167. Lines

Every now and then an outstanding artist and instructor shows up on the scene.  When they write books that are accessible and practical, it’s even better.  Alphonso Dunn is one such person!  He has a personal website, a YouTube channel full of information and wonderful tutorials, and two fantastic books.

The workbook was published after the simple guide, but is used in tandem with the exercises found in the workbook.  Besides using the two together, head over to YouTube for a really great set of instructions.

Today, rather than paint, I finally sat down and did some exercises from Dunn’s books.  The exercises were on lines – direction, shape, shift.  It takes a bit of patience and time to understand what may be going on.  I had to think about how I had my pad of paper, how far up or down my fingers were on the pen, whether to use my fingers, my wrist, or more of an arm movement.  In many ways, doing these exercises made me think of learning printing and cursive back when I was a sweet young thing.  Lines, repetition, thinking about how to do things, and doing them over and over.

Skill is bought with repetition – but repetition of itself is rather dull.  Rewards sure help!  Thus, a few drawings – one of a hat from Dunn’s book, and one of a Christmas cactus on my patio.  In each, I used straight lines, or slightly curved ones.  I thought about light and dark, repetition and straight or curved lines, or placing more lines over ones already laid down.  

To aid with the line studies, I ruled pencil lines onto my sketch paper.  It helped.  Sometimes I also drew vertical lines, or extra horizontal lines, either in pencil or pen.

Nothing like a pen in hand to make me happy!  Altogether a pleasant way to while away an afternoon.  I shall continue!

160. Winter Sparkle

winter sparkle

After a fresh snow, an icy snow or blizzard, the day is filled with sparkles when you look against the sky.  In photography, it’s easy to capture – line up the sun, the light, move around, and you get it.  In painting, though, it’s a totally different thing.  How to express that sparkle?  I tried to capture it in the upper left corner by dabbing in colors of blue and black and bits of ink – did it work?  I don’t know.  On the bits of snow in the lower left, small dots of blue to represent shadows on the white snow.  Perhaps that is a bit more successful.

Pen, ink, watercolor, limited palette.  Wet on dry.  Ink on paper.  Ink on painted paper.  Wet into wet.  A morning mish-mash, but every day I am trying to do something with ink or watercolor.  Not always successful, but an everyday activity from which a lot can be learned!

159. Joshua Tree

Joshua trees are a strange and wonderful plant.  The US National Park Service runs the Joshua Tree National Park, which is now closed because of the government shut down.

Joshua trees are amazing.  You see a flat desert, and then these odd plants, which are members of the yucca family, popping out in all sorts of strange and eerie shapes.  Driving through the southeastern part of California, along the Pear Blossom Highway, they are everywhere.  David Hockney immortalized them both.  Be sure to take time to visit the park and drive the highway when you are next in SoCal.

147. In the Woods

Inktober is done and gone . . . this past week I’ve been sewing like a fiend, last night there was a mass shooting down the road from us with a thirteen people killed and eighteen wounded – more –  there are fires to the east and west of us, and the wind is blowing like crazy.  There is peace in ink.

143. Inktober 25: Prickly

Today I present you with the teasel.  These plants were once harvested to make carding brushes for wool.  They were mounted on wooden boards when dried, and the wool was placed between the carders, and combed  or brushed back and forth until the clean wool was aligned, ready to be spun.

After I initially posted the ink-only drawing, I decided to play once more with the InkTense pencils.  This time I mixed colors together, such as a red-violet and a blue to make the lavenders of the flowers, and yellows and greens and browns in different areas before applying a small amount of water with a water brush.  I’m not sure if I am happy with the colored results, but you never know how something works until you try it, right?

141. In the Park

I refilled a pen with some Private Reserve Copper ink, a water soluble ink, to see how it works as a sketching ink.  The pen is an Aurora with a medium nib, one which I like to use when I need a broader line.  For some reason, maybe it’s just me, but the pen is not writing quite like it did with a different ink.  (Hey, maybe it’s the ink!)  The idea is to see how well the ink blends into the watercolors or affects the colors themselves.

From what I can see, it just merges into the paint without polluting the clarity of the colors.  If you look at the trees on the left, you will see a lot of lines representing the directional flow of the bark.  In other areas, I used the pen to outline white spots or fallen leaves.  In the background, you can see the outlines of the tree trunks.

Besides just playing with ink, I am trying to use simpler swaths of color in my painting to convey a sense of depth.  I struggle with depth – and maybe it is because I don’t have any depth perception – and too often I think my paintings are rather flat in appearance.  Luckily, there are “rules” out there to help me, such a lighter colors in the distance, which I do see.  I just don’t have a sense of dimension.

I wonder how many people really do have eyesight problems – just recently I read that Da Vinci may have eye issues, having one eye which turned outward.  Degas, too.  Others?  Interesting thought.