Thursday, June 29, 2017

Recent Drawings

 Untitled, 2017, charcoal on paper, 14 1/2 x 6 inches

Drawing continues. I have found a new love and respect for it that keeps me coming back.  I'm still trying to teach myself how to work with charcoal, a medium I decided many years ago was not the right fit for me.  Too messy, blows off the page, can't control the gradations of shades unless you are using some sort of blending tool which can then also kill the texture of the paper.  All this made me rule it out when I was in college, but recently I have come across the work of contemporary landscape artists who work with charcoal and the effects they achieve are beautiful.  So I decided that if they can do it then so can I.  There is no staying away form all the different types of blending tools if you want to get some soft atmospheric effects.  Brushes, stomps, paper towels, fingers; I even saw a video of this guy in Europe who sprays his drawing with water in between layers to help him move the charcoal around.  So what do we think about this one?  I say I need more work but not a bad start.    
 Untitled, 2017, graphite on paper, 14 1/2 x 6 inches 

After charcoal I needed to go back to my comfort zone which is graphite pencils.  I love the softness I can achieve as well as deep tones.  Pencil will never get old for me. 
 Untitled, 2017, graphite, oil sanguine pencil, pen on paper, 14 1/2 x 6 inches 

I do enjoy working with oil based sanguine pencils, they are similar to a color pencil but with less wax/oil content.  One thing I have noticed about modern day sanguine pencils, either dry or oil based, is that they are all a cool red.  I prefer a warmer red, pushing towards a rust orange.  Think Renaissance drawings...if anyone knows of a sanguine pencil that has this sort of hue please let me know, I would love to get my hands on some. 
Untitled, 2017, graphite and pastel on paper, 14 1/2 x 6 inches 

Pastel pencil has been okay to work with, it tends to get a little difficult like charcoal but the end results are a little better.  I'm really digging this vintage feel I get with ochre and brown, throw in a little graphite pencil and you get a nice drawing.  I think I may explore it some more.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Plein Air Sundays

Sunday painting at the park continues, and every time I'm there it's hard to believe how peaceful it is by the lake. 
Our painting excursions are starting to attract other painters.  Recently Kyle joined us, and on that day he made a really nice watercolor and gouache sketch.  
Charles continued working on a canvas he started on a previous session, his goal is to paint bigger and to keep going back to the same spot to see  how far he can take one painting. 
Another Sunday and a different area of the lake.  This section of a bridge could barely be made out due to the density of the foliage, but through the magic of painting you can change that and omit things that get in your way.  Wish I had that power in real life.  
Charles brought out a larger canvas that day...boy he's really making my little dinky canvases look bad!  But you try to navigate the NYC subway system in the weekend when everybody is out and about and tell me you prefer a large canvas?
I look so intense when I paint!  Maybe this is why people tend to leave me alone when they encounter me painting, to be honest I prefer it that way.
If only the mosquitoes and other bugs would leave me alone the way people do.  This little corner by the lake was hot zone for all the little critters and I was their feast.  Can't forget to bring bug spray next time! 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Seeing Nature

This is a little late but I just came across this group of videos about the recent traveling exhibition Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection. The last stop of this exhibition was the Seattle Art Museum (February 16 - May 21, 2017), and previous venues included the Portland Art Museum, The Phillips Collection, Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the New Orlean Museum of Art. Thirty nine works spanning five hundred years were the focus of this exhibition, and the roster of artists was a list of the most famous artists in Western Art. The exhibition may have come to a close but these short videos are interesting and informative, especially the video that deals with the conservation of the works. Keep an eye out for the Thomas Cole painting, I geeked out when they showed the back of his painting!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Christmas in June!

Preliminary sketch submitted, this one got me the gig

Last week I received a commission with a reputable advertising/branding/publishing company here in NYC.  The task at hand is to create a Christmas card for their clients with the theme of Cape Town and included in the design there must be a Christmas tree.   
Did I forget to mention the image must be executed in watercolor?  The clients are keeping with the tradition that every year they have an artist come up with a watercolor design for their cards, in the last couple of years the images have become more complex and they feature their love of travel.  Each year is a new place and a new obsession. 
This gig is straight up my alley! I love to travel, I paint, and I love let's do this thing!
It didn't take long after receiving word that I was chosen out of four finalists for me to take out most of my watercolor boxes and begin playing.  I have to be honest, it felt good to have all my paints laid out on my kitchen counter ready to work hard.  
Work hard we did!  On the first night I went to bed a little after 1am, but it didn't matter, I was on a roll with the first sketch.  
On the second night I finished the first sketch and began the second one (pictured above), on this night I went to bed at 3am.  Talk about being obsessed. 
Day three and work continues on the second sketch.  This time I'm starting to get into the groove again. It's been so long since I've worked with watercolor, I forget how beautiful of a medium it can be. 
Day four and by now I have moved on to the third and final sketch to be presented.  Another 1 or 2am. session.  Long nights of hard work paid off, I am very happy with the designs, but as with any commission it is not your vision that matters most, it's the clients', so I'm crossing my fingers I don't have to make too many changes.
So much for crossing my fingers, before the clients could see the designs I was asked to make a revision on the first sketch.  Back to the drawing board, or my kitchen counter to be exact, and one more night of little sleep!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Recent Monotypes

Leaning Tree, 2017, monotype, image 6 x 8 inches, sheet 8 1/2 x 11 

On May 20, Salmagundi hosted an all day monotype party, and of course I could not miss it.
Leaning Tree, 2017, monotype (ghost print), image 6 x 8 inches, sheet 8 1/2 x 11 

As usual it's a race against the clock even though you have all day to print; it's amazing how quickly time flies, especially when you're having fun!
Siluetas, 2017, monotype, image 6 x 8 inches, sheet 8 1/2 x 11 inches

This year I have been approaching my monotypes a little differently.  I have been coming up with the compositions on the spot, making it up as I go.  But on this occasion I went back to my sketchbook for ideas.
Siluetas, 2017, monotype (ghost print), image 6 x 8 inches, sheet 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

I have not been sketching as much as I used to, after this monotype party I think I have run out of material…yikes!
Manzano, 2017, monotype, image 6 x 8 inches, sheet 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

Not to worry though, part of being a creative type is that I'm always ready for more challenges, and trying to come up with more sketches exploring different compositions is definitely one of them.
 Manzano, 2017, monotype (ghost print), image 6 x 8 inches, sheet 8 1/2 x 11 inches 

This ghost came out beautiful.  Sometimes it's surprising how a ghost  can read better than the original print.  The subtleties are more apparent while having that hazy atmospheric effect that can sometimes seem mysterious or mystical.
Al Borde de un Bosque, 2017, monotype, image 8 x 10 inches, sheet 11 x 13 inches 

I'm sad to say though that I will be missing Salmagundi's all day draw-a-thon / monotype party this coming weekend.  It's ok, I'll be in the Hudson Valley collecting more inspiration for more prints.  Stay tuned.