Archive for the ‘ pencil ’ Category

Mini-lesson: The Ten Minute Sketch

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:

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My partner, Muse. Pencil on paper, 3” by 5”, from my sketch book.

Bare 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!

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Cultivating the sketching habit (II)…

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 currently teaching an art therapy group three times a week, and looking for opportunities to do similar work elsewhere. Sharing my sketchbook in this way might seem a bit odd, since most artists tend to pretty jealously guard theirs. However, it’s become an important part of my pedagogy to encourage students to pay attention to their pre-drawing process. Many of these sketches are basic and rough ideas. Sketches are supposed to be where you problem-solve, they are supposed to be flawed and have problems. That’s the point. Ideas (should they make it to a final work and be hung in a gallery) do not arise fully-formed and perfect. They have a life before that. They start off malformed and imperfectly executed, –and many ideas wither on the vine and die. Being honest about that part of the process has become an important way to make creating art less intimidating for my students.

 

Some recent sketches:

7/9, I always encourage my students to pay attention to “pre-drawing.” In that spirit, this was a practice I did in the twenty minutes I was waiting for the class to start Thursday of the photograph of the train tracks looking south from the Rennselaer train station.

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Pencil on paper, train tracks, looking south from Rennselaer.

 

Two recent (from my sketchbook, 6.25.14):

First, an interior view from the cafeteria/common area in the psychiatric hospital that hosts my art class. I usually arrive at about 12:30 for a one o’clock class, and since I had no pressing business before the lesson started, I spent about 15 minutes doing this architectural study:

psychiatric hospital, sketch of interior/common area.

psychiatric hospital, sketch of interior/common area.

 

Today is one of the days I take my eight-year old son to the library. Normally, I goof around on the wi-fi, but today I opted to use the time to sketch instead. I needed a break from tech anyway. Two sketches of buildings around the Bach Library branch:

Residence, New Scotland Ave, Albany, NY, USA.

Residence, New Scotland Ave, Albany, NY, USA.

 

And this is the rear of two buildings I sketched from the patio area behind the library:

Rear of buildings, near New Scotland Ave., Albany, NY, USA

Rear of buildings, near New Scotland Ave., Albany, NY, USA

Adding two today (6.13.2014)

The first was a practice in my own sketchbook of a Van Gogh piece I was using to teach a lesson in perspective. It’s frequently helpful for me to sketch on my own and work out problems before I teach anyone what I’m doing:

sketch, done right before class, pencil on paper

sketch, done right before class, pencil on paper

Second image, I was feeling in a whimsical mood this morning, so I drew Edgar. Edgar is a diminutive, plastic foam Halloween decoration that has decorated my apartments for many years.

"Edgar," charcoal on paper.

“Edgar,” charcoal on paper.

 

Again, from the book “Hudson Valley Ruins” (it’s a beautiful book, the history in it and the images are top-notch.)

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An abandoned car, from the book Hudson Valley Ruins. (above)

 

 

 

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This should be a familiar sight to people who frequently travel from Albany to NYC: The Yonkers Power Station (abandoned).

In my current class, which is a “therapeutic” fine arts group held in a hospital, I drew this sketch to the prompt I gave my students, “And then the fire went out. No one noticed.”

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Quick architectural sketch. Image from the book “Hudson River Ruins” (Ranaldi, Yasanik [sp?]) The picture is of Fedralsberg, an abandoned ruin south of Albany:

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I have also been doing some figure studies:

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figure study, pencil on paper

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figure study charcoal on paper

Another in my series of images drawing Eduard Manet’s “The Old Musician

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A reproduction of G. Klimt

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And second, Timmy of Nixon’s Spirit:

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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:

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Study/sketch, pencil on paper. Pollock and Klingman together near the time of the artist’s death. Photo from a NYTimes article.

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Two small sketches: above is a figure study of a Libyan opposition fighter.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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):

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(Note the lines and marks made as I illustrating planning and pre-drawing techniques)

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Hope to have some more of the recent sketches out of my sketch-book soon. Here’s one of my ideas from the SWPA series…

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Sketch for the SWPA.

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In class demonstration.

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In class demonstration: placement of facial features.

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Based on a photo from the New York Times.

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For class, sketching hands and feet.

A piece riffing off Edouard Manet’s  “The Old Musician,” it is a series I am considering for the SWPA (see for explanation here: https://elevenimages.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/the-small-works-progress-administration/)

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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:

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This piece is also a pretty good color study, this time in oil pastel:

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Cultivating the Sketching Habit

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:

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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.

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Photo and article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/07/nyregion/arline-bronzaft-seeks-a-less-noisy-new-york.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

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,

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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: 

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These poses of young girls come from two separate works by Edouard Manet: (“Old Musician,” and  “St-Lazaire” respectively):

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