Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Ornaments can be such fascinating works of art!  I have such a love for the indented vintage ornies that were made in Poland.  When the lights are shining brightly at night, they capture the colors like wondrous mini caverns of ice. :)  One can find them in various locations on my tree.   I have spent many a December evening gazing at their beauty... *sigh*  

I wish everyone safe travels and a Merry Christmas!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Baby Otter 7

Here is the proof below... The drawing board is still in my studio! ;)  I have spent a couple of nights getting the fur mapped out on the rest of the baby otter.  As you can see by the photo comparison,  I definitely need to go darker on my little guy's fur and work on the tone of the background.  I've started working my 6b wood case pencil's rich graphite into the composition but have not begun smoothing it in yet. 

The image is a little washed out on this pic...  But, you can see by the mapped areas the flow of the fur by the negative representation of the shadows.  These are carefully placed markers to the layers that will follow and to the highlights that will be chiseled in with the clic eraser.  The 6b is showing up on the rest of the fur and will fan out as the tortillon works its magic.  The transition from the mussel out to the nose should give some much needed dimension to the otter's head.  I think that will give the little critter balance in its own right versus the detail in the hands.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Baby Otter 6

Between filling in for vacations at work, tractor pulls, and gardening, I find that summer is quickly slipping by...  *sigh*  My mind gets preoccupied with all the new things happening in life, and the beloved drawing board and pencils sit patiently waiting in the studio.  As always, my stress levels start to climb due to the shift away from my artistic outlets, and I begin to fret over the small details in life... a miserable feeling trust me.  :(   I am now finally able to recognize the warning signs, so this last week saw a long awaited return to the little otter.  It is amazing how a mechanical pencil and a piece of Bristol board can improve my attitude and my outlook on life.  Art has always been a big part of my past in some shape or form and will be a huge part of my future... It is the one constant in this crazy thing called life where I feel that I belong... :)

Onward to the update...  The one hand is finished, and the face of this little critter is starting to take shape.  The areas being worked on are staying squared off.  With such tiny details in the fur, it is better to keep close to the grid in these tightly detailed spaces.  I brought in a touch of 6b wood cased pencil for a few of the deep shadows.  The edge of his hair on the background needs to be sculpted in and blended-- It is a little sketchy right now.  The hand is bouncing to the front nicely in the composition with the addition of the otter.  I look forward to finishing up the fur and getting the shading balanced.  :)    

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Baby Otter 5

The little otter has acquired some more graphite on its fur and completion of one eye.  The hand on the left side of the composition is beginning to be developed, also.  The fur was coming along nicely, but the hand kept grabbing my attention.  I worried about the smear factor to the bottom portion of the otter, if I went back to working on the left side of the drawing.  So, I broke out from my usual method and decided to keep going on the top portion of the otter's head, while moving  from left to right on the bottom part of the composition.  The trading off should break up the monotony, and the darks can be adjusted simultaneously in the whole composition at the same time.  I have already done a little deepening of shadows in the finished fur. It photographed a little on the washed out side tonight, but you should be able to see where the piece is heading.  :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Baby Otter Graphite Drawing 4

I did a little more mapping after the last session and decided that it was a big enough area to take to completion.  So, I began the process of blending and removing graphite with a white eraser.  After the fur was defined, more graphite was added to the heavy shadows, followed by some more blending, and finished with more defining of the dark shadows.  My Tuff Stuff eraser stick went into action to pull out a few long whiskers, and the kneaded eraser worked to blur the areas of fur that were out of focus in the composition.  The background was darkened slightly on the left to enhance the light fuzzy fur.  This is the most exciting part of the process for me...  It is the first glimpse of how the little critter is going to look.  :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Baby Otter Graphite Drawing 3

The weather has been gorgeous in Northern Illinois, and the month of May has been a busy one!  Flea markets and town garage sales galore making for some fun weekends of running.  Schools are closing for another year, and my son is now a college graduate.  Where has the time gone?  *sigh*

I started mapping the little otter's fur a few hours ago and kept going until my hand started to cramp.  This small format can be harsh on the fingers!    My schedule will pull me from the board this afternoon.  I hope to get some more time in tonight. :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Graphite drawing of a Baby Otter Cont. & A Special Thought on Maurice Sendak and Those Berenstain Bears

Where have I been?? ;)  The last three weeks have been a change of pace to say the least.  Two weeks were spent working full time as I got my training in for a new job.  Last week, my hours were reduced to part time and will stay that way unless one of the other employees decides to take time off.  So, I am happy to say that I have made my way to the drawing board again.  Whew!  It  feels good to be back!! :)

Below is a photo of the progress from last night.  I used my light box to transfer my sketch onto smooth Bristol board.  Since this little guy has a lot of fuzzy hairs protruding from his thick fur, I decided to get the background in place.  As with most of my drawings, the shading may go a little deeper, but it will work perfectly for pulling out the fuzz and tiny hairs with a white eraser.  The edges of the background had been lined with special pH drafting tape prior to being blended but was removed upon completion.  My next logical move would be map in and blend the little guy, since he is centrally located.  The hands will be so much easier to smear than fur, so they will be sketched in last.  :) 

I wanted to take a few moments to give a small tribute to a fabulous artist, Maurice Sendak.  As those of you that have followed me know, my love of children's books is enormous.  About a month ago, my Mom purchased an oversized book at a thrift shop entitled "The Art of Maurice Sendak" that she read and passed along to me.   It chronicled the work of this famous children's book illustrator and author from his beginnings through the late 70's.  I was completely thrilled with the content about his family, the influence of his childhood and other illustrators on his work, and of course the abundance of drawings lent to showcase the evolution of his style.  The book itself was written by Selma Lanes and published in 1980.  Amazing to think that there would be 32 more years after this book of new Sendak drawings!

I began reading this book at the end of April and set it aside to focus on training for my new day job position.  In one of my few moments on the computer, I learned that on  May 8, 2012 this wonderfully talented man passed away.  There would be no more of his magnificent pen and ink work with the intricacy and details that made my imagination take flight.  It was a sad day, but also a day to celebrate a man that made such an enormous contribution, both as writer and illustrator, to the genre of children's literature.

Many may recognize his name as being synonymous with his book "Where the Wild Things Are" -- which is just one of several splendid books that showcased how in tune he was with his feelings from childhood.   I first fell in love with the carefree style of his illustrations in the Miss Piggle Wiggle series!  My admiration has only deepened for him as I now continue to read on about his art and career.  It's fascinating to read his thoughts about childhood and the influence that other illustrators had on his ever evolving style.  So much so, that he also was a collector of children's books and other illustrator's original art.   Definitely a man that I would admire! ;)


And as a additional acknowledgement, February of 2012 brought the passing of another great woman in the field of children's literature, Jan Berenstain.  She continued on the Berenstain Bear legacy after the passing of her husband Stan in 2005.  Their autobiographical book "Down a Sunny Dirt Road" is one of the best reads in town, and I highly recommend it.  :)  I have collected their Bears in books, on DVDs, and on fabric!  They were an admirable team, and I am absolutely thrilled that their boys are carrying on with more tales from Bear Country. 

Where would we be without all of these wonderfully talented people??  *Sigh*  :)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Graphite Drawing of a Baby Otter ~ Work in Progress

The next little critter to grace the drawing board is a darling baby otter.  This one is definitely for me! ;)  The drawing will be on a smaller scale and should finish at 6 1/2 x 4 3/4 inches.  For those that are new to the Sketches blog, I will be working with a 2b graphite lead in a mechanical pencil, 9b wood case pencil, stumps, tortillions, and my trusty vinyl and  kneaded erasers.  This graph sketch is on transfer paper for easier erasing.  The final support will be on Bristol smooth.    

Friday, March 30, 2012

Gord the Hamster Complete

What?  LOL  Yep, the little guy is now forever immortalized in graphite.  Whew!   My son and I discussed the options, after my last post.  Due to the light box throwing off the intensity of the darks in the hamster, my son still wasn't 100% sure how it should be finished.  But once he viewed the original art in natural light, he was adamant that the drawing should have the background added.  (He worried initially that the dark lettering would over power the main focus.)  We both felt that the added letters would or should push the central focus forward... We were not disappointed! :) 

As I finished up the details this morning,  my son ambled into the studio to see the progress.  His facial expression was the same as when viewing the "Dani" drawings.  I knew then,  this composition had been completed to his satisfaction; although, I still agree with my initial feelings and blog comments that this drawing could have been just as effective with or without the background. 

This is just a fine case of familiarity bringing a personal touch to a drawing.  Even though the hands were distinctly my son (by far my favorite hand model), the sweatshirt brought him into the composition in a stronger sense... for him and even for me too.  This feeling was all wrapped up in his choice of apparel. ;)  The shirt was bought on his first major trip without the rest of the family.  It was purchased right before graduating high school and not long before acquiring his first two pets (the little hamsters!).  After giving the situation many hours of thought, in a serendipitous way, the shirt represented the hamster's owner just as much as the hands.  Just one of those quirky things, I guess. ;)

This brings another interesting question floating into my thoughts.  Had my son wore a plain or raggedy work tshirt, would this discussion be taking place?  I seriously doubt it.  After reading the comments left by fellow artists in the blogosphere, I am even more certain that it would not have taken place.  That is a main reason why I do not list original photos with the work.  It keeps my followers from becoming tainted by a preconceived notion of how the finished work should look.  In a sense this is unfair to my viewers, but I am lucky to be in a group of very talented individuals that will speak their piece when different scenarios are played out.  I am forever grateful to have their opinions.  The day that I stop listening to their thoughts is the day that I no longer grow as an artist.  I hope that day never comes! :)

Many thanks to the comments from Andrew, Sally and Teresa.  Their sites can be visited by clicking their names in the comment section of my previous posts.  And before I post this up for view, I will be putting a blog roll to the right side of my page.  Each of their sites will be listed for viewing, along with some other talented people that I like to follow! :) 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Gord the Hamster Still a WIP

My son was not much help.  Although with my observation skills on high, I noticed that he did not exude the usual excitement at viewing one of his pets in graphite.  His eyes kept scanning the drawing.  It is a familiar photograph to him, so I am sure the lack of writing made a difference... just speculating here or being paranoid. ;)

So after losing more time to mulling it over, I thought of another approach to the dilemma.  As you all know, my drawings begin as a graphed sketch on transfer paper.  The premise behind this is to have a preserved sketch on file in case of an aborted start or the desire to put a subject into color at a later date.  Well... Why not use the sketch to see what the drawing would look like with lettering?  It may not be as dark as original work, but it will at least offer an idea of the finished piece.  It was worth an afternoon of laying out the lettering, just to see a glimpse of an alternate ending to this subject.  

Below is the updated  transfer paper sketch.  I wasn't really seeing an answer, so I darkened the lettering with a marker and pulled out my trusty light box. :)

The light washes out the drawing to a degree but leaves enough of the shading to allow me to see a little bit of dimension.  It was actually kind of cool to see the lettering appear, and it's nice to know there is another plus to starting my sketches on transfer paper! ;)  The Washington lettering will be dark thread, and the larger DC lettering will be in a very light thread.

Since I am messing around with the idea anyways, a little 2b pencil was used on the transfer paper to slightly darken the Washington lettering for a little more effect.  My hubby walked in during the process and said that he liked the composition both ways.  How's that for decisive? ;)  After seeing it up on the screen (even though it is washed out), I am kind of liking the lettering; although, there are times that I worry my backgrounds could be distracting.   A lot will be going on for a composition that measures 4 3/4 by 6 1/2 inches.  I'm giving myself until tomorrow to make a decision.  Maybe, my son will get home early tonight and have some input.   But... I am really liking the lettering the more that I look at it! :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Gord WIP Not Sure Yet if This is a Finish??

Have you ever had one of those days when your mind doesn't want to take a break and for some reason logic waits to step in and make it stop?  LOL  Well, that is how my day went this morning while working on this drawing.  I've spent most of the last week reworking areas of this composition.  First, the minute area of the shirt at the bottom between the hands was smoothed in.  Unfortunately, it seemed to pattern ridden.  The variations were true to the photo but did not translate well in graphite.  Another drawing session was needed to correct the problem.  Then with the appearance of the dark cast shadows, the hands had a look of being washed out.  Next session was dedicated to correcting that problem.  Finally, the background made its appearance.  Again, the hands needed to be darkened in the shadows... Ugh!   Now, I believe everything is semi cohesive... Or is it??

The background is threatening to be a little blah... at least in my opinion.  In the reference photo, there is dark embroidery of a name on the shirt behind Gord.  I made the decision to omit it from the drawing.  My apprehension was that it would distract from the central focus of the drawing.   My mind is still telling me that it very well might.  But for some odd reason, the adventurous photo realistic side of my brain is wondering how the composition would look if the letters made an appearance.  It made me nearly crazy this morning while thinking about it.  Then, it occurred to me that maybe this doesn't have to be my problem.  After all, this drawing was a request from my son.  So as far as I'm concerned, the decision is in his lap.  Whew!   

After walking away from the drawing board completely frazzled in the head, I went out to do some serious yard work.  Believe it or not, we are having some unimaginable warm temps for March... with even warmer temps to come at the end of this week!  I take care of a few lawns in the neighborhood and thought that today would be great for raking up the leaves.  Plus, the workout would get rid of all the frustration over this piece.  Which was a win - win in my book! ;)

Oh... and I have to add, this photo was taken with my old digital camera.  Notice the familiar discoloration  that it picks up from the lights... Yuk!   It occurred to me, while hunting for my new camera, that I had left it on a table at work.  Not the smartest move on my part since that side of the building houses resale items.  Duh!  I raced to the phone to make a quick call and was lucky that it was still there.  My worries weren't so much over the camera but the memory card inside it.  I did back it up a month ago but am sooo happy that it will be safe at home again. :)  Lesson learned on that one!

The next post will reveal the fate of this drawing and a new photo.  I am anxious to hear my son's opinion.  Of course, his Dad will have to throw in his two cents on the subject... I have no doubt! ;)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Gord the Hamster WIP 4

We have some smooth highlighted fur! ;)  This drawing is ready for its background and some fine tuning.  Today has been dedicated to getting the right depth, putting in the whiskers, and adding some fine dark hairs.  I am probably not completely done with the fur but am not going to risk over working it.  Sometimes, it is best to have a cooling off period. :)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Gord the Hamster WIP 3

This has been such a busy week with filing our taxes, Valentine's Day, and hubby and my anniversary... All on different days!  We have been blessed with some beautiful sunshine, so I am not complaining. :)  I hoped to have a nice slow weekend, but hubby and I ended up doing some running for parts for our tree business today.  Tonight though, my schedule is back on track, and my drawing of Gord got some much needed attention.  As you can see, the little guy is now mapped into the drawing. :)

I am very happy with him after viewing the composition from a distance.  His little features are where they should be.  When I look at this drawing, it feels like he is in my life again.  Definitely a good sign on the "likeness" meter! ;)  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Gord the Hamster WIP 2

Now the question is whether to draw the hamster or the background first.  Hmmm... Still deciding.  :)

In all honesty, I am thinking that I wish a picture would have been taken of the hand on the right about an hour and a half ago.  It would have been a great example of why NOT to put a lot of detail into a drawing.  Not only did the hand look like it belonged to a centurion but was possibly suffering from some rare disease that left it tiger striped!  This is not the first time that I have detailed a subject to death (and in doing so waste an hour or more!), so the remedy hit me as I got up to go get a drink of water.  As I was walking away, a glance over the shoulder told me to distance myself from the subject and not allow my eyes to focus in on those minute details.  So... the hand was completed with me standing a couple of feet away from the board.  I never thought that I would ever like drawing like that, but it sure helps in this instance. ;) 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Gord the Hamster WIP

I'm still here! LOL  The second hand is in the process of getting blended.  It probably will require a few more hours, but I felt the need to throw it up for show... and to let you all know that I haven't went AWOL again! ;)   

This poor drawing keeps getting turned back and forth on the board .  It is just too inconvenient to blend with the way you are seeing it now.  The shadows naturally curve around the finger, and I find it awkward to move the blending stump back and forth.  It is so much easier to just turn the drawing.  The middle finger and thumb need a few more blending, highlighting, and darkening sessions, but they are slowly getting there. ;)  

The knuckles are time consuming.  I find myself having to make a choice on how much detail to show.  It can get obsessive at times.  Unfortunately, too much detail in a drawing can distract the viewer and actually make the transitions in skin tone look unnatural and give the hands a much older appearance (trust me on the age part!).  Lighting in the photo can play a strong roll in this also.  My preference is for a harsh straight on light. :)   I guess that is where the artist must correct the tricks that the camera can play.  This is compounded by the fact of my natural tendency to draw everything that I see in focus... Ugh!!    But,  I am having fun with this drawing.  I love working on human hands and would like to take on a human portrait again... First things first though... back to the drawing board! ;)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gord the Hamster Cont.

Moving on to the other hand tonight!  The drawing support has now been turned to the correct position.   The mapping process has come to a halt, and I will start blending the fingers of the left hand.  My drawing hand will be resting in the blank area to the lower right, and I cannot justify  mapping the entire hand only to have the details smeared.  I've convinced myself to finish where I am at first.  

Can you believe that I am looking forward to the background?  There are some cast shadows that will set the tone for both hands.  Yes, you have heard it here before, but cast shadows are the best!  They are the biggest bang for your buck in a drawing and can bring an otherwise flat composition to life.  I'm not sure if the writing on the shirt will remain in the final work (which is why it was left out of the line drawing).  Time will tell! ;)   

Oh... and before I forget.  That new Sanford mechanical pencil is now my best friend.  The funniest part is that I LOVE the weight of it.  Before using it, my thoughts leaned toward the weight being a negative attribute.  But after using it, I find that my hand has less fatigue.  The weight works in my favor.  Less pressure needs to be brought down on the pencil to get the depth of graphite required.  Less stress on my hand... Huge improvement! :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Gord the Hamster

Funny thing after starting this new drawing...  I find myself, wandering into my studio at night, wanting to put in a hour or two here and there.   Every once in a while, I look up to see my hubby peeking around the doorway to see what I am to.  That hasn't happened for a long time!  He is finally getting use to the fact that my disappearance from our living room puts me back at the drawing board...  Such a once familiar occurrence that has been missing in this household! :)

I started on the left simply by choice.  As you all know, my style has always been to work on individual pieces of a drawing and not to go left to right.  The photo below is my original view point while working.  The pic is a little washed out.  Graphite is such a pain to photograph!  The thumb and palm area will have some deep cast shadows on the shirt to push the dimensional view of the hand.  The mapping went relatively quick and made me a little nervous.   But after starting the blending process, the same old feeling of solving a wonderful puzzle came over me and happiness reigned in the studio! :)

Here is a view of the drawing to date.  This is not how the drawing was positioned on the board, when starting the fingers.  I turned the paper so that the left side of the composition was the bottom.  It made it so much easier to map and blend.  Plus, the reference photo could be set closer to the work area.  My eyes go back and forth constantly between the reference and Bristol while mapping a subject.  When ever I pause my gaze will be fixed on the reference photo as my hand continues mapping on the support.  It always amazes me how many artists can glance at a subject and draw for a length of time without referring back to the subject.  That style of drawing has never been my gift.  The drawing itself will become more of my main focus during the blending process and less during the pulling of highlights.

A little crooked on the angle with this shot... I had to sit the drawing board on the floor of my studio for the last two pics just to get a descent photo. LOL   Unfortunately, it was a quick photo with me holding the camera a little wonky!  This is how the drawing is taped on the board for me to work on.  The hand will get highlighted and refined again, after the composition is turned to the correct position.  As you can see, the index and middle finger are being blended at the moment.   I am happy with how they are beginning to lift off the page.    I will finish up this hand and will most likely jump over to the other one next. :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

New Year = New Drawing!

Did anyone else see this coming??  I'll let you in on a recurring New Year's resolution of mine.... Simply put, No Excuses.  I do NOT want to continue on with the last drawing.  Was it progressing you ask?  Yes, it was coming along, but I dreaded looking at the loads of leaves that were ahead of me.  Dread is never a good thing.  Since it was not a commissioned piece, I let myself out of my own personal contract.  Will I revisit it at a later date?  Probably... But I will start with the main subject and alter the background to something that makes me happy.  Why not? ;)  For right now, it is shelved...

So you may be wondering what pushed me into this decision.  Well, hubby pointed out a week ago that he noticed  my lack of time at the drawing table over the last few months.  No excuses right...What could I say?  So my tactic was to change the subject, but he is not that easily distracted.  He reminded me how irresponsible it is to turn my back on this blog and the work that I am always saying that I love.  Ouch...Trust me, he has a way of being brutally honest; and of course, he was right.  Rats!

So I guiltily went about cleaning up the remnants of Christmas.  Occasionally, I would walk by my drawing table with the current work taped up and roll my eyes.  I loathe the feeling of dread.  That is when my younger sister called.  I was in the process of compiling next year's Christmas card address list.  The conversation turned to my exchange with my hubby.  She mentioned that she had visited the Sketches blog and was a little disappointed by the lack of work.  (I should have figured this response, since she and my hubby share the same brain! LOL)  What could I do?  I had to agree and proceeded to scratch her off my Christmas card list... Just kidding! ;)  The best thing to be surrounded by in life is honest people.  They keep me in line and help me to recenter my priorities.   She suggested setting the current work aside and finding something new... Maybe even in a smaller format.  Could it be that easy?  

I am happy to say this is the result of that conversation.  The current drawing on the board is a memorial that I promised my son of his hamster Gord.  There were four very nice pics of this little guy to choose from.  The first was on his beloved exercise wheel.  The second was almost identical to Dani in the work out ball drawing.  The third was a profile shot.  The final pose was the one that my son wanted to see completed in graphite.  It is the smallest format so far at 4 3/4 x 6 1/2 inches.  My preference would have been for a little bit larger composition.  This particular photo, having such a little guy as the center of focus, looked better with the hands being close to actual size.    After the line drawing was completed, the size of the drawing really does appeal to me.  And let me add, it felt so right and exciting to be working on this subject.  I sure have missed that feeling... *sigh*

To commemorate the New Year and a fresh start, I loaded up my new PhD Sanford mechanical pencil with a  2b lead.  My hand was cramping bad in the dark areas of the last drawing, and my cheap mechanical pencil wasn't helping matters.  I had purchased a bundle of these new Sanford pencils off of EBay during the Yorkie double portrait but didn't dare start using them mid stream.  The difference in weight is notable and effects my stroke and depth of graphite drastically.  So far, the grip is way more comfortable on my hand.  My hands are relatively small in size; and for some reason, all of my writing instruments work better for me in a larger size.  Go figure?  Due to weight of the pencil, the graph lines go on alot darker.  I almost have to lift up on the pencil when laying the lines, instead of pulling it across under its own pressure.  No big deal! :)

Let me wrap up this long post by saying that I will be working to perfect last year's resolutions.  How did I rate this year?  Well... The amount of graphite pieces fell short of the mark.  A colorized original piece was completed on my Pumpkin Hollow blog and was finished out with acrylics.  My business cards were completed, and a local friend found some art guilds for me to look into for this year.  My "go to" word focus served me well.  Although with so many projects at my hands, I found myself having troubles of letting my focus go long enough to spread my time evenly.  So the only change made to last year's left over resolutions is a new "go to" word, and it is a doozie... BALANCE.  A fair sharing of time to my family, art, work, hobbies, and adventures.  I have been thrilled with my focus on certain areas of my life this year, but the lack of balance threw off  my time distribution.  The year 2012 will be spent combining the two!  I look forward to some great work being created at the drawing table and sharing them with my blogging friends.  Happy New Year Everyone!!