and color.  I definitely need to work on these using only a brush and paint. 



My homework after my FIT class was to paint an organic still life using 3 colors: Payne's Gray, a yellow (New Gamboge), and a red (Scarlet Lake).  I lightly blocked out the plant and sculpture and then tried to paint it loosely and with different mixtures to vary the greens.




In class last week we had 4 big animal skulls to draw, all placed on dark backgrounds.  My problems were many fold:

1.  I am so used to working small that my preliminary drawings were too small regardless of where I started drawing.

2.  I found it very difficult to simplify the skulls.  They are so complicated structurally, and I wanted to capture the different depths, angles, and holes.  Without those structural details they were just big blobs. 



The skull of the right, repeated slightly bigger: 


I'm hoping that I can work toward bigger drawings, and much looser painting.  This week our homework is to draw "a flower" and we examined many paintings of Georgia O'Keefe for inspiration.  I have a few beautiful, fresh sunflowers that I bought today, just waiting for me to paint one! 


September 26, 2015

Figure Al Fresco - Two Wednesdays in September

 September 16th, we had a model with the largest head of curly gray hair, and I've enjoyed drawing her at various figure drawing venues previously.  This time she used a big pink ball in some of her poses. 

These are 3 of the 10 one minute poses that were fun.



I put all of her 5 minute poses on one sheet of watercolor paper and used a Sketch and Wash pencil and my water brush to add gray tones.



I only had time for one 10 minute pose before I needed to leave. 


On September 23rd, I sketched the model on the right, middle, and left - and then squeezed in two more 10 minute sketches among the first 3.  The drawings were again done with a soluble graphite pencil and then shaded with a waterbrush.  Working out this composition was fun! 


September 22, 2015

New York City Drawings - September 16, 2015

On my walk along Battery Park last Wednesday, I stopped for what Marc Taro Holmes calls "cing a sept" - a fast travel sketch using 5-7 continuous lines.  I didn't count lines, but I wanted to be on time for the Art Cart, so it was fast.  This is the new Freedom Tower, looking north from the Battery.  Marc teaches that these little sketches capture the moment and something you see very quickly when traveling.  You can go back and add the darks later in the day or during the trip if there is limited time.

I used a Pigma micron pen for the drawing.  When I arrived at Battery Park City and the art cart, I sat for a few minutes and "added the darks" with a Pigma micron black brush pen.  This sketch was on drawing paper, but I want to be able to do drawings like this in my hand-bound sketchbooks that have Fabriano Artistico 140 lb soft press paper.   I tried many pens and inks, and even water resistant inks are somewhat watersoluble on this paper.  I've been experimenting and the Pigma Micron Ink or the Pitt brush pens are best for me.


During the free morning art session in Battery Park City, I took an hour to paint the façade of Pier A, my favorite building in the Park.  This drawing I did using Liz Steel's technique of getting the main architectural shape down with a watercolor pencil and then superimposing the full drawing in pen and painting it with watercolor.



I did the painting in my NYC accordion book next to the side view of the building that was done several weeks ago. 



On a cold day in May, I sat out there in the wind drawing the side view with Eunice, my friend from Australia.  This pier building was renovated in the last few years and is now a restaurant and venue space.  It projects into NY Harbor much more than I've drawn, but from my drawing area in adjacent Wagner Park it is difficult to see it completely. 

September 18, 2015

FIT Fall Semester Watercolor Class

In 2003 I began to think about retirement activities and bought a student grade set of watercolors, and then played with paints, brushes, and paper over the next 2 years.  I read several watercolor books including Cathy (Kate) Johnson's beginning watercolor painting book.  It was great fun learning on my own and when I partially retired in 2005 I started to draw and paint in a sketchbook almost daily, graduating to Winsor-Newton artist grade tube watercolor paints and better paper.  I've now been retired 6 years and still play with watercolors trying to learn as much as I can by "doing." 

This semester there were still openings for Seniors in the one watercolor section that exists each semester at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and I just completed my second class ever.  We are using Strathmore 400 series 140 lb watercolor paper (18 X 24") and I'm still using my Winsor-Newton paints. 

In the first class, we painted a still life with mixtures of only 2 paints: burnt sienna and ultramarine blue, using quarter sheets and a 3/4" wide flat brush.   

Class 1 




For homework we set up our own still life and did two 11 X 14" paintings, still using the same paper, brush, and colors. 

Homework 1


Homework 2 



Last night was class 2 and we worked on 1/2 sheets using the 3/4" flat brush and a triad of colors, to explore the virtues of Payne's Gray.  We could choose our own yellow and red, and I chose New Gamboge and Scarlet Lake as my other two colors.   

Class 2



This is a very well structured class, and our exercises are designed to have us paint very loosely.   It is great fun!  I also like working with some restriction on color, even though I always use a very limited palette of primary colors - because I love mixing colors! 

September 13, 2015

"Picasso Sculpture" Exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art

Picasso Sculpture, the new HUGE exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art, opened to the public yesterday.   I went to a member preview on Friday and was amazed at the crowds at 9:30 in the morning.  I hadn't read anything about the exhibit, and was totally surprised that the entire 4th Floor Permanent Exhibit space was cleared and then 11 galleries - 140-150 sculptures by Picasso -  were installed. 

We learn that Picasso was never trained in sculpture, but he tried every form, and the galleries are individually devoted to one form or another.   I almost couldn't leave the opening gallery in which he worked in sheet metal.  By the end of the exhibit I knew I had to go back there for one drawing - Head of a Woman. 

This is the Museum link to the exhibit:


And this is the NY Times "over the top" review - with many photos:



This is the first sculpture I just had to draw - The Crane.  The head is a spigot, the neck and tail appear to be a shovel - and all of it is painted black with white accents.  When I draw a piece of art, I feel it seeping into my brain and body - and never forget the joy I experienced when I first saw it.  Both drawings were done in front of the sculpture, then painted at home from my photos.



After drawing the Crane, I had to return to Gallery 1 to draw the sheet metal sculpture of a Woman - that I loved from minute one of my visit.  This is a single piece of metal that is cut, bent back on itself, and then painted.


This is an exhibit that I will return to again, maybe many times before it closes in February.  There were pieces in each gallery that I wanted to draw, and probably will.  If you are in New York City this Fall, it is a once in a lifetime collection of work by Picasso. 



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