Sunday, July 25, 2010

Painterly and Sketcherly and Shadowly (Sort of)

I felt "painterly" today (when don't I?). I caught Terry Madden on public television effortlessly laying down color after color with watercolors so that they would bleed into one another. It made me want to do it. So I pulled out a small sketch that I had done at the Miami Book Fair International last November and let the watercolors flow. I love how watercolors create patterns that I never could have planned.

This was done on 5" x 7" watercolor sheet that easily slips into the small carrying case that I use for on-site sketching. I should really use them more in the field - the size is better than Moleskine size, and I can choose whatever paper I want.

At the trip to Central Florida last month, I sat in the back seat as we drove up A-1-A through Cocoa Beach. I sketched snippets of what I saw along the way just for fun. The middle house is a composite, and, okay, I made up the boat and the water and the bird. I could start a new trend with this size: 7" x 1" - like a bookmark only skinnier. "Waste not, want not," right?

This week, for Shadow Shot Sunday, I cheat and provide a reflection. In justification of the shot, I refer you to here, and definition no. 9 of "shadow" which is "a reflected image". Hah!

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Bald Truth

Welcome to the celebration! Come on in - grab some chips! So good to see you!

The plates are over there. The drinks are in the cooler.

What's the occasion, you ask? Of course, you wouldn't know - would you? Why, this is the first time that a painting on canvas has ever been featured at Dan's Canvas!

Yeah, go figure. After many years, I picked up the acrylic paints, and a small 8" x 8" canvas, and decided not to try too hard or take it too seriously, just get my brushes wet, grab a clock as a model, and see what happens. In the process I dripped some paint on the yellow border so rather than wipe it away, I decided to put some splashes of color around the clock. Then I wiped on some titanium white to soften the border area and they smeared a bit. The result is "Confetti Clock." Appropriate for the occasion, don't you think?

I'd like to introduce you to some other folks I've invited to the party. My most eminent guest is Richard Serra. Yeah, the sculptor. You can see one of his works behind him. I was watching an art documentary and his face was so interesting that I paused the documentary, and drew him in vine charcoal. The drawing is about 7" x 10".

Then later this week I was watching a good movie but grew restless anyway. My trusty Pigma Micron is never too far away, so I grabbed an envelope and began sketching from a photo that was on the cover of a magazine while I watched. The drawing on the right is the result.

Would you like another drink? There are some hors d'oeuvres over here.

It is definitely freeing to draw on an envelope and not worry about how it's going to come out. I also knew that there would never be watercolor added to this one, so I was able to really play with hatching to get the values. There is something to be said for grabbing loose sheets of paper, envelopes, whatever, to draw on - no pressure, all joy.

Once, a very long time ago, I snapped the picture of a crowd at Disney. In the crowd was this man on the left who has a very strong face, I think. He looks to me like a hero, a 9/11 firefighter. I had read about sketching in charcoal on canvas and spraying the charcoal drawing before painting and wanted to try it. This will be painted someday, but not until I feel somewhat competent in acrylics. He's waited this long. He can wait some more.

What's that? I can't hear you. Do you want to step outside?

Man, look at that that cool shadow on the wall! Let me just quickly snap this shot for Shadow Shot Sunday. Okay. Now what is it?

Oh, you notice that all the other guests at this party are bald? No worries - it is required that you be bald to attend this party, but I have the electric razor just over here. It shouldn't take more than a minute. Come with me.

Hey where are you going? Leaving so soon?!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Playing with the Dog, Playing with Shapes, Just Playing..

I had another 2-1/2" x 3-1/2" size sheet of Fabriano Artistico 140 lb. hard press paper and couldn't leave it blank. So I drew and painted a dog at play.

I loved exploring all the different values in this one. It was extraordinarily satisfying to do. A lot of joy in a small space.

This sketch is derived from a photograph at Morguefile that you can find here.

For Shadow Shot Sunday, I contribute a picnic table. I thought the circular shapes and shadows were interesting.

And because it has similar shapes, I throw in this photo. There is always construction here in Miami, whether we need it or not.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Birds You Can Hug

A Few Stories of My Visit with Family in Central Florida:

1. The Fourth of July Barbecue:

Unnamed Relative (I will call him U.R.) put a massive amount of chicken on the barbecue and closed the hood. He then went inside the house.

I was left outside with the kids, my nieces and nephew among them. As the the Responsible Adult, I sat at the picnic table examining U.R's new Droid cell phone. It was cool. I turned on an app and was trying to figure out how to turn it off, but couldn't for the life of me. I heard the children talking in worried tones. How cute.

"Is the barbecue supposed to be smoking like that?" one asked.
"Of course it is," said another.
"I've never seen so much smoke before," said a third.
"He knows what he's doing," came the response.

With a sigh I looked up from the Droid. Smoke was billowing from the barbecue.

As the Responsible Adult, I reluctantly laid the Droid down and walked to the barbecue and opened the hood. Flames the length and breadth of the barbecue whipped four feet into the air. All of the chicken was on fire!

I was at a loss. Turning off the burner might have been a good idea, but this has only just occurred to me now, during this writing. In college we all took turns riding a Moped. I got on, asked how to make it go, turned the handles all the way back and proceeded full speed towards a pedestrian and a car. At that time I forgot how to slow down and realized I had no idea how to stop, did not notice the hand brakes in front of me, and held onto the handle bars tight in full speed position. The pedestrian jumped out of the way just in time. Then the car passed by an instant before I crossed the road. Then came the tree and my abrupt stop.

This was like that.

At this point U.R. rushed passed me at a brisk walk and pronounced, "Don't worry. Everything's under control." At which point, oblivious of the flames, he began picking chicken off of the grill with tongs. The tongs would disappear into the orange flames and emerge with charred chicken.

"Is there anything I can do?" I asked.
"Well a little water might be helpful," he said.

I went inside U.R.'s kitchen and hurriedly looked inside some cabinets. I grabbed a large glass and filled it with water. Whatever I do I will not grab a small glass, I thought, pushing back a childhood memory.

I brought the large glass to U.R. U.R. laughed and said, "That's no good - I need a sprayer! It's like the time you tried to put out the fire with the paper cup!"

Suppressed childhood memory 40 years later brought to the surface by one of the few that knew. Family. When I was about 10 years old a fire had been set in our yard by a vandal and I ran inside the house, filled one of those small bathroom paper cups with water and ran to the fire in my effort to put it out. They will never forget.

Emergencies just aren't my thing. Never have been.

"Anyway," U.R. said, "I have it under control." And he did. After some "tweaking", the chicken emerged delicious.

And my 11-year-old niece, Emma, told me how to turn off the app.

2. The Fireworks:

The fireworks had already begun but U.R. enthusiastically insisted that we march to the perfect spot in the middle of the huge bridge to watch them. So we marched at a brisk pace, and we marched, and we marched, as fireworks crackled and splashed overhead, and before we reached the middle of the bridge the grand finale' boomed and exploded above, so we turned around and marched, and marched, and marched all of the way back.

Best exercise I've had in ages.

3. Ossorio Bakery and Cafe:

I strategically chose my best sketching seat at Ossorio, a quaint and comfortable cafe' in Cocoa Village that serves pastries, homemade ice cream, wood oven pizzas and sandwiches. Then I learned that we had to go to the counter to order. I lost my seat. But I could turn to the side just so to get the vantage point I wanted. Then another Unnamed Relative said, "You are always sketching - be with us for a change." So I got my homemade ice cream and I sulked. Then when I complained out loud, I was granted a tiny window of time to sketch and very quickly cranked out the sketch above, finishing to tune of "Are you done yet?". The sketch is more like a dream of Ossorio, only Ossorio is such a special place that it is Ossorio that is the dream. I colored most of this during the drive home with a waterbrush, then finished it with some regular brushes as well.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip and a delight to be with the people I love.

Follow Up to My Last Post:

During my family visit, Ingrid of the Free Quark wrote a wonderful post here referring to this blog. She is the photographer whose pelican I drew. I overheard some ladies speaking today about pets. One woman said she needed dogs because you can hug dogs, but not cats, and certainly not birds. "You cannot hug a bird", she said definitively.

She was wrong, of course.