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January 17, 2009

Figure Drawing Practice

Learning more about drawing figures and faces is still a primary goal for me in 2009.  One of the members of Everyday Matters (EDM), the online art group that I belong to, posted links to out of print figure drawing books by Andrew Loomis and I'm working my way through the first chapter of Figure Drawing For All Its Worth.

Here are journal pages that I did of ideal male proportions - trying to embed these landmarks in my brain.  The anatomical drawing is a piece of an end paper in this book I recycled.  My angst re: gaps between signatures using 140lb watercolor paper can be seen here.




I love drawing and painting ballet dancers - all from photos because I'm still not able to sketch moving bodies.  This was drawn from a photo in the NY Times last week.  Obviously, I shouldn't have tried adding facial features in this tiny little face - but I'm posting the disappointments as well as the pages that please me.  The drawing inspired us to get Ny City Ballet tickets for February, to brighten an otherwise cold, dreary winter.


I still had to do a daily journal page the other evening, and this painting, on a postcard from a local Manhattan gallery, was sitting right next to me.  I love trying to learn from other artists by copying their lines and painting styles - oil to watercolor conversions.  I didn't know anything about Jean-Pierre Cassigneul, but subsequently learned that he was born in 1935 and is a well known French artist - with a painting in the upcoming Christie's Impressionist and Modern Auction.  Here is my fast copy of his beautiful oil painting.



January 13, 2009

EDM Challenges #205 and 206

I usually drink Diet Coke from bottles, but painted the soda can that I could find.  I'm fascinated with the bold words "New York" which appear several times around the rim.  Do cans sold in other cities have a city-specific name?


We spent almost 4 months in the UK, in the aggregate, the year my daughter and her family lived in London.  I was always learning new words for objects, but these remain among my favorites because the British word connotes something entirely different in America.



January 11, 2009

Cezanne Card Players at the Met

In the summer 0f 2007, we saw an exhibit of Leon Kossoff's drawings at the National Gallery in London.  Although I didn't love the style of his Conte drawings, I was fascinated with his method of working as an artist.  Kossoff was born in London in 1926 and is a prominent member of the School of London which also includes Lucien Freud.  On the exhibit page, there is a link to one of his very rare interviews, actually done in his exhibit space.  Kossoff never paints from photos and although he doesn't consider himself accomplished in drawing, he starts every painting with a fresh drawing and then takes his work back to the studio for painting.  Since he was a child, he has drawn and redrawn many of the master works at the National Gallery, and in the interview he relays how he gets his inspiration from these drawings and every day wakes up saying that maybe today he'll learn how to draw!

I wondered whether drawing and redrawing a masterpiece that speaks to you would lead to some type of magical experience if you were in the presence of the masterpiece and drawing it over many years.  So I thought I would try it when I returned to New York and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Last January I selected  Cezanne's Card Players which I have always admired.  It is prominently placed in the 19C galleries and actually has one of the few gallery benches in front of it in the middle of the room.

Using watercolors, instead of oils, was a challenge, but I really wanted my work to be more than just an ink or Conte drawing.

Here is the link to my drawing from Jan 2008:

Here is the link to the painting from from the 2008 drawing:


Yesterday I arrived at the Met when it opened and had 45 minutes during which I was completely alone drawing the Card Players in one of the 19th C. galleries.  The Met allows pencils, but not pens or paints, so like Kossoff, I returned home to finish it.  But I wanted to try to reproduce the colors, and worked from a photo that I took.

My 2009 Painting:


Cezanne made 5 Card Player paintings.  The first one has 5 figures and is part of the Barnes Collection in Philadelphia.  The Met has the second one which was painted in 1890-92.  - which has 4 figures.  The remaining 3 all have two figures.

I also thought that it might be fun to see how my style or skills change over the years - so far not much to my eye.  But I wonder whether next year I might decide not to draw in ink, or perhaps to change the colors, or even to move to more of an abstraction.  In the interview, Kossoff tells how he once went home from a National Gallery drawing session, and just painted the Rembrandt painting using his own style, without a predrawing on the canvas.  He has no idea why his mind just wanted to do that!

January 10, 2009

More Painted Christmas Trees

I continued to paint Christmas trees this year throughout the holiday season - and now post #3 and 4 from my journal.  I was disappointed to find that watercolor paint is absorbed so rapidly into Fabriano 140lb soft press paper that adding salt immediately didn't allow me to get a snow effect on a painted tree.  However, I read all of Vivian Swift's book When Wandrers Cease to Roam on New Year's Day, and was inspired to use her watercolor technique to paint a small tree with the suggestion of snow.


Yesterday I was putting Christmas cards away and found another painted tree which inspired me to paint #4 in my daily journal, with a healthy amount of gold metallic acrylic paint added for a string of beads and stars.


It is currently snowing in Manhattan, and there are Christmas trees propped up against trees in front of our apartment waiting to be picked up for the City mulching program.  They already have a wonderful layer of snow on their branches, giving me many trees to paint tonight if I want to bundle up and go downstairs! 

January 5, 2009

EDM Challenge #204 and Some Figure Drawing Practice

We have had minimal snow in New York City since this challenge was posted, so I went back to photos from a February 2005 trip to Paris.  It was the first time we were in Paris in the snow and it was a beautiful site.  This drawing was made from a photo that I took from the window of an apartment that we rented on Quai de l'Horloge early in the morning.


One of my 2009 Art Goals was to finish the pages in my 2nd Figure Drawing Practice watercolor journal.  I periodically sketch figures, faces, and hands from photos to obtain some fluency drawing the human body and experimenting with a variety of tools.  I'm finally willing to put faces on my full figure drawings - a major accomplishment of 2008!  Here are two figures that I sketched from photos during this wonderfully relaxing New Year's holiday weekend.  The rest of the time I've been reading, quilting, and binding 2 new watercolor journals for the New Year.




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