Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Moleskine Sketchbook 6, part 1

A new sketchbook has been underway since Labor Day weekend, and so far it seems like I'm filling it faster than previous books.
I'm trying a variety of pens, branching away from my usual black Uniball Vision Elite pen which has been my trusted companion for years.
Regardless of all the new pens I've been purchasing since last summer, nothing feels better than the one you've grown accustomed to.  There is nothing new to figure out, it always performs the way I want it to.
I did find this pen though, the Pentel Hybrid Technica, a gel pen with a fine point that just glides on the page.  The big plus is that it is black pigmented, bleed proof, water and fade resistant.  Any pen with water resistant ink is ideal since recently my water bottle opened in my bag and spilled all over my sketchbook.  All the pages were wet, but thanks to the pen I have been suing none of the actual drawings were damaged. 
I will be posting more photos of this sketchbook as I continue to fill it up.  Actually, most of my work now is mostly done in the book, especially since it has been getting some notoriety on Instagram.  If you are not following me yet then I suggest you do...I tend to update that account more often than the blog. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Southern Colorado

Southern Colorado I, 2018, oil on linen mounted on panel, 12 x 12 inches

It has been a strange year when it comes to painting.  I know that I spent a lot of time in the studio, but I don't have much work to show for it.  I have been doing a lot of drawing since last year and 2018 was the year of the sketchbook, mainly because I saw that my sketches were becoming extremely popular on Instagram.  Trying to give people what they want I lost focus for a bit, but since the end of summer I picked up my brushes again and began a series of three paintings. 
Southern Colorado II, 2018, oil on linen mounted on panel, 12 x 12 inches

I worked on these landscapes simultaneously as I raced my own clock to finish x amount of paintings by the end of the year.  I think I'm on track so far, I guess we'll see once Dec. 31 arrives.  I have been wanting to do some Colorado paintings, the place where my husband grew up, a Colorado that is far from the picturesque ideal of what people think when you say the name. 
Southern Colorado III, 2018, oil on linen mounted on panel, 12 x 12 inches

Over the years we have visited a number of times, and it always hits me every time we land; Southern Colorado is a very harsh, dry, expansive place.  I hear that it used to be more green perhaps fifteen to twenty years ago, climate change has bestowed upon this area of the country drought.  This has caused the land to be very arid, as if this desert place could get any more dry.  To a person who grew up in the North East, where lush tall tress grow and the landscape tends to be very green in Spring, Summer, and part of the Fall, Southern Colorado can feel like Mars.  There is always a deep sense of loneliness when I look at this landscape, the vastness of it all can feel suffocating yet free.  From time to time this area is awarded some moisture, and green can begin to creep in on the pale grey brown of the ground.  It's almost like a little glimmer of hope that one day things will get back to the way they used to be in a not so distant past.  These three paintings are my first takes exploring this landscape, and what it means to me as a painter with no emotional attachment to it and experiencing its expansive dry geography.  As I visit more in the years to come and become intimate with the place it will be interesting to see how my views change about Southern Colorado through my paintings.         

Friday, November 16, 2018

Missing Summer Fun

Summer loving had me a blast, summer loving happened so fast...and fast it was!  As usual summer comes too late and goes too soon, I'm missing those warms days of fun painting at the park or painting poolside. 
Yesterday NYC was covered in slushy snow, most of the city was not ready for it causing major delays and the shutting down of Port Authority.  Many trees throughout the five boroughs were downed due to the weight of the snow, which is too bad because this city needs as much green as possible.  I say the only acceptable chilly thing that needs to be downed is a nice glass of Martini. 
This summer we got to stay at a friend's East Hampton home for a long weekend, and as usual with any long or short trip I bring things for me to work on.  I have a problem with sitting idle, my hands need to be busy all the time. 
I was able to get some watercolors done, it's been a while since I put this book and watercolor box to use and boy did it feel good.
There's also nothing like waking up to a nice cup of tea, sunshine coming through the window, and yes some painting.  As I sit here typing this post with chill seeping into my bones I look at this image and feel the warmth of that sunny day wrap me up like a blanket. 

The three watercolor sketches above were done that weekend in East Hampton between swimming, laying down under the sun, and taking in some libations.  Not a bad way to live right? 
I miss sunny hot days, I feel like I'm at my happiest during summer months.  With winter now upon us I cover myself up in many layers and patiently await for warmer days to come. 

Friday, October 12, 2018

The Last Few Pages, Part 2

It's #inktober on the Gram and everyone is posting their ink drawings on a daily basis.  So I thought why not bring it to the blog world and do the second post of the last few pages of my Moleskine Sketchbook No.5.  During the weeks leading up to the Sugarlift event I began sketching subway riders as a way to prepare myself for it.  It was fun while it lasted, and also very frustrating.   
You think you have a perfect candidate to drawn and shortly after you begin the sketch they get up and leave.  This one I had to finish from memory, not bad I guess, but would have preferred for this guy to remain seated while I finished drawing him. 
This guy remained in his seat long enough for me to get some of his feature but my gosh did he move around...a lot!  It's hard to capture fidgety people, and also it's hard to draw people while others are staring at you.  Sometimes it made me feel like a creep, forcing me to close my sketchbook to hide the proof that I have been watching someone else.
Then you have the "sleepers" which are the perfect catch, if only they also would stay still.  There are some who don't move while they sleep, then there are those who in their sleep swing from front to back and sideways, or like this guy, just changing their position every few minutes.  Even though he moved a lot it was good to have him in front of me as reference during my half hour train ride into work.
For one of the last few pages I went back to drawing trees.  I had free time one afternoon after work and I walked through Central Park, and while admiring runners I came across this tree and I couldn't resist the urge to draw it.  I only had time to get some of the outlines done before I had to leave, but it was enough to get something going. 
I finished that tree drawing from memory poolside at a friend's home in East Hampton...not a bad way to conclude my fifth Moleskine Sketchbook. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Last Few Pages, Part 1

Recently I completed my fifth Moleskine Sketchbook which is great because I get to move on to another one with endless possibilities, and on the other hand it is like saying goodbye to a long time companion.  Once the book goes on the shelf I rarely look at it again.
The last few pages of this sketchbook were exciting because I started working with different things such as fountain pens and watercolor. 
I've always know that this sketchbook is not meant for watercolor, but decided to try it out anyway.  The paper is thick enough that it should be able to hold up.  To my surprise it absorbed water quicker than expect, it wasn't ideal but it did exceed my expectations.  Only down side is that the yellow color of the paper can change the appearance of colors.  I'm working with old Moleskine Sketchbooks when they used to be made with a very yellow paper and a little thicker than the newer ones.  I was able to buy a few at a discount when I worked at Kremer Pigments many years ago and then a received 5 free ones from Moleskine when I participated in their first sketchbook tour which exhibited books from around the world at different art and stationary fairs. 
As always my trusted tool remains the UniBall Vision Elite pen.  Ink flows great, it sticks to the paper right away and it dries fast.  No smudging has ever occurred from using this pen. 
The fine point of this pen also allows me to get more detailed if I need to and gestural when necessary.  I'm a big fan of this pen. 
I'm mostly a tea drinker, and at nights when I'm home there's nothing better than making a pot of tea and sketching the night away. 
There are times though when the mood is right I end up at a coffee house and all I want to drink is a cappuccino.  An Italian friend made fun of Americans for drinking cappuccino at any time of day, she said that it is only a breakfast drink and that not respectable Italian gets caught with one after breakfast.  True or not I don't care, I love cappuccinos and I live in America, so the Italian rules don't apply.  Besides it goes well with my sketching and fountain pen. 
Another cup of cappuccino down in the late afternoon...I'm such a rebel!  I'll be posting a few more of the last pages of Moleskine Sketchbook No.5 in the coming days, so come back and check it out. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

Moleskines to Die For!

Doing a random search online for Moleskine sketchbooks I came across these three artists.  It's always interesting to see what people do in these little black books which have a huge following world wide.  Each one of these three artists has a different vision and style, but all are connected through the expression of drawing/sketching on a regular basis.

These three books are a testament of how creativity is boundless, all you have to do is pick up a pen or pencil and start putting down some lines on paper, you might be surprised where that may take you.  I hope you enjoy these videos by Marco Mazzoni, Nicolas Weis, and Little Su.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

DRAW: The Event

(with friend and painter Robert Szot) 

Sugarlift's DRAW: Artists Take Over the Subway event last Saturday was a success.  More people than we expected showed up to draw with us and many of them very talented.   There was an incredible energy at our meeting spot in Union Square, as artists from all walks of life introduced themselves and chatted.  Before you knew it sketchbooks were being shown off and everyone talked about what they did and how they went about it.  We were all dorking out with each other, an experience I've never had before in my years as a practicing artist in NYC.  
This is the group of five sketches I made during the event, the one on the top left was done while I rode the train on my way in to meet the group.  I had more time to work on it…the rest, well, there was no time.  I don't think anyone realized how quickly it would all go, the train ride from Union Square to 96th St. on the Q train was only about 15 minutes, not a lot of time to find your victim in a train car packed with artists and then draw said victim.  But we all did what we could and had fun with it.
I'm new to drawing subway riders, I mostly draw my imaginary landscapes in the moving train which works fine for me, but this was another beast.  I experienced difficulty when in the middle of making my first drawing my fountain pen stopped working.  I got another fountain pen out and as I opened the cap the ink splattered on the paper.  Then it turns out the the inks were different shades of black, one greener the the other, and the new fountain pen had a thicker nib.
The following drawings were done with another finer fountain pen I had, not bad I guess, just wish I had more time to get a good sketch.

 (Installation view of Robert Szot's work and mine)

After going up to 96th St and back down town we all walked to the gallery space at 2 Rivington St, where the host artists frantically put the last finishing touches on their sketches and hung them up.  
 (Installation of Robert Szot and Anne Watkins' work) 

These are a few shots of some of the work that was up during the opening.  The sale of all the drawings done during the day by the exhibiting artists and door cover fee went to Young New Yorkers's #ArtnotJail program.  It is estimated that we made $2 - $3K for this program.  Not bad for a bunch of artists doing a little sketching.

(Installation of Sugarlift Director Wright Harvey's drawings on left, next to Guno Park's subway riders)  
 (Guno Park's subway riders) 

This was an amazing experience, so much so that I think I may keep drawing subway riders.  I was inspired by a lot of the people I met on Saturday, and I took a few pointers as well.  Stay tuned.
(Drawings by Evan Kitson) 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Wayne Thiebaud, Draftsman

"Most of these are private drawings to find out something, to make notations, or just to experiment.  You want to feel that these are things that will never be seen."
 - Wayne Thiebaud -

A small, yet great show, Wayne Thiebaud, Draftsman, has been on view at The Morgan Library since May.  I recently had the chance to make my way there, mostly to have a look at the Gainsborough drawing exhibit which was up until last Sunday.  Not knowing what to expect I walked into the gallery where works on paper with iconic imagery hang, pies, ice cream, and other sweet treats call out to the viewer with their richness of color.   
The subject matter is well known even to those who do not know about art, but what I felt was the biggest treat among the sweets on the walls are Thiebaud's "private" sketches.  Quickly drawn with pen and ink they capture moments and ideas as they come into the artist's periphery.  They are notes for possibilities, problem solving for compositions. 

I was immediately drawn to these, no pun intended.  Maybe it's the similarity of how we box in our ideas, or the use of pen.  Whatever it may be I felt like I was having an intimate conversation with the man himself.  It's a language very familiar to me and I was eating it up. 
I was happy with the selection on view but I craved to see more sheets, maybe even a number of sketchbooks.  It was like reading a few pages to a really good book and then the story stops.  Perhaps a larger exhibition dedicated to Thiebaud's sketches might not be so bad, I would definitely go and see it.

So what is it about pen drawings/sketches that are appealing?  On a personal level I love them because I can relate to them and allow me to understand the artist.  Sketchbooks and journals have become a thing, you can search the internet or log on to Instagram and find that not only are there many more people drawing but that there is a very large audience for it.  The amount of likes I get on Instagram on my sketchbooks is by far more than my actual "art work"(paintings and monotypes).  The reason is because those who don't draw, paint, or create are intrigued by the way the artist's mind works.  Sketches and sketchbooks are portals to places people don't experience in their daily lives, and through some marks on a page they hope to find some secret, something that will make them feel like they are part of the creative process of an artist.  So, if you are one of the legions of people who love this sort of stuff then this exhibition is for you! 
Wayne Thiebaud, Draftsan is on view at The Morgan Library until September 23, 2018.  For more information and for a cool video with the artists click here.