My friend Nadi has just finished painting a window. You can see her fabulous work here: Blue Window 4
I have just begun painting one. Literally, not figuratively. (The subject is California poppies, because, as you know, I am a California artist.) I started it on the wrong side, because messing up is often my modus operandi, a little Latin lingo for you. I will scrape it off with a razor, flip the window around, and begin again. Practice, practice, practice. Of course I have warned my customer not to scratch her window because if she does, the paint will go away!
NEWS FLASH! – The customer and I looked at the window in the place where it is to be hung. It looks better with the paint on the back side of the glass than on the front, so no razor-blade scraping will be necessary! Isn’t that great!! Sure surprised me. . .
It seems as if Spring is the whole point of the seasons. The rest are just preparatory or resting stages. Spring is the Real Deal, the goal, the objective, the reason, the. . . I’m out of synonyms. I love spring and this has just been the Best. Thank you God for this incredible Spring and that I get to be a California artist in Three Rivers!
This is the most famous flowering dogwood tree in Three Rivers.
Its name is cornus florida. We call it glorious, fabulous, amazing, or if you are a teenager, “a-MAYYYY-zing”.
In case you are a new reader of this blog and are wondering how to find the earlier chapters of Learning to Draw, here is a convenient clickable list of the first eight.
If you want to click on all these but get tired of going back to this page, just right-click on each one and open in a new tab. Then you can go through them sequentially without wearing out your Back button. How did a California artist become so computer savvy? By asking people and trying stuff!
- Chapter One
- Chapter Two
- Chapter Three
- Chapter Four
- Chapter Five
- Chapter Six
- Chapter Seven
- Chapter Eight
Ever say a word so often that it ceases to make sense? I just destroyed the word “chapter” for myself!
Kirby found this photo and it really grabbed her around the heart. I decided they are named Adams and Soldier. Can you tell me why I chose those names? (besides the fact that I love to name animals) Kirby just smiled when I told her. She’s getting used to me.
When you are deciding what to draw, pick something you love, because you will be staring at it for a long time.
This is Scooter as photographed and drawn by Kim. It is her first drawing. Really! She has been working on it for several months, diligently trying to sort out the proportions and stripes and toes and whiskers. It is upside down because this is the view I have when I am helping Kim. Sometimes I have her work on it upside down so she isn’t distracted by the schooter-ness of Scooter and she can just study the proportions, edges, textures and values.
If you turn both your photo and your drawing upside down, you can often see the angles, proportions, shapes and values more accurately.
When you are learning to draw, you can be fast, or you can be good.
Olivia is drawing this pick-’em-up-truck from a photo of mine. There was a little bit of ambiguity around the door handle. The magnifier/loupe/linen tester/bug identifier is so helpful when the photo isn’t giving up its secrets. I peered through and said – “Oh! The gas tank had a sticky-outy thing with a round cap on top that we are only seeing in profile and it is right next to the door handle”. Good thing I was born in the ’50s so I could explain it to Olivia (although October of ’59 hardly gave me much experience in that decade.)
Know what you are drawing because if you don’t, those who know will know that you don’t know.
These 2 “$4 Lawn Job” pieces will be in the Richeson 75 exhibit. I am a bit puzzled over why the bridge is in the book but not the exhibit and these 2 are in the exhibit but not the book. Life is full of mysteries!
Redwood & Dogwood, 9-1/2 x 6″, pencil, $400
Wood, Wind, Waves, 11-3/4 x 7″, $500
Our lawn mowing boy spent a fair amount of time thinking about what Mr. Persnickety told him. “No one has ever done a $4 lawn job for me.” He decided that he would be the first. I’ve forgotten much of what the boy did, but it did involve some sort of a roller device to flatten any slight bumps and there was a nap in the middle of the day so he could continue on in the afternoon. When he had finally exhausted every possible method of perfecting that lawn, he knocked on the door and announced to Mr. Persnickety that he had done a $4 lawn job. Mr. Persnickety was skeptical and began inspecting his work. After going over every inch of his yard, he agreed that the boy had indeed accomplished the impossible and he paid him his $4.
What does that have to do with my art? Hang on, I’m getting to that part! You may have noticed that I don’t participate in many competitions or shows that are juried and judged. Earlier in my career, I tried those. After several rejections, (one show was a consistent winner – Madera Arts Council Ag Arts) and after reading a great deal about ways to build an art career, it seemed best to just focus on the local market.
Then, along came the Richeson 75. This is the first show I’d heard of that separates dry media from oils from wet media, which means pencil isn’t competing against painting. Something told me to try this show, and I knew I was facing my own $4 lawn job challenge. (REALLY! That is how I thought of it!)
First, I chose my best subject and found the best possible photo of it. Then, I cropped it to the Golden Rectangle proportions, drew it carefully, shaded it, took it to my students to evaluate, layered a bit more, lightened here and darkened there, put it under a magnifier and sharpened all the edges of the bridge, studied it, changed a few things, and finally, sent it to the Richeson 75 in the Landscape, dry media category.
Rappity, tappity, bingety, BANG, BOOM!!! chhhhhhhh (that last noise was a cymbal.)
Rural Dignity, pencil, 6×9-1/2″
It will be in the exhibition book for the Landscape, Architecture and Seascape 2011 show!!
Our lawn-mowing boy in the story was satisfied with the $2 job for awhile, and then decided to see if he could do the mowing job for $3. This time he mowed carefully in one direction, then mowed carefully in the other. He probably trimmed the edges and dug out some weeds. It took a bit of fancy talking, but he convinced Mr. Persnickety that the job was indeed worth $3.
When I read the story, I couldn’t figure out how he could possibly improve on that massive effort at perfection. I thought he ought to be satisfied that he was able to do a $3 lawn job; after all, Mr. Persnickety had warned him in advance that no one had ever done a $4 job in the history of hiring neighborhood boys to mow.
This is just how I felt when I began drawing collages. It took a long time to plan, a long time to lay out, and a very long time to shade. Didn’t seem as if there was any place to improve after that!
After our boy in the story mowed the lawn, he went home to puzzle out how to earn $2 next time. After some thought, the second time he mowed he probably went over the lawn two times, a bit more carefully and perhaps in 2 different directions. He told Mr. Persnickety it was a $2 job, he was paid, and both were happy.
In comparing this story to my drawings, this is my version of the $2 lawn job. Still have pencil, desire, and skill. A neighbor/friend/customer suggested that I back up and show the cabin in its setting. (Thanks, Janey!) I was a bit worried about tackling trees, but knew I could figure it out with enough practice. Eventually I got comfortable with the added “growies”.