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June 21, 2013

Finding My Own Visual Language - Exercise 4

Visual Exercise 4:  An Exercise in Mark Making  From: Dunnewald et al.  Finding Your Own Visual Language

This is a "freewheeling" exercise done by "marking" (doodling) an entire page until full, completing 6-10 pages of marks.  I did suggestions #3 and 7 - using different tools and different paints/inks.  The end of May and most of June were so busy that I didn't post any of these doodles and I haven't even thought about exercise 5.

I'm not sure how interesting these marks/doodles are to anyone but me - but I am fascinated with the use of my wide parallel pen which is one of the last pages of doodles that I did (see below).  I'm not a doodler so filling this many pages with random marks was a fun exercise. 
















I prefer geometric rather than organic/amorphous shapes 

A Rigger brush can be very accurate for drawing lines and making marks.

A wide parallel pen is an amazing tool for doodling - very dramatic and interesting shapes emerge!  I wonder if a narrower parallel pen would give me the variation in line that I'd like with figure drawing?  Seems like an experiment worth doing!


June 17, 2013

Sketchcrawl With Sydney at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Sydney finished her school term last Wednesday and on Thursday she and I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the new costume institute exhibit "Punk" and to sketch.  We went into the American Wing and Sydney sketched the standing bear from a statue of 3 bears.  She was very cute as she sketched in pencil, then added pen and erased her pencil lines. You can see her chosen bear behind her on the right. 


I sketched Diana, the Roman Goddess of the Hunt.  This sculpture, by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, is a half-size caste of the second statue that sat on the top of the tower on the old Madison Square Garden at Madison and 26th St. The original is 13 ft high and is at the top of the Great Stairs at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.   It was a weathervane that was illuminated at night and could even be seen from across the Hudson River.  Here is my photo of the statue in the Met and my painting. 



We stopped to talk to another artist as we walking out and she asked to see Sydney's drawing - and was very sweet and encouraging to her!


It was pouring outside so we came home for the afternoon, and I taught her how to make Gelli Arts Monoprints! 


And we still weren't finished playing. That Met bag she was carrying had a kit for wrapping ear bud earphones with multiple color threads and beads! 

June 14, 2013

June Figure Drawing at the Society of Illustrators

This was my first figure drawing session since April - and I really enjoyed it.  There were 2 good models, fun live music, a glass of pinot noir, and Sara, my friend from our beach vacation.  The format is always the same: 10X2 min, 4X5 min, 2x10 min, 3X20 min.  I uploaded a few of my drawings in each category.

I really like the short poses best.  The models are more adventurous and I am drawing without thinking.  Here are 2 0f the two-minute drawings and 2 of the 5 minute drawings:





 One 10 minute pose:



Two 20 minute Poses.  The final pose, with both models reclining, was way beyond my previous experience, but I walked to a space where I could see them best, did a contour drawing, and then threw watercolor paint on the sketches.  I'm glad I didn't wimp out - the challenge was good for me!



June 11, 2013

End of Beach Vacation

We are home from the beach after a wonderful vacation and I'm uploading a few remaining travel sketchbook pages.  Each year we invite wonderful friends who we met many years ago and the group takes early morning beachwalks, reads, swims, and plans dinners!

We walk approximately 2 miles in the morning and have specific beach houses that we use as mile markers.  This is one of those houses, and our very favorite one.  It is an original cottage that was built in 1889 - a fact we learned from a published book in the local bookstore.  It is called Over Look.  One day my friend Sara and I stopped to sketch it, while everyone else waited patiently for us a little way down the beach.  I will probably paint it, but for the moment I just enjoyed the fact that I finished the drawing. 


This is a photo I took of Sara sketching the house. 


Everyone returned to New York City with us and we celebrated our last evening together at a local restaurant.  I had my sketchbook with me and focused on the wine!


I had a birthday celebration with two of our children, 6 grandchildren, and one of the couples who are still staying with us through tomorrow.  My 3 year old grandson Zach picked out a birthday cupcake for me - and one for him!






June 7, 2013

Beach Fun and a Huge Beach Mystery Solved

All images are photographs, not scans, and I can't maintain the white background, even with Photoshop adjustments.   

There are large clam shells everywhere on the beach and I bring home several from every morning beach walk.  Several evenings ago, my guests and I set up an art camp on my grandchildren's craft table and raided their paints, markers, and glitter glue.  Here is my first painted shell.


By bedtime I decorated 4 more.


My friend Sara and I bring home a variety of "other things" from the beach to sketch/paint in our travel sketchooks.  Here is a pine cone from one of the sandy beach entrances and a sea gull feather.


As I climbed out of the truck in the driveway yesterday, I looked into the grass right beneath my feet, and the only thing I saw was this four leaf clover.  I have NEVER found one before, and there it was!  I saved it on a sketchbook page by stitching a cellophane square over it and through the watercolor paper - then sealing the 4 edges with glue stick. 



Huge Beach Mystery: Early this week we arrived for our early morning 2 mile walk and saw many unusual "objects" on the beach. They were very smooth 6-8 inch beige partial circles, each with an identical lip and curved shape which resembled a piece of a toilet plunger.  None of them were a complete circle.  Were they pieces of rubber, manufactured as gaskets?  If so, why were there so many at the high tide line - extending over several miles.

Here are a few photos.  Wet they were very flexible and felt like leather or rubber.  Dry, they were very fragile and crumbled easily.  In the first photo you can see the size relative to an adult hand.



We picked up a few each day during our walk and asked random people if they could identify these strange things.  Surprisingly, most people hadn't seen them although they were everywhere.  Others, including those who lived here their entire life, had no idea what they were.  In each instance, the first question was "do you think they are organic or machine made?"  Each day we did some random computer searches and found nothing.  Our best guess was some part of ocean seaweed, but what? 

Yesterday I was looking at kelp images and saw a link to a website called MarineDetective.  What could I lose by emailing this Vancouver BC diver and marine expert.  So I did.  Within 30 minutes I received this reply.

"Laughing here! I get asked this so often. These are the egg cases (aka egg collars) of Lewis' moon snails ( Polinices lewisi)!  Moon snails are big predatory marine snails. They look so human made that I have had to correct people when they pick them up thinking they are garbage! By a remarkable method, the female moonsnail forms one layer of the collar by gluing together sand grains with mucus; the the fertilized eggs are laid on this layer and THEN she seals them in with another layer of sand and mucus!!!  The eggs are held within the collar for 1.5 months and, in the ones you found, may already have hatched out to be 1000s of planktonic larvae. I include a more detailed description below. 

May I use your image to add to the "marine ID requests" part of my FaceBook page?  It will allow me to direct others there!  

Best wishes!
Jackie Hildering
Biologist / Marine Educator
Follow "The Marine Detective" at 
We have two different species of moon snails here in the North Atlantic.  But this description of the egg laying process appears to be universal.  These fascinating structures are called sand collars.  Here is more detailed information from "The Marine Detective."
"When a female is ready to lay her eggs, and she lays several thousand at a time, she rises above the sand and encases her entire shell with the foot.  Cilia on the foot pick up individual grains of sand and spread them over her body until she is covered with a grain-thick layer. These sand grains are then cemented together with mucous. So she is now encased in a single layer of cemented sand grains.

Next the eggs are produced and, again using the cilia, are evenly distributed between her flesh and the sand layer.  Once she's done laying the eggs she creates another layer of sand, again cemented together with mucous, between her foot and the eggs. The end result is a paper-thin sand sculpture molded into the shape of her foot-covered shell and made up of two layers of sand with a thin layer of eggs in between them, completely surrounding the mother's body. Now she needs to escape. Using the foot action described above, she digs straight down beneath the sand and ducks underneath her creation, leaving this "sand collar" behind." 

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