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....

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Cassis Harbor Revisit

This is a picture I picked up from John Lovett's blog and I attempted it before somewhat unsuccessfully.    I thought I'd revisit it to see whether I'm happier with the subject than I used to be.  It's a tough subject - there is a *lot* going on and I should probably crop down and only try a part.  We have buildings - lots of them, along with awnings, many people and finally boats and water.  Any one of those would make a decent painting and it's a bit ambitious to try them all at once.  I always remember this when I'm half way through the drawing and getting a bit bored.

But - I was reasonably pleased with the difference (original is below done in May 2013).  The awnings are good, buildings not bad,  the people are suggested reasonably well and the boats ok if a little sparse and small.  It could be a lot worse.

This is the one from May 2013.  Wow - I think it's fair to say there's a big difference here.  It's a slightly different view but the more recent one of more confident and, to me at least, has a better sense of light.  I hope there'll be a similar different 18 months from now.

And here's the photo - yeah there's a lot going on.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Charles Darwin

So it seemed fitting that the first scientist to be done would be Charles Darwin.   Came out reasonably well.  As I was painting I kept thinking - just don't come out looking like Sigmund Freud. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Another Wednesday, Another Model

Oh how I appreciated escaping for a couple of hours to paint yesterday.    Worth every penny.    We started off with some different ways of gesture drawing.  First we just did 30 second poses with two or three lines.  We then moved on to slightly longer poses but only indicating the direction of the torso, limbs and head with no detail.  Finally we were meant to do something involving zigzags but I missed the instructions and did some more direction drawings instead.   

I like these.   They have a lot of life to them.

Onto the longer stuff.   I fancied a bit more drawing so I first did a full length pose..

.. and then just the head.   Both 15 minutes and I was pretty pleased.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Silver-Breasted Broadbill

I struggled a lot with this but persevered and I'm quite pleased with it now.  Nothing fancy - just killing some time before dinner.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Back to Reality


Back to watercolor life class at the ccae.   Full class this time - around ten of us.  I was very happy to be back and had high hopes.    I'm pretty happy with all the efforts here and above is my favorite of the day (10mins).  I'm trying to avoid stating things too precisely and leaving the eye and brain to fill in details.   

Another 10 minute one.  This is on smoother paper which I'm not so happy working with.

A 5 minute one.   

15 minutes.  I know it's time for a break when I'm happier painting the drapery than the person.

This is my second favorite (15 mins).  The model didn't have such a big arse in real life.

5  minutes.  This was actually an exercise (mapping the figure) and then I took a few extra minutes to make it a 'proper' painting.  Exercises are never paintings until I put something extra on.  Don't know why.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Harvard Square Sketching Meetup

Yesterday I took the plunge and went along to a sketching meetup group in Harvard Square.  Turnout was a little light - 14 people registered but only 4 of us turned up.  It was a little odd to be honest.  Not a lot of chat and we all sat in Starbucks and sketched the people/surroundings for 90 minutes or so.  Then, mostly without saying anything, everybody left.   When I'm the most garrulous person in the room you know you have some serious introversion on your hands.  Having said that I did really enjoy it and will try a few other meetups.  You can feel a little self conscious on your own sitting around drawing people when they're only 6 feet away from you.    I've been perfecting being able to draw without bobbing my head up and down when looking from subject to paper which is a sure fire way of drawing attention to yourself.     Counterintuitively when you're in a group it doesn't seem as intimidating to people.

So onto the drawings.  Was in two minds whether to post these.   As I've said countless times before drawing people is hard even when they're well behaved and keeping still for you.  When they're in a coffee shop and moving around you have very little time to catch things.  Even when people are sitting reading or studying they shift an awful lot so it's a challenge to say the least.

Even though the quality is (ahem) variable I'm pretty pleased with these.  There are glimpses of proficiency coming through.

Girl with scarf and boy with hoodie waiting for coffee.   Usually I'm tapping my foot impatiently when people are making coffee.  This evening they seemed to be on triple speed.

Man in glasses and two girls talking.

More girls talking.

Waiting for the coffee.  As I mentioned in my airport post it's a lot easier drawing people from the back than the front as (unlike my mother) they don't have eyes in the back of their heads.

Making coffee.

From a point of view of getting a likeness these were my most successful of the night.  You have to be quick to grab the essentials of a face and to know what to look for.  How the nose is angled,  are the eyes wide open or narrow, the brows high or low etc.   And then once you've grasped the essentials in your head you then have the harder task of making the pencil recreate them.  Not easy.

That's enough sketching for now - more painting needed I think.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

30 Minute Lincoln


I've been spending a lot of time in the sketchbook lately and haven't given the brushes much of a workout.    Here's a 30 minute sketch of Abraham Lincoln done from a photo.   I think it came out pretty well - made me think about doing some famous scientists.