Friday, March 29, 2013

Believe it or not, the dust seems to be settling . . . which means I am closer to the completion of this work than to its beginnings. That, as they say, is a good thing!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Day umpteenzillion . . . the dust is getting thick.

Monday, March 25, 2013

No work yesterday, gallery doings took center stage, so here is today's bit of work.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Four hours and twenty minutes worth of drawing board time this afternoon and here things stand -

Friday, March 22, 2013

I've spent a lot of time in the dust today.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

There is work happening in the studio. This will be one of the new works going to the Woodson Art Museum for the Master's exhibition in September. I have not done a large work with my favorite subjects in quite some time. So, with that in mind and also knowing what horrors are currently going on in Africa with the mass killing of elephant herds to continue to perpetuate the Chinese ivory trade (will they not cease till every last one of these incredibly wonderful living creatures is gone?), I decided that I wanted to do something large and evocative for the exhibition. This one is large, 12" x 25" and there will be a lot of graphite applied before this one is done! How many more elephant families, though, will be slaughtered for their tusks to be shipped off to Asia during the time that it will take me to complete this work? The thought is chilling.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

March Madness!

From now through the end of this month, Blurb is offering a discount on orders of my book (and others) with $10 off any order. Go to my Blurb page and take a look. The code to receive your $10 discount is SHARE10. Hurry though, as this offer ends on the 31st.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Flying off the drawing board a few minutes ago, another work that will be headed for the Woodson Art Museum this fall, an addition to my Master's gallery hanging. This one with a 'few of my favorite things' (plug in Julie Andrew's voice here, please) is just shy of 12" x 10".

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Completed a short time ago, it is ready to hit the frame table. Just shy of two hours worth of work on water and mergansers; water primarily 8H, 6H and a bit of 3H, mergansers - 8H, 2H, H, and F (the darkest 'black' values in the ducks). Image size is 8 1/4" x 13". One down, how many more to go?

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

While wondering where the snow was that was predicted for this area today, and after my second cup of tea late this morning, I sat down to work. The first image below shows what things looked like after an hour and a quarter. Spent most of that work time in the lower left corner, noodling and such, making more rocks. Most popular pencils during that period of work . . . 2H (the Trusty!), 3H, 6H and F. I also went back into areas completed yesterday afternoon and sharpened up separations again, added a touch here and there of B and 2B (very minimal and the softest, 'darkest' lead used on this piece) to add more contrast, and once again ran a blunted tip 6H across many of the areas worked on yesterday to push things back, soften curves and generally knock back the 'white' tones.

After a break for a late lunch, continuing to wonder where the predicted snow was for today and watching the intermittent rain outside the studio window, I went back to work. The shot above was taken after another hour and a half of work, finishing up the foreground rocks; finishing up for today that is, as I will take a look again in the morning and see what areas will need some extra touches before moving on to the water and mergansers. I expect this one to be completed either tomorrow or with an hour or so of additional clean up work on Friday morning. I am anxious to get on to the next work on my list, another piece that will be part of the work to go to the Woodson Art Museum this fall representing my Master's exhibition.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Today I've begun bringing in the 'big guns', B and 2B to start really making things move. This first shot, below, is after about an hour and a half earlier this afternoon. I picked up from yesterday and continued to work in the lower right/foreground area. As I did when this all began a couple days ago, I first laid in a 'ground tone' of 8H or 9H and began to over lay 3H and 2H to develop the rock texture. Once I played around with that a bit, I picked up my B with a rather sharp point and went back in and began to pick out sharp separations between strong light areas and deep shadow, that I had already worked yesterday and the day before, to finalize and define those lines emphasizing and sharpening the contrasts.

In this image above, which was shot after another two hours of work, I have almost completed the lower right area and begun to move across to the remaining foreground rocks on the left. I ran a blunt tipped 9H across much of the rock surfaces done already to soften them, blend and knock back the sharp white of the Bristol showing through my noodling, softening the overall feel of those rocks. I also put a final layer of 2H over the dark 'blob' in the upper left, ran some streaks of F and HB over it to indicate some dimension and subtle depth and that area is done. Picking up my 2B for the first time, I strengthened the shadowy areas in the lower right to bring that whole area forward. I will let it sit overnight and get back to work in the morning.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Picking up where things were left yesterday . . . this first shot was taken after about an hour and a quarter of work this morning. Joining in today were my trusty F lead as well as a semi blunted tip H. I began by going over some of the 'semi finished' rocks of yesterday's work to deepen shadows and add a bit more 'noodling' on the sunlit surfaces to add more texture. I also gave a couple additional layers of 2H and H over that dark area at the upper left to bring it into more prominence as it will play an important part in helping to balance the composition once I introduce the ducks. 

In this next shot, taken after another hour plus of work time, I've now moved over to that large and prominent block of rocks that have the heaviest shadows in the image to begin to bring it to life. I have been using the F lead as the darkest of the dark areas today, in place of the 2H from yesterday as this is helping to deepen the shadowy areas that will be closer to the viewer's eye. There is not a tremendous difference in the tonal grey quality of 2H and F but after a couple of cross hatched layers of F over themselves, the tone achieved is enough of a difference that it does pull those areas and shadows forward of the ones set yesterday with the 2H. You may well ask why I just don't go in with a B at this point and set a dark area and be done? Well, I am no where near being able to determine just how, at this stage, the overall composition is going to be balanced between lights and darks and to appear in appropriated perspective so leaving myself the ability to always come back in and go darker in the last half hour of work on the piece, is a good thing!


In the last shot for today, another hour's worth of work has occurred as I continue to develop the foreground rocks adding more texture and shadows to form the various elements. Most of today's work was achieved with the help of 8H, 2H, F, H, and a touch of 3H; all of these being used in layers over one another to develop the shadows and the rounding of surfaces to represent depth. In total, a bit under four hours of total drawing board time today.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Let's Rock and Roll!

Beginning today, a new project. Over the last week or so, I've had several email conversations with another artist who was interested in learning how I depicted rocks. I sent him into my blog archives to look at some of the previous works that I had done with rocks as a predominant feature but since I decided to start this particular work today, I thought I would take a bit more time than I might usually in posting in-progress shots to focus more on my process of forming rocks.

First off, the overall composition is going to be a bit over 8" x 13" so you will have a good point of reference for the size of the individual elements. In this first shot, taken after about 50 minutes of work time, I have basically established a very soft grey tone to the water, just as a point of reference for me when trying to figure out the appropriate levels of light and dark in the foreground rocks. This first image shows how I basically begin to outline each of the separations between individual rocks and segments of larger boulders. I am working with five grades of graphite at this point and in the third image down, you can see the four pencils and one lead holder that I am using, I'll speak about those shortly. 

In the next image, I've shown a close up detail of this first bit of work and how I carefully outline the rocks and come in with a combination of 2H, 6H and 3H to begin to establish light/shadow relationships to start to form dimension and depth. You will note that I am sort of beginning at the back of the composition and working forward so these initial marks are going to be fairly soft. I am not trying to make any sharp shadow indications now and most of the deeper shadowy areas in this detail are done with a sharp 2H over a 'ground' layer of soft tipped 3H. You can see how rough the line quality is at this stage as I am simply interested in getting some basic shapes on the Bristol Board.

In this next shot below, I show the 'tools' I am using for this first couple hours of work . . . from left to right are a lead holder with a 2H lead in it with a rather sharp point on it. Next is a 9H with a fairly rounded tip which will give me a rather soft tone when rubbed gently across the slightly texture surface of the Bristol I work on. The third pencil is a 3H with a more pointed end than on the 9H but still with a slight rounding to it so it makes soft tones when run across the surface on its side. Next comes the workhorse of this first bit of work, a sharp pointed 6H, which not only do I use to make the basic outlines of each rock but when softly run across the surface it also leaves a very nice even light grey tone. The last pencil is a blunt ended 8H, blunted so I can use either the wider side of the blunted end as a softening, blending tone or I can turn the pencil in a way that I can use its sharp pin point to make very small, sharp marks, it serves double duty that way.

In those first two images, I am basically using the 8H to initially establish, with the blunted surface of its point, the soft beginning tone, as I did in the water. This gives me a good starting point from which I can begin to build up layers to darken particular areas as I need to shape the rocks and begin to give depth. Over the 8H, I have applied layers of 3H and 6H to build up to darker tones of grey and in the few areas where I have indicated some strong points of shadow and also to separate surfaces, I have gone over the layers with the 2H sharp pointed lead in the lead holder. At this stage and for quite a bit more to come, I will go no darker than that 2H lead since I am working from the back forward and don't want to get too picky now as later on when I have to do all the darker shadows in the foreground, I don't want to be stuck and unable to work darker than what has been established in the background areas first.


In the next shot, I've worked about another 90 minutes or so and have begun to get a bit more picky in some of the rocks to show how I continue to 'mold' them into objects that have dimension. Again, I am continuing to layer and build up dark areas as before. I've also set in a bit more of the shapes in the foreground and to the right of where I worked earlier just to keep things in perspective for my own understanding as I will begin to work across the entire composition shortly to start to develop an overall balanced feeling to it.

In the last image is another detail of the area just worked showing what I would consider to be about 90% completion at this point. I've also layered in 3H and 6H (the 6 acting as a 'blender' to form a smoother/even tone) over an initial layer of 2H on the dark shape at upper left, beginning to bring it forward but remaining subtle in my layers so as not to make it too dark at this point.  

Since this area is in strong sun, the sunlit surfaces of the rocks are peppered with little strokes of 8H and 9H dabbed here and there to just indicated surface texture to the rocks, with the occasional shot of 2H to give a bit more rough surface texture. I am not, by any means, trying to duplicate every nook and cranny of the rocks as shown in my reference photo but to make a good, believable rendition of a rock's surface. 
I feel comfortable with some of the modeling I've done so far and that the rocks all look like they have dimension. Much later, I will come back to this area and spark it up with shots of very soft leads here and there to give it more impact; those final marks will most likely be made with a combination of F, HB and B or 2B leads to give the strong blacks that the work will need to make it sing.