Friday, March 27, 2009

The next work being posted to ebay today for bidding.

Click here to place a bid.

Not much work going on in the studio right now as there is major de-struction and con-struction going on in the rest of the house. With all the dust and dirt flying around, I can't even think about sitting at the drawing board until all the work is done and I can do a clean sweep of the entire house. So, it will be a bit before there will be any in-progress postings here, but I shall return! In the meantime, I will be continuing to post these small scale works on ebay for bidding and a big thank you to all who have bid and won over the last couple of months. I have been very pleased with the response to this venture and it shall continue.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The next small work up for bid on ebay.


Click here to place a bid.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Ah, finito! Finally wrapped this one up about an hour ago, ran it outside and took its picture! This one is heading to Troika Gallery in Easton, Maryland for next month's Spring Group Show which opens the first Friday of April.

Image size on this one, just a tiny bit shy of 8" x 17".


A reminder that there are three small works posted on ebay for this coming week for bidding. Take a look back at last week's blog postings here for links to the ebay pages for bidding; there is a small cheetah work, a small trio of ponies and a relisting of a pair of male lion.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

On Thursday last, I headed up to Baltimore with a cousin to spend a delightful couple of hours roaming the National Aquarium in Baltimore. I'd been several times before, but my cousin was visiting for the first time. It's a wonderful exhibition space, sitting right on the waters of Baltimore's Inner Harbor and surrounded by many other interesting places to poke around in, good eateries and interesting sights. Though rainy and grey outside, we enjoyed the colorful array of fish, birds, turtles, frogs and lizards. Here is a collage of some of the creatures that caught my attention.

And then, there was this character! In the glass enclosed, open space of the Australian Atrium, we came across what at first appeared to be a very strange stump of wood which turned out to be an Australian Tawny Frogmouth Owl! What a kick! It was enjoying a late morning nap, I guess, and never did open its eyes while I stood there . . . hoping.

Friday, March 20, 2009

'The Painted Ponies' is the next small work up for bid on ebay.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Yesterday's work . . .


Here are the two works currently posted on ebay for bidding. The lions close tomorrow morning so get your bid in soon!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Yes, work has actually been going on in the studio though I have not posted progress shots recently. Here is the way things looked as of yesterday at 5:45 . . . I think I am coming down with hay fever!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The latest small work to be put up for bid on ebay.


Click here to place a bid.


And don't forget this other small work that continues on ebay through the end of this week. A bid link is located in an earlier posting below.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Necessity of a Critical Eye

As a follow up addendum to my response to an artist friend's query on yesterday's post, I wanted to add to what I had already commented about the situation of sometimes not feeling 100% positive about a work in progress, by talking a bit about the advantage of an outside, critical eye.

As a human being, I know the importance of and the need to be able to rely upon a respected friend's viewpoint on any given subject or discussion, whether that viewpoint jives with mine or is oppositional. As long as the comment, criticism and points of discussion are coming from one whose opinion I have respect for, I can listen and engage, be spurred on to think in a slightly different way, or to see a situation from an entirely different angle. As an artist, I find equal value in relying on the comments and critical analysis of another artist whose work and expertise I respect and judge to be exemplary.

Those of us who are fortunate enough to live within easy distance of fellow artists and who can spend time in each other's studios, know the value of an ongoing conversation about all things art, as well as the importance of having another set of eyes to view our work, either while in progress or at a finished stage, or when there might be a bit of doubt clouding the way ahead. We artists spend so much time alone with our work, sometimes that closeness masks needed editing, rethinking or fresh takes on what we thought were original ideas.

To be able to have a fresh pair of eyes walk up to a work and see that work, from the separation of an outside viewpoint without the constraints of having originated the idea or thought about it (mulling over the various compositional possibilities), can and often does result in a question of, 'Why did you do that?', or 'Why did you put that there?', or 'Do you think that shadow is strong enough?' Having someone who does not know your original inspiration for a work or compositional idea, initiate a discussion about aspects of that work that might not, to their way of seeing and thinking, relate or work or know the reason for, is a good thing. I have experienced being on the receiving end of those questions any number of times and when presented in a non-threatening, positive, knowledgeable way, have almost always realized the need for a slight modification or rethink of some portion of a work, ultimately to its betterment.

I too, have found myself on the questioning end of the discussion as well. Many of my friends know that to me, the importance of a well thought out compositional idea is primary and with that in mind, they will often ask for my input on a sketch idea or, perhaps, how they can better serve their own ideas by varying their composition and placement of subject matter. This however, is not the kind of interaction that comes easily to those with whom you might only have a passing acquaintance. There often has to be a level of mutual trust, respect and friendship before those sorts of candid expressions and ideas can not only be voiced, but also heard, appreciated and acted upon.

Having a basic belief and confidence in your own abilities as an artist and knowing that your creative ideas are well founded is the best of starting points. Being able to listen to and respond to positive critical analysis, on those occasions when there might be a bit of doubt or an inability to understand and see what might be throwing off your total happiness with the way in which a work is progressing, can be beneficial and move your creative view just that much farther.

For those artists not fortunate enough to live close enough to other artists to visit in person, thank goodness for email, the Internet and digital photography! How easy it is now to take a digital image of a work in progress, send that image to a fellow artist and say, 'What do you think?' I have also found many times, the simple act of visiting an exhibition or spending an hour or two at a museum or gallery can open you up to new considerations. Focusing in on a particularly appealing work hanging in a museum, often has the result, for me anyway, of experiencing that 'ah ha' moment when you say to yourself, 'Why didn't I think of that . . . . . way of portraying that sort of subject . . . way of emphasizing light and shadow . . . way of using that compositional structure . . . way of doing something a little differently.'

I have found that since beginning this blog and talking about the many aspects of my personal approach to art, the ways in which I formulate ideas, use reference and compose and see what it is that I want to achieve through my drawings, many have found common ground with what I have had to say. That's great. But, I have been on the learning end as well, discovering other blogs and web sites of artists whose work, themes, compositional ideas and mastery of technical style I have come to respect. And even though I may not know them personally, I frequently have found much to nod in agreement with and often have come away with that extra understanding of something I thought I knew all about!

In the end, I feel, it is simply about exposing yourself to and taking advantage of those around you and those who have come before, whose ideas, experiences, base of knowledge and creative influence you find appealing and that you can cull ideas from and take meaning from.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Here is today's posting to ebay for bidding . . .



Sometimes, when I get into a work, I will wonder to myself - 'WHY?'

Why did I even think to start such a busy, involved, detailed, noodly work? Well here I am, working on a piece filled with tiny noodles of hay and wondering, 'what have I gotten myself into?' These are the things that nightmares are made of. Oh well, I guess I will just noodle through, somehow! Lots more hay to come.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A new work commences today . . .

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The next small work up for bidding on ebay.

In response to a query from a recent visitor regarding the background tree and the softness of appearance in the last completed work of the show horses, I will endeavor to give a brief explanation today. So, Laurene, this is for you!

First off, I wanted the focus of the work to be on the horses and riders, so the background was to be a relatively insignificant part of the overall composition, soft and played down, ethereal, but still strong enough to act as a counterbalance to the negative white space on the lower right of the work. Actually, the negative white space and the soft overall tonal quality of the tree shape act as two mirrored triangular halves of the work, dissecting from top right to lower left with the head and rear quarters of the left most horse holding and emphasizing that angular line.

OK, so to the background and how I kept it soft. As I have said many times here, it is a matter of slowly building up layer upon layer of ever darker tonal values of grey, not only to make the occasional distinct break to indicate a leafy pattern, but also to 'manage' the values as I went along.

As you might be able to see in the posting for the in-progress shot of this work on March 3, I began by roughly 'scrubbing in' a pretty basic, overall pale gray tone using the blunted edge of a 6H. If you click on that image and look at the blown up version, I think you can see just how roughly this initial scrubbing was. I am, at this point, only trying to develop where I want to go with the tree shape/form and not being too specific with any of my marks. Only at the points where I know I want to establish trunk and branches, do I add a bit of pressure to the stroke and thus intensify the tone at those points. I also at this point, am trying to gauge where I want certain qualities of gray to meet the already defined parts of the riders, especially the foreground figure in the very dark coat.

Now, if you look at the posting for March 6, you can see that I have begun to establish the diagonal line of the leafy branches to the right of center and heading off toward the upper right quarter to set that apparent split between the two halves of the space. Still, the scrubbing is very light, using that 6H blunt edge and just touching the surface of the Bristol Board. Since I work, again, on the slightly textured finish of board (I think it is the cold press or what some call the kid finish), what I am doing here is basically picking up the top most surfaces of the texture, just ever so slightly letting the blunt edge graze across those peaks. Filling in will occur later on, but all I want to do is set a basic under layer of very light gray at this point.

Apologies for not having any intermediate postings of the background work at this point, but in the final, finished image, you can see how I pretty much followed all those preliminary soft tones. What I did to get to this point was to continually add layers of graphite, working in a cross hatch manner and often with small circular motions, very softly again just hitting the upper surface of the texture of the board. For most of this first pass across the entire area, I still was using the blunt edge of the 6H and then continued over that, in areas where I wanted to vary the tone and darken it, making leafy breaks, I began to use a rather rounded point on an 8H pencil. Both of these pencils, by the way, are very old Schwan Stabilos, as you can see in the accompanying photo of the four pencils used to create the background (the two red ones). I will also say at this point, that the tonal quality of a specific graphite grade, such as a 6H, differs from manufacturer to manufacturer. The yellowish pencil in the image is another 6H, this one being Austria Cretacolor, which I picked up someplace on sale once, not remembering where, but at closeout pricing, could not resist. I had never used nor seen this brand of pencil before that day, but it is interesting that it holds a point differently than the Schwan Stabilo does, and also lays down a very different tone of grey for being the same grade, 6H. For my way of working and my technical approach to drawing, this has unique results for me.

As I continued to build up layers across the entire form of the tree, I kept making certain that there were no intense separation lines or strong contrasts as to keep the soft over all texture to that part of the drawing and not to make a truly defined tree form with leaves picked out. This was achieved for the most part, by using blunted tips as opposed to sharp points. What that does is to leave you very soft edges. The only stronger lines are at the vertical of the tree trunk and several of the angular branches, but still, nothing as strong or 'certain' as any of the lines of the foreground figures.

During this whole process of building up layers, all the little craters in between the high points of texture to the Bristol Board, are being filled in, making for an overall even tonal quality to the grays. Pulling out darker shadowy areas with a slightly pointed, yet still rounded end of a 3H (the Faber Castel) at this point, helped to establish some depth to the background, yet still I was careful to not press too firmly on the work surface, keeping my pencil point hovering just on the very upper surface and grazing the board. It is a laborious process, but actually one that I would say only took about 3 and a half hours in total work time to get the background done.

A note here about cross hatching . . . since the texture of the Bristol Board that I work on (Rising) has a distinct pattern across the long length of the 20 x 30 product, all my drawings are oriented with that moving in concert with the horizontal plane of the composition. With only two exceptions for works that I wanted to be very strong in vertical format, both of which are included in my bridge pieces that were part of the recent 'Unknown Bridges' exhibition and can be seen on my blog, linked to the right, to pieces from that body of work, I find that the initial scrubbing of soft under tone is best done in line with that apparent texture of the board. Subsequent hatching then goes angular, right to left, left to right, sometimes up and down and then back across the horizontal plane. What this does is to set a very even tone across all the grays and acts as a blending method in the way in which I work. Others might find the use of the end of their finger works the same, or using a blending stump, but the way in which I have developed my technical approach over the years, and based pretty much as I have mentioned here before upon the fact that I began as a painter and that is the way I painted, building up layers or glazes, this is what works for me.

And so, as things began to take shape you might say, and I developed overlapping indications of leaves and see-through light areas, the tree shape materialized. All of this accomplished by continuing to over layer 8H, 3H, and 6H tones. Again, by not using any softer grade of graphite, I was not conflicting with the intense blacks and shadows of the foreground figures which kept the tree in the distance and kept it soft. And let me add at this point that by working in this manner, not establishing darks right off and by slowly developing the tones in the background, I have complete control of how dark I go, where the darks are and by constantly backing away from the drawing and checking the balance across the entire work, I keep the soft quality, soft.

I hope this explanation makes sense and will give a fairly descent telling of the way in which I keep things soft!

Monday, March 09, 2009

This work is done! Image size - 8" x 16". I had intended, with all best intentions, to have finished and posted the work yesterday but . . . 72 degree weather got in the way. I just had to get myself out of the studio to enjoy the great day. It was interesting to note that just a week ago, at about the time yesterday when I was enjoying a hike along my favorite close-in creek, snow was falling! What a difference a week makes. And, as I hiked I noted the appearance of small clusters of lilac tinged or deep purple crocus. If the crocus are in sight, can spring be that far behind? This morning, I noted that the daffodil greens are up and reaching for the sky in my front yard, with even a flower spike or two about to open.

This work will be headed to Troika Gallery in Easton, Maryland for the upcoming Group Spring Show. I have a couple more to get done before making the trek across the Chesapeake Bay at the end of the month to deliver to the gallery, so stay tuned to see what might pop up next.

And don't forget the two current small works up for bidding on ebay. Links to the bid pages can be found in earlier postings below.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

I am pleased to announce my recent membership in -

Quoting from the group's web site, "the Artists for Conservation Foundation - formerly the Worldwide Nature Artists Group - is a non-profit international organization dedicated to the celebration and preservation of the natural world. The organization's mission is to support wildlife and habitat conservation, biodiversity, sustainability and environmental education through art that celebrates our natural heritage."

I have added a link (in my Links List to the right) to my specific pages on the group site and would encourage readers to visit the group's Home Page as well to browse the pages of other outstanding, internationally recognized artists.

Friday, March 06, 2009

' Bundle of Joy ' is the next small work up for
bidding on ebay.

Click here to place a bid.



The current work on the board has lagged for the last few days but I do believe that the horses and riders are about done now, with some minor adjustments to be done at the end. Now, it is on to the background! I am determined that this one will finish up this weekend.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Artists' Holiday yesterday, no studio work! Headed out into the snowy countryside with an artist friend to collect winter reference. Saw lots of frosty noses, not to mention those on myself and my friend. Got some very good material but arrived home to find no heat! An interesting evening/overnight, but the radiators are once again hissing and burbling and pushing out warm air. Hurrah! Back at the drawing board tomorrow. Meanwhile,
check out the two little pieces I have posted currently on ebay!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Not an awful lot of work accomplished on the current piece in the last couple of days, but here is what it looks like now.

The next small work up for bid on ebay.

Click here to place a bid.


Monday, March 02, 2009

Snow Day!

March came in, overnight, like that lion that it sometimes does. We got a nice blanket of snow which is finally ending midafternoon today. Sure is purrrdee! Glad my 'job' is only steps away and that I did not have to get out at 5 AM and broom off the car and try and drive to work. I do have to make a trip into the back yard though, and fill the bird feeders. The birds were swarming about as the snow began to taper off earlier. I guess I will make a few marks on the current drawing in a bit, after lunch and just sitting and enjoying the white world all about. It's headed your way, New England!


And don't forget the two little works
currently for bidding on ebay. Links to
both pages are included in recent
postings from within the last week.