It wasn’t that long ago I was teaching in a classroom 40 hours a week in a subject matter that was unrelated to fine art. The simple reality for a lot of creative people is that a great deal of our days are spent doing things other than create art to pay our bills. So, with that in mind, the single greatest block on an artist’s creativity can be the simplest of stumbling blocks: “Do I have time for this?”
With this in mind I thought about ways that creative non-professionals and even professional artists can kick-start their process. I’m calling this example the “ten minute sketch.” It involves sectioning a piece of standard 8 x 11 1/2 sketch paper in your sketch book into four sections (the sections will be roughly the size of 4 x 6 note cards I was taught in high school to use to take notes for research papers).
Generally, I have encouraged my past students to “scale up” (ie: increase the size of their drawings and art) and to use a full sheet of paper for each piece. However, –this time around and in the interest of time– the idea is to create a smaller image that can be done more quickly as it will require less detail. Since this is meant for a sketch book exercise, it’s ideal for pencil or charcoal. Those who wish to may choose to work in color, but if you want to keep to the time limit (a suggestion, not a hard and fast rule by any means) you will simplify your drawing by working in one color, or with a limited palette.
Here is my example from last evening:
Bear in mind, this is an exercise designed to help get the blood flowing. You need not agonize about small works not intended for sale. With the small size you will want to keep your details simplified.
I choose portraiture for the topic of this sketch. The planes of the face are generally simple enough to sketch in this small a size. Subjects that are more intricate and have a great deal of detail might take a great deal more time.
Whether or not you work in areas unrelated to your art, the most important key to being happy creatively is good time management. Set time aside each day to be creative. Whether your ten minute sketch is done in ten minutes or not is not important. The important piece of doing this exercise is getting over the notion of being “too busy” or, “not having time” to be creative. This is a mental trick more than anything else.
Get out there, have fun and create!
Some more recent sketches here. Many more are due because I am developing ideas for some of the small works I plan to do:
[explanation: I’ve recently become a lot more disciplined in doing regular sketches of images that I find interesting for whatever reason. When I was a kid, or a teenager, it was a natural thing to just pick up a sketch-book and treat whatever I saw. I sort of lost that habit in the business of being an adult. Now, as I am producing more lately, large complete works, it’s all the more detrimental to maintain regular practice sketching small ideas and things that I may want to turn into larger complete works.]
[note] I’ve decided to begin loading new works towards the top of the page, so it’s easier for readers to see new works, rather than scrolling past ones they may have already seen to see the newest pieces.
I am trying to keep up the momentum with my sketching and practice. I have a possible set of classes, (I’ll call it a seminar) I will be teaching on my own. So I am looking forward to that and whatever new opportunities arise. I’ll give full details when the dates are confirmed.
So, I am doing a lot of sketching as pre-planning for larger works:
These are the two pieces I posted yesterday I was interested in essentially “tinting” with watercolor:
Study/sketch, pencil on paper. Pollock and Klingman together near the time of the artist’s death. Photo from a NYTimes article.
Two small sketches: above is a figure study of a Libyan opposition fighter.
Figure study, elderly woman with a rake. Pencil on paper.
The following two images I am planning to do further work with. I will do a similar thing as I did with another small work –an image of a depression-era man selling chestnuts from a vending cart. That piece I drew in pencil, and then tinted with watercolor. I am hoping to do that over the next couple days. I will post the results once I have an opportunity to do so.
This is a reproduction/study of Edouard Manet’s “Madame Michel-Levy.” I am starting more and more to keep Manet as among my favorites of the Impressionists.
This is an image of a TV/entertainment mogul. I found the image in the NYTimes. For whatever reason it made me think of the song lyric scribbled next to the image.
The last image is of a young woman, Shawna Timmonds, who was profiled in a NY Times article.
More to come, soon…
These were both in-class demonstrations (charcoal on paper):
(Note the lines and marks made as I illustrating planning and pre-drawing techniques)
Sketch for the SWPA.
In class demonstration.
In class demonstration: placement of facial features.
Based on a photo from the New York Times.
A piece riffing off Edouard Manet’s “The Old Musician,” it is a series I am considering for the SWPA (see for explanation here: http://elevenimages.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/the-small-works-progress-administration/)
Here’s a couple more sketches (in color). This piece is pencil and colored pencil on paper. I was working with a student on using color in shadows:
This piece is also a pretty good color study, this time in oil pastel:
So, I am launching a thing at the moment, I am playfully calling “The Small Works Progress Administration.” It’s an obvious allusion to Franklin’ Delano Roosevelt’s depression-era Works Progress Administration. During the 1930’s in this country, among other things the WPA did, was launch the careers of artists like Jackson Pollock, a personal inspiration of mine. The WPA paid artists to produce art during the Great Depression and the result was American art blossomed and put America and New York City on the map as one of the modern artistic and cultural hubs in the world. But, much like the 1930’s, it’s a hard time to be a person that aspires to make a living creating art. That’s why this photo:
What’s in the image is a bunch of found objects in gesso. There are 5 pieces of found card-board, and piece a typical brick like many found in 19th century buildings. The brick is the only piece that there’s a clear plan for right now. When it’s done it won’t sell for 10 to 25 dollars –there’s a big back-story behind that one.
The rest are open to interpretation.
I don’t have so high a hope for my small work progress administration as the result FDR got. I just need a few things. What I’m looking to do is 5 simple images on the cardboards in hopes of selling them for about $10-15 a piece. I’ll commission one of the card-boards for $25 for –whatever you want on them (bear in mind: the cardboards are only 7.5” x 10”). I like the idea of producing original art for anybody that wants it –not just the typical crowd that buys art from galleries. I like the idea of making original works that anybody can afford, but I need supplies to keep making new larger projects.
Some of the things I need:
Pencils, especially 2 and 4b.
Sketch pads of quality drawing paper
Max Grumbacher water-soluble oil paints
Especially in the following colors: titanium white
french ultramarine blue
Canvases (any size)
Money for gallery entry fees
Money to travel
You can use my e-mail contact if you are interested in a commissioned work. Or, you can send an e-mail about a particular piece when they are finished. All pieces are 7.5” by 10” acrylic on cardboard.
I’ve recently become a lot more disciplined in doing regular sketches of images that I find interesting for whatever reason. When I was a kid, or a teenager, it was a natural thing to just pick up a sketch-book and treat whatever I saw. I sort of lost that habit in the business of being an adult. Now, as I am producing more lately, large complete works, it’s all the more detrimental to maintain regular practice sketching small ideas and things that I may want to turn into larger complete works.
So, I came across the following Reuters photograph in the NYT (photo by Rebecca Cook): http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/27/us/300-million-in-detroit-aid-but-no-bailout.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
I started with a pencil, and quickly realized what I thought was going to be a quick sketch was actually a very complicated and difficult image to reproduce. There was so much texture to this photo, from the over-grown grass, to worn brick, to wispy clouds. I actually put a couple hours into this over a couple days.
This gets to why doing regular sketching is important. There was a lot of problems to solve with this image, a lot of challenges to it too. This is how being twenty years into taking art seriously, I am still learning and not stagnating. Enjoy:
Continuing on the sketching habit, I was immediately charmed by this image in the NY Times. This is Arline L. Bronzaft. She’s described in the NY Times article as a “environmental psychologist.” This fiery little woman has been a consultant to NYC mayors for decades now, she essentially busies herself with reducing noise problems in one of the most bustling urban environments in the world.
So, continuing the tirade with sketches from photos credited to the New York Times, I did this photo from the paper of virtuoso Pipa player Wu Man,
I did a bit more sketching last night. I am trying to draw out some ideas for the small works I talked about in the “Small Works” Blog.
The first draws from “Right Woman…” by Degas. I was doing a class demonstration and realized this pose has some pretty serious challenges in it. So, I brought the image home to work it again:
These poses of young girls come from two separate works by Edouard Manet: (“Old Musician,” and “St-Lazaire” respectively):
So, I started a new abstract piece, I just realized now, I had started it November of last year.
For a while I had considered it done, and gave it a place on my wall in the kitchen.
It started life, almost a year ago, looking like this:
Eventually, a portion of the canvas looked like this:
Then it sat on my wall for many months. Very lately (as in last night) I decided I needed to re-work it. Although I considered it done, there were places the while of canvas peeked through the paint. It was too reliant on a yellow ochre and red scheme that my paints trend towards without my total consent. Parts of it had gotten too blended with umber and red. I wanted to work it again so I did.
Here’s the re-finished, finished painting as of last night, drying:
I am still unsure whether or not to call this one done. Am I done beating up on this canvas? I don’t know yet. I am going to give it a couple days.
I also did not name or date this piece. I am trying to come up with a fitting name. Normally I reference something going on in my life in titles. So, I’m thinking about that bit of it…
PS: just for fun. An old iMac sits several feet away from my easel, and became collateral damage in the process of painting last night: