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Friday, December 31, 2010


hand drawn Christmas card
In our DRAWING class we have a tradition before the holiday season...  we have a DRAWING to select names for a hand-drawn greeting card to be sent to the recipient.  Very exciting...a bit of a Secret Santa thing that allows for more drawing practice at the same time it excites the recipient to be the owner of an original drawing.  Yes!  I drew Lisa's name.  As time was short, I chose to work on my card during the ornament/greens lesson in class.  I brought in some vintage ornaments that had some patterns on them for a bit of a challenge.   I used a Strathmore card with a red deckled edge and masked off borders with artist's tape in order to have clean and smudge-free edges.  I began with a few marks with a red pastel in order to tie into that red border.  I worked the drawing in a fairly dark pencil.  At the end-of-class-critique, most artists felt that I needed more darks.  So, at home, I used some of my darkest leads to create a rhythm that would connect the elements.  I sprayed the card with fixative and sent it on its way, addressing it in pencil to tie into the drawing.

Friday, December 17, 2010


hand drawn Christmas card
A week ago in our Thursday drawing class, we brought in glass Christmas balls and greenery to set up for a still life.  Our goal was to contrast the hard, shiny and highly reflective balls with the textured greens of the season.  We all seemed to have a difficult time with contrasting values, as the greens and the balls were somewhat the same.  The overhead banks of fluorescent lights did not provide the bright sparkling highlights that we had hoped for.  In almost every case, the artists had to rework the drawings at home, adding deeper darks in order to make the drawings more easily read.  Concepcion chose two nearly-transparent hand-blown bulbs that were a gift.  The stems are visible through them.  She added a wrapped package and some fine rhythmic pine needles.  The varying forms make the drawing quite interesting.  The glass balls are very finely drawn.  The composition is quite strong.  Very successful....we all agreed.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Dussel Farm...

Dussel Farm in February   watercolor   8.25 x 23.25
Is a local farm that we frequent for sweet corn, pumpkins and the like.  My children passed it on the school bus each day.  The Dussel children were classmates.  There aren't so many farms like it anymore.  It is monumental to me.  "Dussel Farm in February" was painted at the end of last winter from reference photos shot across the street.  I like the horizontal format as it implies the unending lay of the land.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Leave that stroke alone!...

Julie   conte crayon on paper   17.5 x 10
Yes, my brain tells me this repeatedly!  Demonstrations offer the opportunity to draw from life and to relish what has been given to you.  Julie sank into the comfy chair and eventually became one with that chair as she relaxed.  The excitement was there for me....the notion of a winter nap.  At the end of the session, I was quite satisfied with the overall feel of the work but felt that there were several issues that still needed to be resolved.  At home, I worked a bit...maybe a half hour, but understood the danger of "fixing"...where areas do become neater, tidier, but at what cost? reducing the energy of the work.  Ask me how I learned this lesson.  Ask anyone who has ever worked in watercolor.  Sometimes I look around at model sessions and classes and see well-versed artists repeatedly stroking (licking) areas again and again to no avail.....trying to get it "right".  It takes a long while to learn to trust trust what you realize that every stroke is valid, that every stroke, every mark, every squiggle is valid.  Trust......yeah, I get it now....hopefully it will stick.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

To Draw is to Feel...

Bob...a sketch
It is no secret that my feelings are completely evident in my work....Words have become nearly superfluous to me...good listeners are rare.  True communication through words is nearly impossible to me.  The paper, the they allow me to express myself completely and unconditionally.  Bob is a feeling artist as well.  In the past several years Bob has put his heart on paper.  To call his work nostalgic would be a misnomer.  His work celebrates the momentous parts of his life....those things worth keeping, worth expressing.  Bob's drawing of baby shoes on a toned piece of paper drew admiration from the other artists in our class.  The shoes are tenderly drawn.

Very often artists consider the background to be a separate entity from the subject matter....and we are often sucked into rendering the table, the chair, the curtain....just because they are there.  Bob's very slight horizontal strokes solve the problem of weight....the necessity of having the shoes rest on something so that they do not appear to float.  Those few strokes are worth the price of admission to me.  So much power in such a simple drawing!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Feetured Artists..

my feet...a sketch
On Thursday last the artists in drawing class drew our own feet!  Believe me, there were lots of complaints!  .....of having feet like Bilbo Baggins and Fred Flintstone....feet so dexterous that they can pick up objects from the artist too shy and cold to reveal anything at all...and my own high-arched complaint of never feeling quite grounded.  All in all, it was very wonderful.  We noticed tendons.  We noticed negative space.  Each and every drawing is animated and demonstrates a lively interaction between the two feet.  I thought of creating a matching game with posted faces and feet drawings.....that would have involved far too much work and, perhaps, a bit too much exposure.  Instead, we have a slide show of feet!

Enjoy our feet.  Enjoy our drawings.  Ah.....the thrill of da feet.

Friday, December 3, 2010

It's Hoppin'!...

Winter Nap   charcoal/pastel   28 x 18
Sugar.  Caffeine.  Diet Coke.  Love them all.  But in this case I am talking about downtown Akron.  It is supremely satisfying to see your city in the process of waking up to the creative arts.  This coming Saturday, December 4, is the monthly artwalk and things are hopping at Summit Artspace and in many downtown venues.  We are painting in the ASA Studio on the 3rd floor starting at 5 pm.  On Sunday, December 5, I will be doing a figure drawing demonstration, also on the 3rd floor, starting at 1 pm.  Oh, the possibilities.  I am excited and have already purchased a wonderful piece of paper.  (yes, it's the little things)  Julie DiSiena will be my model.  I cannot promise success......but I can promise a heartfelt searching. 

Shopping provides a momentary buzz.  Making art is lasting.  Consider giving a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork.  Support local artists.  Have a cup of coffee to ward off the chill.  Enjoy the buzz.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sinus Headache...

Heavy Frost   watercolor   3.5 x 17
Yes I do have one.  Last week we were coatless.  This week a dusting of snow.  Those changes that affect our beings are in some way momentous.  Noteworthy.

Last week's assignment was a painting of a late November landscape.  Come class day, I still had no reference as the holiday weekend had usurped my energy.  I awoke to a heavy frost, the headache, and decided to paint the view that I see as I sip my morning java.  And, I decided to paint small, really small....something I rarely do.  One glance into my studio currently reveals 6 unfinished paintings and, with the holidays abreast, I didn't want to add to that number.  An hour or so before class, I thrifted a small, small horizontal frame.....perfect!  I painting sitting down...with small brushes....barely touching the surface....and.....a light-hearted attitude.

I am truly happy with the result.  The finished work is 3.5 x 17".  Very very small.  This extreme exercise was good for me in many ways.  Learning to play the softer notes.

And, I guess we should have put up the outdoor lights last week.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Winter Red...Cardinals at the feeder

Winter Red   watercolor   19 x 12.5
The first dusting of snow greeted us this morning.  Coffee.  Cardinals at the feeder.  Life is good.