Sunday, September 28, 2014

A page from my sketchbook

If you're wondering why anyone would spend several hours drawing a boring, old onion, the answer's pretty simple. For me, at least. I wanted to know if I could.

You see, much as I admire photorealism, I've never really wanted to give up the artistic licence that more arty pictures allow. Yet, I always wonder if I could do it if I wanted to. I'm not sure if I've quite achieved it with this - I discovered that a magnifying glass and smoother paper would have helped. Still, I learnt a lot and it probably turned out better than I expected.

Here are the stages for this sketch:
The outline in graphite pencil.
Outlining details with raw umber.
The first layers of colour.
Building up form.
Almost ready to improve the contrast.

Does it look real, do you think?

Friday, September 19, 2014

Journals and Sketchbooks

The past couple of years have been a lean time for me as far as art is concerned. It seemed that my pictures were getting worse rather than progressing so I took a few breaks and concentrated mainly on hobbies, journals and a little experimenting in my sketch book. I guess I was still hoping to find my mojo, again.

The top picture is a rough sketch that I was experimenting with, this morning. It's a long time since I did much with graphite pencils but I have some ideas in my head that I'm itching to experiment with. (Hopefully, these will be the subjects of my next posts.)

Here below are some pages from different journals that could possibly inspire some more journaling ideas. Most of them aren't particularly artistic and some are just practical.

This pen, ink and coloured pencil sketch was drawn quite rapidly as my husband and I sat on our veranda, chatting on a warm, spring afternoon. I love pen and ink as it is so quick and expressive. (The corn was delicious, BTW!)

This is a recipe journal that I hope to add much more of our favourite recipes to. The pictures are drawn with coloured pencils. I'm hoping that it will become like one of those treasured, grandma's recipe books that are passed down through the generations - but, I may need to experiment with the drawings first.

This one is my hobbies journal. In this book, so far, I have written out knitting and crochet patterns, as well as photos of finished projects. I haven't done much sewing, lately, but, when I do, that will go in this journal, too.

The hobbies journal also has some useful tables and information such as this conversion chart which converts US crochet terms to the UK versions.

This journal is a pretty, red colour on the outside but inside it's just plain and useful. I use it for lists, ideas and reminders. I also use my iPad for reminders but I'm still attached to the old-fashioned paper way of doing things!

Here's an old diary page from a couple of years ago. This diary sort of petered out as my struggles with art grew. I've recently bought a beautiful, tinted journal to make a pictorial, family diary but, typical of me, I've been too afraid to ruin it with my first entry!

This is another old journal that I hope to pick up, again. The children and I enjoy nature study together but it takes some discipline to keep up a nature journal. When I got my first DSLR, a couple of years ago, we started taking photos instead but I still think that a handmade journal is much more personal.

This is a watercolour pencil experiment from one of my sketchbooks. Last Christmas, one of my daughters bought me a gorgeous, wooden watercolour pencil set and I've been experimenting to see how I can make them work with my normal pencils. I had some nice effects by using them as a base for portrait work - it speeded up the process hugely - but I think I would use them more for illustration than fine portraiture.
This red journal is my daily diary. The entries in here are short enough that I have been able to persevere with it through every day of this year. Quite an achievement for the queen of putting things off till tomorrow!

And, finally, my little pile of journals. One journal that is missing is a travel journal - simply because I haven't done any traveling, lately! Something else to put in my dream basket...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Portrait of Bethany

This a portrait of my daughter, Bethany.

I've really enjoyed doing this picture. The Polychromos are beautiful to use. Unlike the Prismacolors, I can add multiple layers without the picture suddenly becoming clogged with wax. At times, the pencils almost felt like paint.

I am still experimenting but I feel much more comfortable with my art again, now.

Here are some of the stages for this portrait.
The initial outline in dark flesh.
The first of the skin layers.

Does it look a bit eighteenth-century with the white hair?
The general flow of the hair in a mid-tone.
With the hair taking shape, I could see problems with the features and the colour of the flesh. More contrasting and subduing layers needed.
At this stage, I realised I'd been taking some of the photos at a strange angle - oops!
Somehow, the picture ended on a slant - another oops!

Next, I have the urge to do some soft graphite and two-tone portraits. I'll share how it goes.