Friday, April 30, 2010

Squirrel Drawing

I thought I'd show this project in its earliest stage. This is the initial sketch before being transferred to the final surface of Bristol board. I am in the process of darkening the sketch, so it will be easier to see through the Bristol on the light box. As you can see (or hopefully can see!) this is going to be a little squirrel in a tree. I fell in love with this picture partly because of the lights and darks of the squirrel, but mostly for the birch tree that he was found on. The limb has such a nice contrast on its bark, and it is so defined in detail and goes out of focus as it recedes into the background. The background itself is so blurry that it makes a nice frame around the central focus of the squirrel. At least that is what I hope the finished piece will convey! ;-)

I know that there are some (even a close friend of mine) that find squirrels to be quite a nuisance. ( They do have fun emptying bird feeders.) But in their defense, I find them to be hours of fun to watch. I had one in my backyard a week ago that was thrilled to find the bits of hot dog buns that were thrown out for the birds. He frantically went around digging tiny holes, depositing the chunks of bread, covering them up with dirt, and carefully patting the earth smooth over them. He must have hid a couple dozen pieces! He treated himself to a couple of chunks for all of the hard work as the sparrows ate happily along side him. I have never seen a squirrel do that before, and unfortunately for him, we received a steady rainfall that night. Rain, dirt, and bread? Oh my! I am sure all the earthworms were very thankful for Mr. Squirrel's contribution to their underground food pantry!! All this natural entertainment and all it cost me was a few left overs... Some of the best things in life really are free!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Self Portrait Finished

It took me awhile to get the hair done! I honestly thought it would be easier, since it was pulled back, but that was not the case. As you can see, the light was coming from the back on the right. I took the liberty of making the light not as harsh. If the drawing had a darker background, I could have made the light hitting the hair more stark. Honestly, I prefer it like it is. It was a very harsh photo with stark lights and jet blacks. I also gave the shirt more detail and a nubby finish that it should've had. For my first profile portrait, I am very happy. It is unanimous here that it does in fact look like me and the photo. So, that is a plus!!

What to do next? I am not sure. No predictions this time, since they never seem to work out. I will just take a day to think about it...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Self Portrait Cont.

Progress... I seem to move quicker when animal fur isn't involved! The first picture is my work space. I like to have the photo image higher than my work. Most of the time the Mylar graph is pulled back so the shadows of the face are easier to see. Speaking of shadows, either the lighting was treating me very unkind or winter definitely had taken its tole on me when this picture was taken. I have a dark circle under my eye. This must have been the week that I couldn't find my under the eye concealer ;0) ... Yikes! Well, I can even be thankful for being exhausted, because it sure made the area around the eye easier to define.

Oddly enough, the eye was the last feature that was rendered on the face. It occurred to me later that this was taking a big chance, since I have never had to draw an eye from a side point of view. I am very happy with how it turned out. My main priority was to keep the life spots as clean as possible. Now the trick will be to not smear them while working on the hair.

It has been relaxing to work on smooth skin again. Large sections can be worked on at a time. (When working on the fur of animals, I have to keep the sections so much smaller to maximize the detail.) It is a funny feeling at the end of a drawing session to stand back and realize that it is my profile starting to come to life on paper. One of my son's friends (who apparently is easy to impress ;0) ! ) looked at the drawing the other night and said it was amazing. I looked up from my drawing board and replied, " I know I am." That made for a good laugh! I can't imagine what he thought of me drawing myself... It is kind of funny to think about, but my son's friend has known me since he was 2 years old (18 yrs.), and he has never known that I could even draw...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Self Portrait in Profile

What do you do when you are lacking models to draw...? Step up to the plate, be your own model, and draw yourself! I know, it doesn't meet the criteria for the busier composition that I had been wanting to do, but I was anxious to try another human portrait and in profile. The picture I took of myself was not by any means that clear but good enough to draw from. So unfortunately ;) , all those laugh lines and wrinkles didn't show up in the enlargement. Oh Darn! And let me say, those bangs hide a lot too!!

The thought of a self portrait can be rather daunting to think about. Oddly enough though, once this was started, I ceased to think about the subject being me. I started to see characteristics of my sisters and parents showing up. How often really does one study their own features section by section? I find myself constantly checking my sketch to the photo. There was a little fear that subconsciously I might do a little altering! But so far everything is checking out. That is the beauty of a graph. Just as a side note: I did transfer the graph, as you can see in the picture, and I find myself erasing large areas and not needing it. This could be due to the smaller size of the portrait which is 8x8".

So far, it has been really fun to build up the values. It is such a surprise when I hit that magical moment when a feature pops out from the Bristol. I never thought working on humans could or would be fun. My gratitude will always go to Lee Hammond for pushing me into purchasing Bristol board and blending my values. That bit of knowledge has opened a whole new area of art to me. I will be eternally grateful!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Otter Finished

 Here he is finished! The darks might get worked on more later. For right now, I decided to take the edging tape off. It worries me that it might start to adhere to the paper to well and cause some damage. I will just put some new tape on later if needed. It is always fun to pull the tape away and see the nice clean edges to a drawing. The color of the tape being lifted out of the picture makes the graphite take on another dimension.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Scott Liddell for a wonderful reference photograph. He is a very accomplished photographer and is generous enough to share his talent with the artistic community. I try to work from my own photos but could not pass up the opportunity to draw this little guy. You can check out Scott's photography at and from there you can check out his blog also! So thanks again!!

Tonight will be spent picking out a new composition. I am not sure which direction to go next. A busier composition would be nice...or something on a bit larger scale...I have a feeling it is going to be a late night filled with contemplation!!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Otter Cont. 2

Getting a little bit farther on the otter. Other commitments have been making progress on this one slow to a crawl. So with the luxury of free time this morning, I dove in determined to get his face pulled together!! The background should go relatively fast, since it is very muted, then his whiskers can be put in. I am happy with the progress to date, but the dark values are not close to where they need to be. There will be a lot of 9b involved before this one is finished!