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December 28, 2015

Reflections on Art in 2015

A Review of Art Experiences and Learning During 2015: A Progress Report

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January 4th is the 10th anniversary of my blog and it is always a good time for reflection and planning.   

Long Term Goals: Develop better drawing and painting skills on paper and with dye-painting and surface design on fabric.

1.  Goal: To sketch and paint everyday, and to blog twice each week. These activities give my retirement life some structure and provide enormous inspiration within an artist community. 

Progress:  I no longer do quick sketches every day, but no week passes without me having several good drawing sessions.  It was really important to me to sketch daily when I was beginning this journey as I prepared for retirement from medicine, but the habits were formed and now I can rarely pass a few days without some scribbles, if not a full sketchbook drawing/painting.  My blog posts are important to me, and continue to give structure and meaning to my art adventure and posting twice each week is a great schedule.

 

2.  Goal: Take more classes online and in person to remain inspired:

Progress:  I participated in several online classes this year, just enough to be inspired on an almost weekly basis during some months:  Studying Under the Masters 2, Sketchbook Skool Semester 4,  and an assortment of Craftsy Classes.  These included:  Close-up Flowers in Watercolor (Nan Carey), Travel Sketching in Mixed Media and Sketching People in Motion (both Marc Taro Holmes),    I also took a surface design class through Craftsy:  Fabric Patterning with Wax Resist with Malka Dubrawsky.

Each semester, for 14 weeks, I took a class at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and was lucky enough to register for Drawing and Watercolor classes in 2015.  As with the other classes I've taken there on subjects about which I already have some knowledge and experience, I always learn something new.  Our few drawing classes on perspective were excellent and our watercolor classes on different palettes and the use of Chinese White (with watercolor) and Black gesso (with gouache) as grounds were completely new to me.

 

3. Goal:  Continue to draw and paint locally:

Progress:  I belong to two Meetup groups and attend semi-regularly, schedule permitting: "Central Park Drawing and Art" and "Drawing New York."  We have an NYC-Urban Sketchers Weekday Group, and that provides other opportunities for group inspiration and contact.  Battery Park City Conservancy has weekly Nature Painting and Figure Drawing from May through October and I regularly participate in both the morning and afternoon sessions, weather permitting.  This year I attended figure drawing at Society of Illustrators with two visitors, my dear friends Sara from Alabama and Casey from France, and a series of Toulouse-Lautrec Café Society Figure Drawing sessions at MoMA.  And last, but not least, my very special days, spent with my artist friends Benedicte, Pat, and sometime Teri, means that we rarely miss the best museum and gallery shows in the City.  I would feel very isolated without these special 3 friends and would have many fewer good laughs!

One of my favorite projects this year was participation in the 100 Day Challenge by Elle Luna and The Great Discontent.  My goal, especially after taking Sketchbook Skool Semester 4, was to draw more from my imagination.  I didn't upload my daily drawings to Instagram, or follow along with other people's projects, but once I committed to it, I was faithful to the project for all 100 days, and even created my little imaginary character Axel. 

  

4. Goal:  Make watercolor sketchbooks, for daily drawing and painting and travel:

Progress:  I made cased-in watercolor books for my daily sketchbooks, accordion journals for our outdoor Urban Sketchers sessions, a travel sketchbook for our vacation in Spain from an old book of Spanish Drawings, and a summer travel sketchbook from a recycled book called Colors of the Sea.  All of these are discussed and photographed in daily blog posts in my bookbinding category on the blog. 

July was my big surface design month, during which I spent part of almost every day dying fabric, exploring new techniques, and creating dyed fabric for bookcloth.  In the process I also made dye samples and created a unique sewing pattern for a pencil-pen pocket which goes around my sketchbook cover with Velcro.  It is a wonderful convenience when I am sketching as I walk around museums and galleries.

Even Axel and his friend Alice made an appearance on fabric - using thick dye for the drawing and color.  

This year I also planned to make another batch of paste paper to use for covering bookboards and/or as endpapers, but I didn't deplete as much of my stash as I thought I might.

 

I'd love to read what others are planning.... 

 

 

 

December 17, 2015

Last FIT Watercolor Class

Last night was the final class of my Watercolor Class at Fashion Institute of Technology.  My goal for this class was to finally spend time in a real class, instead of learning on my own, and to work bigger and looser.  I have no interest in changing my main goal, which is to keep a watercolor sketchbook journal, but change and growth through a formal course can result in some changes to my pages.  We learned about so many brushes, grounds, resists, and types of paint.  We used Chinese White on white Illustration board and brown cardboard, and most recently gouache on black gesso, a fun technique which I still need to play with before posting my paintings.  Our model last evening, the young man with the Mohawk, dressed crazy for Christmas!  Here are two of my paintings and a drawing of Professor Martino as he was painting during our party.

 

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From the other side of the room. 

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December 12, 2015

Return to the Society of Illustrators

I love figure drawing sessions at the Society of Illustrators in New York City.  It is a drop in program - 3 hours of drawing/painting two models who pose simultaneously.  There is also live music and a bar to buy a glass of wine.  From May through October I usually go to figure drawing weekly in Battery Park City - an outdoor venue that is hard to resist.  But I used to go to Society of Illustrators faithfully once a month and this year my last visit was in June!  On Tuesday night I went with my friend Casey who was visiting from France.  I met Casey in 2007 through the Everyday Matters Yahoo Group and see her most often during NYC visits.  The last time I saw her was a year ago in Paris. 

One of the models was new to me and I found her short poses to be challenging and fun.  Here are two of her two minute poses.  

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I sketched two 5 minute poses on the same large sheet of watercolor paper and then squeezed in another drawing.  I love the challenge of trying to figure out the spacing and relationship among them. I used a sketch and wash pencil and shaded the figures with my waterbrush and clear water. 

 

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These are two of the 20 minute poses.  I get bored easily, and probably finished these in 15 minutes and then looked over at the sketchpads of those sitting around me.  We had a great evening and 19 sketches by the end!   This page was too large for scanning, thus the gray-blue background from my camera.

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November 28, 2015

Deliberate Practice - Drawing Hands

I still clip photos from magazines and periodically select one for practice drawing hands.  I've been doing this for a number of years.  These are my last 3 sets of drawings.  The last one has interlocking hands and that is my new focus.  I keep hoping that this practice will make it easier to draw hands during longer poses at figure drawing, but it is a slow process.

These were all drawn with a watercolor pencil - but none of them were painted with water. 

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November 13, 2015

Watercolor Painting Class - More Chinese White

I had my FIT Watercolor class last night, and did a painting with transparent watercolors on cardboard painted with Chinese White.  Our model was excellent and she was in the same pose, in 20 minute blocks of time, all night.  I underpainted my binder's board cardboard (a 7.5 X 11 in leftover piece from bookbinding) at home, so it was dry.  All of the painting was done with Winsor Newton transparent watercolors and a #10 brush.

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Our Professor wasn't ready with his demo, so I sketched her with a Sketch and Wash pencil out of boredom.

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He then demonstrated using gouache, using what he calls "body color," which was really Brilliant White Pebeo Gouache mixed with his transparent watercolors (lamp black, yellow ochre, and vermillion).  I had trouble achieving strong color when combining the gouache and my watercolor.  He showed us Toulouse-Lautrec paintings as examples, and said you could also add a little cobalt blue or Paynes Gray. 

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With both of these paintings, I had trouble painting her skin because the water changes the color of the cardboard and I needed to adjust for that.  Next week - more painting with gouache and the introduction of another substrate. He mentioned using black gesso painted substrate and even black foam board during some of our remaining classes.