Sunday, December 21, 2014

Tiger - getting a head start

I've signed up for Leslie Byrd Saeta's '30 paintings in 30 days' challenge.   Now I have it on good authority from Bobbi Heath that we can get a head start on this and paint a few to have 'in the bag' as it were.  If I were going to be critical I would say that the drawing's a little 'off' but pretty happy all in all.

Oh - and here's my last attempt at a tiger from August 2012 :


Sketching Course week 6 - bags and roofs

 This sketching course is a blast - although it takes up a surprisingly large amount of time.   We only have two pieces of homework a week but it's easy to get behind.

This week our first indoor assignment was to sketch our (sketching) bag with minimal pencil setup.   My first attempt (bottom) I failed with the minimal setup and drew it all out first before I realized what had happened.     The second attempt (top) went a little better and putting some color on improved things no end.

Our second task was drawing a roofscape (we weren't meant to do the building but again I couldn't help myself).  This caught my eye as we were out for a walk yesterday evening and I came back in the daylight to sketch it. The shapes of the roofs and the way they interlocked with each other caught my eye as well as the contrast between the dark roof and the white walls. Now I look back on it the spire is too stumpy but without the photo you wouldn't know that.

I started lightly with pencil then went in with the pen. I found the windows hard to draw without them looking awkward - broken lines helped here. I put the color on back in the warm where it wasn't snowing.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

More Sketching with Liz Steel - Weeks 4 and 5

Week 4 was about drawing volume and we were instructed to draw a pile of books first in pencil then inking and watercoloring.    The pencil lines had to describe the volume in a wire-frame kind of way - drawing all edges even if we couldn't see them.   Frankly I wasn't as careful as I could have been on this - I was getting behind and jumped in with the ink pretty early.    It was great fun to do and I'm happy with the result.  The sketchbook is getting to look pretty good.

The setup.   4 of my favorite books.

Week 5 was meant to be a careful measuring week.   Which I almost completely ignored and just leapt straight in with the ink and wash.    Not too shabby though.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Liz Steel's Sketching Course - Week 3

The final set of homework sketches for Liz Steel's online sketching course.   We're now working shadows into the shapes to build up to a full picture.  This isn't technically part of the homework but something I did at the end in the way I would normally paint.  The exercises definitely helped a lot though.

The real life scene.  We had to pick a white object, a plain object and a patterned object (the apple got in too somehow).

First we did a negative shape sketch with just the background and foreground in color.  Pretty wonky drawing here!

Next we had to just draw the shadows in dark pencil - marked improvement here I think.   

Then we had to put everything together - draw the outline,  fill in the base color and then the shadows.  I wasn't particularly pleased at the end so put some ink over the drawing to see if it improved matters.  It didn't. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Sketching Course

So I've been a little quiet on the blogging front lately.   It's not because I haven't been exercising the brushes but I signed up for Liz Steel's Sketching Foundations online course and I've been busy keeping up with the assignments.

It's been great fun so far.  Liz has obviously put lot of work into the material which includes videos, downloadable pdfs as well as blog posts. 

We're currently on week 3 (abstracting shapes!) having done kit exploration and edges.  Here's a subset of the action to date:

The first we explored our tools and made pen andwatercolor sketches of everything.  Great fun this!  We were encouraged to work briskly and confidently and if the lines came out wonky (a Liz Steel term!) so be it.  It's all part of the charm.

This week is all about shapes and the outdoor exercise (we have indoor and outdoor exercises each week) was to sketch the shapes of letter boxes preferably in sunlight so there are strong shadows.   I found very little variability in the letterboxes (one of those new housing developmenets where everything is uniform) and happened upon a fire hydrant which did very well as a substitute.

One of the indoor exercises was to collect together a set of similarly colored objects and paint just the set of interlocking shapes without regard to actual edges.   Having done this I fancied just painting the objects anyway so went ahead and did that.  I was particularly pleased with the lettering.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

A Mixed Bag

I was having one of those days where I didn't want to commit to a 'proper' painting so I was rewatching one of Charles Reids DVDs (the flower ones) and painting along to some of his still life demos.

And some trees.   I really have to force myself to make the foliage uneven and lopsided.  But once the trunk and the branches are in they look perfectly fine.

More Life Class Sketches

Something a little different this week.   We were encouraged to take risks and try things a little differently.  Great fun and I think gave good results.

Friday, October 31, 2014

A Quickie

A quick 5 minute pose from last weeks life class.  The first and (as often happens) the best of the day.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Budget Macaw - the Challenge Continues

Well!  I have to say I'm pretty pleased with the result (see here for part 1).  I can't say it was a pleasant ride (see all the bristles that were shed on the background) but I think this is not too shabby at all.

So what's the verdict on the tools?   The paint - really quite good to work with.  Yes the pigment strength is a little on the weak side but I quite enjoyed using them.  They worked well on their own and also mixed well.   4.99 very well spent I think.

The paper was not as bad as I'd feared.  Yes it wasn't absorbent but  I tried to work quickly and things worked out ok.  Would I move permanently?  No.  But it's good enough for sketches and rough work.

Now the brushes.  Oh the brushes.  Oh how I hate you.  This was a *nightmare*.  The wretched things wouldn't take up much water (apart from the times they did and then dribbled it all over the place),  they wouldn't spring back to an upright position after being used and they shed bristles  EVERYWHERE!   And this is only the first use.   

Do not buy these ever!  

For  $4.85 you can get a Princeton round synthetic brush (size 10) that is light years better than any of these and you could do most paintings with just this brush.  Hell - for $12.85 you can get a fancier Escoda Toray synthetic round (size 10) that Joseph Zbukvic himself uses and he's no slouch in the painting department.

Anyway on to the painting.

First the drawing.   As usual pretty happy at this point.   That is apart from the claws - always have trouble with the claws.

The first washes.   I was getting a little worried at this point but soldiered on.

Slightly further along.  Was feeling much happier here.  The darks were looking pretty good and the wing feathers had come out quite well.

Almost there now - the head is good and I managed a reasonable eye even with THOSE WRETCHED BRUSHES!

Tada!  Takes a bow.  The background came out a bit weak but I didn't care at that point.   All in all I'm pretty pleased.    

For the build up to this painting see the previous post here

How cheap can you go?

My darling husband laid down a challenge this afternoon.   Is it possible to use the cheapest materials available and still produce a decent painting?   After browsing around Michael's we came away with 4.99 paints,  4.99 brushes and 6.99 paper.    I thought the paints would probably be ok - maybe a little lacking in pigment strength but you can always put more on the paper.  People actually bring these to our life classes and seem to do reasonably well with them.   The paper I hate.  Cheap paper has no tooth, buckles easily and is usually pretty non-absorbent so everything dries too quickly.  I'm not looking forward to that at all.   The brushes, well, you definitely get what you pay for.  Even looking at them in the packet you can tell the bristles are uneven and not coming to a point.

The paints.  Not a bad selection.  We have good primaries and a dark brown that will help make some darks.  The green is probably a little too vibrant but may mix well.

 The paper.  Feels very smooth which I don't like at all.  However, it is actually 140lb paper which is a reasonable weight and it shouldn't buckle too badly.

Oh dear.  The brushes.  I abandoned all but the bottom four which were the largest.  The rest can come in handy for masking fluid.  Notice the little tuft at the top of the big orange handled one 4th from the bottom?  This isn't a good sign.  They are not meant to do that.  Also note how none of the bristles are smooth, symmetrical or even straight?   This is also not a good sign.

This is a (not very good) photo of the cheap (unused) brush at the top and the expensive, best quality sable brush at the bottom.  I've used the bottom brush regularly for over a year and it still comes to a point well,  the bristles are still smooth and it's hardly shed anything at all.  This is what brushes should do.

This is what happened when I tried to wash the big brush to remove the bristle coating that new brushes have.  We now have a somewhat smaller brush.  Oh well.

Some test mixes.    I first tried the primaries and was pretty impressed.  The pigment is intense and mixes well.   This is a good sign.    My first attempt at a green wasn't great but after picking a more turquoise blue with the yellow ochre color things improved a lot.   

One of the things I was most worried about with the paints was that I wouldn't be able to produce a good dark but this worked out very well.  A combination of blue and dark brown (shown above) or a mixture of red and turquoise green gave pretty good results.

Onward to the painting....