Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Season's Greetings!

Wishing you all the warmest greetings
for this holiday season!
From my hearth to yours,
Merry Christmas!
This is Copper, one of our five fur kids. I put up our Christmas tree and he instantly started chewing on the artificial needles. I scolded him and this was the look he gave me. Sort of a combination of sheer disbelief and "I am king, how dare you scold me!" .....priceless.....
Happy Holidays to everyone!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Harvest Moon

Les called me outside this evening to take in the moon rising in the night sky. What a beautiful harvest moon - weaving in and out of the clouds. I'm not much of a night photographer but a couple of the photos turned out. Our neighbors tree added some rich reds. And our soft maple has just a couple of leaves hanging on. Fall has definitely taken hold.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tree Stump

Sometimes it's relaxing to do a simple drawing. I have been wanting to do this old tree stump for a couple of years and I finally got around to it. About 10 hours on Fabriano watercolor paper.


Sunday, October 04, 2009

Trail to Lake Ediza

Here is an update.... the foreground has been layed in and surprisingly it ended up quite dark. I really didn't want the foreground to hold the viewers attention for long, but let it gradually follow the water up thru the trees and into the background.

Here is a small update as I didn't have much drawing time this week. Continued to work on the middle-area rocks, crevices and shadows. I've also sketched in the foreground rocks and placement of the wildflowers.

Expressive lines

At first glance of the scene, the cracks in the rocky landscape may "visually look" like nothing more than a line. But if you observe closer, you will see the irregularity of the crack or crevice. It will be darker and wider where the crack is more open and thinner and lighter where it is narrower. Closer observation and understanding of "what" you are looking at will help you determine that a straight and evenly applied pencil stroke will not realistically represent that crevice.

Let's take a focused look at a crevice in this rocky landscape. Here is a section enlarged. Mentally describe to yourself what you are seeing. "The ends of the crevice taper. There are darker shadows where the drop off is more vertical. The edges are not all smooth." This mental description will help you coordinate your eye to mind to hand dexterity. You will not just draw a straight line to represent it because you now know it's not just a straight line.

The more you observe, the more you understand what you are drawing, the more realistic your drawing will become.

The background is proving to be a challenge. Balancing the shadows and level of detail is so important. The scene is slowly coming together.

My son lives just 4 hours south of Yosemite National Park. Labor Day weekend, he and a friend went day backpacking through the Ansel Adams Wilderness just east of Yosemite. It was a tough hike, but they made it to Ediza Lake, camped overnight and then hiked back to Agnew Meadows. Matt got some really awesome photos for me. What a beautiful scene of my favorite subjects, rocks, water and trees!


Saturday, September 05, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Indiana Barn

Wip 8: Added a bit more shadow to the left and shaping of the foreground bush....

Wip 7: Shaded the face of the barn even darker, especially behind the bush and putting some detail back into the barn boards.Starting to define some of the grass in the foreground. The bush to the left if starting to be defined as well.

Drawing Stats:

the paper is mellotex

size: 7" x 8"

pencils: 2B and 4B 2mm clutch pencils

approx. 30 far

Wip 6: Really working on the deepest shadows to the right of the barn. Darkening that corner has really pushed the barn right out the page!

Wip 5: The background trees are adding depth to the scene...little spaces of sky peak through to keep the trees 'airy'.

Wip 4: Starting to take shape. I really like the splash of highlights on the left upper tree. And I'm starting to shape the trees in the background. I'm slowly texturing in the ivy and the barn face is deepening in shadow as well.

Wip 3: Again, I am really trying to force myself into creating dark areas and practicing some negative drawing as well. The entire left side of the tree will be deep in shadows...eventually

Wip 2: Working my way up the barn and into the shadows under the roof line. The holes in the edging of the roof line creates beautiful jagged shadows across the side of the barn.

Wip 1: Starting with a light outline of the barn and placement of the trees and bushes. I started in the center of the drawing where the most detail and contrast of values reside. My goal of this drawing is to work on tonal continuity/composition and really pushing the darks. I'm forcing myself to use some pretty dark/stark negative drawing to get me jump started.

This photo was one of the only barn shots I got traveling to Indiana....but what a shot it is! The lighting was great and the overgrowth of ivy incredible. This was is a true 'drive by shooting', taken while we were driving on Interstate 80 at 70 mph!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pushing into the Shadow

UPDATE: Sept 5, 2009

Diane: Using the 2H to burnish the dark areas, creates a nice rich and solid dark. What a great finish!!

Rick: I've enclosed the latest touch up effort using a 2H pencil and dropping the water into the wheel. Although I can still see area's that require additional touch-up I realize the for now the time has come for me to leave well enough alone and apply everything that I've learned from this drawing to my next effort.

Once again, thanks to you this drawing has been pure pleasure for me and I look forward to starting my next one.

Rick: I finally found the nerve to pick up the 4B pencil and give your "push the blacks" a go and I will be danged! "Henrietta began emerging right off the paper." Thank you much young lady! I may be an old dog but I see that even I can learn new tricks by paying attention. I still have a log way to go (I'm shooting for the moon) but as Neil Armstrong might say "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for Rick"

Diane: Wow....look at the difference!

Rick, a dear artist friend of mine, graciously shares his love of drawing landscapes with me. He sent me a drawing of his most recent accomplishment and asked me to critique it.

When asked if I could share this, Rick said “Posting the drawing along with your comments/improvements on your blog and on the DLL site would be terrific for me and certainly helpful for others. I am pleased that you asked.” I’d like to thank Rick for his generosity as this is an excellent instructional sample that others can benefit from.

Rick: “The below description of Mike and his instructions to you on drawing the hen really struck home when I remembered your critique of my water wheel drawing "Just keep pushing those darks. You will find a wider range of values to work with and objects will emerge with even more dimension."

"Every time he would walk by, he'd be gently coaching me to "go darker". This didn't really sink in until I started working on this final exercise. Henrietta is emerging out of a dark area and most of her body is in the shadows. As I started drawing the hen, I couldn't get this figured out. Mike stood behind me and kept saying "push the back of her body into the shadows". Through a leap of faith, I shaded the body into the shadows and like magic, Henrietta began emerging right off the paper." That was a terrific way to describe your success. I would love to look at my drawings and be able to see the same thing occurring.

Will you take another look at the water wheel drawing and apply your comment "Henrietta began emerging right off the paper." to my drawing?”

Diane: I love it! I can see that you are really enjoying drawing. This drawing has a beautiful feeling to it. The trees are so soft and atmospheric. I can see you are delving into the depths of shadows! Just keep pushing those darks. You will find a wider range of values to work with and objects will emerge with even more dimension.

Before I start, remember that I think your drawing is beautiful as is. Here are a few comments that I hope will apply the comment "Henrietta began emerging right off the paper." to your drawing:

This bottom area would also benefit from pushing into the shadows. There should not be delineation between the wheel and the shadows here.

Really work on building up the darks here. Use a 4B 2 mm clutch pencil and layer and layer. Use a clutch pencil with the sharpest tip you can make (something else I learned from the workshop! I bought a staedtler pencil sharpener on my way home!)

Be careful of obtrusive dark pencil strokes – instead “feel” your way into the darkest darks with circular or irregular small movements of your pencil.

Look at my exercise from Mike’s workshop…under the cart, the weeds behind the wheel. I kept pushing the weeds into the shadows.

Rick: I really appreciate you taking the time to look over the drawing and adding your comments. Now that you have brought certain things to my attention, I can readily see how these changes would add to the drawing, and I appreciate the fact that they will surely help me improve. That is exactly what I was looking for. I usually find that I am reluctant to go over a drawing once I complete it for fear of messing it up. This might be my one exception; however I will think about it a bit more before proceeding.

Diane: Don’t hesitate to practice on another piece of paper before making changes to the original drawing! You always want to draw with confidence as your hesitancy will be reflected in your rendition.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Drawing Old Weathered Wood

Close observation of old barn boards can help you see and identify common characteristics of old weathered wood. Adding these "clues" as you draw can help create a realistic rendition.

- knots in wood

- grain of wood

- weathering (lighter areas)

- small cracks between the boards

- the bottom edges of the boards are more worn and uneven

- nails and old hinges, etc.

While it is tempting to use blending to create tone on old wood, there is a better way. I use a 3 layer approach to drawing weathered wood.

Layer 1 - Using a B or 2B .5mm mechanical pencil , sketch linear lines to match the direction of the grain. These are the areas of the wood where moisture has darkened the wood the most. Also add in knots, grain patterns and "flaws" in the wood. Add all the dark cracks or dark spaces between the boards using a 2B or softer lead. (rich blacks are recommended in these areas)

Layer 2 - Using a 2H chisel point on a 2mm clutch pencil, burnish a layer of graphite over the board. Use a firm even pressure in the same direction as the grain of the wood. This creates a light even-tone over the wood without losing any of the detail previously sketched in.

Layer 3 - Add any additional dark areas on top of layer 2. I like to add a few horizontal marks to "roughen" up the texture of the wood. Also, using a tacky eraser to drag in some highlights to create weathered areas can be done at this stage.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fire Sky

Les and I were dining at one of our favorite restaurants downtown, Hessen Haus. It was a beautiful evening so we were on the patio and the sun was setting. Les told me to look over my shoulder and this is what I saw....the Des Moines skyline was on fire! Actually the clouds were reflecting the sunset....these are the real thing, no alterations in photoshop!
It lasted for only a few minutes and then it was gone. I just so happen to carry a Nikon Coolpix camera with me all the time.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sibley Workshop Exercise

This is the final exercise Mike presented to us during his recent workshop.

Well, I'm coming to an end here. I've spent the afternoon experimenting with the weeds. I keep pushing them into the shadows and playing with some of the light highlights. (it's really such a cool technique!)

After two weeks, I am almost done. I've darken the facial features on Amy and pushing the rusty wheel under the cart and into the shadows. The plants are taking an unbelievable amount of time. I am focusing on the negative space between the leaves...working dark to light.

Louie, the cat, is peaking out amongst the weeds and Amy is starting to take shape.

Adding the wheel and weeds behind the dog, Amy.

Adding in the wood:

Mike tailored his instruction to each student's artistic skill levels. Since he is familiar with my artwork, I think he knew exactly what he wanted to emphasize to me. He really worked with me to understand the importance of pushing the darks...and I mean really push the darks. Everytime he would walk by, he'd be gently coaching me to "go darker".

This didn't really sink in until I started working on this final exercise. Henrietta is emerging out of a dark area and most of her body is in the shadows. As I started drawing the hen, I couldn't get this figured out. Mike stood behind me and kept saying "push the back of her body into the shadows". Through a leap of faith, I shaded the body into the shadows and like magic, Henrietta began emerging right off the paper.

Sibley Workshop - Indiana

August 7-9 - Sibley Drawing Workshop - Indiana

It seems that anytime I converse with someone regarding my drawing journey, the name Mike Sibley always seems to be spoken. If there has been one individual who has influenced my development as an artist, it has to be Mike. He is not only a fantastic graphite artist, but he is also my web designer, my mentor and has become a very dear friend over the years.

I had the distinct pleasure of attending a drawing workshop presented by Mike in Goshen, Indiana. I finally got to meet Mike and his wonderful wife, Jenny.

The workshop was held in a unique venue. An old bag factory has been turned into a collection of specialty shops, galleries and artist's studios. We had the 3rd floor of this old warehouse as our gathering.

We had 12 artists participating in the workshop. So we received a lot of one-on-one attention from Mike. Here is a group shot of us all. There were several folks that I have conversed with on-line that attended so I felt as though I was meeting "old friends". Carl Wilson and Richard Fuller were amongst those. Amanuel is a another artist that I spent some time talking to as well.

My husband, Les, wandered around the workshop videotaping and taking snap shots. He was on his best behavior and I think enjoyed himself immensely just taking in the 'artist' scene. Les and Jenny explored the amish countryside and even took in an antique car show at the fairgrounds. Here is a photo of Jenny, Les, Mike and myself.

Carl Wilson, Les and myself hung out one evening and shared a brew at local pub. Carl lives in Maryland and had a 10 hour drive.

A public gallery reception was hosted Saturday night. Mike has several of his original drawings on display. I have a couple of his prints, but it was a special treat to see his original artwork. Images on-line and prints just do not compare to seeing the originals....seeing every pencil stroke and the incredible detail he obtains.

Vincent Whitehead and his wife Cheryl made a special 3-hour drive from Ohio for the opening reception. Vince is a pen and ink artist that shares the same love of landscapes and old barns as I do. Here is a link to his incredible artwork:

The workshop was amazing. Mike spent quality one-on-one time with each artist. He covered topics of pencil techniques, textures and negative drawing. Mike's workshop is truly for artist's of any skill level...from beginners to well-seasoned artists. He assesses each artists skills and tailors his instructions accordingly.

Here is a shot of Amanuel, Mike and Carl. Mike is demonstrating how to draw hair.

I'm sitting next to Carl in class and that's fun too! We are helping each other as we do the exercises. It's tough to teach an old dog like me new tricks, so Carl is catching on quicker than I am! Carl is to my right and Mike is trying to explain to me to "DRAW MUCH DARKER"!!

Negative Drawing - This is challenging and amazing stuff! Finally the light bulb is lighting up! We were all working so hard, you could have heard a pin drop.

The last day of the workshop was dedicated to practice all the techniques Mike presented the previous two days. This allowed us to really absorb and test out our understanding of creating textures and negative drawing.

One of my most memorable moments was having Mike stand behind me and coach me as I was drawing. Mike gently repeated the phrase "push the subject back into the shadows." Then trusting his advice and watching things just appear on the paper....pure magic!

We finished the day with hugs and good wishes.

For me...this has been an experience of a life time. To have the chance to meet and work with Mike has been a dream come true. That I would ever have the opportunity to meet Mike Sibley in person!

I have to share one more thing...Sunday was my 50th birthday and Jenny bought a birthday card and had everyone attending the workshop sign it. Les bought a birthday cake and the group sang happy birthday.

Thanks for the bestest birthday gift ever! The gift of friendship.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Chain Maille Chess Set

My son, Matthew, just completed this chain maille chess set. He has spent approximately 500 hours over the past 2 years creating the individual chess pieces and chess board. The rings are aluminum, copper and black anodized aluminum. The framed artwork is approximately 24"x46".

He is extra creative and decided to frame the chess board to save table space. The shelves are glass and he hand polished the edges smooth.

He has this at his office and there is a continual chess game going amongst his co-workers.

This is truly an beautiful and unique piece of functional artwork. Not bad for an aerospace engineer ( aka rocket scientist!!)

Detail of chess board:

Sample of the knight and pawn pieces:

One set of chess pieces: