Saturday, September 27, 2008

September Virtual Sketch Draw

My most recent attempt to paint a tree peony which is this month's subject for virtual sketch draw.

An abundance of tree peonies

I had dinner at a friend's house for my birthday in May and she sent me home with this beautiful tree peony. The photo is the subject for this month's Virtual Sketch Date.

I've drawn and painted the flower several times during the past few months. My first attempt (ink & watercolor) was done from life, right before the ripe flower blew apart. My painting is a bit blowsy and overdone.

This ink and watercolor wash was my second attempt. Anemic.

I also tried it using charcoal pencil.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What's in my journal...

"Odd things, like a button drawer. Mean
Thing, fishhooks, barbs in your hand.
But marbles too. A genius for being agreeable.
Junkyard crucifixes, voluptuous
discards. Space for knickknacks, and for
Alaska. Evidence to hang me, or to beatify.
Clues that lead nowhere, that never connected
anyway. Deliberate obfuscation, the kind
that takes genius. Chasms in character.
Loud omissions. Mornings that yawn above
a new grave. Pages you know exist
but you can't find them. Someone's terribly
inevitable life story, maybe mine."

by William Stafford,
from Crossing Unmarked Snow

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Acquainted with the Night

I'v suffered from insomnia for many years and I was intrigued when I heard about this book, edited by Lisa Spaar. I finally got around to purchasing it. It's a gem - a collection of verse on the subject of insomnia, including poems by Emily Dickinson, Elizabeth Bishop, Charles Simic, Rimbaud, Shakespeare and Shelley. Something to read in the early morning hours.

Here's one I like by Charles Simic:

Mirrors at 4 A.M.

You must come to them sideways
In rooms webbed in shadow,
Sneak a view of their emptiness
Without them catching
A glimpse of you in retutrn.

The secret is,
Even the empty bed is a burden to them,
A pretense.
They are more themselves keeping
The company of a blank wall,
The company of time and eternity

Which, begging your pardon,
Cast no image
As they admire themselves in the mirror,
While you stand to the side
Pulling a hanky out
To wipe your brow surreptitiously.

The still drone of the time
past midnight.
All words put out,
men are sunk into the sweetness
of sleep. Even the far-flung world
has put aside its rages
for sleep.

Only I
am awake.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Delicious autumn!

Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. - George Elliot

Autumn actually arrives on September 22, but it already feels like fall in Oregon. September and October are my two favorite months of the year. I love the sunny days and crisp evenings, the beautiful colors and the knowledge that I'll soon be sharing the holidays with family and friends.

Every four years autumn also means presidential politics. While I think it's important for us all to pay attention and seek accurate information, I'm determined not to let politics ruin my enjoyment of this season. I'm trying not to obsess... and working on not spending half the night mulling things over. (Politics and insomnia are a BAD combination.) But instead of letters to the editor, I'll be posting my thoughts about the election here.

Painting helps...

Monday, September 8, 2008

Monday music...

Two very different, but equally wonderful, CDs arrived in my mailbox today.

An excellent way to start the week...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Following Directions

When I feel inspired to paint or draw, my usual procedure is to sit down and get to work, with little or no advance planning. My hope and expectation is that I will be able to intuitively create what is in my mind’s eye. Occasionally, the artwork turns out well, but for the most part it does not.

My watercolor teacher and the authors of the many watercolor books I own encourage a more thoughtful and systematic approach to creating a painting. I decided to follow their directions (for once!). This is the result. A bit too much contrast between the pink/orange color on the two pears, but overall an improvement over my usual work, I think.

I’ve also documented the process below.

The Process

I began with a graphite sketch/value study of the arrangement:

As a watercolor warm-up, I decided to do a mono-chromatic value study. Problems with the composition were apparent and I adjusted the arrangement a bit.

I used a limited palatte of relatively transparent watercolor: Hansa Yellow, Quinacrodone Red and Cobalt Blue:

I was fairly pleased with this result, but the grayscale version confirmed a lack of darker values. I knew I would screw things up if I tried to darken the pears. I set it aside for a couple of weeks and did other things.

Today I went in and darkened things a bit, as in the image of the post above.