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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.


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



Print 2


Print 3



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.






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. 

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?"



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."  



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


Panels 1-4


Panels 5-8 



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. 



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.  

April 26, 2016

NYC Urban Sketchers May 23rd

I went to the morning session of the weekend NYC Urban Sketchers for the second time, and in spite of early drizzle and rain, I really enjoyed sketching Cooper Union.  It is a major historical building in the City and I hope that I can draw their other building which is very modern sometime this summer. 



"The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, established in 1859, is among the nation's oldest and most distinguished institutions of higher education. The college, founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist, Peter Cooper, offers a world-class education in art, architecture and engineering as well as an outstanding faculty of humanities and social sciences. 

Peter Cooper wanted his school to play a role in the political and cultural life of his city and country. The means he chose was the establishment of the Great Hall in the basement of the Foundation Building. It seated 900, the largest secular meeting room in New York and soon after it was opened, and it made history when Abraham Lincoln, an unannounced candidate for president of the United States, and a virtual unknown in New York, was invited to speak there by the Young Men's Republican Union." 


I sketched this across two sections in my most recent handmade accordion watercolor journal, and I love that the previous two are filled with outdoor paintings done with the weekday Urban Sketchers over the last two years.   

This is the current watercolor book.  I used Fabriano Artistico 140 lb watercolor paper for the 8 panel strip and paste paper from my last production for covering the binders board.  I can draw and paint on both sides of every panel.


This is an example of the first and second accordion sketchbooks I filled at Urban Sketchers Weekday sessions. 





April 19, 2016

Recent Exhibit Visits: Andy Warhol and Vigee Le Brun

The NYC Urban Sketchers met at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and I saw, and sketched, in the Vigee LeBrun exhibit which closes on May 15th. 

"Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (French, 1755–1842) is one of the finest 18th-century French painters and among the most important of all women artists. An autodidact with exceptional skills as a portraitist, she achieved success in France and Europe during one of the most eventful, turbulent periods in European history."  She is known as the painter to Marie Antoinette. 

I sketched a sculpture of her by Augustine Pajou, viewers in front of one of her paintings, and a Self Portrait before the group met for lunch.  I was most struck by the fact that most of the women in her paintings had her face!  The Met has most of her portraits at the link listed above.





I went with my artist friends to see the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Morgan Museum and Library, which also closes on May 15th.  I don't care if I ever see any more of his silk screen art, but I love his work as an illustrator - especially his blotted line drawings which I wrote about during his exhibit last summer at MoMA. 

"Andy Warhol’s fascination with publishing and the art of the book was lifelong—rooted in his artistic training as a college student and early career in advertising, fashion, and commercial illustration. For close to forty years, books were a touchstone for Warhol—a medium to which he returned again and again as a platform for his unparalleled creativity. He contributed to more than eighty projects for books and left traces behind of dozens of others that were never realized." 

I sketched one of his illustrations, but I'm also posting my illegal photo of my very, very favorite painting.  It was an illustration from a Katherine Ann Porter book called Old Mortality.  Many of his drawings/illustrations are best seen on a Pinterest Board. 



This ink and watercolor painting is called Figures Roller Skating (1946-47).  The lines are so amazing and the colors so rich.  I haven't found an image of it yet online.