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April 14, 2012

Doodling Sketchbook

I doodled alot when I was a student in middle school and high school.  And then I stopped almost completely.  After that I drew images for my children, or for applique quilt patterns, but rarely did I just fill up pages with random spontaneous doodles.  I'm sure that it is a wonderful creative technique and I'm fascinated enough by recent discoveries in neuroscience to realize that filling up parts of my brain with these random images must have some effect on creativity in general. 

I'm reading Jonah Lehrer's new book, Imagine: How Creativity Works, which is all about the newest neuroscience data on creativity and especially "aha" moments.  This makes me wonder what is really happening in my brain as I pay more attention to doodling sessions. 

I visit my Mother weekly at her retirement complex and during the cold weather we take long walks inside the complex and sit for an hour talking.  I now carry a doodle sketchbook and a dozen watercolor pencils and either sketch what I see, or just fill a page with doodles.  I use an old, previously unused spiral journal with toned paper - and never think about wasting paper.  I couldn't do this freely on good watercolor paper.

This page was done on a cold winter day - sitting in front of a fireplace.

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These next 3 were done by spontaneously doodling.  I have no idea why there are birds on almost every page (I just uploaded 3 of many weekly pages in my journal).  I am not a bird lover and only draw sea gulls when we are walking on the beach.

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April 10, 2012

Venice Sketches #12 and 13

I'm still sketching Venice scenes from my old photos in anticipation of our upcoming trip to Venice.  Painting canal water and showing the texture/decay of building surfaces are scarey to me, so I worked on both of those watercolor painting skills in these two paintings. 

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I started this project with two 30 inch strips of watercolor paper that I folded into accordion booklets.  Since I didn't carry any image over the folds, I'm now planning to cut each strip into two folios and bind these sketches into a small book with 4 folios and 16 pages.  This will be the first time that I sketch/paint first and bind into a book later.  I may decide that it is the perfect method for travel sketching.

The first 4 sketches and the accordion booklet can be seen here.

April 6, 2012

Playing with Wet On Wet Watercolor

There is a huge amount that I don't know about painting with watercolor and I periodically try to play with some techniques to improve my skills.   This week I scanned the book Wet On Wet Watercolor Painting by Ewa Karpinska and then painted - flooding my 140 lb watercolor paper with water.

Here are the 4 samples - each made by dropping in two colors while the surface was very wet.  I loved tilting the paper and watching the pigment flow.  As the paper dried, I added a few paint lines and tried to mop up a little color.

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New York street planters are filled with Spring flowers this month and I sketched tulips and daffodils while walking to the post office.  I painted the flowers and let them dry overnight.  The following day I thoroughly wet the backgrounds with water and dropped in a few colors. 

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I really enjoyed the lack of control painting with very wet paper and will continue to explore how to use more water to achieve effects I want.  Next:  Time to paint canal water in Venice for practice!

April 3, 2012

The End of the Old, the Beginning of the New

I finished my last sketchbook with two pages of heads drawn during classes at Columbia University.  The first page was done on a paper napkin with a ball point pen while we discussed Chekhov short stories.  The second page of sketches are of Professor de Bary, a very elderly Emeritus Professor of Chinese Studies - who is incredibly sharp.  I loved the opportunity to draw him while he appeared to be asleep, but he remembered more of the panel discussion comments than I did when he lifted up his head.

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I barely finished making my new watercolor sketchbook in time to continue with my daily sketches.  The bookcloth was made with soy wax and a potato masher as resist and thickened Procion MX dyes.  The sketchbook is a 6 signature book with Fabriano Artistico Soft Press 140 lb paper and Canson Mi Tientes end papers.

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The first page is a drawing of my watercolor palettes.  I have fun starting some of the sketchbooks with my paint palette even though I add and/or change paints infrequently.

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March 30, 2012

The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Paris Avant-Garde

Gertrude, Leo, Michael Stein and Michael's wife Sara were avid collectors of art in Paris during the early decades of the 20th C.   We saw the preview of a new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art the day before we left for California, and I didn't have time to finish sketches that I did at the exhibit until now.

The Met website presents lots of information about the Steins, highlights of the 200+ works of art, and even a virtual reconstruction video of the rooms and the placement of art on their walls.

My first sketches were from Gallery 1. 

"On October 15, 1904, the second Salon d'Automne (an exhibition of contemporary art held each fall) opened with retrospectives devoted to five artists who were considered among the most relevant for the younger generation of painters: Cézanne, Pierre Puvis de Chavannes, Odilon Redon, Renoir, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The impact on Leo was dramatic. Two weeks later he and Gertrude emptied their bank accounts and spent all their spare money on modern art."

I always loved Toulouse-Lautrec's drawings and combined 3 women from the works presented in this gallery.

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I wasn't very impressed with early Matisse landscapes in their collection, but saw a little of Matisse's later style in his painting of the Young Sailor I from 1906.

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My final sketch was of a very early Picasso nude and head.  I always sketch at least one of his drawings when attending an exhibit or auction preview - so this was an easy decision.

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