Went to see Picasso yesterday. Traffic was terrible both ways. The exhibition was very crowded. Had to take a nap when I got home and then met my son and new daughter for a birthday dinner. Not a moment for drawing. So here is an older drawing to make up for it: a beautiful model in a chair donated to our art department by a friend of mine.
Eating bad food at the airport is as much fun as waiting for a flight or flying and now it costs $50 to check a bag to and fro. Flying has become a test of character. Airplanes are flying sardine cans. We need high speed rail.
I have opted to contribute to a drawing-a-day group on FaceBook. This is day one and my first contribution. This is a chair from my dining room set. I inherited the set from my mother-in-law. it is a licensed design from a great Danish modern designer from the late 40s. The designer is Finn Juhl. The set was made around 1960. It's a deceivingly simple looking chair but, as I started to draw I realized that it is not that simple. There is hardly a straight line on it. Every element has a curve in it. I think it is a very beautiful, well proportioned chair. It's also one of the most comfortable chairs to sit in.
This is Tom, a former student of mine who models for my life drawing class now. It is nearly midterm. I have recently presented to my class the anatomy of the head and shoulders. So this what I drew while they drew. I have to stay out of their hair somehow.
Most beginning figure drawers are terrified of hands, feet, and facial features. The only way to get over that is to draw hands, feet, and facial features early on. In knowing that practice is the route to skill, not having unrealistic expectations also makes the process less daunting. Practice for excellence, not perfection. Whatever the hell is perfection, anyway?
I always have the feeling that I am flying by the seat of my pants when I teach this course. It seems much more fluid in terms of levels of skill. I have to be prepared to revise my plans depending on skill levels and degree of progress. I find my figure students are much more skilled and, gratefully, much more dedicated than my basic drawing students. I think that is as it should be. Figure drawers/painters are usually more practiced and, as a natural consequence of that, more dedicated to developing their abilities. If someone has worked enough to have a certain degree of skill, it is evidence of an equal degree of dedication and work. Repetition is the key to learning. If a student does not have the determination to learn from a lot of failure, that student gives up in frustration.
What I consider my favorite work is no more than 10% of my production. Another 20% might be acceptable for show. That means the remaining 70% is tucked away or culled in my annual clean out of work. (I have only so much space to store my stuff.) Some work is saved because it has a certain resonance for me in that it has a certain importance for my future work. It may never be shown but I save it as a document of my process.
Late last year I had to take my mother to the emergency room. She has a history of gastric problems and it was suspected that she may have had an intestinal blockage. It turned out that she didn't but it seemed to take forever to come to that conclusion and deal with her problems.
My mother's patience for waiting was stretched to it's limits. My mother is close to 98 years old. She says that, at her age, she doesn't have time to waste waiting around. She wanted to get dressed an go home without the doctor's release. This, after waiting for nearly two hours and with a resolution imminent. I told her she would have to call a cab because I was not going to take her home without having what was needed to be done, done. Besides, if I had taken her home, she would have been back in the ER that night with me sitting up with her. Then she'd tell me she was worried that I was not getting any sleep. Go figure!
If you have been following my blogs, you know I always have my sketch book with me for those times when I have to wait. It helps pass the time. In instances like these it also helps with managing my anxiety levels. So here is my mother on an uncomfortable ER gurney trying to doze through the interminable wait.
Class begins again on Monday. I am teaching Basic Drawing and Life Drawing once again. This drawing was done a couple of semesters ago. It is a technique called continuous line. You put your drawing tool down and don't pick it up until you finish the drawing.
This could have gone on longer to establish a full value drawing by going back over areas and massing the line for a full value range. That would add more information like shadows or the degree of darkness of blue jeans of the dark color of the drawing board, the variation of value on the floor, etc. It's really the preferred way to work. It allows building the whole drawing at once.
This drawing was done in the same airport waiting area as the previous drawing. My subject was busily texting on her phone just a few feet from me as I drew. She had no idea I was focusing on her. I find that most people are totally oblivious to what I am doing. I don't take any special measures to keep it from them. I just draw. Once in a while I will have someone right next to me peek over my shoulder to watch me draw and then make a comment when I am done. But that's rare. Most times my subjects and I go in our separate ways with no one knowing the wiser.
This was done last spring while waiting in the airport for a flight on the way home from Florida. A lot of times I choose people deep in conversation or texting to draw. They stay still for longer periods of time. I managed to catch her and her surroundings.
I do some of my best work in such public places when my subjects are completely unaware of my scrutiny. Airports and restaurants are the best. People are too preoccupied to notice my sketching.
The next post will be a someone too busy texting to know I've drawn her.
I just bought a new stylus for my iPad. It's a precision stylus that gives the exactness of a real pen. It's just to difficult to get a mark in exactly the right place with my finger or with a rubber tipped stylus.
I also bought another drawing/painting app. I looked up what app David Hockney uses and it's Brushes. I like it best so far.
This is my husband working on a crossword puzzle. It's not a likeness but with new tool I figure I can't have everything just right the first time it's used.
I'm also posting this from my iPad for the first time. I'm checking it out for my trip to Utah. I plan on posting daily if I can get a wireless connection. I am also curious as to how how the formatting will work out. I am fussy as to how I want my blog to look. I am not proficient with HTML coding so I have accepted some of the idiosyncrasies. I am at home so I can check this post to see how it looks and alter it if necessary.
While in Florida last March we went on a sunset water tour of the marshes. This little girl was on the boat with us. She was very busy interacting with family. Naturally little bundles of energy like this don't stay still for long but long enough for these two portrait sketches.
This was done while waiting for my eyes to dilate during my annual visit to the eye doctor. After the drops for dilation take effect, he checks a freckle behind my left retina and then I'm done for a year. It's extra dark sunglasses for the trip home.Drawing is my best activity for waiting.
This was done a few weeks ago. The model we had scheduled for my life drawing class did not arrive so we went out into the lunchroom to draw whoever was hanging out between classes. This young lady was busy texting.
The text mavens are all very good to draw. They are so intent on what they are doing they remain very still. It's almost a trance state. I don't really know how healthy all this digital activity is for them, but it's good for me as an artist.
My mother is almost 97. She has been complaining for months about a sore shoulder. She made an appointment with an orthopedist regarding her shoulder. She needed an x-ray for that visit. One was scheduled for her without anyone telling her she was to visit the radiology department before seeing the doctor. We wandered around the hospital complex first trying to find the doctor's office and then we wandered around trying to find radiology. We waited about 35 minutes for the x-ray. Then we waited for another 35 minutes after returning to the doctor's office. The doctor told her she had three options: a shot of cortico-steroid into her shoulder, a surgery to replace her shoulder, or do nothing. My mother decided to do nothing. Someone please tell me again. Why did we visit the doctor?
I am a magpie of a sort. I like shiny things. I love working with highly reflective surfaces. It's a fascinating process translating what I see to the flat drawing support. The iPad is very suitable for the task. I can select brushes with soft edges and adjust the degree of opacity which makes it the perfect tool. But, I am still very much a traditional materials girl. I get lost in the process and forget about the layers which can be manipulated. There are no layers like this with canvas and paint.
This is another attempt at iPad painting. I am really enjoying it. The color is so intense especially with the luminosity of the iPad. I understand why David Hockney insists on exhibiting his iPad paintings on the device itself. The luminosity would be lost otherwise. Sharing these on the internet also preserves that though some monitors can render these rather garishly.
This is a favorite subject matter of mine. It is not necessarily the the actual objects that are the favorites. It's the polished surface. I really like painting them. It's a lot of fun. Painting with the iPad is a lot of fun too. I recommend it. It's more fun than game apps. I only have one of those and that's enough for me.
This one the first iPad paintings I did with my iPad. I have been switching back and forth between two different apps. I still have not decided which app I like the best. Both have their advantages. It's easier to save and share images with one than the other. But it is not as easy to change brush attributes on the fly. So I am still making my assessment. I know I will gravitate to one or the other and use it exclusively. It's just too difficult switching once the software becomes familiar.
Another iPad practice piece. It's back to basics in learning to use the iPad app. Spherical fruit fill the bill. I still have to use the layers more effectively. Right now they have elements that are spread out over several layers when they should be placed in a more discreet manner. Practice on!
After all my kvetching yesterday that the iPad still felt mediated to me and I needed more practice, here is more practice. Sometimes I do do stuff that requires deleting and starting again but I am getting more accustomed to the methods of working with layers.
Today is a good day for such things as we have a winter storm warning. Since I have no reason to go outside, it is best to stay indoors today. This is the view out my patio window onto my deck. A star of my summertime paintings with its now dead plants are enduring the winter until spring rolls around. Then a new batch of plants will take up residence for another summer. Hopes for spring are eternal.
This lady was waiting in the same spot as the lady from the previous post. This is all I could catch before her car was ready and she left. The auto dealer's waiting room has free wi-fi so you can surf the internet while you are waiting for you car to be serviced. That's kind of nice! Though an iPad is a new toy for me and I can make sketches with it, I prefer to have my low-tech sketchbook with me and draw with more traditional materials.
All the high-tech stuff can be great when it works well. It seems that I am still more drawn to centuries-old means of recording images. The touch is not the same with the iPad. As flawless as the iPad is, I still have the sense my drawings are mediated by the technology. I have a stylus for drawing because my finger will obscure the exact position I want to touch. The stylus is not much finer but it allows me to see where a mark will go more easily. A ballpoint pen and paper just seems better. Of course there is no erasing with a pen but I think the ability to easily erase is a stumbling block to drawing. Better to make correction right on the paper so as not to inhibit the rhythm of the drawing process.
David Hockney has been making a big splash with iPad drawings. And they are beautiful. I guess I just need to practice more.
Since I have been on winter break, I have been taking care of things that need to be done. These are the things that get put off while I am busy teaching. I had to take me car in for an oil change and, as usual, while I waited, I made drawings of some of the people who were also waiting.
This lady came in all bundled up with her face covered by a surgical mask. I don't know why. She gave the impression she had a cold and she was covering herself to keep from spreading it. If so, I appreciate her conscientiousness. She may also be one of those people with a compromised immune system. Whatever the reason, she made a good model for my drawing.
The auto dealer had a television in the waiting room which she watched intently. That distraction kept her quite still for me. I was even able to draw her hands with interlaced fingers with some accuracy. I usually end up with twelve fingers when hands are posed that way. The complexity makes it very difficult to tease out all the relationships when the hands are interlaced and time is short.
I know I have been singing the praises of my iPad drawing apps but it can't match the touch of a drawing tool on paper. I can't do massed line drawings like this on the iPad. The precision of a sharp pointed ball point pen is just not there. I know the iPad drawing mavens will jump on me for that statement but right now it's my truth of the matter. Maybe I just need more practice.
Once again I was in the dentist's office waiting for my mother to complete and emergency visit to repair a fractured filling. This helped pass the time. There is just something evocative about chairs. They are stand-ins for people. They have arms and legs, backs and seats. They can be as varied as people and as ubiquitous as people too. I have been drawing and painting chairs for years. Whenever I am at a loss for subject matter I go back to them. They always deliver.
I am continuing my play with my iPad. I made this as I usually do with a watercolor. It comes directly out of all the visits to Door County to paint with a group from my college. This is a reflection of what I saw when I awoke every day and fell out of bed right onto the beach! Not hard to take is it? It's so ingrained in my memory, I can make all kinds of variation on this theme. It's a lot of fun.
I bought myself a new toy. I bought an iPad. I have been having serious iPad envy for some time now and I finally succumbed. I have been playing with the drawing functions. It's going to take some time to really learn the ins and outs of this. I am having trouble with the lack of precision of my finger tip. A stylus is not much better. But, I think I can master this. This one of my first keepers. I have had at least ten rejects preceding this modest success.
This app has layers. I need to make more effective use of them. I have such facility with painting that the layers and the constant adjustment to the "brushes" slow me down. I'm just used to laying down washes one after the other. Now I have to formulate a new strategy. It will be fun.
The older I get the less patient I become. I don't know if it's because I am more aware that my time on this earth is finite or if it's because of the nature of our media. It's flashing edits and continuous interruptions have made my attention span that of a two year old. All I know is that I hate waiting.
When I have to wait I keep myself busy with sketching. It fills the time. The magazines in the reception area have become so inane that I don't want to bother with them. So drawing is a better way to occupy myself. Then I have something to share on by blog. This little drawing is the result of a recent visit to the dentist.
However, I have made it a rule that I will only wait for fifteen minutes and then I reschedule and leave. My time has some value too. My dentist is particularly delinquent. I know that he encounters complications that may require more time but to leave clients sitting in the waiting room without notifying them is inconsiderate and rude. So I refuse to wait anymore.
There is also the issue of forms. I hate filling out forms. I remember returning to a doctor within a week for a follow-up visit and the receptionist handing me the same epic novel-thick stack of forms that I had just filled out only a week before.
"It's policy." she said.
"My policy is I'm not filling them out again. Nothing has changed in the last week", I said. I felt very proud to have refused such nonsense and to have saved some trees.
I did this very quick drawing of a young man studying over his lunch while I was grabbing lunch between classes. There are a lot of likely subjects during lunch time. It's all grist for my mill. It's amazing how picky I can be over the kind of ball point pen I use. I don't like roller ball pens with gel inks. They are just a little too fast. It seems some light resistance make for a better feel.
Some pens have excess ink gather around the tip. That makes for a messy looking drawing. I think the cheap stick pens are the best for me. I have more control over the heaviness of the line. It's all about personal preferences and the preferences are about very subtle differences.