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August 14, 2018

My History With Watercolor and a Return to Being a Beginner

In 2003 I became interested in keeping a sketchbook, with the hope that I could also keep a travel sketchbook in the future.  I sketched in pen and played with "watercolor," not even realizing that I was using The French School 12 pan set labeled Opaque Watercolor Gouache.  For the next 2 years, when I could find time, I just had fun with a pencil, pen, and these student grade paints.  I read two books: Cathy Johnson Painting Watercolors from the First Step Series, and Anne Elsworth Watercolor Skills Workbook.  Both of them recommended buying artist grade watercolor paint as soon as you can because it is easy to get discouraged when you are using student grade paints with less pigment.  Anne Elsworth recommended limiting the expense by limiting your palette - buying two triads of primary colors, one warm and one cool. 

June 2005:  I bought artist grade watercolors in 2004, but didn't use them for 1 year.  These are my very first marks made with my 5 ml tubes of WinsorNewton professional paints. and samples of the secondary colors mixed with these primary colors.


Jan 2006 - I started drawing/painting every day and made a color chart with each triad.  This is the one made with the cool triad, which are at the 3 points of the triangle. 



In 2008 I replaced the Cadmium Yellow with New Gamboge and Cadmuim Red with Scarlet Lake.  I wanted to use more transparent pigments. 

I added 3 convenience colors in the next few years to avoid having to mix grays and browns:  Ivory Black, Neutral Tint, and VanDyke Brown. Someone on the Everyday Matters Yahoo Group then recommended another Triad - yellow ochre, burnt sienna, and paynes gray.   So now I have 3 triads on my palette, and love mixing the secondary and complementary colors. 


On Aug 7,  I went to a free beginners watercolor session in Bryant Park because the instructor, Marilyn Rose, and I were two students in Danny Gregory's 2008 multisession Sketchbook course here in NYC.  It is always fun to go back to basics, and I had a wonderful time painting these circles last week in the class using my own paper and palette.  I chuckled when I remembered my beginnings one day in 2003 when my wet paints were migrating into each other, and I thought maybe that wouldn't happen if I left a thin strip of white paper between them. 

This exercise is a good example of the various colors that can be mixed with my 3 triads of primary colors - and I loved it as a color mixing, wet-in-dry, and wet-in-wet exercise for me as well as the beginners.


I'm very happy that I decided to create sketchbooks of my life as I was retiring.  Learning how to use watercolors is part of the adventure and goal I set for myself.  Colors make me so happy! 


August 10, 2018

My Left Hand vs My Right Hand

On July 21st there was an Opinion Column in the New York Times called "My Left Hand vs. My Right Hand" and friends sent me links and copies of the article.  It was a fun read!


Readers of this blog might remember that I had a Colles Fracture of my left wrist (dominant hand) on March 23rd.  Artist friends from several online art groups suggested that I should draw with my non-dominant hand while I was in a cast , and I DID!  It was wonderful planning each day's drawing and I filled my sketchbook wirh ink drawings during the 6 weeks.  My cast was removed on May 3rd and I had significant limitations in movement and moderate pain.  I began physical therapy the following week and was just discharged on from PT.

The author of the article, Liza Donnelly, is a cartoonist, and she worried about her arms - the broken one and the now neglected one.  She thought that drawings with her non-dominant hand were much looser, and looked more like her drawings from childhood.  She wondered if these drawings were tapping into her original creativity.  She has other wonderful questions and emotions, and compares the drawings done with each hand.  I agree with her that straight lines and especially printing was VERY difficult with my non-dominant hand.

After reading the article I wanted to compare the drawings done with my two hands.  Here are both drawings for comparison:  

April 19, 2018  Non-Dominant Hand Drawing done 4 weeks after being put in my cast.




August 1, 2018  After 12 weeks of physical therapy.



I'd be interested in people's comments or experiences.  

Most of the non-dominant hand drawings I did in my cast are in this folder on my blog: 


August 7, 2018

Deliberate Practice: Copying the Masters

Met Breuer NYC is celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the death of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele.  50 works from the Met's Scofield Thayer Collection are in the exhibit, OBSESSION, Nudes by Klimt, Schiele and Picasso.  I like all 3 of these artists, and figure drawing, very much and sketched one Klimt and one Schiele.  The Schiele was painted at home. 



This is the link to the exhibit, which will be on view until October 7th. 


August 3, 2018

Sketchbook Skool WHIMSICAL - Week 2

Mike Lowery, graphic designer and Children's Book Illustrator, was the artist teacher for week 2 of Whimsical.  He did several demos online, and after each one he suggested that we try the same techniques. 

Shapes  His lifetime goal is to draw for 30 minutes every day, and when he stares at the blank white page, with no ideas, he uses a fat marker to make shapes, and then draws around them.  These are mine.  I loved this 5-10 minute exercise!  I know that the Christmas Tree costume would never originate in my imagination except through an exercise like this.


Portraits:  Mike was drawing Richard Owen, the man who created the name "dinosaur," for a children's book on dinosaurs.  He used an actual photo and simplified the portrait to match the style of his illustrations.  I used a photo of Albert Einstein for my simplified drawing.  The blue color is due to marker leakage through to this next page in my sketchbook. 


Developing a Story Character:  Mike was developing an animal character for a special project and showed us how he created a duck named Carl The Duck.  It took many steps and drawings for him to develop a duck with personality.  This is my first iteration of a character - a squirrel - still to be worked on to develop a squirrel with personality.   If I don't ever arrive there, I wanted to post step 1.


Icons:  Mike showed us pages of icons he developed, and for our homework asked us to develop a page of icons - 10, 20, or even 150.  I chose to draw my favorite kitchen tools, even though I really need experience drawing icons for cars and taxis - to feel more confident about adding them to urban sketches of NYC.