Friday, January 30, 2009

'Marching Orders'
Here is the next small work up for bidding on
ebay. The image size on this one is
5 1/2" x 3 1/2".

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A new work taking shape on the drawing board today.


The current work up for bid on ebay. The bidding ends tomorrow, so get your bid in soon.
Click here to bid.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


As promised on this the birthday of the celebrated mid 20th Century painter, Jackson Pollack, I will attempt today to give a little tutorial on how I establish depth, as in the recently completed work of the egrets and the dark foliage. These in progress images are of a little study done especially for this posting. Some of the work is rough, to say the least, but I think the sequence will show a good example of what I will describe as my technical approach to giving dimension and depth to a two dimensional portrayal of trees.

First off, I will show the slightly chiseled tip of the HB lead, in its lead holder, that I will use first to establish a very rough 'texture' upon which the foliage will be built. As I have mentioned before, I work on Bristol Board with a slight texture or tooth to it, as you will no doubt see in the photos. I have found over the years, that the development of my style is based very strongly upon making use of that texture. The chiseled tip is formed by first putting just a bit of a sharp tip to the lead, using a small scrap of sand paper. After the tip has a bit of sharpness to it, I then turn the lead to a perpendicular angle to the sand paper and round it off just a touch. Then, I turn the lead on its side, about a 45 degree angle to the sand paper and on one side, not turning the lead as I would to form a sharp point, I rub the lead against the sand paper once again to form a long, blunt side to one side of the lead, thus forming a nice chiseled side to it, as well as maintaining a bit of a rounded point if the lead is turned to the opposite side . . . this enables me to do different things with the same lead depending upon which side I turn it to and which side faces the Bristol Board. Have I lost you yet? Stay with me!

In this first shot, I show the chiseled side of the HB lead.

In this next image, I am laying down a rough, very rough, basic under layer of HB lead to define the shape of the foreground trees. As you can see, I am using a combination of strokes, lines, angles, swirls, and circular motions, not really with any intention other than to fill the space with a light layer. The surface of the chiseled edge of the lead is being barely scuffed across the surface, basically just picking up the upper 'peaks' of the texture of the Bristol Board, leaving lots of the white of the paper showing through at this point. And in the following two shots, I show a closeup of the types of strokes used here, side to side basically moving with the grain of the Bristol Board, cross hatching over that and circular rotations over themselves.

In this next shot, the foreground trees have been defined as to basic shape and you can see that I have also started to establish some breaks, defining those breaks with an over layer again of the same HB lead, hatching and cross hatching over itself to darken those break points, which will define separations between branches that will appear closer and those that will recede. Things are still very rough at this stage, maybe two minutes into it all!

In this next image, I am continuing to refine and define, using the HB lead, but now I am not only rubbing the chiseled side across the surface, still with a very light touch so as to not set in a very strong dark right off the bat, but I am also turning the lead slightly as I move across the surface so the more rounded end of it hits the surface as well. In this manner I am slightly varying the intensity of the grey tones. You can see that I have begun to dart around the area, laying in little dark patches, hinting at the in and out of over layered branches. I have also started to intentionally darken the already defined separations that I set up in the previous image. But, none of the darks are at a level as yet, that I would consider to be the final intensity of black that I will want; there is still a lot of the underlying white showing through.

Now I have picked up my lead holder with 2H lead in it as well as a bit of a sharper, though still rounded, point to it. The 2H, being a harder lead than HB will hold that rounded tip longer and I will use it to lay in a mid tone grey value across the entire area to soften the white of the paper and to give a more even texture across the area. This helps to blend all the values that were set up to this point.

In the next shot, I have picked up a harder lead now, 6H with a bit more of a point on it. At this point, let me interject that for each grade of graphite I have two pencils, one a wood encased lead, like this one, and one a lead in a standard drafting lead holder. I do this because I tend to keep a different kind of point on each of the two different leads for each grade as each kind of point or chiseled edge will do something different on the surface of the paper. Anyway, here is a very soft background line of trees as well as to have gone back over the mid tone areas that I just drew in with the 2H lead above. This is not the best of shots to show that difference from the previous image, but be assured that the mid tone greys are being darkened. All of this again, being done with a combination of strokes, cross hatching and circular movement just slightly touching the upper surfaces of the Bristol Board. As you may be able to see here, there still is not a lot of graphite on the paper at this point and what that means is that I can still make changes without having to erase strong darks.

In this next shot, I am further defining darks, shadowy areas and making the area look more and more like tree branches and leaves, but focusing on the background area now so I can establish a good idea of how all the tones will work together and how to show separation between differing planes of depth.

Here, I have picked up a harder lead, 9H this time and continue to soften, and darken the lighter grey areas, pulling everything together to make the two dimensional surface have more depth. And again, all these strokes are still very soft in touch, one layer upon another upon another, slowly building up the darks.

Here I have taken a 3H lead in a lead holder, this lead with a slight chiseled edge to it that lends itself to giving a very soft, over all, even tonal quality when brushed across the paper. This continues to bind it all together while continuing to cover more and more of the underlying paper. You can also see that I have started to imply water and some reflection.

Now, I have taken up an H lead in its holder, this with a more shaped and rounded tip to it, and have gone over the entire area again to continue to darken. I am also 'picking out' more detail at this stage, redefining specific branches and clusters of leaves with the sharper tip of this lead.

Now, back to the 3H and the 6H to continue to bring out more detail in the distance as well as to continue to define more of the branching and leaf clusters in the foreground area. I have gotten quite 'picky' now, pulling out more detail by making every smaller and smaller circular motions and setting in more separations between the darker areas that would be closest to the viewer from those that are further back.

In this image, you can see the sort of circular marks that I spoke of and that help to define more tree and branchlike structures. Here I am using the 9H lead again as the harder leads tend to leave a very nice, soft mid value grey .

And now, just about done . . . I have picked up the 2H again, 2H being one of the grades of graphite that make up the larger percentage of any given drawing because it just seems to be a very useful lead . . . being able to lay in both soft greys as well as rather dark areas when the lead is sharply pointed . . . I've picked out final details and greyed down some underlying branch areas in the foreground line of trees.

And here, the final image where I have picked out all the strong dark shadows with a slightly blunted tip on a 2B lead. In this particular instance of work, 2B is the softest lead I have used and that quite sparingly, just here at the end to pick out highlights of shadow and make the separations more distinct. All of this accomplished through layering of varying grades of graphite.

And here is a little line of HB graphite showing how varying the angle of stroke, direction it moves in and number of layers, will help to slowly darken up an area and give depth. Starting at the left, I set in an angled set of lines, over which I set side to side strokes, darkening the first layer . . . followed by some circular motion, followed again with side to side strokes and continuing on with angles in the opposite direction from the initial set of strokes to a final layer of circular marks that tend to cover all the remaining white paper and bring a nice over all darkness to the spot. I hope this has been of some help and made some sense to those of you who have asked about defining more depth to a work.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Snow Day

We here in the metro DC area, as well as most of the rest of Maryland, are getting our first real snow of the winter, today. It's the kind of day that I will be happy to be sitting at the drawing board rather than needing to be outdoors, though a trip out tomorrow to gather some snowy, wintery reference would be fun. All is calm, all is bright, all is quiet in the backyard.

Just one, lone mourning dove, caught heading for a warm perch.

I will be working on a small tutorial of light and shadow and creating depth, as requested by several looking in recently, so look for a series of in progress shots tomorrow or the day after.

The current work up for bid on ebay.
Click here to bid.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Another good day at the drawing board yesterday
and this new work is completed. Image size on this one
is 5" x 7" and it will be making its debut at this spring's
Modern Marine Masters showing at
The Maritime Gallery at Mystic Seaport
in Connecticut.


The current work up for bid on ebay.
Click here to bid.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A long work day yesterday, so got quite a bit accomplished on this new piece; continuing to layer to get depth and separate here from there; moving around the piece to make certain that the tones, lights and shadows all work together; defining the bird shapes; refining some of the detail work but not being too picky at this point - that will be saved for final touches.

And again, a reminder to take a look at my first small work posted to ebay yesterday - see the link in yesterday's post.

Friday, January 23, 2009

I am pleased to be posting the first of the small works
that will be available for bidding on my new ebay page.
Here is 'A Couple of Kisses', image size - 3 1/2" x 5 1/2".
Click on the link below to go directly to the bidding page.
Good Luck!

Click here to bid.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

A new work, begun today . . . this is the 'easy' stuff . . .

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

The snow flakes are dancing!
OK, they are not dancing, they are flurrying.
In any event, as the snow flurries outside my
studio window, I have put the finishing touches
on the current work. This one is going to head to
Mystic, Connecticut for the Modern Marine Masters
exhibition/sale in a couple months. Image size
on this one is 8" x 18".

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Time out for Andrew

Andrew Wyeth has died . . . Long Live Andrew!

Like Tchaikovsky before him, with his 1812 Overture, and Ravel with his Bolero, Wyeth may be best known for his Christina's World, a work MOMA purchased soon after its completion back in the 1940s and perhaps today, still has difficulty placing within the context of all that POP and OP and mid Twentieth Century splash and glitz of Pollack, Warhol and the like.

But, just as the Romantic Russian and the Feisty Frenchman before him, Wyeth has, I feel, so much more that stands to eclipse the popularity of a single work; a single work that has, over time, become an icon of the popular culture . . . a melody that everyone hums or hears in the background on the elevator ride . . . or an image that is so impressed in people's minds as to become trite, banal and overwrought with commercial abuse, even when, I again feel, those singular melodies and images contain glorious notes, beauty and depth of creative soul.

I love Tchaikovsky. His 4th and 6th Symphonies never fail to elicit deep emotion within me; the Serenade for Strings does the same. I once attended a concert of the Atlanta Symphony, a very special evening when, I believe it was Andre Watts, played all three of the piano concerti back to back to back, knocking the socks off everyone in the hall! I still get shivers when I hear the first several notes of the First Piano Concerto and no matter how many times I listen to it, no matter who the pianist, no matter what the orchestra, the music always has the same emotional effect on me.

OK, some say Tchaikovsky's music is saccharin and overly sentimental. Fine, all are entitled to their opinion. But, his music 'works' for and 'speaks' to me and along with that of many other composers, like Ravel, encourages all sorts of creativity as I sit at my drawing board.

Art-wise, as I have said in many previous posts on this blog, there are many artists, genres and periods of art that have influenced me, Wyeth not least on the list. His compositional approach never fails to excite me. His spare and dramatic renderings of subject matter appeal to my personal sense of design and focus. His use of light and shadow and intensity of focus have always spurred me on to try new approaches in my art and, where some might see sentimentality in his work, I see an earnest portrayal of . . . Andrew's world.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Yesterday's work . . . a little 'action' coming into the picture now.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Some of yesterday afternoon's work . . .

Monday, January 12, 2009

A new week, a new month, a new year . . . and . . . a new work up on the drawing board. It's been quite some time since I last posted an 'in progress' image of a new work, so decided that since this new work is a larger, more involved piece than a lot of what I have had on the board lately, I would show the evolution of this one as I work on it. This one will finish out at 8" x 18" and will be earmarked for this coming spring's Modern Marine Masters exhibition/sale at the Mystic Seaport Gallery at Mystic, Connecticut.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Some Friends in Need, A Reminder

As this New Year gets underway, and with the Holiday mania (what there was of it this season, with the economy being in the toilet and all!), a gentle reminder today about my good friends, Lyn St. Clair (Artists Helping Lyn in the Link list here) and Ryan Jacque,, both of whom are Friends in Need right now.

As noted some time ago, Lyn's friends have set up a special blog page, offering works of art for sale with portions of the proceeds to be donated to Lyn to help cover her medical expenses. Lyn, like so many of us, does not have health insurance and every little dollar bill will be a big help to her. So, please hit the link to Lyn's blog page and take a look at some fine works for sale. New pieces are being added all the time, so stay current by checking back frequently.

Ryan, who suffered massive trauma to his head/brain/body, in a horrible fall back in early November, continues to recover, slowly but surely, in rehab in Massachusetts. His family continues to update his progress several times a week on the page linked above and there is also a link to a page for personal contributions to a fund set up to help his family in this tough time, in addition to notices about all sorts of fund raising events being held in that general area in his home state.

Lyn is back painting again in prep for her upcoming shows, but it is not known if Ry will ever work again, which to me personally is a very hard pill to swallow. Ry and I have been friends for years and his graphite work speaks volumes about his talent and prior to the accident, always indicated to me that his abilities would take him to high places in the future. Now, with continued positive thoughts that he will regain his capabilities and once again sit at the drawing board and create those wonderful drawings, we can only wait and, as they say, time will tell.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

With the Inauguration coming up in just two weeks time, one might think I was feeling a bit patriotic in doing this latest little ditty today . . . not really. I have wanted to make use of some good eagle reference that has been languishing in my files for some time and, well, today was as good a day as any to tackle it. This little work, about three and one half inches square, will be listed on my eBay page later this month for bidding, or, if you would like to have a crack at it before then, email me for the price.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The first weekend of the New Year . . . time to post another of the small works that I am doing for posting and bidding on eBay later this month. This one has an image size of about 4" square. There will be more to come!