October 9, 2008

I'm not ready

At 9:00 p.m. tonight it's supposed to begin snowing, and the weatherman says over the next two days we'll get nine inches of snow.


October 2, 2008

Portrait Process

Cele once asked me to describe for her my art process, and I figured this graphite portrait of my niece would be a good place to do so. I had to remember to take photos as I went, so that I could successfully show what I do to get a finished portrait from a blank piece of paper.

First, I have to either be inspired by an image or create an image I imagine in my head. I've only once created art from my imagination that I didn't use a reference photo for. If I want a portrait to turn out well, the reference photo has to be good and inspire excitement in me. I prefer to take my own reference photos, and so that's what I did when my brother-in-law called to commission me. He got the girls ready and I went over with my camera and we had a little photo shoot out in the back yard. :) Then we headed indoors to upload the photos and choose which one(s) were best, which we narrowed down to one favorite from each girl. Here is the one we chose for T:

We printed the chosen photos, then I took them home and got my drawing paper out and taped it to my drawing board. I measured my drawing to fit the frame and mat that we had chosen. Using the lightest (hardest) pencil I have (2H), I lightly drew in the outline of her face, measuring for proportion constantly as I went. Sometimes I have a direct size match from the photo to my drawing, as happened with this portrait. I freehand the drawing either way. I do draw one line through the center of the drawing horizontally and one vertically, so that I can verify that my proportions and dimensions are accurate. Some artists use a full grid system, but I don't have the patience for that much work, and they risk being unable to successfully erase the grid once they're done.

Since I'm right-handed, I tend to draw left to right to avoid smudging and smearing, which is a real risk when drawing on a board in my lap. Once I'm confident that my drawing is sound and is proportioned right, I begin shading in the background and face. I use a 2B pencil almost primarily for this stage of the drawing, unless the background or hair or clothes are black, then I'll use a softer, darker lead size like 4B or 6B.

I continue until I have finished, which I clean up using my kneadable eraser, and I sign it, then spray using a fixative varnish spray to prevent smudging. After it dries for a night, I frame it in the cheap frames I can afford. Sometimes the person who commissioned me has it professionally framed.

My beautiful niece, T.

October 1, 2008

Q&A - Art Questions

My friend Mark asks a ton of questions: "I am so jealous of your artistic talents. Was this something that you learned? Or were you born with this gift? Did you take art classes? Who influenced you? Were you the best at drawing in kindergarden? Have you ever finished an art project and then said "This turned out like crap?" What is your favorite art piece?
Does art require perfection? Do you have a favorite color? What is your favorite medium? Have you ever sketched a nude? Have you ever sketched in the nude? Have you ever done a self portrait? Have you ever done a nude self portrait? lol"

I loved art classes and drawing and creating things in elementary school and junior high, but it wasn't until I was in 9th grade that I took chorus and found that my discomfort at singing solos for my grade in class was bringing my grade down. So I switched to Art 1 and discovered that I could draw and paint quite well compared with the others in my class. It was something I never knew about myself, not really. It really gives me a sense of self-worth and joy that I thrive on.

I don't recall being the best at art in elementary school, but I do recall sitting in my fourth grade class with a classmate named Blossom who could draw these cartoon-like, stylish women in high heels and I longed to draw like that. So I'd doodle pages and pages of women: hands, feet in high heels, noses, eyes, lips. All from different angles until they looked right. Then I'd draw pages and pages of women. To this day, figurative art is my favorite and what draws my passion the most. In all my art from childhood that my mom saved for me, I drew women.

Anyhow, the only formal instruction I've had is in high school from one teacher, Mr. Cottrell. He was a western-type artist who loved doing nature and wildlife art. He taught me all I know and the rest I'm learning as I go. :) I'd say he influenced me the most of anyone in my art, because he taught me skills that help refine the talent I was born with.

Recently my brother-in-law commissioned me to draw his three daughters for my sister for their anniversary. While art does NOT require perfection, and sometimes mistakes are made that actually make the art better than I had planned first, with portraiture there is a bit of perfection required or else it won't look like the person I'm trying to draw. This happened with my second of the three. Halfway through, I realized this drawing is not looking like her, and I felt the need to give up and start fresh with one of my other nieces before I totally ruined it. I may go back and try to salvage what I started...but for now, that was one piece that just isn't turning out like I had hoped. That hasn't happened to me in awhile. Sometimes art that I'm creating just for myself turns out like crap, and I don't end up hanging it. I have a few canvases in my bedroom now that will end up in the garbage soon, once I get around to sorting through it all. :) (I'll post another blog post right after this one, to showcase my portrait process for Cele (since she asked so nicely) and show you what's kept me so busy lately that I haven't blogged very regularly).

I don't have a favorite art piece of my own (I tend to like them all), but the three portraits I'm working on are looking to be some of my best portraits so far. I don't have any one favorite art piece that I can point to, but I do have some I'm more proud of than others. I hope to take photos of some of them to share here on my blog. You can see some I'm proud of in my blogroll under "My Art" if you've never seen any of my stuff.

My favorite color is green, but I'm really a fan of all colors. My favorite medium for portraiture is graphite pencil (so I can erase when needed!). My favorite medium varies from project to project, depending on what style or look I'm going for. Some pieces of art scream "pastels" or "charcoal" or "oil paints" or "acrylics" and I listen to that or else it simply doesn't turn out well.

I have never "sketched" a nude, but have drawn one nude using a painting by Jeremy Lipking (God, he's so good) as my reference. I used a black pastel pencil and drew her and then gifted it to my sister Kate. Don't have a good photo of that drawing. I would love to take a drawing class with nude live models someday. I actually need to take that to grow as a figurative artist. I have never drawn in the nude. I probably never will, because I tend to get cold too easily, which makes me less likely to draw well. I can't recall drawing or painting a self-portrait of my face. I have tried a few times and let me tell you, it's very difficult to do.

Thanks for all the questions about my art, Mark. Someday I'd love to do more art. I have portraits from now til Christmas, then I hope to work on some ideas I've had rolling around in my subconcious for awhile.