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.
It’ll be my first show. I’ll also have an elk cow and crow in the exhibition. We’ll be driving out on the first Friday, May 6th, 5-7 pm. Food & Wine will be by Springboard Winery and music will be provided by the Lincoln Elementary School Music Club.
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.
This is a WIP (work in progress). Assignment this week for Typography is designing a book cover using a previous drawing. This is Jeremy – The Rabbit Who Wanted to Fly. Lots of possibilities for how this story could go.
Here’s blue kangaroo that I finished from my trip to the zoo. I found out that I’m probably using too little water and paint in my gouache. I had assumed that letting the paint dry up was fine as it can be reconstituted with water, but I found out that that’s not the case. I’m working on a portrait now and hope to have something to show soon.
I’m color mixing more now.
This beautiful Cooper’s hawk was on our neighbor’s roof this morning. Coopers and sharp-shinned hawks are pretty similar except I think this is a Cooper because of his big head. Here’s a close up of his head. I wish I had a little larger zoom lens, but this was still pretty cool.
I’ve been a fan of Magritte since I was a kid (see Halloween costume, bottom), so I jumped at the chance to write on Magritte’s La Liberateur for my weekly Comp assignment. The assignment was to first describe the work so that someone who hadn’t seen it could picture it, then to do a formal analysis. (An aside: Still painting every day, but nothing to share yet)
“The mind loves the unknown. It loves images whose meaning is unknown, since the meaning of the mind itself is unknown.” – Rene Magritte
René Magritte’s 1947 painting Le Liberateur is a bold depiction of the subconscious mind. The subject of this painting (fig. 1) is a seated figure wearing a straw hat, a bright red shawl, a neatly-tailored pair of trousers, and a pair of black leather shoes. His head and torso have been replaced with a card or parchment with 4 silhouettes on it, similar to the traditional “4 of clubs” design: a key, a goblet, a dove or pigeon in flight, and a tobacco pipe. His left hand rests on the handle of a bamboo cane; his right hand carries a strange object consisting of an elaborate, symmetrical, pearl-inlaid structure which has the eyes and mouth of a beautiful woman, attached to a large grey base similar to the base of a candelabra. The man rests on a rock formation by a dirt path, and a standard brown leather suitcase lies on the ground by his right foot.
Behind the figure is a lush, wooded landscape with a winding river. In the upper half of the painting, the sky is fragmented into numerous blocky arches, which retain the colors and gradient of a daytime sky. Cumulus clouds of various sizes drift through the arches. Behind the arches, a starry night sky is visible, yet the lighting on the other elements in the painting (the background, the figure, etc.) comes from the sunlit sky seen on the arches.
At first glance, the painting might seem completely absurd or nonsensical. The viewer is treated to multiple unexplained images that are at once familiar and unfamiliar. Human figures are combined with inanimate objects, the sky is at once daytime and nighttime, and seemingly unrelated visual signifiers are combined in ways that suggest relationships.
To better understand Le Liberateur, and Magritte’s work in general, it is important to recognize that painting was made at a time when society was increasingly influenced by the neurologist Sigmund Freud’s theories of the subconscious. René Magritte was a member of the Surrealist movement, a group of artists and intellectuals, founded by André Breton, who wished to explore how the mind could be trained into new forms of creativity.
Attempting to represent the workings of the subconscious presents unique challenges, as the subconscious is, by definition, not consciously perceived. Magritte used several visual tactics in order to represent the subconscious. One tactic is the use of recurring imagery. Several of the specific combinations of imagery in Le Liberateur turn up in other Magritte paintings; variations of the central figure are the focus of Magritte’s Le Therapeute series of paintings, while the pearly face is the subject of his Scheherazade series of paintings,  and appears in his 1947 painting Les Grands Rendez-vous, which also contains the same four symbols as seen on the “body” of the central figure in Le Liberateur. Other recurring images are less specific, and occur in many different permutations throughout Magritte’s work: doves/pigeons (e.g. Clairvoyance (1936),Le Retour (1940),Night of Love (1947),Man in a Bowler Hat (1964), etc.), tobacco pipes (e.g. La Lampe Philosophique (1936),La Trahison des Images (1948),The Cripple (c. 1948),La Bonne Foi (1965), etc.) and cumulus clouds in blue skies (e.g. Le Faux Miroir (1928),Megalomania (1948),Les Valeurs Personnelles (1952),Decalcomania (1966), etc.). The combinations of the seemingly unrelated familiar objects also evokes the workings of the subconscious mind; it illustrates how it is able to form connections between concepts and events that are not immediately obvious to the conscious mind.
In closing, I feel that Magritte was at least partially successful in conveying how the subconscious mind can affect our understanding of reality. Examining Magritte’s work in detail encouraged me to think about how the subconscious mind can form complex connections between various life experiences. And, in keeping with the original mission of the Surrealists, it made me consider how I can harness my subconscious mind to help fuel my conscious creativity.
I visited a neat solo exhibition today – Lynda Lowe at Abmeyer + Wood near Pike Place Market in Seattle. She had beautiful mixed media pieces with watercolor, oil, and wax on wood. The title of the show was Resonance and her figures of birds or objects seemed to resonate from mathematical symbols and scaffolding. The gallery told me that she’s a local artist.
We also visited the Patricia Rovzar Gallery. I especially liked some of the artwork there made out of ‘found’ materials. I’m going to try and visit galleries more on a regular basis.