Alstroemeria: drawing from observation

I wanted to post this last night after midnight, but waited until today so that I could photograph my latest sketch in sunlight. Little did I know that that isn’t even optimal, with just light from a window…Accordingly, I have had to apply a Levels adjustment to the drawing you see below:

marker drawing of an alstroemeria flower
It kind of took a lot of work to get to this point! (By the way, the type of flower is called “Alstroemeria.”)

I made some notes for myself on my working process, last night. I think the enthusiasm for sharing them has died down (or otherwise sobered) overnight; I’m not as pleased with the outcome today as I was at around 12:15 AM. However, it’s good to look at things with fresh eyes.

So, the basic technique:

  1. I did a contour line drawing of a flower in (sharp) HB pencil, erasing unnecessary lines.
  2. I added color using Pitt (brush) pens.
  3. I erased the line drawing as completely as possible without erasing the pen.
  4. I added in the background using Pitt pens and minimal pencil guidelines.
  5. I erased the pencil in the background.

I’m not totally pleased with this, looking at it the next day. In particular, along the way I learned how to define relatively-light lines on dark backgrounds using negative space, but that wasn’t something I was even thinking about at the start of the sketch.

If I did this over again, I would either omit the almond-shaped green veins on the flowers’ two side petals, or I would draw them in with a much lighter green marker (relying on the marker’s transparency to blend with the petal and create a new color), or color around them and define the lines with negative space.

I also ran into the issue of not having a delicate enough pink to define the lighter areas of the petals, so I (felt I) had to go darker in order to avoid too much hatching/contour drawing (see the section on negative space, below). This doesn’t seem to be as big an issue for the background, though: where I was working with impressions and not trying to mimic reality so much.

I like the background much better than the foreground — it’s looser and more free and airy, capturing more of the feeling of the blossoms. I was, however, working with the structure I had established with the initial pencil drawing; I wonder how I would do with an all-over looseness (marker-first, or just light and minimal pencil guidelines which are later erased)?

I was also able to define a lot in the background by using negative and implied space, while I wasn’t thinking in terms of defining the light-colored foreground by darkening the background (what it was seen against) until later.

Keeping the white space goes along with this. I’m not used to seeing white as a “color,” but in this case the flowers were somewhat defined by their lightness. If I had planned on adding a background in the first place, I could have avoided over-hardening the central flower with mid-value pinks in an attempt to define its petals.

I’m also not hating that top right white petal with the pink contour lines as much as I was, last night.

There are also a couple of small details I feel like I should have caught, which I took note of in the process…inadvertently darkening a highlight area on the leftmost central petal (reversing the lowlight and highlight areas), and not paying attention to the pattern of veining on the rightmost leaf until it was too late. (In addition…I started off trying to define the veins as dark, when they are not dark; they’re light. Also, they do not branch off from a central, strong vein. They’re more like grass, with parallel veining.)

There are two things I know I can work on, from having done this sketch:

  1. utilization of white space and negative space
  2. layering inks to get unexpected hues beyond what is provided in the markers as used straight.

Also: loosening up.

It helps to have many of these pens with subtle color differentiations (especially, very light and very dark). They aren’t as troublesome in their uniformity of nib type as I thought they would be. It also helped to pick out the main colors in this piece before I even started ([pinks, violet/maroon], greens, yellows). This helped me avoid a lack of color harmony in the piece, though the subject itself had all these colors. Botanical subjects often do seem to harmonize with themselves well, in the first place…probably because they have a limited number of pigments to work with.

D suggested using watercolor with the marker, which would be a good idea with the caveat that I did this in an art journal filled with regular drawing paper. It might be fairly well destroyed by the addition of water.

And yes, I am thinking of a Yupo journal, now, thanks.  😛

There is a lot of work which built up to this, starting off with sketches in the sketchbook with the horrible paper, without any reference. Those helped me get an idea of the concept, but they aren’t really anything I’d like to show. Because of their lack of reference, many of the details are wrong even though the drawings can look pretty. Last Tuesday the 24th, though, I went and picked up some alstroemeria which I used as a reference for the picture, above.

Even though it was somewhat difficult for me to get myself to work on an observational drawing (I still get nervous), it was easier than making up details — as I was doing in my concept sketches.

I should likely go and work on my classwork, now… 🙂


Life goes on…will my passion become a hobby?

Well, the good thing is that I don’t have to go back in to work until Wednesday.  Plus, the only thing due today is completing one of my readings, which I’m already halfway through.  Because I’ve been setting up a new device, I haven’t been able to get much work done, though.  That is to say:  I have a new homework machine, and pretty much all of yesterday was spent getting it secured and up to speed.

The somewhat troubling thing is that I haven’t made time for art-making since the semester started, a week and a half ago.

I’ve just gotten through cruising the “gouache” tag, here…which at least is enough to remind me what gouache is and how it behaves and how it’s typically used, making me wonder whether I want to try it, again.  What I have is about nine years old at this point, though (ha), and it isn’t worth it to get new paints in that medium, too, if I’m not going to use them.  (Gouache, from what I hear, actually has a shelf life.)

The nice thing about gouache…well, there are a number of nice things…but it is flat and opaque; the “set” I bought in 2007 was all sourced from suppliers who did not add opaquing agents to their paints.  If I’m recalling correctly, this was Winsor & Newton, Holbein, and — I’m thinking — M. Graham & Co.; the latter of which, I bought without knowing that honey was part of the formulation.  Then again, all I bought from them was a Payne’s Grey, which I ended up not using much of.

Right now, though, I do have the acrylics and the acrylic pads, in addition to a few blank canvases.  If I didn’t have to worry about getting paint on the carpet (my reasoning for not starting this project sooner:  I have to cover the floor, or move my easel), I could start the abstract that I’ve been wanting to work on.  I recall, however, that this is a pattern I get into which short-circuits my visual work:  I get too caught up in the original image to feel that I could ever get it “exactly” that way on canvas, and my perfectionism keeps me from starting.  Then I start finding reasons not to start.

It’s the same thing that happened with the succulent drawing I posted some months ago (Yapha), where to get started at all (after two or three weeks of delaying), I just had to begin something.  That “something” was a tracing, which then clarified to me that I didn’t have to get the details exactly as they were in the original observation.  The substance wasn’t in mimicry of shape, though to be clear I am not entirely certain how to deduce content and what matters from a source image.

With observation, it’s easier.  With a photograph?  Not so much.  I think it’s really a tripping-out thing, though, where when there already is an image there, I/we start to think that if we worked perfectly, our final image would look like the photograph, and that isn’t actually the case.

It looks like dinner is about to be ready, so I’ll wrap this up and try and finish my reading, tonight.  Tomorrow, I’ll need to start on my reading for my database course, and complete my spreadsheet for that class.

I’ll also need to work on some scheduling for my schoolwork and classwork, as well; so that I actually will have time reserved, to make art.

Surprising myself a slight bit…

I actually have been able to get something done, today, other than work and art.  The mess of receipts that I have from late last year have (mostly) been documented.  In the process, I found a receipt from October of last year showing that I paid $0.98 for what I believe were three tiny persimmons.

It’s the good things, you know?

Ja…right now I’m thinking that I will really have to get on the University reading, soon.  Today, instead of doing that, I did some reading in an actual (!) paper book!  (Where Does Art Come From? by William Kluba.  It is an art-practice book instead of an art-history book, but it’s really a good thing for me to try and remember why I’m doing what I’m doing.)  And I just finished the last of the candied ginger of unknown age.  Go, me.  (Hopefully, it won’t do a number on my stomach…)

If it’s possible, I think I really should pay for the groceries I get at the produce market, with my own funds.  I know I will be going into (more) debt because of University, but that aside:  when I pay for my own perishables with money I’ve earned myself, I’m more aware of their existence, and have more of a tendency to actually eat them.  Otherwise, I have a tendency to forget about them until after entropy has set in and they’ve started to decompose.  I think that if it’s my money I’m wasting, it will make a difference.

I still haven’t done much of any reading in either of my school texts, though at least this semester, I’m starting out with a note-taking system.  I can only read one book at a time, so I have a notebook dedicated to notes on whatever I’m reading.  If I’m smart, maybe I can have three different pens; one color for each class.  I know I have the pens; replacing them (along with ink longevity) will be the iffy part.  It could be cool, though, if archival-quality inks are not demanded (the notes must last for three years), to use gel pens (Sarasas are nice).  Actually, that sounds like fun!  Maybe green, purple, and orange…hmm.

Tonight, as well — I realized that my huge watercolor palette may not be as inconveniencing as I had been convinced it would be.  For those who haven’t read the backposts, this is a Mijello Silver Nano 40 palette, which is pretty darn huge for someone used to things that are, well…easy to carry.  But it does easily hold all of my colors, and it gives generous mixing space, plus the construction seems to be quality (so far), which are three qualities not simultaneously matched in any of my other palettes.

I also re-tried fitting my half-pans into one of the small tins I bought.  I was mistaken in an earlier post; one tin will hold at least 28 Winsor & Newton half-pans (seven across, four deep).  However, what D said might also be the case:  the sides of the tin may be too deep to allow easy access with a brush.  I’m also not convinced that a half-pan format is the best way to carry dried watercolor paint…especially if I’m using a large brush.

The Maruman NEW SOHO Series Sketch pad is too lightweight to take watercolor with abundant moisture.  (watercolor that’s wet…?)  It is advertised to take watercolor, but it isn’t a good-quality watercolor paper (whereas with my limited use of dry media within it [basically only graphite sticks, so far], it’s great).

I mean if you wet it, it warps.  It warped so much that I tore the sheet out of the pad and threw it away before it could warp the rest of the pad.  I probably should have waited until it dried out to see what it would do, but generally speaking, when a paper does what it did, I’m not likely to turn to it for watercolor work!  Please forgive me for not taking a photograph of it before getting rid of it.  It was just a mess; but I was also using my dying Utrecht #10 Sablette Round, which holds a good deal of water.  (It’s dying because the ferrule has loosened on the handle, though it grips again after being wet for about 20 minutes.  It’s only a matter of time until the brush head itself falls off.)

I also tried a small sheet of Stonehenge paper, which performed much more favorably…but it also really absorbed the paint to the degree that if I wanted to lift the pigment out, I’m not sure I would have been able to do so.  The stability of the paper was much more “on” for the way I’d expect a watercolor paper to behave, though granted I think that the highest grade of paper I’ve yet used is Canson Montval — not Arches, which I hear is top-of-the-line (and probably so expensive as to discourage me from using it).

I think I’ve used Strathmore 300 and 400 series before, too, and have just begun to try Fluid “Easy Blocks” (they’re only gummed down on two sides, so they’re supposed to be “easier” to lift away from the block…but this sacrifices some stability.  And how much harder is it, really, to cut away those other two sides when you’ve already got out the butter knife?).

What I remember about Stonehenge is that I’m pretty sure this is the paper which easily pilled when I rubbed a dry tissue over a wet area — though granted, this was on the back of the sheet.  I’m pretty sure that the tissue wasn’t what the pill was made of.

Otherwise…hmm.  Things have been fairly stable.  I’m still not certain whether to go for Digital Services or Art Librarianship.  Art Librarianship is the ultimate goal…ideally.  It’s just that looking at four more years of college is a bit painful.  But I still have not been able to clarify exactly what Digital Services entails, or what the field is looking like, moving forward.  I’ll get to find out some information on this, later this month.

For now, there’s nothing much I can do besides read and work through my tutorials, and get a head start on the class readings I can do, now.  Good to keep some perspective, I guess…

Experimenting with different ways of drawing/painting the same thing…

I’ve been trying to keep track of what I have and haven’t written here, though given the length of my postings, that isn’t easy.  What did happen is that I did make it out to the art store and I did buy some paints and canvas (though these are canvas sheets in a pad, not stretched canvas or canvas board).  The canvas pad would seem to be good for studies, though the brand I used here (Blick) warps a bit when it gets heavily wet…explaining why canvas is usually stretched.  I haven’t tried Fredrix yet, which was the other brand I purchased.

The first thing that I should have done today that I didn’t do, would have been to gesso the canvas sheet with a background color or tone.  I think that I was thinking more in terms of watercolor, here, though:  hence the tracing that turned out to be near purposeless when covered by opaque acrylic paint.

Tomatillo-1 version 1 on the left; tracing on the right.

My plan was to trace the more important lines in the original study I’d made, then transfer the lines over to the canvas pad using Saral paper (basically, carbon transfer paper).  I did succeed in doing this:

line drawing:  transfer onto canvas

…however, it would have made much more sense to do this if I had been making a transparent watercolor painting of my original study.

I may still do that, just to enlighten myself as to the differences in working methods between drawing, watercolor, acrylic grisaille (working only in black and white) and acrylic in color.

What we would have done in Painting class would have been to make the original study/drawing, then gesso the substrate that the painting would lay on with a background color, then make a loose vine charcoal drawing of what we wanted to paint on top of that, then seal the vine charcoal with acrylic glazing medium, then wipe out the extra vine charcoal with a wet rag, then paint on top of that.

What I learned fairly quickly when trying to work over this tracing (talk about tightness) is that it’s so light and delicate that it gets covered with the first strokes of opaque paint.  (The first study was in Mars Black and Titanium White.)  Given that I’ve had trouble concealing all signs of my underdrawings in vine before, I doubt this would have been much of an issue if I’d used fine willow or vine charcoal (which is much blacker than graphite) to provide guidelines.

I’m not sure of it, though.  I’ll have to test it out.

I kind of wonder, too, if a charcoal or carbon pencil would have worked better…but they would not be as easily erasable as vine or willow, both of which have basically almost no adhesion to much of anything…except maybe cloth.

Tomatillo-1 version 2

In any case, what I ended up doing was basically an entirely different method than I would have been working with, had I used transparent watercolor.  It became evident fairly immediately that the most efficacious route might have been to block in a body color in the shape that I wanted, then hit the lowlights and shadows, and then the highlights.

Well, no:  first the background, then the body color, then the lowlights and shadows, then the highlights.  Then blending.  (This is just what I’m guessing might have been easier, in my case.  Yours may be different.)

This is different than what I would expect for transparent watercolor, in which the lightest areas would ideally be left without paint, and then everything else could be filled in block by block.  I really couldn’t do that, here.  Well — maybe I could, but there was no reason to do so.  In my head, at least, the fewer layers of color one works with in transparent watercolors, the better, as this increases luminosity (or the amount of light reflected back from the paper).  With acrylic — at least with opaque colors — that is not a burden.  You can paint and paint and overpaint and mess up and correct it, and it’s OK.

What I could have done instead of the tracing and transfer was just to block in a large shape in color (like I did in my original drawings) and then refine it from there.  There was really no purpose to the line drawing, except to help out with visualization a tiny bit, and make me initially feel better about diving in.  But it wasn’t necessary.  I might even have gotten a better result if I just tried to paint what I saw in my original study plus having the tomatillo for reference next to me, without having anything drawn in on my canvas.

Tomatillo-1 version 3

The above one in green…I did after I did the grisaille (black and white) version right above it.  I’m actually really glad I did the grisaille version first, because it had less variables to manage when I hit the point of realizing that my underdrawing might hinder me more than help me.

When I went to the art store, by the way; I didn’t end up getting the Green Gold.  I went in there expecting something around $11 and it was listed at more like $18 for 2 oz, which gave me a bit of sticker shock.  The Web Match prices which I qualify for aren’t listed; it’s just kind of a nice surprise at the register.  So while I did go in there ready to purchase $20-$30 of paint, I wasn’t about to spring for $20 for one tube.  Basically, a mix of one of the Greens I already had, plus Bronze Yellow, will give a hue like Green Gold — or so I was certain of by seeing the color swatches and knowing my strength in color mixing — it just may not be transparent (and transparency wasn’t something I desired).

The main colors used in the above are Chrome Oxide Green, Cadmium Yellow Hue (this is the Bismuth Orthovanadate that I mentioned before), Vivid Lime Green (a convenience mix), Titanium White, and a touch of some more earth-tone colors like Bronze Yellow (a mix of iron oxides) and Raw Umber, plus a tiny bit of Indian Yellow (Isoindolinone).  I did get out a couple of reds and a blue (as I realized I could lighten a color using Chrome Oxide as my deepest pigment, but not darken it), but I didn’t end up using them.  Well, no:  I used a Phthalo Blue (Green Shade) for some of the greens, but I can’t recall where.

In any case, the color version was the most fun to paint.  🙂  (And yes, I realize I didn’t put in a background.  :P)  Could I have gotten there first without doing all the prep work?  I’m not sure.  I don’t feel it was time wasted, though, because I have learned a lot.

And, I’m wanting to paint more in acrylic.  It kind of forces me to be looser, and that isn’t a bad thing!  I have a good amount left in the canvas pads, so hopefully that will lower the entry level into playing around with these paints…

Ah — I almost forgot to mention, too.  I lost two tubes of paint, today, because either the cap failed (on my Blick Titanium White) or the neck of the tube just peeled off (like my Raw Umber Liquitex Professional Heavy Body paint).  When I say the “cap failed,” I mean that the part of the cap that one holds, separated from the part of the cap which fit around the neck of the tube.  With the Raw Umber…I have no idea what was up with that, except maybe it had too much UV exposure, or something.  I went to open it and the entire neck twisted off.

Raw Umber is only a Series 1 color, so I can get a replacement for it for about $8.  Still, it’s like what the hey…gah.

And oh, right:  I need to use a less-watery brush with these paints, because it seems to turn out better when I don’t get pools of paint like I would with watercolor.  I…wasn’t after my color moving around on the page, though I guess I can stop that by drying my brush a little after cleaning it…

Getting a bit cerebral about the painting…

I think I’ve got it in me to start working on the 30″x30″ square composition in acrylic…realizing that the photograph is just a starting point.  Today there were outsiders in the house from the late morning until the late afternoon, so I was hiding away in my room for most of the time.  This meant I had a lot of time to imagine things.

inspiration but not final…

One of those things was how to start working on this composition, if I were going to do it, today.  I know that as a beginning, it would be great to gesso a light yellow ochre over the whole thing (as you can see peeking through the leaves on the far right side), then bring in a loose dark green shadow background to the upper top left.

I’m not sure whether to paint in darker areas negatively to make hidden leaves pop, or to paint in lighter leaves on top of the dark background.

I’ll figure it out.

One of the things I’m interested in, here, is the difference between the light areas and the dark areas.  About the upper left half of the composition is in shade; the lower right in bright sun; though there are areas of shade in the latter, as well.  Particularly, a triangle in the lower base area and other leaves in shade on the right edge which will have to be painted over the background.  The center rosette of leaves “pops” because of that one broad spade shadow just below center.

The reason I’m not doing a watercolor thumbnail of this is that it would require masking for the points of light in the upper left, and I still get wary around liquid latex — it can sensitize one to latex (causing an allergy), and I work with rubber bands as part of my job.

I’m fairly certain that I want to keep the leaf shape in here as a motif for both the bright areas and cast shadows.  What I’m not certain about at all is whether I want to keep the same color scheme:  the bright green as it is, is rather dull.

Knowing that curiosity about new art supplies can help push me out of stasis, I’m hoping to find two colors tomorrow:  Green Gold, and Vivid Lime Green, under Liquitex brand, which will be at least $16.50 to $20 total, depending.

EDIT:  I’ve been looking through pigment compositions…and two of the colors I had been thinking of are convenience colors:  Permanent Sap Green, and Vivid Lime Green.  I am now planning on getting Indian Yellow (PY139), Yellow Light Hansa (PY3) and Green Gold (PY129).  Indian Yellow will allow me to mix a replicant of Sap Green when combined with Phthalo Blue.  Green Gold is a unique pigment which might be hard to mix.  And…I’ll try Yellow Light Hansa, upon learning that my Cadmium Yellow Light Hue is actually a Bismuth color…with questionable safety.

If I combine one or more of these yellows with Yellow Oxide and that with a green-leaning blue or a green, it’s very likely that I could get a good range of muted (and not-so-muted) greens which range into yellow.  For my darker greens, there is Chromium Oxide and always the possibility of the addition of Payne’s Grey or black (though I hate to use black, but it might work out if I add a little Phthalo color and then adjust the mixture).

As I look more closely at the full-res original of my photo, I can see that there is indeed a muted earth tone shining through the leaves; the dull violet “flower” looking things on the stems are actually calyxes that once held intense violet blossoms; and some of these calyxes have become a pale yellow-red color (as it seems they are developing seeds).

In Watercolor class, we would have used Winsor Red (Pyrrole:  PR254) plus Winsor Blue (Phthalo [GS]:  PB15) to make a dull purple like the one in the photo.  In acrylics, I have Cadmium Red Medium Hue (Naphthol:  PR170, + Arylide Yellow:  PY97) and Phthalo Blue [GS] (PB15).

To get the same pigment mix in Liquitex brand (theoretically…) I would need Pyrrole Red (PR254), which is going to be at least $11.  However, I have both color swatches open in two tabs now, and…there is not much difference.  The Arylide Yellow does show in the Cadmium Hue, as the Cadmium Hue is warmer and more intense, and the Pyrrole is more violet-leaning.  But only slightly.  When I flip back and forth between the color swatches, I can barely see a difference.

The added yellow will probably dull any violet mixed a slight bit more than the Pyrrole and move it a bit more toward a neutral or brown (I’m pretty sure that yellow and violet are complementary colors, which means they’ll cancel each other out when mixed, creating some form of desaturated neutral)…but I should be able to temper that by adding an actual violet pigment.

And who needs exact color-matching, anyway?  😛  Hehe.  I’m probably going to be changing the colors from the photograph, as it is; so I’m thinking it’s close enough.  Right now I’ve got muted yellow in the background, a dark shadowy area that I’ll figure out later (I can try Chrome Oxide + Phthalo + Mars Black?), shapes which are green leaning yellow, muted purple calyxes, muted yellow calyxes, and intense green shapes emerging from the center and bottom of the painting.


Think I’ve spent enough time on this…

Breaking back into Drawing

I’m thinking about using the blog format to help me be productive with the art stuff.  If other people can see if I’m being productive or not, maybe it will help push me to draw and/or paint.  I decided to draw today because it’s actually easier for me than painting…and I needed to lower the entry barrier.

Today I finally got tired of balking on drawing the little tomatillo I had picked up especially to draw.  I’m like, “what am I afraid of?  What’s the worst that can happen?  I won’t like the drawing?”  So I gave it a go.  This is my first study:

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tomatillo-1 by paintedstone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

I think that in reality, the stem was shorter.  (But no one is going to know that unless I tell them, right?)  🙂

There was a lot of squinting to try and read values as I saw them as versus as I drew them.  On the first one, at least, I think I got them pretty close.  Both of these drawings are in Cretacolor Monolith graphite sticks on a Maruman NEW SOHO series, Sketch pad.  I think the size is B5…but I’m not sure.

If you’re wondering about Maruman (I wouldn’t expect this to be a well-known brand in my circles)…I picked up this pad at a Japanese stationery store which is also known for its art supplies.  (It wasn’t cheap, though I must have taken the price tag off of it.)  The same place also sells Kuretake Tambi pan watercolors…but I can get to that, later.

I have yet to use this pad for anything other than what I did, today…but with graphite, the texture comes out really nicely.  Erasing an overworked area by rubbing with a soft putty eraser will kind of kill that, though.  (I may try dabbing instead, next time, to see if I can keep some of the texture and avoid sliding the graphite into the white areas.)  The pad does say that it’s suitable for watercolor, but I have yet to see if this is true.

The only thing I might protest to that came up today, is that in the future I may try and use a shitajiki (pencil board) underneath the drawing I’m making, so as not to dent the pages beneath.  A shitajiki is basically a slightly flexible sheet of plastic which helps protect the rest of the pages in a pad or notebook from becoming indented due to drawing or writing pressure on the top sheet.

I have at least one or two of these — somewhere — from the Japanese bookstore I go to on occasion, but they’re probably collector’s items, now, because of what was printed on them (one had scenes from an early episode of Neon Genesis Evangelion; I can’t remember whether the other one was Sailormoon or CardCaptor SakuraI’m pretty sure it was something that was trying to be cute, though.  😉

I could also mitigate the denting-underlying-pages problem by using a softer stick, rather than pressing more firmly with a harder one.

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tomatillo-2 by paintedstone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The above is the second study I did, because the first one came out well and I was planning to walk away:  then I questioned myself as to why.  So I pushed myself to try and do another rendition of this, especially since I’ve had this tomatillo for so long that it’s starting to brown.  😛

When I was starting this out I was like, “aw, man, this looks awful.  Maybe I should stop.”  But I pushed myself to keep going, remembering the lessons I had learned in Figure Drawing, going from basic shapes, to adding detail, to shadow-mapping.  First I had to plot a circular shape, then determine the center mark where the stem comes out and all the veins run to.  I redrew the veining a number of times, though it isn’t totally apparent in the finished drawing.  Erasing was minimal on this second drawing, though I did take out some of my guidelines.

I’m actually rather surprised at this drawing, because I was struggling so much with it at an early stage, and it actually may have come out more aesthetically pleasing than the first one.  The thing that I think may not have translated is the texture of the lantern-like husk on the outside of the tomatillo.  It’s really very angular, and because I was trying to achieve a likeness in form, a lot of the crispness of the husk got edited out.  The crispness does come through in the second piece more than in the first, though.

I also took a bunch of little tomatillo photographs.  🙂  Like the pumpkin in my avatar, this little thing isn’t going to last forever.  Most of the things I’ve drawn and painted will not last, forever; a fact which I’m learning by having my drawing subjects expire (largely fruit and flowers), the weather change; I notice everyone aging, etc.  It seems sometimes like everything is moving toward entropy:  a reason why I have recently questioned whether I actually want to avoid having children.  I know my genes are messed up, but family life is nearly all I’ve known (aside from my short stint in the dorms).

Ah, right:  that Kuretake Tambi stuff I mentioned, earlier.  These are full-pan watercolors which come in a number of differently-sized sets.  They’re fairly expensive, as well.  I’m thinking that they’re meant to be used in Asian watercolor techniques, which is the reason for the full pan (sometimes one lays the length of the brush into the paint, in the methods I know of)…though I only know a little about traditional brush painting, from what I’ve read in the Library.

The reason I even mentioned them is that, about a week ago, I took the little set of Prangs I got to the hospital so that I could sketch while others were seen by specialists.  I was actually fairly disappointed with the handling properties of these and their tendency to muddy when any orange or red tone was used.  I’ve mentioned the weak (i.e. not brilliant) reds in this set before; I guess now I can extend that to oranges; and it is just a pain to put what appears to be a mostly-clean waterbrush into red, and get some weird dull color out of it because the red can’t stand up to anything that isn’t orange or yellow.

After having gone on a little hunt last semester to try and find a workable less-toxic orange, my mind draws a parallel between the orange in the Prang set and Winsor Orange.  Winsor Orange greys down extremely quickly when mixed, although it’s relatively nice when used on its own.  The orange I was attempting to use in the Prangs just muddied quickly.  This could be user error (glazing orange over green or blue), or it could be a pigment issue; as even mixed with green or blue, I would expect a clear neutral, not a weird grey-brown-Idon’tknowwhat.

That said, the Prangs do work, so long as I’m not mixing or glazing or working wet-into-wet, too much, which kind of severely limits my options.  But I am thinking, what do I expect for a $12 scholastic brand.  When not using any advanced techniques, though (as I wasn’t, as a kid), they are useful.

I do have a little Pocket set of Cotman half-pan watercolors…which I can try and use for field work; though as I think I’ve mentioned, after one has used professional-grade paint, the Cotmans really obviously fall short.  There are at least two colors in that line, though, that I may use with an open mind:  these are the Cadmium Hues, because they’re not as toxic as the real thing (and therefore have an upshot compared to the professional cadmium [CP] paints they’re replacing).  I’m not sure if it’s worth it to get into why cadmium salts are bad; I’ve written about it plenty of times, before.

But the Cotman (student) line contains less-expensive, less-toxic, less-highly-pigmented versions of paints which are otherwise available in more-expensive, more-toxic, more-highly-pigmented (professional) versions.  😛  My basic problem is that I may be spoiled on the real thing and hence not want to use the student-grade paints, if I can help it (though I think Grumbacher Academy is a decent line, from what I found in the stash from 2009 — I haven’t tried these fully yet, though, so take that with a grain of salt).

My major issue is trying to find a way to carry watercolors with me which doesn’t have me taking out the giant Mijello Silver Nano 40 palette (as my paints may not adhere to the wells, leaving me with 20 reliable wells), which has many small wells for many colors, an ample amount of mixing space, and which is compact enough to carry with, say, a B5 pad of paper.  I’m really at this point not sure I’m going to find the perfect palette anywhere, unless I spring for the metal palettes filled with half-pan containers, which I’ve seen reviewed, but which I’ve never used.

Then again, maybe all I need to do is break-in the Nano; the surface does change a bit after it has been used to some degree.


Painting is relatively new to me; drawing is an old friend, though; so for me it’s much less intimidating to draw.  Right now, black-and-white is also relatively super easy as an entry point, as that’s what I’ve been doing for most of my drawing career.

Maybe I can try and move into the Progresso woodless colored pencils, and attempt to bridge out from there into Conté and pastel, and then into paint as the desire rebuilds itself.  (I keep doing this long enough, and it will; not even kidding.)

You know, I didn’t even think of it, but I can do some color thumbnail sketches for paintings in those dry media…

State Fair treasure trove

Today was actually a really fun day.  We went to the State Fair, and I came away with somewhere around 150 photos.  Most of them, to my untrained eye, I’m fairly pleased with.  Sorting through these, I was looking for photos which I would not mind sharing with the world.  (There are some which would make really nice paintings — or which, in general, are really nice compositions.)

Source for abstracted composition?

I…truly have little idea of what kind of plant this is, but the composition of the original photograph struck me.  I cropped it to a square format, for some reason (probably because I have a 30″x30″ canvas that…might look good with this).  As I was processing it to prepare it for the Web, I actually got a little inspired by this one, too!

I’m thinking of abstracting this so that I have a good value range, and can focus on the play of light and shadow.  Though, I suppose anything except photorealism is abstracted, a bit?

Hmm.  No one has ever really taught me how to work abstractly.  I have a book on it, but I think that probably the best thing to do is just try, and see what comes out.  After all, no one is making me work abstractly; and on top of that, I have no one convenient to teach me what abstraction even is, so maybe I should just set it as a goal to…not become a slave to the photograph.

In any case…I have a lot of photos to look through.  I know that one in particular would look great as a large acrylic or oil painting, and I’m fairly aware of which one of those I would try first!  😉  But because of that, I’m hesitant to post it here before the painting is done.  Although…I do suppose I could watermark it.

It is nice to have the time and finances to do this.  Unless I become a Professor, times like these are probably not going to be all too frequent, once I begin to support myself.

Or unless I do become an Artist…