Sunday, February 27, 2011

Snow Days and Decision Making

I have been working slow and steady on the grisaille. I finally got finished with a very tricky part. I am trying to decide whether or not to just finish the grisaille and move on or to continue into color as I had originally planned. I really want to get to some small color studies done as I feel I really need the exercises. I guess I can make that decision when I finish the grisaille but the decision will also determine the amount of information I put into it.
I have been following the progress of my former school, Ashland Academy of Art (now Atelier Maui) through my former classmates who continued on to Maui on Facebook. Now Atelier Maui has a blog and you can find it here, I will also put it in my art links. It is just getting started but it is a wonderful look at what goes on inside this kind of a art school.
Reading it not only makes me miss my school friends but also the first class instruction. I have been a bit frustrated lately working on my own. I decided that I needed something of a carrot to work through the challenges so I signed up for a wonderful workshop to go to this summer. I am going to leave you all with a teaser on this as I am still awaiting confirmation and everything but if all goes well, it will be a grand reward for working hard. Hopefully I will have more information and will fill you in by next week.
Finally, it has been a rather wild weather week for our area. Here are a couple of pictures that pretty much tell the story:
And of course this one may look familiar to some with a tiny difference:
We woke up earlier this week to 2" of snow on the ground which is not typical by the ocean even here. After a couple of record breaking, very cold days we finally got our usual winter weather back today. Rain and lots of wind. Needless to say I, like so many people, am ready for spring.
Next week should bring news, and a few changes.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Drawing from Life

Meet one of my all time favorite models. This gentleman drives down from southwest Washington state over an hour to pose for us. Well, of course we pay him but he doesn't really make much when you take into account the gas money and probably a meal. What makes him my favorite is that through much experience he really knows how to model. So many people think that it can't be that hard, just hold still. Set your timer for three minutes and hold a pose. Unless you are laying on your bed, it isn't always easy. Now imagine holding a pose for 45 minutes, without a break!
Of course, there is more to modeling than holding still. This man knows how to move gracefully and seems to instinctively understand how to make even a simple pose interesting to the artists. The pose above was a 15 minute pose (charcoal on newsprint), as you can tell, there is not much detail or muscle structure. I was really focusing on getting the gesture. I knew this model was going to be here that day so I brought along my nice charcoal drawing paper and my good charcoal as well and got a nice drawing in on the final pose, which was 45 minutes.
I think I have mentioned it before but one of the things I miss the most about school (besides my teachers and fellow students of course) is the access to frequent live model sessions. Three hours, two times a month is just not enough!
I am still working bit by bit on the still life paintings. I will show those when there is enough progress to show. It has been going a bit slower lately as I have had to turn my attention to a few life matters.
I am a couple days late with this post as Sunday was filled with life drawing and then a cast party for a readers theater group that my husband has become involved with. Yesterday I went north to Astoria to stock up the pantry. We have a snowstorm bearing down upon us. They are calling for 1-2" here on the beach (needless to say, sea level), and about 18" on all the passes that we would have to cross to leave the coast. We should be snug and warm. I am hoping I will be able to get some pictures of the snow on the beach.
Off to catch up on reading some of the wonderful blogs on my list!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In Between the Showy Stuff

It is one of those weeks where the work in the studio goes slowly and, while progress is great, there isn't a lot yet to show for it. I am slowly getting the details on my grisaille refined before moving into color. I have also started getting an hour of gesture sketching in everyday. It isn't quite a habit yet as I haven't been doing it long enough but I hope to make it one.
Before you ask, I am not using a live model. I am using poses from Pose Space. I figure for gesture sketching a live model isn't quite as crucial. I have purchased about five poses plus two additional free poses which I put in into an iPhoto album. I then set it to a random slide show full screen. Each pose has photos taken from several angles, for example one pose has 28 pictures giving 28 different views of the same pose. This makes for a lot of random photos for the slide show. I can set the time to 1 minute, 2 minutes, etc. I get a good range of gestures this way. So far it seems to work fine.
There is a life drawing session here in town which I attend but, while I am grateful for the opportunity to have inexpensive access to a live model, it has its drawbacks. Most of the artist, all but one in fact, are not interested in doing gesture sketches. They don't see the value in them so we often only spend the first ten minutes doing gesture sketches. However, I understand why people want to get to the longer poses. I guess I just got used to the way things were when I was in school. So, I do my own gesture sketching. One of these days, I will to be able to hire my own models to work with!
In the meantime, here is the second still life set up:

This is a fun set up for me. After a storm, there is often a lot of stuff washed up on the beach. These floats pop up now and then. I have been able to find a few since we have been here. I picked the most colorful ones that I have and put them in what is hopefully a somewhat simple set up.
All around town people hang these found floats in their yards. I love looking at all the colors and hope I can find a few more on the beach in my favorite colorways.
I am not sure how long it will take until the grisaille is ready for the next major step but will publish the progress made in the next post. I haven't started on the above set up but when I need to wait for paint to dry on the first one or need a break from it, I will.
A final note, in school we used a wonderful charcoal from France called Nitram Fusians. The man who made the charcoal retired and it has no longer been available for a time. There is good news though, A Canadian man bought the business and equipment and is now manufacturing the charcoal again. The drawing charcoal was wonderful to use. I have just ordered some of the new charcoal and hope that it is indeed up to the previous standard. It is not cheap but after having to use other charcoal on the market and even made my own, it will be worth it. I should have a review of the new charcoal when it comes. In the meantime the charcoal can be found at Nitram Charcoal.
That is it for this week. Hope everyone stays warm and dry!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Grisaille in Progress

Here is my progress for this week. This is very much still in the rough and beginning stages. I am getting the canvas covered and all the elements in place. I am just beginning to refine not only the shapes but the tone. There is not much detail at this point either and that is pretty much what it is supposed to be.
Once the grisaille is completed, which means the shapes, proportions and tone is working right, I will start in on the color. I am using this method of working mainly because this is what was being taught in my school. I might not always paint in this manner but for now, and for a time to come, I will.
I am also slowly but surely getting a routine going. I have a certain amount of hours I want to put in the studio a day. I also want to have a balanced healthy life which for me means getting enough sleep, eating well, exercise, meditation and play time. I have been keeping a time journal, much like keeping a food journal. I document what I do in roughly half hour increments. I am sure I don't have to tell anyone how easy it is for a huge chunk of time to disappear with little to show for it! Television and now, the internet, are huge time gobblers. I would have to add books in my case. I could spend all day curled up with a good book or a few new art magazines!
Today I took a much needed day off and tomorrow will be an errand and chore day. It will be good to be away from the painting for a couple of days and come back to it with a fresh eye. I also have another still life set up which is much more simple. I will start on that when I need a break from the one above.
Slow and steady progress, which reminds me about something I read in Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers known as the "10,000 hours rule". Gladwell claims that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours. Doing the math, and depending on the number of hours one puts in a week, that would mean it would take about 6-8 years to become a really accomplished painter. That is basically the number my teacher told me as well. Just for fun, since I am keeping a time journal anyway, I started a 10,000 hour countdown. The fun thing about that number is after the first hour you lose a digit. So, after the past couple of days, my count stands at 9,985 hours to go...
One last thing to mention, speaking of time sinks, Google has a new project called The Art Project. It is like Google Earth for art museums. It is a fun site so check it out, when you have a bit of time!
More progress to report next week!
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