Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tuesday Tips #1: Men WITH Hats

Hardcore fans of 80s pop music will understand the title. For the rest of you, sorry you missed out on the Safety Dance.
On Instagram I follow an account called studio and pleinair that does a weekly "Tuesday Tips".  They gather tips from artists around the globe and share them for others.  Recently they asked viewers to kiss the butts of the artists who share these tips. (No lie it's right here kiss butts here).  I'm not going to ask anyone to do that but I'm going to try to do my own Tuesday Tips here. I'm still not sure I want to even continue this blog but if I do I'll start here with one post a week.
So here's my first Tuesday tip(s), practice makes progress.  This year I learned something valuable, if you're not good at something keep doing it. For example, I'm not good at painting clouds.  Before I would avoid them, put the horizon line near the top so I wouldn't have to worry about painting the clouds in. Cover up the sky with trees and buildings, all sorts of things like that. Finally I set myself a goal to do 1,000 cloud studies.  Sounds like a lot but the clouds change so quickly you can easily do 20  thumbnail sketches of clouds in one afternoon. After doing about 200 I got fairly comfortable with them. I learned a lot in just that small amount. Small compared to my final goal. I still have a lot to learn but from the studies I've done I'm comfortable enough to not shy away from them anymore. Now my goal is to improve my skills at drawing people wearing hats. I want to work on a specific project that involves men in hats but there's a problem, I'm not good at it. It takes me a really long time to make it look right. Drawing people isn't easy and drawing them in hats is less so. There is no magic pill that makes you instantly good at drawing people in hats, trust me I checked. So the only thing to do is to draw as many men in hats as I can until I feel comfortable with my abilities. I set a goal and even made a sketchbook with a set amount of pages in it specifically for this. One hundred pages of men in hats. Thank goodness for the insane amount of western movies out there I have enough reference material to get me through this goal and if it's not enough there's an endless amount of westerns that I can draw men in hats for the rest of my life if I want. 
This is page two of my sketchbook I made in order to reach my goal. I hadn't realised how bad my posture was until I scanned this in. This is what happens when I sit at my drafting table and sit on one foot, everything goes at an angle. Here's where my Tuesday Tip comes in and I call it, Nothing Comes from Nowhere. Sounds stupid, but so many young artists believe the opposite. They see someone, who's been doing this forever, pick up a pencil and start drawing something, something from nowhere. Or so it seems. It actually comes from somewhere, their long hours of practise. When you first learned how to ride a bike you may have had training wheels and they were taken off once you got comfortable with what you were doing. Same goes for drawing. Don't feel embarrassed if you have to draw in guide lines in order to construct your drawings. You can think of drawing like cooking from a recipe. The first time you try a new recipe you may check it several times. You measure the ingredients carefully  and follow the recipe to the last instruction.  After making the same dish a few times you get comfortable and you look at the recipe card less and less. Eventually you no longer need to look at the recipe card and somewhere down the road you even put your own spin on it by adding some new spice or something. This is how we learn to draw. We first use our forms, or scaffolding, to help guide us.  Then after several times of drawing similar subject matter we gain confidence and take off the training wheels or put the recipe card away.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Just Keep Swimming

Went out to Lake Geode to paint today. The lake has recently been drained in order to perform some maintenance, which hopefully includes the removal of several tires that are currently stuck in the mud. Hiking along one of the lesser known trails there were a bunch of dead fish and several swarming eagles. It seems as though when they drained the lake they left some of the "undesirable" fish to fend for themselves and the shallow creek they found is basically a shallow grave. These fish probably won't make it unless there's a monsoon in the forecast.
My friend John and I set up our easels and started to paint. We both brought watercolours today, the easiest medium to travel with, thus we were able to hike on that lesser known trail. Unfortunately the watercolours weren't drying very fast today. In between waiting for paint to dry we were discussing my previous post about Victor Lundy. He was telling me how it reminded him of a documentary he watched about the "Ghost Army". Here's a short article about them with a couple of sketches done by Victor Dowd. "Design a Tank? Yes, a Fake One"  It references the movie that John mentioned and here's a link to PBS with a trailer and more info on the group.
Aside from being amazed at their talents my take away is that it's amazing how in such horrible conditions these men were able to be creative. Think about it. Today people feel as if their world is going to crumble if the internet is down for five minutes and they just can't cope. These men were in war torn villages, where buildings were destroyed and people were dying and could still pull it together.  After seeing what these men achieved there's just no excuse for not getting the work done.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Take Off, Eh!

Ink on vellum 
Last night I came across an article that prompted me to come out of early retirement.
I originally had this really long rant typed out about people who sit around and say they're going to do something vs. those who actually do something.  I deleted it because I figure it's a waste of time. Plain and simple there are just those types of people who would rather sit around and talk so they can hear the sound of their own voice and there are those who will let their actions speak for them. But for those who are teetering, for those of you who haven't yet decided if you're a person of words or a person of action, here is the link to the article that inspired this post. http://mymodernmet.com/victor-lundy-wwii-sketchbooks/
This is a short article with several pictures of Victor Lundy's sketchbook. When I first read the article and looked at the pictures I was in awe at how great and how young he was. Then it hit me.  How often do you hear someone yammer on about how they'd like to get better at something and then make the excuse that they don't have the time? Oh, I'd like to be able to paint like so and so but blah blah.....SHUT IT!   If this man could find the time to sketch while bombs and bullets were flying past his head then you have no excuse! It's just proof that if you really want to get better at something you'll find the time.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Dog Gone

5x6 watercolour sketch
This is a farewell post. Just wanted to thank all of you who read my ramblings and nonsense and even left comments. It's time to let this thing go.  I'll leave the blog active for another week then shut it down so fill up on all of the ridiculousness that you might have missed. Thanks again and take care.

The vanishing point

Here's a trailer for this Monday's movie, The Vanishing Point, or Ce Que Mes Yeux Ont Vu. It's a story about an art historian.  At first it seems like the storyteller wants you to believe Lucie has some sort of sixth sense and can get in touch with the feelings put behind the paintings. She's on a mission to uncover a mystery about the artist and at first she's given full support from professors to pursue this, then for some reason one tries to stop her from uncovering any more information about this particular artist. Could it be perhaps because it's ridiculous?  Seriously, why can't a painting just tell it's own story, why does one need to reveal all of the scandals and whatnot of the artists' personal life? Aside from all of that nonsense it's a good movie, especially if you enjoy a good suspenseful mystery. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Factory Girl

Your movie for this Monday is Factory Girl.  It's a movie about Edie Sedgwick, played by Sienna Miller, and Andy Warhol, played by Guy Pearce, and what her life was like as Andy's "muse".  I put muse in quotes because this film doesn't so much portray her as a muse, as we've all been told she was, but more of a whipping post for pretty much everyone. I just recently watched this film, like last week recently, because I don't know anyone who enjoyed this film. It turns out that maybe people didn't like this film because it shows Warhol as a huge asshole and a bit of a sadist. He really was all about himself, according to this film. It sort of makes him look like the David Koresh of the art world. Really, those two were quite similar. Mediocre talent, but had the persona to sell an umbrella to a fish. I enjoyed the movie, not all of the acting was great, but Miller and Pearce's performances saved it.
If you're interested in a little info about the Bob Dylan/NOT Bob Dylan character in the movie you can read about it here. The movie is available to stream from several places like, Youtube, Google Play and Amazon.  It was on Showtime last week so if you subscribe to that you can probably find it there. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Campbell's Soup of Art School

Marigolds 4x6 oil on panel
Sharing some more words of wisdom with you today.  These words come from a book I picked up at the Half Price Book store called, "Art School How to Paint and Draw" by Hazel Harrison.  I picked it up because it looked "elementary".  Every once in awhile the local art association asks me to give an after school class and I really enjoy doing them so I thought it might have some good ideas for kid friendly classes. Turns out it's kid friendly and anyone who wants to learn about art and the materials.  Seriously, don't judge a book by its cover. This would actually be a great book for any of those self-proclaimed "self-taught" artists as it is like a condensed version, or crash course in college art courses, or the Reader's Digest version of art school if you will. At first when I started reading it I thought to myself, this feels like work, but it occurred to me, DUH, art school was work not just goofing off like some people probably envision. The author makes you work for the lesson, lets you think for yourself and gives great examples.  Here's an excerpt from the section on watercolour. After reading the last sentence you'll see that it doesn't just apply to watercolour. 
"For some reason watercolour has attracted a more comprehensive- and often inexplicable- lists of dos and don'ts than any other medium.  People feel that there is a "correct" way of working and that any departure from this constitutes a kind of unfaithfulness to the medium.  For example, we are told that we must never use opaque white because it will spoil the lovely translucence of the colours; while good painting aids such as masking fluid are described as "mechanical" and therefore in some way immoral.  Eyebrows are raised if you try anything new-it is simply not done.  Interestingly, all these theories of correct procedure have only sprung up in this century, while the more rigid rules surrounding oil painting were the product of 18th-and 19th-century academic tradition and have since been largely abandoned. The best 19th-century watercolours, particularly those by Turner, reveal an enormous variety in the methods used, as well as many practices which might be frowned upon today.  Turner used opaque paint; he moved the paint around on the picture surface and allowed colours to run; he smudged paint with his fingers and even scratched into it in places.  In short, he used the medium as the servant of his ideas rather than the other way around."