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April 6, 2008

EDM Challenge #165: Draw Your House

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I found this challenge to be really hard because of the perspective that I chose.  There is much too much detail on the facade of my brick and granite 16 floor New York City apartment building and decisions needed to be made about how detailed I wanted to make the sketch.  I definitely chose not to make the upper section bricks part of my sketch.  I'm in awe of artists who can sketch and paint entire brick facades!! 

I share my house with many other families as I live in a 16 floor New York City apartment building.  In Manhattan parlance, these buildings are either "pre-war" or "post-war," i.e. WWII.  Our building was built in the late 1920s and I was able to locate advertisements for it in the archives of the New York Times.  Our architect, who was doing bathroom renovation, also found a piece of a newspaper that was buried beneath the bathtub in the master bedroom bathroom, so we have proof of the date when it was under construction.  I also located and printed the 1930 census pages for the building and now have several very interesting pages about the occupants at that time.  At the same time I printed out the 1930 census for the building 2 of my 3 children live in - showing Babe Ruth living there with his wife's family.

I will have to try it again from across the street so I can sketch it straight-on and concentrate more on the actual structure.  My stimulus for this might be to make notecards that I can use for the notes that I never get around to writing!  

 

 

March 7, 2008

Housingworks Book Cafe

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This is the wonderful used book store where I find my perfect-sized $1.00 books for recycling.  It is a lovely bookstore - well organized and cozy.  There is a cafe and tables for browsing and reading - and 3 carts always loaded with their oldest and most unloved books for $1.00.  All proceeds go for AIDS research and support.  My favorite that I purchased this week was Parnassus on Wheels - a short novel by Christopher Morley - complete with lovely ink illustrations.  Of course I had to read the entire book as soon as I got home. 

March 1, 2008

Pearl Paint - New York City

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This past Wednesday I was completely free to play - no work or other scheduled activities.  So I headed off for Soho for a visit to Pearl Paint and some of the galleries in the area.  I only had several items on my art supply list, but I always love browsing at Pearl.  It has one below ground floor and 5 above ground floors.  This trip I purchased watercolor paper for my next recycled book and several pencils, but seriously wondered if I should begin to invest in some 5ml tubes of Schminke watercolor paints since there seems to be so much enthusiasm for the brightness of their pigments.  Each 5ml tube (1 tsp) is $12-15 so I would only start with 3 primary colors - but then I wondered if they should be cool or warm primaries since I use both to mix colors with my Winsor-Newton paints.  So I didn't get any.

Gallery-hopping is always one of my favorite activities in Soho, even though many/most galleries relocated to Chelsea and on Wednesday I was not disappointed.  I discovered several new artists and saw lots of "eye-candy."

This sketch was done from a photo I took of Pearl Paint from the other side of busy Canal Street.  It is much too cold right now in NYC to work outdoors - especially in my shearling mittens.  It is on "rough" watercolor paper which I now know I hate!  But when I recycled my NY State Tax Book last year I filled it with many types of paper so I could decide what I preferred.  It didn't take me long to settle on HP 140lb paper. 

 

February 23, 2008

Museum Visits in New York City

There are many, many museums in the city and I love to visit the art museums to see the exhibits and sketch from the Masters.  We saw a Leon Kossoff drawing exhibit at the National Gallery in London and I was impressed with his return visits to sketch the same few works by Masters many times during his career.  I thought it might be fun to try this, in part to see how my art skills evolve and how my familiarity with the painting may change my drawing over time.  The Galleries for 19th- and Early 20th-Century European Paintings reopened on December 4th after renovation - so on my first visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2008, I sat in front of Cezanne's Card Players and sketched it.  I am concentrating on sketching figures again in 2008 - with faces - so this seemed like a good painting to revisit again and again.  Please don't let them move the bench from in front of the painting!  Pen and paints aren't permitted in the Met, so I took a photo and plan to paint it soon.

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We visited the Museum of Modern Art with out of town house guests several weeks ago and while my husband toured the 5th floor Painting and Sculpture I exhibit with them, I spent 25 minutes sketching.  I love the view from a window in the Picasso room on the 5th floor of MoMA of the top floors of a townhouse across W54th Street - and have many photos of it that I took during previous visits.  This time I spent 15 minutes sketching it - again in pencil because of museum rules.  Yesterday I found a full charcoal drawing of the same house in Drawing magazine (Winter 2008).  Artist Anthony Mitri wrote that his drawing of the house and surrounding buildings took 6 months!  I will redraw this house soon and try to do it justice. 

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After sketching from the window, I did a quick sketch of Cezanne's painting "Turning Road at Montgeroult."  I love views of rooftops and always was attracted to this painting in the permanent exhibit.  I painted it at home in several sessions trying a yellow underpainting and mixed complementaries for the color of the houses and roofs.  Watercolor and oil paints give very different results, but I had fun with this and I think learned a lot from copying his composition.

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This week I made a quick visit to the Morgan Library and Museum to see their current exhibit entitled Michaelangelo, Vasari, and their Contemporaries: Drawings from the Uffizi.  I chose a simple drawing by Baccio Bandinelli to copy and except for the tilt of the head managed to capture the rest of the lines and the type of shading used.  This drawing was a study for his Hercules sculpture that is opposite Michaelangelo's David in front of Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.  There were many other wonderful drawings, but it was crowded and I had to select one that I might copy quickly enough while standing and trying to manage sketchbook, pencil, bag etc.

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February 2, 2008

Eternal Ancestors Exhibit

Today I had an hour to go back to the Eternal Ancestry exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to sketch the wonderful faces on these Reliquaries.  They are 1-2 feet in height - some are full figures, but most are just heads on a standard base.  They are mostly earthcolors with some gold, bronze, silver, and even feathers. 

I walked through with my Moleskine watercolor notebook and walnut brown Albrecht Durer watercolor pencil and just sketched pieces that I really liked.  The digital photo image below shows all of the faces across a double page spread in the Moleskine.  I originally intended to add water, but then started using the pencil for small details meaning these strokes would be lost if I painted over the pencil. 

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Here is the first page in more detail  (scanned):

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      Here is the second page in more detail (scanned):

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I wasn't at all sure what would happen if I sprayed these pages with Fixative, so I sketched another page with another mask and tried it.  There was no running or smearing of the color - and in fact I couldn't get the pencil to rewet so I could add color. 

The exhibit doesn't close until March 2nd, so I hope to have time to sketch more of these beautiful 19th and 20th C. sculptures from Central Africa.