Friday, June 29, 2012

Looking Ahead


Detail JD' eyes. In pencil: HB, 3B, 6B. Note the fine lines. I made them with my
ruler matching us what was lined up with what. 

I might have bitten off more than I can chew. For someone who has just decided that portraiture was my thing, jumping from head impressions to a full body painting, might be quite a stretch. The act of an egotistical maniac perhaps? Nevertheless, I'm pushing on with this. I can see the painting.  It may take me some time to get there, but slow and steady. 

JD lightly penciled in with an HB
I spent yesterday  rereading Paul Calle's book, The Pencil. The artist, a very successful  freelance illustrator,  did admirable pencil drawings with visible strokes. He considered the camera as another form of sketching and took many shots of his subjects and things he related to his subjects. From those he selected not one but selected pieces from this one and that that would go together to form a good composition. Then did many preliminary drawings of the elements and cut them out and overlaid them to form the final reference collage. I am of that ilk. I do think preparation is everything. So far I haven't done that.  My painting of my three men was boldly right onto the canvas. The adjustments I made there were made as the canvas dictated. For this one, I want to know exactly where I'm going and how to get there. So my plan is to spend my evenings drawing JD till I know every inch. Perched on that railing, his body weight has to be believable. His playful gesture has to be full of the cockiness that attracted me standing there in the train station at the zoo the moment he hopped up there and crowed.
A portrait by Paul Calle, pencil work
to aspire to.

Charcoal is a fast medium great for first impressions, pencil, not so. Slow and steady and calculated. Last night I concentrated on my grandson's eyes.

 Paul Calle died in 2010 at 82. He workshiped Degas. Like Degas, He believed that the camera was a valuable tool even though early on in his career, other artists frowned on that. He called his multitude of photographs camera sketches. He took many pictures from many angles. He also transferred sketches using his own graphite carbon transfer sheet: completely blacken  the entire surface of a piece of vellum using a number 4B pencil, (I used graphite sticks for this). When finished, dip a wad of cotton into rubber cement thinner and rub the entire surface. This step "removes excess graphite dust and leaves you with a fine, even graphite transfer sheet" to slip between the sketch and the final drawing surface.  I've used this method many times. It's very handy. But mostly I do like polishing my free hand drawing skills.It's excellent eye/hand coordination and helps develop your own judgement.  JD's  head is being done free hand.






20 comments:

  1. I don't know a thing about drawing, I am just in awe of what you do! JD looks great!

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    1. Thank you Judy. I can draw. That's the one thing I pretty sure about. I'm not such a great painter. That's need taming. I'm glad I'm getting back into the art community around these parts in August. I do hope to meet up with people like myself, with talent, but who haven't applied it till they were over the hill so to speak.

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  2. She's better at than she thinks, Judy.

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    1. You're an angel.

      Thanks for the reassurance. I do know I can draw--probably as well as you if I put my mind to it, but unfortunately, I lack the patience and fortitude to stick with it. Meanwhile you're making a living--and that's very attractive to me at this OMG retirement time. I like cash flow. I really do hate being out of work. Portraiture has a chance of being a job, but it might take too long to get up to par. And I do not like drawing people's pets.
      The only reason we had a dog was my mom wouldn't let me and my middle kid was afraid of them. So I got the biggest canine breed that got along well with children: Labrador Retriever, crotch high and very sweet. Let a stranger come near us though, and he had a scary growl and the power to break through the living room window to get at the mailman. When he had to be put to sleep, we didn't replace him. My son was grown and we didn't want the responsibility. I miss him.

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  3. Think I'll try to get hold of that book Linda. Sound interesting might try my hand at matchstick men :0)

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    1. Very funny. I wouldn't bother to get the book. You know all this guy knew. What interested me about him was the way he handled the pencil--roughly, more like doing pen work for reproduction, which is the business he was in. He designed and produced commemorative stamps of Americana. Blending was out because it doesn't reproduce as well as linear strokes. You know all about that. Calle's work was very good though. Highly detailed, just like yours.

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  4. I am amazed how much preparation you do before doing the real painting. But you got the skill and patience for it, I don't.
    Looking forward to see you getting started on the final painting.

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    1. I think this is a tough one Roger. I want to capture the vibrant, sassy youth I saw sitting on that railing all full of himself. How beautiful that was. At the moment, I'm content with getting acquainted. My hesitation might be fear, but fear is eliviated the more familiar we are with what scares us. So drawing for now. Then, I've decided to use a large canvas, 48" x 60," the one I started with Rain, which is really a photograph I don't really feel like reproducing; the photograph is good on it's own. That canvas needs to be gessoed and tinted. Any day now, is my plan. Once I hit the canvas with the paint, I'll be back to my care-free approach wiser of the pitfalls due to these studies. I'm sort of warming up for the game you might say.

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  5. Drawing is know the things, as Leonardo said.
    At some point of my projects I also drawing just for
    know the shapes.
    Your work,linda, is beautiful because you put into
    force, this force reaches the viewer.It strikes!

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    1. Drawn studies make for better paintings. You learn the forms and examine how the light hits them so that when you get to the canvas or the watercolor paper, you're more equipped to put the dashes and dabs of paint in with more accuracy. In this age of fast, that kind of thinking is probably very old school?

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  6. It is nice to see your daily progress...you are definitely getting there !

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    1. I'm not sure where there is Jane. I just know I want to really know the figure before I get into the paint and the pencil makes you more aware of value changes than charcoal which is great for overall impression. Doing the two mediums together is good preparation for something I've never done before. So I might be overly apprehensive, but at this point, I probably should exercise caution.

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  7. You've set yourself up for some challenges. I can hardly wait to see what you do, and how you critique your work! :)

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    1. You know it. I have a lot of nerve. You're going t have to wait a long time. I think I'll prepare the canvas, but won't paint this till after my workshop. I'm not that cool with oils yet.

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  8. Nice drawings - you are definitely doing what you are setting out to do. Very interesting watching you work - and don't worry, it is those that work hard that people later say is a genius, a natural, talented. Me - I think I would lose the spark with so much preparation. Neat about Mr. Calle.

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    1. That's why you do other paintings on the side. I call them relief paintings, painting for fun. Was it Edison who said genus, albeit raw talent, is but one percent the other 99 percent is sweat? --or something like that. It's the truth.

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  9. You are so smart to do the exploration of his face before you start painting. Once the brush is in your hand, it will be there - in your memory - and the brush will take over and do magical things. Can't wait. This is so interesting thank you for letting us watch your process.

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    1. Thank you Julie for your support of the cautious road I've chosen for this one. I could use a lot of magic in that brush.

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  10. Hola Linda, cuando puedas pásate por mi blog y mira la entrada del día 30 de junio. Saludos.

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    1. I'll stop by today. Now you've got my curiosity up. Good for you.

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