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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Minto Island Park

Minto-island

First day of summer. 80 degrees. I went for a walk in Minto Island park which is only 5 minutes from downtown Salem. Most people come here to walk their dogs. I sat down for a bite to eat at a picnic table and did this sketch.

When I was done I took this reference photo.

Minto-island-photo

Strathmore Visual Journal 5.5 X 8 inches, pencil, Lucas watercolors.

Jim

Iris Garden

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It was a beautiful day today. I drove over to the Schreiner’s Iris Gardens in Keizer. I walked around and took a few pictures. Then I sat down and did this sketch in watercolor. I painted areas of color first and then I drew some outlines in pencil.

Iris-garden-cuIris-garden-photo

This is what was in front of me and also a general view of the gardens.

Strathmore 5.5 x 8 inch Visual Journal, Lucas watercolors – Cobalt Blue, Lemon Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, Sap Green, and Payne’s Gray, and pencil.

Jim

Parlor Car

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Painted this on the moving train on my way back from my California trip. I was sitting in the parlor car. I did a very loose sketch in pen first. Then I added watercolor.

Here’s the pen sketch and a reference photo I took with my iPad.

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Moleskine watercolor journal, Noodler’s Ink flex nib pen with Noodler’s Bulletproof Black ink, Lucas watercolors.

On the Train

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I painted this while on the train going down to visit my Dad and brother. I had a small compartment. This is the seat across from me. 

It was hard to draw and paint on a moving train. Lettering is even harder. This will remind me of the bumpy ride on Amtrak.

Moleskine watercolor journal, Noodler’s Ink Flex pen with Noodler’s Bulletproof Black ink, Lucas watercolors – Prussian Blue, Payne’s Grey, Cadmium Red medium, Lemon Yellow, and Burnt Sienna.

Jim

The Woods

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Experimented today painting watercolor with a palette knife. I tried a variety of methods and marks. I used the flat back of the knife to spread paint into a wet surface and smear it around. I also tried making very narrow marks with the edge of the knife working up and down. Then I put paint on the edge of the knife and moved from left to right dragging a swath of paint. I also used the edge to drag wet color up and out to paint grass.

Strathmore Watercolor series 400, 5.5 x 8.5 inches, palette knife, Lucas tube paints – Burnt Umber, Ultramarine Blue, Viridian, Payne’s Grey, Lemon Yellow.

Willamette Heritage Center

Willamette-heritage

Today is Tuesday and admission is free at the Willamette Heritage Center at the Mill across the street from Willamette University. This is a great place to sketch and paint. I sat on a bench overlooking the mill stream. This is the back of the entrance building.

I took a reference photo with my iPad (but I didn’t use it while I painted). Here it is for comparison.

Willamette-heritage-photo

Moleskine watercolor 5.5 x 8 inch journal, pencil sketch first, then watercolor (Lucas tube paints – Cobalt Blue, Lemon Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Payne’s Grey), and finally Micron 02 pen. About an hour and a half, 2:30 to 4 in the afternoon.

Backyard Spring

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We had a beautiful 80 degree day – the first in 2012. I painted this sitting on our back porch. It was late in the day and the light was changing fast.

I drew the scene in pencil first. I attempted to get the relative sizes and placement right by using the central post as a  unit of measure. I used my pencil at arm’s length to measure the post’s height and then I used that unit to measure everything else. The last post in the row is one unit to the left and is 1/2 the height. The fir tree is one unit to the right, etc. I also tried to get the perspective right. I drew in the vanishing point lines and then the posts.

I then added the watercolor starting with light green and light brown. I worked my way up the values. Finally, the last thing I did was to use a Pentel Presto correction pen to add the white dots. Total time was around 1 1/2 hours.

The next day we had similar lighting so I took a reference photo.

Backyard-sketch-photo

Here’s the two page layout of notes and painting from my journal.

Backyard-sketch-journal

Moleskine watercolor journal, pencil, Lucas watercolors – Light Yellow, Cobalt Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Payne’s Grey, Pentel Presto correction pen.

Hero M86 Pen

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I’m trying out the Hero M86 pen today as a sketching pen. It can make a variable width line depending on how you hold it. A steep angle makes a very thin line. A low angle makes a thick line. This is because the nib has a unique swoop on the end of it.

I bought the pen for $10 ($6 shipping) from isellpens.com. It’s made in China. It’s a remakable pen for $10 – well made, heavy, and comes with a piston feed, but it also can use cartidges. I filled it with Noodler’s Bulletproof Black ink. It flows very nicely unless you let it sit unused for several days. You can easily get it started again by dipping the nib in water.

It takes some practice to draw with this pen as you have to change the angle as you draw to vary the line width. This takes some getting used to, but I like it. One refillable pen gives me unlimited line width.

I did this sketch standing in the greenhouse. Total time was less than 20 minutes. Later I added the sketch of the pen and it’s nib.

Here’s a cellphone photo of the plant. I took it after I was done sketching.

Hero-photo

And here’s my two page journal spread with my notes.

Hero-journal

Moleskine watercolor journal, Hero M86 pen with Noodler’s Bulletproof Black ink, Lucas tube watercolors – Light Yellow, Cobalt Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna, Payne’s Grey.

Jim

Another Greenhouse Sketch

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Pen first, then watercolor. This was a self assignment. I wanted to sketch in pen without doing any pre-planning or pencil layout first. Just draw what’s in front of you with no photo reference. Jump right in, start drawing in pen, and fill the page. So, that’s what I did. I started with the large redwood container in the lower left corner, worked my way up the left hand side of the page and then across to the table leg in the center and down to the pots. I then sketched the ladder, the window, the items on top of the table, and then the watering can in the lower right corner and the rest of the items on the right.

Once the pen work ws done, I painted with watercolors. I started with the light greens and then the browns. I then did the dark areas to judge the contrast range and then the grey ladder and concrete floor. All this was done with a flat waterbrush. I then switched to a small round waterbrush to add the reds, do some touch up, and finish some detail. It took about an hour.

Here’s a photo of what I saw.

Greenhouse-mess-photo

And here’s my journal with my notes.

Greenhouse-mess-journal-1400

I think I did a pretty good job of capturing the scene. I got the values and colors, major shapes and perspective right. I purposely picked a chaotic subject with lots of detail. I drew one thing at a time paying attention to angles and relative sizes and then I moved on to the next shape until I reached the edge of the page. I was surprised to discover when I finished the drawing that it turned out as well as it did.

Moleskine watercolor journal, Mars 500 pen (0.5 nib) with Noodler’s Bulletproof Black ink , Lucas tube paints – Alizarin Crimson, Cobalt Blue, Light Yellow, Sap Green, Burnt Sienna, and Payne’s Grey.

Jim

Thomas Kay Woolen Mill

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The Thomas Kay Mill was one of the last water driven mills in Oregon. It is now a museum.

Trying pen and watercolor in my journal. I worked from a reference photo I took last summer.

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I used my iPad to reverse the photo and change it to black and white and size it for my journal.

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I then traced the image onto tracing paper with a soft pencil and transferred it to my journal by rubbing the back of the tracing with the smooth round end of a pen. This transferred the pencil marks to the page.

Next I used a Micron 02 pen to create a pen and ink sketch over the tracing and erased the pencil.

Tkw-1028

About a week later I added watercolor. I looked at the original photo on my iPad as a reference while I painted.

Moleskine watercolor journal, Micron 02 pen, Lucas tube paints – Alizarin Crimson, Cobalt Blue, Light Yellow, Sap Green, Burnt Sienna, Viridian, Paynes Grey.

Jim

 

Greenhouse Sketch

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Sat in the greenhouse today. It was actually too hot to stay in too long. So this was a short sketching session to try out my new homemade mini palette, lapboard, and travel kit.

GeraniumNasturtiumTravel-kit

Last time I sketched outside I had trouble balancing everything in my lap. This setup works great. The little lapboard is made of 1/8 inch craft plywood and is 6 x 7 inches. I can clip my mini palette to it with a small piece of paper for color and pen tests and it stabilizes my other items as well. No more balancing act. The lapboard travels nicely on top of the Moleskine watercolor notebook tucked under its elastic band. I clip the two binder clips to the board for travel.

I made the mini palette out of a small plastic hinged saffron container that I modified with some InstaMorph to create the divisions. The lid makes a small mixing area. I squeezed some Lucas watercolor tube paints into the palette divisions and let it dry overnight. I add a drop or two of water to the colors to bring them back to life just before painting. Works great. The six colors I used are Payne’s Gray, Burnt Sienna, Colbalt Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Light Yellow, and Viridian.

I found an old black velvet zippered bag that holds a few pens, pencil, waterbrush, and eyedropper bottle filled with water. The pencil is a Pentel mechanical 0.5 HB with a retractable white eraser. The pens are all waterproof. They include a Pigma Micron 02 for fine lines, a Pentel Hybrid Technica 03 for very fine lines, and a Super Fine Zebra disposable brush pen for making variable width lines. The waterbrush is a Petit Kuretaki Waterbrush Pen. I may add a small sponge, a white crayon or piece of candle wax (for masking), a little bristle brush for lifting and splattering, and perhaps a piece of waxpaper for making textures.

I like this kit. It only takes about 30 seconds to set it up or put it away. It’s extremely lightweight and portable. It’s easy to grab when I’m going out and I know I’ll have everything I need to do a sketch on location.

Jim

 

 

Houses on High Street

Houses-on-high-1024Houses-on-high-photo
Here’s another watercolor done on location. I sat on a bench in Bush Pasture Park near the rose garden and looked across the street. It was late afternoon. I experimented with using a white crayon to block out some areas in the sky and houses.

Pencil and watercolor on 3 x 6 inch paper. About 30 minutes. I used a combination of my pencil palette and the Daler-Rawney travel palette. I pre-wet the travel palette colors with a drop of water in each pan.

I took the reference photo with my cellphone and cropped it on the computer.

It’s hard to get a full contrast range while sketching on location. You should wait for the paint to dry before going back in with darker colors, but you don’t have time so the darks bleed. Next time I’ll try doing a grayscale sketch with pen and waterproof ink and then add color. Ink dries a lot faster.

Jim

 

Salem Hospital

Salem-hospital-1024Salem-hospital-photoPalette001Travel-palette
Yesterday I drove downtown for a doctor visit. Afterwards I stopped in the Bush Park parking lot to eat some lunch. I looked across the street at the Salem Hospital as I ate. I had a sketch book in my pocket and spent about 30 minutes drawing and painting the scene. I also took a reference photo with my cellphone. This is the first painting I’ve done on location using my new light weight travel kit. I made it from an old leatherette day planner cover. I cut a half sheet of 9 x 12 inch watercolor paper and folded it into thirds. This makes 6 “pages” if you use both the front and the back. Each “page” is 3 x 6 inches and fits nicely into the pocket that used to hold the calendar. I can also carry a Pentel mechanical pencil clipped to the inside cover and a paper palette which I made by scribbling squares with Faber-Castell watercolor pencils. The top two rows are 14 pure colors and the bottom row of three are two colors each mixed. I carry my Kurataki Mini Waterbrush in my shirt pocket along with various pens.

I first made a pencil sketch. I then lifted color from the paper palette with the waterbrush and applied it to the sketch. It worked really well. I like the size. It easily fits in a coat pocket. You can’t paint unless you have your materials with you. This is convenient to carry all the time.

This is a good example of how art can create a reality that can’t be captured in a photograph. I think it has to do with a number of things. First is technical. Each medium can reproduce a certain range of contrast and color space – a photo is different from oil paints is different from watercolor is different from what the eye can see. Also, you can achieve different effects in different media. For instance in a painting you can juxtapose dabs of complimentary colors on the edges of objects to create a vibrancy that you can’t get in a photograph. Next is lighting. A bright sunny day looks very different than an overcast one. Most importantly is artist’s choice or intent. An artist can choose to highlight certain subjects or leave them out entirely or move them over to help the composition or use different colors or change the contrast to alter the mood or add a more interesting sky. An artist doesn’t need to be a slave to either the scene or a reference photo. This has been the hardest lesson for me to learn coming as I do from a long history of taking photographs. Finally is artist’s skill. I didn’t draw the building very accurately and I didn’t capture the true contrast of the scene. But what the hey, it’s just a sketch and it was fun to do.

Jim