In just seeing that my last post was one of my Christmas card posts, and over a month ago, it makes me ashamed of myself for not keeping my blog current! Time just flies by, with shoveling snow, seeing friends, maintaining the watercolor group’s website and Facebook page… Well, you all probably know exactly what I mean!
All that being said, I have been busy in my studio also! I joined in Leslie Saeta’s January 30 Paintings in 30 Days challenge again this year. I cannot say that I got actually paintings (as opposed to just sketches) done, but I did manage 29 sketches over the 30 days. I ended up using, in large part, the challenge prompts for the FB group, Sketching Every Day, so there are some interestingly odd works! Regardless of format, doing the work every day helps immensely with my art! So, here are the first three pieces that I did last month.
Day 1: Subject was “Something new” This is a quick watercolor, pen & ink of my Christmas gift.
Day 2: Subject was “Snow globe” This was actually from a selfie of me out shoveling a couple of new feet of snow!
Day 3: “Queen of Hearts” I chose to do a cat as the queen!
5 minute practice sketch of Daffodils from book reference
Again, a pen and ink page of sketches, this time referenced from my book, “20 Ways to Draw a Tulip and 44 Other Fabulous Flowers” by Lisa Congdon (http://www.amazon.com/Ways-Tulip-Other-Fabulous-Flowers/dp/159253886X). Daffodils are one of my very favorite flowers; they bring such sunny happiness to spring! Since my own daffodils are not in bloom yet – and it’s one flower that always gives me fits when attempting to draw/paint – I thought a little no-pre-drawing practice from this book was in order! Can you see the improvement happening as I work in this manner? I sure can! So, this is today’s sketchbook practice; not painted directly from live references, but still worthwhile practice!
Thursday, 3-12, quick sketch of recycling bin at curb
I has been a bit of a tough week, starting out on Monday with an urgent tooth extraction. The short version is – a botched root canal a number of years ago finally led to the demise of that particular molar, no matter how well I care for my teeth. The healing is going well, but the inevitable antibiotic has me feeling poorly, staying home taking it easy.
I guess that whole process has me somewhat out of the mood for painting, but I cannot ignore my art completely. Plus there is that wonderful “art Before Breakfast” book, which I did very quickly read cover to cover. While I’m not practicing exactly as is outlined in Danny Gregory’s book, I am working at filling the small accordion sketchbook I started with something each day. The sketches are not impressive, but it is a learning experience.
In this case, that learning is from just grabbing a Micron pen and going for it with whatever grabs my attention at that time, with no pencil pre-drawing. Even when I meet with my sketch group, I start with a pencil drawing, erasing and correcting things along the way. Then, when I’m happy enough with the sketch (and if there is still time since I work slowly), I will ink it and do a watercolor wash. I have many sketches done that way that I like, but it is a crutch and I need to learn to work directly! I hope that eventually, with enough practice, I will have that skill. I will still pre-draw for my paintings with a pencil, but that might just go more quickly and be more accurate the first time! The process I am practicing now can help me to become a much better artist overall and that’s what it’s all about!
Another really bad 2-3 minute sketch, this time really, really early morning and long before breakfast. Daylight Savings Time just took effect and, as is my habit, I’m still up. Since Sunday mornings are less conducive to art time than other mornings, I decided to do a quick one before I go to sleep and share it. I probably shouldn’t share any of these, because it truly makes it look like I am completely unable to draw at all. It is true that I don’t work well and quickly at the same time, but the fact is that I make a habit of hand drawing my work prior to painting. I don’t paint quickly either and, when put on the spot to do so, I pretty much freeze up and accomplish nothing! So, in addition to just making art (with a very small a) of some kind, perhaps these exercises will eventually help me to learn to work faster and still produce quality work.
I recently received a wonderful book by Danny Gregory called art Before Breakfast. The a in the title is not capitalized. This premise is described as such: “art with a big ‘A’ is for museums, galleries, critics and collectors while art with a small ‘a’ is for the rest of us.” I like that train of thought, since so much of the art that many of us make, even though we strive for perfection, simply is not perfect and/or museum quality. That’s absolutely not to say that it isn’t beautiful! In some ways, the book seems geared to busy people who have never even thought of trying any form of art, with the author pointing out some of the mental and physical advantages of it. But to me the book also speaks to all artists of any medium in that the purpose is that you make time for art every day!
Being a person who tends to flit from one project to another and another, sometimes finishing nothing, I have been making myself finish one book – if I’m reading it cover to cover rather than just using it for a quick reference – before I can start another. So, I finally was able to start reading art Before Breakfast Thursday night (I read before going to sleep). Which meant that Friday morning, I grabbed a pen and did two very quick, sloppy sketches before breakfast! These sketches were each under 5 minutes, including digging through my very limited markers to add some color. I’m a little embarrassed to show them, but I will anyway because starting my day that way made me feel great and added to the desire to make sure I spent some time in my studio. I find that most any type of doodle, scribble or sketch can loosen up my hand and focus my attention on art. So, here are those two sincerely bad sketches from Friday morning; the left one is the “title page” in a small accordion fold sketchbook and the second (photo rotated to make it upright) is, believe it or not, the bowl of grapes that I ate for breakfast. Now I just have to stick with it every day!