Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Sketch On and Sketch Some More

My sketchbook keeps getting filled with ideas, some of these are becoming more detailed, so much so that I think they are more like finished pieces and will not get turned into prints or paintings.  But yah never know...
When people see my sketchbook they become mesmerized by it, I've been told many times that it is an object that deserves to be displayed like a finished piece.  I've been asked if I would even sell my sketchbook.  The answer to that is no, I'm attached to my book and all it's content.  Way too personal to let it go.  I get why people love looking through its pages, I also love looking at other artists sketchbooks and become mesmerized myself.  Speaking about books and sketchbooks I recently got in the mail this cool book "Meyer Schapiro Abroad: Letters to Lillian and Travel Notebooks."  Some of the architectural drawings in it are just exquisite!    
Another recent treat I got myself is a new Faber Castell Loom Fountain Pen in a shinny gun metal finish.  Not only does it look super sexy but it also glides beautifully.  I think I'm in love.
Just look at it, you can't deny how sexy this pen is!  
The new pen led me to pull out another fountain pen I've owned for two years but never used.  This one by Jean Pierre Lepine is a model called Winston and is shaped like a cigar…pretty cool if I do say so myself.  I got new walnut ink for it, I thought it would go nicely with the brown color of the wood body.  Now I get to play with two fountain pens with different colors.
As much as I love my fountain pens I still can give up my UniBall Vision Elite pen, and so I go back and forth. My pen collection keeps growing, the pouch in my back pack is too full and it will not hold any more!  I tried a new case for a couple of days but it was too bulky and it did not hold as many pens as it should, mostly because it was designed to hold pencils and not pens, which tend to be a tittle thicker.
My solution to the bulky case is THIS!  I made this hand stitched leather case for my beloved pens.  Everything is more compact and more stylish than the big boring black case.
I made this case in two nights, I figured out the size and how I would execute it in bed right before going to sleep.  Like a crazed person I was cutting leather late into the night.  The following night while watching random Netflix movies I stitched it up and voila! I had a new pen case for my lovelies.  I know you may be wondering where did i get the leather?  I have a lot left over from that one time I decided to make my own sketchbooks.  I never get rid of things because you never know when you may need them.  Stay tuned for more sketchbook stories.  

Saturday, July 21, 2018

100 and 1...Frenchies?

Last summer I wrote a post about a commission I had been given to execute a watercolor design for a Christmas card.  This year I have been commissioned again by the same clients and I have been working hard to deliver the image they have in mind.  The commission changed a bit last year to include a portrait of the clients' French Bulldog Peter.  This year we are sticking to the same theme with more of a focus on him.   
The idea is to have the little Frenchie share a surfboard with a Christmas tree while riding a big wave. 
 The pencil sketches above are the preliminary compositional sketches to determine what would work best.  It was decided that I should combine these last two sketches into what would be the final image. 
This is the first take in full color.  I'm very proud of this wave, I looked at Japanese wood blocks for inspiration and I think this has some of that essence. 
Moving on to a second take.  Changes needed to be made to the dog, but thank God for the magic of Photoshop I did not need to recreate the wave.  I only had to paint Peter, the tree, and the surfboard and they will get dropped in to the image of the wave. 
I just finished working on the third take, more changes needed to be done to the dog.  I had to make a few more sketches to be able to get it right. 
This is the third revision on Peter and I believe this will be it, cross your fingers that this is it!  I will be submitting this image for review on Tuesday, let's hope I meet the clients' wishes.  Thank you for reading this blog and I hope your dog days of summer are splendid. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Sketching Some More

Ideas for prints and paintings keep flowing into my Moleskine sketchbook.  Seems like I have also begun to enjoy a sketching session with a nice cup of Joe and a pastry…how French of me!
I try to sketch as much as I can, while sitting in the train, waiting at the doctor's office, in my down time at work, and even at a few thousand feet up in the air.  It's not a matter of when inspiration will hit, it's a matter of developing a work ethic and keeping the brain entertained and sharp.  My mom regularly says that the brain is another muscle of the body and that it needs working out just as much as your biceps.  And you know mom knows best.
See, what did I tell you about the coffee and pastry?  This sort of thing can be problematic, specially in the sumer when you have to watch what you eat to be able to fit into that favorite bathing suit.  Can't wait until the fall and winter, this afternoon ritual will taste so much better with a slight chill in the air.

These are a couple of videos of a drawing in progress.  The second video was taken during my train ride to Connecticut…I never waist time. 

While I was in Connecticut this past weekend I visited the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum, a place I know well from my youth.  This is the place where I saw my first Caravaggio, my first exhibition on Caravaggio and his followers, and my first exhibition on Impressionism.    This museum has a lovely collection and it is hard not sketch some of the paintings in the galleries.
I'm trying to get better at sketching the figure using a pen, the last time I tried drawing from life using a pen I failed miserably.  For now I'll stick to sketching figures from old master paintings, the models will hold the pose for ever and I can take my sweet time trying to figure things out. 

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Sunday at the Park

Bennine Water Waterfall, 2018, oil on linen, 11 x 15 inches

Sunday at the Park was a great Broadway show, Jake Gyllenhaal did a great job playing the obsessed role of George Seurat, but this is not a post about that show.  I'm here to talk about my Sunday at the park (Prospect Park) experience and my own obsession with capturing this landscape.
It's hard to believe this was my first time going out to paint this year.  There have been too many distractions in the weekends, I was beginning to get impatient about going out there to get some work done.  Finally I took my chance and blocked out this past Sunday as my painting day…no distractions please!

As always Charles joined me, unlike me this guy does not get distracted, he works hard and is constantly drawing and painting.  The idea was to paint a waterfall that was secluded from the main parts of Prospect Park, but upon finding the spot we were so angry to find out that the park has been fencing off many areas that used to be open, such as the little rivers and streams.  We made our way down following the water towards the main lake and found this spot with a lower fence.  We could set up right on the fence and be able to look over it.  This waterfall was smaller than the original one we intended to paint but it was nice none the less.
Sunday was a hot one, temperature reached almost 100 degrees and humidity was high.  It was so hot my oil paint was melting and running on the palette, there was no need for medium since the paint was liquifying.  But we are no strangers to this sort of climate and so we pushed along until about five in the afternoon.  I was able to cover most of the canvas by the time we were done.  The image above show the painting half way done, this may have been around 2pm.
My handy dandy palette, how I have missed putting it to use.  It was like seeing an old friend without missing a beat.
This is what I was able to get done in the five hour session.  Not bad considering the fact that I felt like I was melting.  Last night I stayed up late and finished this painting which you can see at the beginning of this post.  I can't wait to get back out there, stay tuned for more paintings.  

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Monotypes: Catching Up

Untitled, 2018, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, sheet 11 x 8 1/2 inches 

I'm going through all my prints trying to choose the best ones for an upcoming monotype pop-up exhibition I will be putting together with fellow painter and printmaker Robert Szot.  I have so much work it is beginning to feel overwhelming, and in the process of figuring things out I realized that I fell behind on posting said work on both this blog and my website. 
Untitled, 2018, monotype (ghost print), image 8 x 6 inches, sheet 11 x 8 1/2 inches

So now I'm playing catch up, slowly uploading work on both sites, who knows maybe this may help the process of choosing a good and cohesive group of prints for this show. 
Moonrise IV, 2018, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, sheet 11 x 8 1/2 inches 

No specific details on the pop-show as of yet, only that we are shooting for September and we are looking at the Lower East Side of Manhattan for a venue.  Soon as more information becomes available I will be posting it on here. 
Moonrise IV, 2018, monotype (ghost print), image 8 x 6 inches, sheet 11 x 8 1/2 inches 

For now, I present here some prints done a few months ago.  As always thank you for following my work and my "up to's."
Nubloso, 2018, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, sheet 11 x 8 1/2 inches 

Nubloso, 2018, monotype, image 8 x 6 inches, sheet 11 x 8 1/2 inches

Monday, June 04, 2018

A Touch of Sanguine

Meet my little wood drawer of sanguine pencils which I have been collecting for many years.  After sitting in their little confined dark space they have seen the light and I don't think they are going back in for quite some time.
Sanguine, and earthy red colors in general, have taken center stage in my drawings, a welcome change since I mostly stick to graphite pencils.  Recently I worked on a drawing using a red/orange ochre watercolor from a set I hand ground, finished off with some graphite to define shapes and add depth.  
Untitled, 2018, graphite and watercolor on paper, 14 1/2 x 6 inches 

The finished product is this piece which I admit was a very freeing experience.  I let the watercolor run and do its thing and then pulled shapes out of it until I arrived at this composition.  The use of watercolor with other drawing media is not a new concept, for hundreds of years artists have been using this technique, but I have never tried it myself.  It's a new thing for me and I think there will be more of this approach to drawing in the near future.
Back to the sanguine pencil.  Again this is not a new material, artists have been using red chalks and sanguine pencils for centuries.  My first taste of art as religion was when I came across a Michelangelo drawing for one of the figures in the Sistine Chapel, and as you may have guessed, it was done in a red chalk.
As I mentioned earlier, I have a preference for graphite pencils because I have better control of the material and I love the subtleties of tone I can achieve and how vibrantly sketchy it can be when you want it to be.  But thanks to the recent Michelangelo drawing exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum I decided to give this drawing tool another go.  
Untitled, 2018, oil pencil on paper, 14 1/2 x 6 inches 

I must admit, I think I'm mastering this thing, perhaps not like Michelangelo, but better than my past experiences.  Besides, I don't think anyone could get to the level of the Divine Michelangelo, he was one of a kind.   
Speaking of Buonarroti, and his contemporaries, the drawings they were doing then were created using a natural red chalk, which over time it came to be known as the color sanguine because of its resemblance to dried blood.  These natural chalks had a warm orange intensity which I love, but it has been very hard to find something in modern drawing materials that would resemble it.  I think the modern counterparts look more like dried blood than the original chalks. 
Some of my pictures here make these drawings seem like they have that orange vibrancy, but the fact is that most sanguine chalks and oil sticks these days are either darker or cooler in tone.  Last year I was using Faber Castell sanguine oil pencils but I disliked its pink color.  
Then I found Cretacolor's sanguine oil pencil and it was closer to the orange earth tone I like.  All manufactures use different red earths to make their sanguine pencils, trying to find one that comes close to the natural red chalks of the Renaissance can be very tricky.  Although I'm enjoying this Cretacolor sanguine I'm still on the look out for a warmer tone.  If anyone out there knows of a brand or two that has the color quality I'm looking for please leave a comment and share the wealth.   

Untitled, 2018, oil pencil on paper, 14 1/2 x 6 inches 

In the meantime, I leave you with recent drawings and their process photos…all this talk about red chalks and sanguine is giving me an idea for a follow up post…stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Moleskine Sketchbook #5

In the early years of this blog not only did I used to post more often, but I would also post a lot about my painting process.  One of the fun things I used to do once in a while was to post about my sketchbook, a tool which has become extremely important to my work in the last three to four years.  So today I'm doing something fun and posting about my current Moleskine sketchbook and how it keeps me company where ever I go in case inspiration hits.   
My sketchbook goes with me everywhere, doesn't matter how far it will always be with me.  Sketching in the train while commuting to and from work can be fun, I found that the motion of the subway as it rolls in the tunnels can help me make some interesting and energetic marks.  It's also sort of cool to have it out for people to see, you never know who is watching. 
If I'm not feeling like painting and find myself stuck on the couch watching TV, this guy comes out to keep me and my cup of tea some company.  This also tends to alleviate some of the guilt I might be having for not getting any work done in the studio.   
Since I began working on monotypes my sketchbook has become an extremely important tool.  About 90% of all my landscape sketches now are done from imagination, working out mostly compositional ideas for future monotypes.  I only get to print about once a month and my time at the press is limited so there is no time to waste, I have to be prepared with a number of sketches to work from. 
If I'm  not working from imagination I'm working from reference photos of places I have been to, like this drawing which is from a snap shot I took in Ireland a few years back.  Ireland...talk about inspiration! 
Not all of the sketches will end up as monotypes, some are ideas for paintings such as this drawing on the bottom.  In case you are wondering, this one is from imagination. 
Nothing like enjoying the day with a glass of wine, sunshine, and a sketchbook on hand. 
My faithful Moleskine definitely comes with me to the museum.  I'm so lucky to live in a city full of world class collections, the Met. and Frick being two of my favorites, and there's nothing like sketching from all the beautiful works of art on display in the galleries. 
The other tool that's always at hand is my pen.  Almost all my sketches are done with a black pen, these days I'm using Uni.Ball Vision Elite.  I'm not sure when or how I came across this pen, all I know it was love at first sight, or should I say mark.  The reason for using pen was out of necessity.  After purchasing my first Moleskine sketchbook in 2006 I quickly realized that the paper was too smooth for pencil.  As a matter of fact the paper almost rejected the graphite and would transfer over to the facing page, which was not good when all the drawings lost their details and became big smudges.  Since then Moleskine has changed the paper to something lighter, not as yellow, and with a little more tooth which makes it suitable for pencil work.  But over the years I have bought so many Moleskine sketchbooks that I'm set to working this way for a long time. 
Oh, and the Cappuccino and Chocolate Croissant at the beginning of this post was so good. 
For older posts on my sketchbook click here