Sorry – I haven’t been posting in a while. Here’s a work-in-progress painting of a Marbled Murrelet that I’m doing for Seattle Audubon. I’m planning to paint in a background of an old growth forest, but they have some important conversation actions coming up in March, so I also made this badge for them too:
The marbled murrelet is a bird that is endangered because its habitat depends on both the ocean and old growth forests. Although it’s a sea bird with webbed feet, it nests high up in old growth forests and lays a single egg at a time.
Things have otherwise been good. I’ll do another post soon. I’m taking Western Civilization this quarter, so more free time to work on projects like this murrelet. I’m also 4 weeks into an Artist’s Way class in Seattle and I’m just figuring out how to sell greeting cards on Etsy and Amazon. I can talk more about that in a future post.
After sketching thumbnails for my Gerda vs. the Snow Queen’s Snow Bees painting, I created 3 quick 3-value thumbnails to decide on the final composition. I found it really helps separating out the composition and value decisions before committing to a final work. Because I wanted to base the painting on the original Hans Christian Andersen story, I also want to work in the detail that he had about the palace being lit by Northern Lights.
Although I liked the extremes of values in the value study, I settled on the 3rd study because I liked the idea that the shadows on the hill would be pointing to Gerda, my focal point. I added some hills in the background to create greater depth and also added more complex branchwork in the final.
I started out with pencil and watercolor on Arches watercolor paper, but finished the piece digitally using Procreate and an Ipad Pro because I could play around with different color combinations before deciding on a final. I really like Procreate and the Apple Pencil because the process of illustrating with them is so close to real pencil, paper, and paint – but with much more flexibility with materials and undo’s. I had an earlier version, but Phil my teacher and classmate China suggested good feedback about brightening up the colors among other things. Our next assignment should be fun – drawing caricatures. I’ve picked my subject already…Edgar Allan Poe.
We had an interesting discussion this past week about realistic (or hyper-realistic) painting vs. realistic
painting with fantastic elements. A fellow student shared some of the hyper-realistic paintings of Charles Jeong from South Korea. I shared Allen Williams’ If Beauty Were a Book, done in graphite.
I realized while I like representational art, I prefer works that convey emotion or story more than complete accuracy.
In our final assignment of the class (costume figure), I decided to change it up a bit and use color and value changes, and even changes in the model to alter the mood.
It great to get back painting again. I combined a gouache underpainting with transparent watercolor and then Faber Castell Polychromos pencils and little touches of Sennelier pastels for highlights. It was nice to see that all of the media seemed to work together.
Had a great time with the critique group through SCBWI last weekend. Now I have a week off before starting Concept Illustration.
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.
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 past weekend, I had a chance to attend the opening of the Cascadia Art Museum in Edmonds. Edmonds (my home town) is a small coastal city just north of Seattle. The addition of a new art museum is very welcome to this area which has a small arts community. Developers took over an old Safeway building and converted it into a museum and outdoor dining area.
The 11,000 square foot museum had a nice collection of regional artists – works that I haven’t often seen in museums. Visitors are greeted by Lance Wood Hart murals (commissioned by the WPA in the 1930’s) that lead on to several gallery areas. Most of the display consisted of the works of regional artists and illustrators like Morris Graves and Irwin Caplan below.
It’s a nice gift to the Seattle area arts community. At one point last year the city’s art walk seemed to be in limbo because of some disputes with local artists, but since then we’ve heard that the Edmonds Art Walk is returning – all good news. There is a local painting group that I recently joined and I heard that Cascadia has offered meeting space to them – so hopeful there will be more positive ripples from having a new art museum in the city.
I finished my watercolor portrait workshop with Hamid at Gage Academy this past week, but I still wanted to learn more, so I checked out Scott Waddell‘s Art of the Painting video. It’s great! His demo is for oil, but most of his principles work for all classical painting. He starts off ‘posterizing’ the major lights and darks, establishes the values, then shifts into conceptualizing mode, carving the face in 3D in color. I found the method straightforward and much simpler than just trying take in all the information at once. Scott supplements his painting with video illustrations of the behavior of light on 3D surfaces.
I’m trying to paint from life every day to better my eye as well as technique. Today I tried out Urban Sketchers – Seattle and I think it’ll be great. They pick some great sites around Seattle and then at the end of the session, there’s a little share. About 20 people of all ages and backgrounds were there.
It’s part of a global non-profit organization that encourages people to sketch and paint. There’s no cost to join. Complete beginners are welcome. At the end people put their sketchbooks down for a show and tell. Professionals were sketching alongside amateurs and students.
I took a photo of our site before we left. When I got back I was amazed how much photos miss. I understand better why it’s good to paint from life every day.
Here’s a crow that I finished this afternoon.There’s a noisy crow family that regularly visit us. I recently got some beautiful Caran d’ache watercolor pencils that I heard about from James Gurney. They are much more pigment-rich than the Derwents that I was using and they’re fantastic combined with Niji water brushes when hiking or painting on the road in plein air.
I have a month off before school starts back in September, so I have a chance to do more recreational art and art discovery. Last week, Eastside / Evergreen Association of Fine Arts had a little painters get-together where some painters did demos of plein air outside, while others painted a model.
It was fun.. a real painting party. I don’t have anything to show you from this – I’m still getting a handle on landscapes, but here’s Steve Whitney’s little demo. I’m enjoying Mitch Albala’s Landscape book.
We also had a surprise visitor out by our pond yesterday. I don’t think he’s just admiring our koi. Fortunately the fish are now too big for him and the fishing line keeps other predators away.
In these exercises, we had to select works of art that reflected techniques of atmospheric perspective or ways of rendering depth or distance by tone, hue, or detail. Here are my comments on the paintings as well as my painting of Bracketts Landing near my home in Edmonds (last, exaggerated colors).
Caillebotte: Closer figures are darker than the ones in the background. Compare the dark dog and figures in the fore grand compared to the light building and person crossing the road in the back. More precise detail is given to foreground figures than those in the distance, mimicking human vision. There is strong one-point perspective composition. The side opening bridge create the illusion of depth. The railing also shows much more detail closer than farther.
Michael Orwick: Michael Orwick is a painter from Oregon that my mom recently interviewed. In Misty Morning, atmosphericperspective convey strongly by both the relative sharpness of closer trees and the relative lightness of farther trees. This painting also is a good example of how hue can be used to convey sense of depth. The close trees are orange and brown and trees in the distance behind the fog are more lavender.
Bierstadt: In Bierstadt’s painting, atmosphericperspective is conveyed by fine detail in the foreground figures, using shadows and sharp contrast (look at the use of white on the figures). It’s also possible to see details like the fringe on the mats that are being made. In the mid ground, the mountains ad less distinct with a narrower range of contrast between colors. Also Bierstadt show masterful use of contrast differences between the waves close to the viewer and far to convey atmosphericperspective.
Seurat: In Sunday Afternoon, atmosphericperspective is conveyed by detail and contrast. Examples of detail and contrast to create the illusion of depth are notable for instance in the woman with an umbrella in the foreground (strong dark garment and light face) vs. mid ground (more subtle differences in contrast). Analysis of hue in this painting is more complex because figures are in sun or shade, but what Seurat does seem to do is have bands of hue at depths that connect characters at that level whether they are in sun or shade, creating a more uniform illusion of depth. Examples include row of people in the foreground in shadow vs. a little farther back in sun, and then still farther seated in shadow.Brackett’s Landing in Edmonds, WA.
EAFA seems to be a really good organization for fine artists in the greater Seattle area. For emerging fine artists, too they have lots of opportunities to exhibit such as Overlake Hospital or a gallery at the Seattle Design Center.
I’m going to post another update with my papers from last quarter and then a little from what I’m doing now. Perspective class is the intense one for me now but it’ll help me with environments.
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.