Main

April 21, 2017

Richard and his Dog - FIT Model

We had a live model in costume and his 8 year old pug this week in my FIT Watercolor Comps class.  The dog shifted positions lots, but was otherwise a perfect model.  The model was short and round, dressed in a wizard costume - and during breaks he gave his dog plenty of loving!

RichardandPugSIZE.jpg 

When I finished the first painting, I practiced "being looser" and just painted the model's head.

RichardSIZE.jpg 

We will next begin work on our final project - working each week to a finished illustration of a subject of our choice.  This was a very enjoyable class and I only hope that FIT offers more classes from the Illustration department in their Senior Program. 

December 28, 2015

Reflections on Art in 2015

A Review of Art Experiences and Learning During 2015: A Progress Report

AxelProgressSIZE.jpg 

January 4th is the 10th anniversary of my blog and it is always a good time for reflection and planning.   

Long Term Goals: Develop better drawing and painting skills on paper and with dye-painting and surface design on fabric.

1.  Goal: To sketch and paint everyday, and to blog twice each week. These activities give my retirement life some structure and provide enormous inspiration within an artist community. 

Progress:  I no longer do quick sketches every day, but no week passes without me having several good drawing sessions.  It was really important to me to sketch daily when I was beginning this journey as I prepared for retirement from medicine, but the habits were formed and now I can rarely pass a few days without some scribbles, if not a full sketchbook drawing/painting.  My blog posts are important to me, and continue to give structure and meaning to my art adventure and posting twice each week is a great schedule.

 

2.  Goal: Take more classes online and in person to remain inspired:

Progress:  I participated in several online classes this year, just enough to be inspired on an almost weekly basis during some months:  Studying Under the Masters 2, Sketchbook Skool Semester 4,  and an assortment of Craftsy Classes.  These included:  Close-up Flowers in Watercolor (Nan Carey), Travel Sketching in Mixed Media and Sketching People in Motion (both Marc Taro Holmes),    I also took a surface design class through Craftsy:  Fabric Patterning with Wax Resist with Malka Dubrawsky.

Each semester, for 14 weeks, I took a class at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and was lucky enough to register for Drawing and Watercolor classes in 2015.  As with the other classes I've taken there on subjects about which I already have some knowledge and experience, I always learn something new.  Our few drawing classes on perspective were excellent and our watercolor classes on different palettes and the use of Chinese White (with watercolor) and Black gesso (with gouache) as grounds were completely new to me.

 

3. Goal:  Continue to draw and paint locally:

Progress:  I belong to two Meetup groups and attend semi-regularly, schedule permitting: "Central Park Drawing and Art" and "Drawing New York."  We have an NYC-Urban Sketchers Weekday Group, and that provides other opportunities for group inspiration and contact.  Battery Park City Conservancy has weekly Nature Painting and Figure Drawing from May through October and I regularly participate in both the morning and afternoon sessions, weather permitting.  This year I attended figure drawing at Society of Illustrators with two visitors, my dear friends Sara from Alabama and Casey from France, and a series of Toulouse-Lautrec Café Society Figure Drawing sessions at MoMA.  And last, but not least, my very special days, spent with my artist friends Benedicte, Pat, and sometime Teri, means that we rarely miss the best museum and gallery shows in the City.  I would feel very isolated without these special 3 friends and would have many fewer good laughs!

One of my favorite projects this year was participation in the 100 Day Challenge by Elle Luna and The Great Discontent.  My goal, especially after taking Sketchbook Skool Semester 4, was to draw more from my imagination.  I didn't upload my daily drawings to Instagram, or follow along with other people's projects, but once I committed to it, I was faithful to the project for all 100 days, and even created my little imaginary character Axel. 

  

4. Goal:  Make watercolor sketchbooks, for daily drawing and painting and travel:

Progress:  I made cased-in watercolor books for my daily sketchbooks, accordion journals for our outdoor Urban Sketchers sessions, a travel sketchbook for our vacation in Spain from an old book of Spanish Drawings, and a summer travel sketchbook from a recycled book called Colors of the Sea.  All of these are discussed and photographed in daily blog posts in my bookbinding category on the blog. 

July was my big surface design month, during which I spent part of almost every day dying fabric, exploring new techniques, and creating dyed fabric for bookcloth.  In the process I also made dye samples and created a unique sewing pattern for a pencil-pen pocket which goes around my sketchbook cover with Velcro.  It is a wonderful convenience when I am sketching as I walk around museums and galleries.

Even Axel and his friend Alice made an appearance on fabric - using thick dye for the drawing and color.  

This year I also planned to make another batch of paste paper to use for covering bookboards and/or as endpapers, but I didn't deplete as much of my stash as I thought I might.

 

I'd love to read what others are planning.... 

 

 

 

November 13, 2015

Watercolor Painting Class - More Chinese White

I had my FIT Watercolor class last night, and did a painting with transparent watercolors on cardboard painted with Chinese White.  Our model was excellent and she was in the same pose, in 20 minute blocks of time, all night.  I underpainted my binder's board cardboard (a 7.5 X 11 in leftover piece from bookbinding) at home, so it was dry.  All of the painting was done with Winsor Newton transparent watercolors and a #10 brush.

Nov12Model1SIZE.jpg 

Our Professor wasn't ready with his demo, so I sketched her with a Sketch and Wash pencil out of boredom.

ModelDrawingSIZE.jpg 

He then demonstrated using gouache, using what he calls "body color," which was really Brilliant White Pebeo Gouache mixed with his transparent watercolors (lamp black, yellow ochre, and vermillion).  I had trouble achieving strong color when combining the gouache and my watercolor.  He showed us Toulouse-Lautrec paintings as examples, and said you could also add a little cobalt blue or Paynes Gray. 

Nov12Model2SIZE.jpg 

 

With both of these paintings, I had trouble painting her skin because the water changes the color of the cardboard and I needed to adjust for that.  Next week - more painting with gouache and the introduction of another substrate. He mentioned using black gesso painted substrate and even black foam board during some of our remaining classes.

September 29, 2015

Watercolor Paintings Week of September 21st

When I was in the gardens in Wagner Park last week, I tried to paint loosely and without a preliminary simple pencil drawing.  I found it very difficult to paint the yellow flowers, and at the end I sketched one with my pen and then added watercolor just to remember the actual shape and color.  I definitely need to work on these using only a brush and paint. 

FlowersWagnerParkSIZE.jpg 

 

My homework after my FIT class was to paint an organic still life using 3 colors: Payne's Gray, a yellow (New Gamboge), and a red (Scarlet Lake).  I lightly blocked out the plant and sculpture and then tried to paint it loosely and with different mixtures to vary the greens.

 

HomeworkClass4SIZE.jpg 

 

In class last week we had 4 big animal skulls to draw, all placed on dark backgrounds.  My problems were many fold:

1.  I am so used to working small that my preliminary drawings were too small regardless of where I started drawing.

2.  I found it very difficult to simplify the skulls.  They are so complicated structurally, and I wanted to capture the different depths, angles, and holes.  Without those structural details they were just big blobs. 

SkullTwoSIZE.jpg 

 

The skull of the right, repeated slightly bigger: 

SkullSingleSIZE.jpg 

I'm hoping that I can work toward bigger drawings, and much looser painting.  This week our homework is to draw "a flower" and we examined many paintings of Georgia O'Keefe for inspiration.  I have a few beautiful, fresh sunflowers that I bought today, just waiting for me to paint one! 

 

September 18, 2015

FIT Fall Semester Watercolor Class

In 2003 I began to think about retirement activities and bought a student grade set of watercolors, and then played with paints, brushes, and paper over the next 2 years.  I read several watercolor books including Cathy (Kate) Johnson's beginning watercolor painting book.  It was great fun learning on my own and when I partially retired in 2005 I started to draw and paint in a sketchbook almost daily, graduating to Winsor-Newton artist grade tube watercolor paints and better paper.  I've now been retired 6 years and still play with watercolors trying to learn as much as I can by "doing." 

This semester there were still openings for Seniors in the one watercolor section that exists each semester at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) and I just completed my second class ever.  We are using Strathmore 400 series 140 lb watercolor paper (18 X 24") and I'm still using my Winsor-Newton paints. 

In the first class, we painted a still life with mixtures of only 2 paints: burnt sienna and ultramarine blue, using quarter sheets and a 3/4" wide flat brush.   

Class 1 

IMG_20150918_151859100SIZE.jpg 

 

 

For homework we set up our own still life and did two 11 X 14" paintings, still using the same paper, brush, and colors. 

Homework 1

IMG_20150918_085946900SIZE.jpg 

Homework 2 

IMG_20150918_085954450SIZE.jpg 

 

Last night was class 2 and we worked on 1/2 sheets using the 3/4" flat brush and a triad of colors, to explore the virtues of Payne's Gray.  We could choose our own yellow and red, and I chose New Gamboge and Scarlet Lake as my other two colors.   

Class 2

IMG_20150918_090916199SIZE.jpg 

 

This is a very well structured class, and our exercises are designed to have us paint very loosely.   It is great fun!  I also like working with some restriction on color, even though I always use a very limited palette of primary colors - because I love mixing colors!