Tuesday, January 29, 2008

EDM 155 - Draw some stairs

I freely confess that I procrastinated on this challenge. Given my difficulties with getting perspective and lines drawn correctly, I thought this would be a very difficult, frustrating challenge. And so I dithered a bit about what stairs to draw, how to approach it, what angle to use. In the end, it turned out to be not as difficult as I had thought. I have been paying a lot of attention to lines and angles and vanishing points (I feel a bit silly holding my pencil up and squinting like I was a "real artist" or something, but that trick really does work!) Be assured that this is not my first draft of these stairs, it is my third. But the first one was not as far off the mark as it usually is, and it took less correction to get it to look acceptable. Some improvement is happening, and I'm even starting to feel less frustration and more confidence when it comes to this kind of drawing. It's all in the practice (and maybe some in that pencil trick). I think the angle of the steps is still a bit too steep, it looks like they slope down toward the right, but not nearly to the extent that some previous efforts have shown. So I'm happy with this mostly because I learned a lot from it.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

EDM 154 - Draw a lemon

I love lemons. I even love the thought of lemons. When I was little, growing up in a northern country, there were no lemons to be had in the stores. We had apples, and bananas and oranges that were imported, but there was no real "tropical" fruit in the stores in the winters (and often not in the summers either). We ate a lot of canned fruit and we often had preserved fruit that we canned ourselves during the summers when we could get pears and peaches and apricots. But our lemon juice came in a greeen bottle. Today when I went to the neighborhood grocery store, there were mangos, pineapples, cherries, cantalopes. The world has become much smaller it seems and our fridge is stocked with key limes and lemons all year round. They are no longer luxuries for us, and we expect to get anything we want in the store at any time of the year. But I will try from now on not to take lemons for granted, and to give them the respect they deserve. After all, they travelled a long way to get to my house. This is done with Caran d'Ache water color pencils in the Aquabee sketch book.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

EDM 77 - Draw something cold

Over the Christmas season I saw a lot of cards, wrappings, snow globes, etc. with snowmen on/in them. I had been wanting to paint a winter scene and try to capture the white snow and the deep shadows that fall in the late afternoon. I also wanted to try a landscape and try to make the background look far away and fading into the distance. I had been using indigo and absolutely love the color and the versatility of it. I thought it would be the right color to try and show the white of the snow and the shadows across it, as well as fading the background. And just for fun, add the snowman for a touch of color. I kind of like this, I like the way the indigo gives the look and feel of cold, crisp weather. Loooove this color!
I have spent the last two days in a very intense pre-retirement planning course. And yay! I actually can retire in this lifetime. What a relief! I'm pretty sure I can also afford to buy watercolor paint and paper when I retire, too. Yep, life is good.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

EDM challenge 152 - Something wrapped in plastic

This one really was a challenge. I didn't even know how to start something like this. But I got lots of good advice, tips, and encouragement from others on the EDM list, so I thought I would give it a try. It's usually the difficult ones that result in the most learning, and I try to never be afraid of learning anything new. I studied how others had done their sketches or drawing, and looked at many things wrappped in plastic over the last week from my lunchtime sandwich to the new toothbrush to the head of romaine lettuce. I tried to see how the light reflected, where there were subtle color variations. Finally I chose to do this end of a roasted red pepper baguette that was such a pretty color. I think I get the concept, although I'm still having some difficulty with having the pure white reflections show up without making them look like they are outlined in a darker color. But without the contrast to the dark, the white does not show up at all (and really, isn't that the whole point in painting or drawing? Lesson learned: Do not be afraid to exaggerate the darks.) That will probably get easier with practice, both in looking at things and in painting them. So I think I achieved a glimmer of enlightenment although the execution of this may fall a little short of what I had hoped. (Honest, it looked better in my head!) I think though, that as a first attempt, I'm pleased with this. At this point in my artistic journey, I'm pleased when I can render something that is recognisable.

Monday, January 07, 2008

EDM 152 and 149

These nuts were fun to draw. And we just happened to have a whole fresh container of nuts given to me by my brother. Several Christmases ago, they had given us one of those new, shiny, technologically advanced nut crackers that promises to crack any nut any size any time. And it does! But sometimes it will pop the nut right out of the cracker where it of course becomes a cat toy. Every year we get a new container of nuts. I have discovered the joys of having fresh nuts to add to salads whenever the notion takes me.
This is my hard working, never lets me down broom. I bought it when we first moved into our house about 15 years ago. I liked it so much that I bought second one for the basement. They both are still going strong and show no signs of wear and tear. (And really, I do sweep up the kitchen floor every day!)

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Art Goals for 2008

One of the advantages of being on this earth for half a century is that you have a good idea of what works and what doesn't. And I know that setting New Year's resolutions for myself does not work. While it sounds good in theory - Fresh year, Fresh start and all that - in reality this is the time of year for hunkering down and looking for comfort and warmth and ease to make it through the short, sunless days and long, cold nights. I find that the best time to start something new with determination and enthusiasm is in the spring, when all the world around me is also being renewed and starting over. So no resolutions for me - I know myself well enough to be sure that I will fail in executing them, and then feel bad about myself and my lack of will power. Instead I will set some goals that I will work towards over the next twelve months. Just a few gentle suggestions for improving my drawing and painting:

1. Have fun, relax, experiment, explore and enjoy.
2. Take a class. Learn proper technique. I have signed up for Kate's watercolor pencil class in February. (I have a set of watercolor pencils, and confess that I have absolutely no idea what to do with a white pencil. I would much rather have had Indigo and Burnt Sienna than black and white).
3. Continue to do the EDM challenges weekly, and try to do one of the ones that I have not yet done.
4. Begin including people and urban landscapes in my repertoire. Practice, practice, practice!
5. Use lots of color because lots of color makes me happy (see goal #1)

I think I'll stop here. These are small, manageable goals that I feel I can handle. Any thing more complex or taxing will probably make it difficult to achieve goal number 1, and I honestly believe that without that goal, none of the rest are even worth doing. Art is not my job, it is not something that I do for anyone else, it is something I do to balance my soul, and bring joy and reflection to my everyday life. It is when I pay homage to the delights of the ordinary, everyday things that surround me and bring such beauty into our lives. I want the time I spend drawing and painting to be contemplative and meditative and restoring. "An enchanted hour was filched from the hereafter and tossed into the lap of the present, as a foretaste of what is to become...
A mystic world into which we step as soon as we cross the threshold of the porch" Ethelind Fearon (1946)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

EDM 152 - Free choice

Like so many others, I chose to do some Christmas ornaments. I had wanted to draw these ever since I got them, so this was the perfect opportunity. Our city has an old-time park called Heritage Park that has many historical buildings that have been moved to the park and restored to their former glory. The park is closed during the winter except for a few weekends before Christmas, to celebrate an old-fashioned Christmas. There is a traditional family brunch in the Wainwright Hotel, outdoor skating, horse-drawn sleigh rides with the wonderfully dignified heavy horses, gingerbread cookies in the bakery, and caroling in the little church. It's lots of fun, and they also sell a lot of hand-crafted gifts that are lovely for Christmas gifts. But when I saw these "Dickensian skaters", I was reminded about how much we love to skate outdoors in the winter, and I'm sure these are me and Shawn in a previous life. I also really liked the bright, rich colors. They were also perfect for this challenge and to wish you all a Happy New Year! But, alas, their lives are not without tragedy. My cat, known to all as "Holly the Crash" loves to "help" me when I paint or draw. She took a real shine to this gentleman and had to be shooed away from him several times. But she did manage to grab him as quick as she could and jump down from the table with him in her mouth. He was a bit big and unwieldy for her and she dropped him, snapping his arm clean off. I'm sure he can be fixed with a little glue and patience. But given Holly the Crash's history, this was the only Christmas related disaster that we had. The Chrismas tree is still standing, and no one got hurt so all is well.
I wish all of you all the best for the coming year. Thank you for visiting.