Art

Here’s my latest art – both traditional and digital.

Dory Boat

Dory boats are small, flat bottomed fishing boats designed to launch and land from the beach at Pacific City on the Oregon coast. Haystack Rock is a mile off the beach and is the tallest of several large rock monoliths along the Oregon coast. This is the second small 8×8 … Continue reading

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Minto Island Poppies

Click the picture to see a larger version. The local group of artists that I belong to (Artists in Action) will be holding a sale at the end of June (at the World Beat Festival in Salem) to raise money for the group. This year members are painting 8×8 inch … Continue reading

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Poppies and Lupin

I’m testing Faber-Castell Gel Sticks. These watercolors in gel form are meant for kids. They are like a twistable crayon and come in a set of 12 colors. I thought I would try them out on a flower sketch.

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She Wolf Portrait

The last two days I’ve experimented with new art supplies. I bought a new Kuretake watercolor palette. It took a month to get here from Japan. So, I was anxious to try out the colors. I decided to use a portrait reference from the Julia Kay Portrait Party group on … Continue reading

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Four Flowers

I did these small flower studies all on the same piece of paper. The first thing I did was adhere the paper to a piece of 2mm Sintra PVC panel with some brushed on acrylic soft gel medium. I let that dry for about an hour under some heavy books. … Continue reading

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On the Willamette

I did this small study today to test out how watersoluble markers work on a smooth gessoed panel. It’s like working with a limited selection of watercolors. Also I discovered that ink just sits on top of the gesso. It does not stick or sink into it. So, if you … Continue reading

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Daffodils in the Woods

I’m looking for a way to do plein air paintings without carrying brushes or water or wet media. I did this small study to see how tempera paint sticks and brush markers handle on canvas panel. I laid in the major areas of color with the paint sticks first and … Continue reading

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Camellia Bush

  This bush is in our backyard. It’s in full bloom. I’ve been glancing at it throughout the day thinking about how I’d approach sketching it with paint sticks dabbing on the pure color. Finally, before dinner I found the time to sit down and try out my plan. Fabriano … Continue reading

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Donnottar Castle Scotland

Sketching from Google Street View. Testing tempra paint sticks on smooth paper with water. Strathmore Mixed Media 400 Series 9×12 inch (22.9×30.5 cm) paper, pencil, Mod Tempra Paint sticks, Arteza flat waterbrush, ArtGraf Viarco 6B water-soluble pencil, Kuretake #13 brush fountain pen with Platinum Carbon Black ink, and Molotow 2mm … Continue reading

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Freehand vs Traced Underdrawing

Today I did two small sketches (3.5×6 inches each) of the same photo reference to compare sketching freehand and sketching using a traced underdrawing. I did the freehand sketch first.

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Slide Miniatures

The other day I found a box of cardboard heat-seal 35mm slide mounts and an old custom built slide mounting press. I wondered if it still worked and if so, how I might put it to good use. It occurred to me that I could do miniature paintings and frame … Continue reading

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Willamette River

Winter in the Willamette Valley has its own stark beauty – cold and gray. I thought charcoal would be the best medium to express this scene interpreted from a personal photo.

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Yachats Trees Block Print

This is a seven color hand-pulled print 6×6 inches (15.2×15.2 cm). There are 10 prints in this edition. Some projects take a long time to complete. I worked on the first six colors over the course of several weeks last Spring. Then the project sat on the shelf for six months until I … Continue reading

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Sun Over Mountain

This little print (4×6 inches, 10×15 cm) is the culmination of two weeks research and planning and gathering of materials and tools. It is my first attempt at printing in color. It uses six plates to print six colors.

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Nikki – Linocut

When I first moved to Oregon and lived out in the country, I got a puppy to keep me company. I called her Nikki (wild dog of the north). She was a Collie / Husky mix – a very smart, sweet dog. I used this photo of her as a … Continue reading

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Straight Line Practice

Straight Line Practice

Straight Line Practice

I decided to practice drawing straight lines. Mine are wobbly. (See the next post for examples).

Drawing is both a physical and a mental activity. You need to practice to gain physical strength and dexterity – to make that muscle, bone, nerve, spinal cord, brain connection and turn that conscious action into an automatic one and make it a permanent hardwired path. You need to form good habits and strengthen the right muscles. You also need to relax with a goal to draw effortlessly.

I spent the last four weeks practicing drawing straight lines. I collected and scanned all my practice drawings and created this PDF to document my process and findings.

Jim

Buildings and Foliage

Buildings and Foliage

Buildings and Foliage

I did three small sketches today for Sketching Now Foundations online course by Liz Steel. This week 2 assignment is to draw buildings carefully first and then foliage with looser marks. The point is to compare careful vs looser ways of working.

I did these all in a small Moleskine Plain Journal 3.5 x 5.5 inches (9 x 14 cm). I used my small Kaweco Sport fountain pen with extra fine nib and Noodler’s Bulletproof Black ink. I wanted to travel light and carry everything in my shirt pocket.

I did the first two drawings at home. First I did the back of our house. Then I did the house across the street. Later we went out to the bank. I did the final drawing while waiting at the service desk.

Some days you’re hot. Some days you’re not. I just was not in the groove today. I did enjoy working with the Kaweco Sport pen. It feels very comfortable in my hand. The Moleskine journal is convenient to carry, but I prefer to work on larger, better paper. I did like combining both the analytical approach of drawing the building (angle, length, relationships) and the free form mark making of the foliage. A little play after a little work is good.

Pure line work looks very flat. It describes the shapes but not the volumes. I’m used to adding tones or colors to my drawings. These line sketches seem lacking and I’m not sure if it is just my expectations or if I need to work on something felt but not known.

Jim

Contour Exercise

Contour Exercise

Contour Exercise

Today I’m working on an exercise for Sketching Now Foundations course by Liz Steel. Doing both blind and point to point contour drawings at different speeds. This week we are working on feeling edges. I’ve done blind contour drawing before, but I haven’t done point to point contour drawing.

I worked standing up. I usually work sitting down, but I read somewhere that it is better for your health to work standing up so I thought I’d give it a try. I placed my pad of paper on a tripod stand that I have for my iPad. It worked well. I had more freedom of movement and felt looser and more relaxed.

I started with a “30 Line” warmup. I guess I should explain that since it’s my own invention. I always draw better after warming up, but I realized this morning that I really have no idea which is better – drawing for a set time (say two minutes) or drawing a set number of lines (say 30 or 40). So today I’m trying a set number. I counted to myself as I made each mark. When I reached 30 I found I hadn’t finished the subject. So, I continued to 40. Okay, so I cheated. I’ll rename it next time. I think it helped. My first blind contour wasn’t half bad. It was fun doing a fast blind contour. Next time I’d like to use a fine tipped pen instead of a calligraphy pen just to compare the emotion of the line.

Point to point is a modified contour drawing and you don’t do it blind. You first place your pen on the page, pick a point in the subject and follow the edge of the subject with your eyes noting the shape, angles, and length. Next you follow with your eyes slowly back to the starting point. Finally you slowly trace the edge again with your eyes as you move the pen in sync with your eyes. You continue to do that point to point around the subject. It’s an interesting technique. The results are pretty accurate, but it takes a long time and requires a lot of concentration.

I did the fast point to point roughly two times faster. By this time I had drawn the same subject five times. So, I knew the shapes well. I felt comfortable working faster. The proportions suffered a little bit (the vertical lengths are off), but I like the feel of this last drawing. It doesn’t feel as stiff as the slow one.

Here’s a photo of my subject taken after I was finished drawing.

Contour Exercise Photo

Contour Exercise Photo

At this point process is more important than subject.

Strathmore Bristle 300 series 11x 17 inches (27.9 x 43.2 cm) paper, green Sailor calligraphy pen with Noodler’s Bulletproof Black ink.

Jim

Kettle, Cup, and Spoon

Kettle, Cup, and Spoon

Kettle, Cup, and Spoon

This is an assignment for the Sketching Now Foundations course I’m taking from Liz Steel. We are Comparing pen and pencil sketching. I did the pen version on the left first starting with the cup. I then drew the top curve of the kettle, the handle, the spout, the middle curve, the left and bottom of the kettle, and finally the spoon. I then added a little blue watercolor to the cup and some gray for the shadows. I followed the same route with the pencil drawing on the right using a water soluble graphite pencil. I then added gray watercolor and pulled some of the graphite out of the drawing with a waterbrush to get the grays on the cup and a few other places.

I feel equally comfortable using both pen and pencil. I like both versions. The drawing with pen on the left is wonkier. It always takes me a while to warm up so the drawing with pencil is more accurate.

By the way, it really helps if you set up the objects you want to sketch like you would for a good photograph. I place them on a seamless white backdrop and light them from above with a soft large light source (I used a large Chinese lantern with a bright compact fluorescent bulb inside).

Seamless Backdrop

Seamless Backdrop

This helped me see the edges more clearly because the objects were not surrounded by a cluttered background. It also helped me see the cast shadows. Notice I actually have two light sources. The hanging lantern was to the right and I also had the overhead ceiling light on above and to the left.

Stillman & Birn Zeta series spiral bound 5.5 x 8 inch notebook, Mars 500 technical pen with 0.4mm tip and Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink, Kuretake Petit waterbrush, General’s Sketch & Wash water soluble graphite pencil, Lucas watercolors in my home made 15 color travel palette.

Jim

The Dentist’s Office

Dentist's Office

Dentist’s Office

I drove my wife, Kris, to the dentist today to have her teeth cleaned. I sketched the office while I waited in the car. I wanted to try using my technical pen with Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink in it. I’ve been using a 0.5mm tip. I recently cleaned up an old 0.4mm tip that’s been sitting in my desk for 35 years. I let it soak overnight in a solution of Murphy’s Oil Soap (1 part soap to 10 parts water). That did the trick. Sure is fun to get an old favorite working again. I like the extra fine line.

Stillman & Birn Zeta series spiral bound 5.5 x 8 inch notebook, Mars 500 technical pen with 0.4mm tip and Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink, Kuretake Petit waterbrush, Lucas and Daniel Smith watercolors in my 15 color home made palette.

Jim

15 Color Travel Palette

Travel Palette

Travel Palette

This is my new travel watercolor palette. I made it from a plastic fluorescent light fixture grid panel that’s made up of 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) squares. I cut out a piece of the grid and then molded some InstaMorph plastic to fashion a bottom plate. I made the lid the same way cutting out the grid to leave just a frame. I taped one edge to make a hinge and filled the wells with Lucas and Daniel Smith tube watercolors. When closed the palette measures 3.5 x 2 x 0.75 inches (8.5 x 5 x 1.8 cm) a very convenient size that’s easy to carry in a pocket or bag. I hold it shut with a rubber band. I also attached a magnetic sheet top and bottom to hold it in use on my setup board when painting on location.

Stillman & Birn Zeta series 5.5 x 8 inch spiral bound notebook, Mars 500 technical pen with Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink, Lucas and Daniel Smith watercolors.

Here’s a photo of the palette open and closed in my hand so you can get an idea of its size.

Travel Palette Photo

Travel Palette Photo

Next I made a chart of all the 50/50 mixes that can be made with these 15 colors.

15 Color Mix Chart

15 Color Mix Chart

It takes a long time to do these charts, but it is well worth the effort. It’s important to start with clean colors and to keep them clean while you are working. That means cleaning the brush every time you pick up a color to mix it with another color, cleaning the mixing area when it gets full, and changing the cleaning water often.

Here are some of my discoveries:

  • When mixing it works best to mix light colors into darker/stronger colors.
  • Don’t put down wet paint right next to another square with wet paint in it. The two colors will bleed into each other. You can see that on the far left in the third and fourth rows. From then on I worked in a checkerboard pattern, waited until the paints had dried and then filled in the rest of the blank squares in the checkerboard.
  • I like the mixes made with Phalo Blue especially combined with my gray mix to make a nice Payne’s gray, with Viridian to make black, with Alizarin Crimson to make a nice dark brown, and Burnt Sienna to make gray.
  • I also like the mixes with Ceruleum Blue. Mixing it with Viridian makea a lovely turquoise. Mixing it with Burnt Sienna or Burnt Umber creates nice grays.
  • I am not happy with the Lucas Cadmium Red Hue. It does not mix well. I need to find a better warm red.
  • I like the wide variety of greens and earth colors in these mixes.

I was surprised by the number of dark value mixes. Here’s a black and white picture of the chart. Notice how many of the colors are darker than mid tone gray.

15 Color Value Mix Chart

15 Color Value Mix Chart

I guess I should have realized how many dark blues and browns I had in my palette, but I didn’t until I saw this chart.

I’m pretty happy with my color choices in this palette – particularly here in the Pacific Northwest where we have a lot of greens and browns and our skies show many grays and blues.

Jim

SketchingNow Foundations Course Week 1

Pencil Tests

Pencil Tests

I’m taking a 12 week course in sketching from Liz Steel. This week we are getting to know our materials. I recently got some new water soluble pencils which I’ve been meaning to try. The General’s Sketch & Wash pencil arrived just before I was heading out the door to take Kris to the eye doctor’s. So, I stuck it in my bag and sketched a stool in the office while I waited. They kept turning the lights off on me which made it a challenge, but I persevered. This is a nice soft pencil capable of making a variety of marks. I really like how it melts into a beautiful granulated gray when you add water. I used my Kuretake Petit waterbrush to pull the grays from the lines on the page. This pencil works very well. I’ll be adding it to my kit.

I also recently tested a set of 6 Derwent Inktense water soluble colored pencils. They deliver as advertised a very intense ink like pigment when moistened. They also mix well. You can draw with them on dry paper and then wet them or you can draw onto wet paper and get very saturated color that spread into the paper. You can also use a brush to draw color from the tips of the pencils. That’s what I did in the row just above the mixes in my test. I’ll be carrying these in my kit too to add bright spot colors to my sketches.

Sketching Kit

Sketching Kit

Another assignment this week was to draw our sketching kit. This is the bag I usually carry with me when I go out. It has room for all my art supplies plus a water bottle and a snack. I drew this with the General’s Sketch & Wash pencil and added the grays with water from my Kuretake Petit waterbrush. I then used a variety of pens to add black and some detail.

Stillman & Birn Zeta series 5.5 x 8 inch wire bound notebook, General’s Sketch & Wash #588 water soluble graphite pencil, Sailor CDE calligraphy pen with Noodler’s Lexington Gray ink, Kuretake Petit waterbrush, Platinum Carbon Desk pen with Noodler’s Bulletproof Black ink, and Uni-Ball Vision Fine pen black.

Jim

The Wrong Nemo

Book Cover Illustration

Book Cover Illustration

This week’s Sketchbook Skool Storytelling assignment was to pick or make up a book and illustrate its cover. As a boy I loved reading my father’s books such as Treasure Island, Mysterious Island, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Some of them were illustrated by the great N.C. Wyeth. For a while I contemplated doing a small oil painting in Wyeth’s style. This seemed a bit ambitious. So I decided to do a watercolor.

Book Cover Thumbnails

Book Cover Thumbnails

I thought about it for a couple of days and did these thumbnails and an initial pencil drawing. The first four thumbnails were for “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” and the last thumbnail was for “The Mysterious Island”. I picked “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” and did a larger pencil sketch of the idea.

I didn’t want to hand letter the cover because coloring in around letters with watercolor would look messy.

Book Cover Comp

Book Cover Comp

I did this mock up in GIMP (the free open source image editing program). As usual it turned out to be more complicated than I anticipated. I wanted the title to be red with a black outline around the letters and the authors name to be black with a red outline around the letters. I tried a number of methods all of which didn’t work. Eventually I figured it out. You have to select the text with the text tool, convert the text to a path, and stroke the path and make sure you select the right foreground color before you do it. LOL. Well I learned something extra in Sketchbook Skool. I liked this idea. However, I thought I’d sleep on it.

The assignment called for doing research on the details. I Googled “weird deep-sea fish” and “giant octopus movies” and “1880 sailor uniforms”. While researching underwater scenes, I looked at Finding Nemo backgrounds (which are beautiful) and got the idea to include Nemo the clownfish in the scene. I then remembered the storyline of Finding Nemo. The movie is really about Nemo’s father, Marlin, as he searches for his son, Nemo. Then I got the idea to have Marlin find the wrong Nemo, Captain Nemo, on the Nautilus. Brilliant! Better ideas really do come with persistence.

I drew the illustration again on a larger piece of paper with pencil. I drew and erased at least six versions of Captian Nemo. It didn’t look right. I couldn’t find any reference photos showing him from the back. Finally I had to photograph myself in the right position to draw him as I couldn’t quite get the the head and legs right.

Jim Posing as Nemo

Jim Posing as Nemo

I inked the pencil drawing while lounging on the futon with my feet up and a heat pack on my back. I had thrown out my lower back while working in the yard. Sitting at the table bending over a drawing was not a good idea.

Book Cover Pen and Ink

Book Cover Pen and Ink

After dinner I painted the scene with watercolor. Strathmore 300 Bristle vellum paper holds up well to multiple erasures, but it does not handle watercolor well. It buckles and tiny pieces of paper ball up if you scrub it while wet. I photographed the painting and transferred the file to my iMac. I used GIMP to drop the image into the book cover design and changed the text to read “The Wrong Nemo by James Blodget”. I uploaded the image to SBS at midnight. Done is better than perfect.

Book Cover

Book Cover

I learned a lot from this assignment. I really enjoyed doing the research and discovered that it takes more time than doing the finished drawing. I was also reminded how important it is not to settle for your first idea. Allow yourself time and trust that the process will reveal a better idea.

Doing an illustration is about creating your own world. You decide what to put in and what to leave out. It’s all in the details. There are things in this drawing that I know no one else will notice like the gauge in the shadows in the upper left hand corner or the bit of yellow glow around the angler fish’s antenna or the blue reflection in the window sill or the blood shot eye of the octopus or the fact that his legs have two rows of suckers instead of one or that the first mate is barefoot. It’s all there because I thought about it and put it there. I now really appreciate the work that goes into a good illustration.

Jim

John

John

John

This is my friend John. The time was 1969. The place Berkeley, California. People were protesting in the streets and the Oakland police (we called them the Blue Meanies) were brutal. John showed up in this medic’s uniform of his own design sporting a WWII helmet, bag, and lab coat, and marched with the protesters in support and to offer aid when necessary. He put his own safety on the line to help others. All the people in my circle were like that – idealistic, courageous, and kind.

I drew this from a 35mm slide I took at the time outside my apartment building on Piedmont Avenue. 1969 was the year my draft status changed from student deferred to 1-A and it was the first year of the draft lottery. The Vietnam War was in full swing. My fate and those of my generation were determined not by the decisions of reasonable men, but by chance. I was lucky, but others I knew were not.

Stillman & Birn Zeta series 5.5. X 8 spiral bound notebook, Uni Pin 02 pen, Platinum brush pen, Inktense red watercolor pencil, Kuretake Petit waterbrush, and Lucas lamp black watercolor.

Jim

People Practice #5

People Practice #5

People Practice #5

I’ve been practicing sketching people now for a week. After doing 20 second and one minute sketches on and off all week I decided to slow down. I did these six figures in 18 minutes. I switched from using my usual Sailor Calligraphy pen to my Pentel 07 rollerball pen because it has water soluble ink and I could quickly add some grey tones by pulling color from the lines with a Kuretake Mini waterbrush.

It does help to practice. I’m getting better at seeing and drawing the shapes.

Jim

Front Room

Front Room

Front Room

I’m excited. This is my second try at using my new method of drawing and it really works! (Read my previous post for a complete description of the method and the theory behind it). The only change I made to the process was to take as much time as I needed to complete each stage. I didn’t limit myself to 20 seconds each.

I did this drawing without any preplanning or layout and with no preliminary pencil drawing. I started at the top and drew directly with pen all the horizontal lines I saw working my way down the page and out to the sides paying attention to the relative lengths of the lines and the distance between them. This first stage is very important because it determines the placement of the scene on the page and the proportions of the major shapes. It sounds difficult, but it feels very natural and easy to do without the need to do any measurement or make any corrections.

I next drew all the vertical lines working from left to right. I had to lengthen some of the horizontal lines to meet the verticals, but most of them lined up. Next I drew the diagonal lines and then the curves. I then added emphasis by going over and darkening the frames of the pictures and underneath the shelves. I then added the details of the books and other objects and the pictures. Finally I used my Kuretake Mini waterbrush to pull some grey tone from the existing lines. The ink of the Pentel 07 rollerball pen is water soluble.

Next I want to try different subjects. I’ll probably have to modify the order of the stages to accommodate subjects that have mainly diagonal lines or curves.

Jim

A New Method of Drawing

Line Sequence Sketch 1

Line Sequence Sketch 1

Okay, I might be going down a blind alley or I may have made a great discovery. I’m not sure which yet. This is my first try at a new way of drawing. The idea hit me as I woke up the other day and it’s basically this. Instead of looking at a scene and drawing all the shapes, you instead progressively put down different kinds of line in a specified order. The order is taken from research about the developmental stages of drawing which found that children progress through making horizontal marks, then vertical, then diagonal, and then curvilinear marks. They then see and draw shapes, values and colors, and finally space. So, my idea was to first draw all the horizontal lines in the scene, then the vertical lines, then the diagonal lines, then the curves, and then to add some emphasis and finally some detail.

The other part of my idea was to use a method called Centering to turn off my inner critic and direct my nervous energy. I recently came across this idea in an article about how musicians are trained to overcome stage fright and use their nervous energy to enhance performance. Athletes also use the same method. So, I thought hey, why not artists. Here’s the link to the article in case you want to read the details. http://www.bulletproofmusician.com/how-to-make-performance-anxiety-an-asset-instead-of-a-liability/ .

My goal in combining these two methods was to do a very quick (2 minute) on-the-spot sketch. I would first center myself and then draw spending 20 seconds on each stage of the drawing. I knew I needed some kind of timer. So, I recorded my voice giving directions and timing cues while using a stopwatch. I would play this back while drawing. Here’s a link to my audio recording in case you want to try it for yourself.

I sat at the kitchen table and looked across the room at the stove and cabinets. I sat up straight and centered myself, picked up my pen, hit the play button on my iPad, and drew.

It was a very different experience. I wasn’t drawing things or shapes of things. I was concentrating on finding specific kinds of edges and drawing their relative positions and lengths, angles, and curves. In the last two steps I emphasized a few darks and for detail I added some hinges and handles. While drawing my inner critic was completely turned off. It’s as if he said “Oh, you’re just drawing horizontal lines? You don’t need me for that” and walked away.

20 seconds is a VERY short time to draw each stage. I admit that I was surprised to find that my drawing actually resembled my kitchen and I immediately wondered how it would compare to my usual way of quick sketching. So, I flipped my page over, set the stopwatch on my iPod Touch to 2 minutes, started it and drew until the timer beeped. I used my standard approach which is to start somewhere, draw a shape, and move outward drawing the surrounding shapes.

Standard Method Sketch

Standard Method Sketch

It’s interesting to compare the two images. The standard method produced a “wonkier” drawing. The horizontal and vertical lines weren’t straight and the proportions were off. The new method produced a drawing with a completely different character. It feels calmer, less frantic, more stable and assured.

Usually it takes me a while to warm up and get into the flow of drawing. My best sketches use three stages – a quick analytical sketch to figure out the subject, a pencil under drawing, and a final ink drawing. I’m hoping this new method will help me bypass all that to quickly achieve a better sketch in one pass. This first try is encouraging.

Next I want to try it with different subjects and without the time constraints.

Jim

Great Expectations

Great Expectations

Great Expectations

In 1954 a group of enthusiastic, imaginative children gathered together eager to learn. By 8:05 they realized that their teacher was part of a conspiracy to turn them into worker bees for the military industrial complex. Her name was Mrs. Weamers and she went by the book. Children in her class would do as they were told or else she would “Jump down your throat and dance on your liver” as she was fond of saying. We survived. We did more than that. After all, we were the generation who would grow up to defy the establishment in the 60’s and change everything. We had Great Expectations.

This week’s assignment for Sketchbook Skool was to draw from imagination your first day of school. It ended up taking a LOT longer than I anticipated. It took me two days to refine the idea. At first I thought I’d give each child a thought bubble with a dream occupation and compare that with the teacher’s wish to turn them all into corporate drones. That was WAY too complicated. So, I combined all their dreams into one group bubble and then realized that I didn’t need to show the teacher’s thoughts. Instead it could be implied by the space with the flag in the front corner, clock on the wall, desks in a row.

I drew the scene first in pencil. I started with the blackboard and back walls. I then drew circles for the placement of the kids’ heads and then refined their faces and bodies. Next I added the teacher and her desk and the flag. I then drew in the space for the thought bubble and sketched the cowboy. His horse turned into a beast because I couldn’t draw a bucking horse from memory. Other than a ballerina I had no idea what the girls wanted to be. So, I stuck to what I knew – a pirate, a deep sea diver, a pilot, a dare devil, a movie maker. These are the dreams of little kids.

The next stage was to ink in the drawing. I used a Platinum Desk Carbon pen with Platinum Carbon Black ink. It has a very fine nib and the ink is waterproof. I spent almost as much time erasing the pencil marks. Finally I added watercolor using a Di Vinci #6 travel brush and a combination of Daniel Smith and Lucas tube watercolors.

I learned once again that a project takes on a life of its own and you have to follow it. Don’t settle for your first idea. Usually the first thing you think of is a cliché. You need to take it further and have faith that good ideas will come along the way.

I was also reminded that drawing is fun, but it is also hard work. It takes a long time to do it “right”. It requires patience and stamina. “Rest with renewed attack” is a wise working strategy.

Jim