Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Another Anatomy Sketch


Here is another anatomy sketch completed on canson paper with charcoal pencil and a white pastel pencil. These two sketches focus on the cervical vertebrae of the spine and how they connect with the skull.

focus on cervical vertebrae

Tomorrow I am headed out of town for about a week and I am not sure if I will have internet access to post while away. I am bringing the Bridgman and Vanderpoelbooks with me so during down times I will hopefully be able to keep copying and stay on track with learning about anatomy.

Have a wonderful week, and see you soon, Liz

Monday, November 29, 2010

Week 14: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem


Progress for this week was really more of the same as last week. I ended up refining the initial block in of the red flower and leaves below the tulips, expanding a little to the purple flowers. The detail was kept to a minimum due to the need of verifying and adjusting scale some. I got off some, making the leaves a little to big for this side of the canvas.

I also completed the second pass of the outer tulip, refining some of the value variations and shape of the petals and I began to paint the yellow butterfly, one of the most important insects in the painting.

week 14
{at the end of week 14}

week 13:  end of day
{at the end of week 13}

Friday, November 26, 2010

Anatomy Drawings: the skull and its muscles

skull - charcoal

skull and facial muscles

Today I spent time learning about the skull and the muscles of the face and neck. These drawings were copied from Joseph Sheppard's book Anatomy: A Complete Guide for Artists. This book has some clear drawings of the bone structure and the muscles, and it easy to learn from because of how developed the drawings are. A few days ago I was copying from George Bridgeman's book and found that the sketchy nature of his drawings to be too loose for what I initially need. I figure I will return to that book after copying from other books.

Also in the desire to share this experience with other artists I opened a flickr group dedicated to Human Anatomy. Being that I am unable to travel and study at an atelier, I figured the next best thing would be to learn from books and devise a self guided program while using the wonderful artist community found on the internet and on flickr for inspiration and motivation.

If you are on flickr please join in and add your drawings also!

Thanks and have a great evening, Liz

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Beginning a new study project...

work space
{setup to start copying from Bridgman}

With the start of winter break at the Art League, this week I am beginning a new learning project to take advantage of the multiple days of uninterrupted time to focus on human anatomy. My goal is to intensively study anatomy and how it functions during this time to kick start a specific focus area to grow for the next year.

The plan it so copy from several resources and to share the process with you as the project progresses.

The books I am using as references are:

1. Anatomy and Drawing by Victor Perard
2. Bridgman's Complete Guide to Drawing from Life
3. The Human Figure by Joseph Vanderpoel
4. Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters by Robert Beverly Hale
5. Anatomy: A Complete Guide for Artists by Joseph Sheppard
6. The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing by Anthony Ryder
7. Drawing Course by Charles Bargue and Jean-Leon Gerome

stack of figure drawing books

When planning this project I decided to use the order presented in the Vanderpoel book as my guide in how to sequence the study. So beginning with the head and its features, I will read and copy from each of these books, sharing with you the progress. The reason to work from so many different books is to learn from the various viewpoints, thus becoming familiar and comfortable with the different ways each artist presents the subject matter.

Anatomy book - focus on skull
Anatomy book - focus on features
{layouts from the Perard book}

So I began with copying from Bridgman'sbook, and during that time Slim insisted in sharing my lap with the drawing board, it made the drawing a little difficult, however it was particularly special having her purr and cuddle in my lap...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Week 13: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem

Week 13 - end of day
{copy of Vase of Flowers}


Yesterday was a fun day at the NGA, I missed being there last week however feel it was good to have some breathing room. Seeing the status of the entire painting is fun to observe, so much has changed in the last several weeks, yesterday was my thirteenth time working on this project.

Slowing down and being comfortable to work on only small portions of the composition each time I am in the gallery has been a big breakthrough for me. By being willing to slow down and only setting small goals for each day I have found that I am still moving along at a good pace.

week 13 - beginning of day
{beginning of day status}

For this week I chose to only focus on the red and white poppy and the central tulip. By limiting my goal for the day I was able to establish a plan of action and to work towards the portions that were important, re-wetting the paint surface in areas that required wet-in-wet work and leaving other areas dry where the desire to have a hard firm edge was prefered.

{end of day status}

By the end of the day I was pleased to realize that more than just the two flowers had been worked on and refined to a near finished level. I was also able to finish the pea pods and the greenery below the orange daisy, while beginning the first block in of the red flower directly below the tulip.

I have learned that the general massing in I did at the beginning of this project was helpful for getting the entire composition scaled to the size of the canvas, however now that I am working to a finer level it is important to then go back into the area and re-establish the massing and basic block in. I do this with a thinned "lean" paint and then let it dry over the week before returning to refine it further with a "fatter" layer of paint. By setting up the proportional block in with a thinned paint and then later going back over it with a fatter layer of paint I am using the "fat over lean" technique to hopefully control any chance of future cracking.

If you observe closely the area below the central tulip you will see the flat-ish block in of a snail and the red flower with its dark green leaves. These items were blocked in with a thinned layer making room for next week when I return to refine that portion of the painting and also refine the outer tulip with the yellow butterfly.

Thanks for stopping by and being part of this project, I appreciate it :)


Friday, November 19, 2010

More organizing went on this week...

On Tuesday's I attend class all day {9:30am to 6:30pm} and usually I am beat by the end of the day, this week after having a quick dinner I was eager to dive in and begin giving reason and method for how I store my supplies. The organization process continued onto today with the main brunt of the work being completed on Wednesday.

shelving next to desk and drafting table
{clear glass, blue and green bottles and vases, and shop towels}

Next to my desk I moved in a simple book shelf to house the variety of clear and colored glass bottles I have been collecting over the past few years. I am also keeping an incomplete portrait on its top shelf to remind me that I need to get back to this painting and finish it.

This year I began to gather tin cans as containers for holding paint brushes and palette knives, I have also found they work great for holding solvent when I do not want to use the silicoil jar. The nearby drafting table has become a still life stand.

Shelf under the window
{under the window}

Another shelf full of various dishware and bottles, including my brown bottle collection which has the two Chimay bottles from my last day of work as an architect lunch! That had to be the best day of my life, saying goodby to a career that had always been an emotional struggle to enjoy and embarking on my new life as a full time artist!

My taboret is from the container store and it has rolling wheels making it a lifesaver because of its flexibility.

Ikea shelving in the studio
{the big shelving unit in the back of the studio}

This is what took up most of my time this week. I took everything off of this Ikea shelving unit and started from scratch, before sorting all the items, every shelf was overflowing, and I had a lot leaning against the front of it also. When things get disorganized, you need more space. I decided to sort the shelves by what they hold and to also assign shelves to what canvas size will fit. This helped me condense some of the shelves to free up shelves for the future. {I added specific notes to this photo on flickr}

On the far left shelves are binders dedicated to tear sheets, printed out open source books, and other art reference materials. I prefer to read things on paper and to highlight important and pertinent ideas, so the more important websites will sometimes get printed out for future reference and then are stored in these binders.

Here are a few links to what is in the binders:
. Painting in France
. Elements of Drawing
. Drawing and Engraving
. Water and Light
. Handprint

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

studio desk - early morning

I am in the process of re-organizing the studio, this is my desk now... no computer, just paper and writing materials... eventually this may change if I decide to move my computer into the studio.

Presently I keep the computer out of the studio to minimize distractions...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Habib's Solo Show

Yesterday evening I attended the opening of a good friend's, Habib Hastaie, solo show in Potomac, MD. His work is being shown at the Art Gallery of Potomac.

{Habib Hastaie in front of his landscape paintings}

Habib's opening
{people gathering}

musician at Habib's opening
{traditional Persian muscian playing at the opening}

The show runs through December 19th, so if you find yourself in Potomac, MD please stop in to view his work. The gallery is located at 10107 River Road Potomac Maryland 20854.
PS. Here are more photos from the opening.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Working on a new drawing

on the drawing board
{on the drawing board}


Today I did not go to the NGA to work on the copy, instead today I stayed home working on a variety of loose end and I thought it would be nice to share with you a new graphite drawing that is still in progress.

This drawing was begun drawing from life, the roses have long since withered and faded, however I still think certain areas could be improved in value to strenghten the composition. So I am playing with it some, on Saturday I worked on some areas, darkening the values on some leaves and now it is leaning against a wall for me to observe it more to see if it needs anything else.

in progress

Here are a few close ups of the tools I am using. When drawing with graphite I prefer using lead holders and I only like using "Turqouise" brand lead, as it is the smoothest and most reliable level of hardness. I use 2H, HB, 2B, 4B, and 6B leads. This drawing is on handmade Twinrocker paper, Yale Wove Text weight. It is my first time using this paper, before I had been hesitant to pay almost $10.00 for a single sheet of paper, now I am converted, the texture of this paper is fantastic. The fibers are strong and durable, so you do not ruin the surface of the paper with erasing, even with a hard rubber eraser.

lead holders and supplies
{detail of supplies}
I use two lead holders usually, one that always has a harder lead and one that has a softer lead, that way I can go back and forth without changing leads every few moments. I like to use a kneaded eraser for most of my eraser needs, however there are times when I need something more powerful and that is when I use the fine grained rubber erasers, this eraser paired with the eraser shield helps me localize a specific area. It can be a real life saver, especially when you accidentally drop the lead holder on your drawing and it leaves a big ugly mark!

When drawing with graphite I try to work left to right, top to bottom, to minimize smudging, however in the later stages of a drawing where I am reworking and refining areas I find having a sheet of glassine is helpful as it will not smudge the graphite.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Allied Artist of America Annual Exhibition

20101010 Birdnest and Bottle 14x11
{Still Life with Bird Nest and Bottle}
14" x 11" (35.6 x 28 cm) - Oil on Linen}

This year, I am participating in the Allied Artists of America 97th Annual Juried Exhibition. My painting, Still Life with Bird Nest and Bottle, will be part of this exhibit, on display from November 12th through November 30th at the National Arts Club.

Please stop in to show your support for this historic art institution, and for the talented artists chosen for this year's event. The National Arts Club is located at 15 Gramercy Park South in Manhattan, and is open M, W-F 10-12pm & 3-5pm, Tues 2-5pm. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Update from my sculpture class...

Week 4 - end of day
{week 4 - end of day}

Week 4 - beginning of day
{week 4 - beginning of day}


Here is the current work from the sculpture class I am taking from Rick Weaver. We are working on a seated figure and so far it has been a great learning experience. It is a lot more difficult than the bust we completed earlier this term, in that it requires so much more attention to proportions and the interconnections of the various forms and features.

Previously I had focused on really establishing the base and lower portion of the body, her legs mainly, and yesterday's class was mainly focused on getting the torso and arms correct in proportion to everything else. The sculpture's head had to be enlarged some because it was a little too small and this was affecting how the torso was being built up. So after getting the head size correct, I had a benchmark to then work on getting the heft that is in the chest, shoulder, and arms.

In doing this, it then became apparent that the back and waist needed to be altered, that had to wait because class ended before getting to that area.

There still seems to be a lot more to do and there is only one more class this term. Next week will be busy!

Thanks for stopping by and reading,


Week 4 - end of day
{week 4 - end of day}

Week 4 - end of day
{week 4 - end of day}

Week 4 - end of day
{week 4 - end of day}

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Week 12: Vase of Flowers by Jan Davidsz de Heem


This weeks update will be brief, I worked on the tulips predominantly and focused a bit on the orange daisy.

week 12
{mid-day status}

week 12
{end of day status}

As working on this daisy I realized I was working with too many oranges, reds, and yellows and the flower was beginning to flatten some, so in order to punch it up some and give it a greater sense of form I delicately laid in some cobalt turquoise at the front shadowed edge and immediately depth was re-established. So if ever you are encountering a similar situation think about adding an almost complementary color into the mix, painting wet into wet. A direct complementary color is directly across the color wheel where an almost complementary color is across the wheel and shifted either one direction or the other. The direct complementary color may gray down your first color too much where the almost complementary color seems to mix to create a beautiful and dynamic color.

Week 12
{orange daisy detail}

NGA Security Station
{NGA security station}

Just as a side note, the entire NGA building is beautiful. The finishes and details are exquisite, like the beautiful bronze register covers and the way the millwork and proportions of the architectural details seem integrated. It is such a gift to be able to spend my Mondays painting in such a beautiful space.
Have a wonderful Tuesday!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Inspiration from Friends and Books

Yesterday I had the pleasure of catching up with one of my facebook friends over lunch. Margaret and I met more than two years ago in Mexico, she was managing the small hotel we stayed at while attending a wedding. That was when I was still practicing architecture and was only dreaming of someday, maybe someday, I would be able to be a full time artist. It turns out that she was also dreaming of someday dedicating her life to being a full time writer.

It is wonderful to reflect that two years later we are following our dreams and each have a creative career. She pursuing her love of writing in the form of an extended road trip around the US with her dog Rennie {her blog flitflitter chronicles her meanderings}.

During lunch we spoke about a lot of things, what we had been doing for the past few years, where she was headed next, and how to hold onto the creative process in a culture that is so product oriented. We both are dedicated to producing work, however I know I find it elusive sometimes, especially when I have been working on a specific piece for a bit and realize that I just need to scrap it and start over again. The willingness to scrape down and start over enables exploration and the chance that an idea may work out with wonderful results. However for all the times when the idea does not work out can be discouraging and sometimes scary. Rationally I know that the additional experience gained while exploring the unknown feeds future endeavors and reinforces that those failed attempts were not wasted time and effort, but instead just part of the process, though at times it can be tough. It was especially heartening to learn the Margaret sometimes faces this dilemma as well, reinforcing that this is an important characteristic of leading a creative career.

After lunch we stopped by a nearby used bookstore. She picked up one of my favorite Alain de Botton books and I got a book of essays and one on still life.

Here are some photos from the still life book that I find particularly interesting. I love how styles in still life change from time to time, however fundamental elements remain the same. Like the love of pairing like objects to create pattern and rhythm.