We’re continuing to draw our way through the animal kingdom. Each week’s assignment follows the same pattern – block out the geometric shapes, then draw animal gestures. We’re also doing a skeleton study and ecorche / muscle drawing, so it’s busy. Having done an ecorche for each group helps in making a fantasy hybrid animal (WIP). These are just a few of the sketches from the past weeks.
I had my first week of Animal Anatomy and Drawing and the assignments were all on Big Cats. Last week I also had a chance to go to Cougar Mountain, a small zoo in Issaquah. We shot some nice photo reference, though.
The first assignment was to break down the animals into 3D geometric shapes. It was a bit hard at first, but I can see that it helps simplify and visualizes the 3D forms when you see them in the live animals. The idea of drawing the envelope is to get the general shape of the animal or figure before working on details. Here are some of my gesture drawings. For me, it’s easier working out the forms when watching a video loop of animals moving. The book for the course is Joe Weatherly’s Drawing Animals. We also had to do skeleton and ecorche versions.
Meet Moorehead (left) and Doubleday (right). They’re a work in progress. I haven’t completely decided their back story yet. The sketch was colored in with CarbOthello pastel pencils (I like them) on Canson Mi Teintes paper. I just got a pack of La Carte and also Sennelier soft pastels and will be experimenting with those too.
I’m going to take a one day pastels workshop with Janis Graves this weekend through Cole Gallery and looking forward to it. I’ll paste a sample of her art below.
The Guild of Natural Science Illustrators also posted the group mural that I worked on at the Santa Cruz Conference.
There were 3. Here’s the one I drew a little egret (corner right) catching a fish. It’s on exhibit at the Sanctuary Exploration Center that’s part of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. It was a great conference.
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.
My parents were on the East Coast to give some talks at Landmark College in Vermont. They stopped in at the R. Michelson Gallery in Massachusetts, a gallery famous for its children’s book illustration.
Here are some great photos of watercolor work by Caldecott Award winner Jerry Pinkney. They knew of him because he had talked about his dyslexia, but we’re all familiar with his beautiful animal work. There’s a lot to be inspired about in his work – dynamic composition, expressiveness, and brushwork. It’s especially helpful to see the works close up because I could see how he combined pencil and watercolor in a way that looked effortless.
I hope to post more of my own work soon. I’m doing more sketches of the Snow Queen with the iPad Pro and Apple pencil but nothing to show yet. I recently read a new translation of the Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson. It’s very different any of film adaptations. I’m setting my illustrations in Sweden because my father’s side is mostly from Sweden and Norway.
I’m starting to noodle around more with digital art programs since I got a iPad Pro and Apple Pencil last weekend. It’s great.
I just started learning the programs, but colored a pencil sketch and can see the potential.
I can see why many artists are raving . My Cintiq cable died (its awkward 3-headed connector) and the company is out of all replacements – and they can’t be bought anywhere else.
iPad Pro + Apple Pencil CAN connect to a computer using the Astropad app – which makes the process freeing. I used Corel Painter and have also started working with Procreate which is an amazing app for $5.99.
At RMCAD, it’s Art History III (Modern) this month but also had a great time at the opening of our Nature’s Call show at the Clymer Museum (my work is part of the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators Northwest). It runs through June 25th and they’ll have another First Friday event in June if you might want to visit.
Earlier this month I also had a chance to attend a meeting of the Society for Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators – Western Washington at Seattle Pacific. That was a great experience. They start off with videos filmed in the artists’ studio (I’ll post Jessixa’s and Doug’s below) and then they answer questions. I liked seeing how their illustrations evolved.
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.
Here’s my pencil illustration for the the thumbnail I previously uploaded. I went with the underwater city. I took some of my inspiration loosely from those great Jules Verne books, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, and all the vintage diver stories. I’ll also post my inked / copic tone marker version at the bottom. Ink and copic markers are new media for me. I also am working on Mylar / Dura-lar, which is helpful for making frequent revisions, especially with ink.
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.
I’m nearing the end of Life Drawing III and it’s been a great quarter, but it’s still hard to find enough time to paint. We’re working on more complex figures and also doing some ecorche drawings (they show muscles without skin) in more dynamic poses.
Yesterday I also went to my first meeting of the Puget Sound Group of Northwest Artists. It’s one of the oldest art associations in the United States. It’s an accomplished group and we learned a lot. The guest speaker is David Gray whose painting work I admire. He was very down to earth and very generous with sharing techniques and practical tips. I’ll embed a video of him painting a self-portrait. For now, I am focusing on watermedia, but I’d like explore oil. PSGart meets monthly in Kirkland.
This Christmas break, I’ve been doing more sketching to improve my skills. I’m trying to make each single piece tell more of a story and I’m also working on more backgrounds and landscape elements. For my birthday, I went sketching at the zoo (cold, but could be worse) and took some advice from David Rankin who wrote the book Fast Sketching Techniques. I heard about him from a wildlife artist that I admire. He made the distinction between drawing and sketching – and pointed out the frustration of wanting to draw from wildlife, but difficult because it’s always moving.
We started some of the exercises in the book and put some of his advice into practice at the zoo. I still would like to touch up some of the sketches I did there, but’ll I’ll share them in a future post. He recommended staying longer with one animal and taking in all the little mannerisms. It becomes easier after you’ve drawn the same animal many times from different positions and doing different things.
The drawing of the girl is from a foreign movie based on a children’s fairytale. The man with the mustache is more my own invention and I titled it Admonition. The other photo is a sketch of Albert Schweitzer from a vintage photo.
I’m looking forward to sculpting this tomorrow – we’re supposed to take a myth and create a container based on it. This was my favorite idea for the Tibetan story of the Frog King. The Frog King outwits both a fox and a tiger. My mythic object will be strands from the tails of a tiger and a fox when they got them tied together in a knot.
I just learned that I won one of the First Prizes in the Best of the Gage Academy Awards for 2015! Wow! I’m kind of blown away. If you’d like to see my work and the other winners of the Best of the Gage this year, it’ll be on display in the Steele Gallery at the Gage (1501 10th Ave E #101, Seattle, WA 98102) until August 17th.
If you don’t know about the Gage, it’s a famous fine art school in Seattle founded by Gary Faigin and associated with such luminaries as Juliette Aristides.
My prize-winning drawing was done in my first-ever figure drawing class with Aron Hart (Figure Foundation I). I’ll admit I was initially overwhelmed by figure drawing, but I found that blocking in shapes, making master copies, and then learning the anatomy helped a lot. It was in Aron’s class that I also first started using graphite sticks and compressed charcoal and I took to that medium very well.
I know I haven’t had time to post blog updates in a while, but I’ll get back to them. Lots of great things – finished out another quarter of Art History and Composition (wrote on The Ambassadors by Holbein) and now halfway through Color and Figure Drawing II. This is a great quarter as I’m doing all art. I’ve also be traveling a lot but have some great photos from my time at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Isabella Gardner Museum in Boston.
I had an incredible opportunity to study with Allen Williams at the TLC Workshops in October. Williams is a master of highly realistic fantasy drawings and I experimented for the first time with graphite powder.
This Marabou stork was the first thing that I drew with powder. I used William’s technique of looking for random patterns in powder then letting these patterns evolve into drawing.