Posts Tagged ‘ sketching ’

Cultivating the Sketching Habit: Figure V2.0

Our new model Kyo did a great job tonight. He wants to see images of his modeling, so get them to him if you can:

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Adding the images from our previous session. We meet and sketch and drink again, this October 24th.

Enjoy.

 

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Study, female figure, graphite on paper. (The note, right is a reminder for me to recreate this image in a series of works done in wet gesso and acrylic paint)

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Study, back, male, graphite on paper

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Study, female figure, Prismacolor marker

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two studies, female figure with lap-harp, right, study of arm and clasped hands.

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Dancing, interactive pose, graphite on paper

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Back, female, graphite on paper

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interactive pose, graphite on paper

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graphite on paper

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Interactive pose, Casein paint, on paper

Thanks to everyone who attended, and special thanks to the models. Let me know if/how you would like your attribution to appear here). It was a great night for me and a great first night for the event.

Also, I came away with a lot of useful studies and sketches which might serve as jumping off points for other works down the line.

Enjoy the sketches, and keep reading below.

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figure studies, female and male, standing graphite on paper

 

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Female standing, male seated, figure study, graphite on paper

 

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Figure studies, female and male, standing, back view, graphite on paper

 

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Male, standing, study with figure aids (was explaining a concept to a class attendee) pencil on paper.

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Study, female figure, kneeling, graphite and casein paint on paper

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Male figure,seated, graphite and Casein paint

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Male figure, standing, graphite and Casein paint on paper

 

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Interactive pose, figure study, graphite and Casein paint on paper.

[continued below]

As many of my readers know, I am getting geared up to start a sketch and sip event at a local club. Since I am the host, it’s not like I can let my sketching game get slack. Nope. It’s time to get to work and pick up some graphite and brushes.

I booked a room at the Albany Barn, and scheduled a session with model, J, who is going to be one of our figure models for the event.

Before I scheduled the session, I talked with my model and I wanted to have a theme or an idea to build the session around so I might then have some images to work into a later piece. I decided on a post apocalyptic theme, and borrowed a Kukri (a type of machete) from a friend.

One of the things that is challenging at first, to learn about drawing figure is you simply do not have time to work in great detail. The key here is make each image a study of gesture, –the shapes you see in the body, light and the pose of the body. The images here are presented out of the order in which I did them. I began with a few short (5 minute) poses in graphite, the sketches done in Molotow acrylic paint markers were slightly longer poses (10 minutes) and the poses in which I used a mixture of graphite and Casein paint were 15-20munte poses.

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Pose 1, graphite on paper, model -J

 

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Pose 2, graphite on paper, model -J

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Pose 3, Molotow acrylic marker (sadly, the marker, which is metallic and reflective, does not show up well in photographs)

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Pose 4, graphite on paper

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Pose 5, graphite on paper.

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Pose 6, Molotow Acrylic paint marker

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Pose 8, graphite and Casein paint

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Pose 9, graphite and Casein paint.

 

Cultivating the Sketching Habit (IV): Figure Studies & Loosening up

Not everybody has access to a subject for figure study. Figure study is one of those bedrock artistic practices you should always revisit. You simply are never too experienced. You’ll always need to keep the skill sharp –with practice.

I managed –somehow– to not only land a musical collaborator living with me. But also an experienced alternative and plus-size model. (Contact and other info: http://www.modelmayhem.com/325517). Of course I jumped at the chance when she agreed to a few poses for me to use in sketching. She’s always a lovely subject.

This morning I pulled up the photo files I had taken, and began sketching. (Common wisdom is that you shouldn’t draw from photos, I’ve always done so. I take a lot of photos with a couple cameras I own, so it keeps me in subject matter that interests me. I have had many people tell me it’s not the same, but photos from a good camera are convenient and can be available whenever you get the urge to practice).

The first sketch was in pencil. It feels less than perfect, but adequate…

The first image:

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Muse, figure study, pencil on paper

Muse’s pose (she was posed lying on the bed, gazing up at the camera) is really lovely, and there’s a lot of challenges in her poses –foreshortening the legs and abdomen. The harder part was capturing her really quizzical facial expression. I felt I pulled it off in this little sketch.

However, the next sketch I botched. I was starting to get frustrated and getting ready to put pencils down until another day. One thing that helps when a subject is challenging me for whatever reason is to loosen up.

I frequently warned my students about the dangers of becoming to tight and getting stuck just getting details right. When I find myself doing this I back off and do simpler line and gesture drawings. I don’t need to focus heavily on details, and turn my attention to proportion, gesture, and the pose. Get the pose right first, and do it over and over. So, that’s precisely what I did.

Some of the sketches were rather abstracted, others are slightly more detailed. All of them were done in a few minutes a piece, the way one would do in a 5 minute life drawing pose. There’s something I like in pretty much all of them.

Changing my focused work. I turned my attention to some problem areas, and worked them over and over:

working on problem areas, charcoal on paper

working on problem areas, charcoal on paper

In the end, I made several more simplified sketches I was happy with. More sketches to come as I work on them.

figure study, Muse, charcoal on paper

figure study, Muse, charcoal on paper

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Muse, figure studies, charcoal on paper.

It took a while to loosen up my sketching until I was seeing results I was happy with, but it got there. So, snatching a small victory out of an earlier attitude that was pretty defeated.

[update, 9/13]

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female figure, study, upper body

I secured a commission with a client that has requested life drawing/portraiture, in charcoal on paper. So, pretty fortuitous I published this blog less than a month ago. Not to beat a dead horse, but when I spoke in the original post about bed-rock artistic practices, and keeping your skills sharp, I was very serious. The opportunity to do this commission came at a good time, as my teaching of the class is on hold at the moment.

The following images include both male and female figures, in charcoal on paper.

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Male figure, charcoal on paper

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female figure, charcoal on paper

At one point I focused on a a face (my partners).

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study, face.

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figure study, charcoal

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Male figure, charcoal on paper

Lesson: Sketching From Cabinet Photos

Among my favorite subject matter for sketching over the past several years have been cabinet photos. Cabinet photos were a late 19th century print-making process. Photographers took the photos –generally in their shops and they were often used to advertise for the photographer. These photos satisfied the fascination of Victorian era people with access to an emerging technology –photography. The cabinet photo was extraordinarily popular until about the turn of the twentieth century. There are an abundance of them, and they can generally be bought for only a few dollars per photo.

For a couple of years now, I have been buying cabinet photos from The White Whale, an antique shop in Hudson, NY, each time I have vacationed there. The cabinet photos make for arresting portraiture studies to me for several reasons. First, photography was still expensive and most cameras were only in the hands of professional photographers. This means that most cabinet photos are of regular people, dressed in their best clothes, who must have traveled “into town,” to have their portrait taken. The cards I have bought are often of young women, dressed in probably what is their best dress. So, drawing ordinary people of modest means has a certain appeal.

The second consideration is more of a technical one. Photography was still a technology in its infancy. Long exposures and the process of print-making often did not produce as crisp an image as what we are used to today. In the image I am using, taken by photographer F. C. Flint, of Syracuse, NY, the skin-tones of the woman photographed are pretty uniformly the white of the paper, as are most of the woman’s intricate lace dress. There’s little to go on to draw the normal contours and shadows of the woman’s face, except for some shadow around the eyes and under the woman’s chin. For the way I tend to sketch portraiture, the lack of detail forces you to develop those details yourself, and intuitively. You have to learn to fill in the missing information with a good intuitive sense of anatomy and texture.

Cabinet photo by F.C. Flint, pencil on paper.

Cabinet photo by F.C. Flint, pencil on paper.

A second cabinet photo, this time the image is based on a photo from Farrand & Neale, 18th and 6th Ave, NYC.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

The face in the photo is placid. For whatever reason she seems anxious and terrified as I draw her. A reflection of my own state, perhaps. Nonetheless, thank you for viewing.

Also, below the woman’s face, her shoulders and chest begin to disappear in shadow. It’s a challenge to draw with a fair deal of detail from the image, and another challenge to replicate (in pencil) the vanishing light around the edges of the image in Victorian era photography.

Couple, cabinet photo, marked: Chamberlin, Norwich, NY.

Couple, cabinet photo, marked: Chamberlin, Norwich, NY.

This new drawing I found interesting to do, because of the elaborate clothing and the amount of detail in the photo. The image I am working from (the actual photo print) is very small, about 2 and 1/4″ by 4″. This particular photo is much smaller than most of the cabinet photos in my collection, although the others vary as well, in size and shape.

Since I am gearing up to do a portrait on commission, I broke out the pencils today (a new set, sent to me by my kind sister Jennifer) to practice my hand at sketching –something I will very likely be working on a lot in coming days. Again, from one of the cabinet photos my partner and I have collected, this one marked: “DeWitt”

He’s a relatively severe looking, aged gentleman, but I came to like him while I was drawing him and his substantial beard.

Drawing from cabinet photo, bearded gentleman, marked "DeWitt"

Drawing from cabinet photo, bearded gentleman, marked “DeWitt”

Cabinet photos can generally be found in antique shops locally, and can also be found online. They make a very interesting subject, in my mind for practicing portraiture.

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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