Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Neahkahnie Churn

Yesterday was beautiful and a welcome break from the recent storms. The sun felt warmish, at least for an hour or two, so I grabbed my sketchbook and headed up the beach. One of the reasons I haunt the beach around the Neahkahnie cliffs is because of the interesting wave action. With the large 10-12 foot waves and high tides, the area didn't disappoint!

Here is the plein air sketch I did for Day 28. As always, I strive to get the anatomy and action of the waves colliding, riding over and under each other. I find them endlessly fascinating.

©2015 R.L. Delight Fine Art, "Neahkahnie Churn", 8"x10", graphite on paper, plein air

Note the small graphic of a wave I quickly drew at the top. I needed a basic reminder of what is happening due to the jumble of waves I was seeing. Of course, graphite doesn't capture the wonderful flashes of color that appear but it does make it a bit easier to get an idea of what is going on.

Here is video I made of some of the waves in action:

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Settling Into the Studio for the Winter!

I am doing my best to settle into the studio for the winter. We had a short break today between storms. I got out and walked around town doing my errands. There were chainsaws buzzing everywhere as workers cleared out downed trees and branches. I passed one house while walking to the library that had a pair of tree surgeons rigging line on three trees to remove a large tree that was draped over the roof!

I took a short walk on the beach where the waves were getting quite large, building for the next incoming storm.

I spent a bit of time today getting my studio revved up. I spent most of my painting time the past year outside due to the unusual lack of rain and cold and the studio needed a bit of reorganizing. I cleaned up a plein air painting that I painted this summer in Whistler to get it ready to send out to the dear friends we stayed with. I also decided to sketch a still life set up I have had hanging around since this fall. I finally feel up to painting it!

Here is the sketch and a photo of the sketch in front of the set up. It was a quick, one hour rough sketch. I wanted to get a sense of how to tackle the Big Leaf maple leaves.  I really enjoyed sketching the abstract shapes they made. I love the color and shape of the green pumpkin and the glowing dried leaves. I am going to enjoy painting this one.

© 2015 R. L. Delight Fine Art, Day 22 Sketch: graphite on paper

© 2015 R.L. Delight Fine Art, Day 22 Sketch

That is all for today. I will be cooking a feast tomorrow and will probably only get a quick sketch in and some prep work for painting.

Stay safe and warm this winter day. We are heading into the light!


Monday, December 21, 2015

"Taking a Line for a Walk"

Day 21 sketch:
© 2015 R.L. Delight Fine Art, Day 21 sketch, graphite on paper

I remember this time last year everyone in our community on the coast was wondering where the rain was. Well, we have found the rain, and the wind! We have been rocked with storm after storm causing floods, landslides, and sinkholes big enough to close the main road up and down the coast, Highway 101. Some communities have been periodically cut off.

In spite of all the weather, I usually am able to get out for my daily beach walks. Today was one of the exceptions. I made it a couple of blocks to the post office and store but trees were coming down and branches were flying. I could see the waves raging on the beach in the distance. I didn't need to be convinced to wait until tomorrow to go for for my walk!

Unfortunately, I have also caught the seasonal cold that has been making the rounds. Between the cold and the stormy weather I have been cooped up more than usual. Perhaps I needed the break. I have been using the time well by studying art, sketching and preparing for my sketchbook class. I am working on getting my weaving loom out of the studio and have put it up for sale one last time. The info for that can be found here.

Not all the sketches have been post worthy. In fact, most are not as I have been using them for practice of certain techniques and ideas. Somewhere in all my online wanderings I recently came across a mention of "The Bird King: An Artist's Notebook" by Shaun Tan. I wish I could remember where. Oh the perils of wandering the internets! The book is a joy and I highly recommend it. Check out his blog here. I checked it out from my local library system and have fallen in love with the book so much that I ordered it.

In his intro, Tan quotes Paul Klee on "taking a line for a walk", which I interpreted as just following the sketch to see where it takes you. I realized that I need to relax on occasion when working in my sketchbooks. "Taking a line for a walk" is an appropriate reminder for me to do just that. The above sketch was not one of those sketches but it does share the page with a sketch that I made that brought me pure joy. It started with random lines drawn on the page and then morphed into a drawing of a water serpent or water dragon. Something I have had in the back of my mind for quite a while now. Alas, at this time I do not wish to share it but perhaps in the future.

I have also been watching some of my painting videos. I am coming to grips with the thought that I will be indoors a bit more this winter than last. I am getting excited to dig a little deeper in my painting. I will be posting on that as it comes.

Here are two parting pictures of  elk at the community garden and the stormy beach from a few days ago.

Have a Joyous Solstice and Happy Holidays to all!


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Day 8: Stormy Weather

Day 8 Sketch: Graphite on paper          

The weather has been very stormy here on the Oregon coast. We have had three high wind and heavy rain storms come through in the past three days with more to come. There are landslides, sinkholes, major flooding and closures on Highway 101, the main road here on the coast. I still get out for a daily walk but the torrential rain and high winds mean I spend most of my time indoors. Needless to say, getting out to paint or sketch is not only not practical but potentially dangerous!

I am actually enjoying the break from painting outdoors and am taking time to think long and hard about my work and where I want to go with it. I have decided that I want my studies to support my growth toward being able to paint what I envision and feel when painting outdoors. That might seem challenging during the bad weather we are experiencing at the moment but fortunately, I have a lot of interesting driftwood and rocks I have picked up here and there on my beach walks. I plan to make a lot of sketches of them this year.

Today's sketch is just that, a bit of driftwood. I love how driftwood has many twists and turns. It is often smooth and worn from being tossed around by the waves. It is challenging to make the sketch three dimensional as it flows between various planes and angles. It will be an interesting exercise to sketch these.

Here is a picture I took on the beach yesterday. It looks like it is in black and white but, at the moment, this is exactly how gray the beach looks during these storms.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Sketching Up a Storm

While out on my morning walk around town, I swung by the beach and took a look at the stormy sea. It was so beautiful, and relatively warm, that I couldn't resist. I had to go out sketching. I decided to pack a very stripped down version of my sketching supplies.

I knew it would probably be wet out there even if it wasn't raining at the time. I decided to go for the watercolor sketchbook, water pens, water soluble graphite pencils, a couple of small brushes, and white gouache. I optimistically threw in some gray-toned paper taped to a clipboard just in case. The gray-toned paper is one of my favorite papers for sketching waves with graphite and white gouache. I put the the gouache tube in a small jar thinking that I could use the lid to hold the paint and the jar for water.

I also added an umbrella. I never carry an umbrella. They aren't used here very much. When the rain is going sideways, which happens most of the time, the umbrella doesn't really work that well. I knew that there would be driftwood piles I could shelter from the wind and the umbrella might keep my sketch dry if it started to rain.

I decided to get my exercise and walk to the north end, about a mile or more up the beach. The wind was from the south, southwest and warm. It didn't start raining until I got unpacked and nestled in between some driftwood logs on the rocks above the waves. There was a driftwood pile shielding me from the wind so I was just fine. The umbrella was keeping my sketch mostly dry. 

Then the wind shifted. First it shifted to the west where it came directly at me, then it swung to the north. I no longer had the driftwood pile blocking the wind and the rain started blowing sideways.

Did I get the sketch? Yes I did! However, the temperature started dropping so I headed back with a rather soggy sketchbook.

I took a hasty picture of the sketchbook when I got home. The graphite had pooled into grainy bits and the sketch melted into the block-in so that all the lovely gesture and smaller waves were pretty much lost. Not all is a wash though! I will use it for a block-in foundation sketch tomorrow and try finishing is using water-soluble colored pencils. Here it is:

Day 3 Sketch

After the hike home, I dried out, cleaned up, and made a nice hot mug of tea. Ahhh, I love this time of the year. I must admit, it is my favorite time to paint and sketch the sea.

Before I go, this blog gets posted both here and on my website. I haven't found anything that allows me to share video on my website blog but I know blogger does. Here is a bonus video I took while out sketching!


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Sticks and Stones

I like to keep a handful of sketchbooks going. This wasn't exactly planned, it sort of evolved. I noticed that I liked to do certain kinds of sketches in certain kinds of sketchbooks. They are all different in size and format. I started naming the books only recently. I am a huge fan and reader of James Gurney's blog and he names his sketchbooks based on the first word or phrase in the first sketch of the book. I liked that idea and adapted it for my sketchbooks. It helps to keep them a bit more organized. My names are also based on the first sketch in the book but not any words or phrases since I don't do so much lettering. The titles are more descriptive of the sketch. As it turns out, the contents of the sketchbooks loosely follow the title. For example in "Jamming", there are a lot of sketches made at musical events. As a musician and as the spouse of a musician, I tend to go to many musical events a year. Flip through "Jamming" and you will find sketches of musicians and audience members.

"Driftwood" holds sketches from nature, mostly of the beach, and many of, well, driftwood.

"Green Fork Farm" is a newer one. It is bound with watercolor paper. I have my experimental sketches of watercolor paint, pencil, and gouache in this one. The first sketch one of the many I did at our local Farmer's Market this summer.

In the back of the photo is the sketchbook I started in art school, hence the title, "And so it begins." I like the larger format but I don't use it as often as it isn't quite as portable as the smaller sizes. This sketchbook is nearly full.

Finally, the smaller sketchbook open to the first sketch, which was yesterday's Day 1 sketch, doesn't have its title painted on yet. It is a sketchbook I am trying out for the workshop I will be teaching next month. It is a Strathmore Mixed Media. It doesn't have as heavy as a paper as the watercolor sketchbook does but it is definitely heavier than the regular sketchbook paper. It seems to be holding up to the use of water pens and ink.

Day 1's sketch is of a piece of driftwood and I used graphite and water soluble graphite by ArtGraf. The sketch was interrupted in progress so is not very finished. That is OK, I got enough in.

Here is Day 2:
Day 2 sketch, graphite on paper. 363 more days to go!

I want to use this newest sketchbook to work on two natural forms that are found in abundance here, sticks and stones. Of course, that will be the name of this sketchbook! Both of these sketches were done indoors due to the current weather conditions. I suspect tomorrow's sketch will also be indoors as we have a high wind warning for gusts of 65 mph. Hopefully the power will hold.

The weather and a few other events have kept me from painting outside for way too long. I can't wait to get back to it at the first opportunity.
Thankfully, there is plenty to keep me out of mischief in the studio!


Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Living the Sketchy Life

It is hard to believe that fall is winding down and the winter solstice will be here in a couple of weeks! What happened to fall? It seems a bit of a blur to me due to not only being busy with music, art, and daily living, but having several life events thrown into the mix. Life is like that, as we all know.

Painting has slowed down a bit but still continues, as does drawing, however, I am picking up the pace in both again, even as the holiday season is upon us!

A month or so ago my mate and I went to the "Seeing Nature" art exhibit at the Portland Art Museum in Portland, Oregon. This is a collection of landscape masterworks from the Paul G. Allen family collection. I was very excited to go see this and it did not disappoint.
We were allowed to take non-flash pictures so I took a few. I spent most of the time with my nose as close as they would allow to the painting. All the paintings were covered with clear plexi-glass so, as you can see, some of them have glare and reflections. My two favorite paintings from the exhibit were the following:

Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon of Arizona at Sunset, 1909, oil on canvas

The picture doesn't even come close to how exquisite I found this. I spent most of my time in front of this one and the following.

Thomas Cole, Ruins in the Campagna di Roma, Morning, 1842, oil on panel.

This was equally exquisite and I would be hard pressed to choose between the two of them! There were several others that I enjoyed as well. If you are in the Portland Oregon area, I highly recommend seeing this exhibit. I thought it worth the price of admission.

Finally, to end on a personally exciting note, I will be teaching a workshop at our local art center here in Manzanita, Oregon next month! I had the opportunity to teach a sketching workshop last month in Bend, Oregon. While I have taught several workshops in the past, it was the first time I taught an art workshop. I had a lot of fun and certainly learned a lot. I decided that teaching a sketching workshop here in my own town would be a wonderful opportunity to spread the joy of art and for me to learn and grow. Info on the workshop can be found here.

While I sketch nearly everyday, I still feel the need to develop a daily sketch habit. I have experienced how effective frequent sketching is. Sometimes it is too easy to ignore the continuing development of drawing skills through sketching and drawing in favor of painting. Since I sincerely believe that good drawing skills are fundamental to good painting and good art, it is time to put my beliefs into action and step up to a daily drawing/sketching habit. With that in mind, I started a personal challenge today, and I am officially beginning a year long sketch-a-day project. Believe me, committing to this publicly makes me all kinds of nervous, as I know that all kinds of obstacles will be gleefully laid in my path. I will take it, well, one day at a time!

I have been inspired by several of my artist friends who have also committed, and are proceeding to create a painting, sketch, or drawing a day. If anyone wants to join me, let me know! No rules as to amount of time or how big or how finished the sketch is and no pressure or guilt allowed when tripping over those obstacles. I will share today's sketch tomorrow. I am not sure at this time whether or not I will share them all and probably won't share them everyday. I will do my best to share often.

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