Month: March 2022

7 – 11 / 30

I got behind! So here we go – the 30-day challenge.

Day 7

I found some grey stock when rummaging around. Graphite and white chalk pencil on grey paper.

Day 8

More of the same media as Day 7. This is a glacial lake with snow. Does it look like it or not?

Day 9

I like this one the best out of this series. It looks like it is supposed to be – a chicken!

Day 10

A candle, and back to graphite on white paper, just like Day 9.

Day 11

The soft melted wax dripping down the side of the candle for Day 10 made me think that perhaps some fabric would be another good exercise in soft surfaces in pencil. Again, graphite on paper.

And there we are – caught up. I couldn’t get to anything until this afternoon, so a daily drawing was not possible. The 30-day challenge is to do as many images, up to 30, in 30 days, but without the caveat that it has to be one a day at the most. In a way this really made for a sort of evolution in the drawings. Day 7 and Day 8 had the same idea – grey paper, graphite, and white chalk. It had its good points, but I think I prefer the graphite on white paper. The midtones are more easy to think about. I think these two studies helped make Day 9 as good as it is. From there, two subjects I never have considered – the candle and the fabric. Both work and don’t.

Again – how will I translate these value studies into color??!!

6 / 30

Day 6

I think I am getting some of the points of this course and the usage of pencil to create value studies. First, I changed simply to an HB pencil and a smooth paper with a tiny bit of tooth. The bristol was too smooth a paper and the 2B and 4B pencils just smudged too easily despite my best efforts.

The teacher, Roberts, speaks of structure, rather than subject or detail, as the purpose of these drawings. This means masses of value, not picky details. The details can come in the painting, more so as it becomes larger. The value studies help sort out directing the eye to the point of interest.

The white cliff across the water is the focal point of the drawing, and, ostensibly, the painting. To lead the eye there I vignetted as one does in photography, but this time with graphite. The corners of the drawing are deliberately darker. A sort-of cloud or fog bank is light against the sky in the distance. I tried to use the pale reflection of the cliff in the water to draw the eye as well. Finally, I reworked the piles of sea weed and flotsam to aim the viewer toward the cliffs. The same can be said of the vegetation on the land above the cliffs.

I am beginning to get more comfortable with this approach to painting using a value study. 30 days of value studies is changing my eye and thought processes. Hopefully it will pay off in the future.

Thirty Days

I just finished a course on drawing as a preliminary to one on brushwork, and then color theory. Between will be challenges, and the challenge between drawing and brushwork is a 30-day challenge to do small, preliminary sketches in pencil.

Day 1

One of the things I have enjoyed about the course, taught by Ian Roberts, is the development of drawing as a preliminary to a painting. Initially, as in the first few weeks, shapes were simple and the point was to carve out space on a 2D surface to create a 3D image. We ended with a challenge of doing one such sketch a day for 30 days – or however many sketches we could do. I have time to do 30, so 30 it will be.

Day 2

I never do value studies, but I admit to laziness and impatience on my part. So, I decided that I needed to do something which will shake up my approaches to painting. As well, values are always hard for me to see as color always gets me. Roberts says, “Color gets all the attention but value does the hard work.” Or something like that. So true!

What I have enjoyed in particular is how Roberts approaches composition – leading lines, horizontal, verticals, and all leading to the focal point of the picture. I think I am getting that. The direction of the pencil lines indicates, too, the vertical, diagonal, and horizontal. Brush strokes can indicate the same.

Obviously the first picture has some verticals – and things we expect to be vertical, even if tipsy, such as the fence posts on either side of the road. The second one, a picture of low tide at a local beach, doesn’t seem to have any verticals except in the cliffs. But wait! The lines of the ocean and beach are nearly vertical – something I never considered until Roberts pointed them out.

I admit, I am curious how I will get my black and white studies onto a painted surface in color, but I guess that will come with time and practice. All told, I will be in his class through August, and I hope by that time to see some improvement.

Winter at Jalama Beach

Where have I been these last several weeks? Busy with online classes in drawing as a prelim to painting and hand sewing 18th century stays. So, I have been doing things, but have had so many other distractions that I have not been too active online here. So, today, a gouache, just because paint needs to be used to feel like a normal person.

Jalama Beach is in San Luis Obispo County along the central coast of California. It is a strange, remote beach. Winds blow the sea foam onto the sand, and it can look like very dirty snow. The first time I came here was in my teens – a long, long time ago. Then you could get abalones just by picking them up, and the beach was littered with their shells, big ones easily 8-10 inches in diameter. (Tasty critters, I will say.)

Winter time brings erratic tides, scudding clouds, and wind that can blow fierce and cold. Sandpipers and gulls wheel overhead as the wind beats you back. The wildness of the place is something that anyone who has been to a lonely beach can understand. I think I caught it (for myself at least) here.