I had a great time in a 1-day pastel workshop at the Cole Art Studio. I used Nupastels on LaCarte paper for this painting of a dik dik, a small antelope that lives in Africa. I worked on this in the afternoon.
In the morning, I painted an African hornbill.
Pastels seem almost effortless. I’m looking forward to doing more.
Interesting work in Life Drawing class the past week. We’re learning how to simplify figures by blocking in simple geometric shapes. It helps generalize what you’re seeing and I think will make it easier working from life.
At the Terryl Whitlach conference, she had recommended Future Publications’ How to Paint and Draw Anatomy which showed how to break the human figure into simpler shapes. I found the book (actually both volumes) online at Scribd.
Today, my teacher also shared a video that will make really help what I want to be able to do. The figures are very fluid, but also have volume.
I dropped my Hornblower in the Crisis of at the Washington State Convention Center on Wednesday and got a sneak peek at other work that will be on display from the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators now until September 30th. It’s a fantastic show and I’m honored to have work in it. We’re going to go down tomorrow with our family and my grandparents and take it all it. There’s also a Meet the Illustrators and Family Draw Along September 17th which I know will be great.
Art History III is over for me now and it’s nice to get more drawing together. The past week I’ve been trying out new methods of adding color to my pencil drawings. This crow (we like crows in house) was based on an old photo of Fred Astaire.
I’m trying watercolor, colored pencil, and pastel over printed versions from the Artisan 1430 printer.
My new course this quarter is Life Drawing IV. It feels good to be working in traditional media again. I’m also started working with charcoal powder for the first time. It’s messy, but I really like what can be done with a light touch. I’m also seeing what a difference it makes using a fine grade of charcoal paper.
Here’s a skull that was this week’s homework. This holiday weekend I’m going to be traveling down to Monterey for the annual meeting of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. Looking forward to it! It’ll be my first art conference. Jack Laws is one of the keynotes. I admire both of their work.
I just heard today that Hornblower During the Crisis has been accepted in the SCBWI Western Washington Illustrators Exhibit at the Washington State Convention Center! This will be my first juried group exhibition. It runs from July 1- September 30th. I also just dropped off some art for the Best of the Gage Exhibition. The exhibition and sale there is June 17th, and of course the Clymer Museum exhibition goes through June 25th.
In addition to school, I’ve been experimenting with different ways of adding color. This past week I did some colored pencil work with the black and white owl and frog drawing. I like really like Faber-Castell Polychromos. They are oil-based, so blend with baby oil and can work side-by-side with watercolor paints or pencils.
I’ve also been doing some sketching and thinking about doing some illustrations for Hans Christian Anderson’s Snow Queen. There are two good crow characters that are part of the story so I thought it would be nice to do. We get a lot of crow visitors in the backyard.
I also saw an inspiring video today. Sargy Mann is a painter who became blind when he was his 30’s. See his story below.
Just finished this – it’s my last week in Basic Illustration. It’s been a great class. It’s been a learning curve going to ink from pencil. The assignment was to choose a fortune cookie fortune and make a drawing from it. My fortune was “You are wise to keep your eyes open at all times.”
We weren’t allowed to use ink washes so it was a change for me as I had to focus on line art.
The ink drawing was first done in pencil then inked using micron pens, a Lamy fountain pen, and a little Copic marker for blocking in the grass. I also use Duralar mylar which helped a lot with my learning curve for ink. Duralar is very forgiving with ink – because it erases cleanly with alcohol or the colorless Copic marker blender.
Every week, the class assignment is to have each person suggest an illustration or group of illustrations based on the reading. For the chapter on tone, I chose this 1912 illustration by Sidney Sime (1867 – 1941) for Lord Dunsany’s The Book of Wonder. I chose it partly because it has some similarities, in terms of subject matter, value range, and atmosphere, to my own project for this week. I also chose it because it effectively uses various value and compositional elements, including a chiaroscuro technique, to guide the viewer’s eye throughout the piece. The first major area of light starts at the upper left corner, then trails around, almost like a curving road, to the first major subject, the city in the rocks. In turn, the curved shape of the light/shadow pattern and the diagonal lines of the rock lead into the menacing blackness filled with eyes under the bridge. The smoky shape at right helps to transition the viewer down to the next major subject, the man on the winged beast.
Imagine what the piece would look like without the large shadowy area at left. It would lose some of its atmosphere, with the impression of discovering something grand and menacing in a dark, obscure region. In addition, the black space filled with eyes under the bridge would be less clear as a main subject of the piece, since the chiaroscuro patterns of light and dark have the area immediately above as the brightest spot in the composition.
Finally! Basic Illustration this quarter with a lot of my fellow illustration majors at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design. The assigned book is James Gurney’s Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn’t Exist – a book that I’ve checked out from the library several times before. The assignment this week was pretty open, make drawings with animals doing human things. We start with thumbnails (these only about 3 inches long) that allow us to play with different scenes and perspectives. I did a few with an underwater rabbit, then other storylines (elephant tailor, storytelling stork with ferrets around a campfire, and then some others like a kangaroo and gazelle dancing and fox and mole golfing. It’s already what I do in my spare time.
Next step is a value study, then texture, transfer to mylar, and ink finish. The one I’m taking to final is the underwater bunny discovering a lost city. I thought it would be good for me to work more on environments.
Here’s my Ecorche final for Life Drawing III. It was challenging to work from a photograph and then imagine all the muscles underneath.
I found it helpful working with an Ecorche app on my iPad. Another helpful app is Skelly for skeletal work. If you frequently rotate the model in the app it helps get a 3D sense of where the muscles are in space.
I’m enjoy Life Drawing this quarter. We’ve been working on 3D ecorche models which show figures without skin (emphasizing musculature). An additional challenge was to draw bones in a similar position. Working on lots of these is giving me a much better three-dimensional sense of the figure.
My other course this semester is Western Civilization, so not much to show there.
As much as I liked traditional atelier instruction like at the Gage Academy, I’ve really wanted to get more experience drawing imaginatively and using drawing to tell stories. One great exercise we had to do in my Mastering the Pencil class at RMCAD last quarter was drawing multiple thumbnails to tell a story.
The prompt was an old suitcase. We had to make a story out of it. Here are some thumbnails sketching out potential characters, locations, and sequences. From the brainstorm, I created an Agatha Christie Miss Marple-like character, Emmeline Duck who solves mysteries like the suitcase at the bottom of Bolger Pond.
Last week when I was writing a paper on the great illustrator Howard Pyle, I was struck by this quote from him: “If the first sketch looks like the one I want to do, to make sure—I always make the other forty-nine anyway.”
Here’s a final project from my 3D design class. We had to create a balancing sculpture and I balanced a mama barn swallow made out of sculpey clay on a baby. I’m glad it worked! I chose to use sculpey, because I know a lot of 2D artists use sculpey to make maquettes that help them with composition and lighting.
Also instead of the Windy Shrews (see my prior Balderdash assignment post), I decided the final Mowburnt project would be a burnt sort of elephant shrew who thought he was Horatio Hornblower.
My classes this quarter are History of American Illustration and Typography. I’ll update more soon.
As a prompt for creativity, my teacher had an assignment based on the word game Balderdash. She assigned everyone an obscure word where we were to come up with different drawings for what the word could be. My word was ‘mowburnt’. The definition I gave a mowburnt was a small singe black shrew-like creature. We had to draw 30 thumbnail possibilities and then narrow them down.
This is just a preliminary sketch / WIP. Another possibility has a Horatio Hornblower-like shrew paddling a sardine can, and another, an urban shrew dreaming up a better life.
Last week, I also had chance to volunteer at the Burke Museum‘s Bird Day part of a small group from the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators. Every one was very nice and welcoming, though I was just a college student. Several explained that they had more of a science background than art when they first became illustrators.
I found out the Burke museum has a close relationship to science illustrators at the University of Washington. They hold an exhibit of new graduates from the UW program in scientific illustration every year.
In James Gurney‘s tutorials I learned that he does a lot of sketching and exhibiting in museums of natural history because of his interest in dinosaurs and birds. Because birds and a lot of other animals move so quickly, having time to study the structure of different and similar animals in a natural history museum can be very helpful for field work. At the Burke, I was also told that artists are at the museum almost every day working with the different departments. Apparently the museum employs some artists to help with their design needs and educational exhibits, but community artists are also welcome to come into the museum and work with their different animal specimens for free.
It’s been a busy quarter with two studio classes. In color, we started out with assignments to paint in different color harmonies – which forced us to experiment with non-usual colors. We ended the class this week with the topic of synesthesia – where senses are mixed in a physical experience, and then we were asked to create a work that was inspired by a response to music.
I had fun with this – and created this work with the woodpecker in a waterfall cascade of sound. It’s painting in gouache with a watercolor pencil for detail.
The color class was definitely the most challenging and new for me.
If you’re interested in the song the inspired the painting, I embedded it below from Soundcloud.
The Life Drawing class was pretty straightforward, but I found by just having to do so much drawing, it became easier to get a physical sense for what I was seeing, and then to appreciate the changes that take place with movement.
In one week’s exercise, we had to draw 24 hand positions.