Sunday, April 17, 2011

New Experiences in Life Drawing

I have been trying a new-to-me medium and technique in life drawing. Due to the small room and problems that solvents can produce, we are asked to not use them. Understandably so. I wanted to try sketching the figure from life in oils so I ordered a few tubes of a water-mixable oil paint. Royal Talens Cobra paints to be specific. I ordered a tube of burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, and white. Here is my second attempt using the paints.
This is painted on Fabriano water color paper that I gessoed with three layers and then added an acrylic grey tone to. I am struggling with three things at once here, working with an unfamiliar medium, an unfamiliar technique, and of course the ever present building of figure drawing skills. It can seem overwhelming at times but actually, it is a heck of a lot of fun! The paint really does seem to be in between an acrylic and oil paint. It certainly doesn't glide like oil. It feels sticky to me. It dries faster than oil and slower than acrylic. I think I will be able to adapt to it with a little bit of practice though.
This oil sketch was done over a one hour period.
Here are two ten-minute gesture sketches. One has more detail than the other as I focused on different goals for each one.
With this one (above) I was really focusing more on getting the nuances of the gesture than on proportion. There were so many interesting things going on in this pose.
I worked to get the gesture on this one too but I also wanted to get a bit of the form in and the interesting angle of the head. The model is reclining against a wall with his right arm crooked over a pillow.
I am slowly working on my still life. I really would like to get it finished as I want to spend some time painting quick color studies. It is taking longer than I thought but then, I made it more complicated than I had intended. All part of the learning.
The sun came out today and is supposed to visit with us for a few days but it is still very chilly. Too chilly for my fingers to be out plein air painting even though I can't wait to get out with some frequency.
We shall see if spring decides to stay awhile this next week as there will be several minus tides (neap tides) and therefore tidepools to explore...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Contributing to Beauty and Wisdom

We had a whirlwind of a week with both expected and surprise visitors. The weather went from constant pouring rain to a day and a half of sunshine then back to pouring rain. Between the wonderful visits and the day and a half of sunshine after not having seen the sun in ever-so-long, I did not spend much time in the studio. I did get to life drawing on Sunday and today will get a couple of hours in. I will settle back into studio practice now that I have caught up on the life necessities.
I do have some exciting news though! A bit of back-story first.
The little village I live in does not have home delivery of the mail so us local townspeople all have PO boxes at the post office. I walk the two blocks daily to pick up our mail. I have to laugh, as this is the closest our mail box has been to our house in 25 years. It used to be half a mile up a gravel road, or, more recently, across the town of Ashland.
Today my husband and I walked to the library and then the post office to pick up books and mail. I am expecting a couple of books in the mail and sure enough, we had a few packages. When we got home, I wondered which book came, the art book or the running book? Much to my surprise, it was neither. Instead it was a new book by Patti Digh, What I Wish for You.
This is a very special book because, I didn't order this copy. I received it because I am one of several contributors to it! I had sort of forgotten about the book so was surprised when I opened it. Let me explain how I ended up contributing to it.
I had come across the wonderful website and books of Patti Digh at 37 days. I find her work beautiful and inspiring. I follow her blog and website and one time she put out a personal call to gather wisdom and advice from her readers to give to her daughter who was graduating from high school and entering into a new phase of her life. I thought that was so beautiful but didn't really think much more about it until one day, not long after,  I was doing something completely unrelated when I had a powerful thought and connection around Patti's call. I suddenly found I did had something to say/contribute. I never had a daughter but if I did this was something I would want her to know. I submitted it even though I was moved by how profound the writing that others had submitted was. I felt mine was pretty simple and humble but it was from the heart.
It turned out Patti's publisher was also reading what people were contributing and they decided to put it all in a book. I, along with the others, was sent a form to give permission for consideration to put what we contributed into a book. I must confess, I almost didn't send it in. Funny how our minds work. I was thinking that what I wrote was so simple, surely they wouldn't want to include it. Then I realized how silly that was. I had given the words as a gift and it wasn't up to me to make that decision. I sent in the permission, and they decided to use it. My contribution is on page 95, exactly as I had written it.
This has been such a gift, not only to her daughter but to me and many others as well. In addition, I  learned an interesting lesson about giving. Patti's work has always moved me and I keep her books where I can grab them when I need a shot of beauty and inspiration.
So here is what I wrote, which is now on pg. 95 of What I Wish for You by Patti Digh,

"Find the beauty.
It is everywhere and in nearly everything.
It is in truth and in places least expected.
It is right in front of us where we sometimes cannot see.
Find the beauty.
It is always worth living for." -R.L. Delight

The book is filled with stories, insights, and beautiful art. A sweet and lovely little book worthy of gifting to someone you love, or yourself!
Now, back to the studio!

Monday, April 4, 2011


This will be a short post this week. We are enjoying our dear friends who will be off for home tomorrow. The weather has kept us all pretty much cozied up in the house but it has been wonderful to catch up and enjoy laughter and serious talks.
My early birthday present did arrive and here it is!
As you can tell by the pictures it is a beach bike. It is a lovely cherry red with flames on it no less! We live on the north end of a seven mile long beach. A round trip walk down to the south end would be a fourteen mile hike. One of the reasons I wanted a bike to ride on the beach was so I could get my sketchbook and easel down to the south end where there is a jetty that occasionally plays host to seals. There are also many beautiful spots to paint on the way down. The bike works well as a seat to sit and sketch from. Needless to say it will also be a wonderful way to get some exercise.
Here are a few fifteen minute to thirty minute gesture sketches from the last few life drawing sessions.
I will be getting back to work this week on my painting and figure drawing so I will be posting those next time. I wish I could say that I will be able to get outside to do some painting but the weather forecast still looks pretty grim. The upside is that it doesn't tempt me outside when I need to be in the studio.
Here's hoping the sun will visit soon!
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