EDM #39: Draw your toothbrush

It was so nice to draw in watercolor again to layer and adjust and tweak and blot these vivid, glowing colors. And the proportions of my subject led me back to my watercolor moleskine with its broad horizontal dimensions. If you want to see a masterful use of this shaped page, check out Ian Sidaway‘s blog. He often draws in a wide landscape book  and I learn so much from his compositions.

Ironically, last weekend I was looking through my very well-thumbed, thirty-year-old copy of How to Draw and Paint and realized that many of my favorite pieces in this wonderful book were done by Ian. Cooler still, he’s going to be in my next book “An Illustrated Journey”!

EDM# 35: Draw a bicycle or a part of one

I painted this yesterday but tried to take my time in developing it rather than rush to scan and upload it. I made it with gouache and drew (most of) it freehand with a brush.  I am replacing my habits developed over years of watercoloring with the approach I used when I was a teenager and first started painting in acrylic. I find gouache quite challenging because I can’t layer color which so often helps me hid my mistakes. With this opaque medium, I have to lay down the color and be satisfied with it before adding the next and it can be quite annoying. I’ll try to explain more about this by showing you a couple of steps I took.

First I painted my vestibule, using flat colors and with little indication of lighting. This was fairly straightforward once I had  a grip on the perspective and I just mixed up a color and then created  a lighter version to make the lighter part of the wall or floor. Probably the hardest color to mix was the parquet floor in lower left just because I had to figure out how to make a darker brown using only yellow and an ochre and blue.

When it was good and dry, I lightly sketched in the bicycle. Then I painted it in with black and white gouache. As you can see, the red wall started to leach into the white of the tires, so I let it dry and added another coat of white which helped a bit but not completely. I wanted to add a bit of the shadow that the bike threw on the wall but  didn’t want to paint around the bike to add a darker red so instead I tried to lighten the rest of the wall with a bit of watered-down white.

I don’t know if this painting is done completely. I should go in and erase the white pencil lines, darken the tires and hit the white one more time to get rid of the pink — and maybe I shall. I also fought the impulse to scrawl a caption on the floor with my dip pen (both Jack and Tommy Kane urged me to just leave the damned things as it is) and I remain of two minds about it.

Before I began painting, I spent a fair amount of time looking at the work of Taliah Lempert, an artist I have always admired, who does nothing but drawn and paint and make prints of bikes. Her work is really lovely and instructive.

An introduction

A new member to the EDM group on Yahoo wrote a lovely introduction I wanted to share:

Hello,

I’m writing from Italy, a small city from the south of Italy.

Arts or the thousand ways to make arts were always inside the genes of my family. All my uncles from my mother’s side were almost pro music players. And I played a lot of jazz and the bass.

All of them were having also some strange genes and i have cousins that are chefs, my mother is superb in many crafts, my sister try to work in USA as comic colorist. She was lucky to attend an art school, so she is great.

I started doodling since I was a kid going around in the garden scratching my legs. In my adolescence I stop drawing and I attempted to be a professional painting restorer and I studied arts. I always collected art materials and so my lovely wife. I’m lucky she’s my first supporter.

But the ways of life are so strange and I became something else, dunno if more rewarding but currently I work for an international organization.

It was down there this fire, buried, my will to make some art as pleasure for myself. In the meantime, due my work, my missions in Africa I felt alone. very alone. The work was and it’s still very hard. The heat the humidity and mosquitoes can stress any people, believe me.

But I love my job… but sometimes get stressful shades.

My only relief in missions was only my wife’s voice on the phone and a sketchpad with a pencil. I made a lot of ugly drawings, some designs. Doodles. Lines with the will to be something more.

It was funny to see how time was passing with some good music. And i felt good if not better.

Months after I blown more on that fire burning inside me, and It was like to be rebirth, seriously. My wife also gifted to me a new bike.

Bingo. With the excuse to go to buy a toothpaste I go around my very small city (yes also to buy the toothpaste… :))) and I stop where I find something interesting.

My goodness, I feel everything interesting. Even if I stay at home I can draw everything is inside in an infinite doodle or in a lifetime long drawing. I feel and I like to draw everything from the lips of my wife to the coffee machine. From the ears of my cat to the old dustbin on my balcony. I can sit in the living room as drunk and I can pass any minute of my Saturday night with ease without even touching water, drawing and painting with a smile.

I can draw the toilet paper or a bowl of fruits or an ugly portrait of soap opera character with the same happiness.

That simple, I will never get bored. Something like a drug, an obsession for every single dust of the life.

So very later on I made also a blog where I show some of my crude sketching.

And I called everything is worth to be sketched because to me it’s like that. Apart from the results… eehehehehhe

Thanks to the fate I met also some inspiring books for myself mad thoughts. They are the books of Danny Gregory, all of them, that like a bomb exploded freeing me more and more. Me and my lovely wife. So grateful.

Thanks to letting me in this group, and sorry for the long presentation.

Cheers,

Stefano
Visit his blog here

EDM #(17 &)18: Draw the view from a window of your house, apartment, office, etc.

My house is devoid of musical instruments right now so I will wait to draw EDM#17 until I come across one somewhere — stay posted. Instead I skipped ahead to Challenge #18.


Liz Steel is an architect who lives in Sydney but loves to draw, paint and travel. I have long admired her art which she tells me she just started a few years ago, influenced by Everyday Matters and The Creative License. Now she is a voracious and talented drawer of things, mainly buildings and teacups. Accompanied by her bear, Borromini, she has drawn all over the world and she is just on her way back Down Under after attending the Urban Sketchers symposium in the Dominican Republic.

Liz dropped by my house yesterday and after sharing journals and stories, we sat out on southern terrace and drew the setting sun over Greenwich Village.

Liz draws with a Lamy fountain pen and a palette full of Daniel Smith and Winsor  watercolors pans. She works quickly and lightly, stopping to wipe her brush on a sweatband emblazoned with a kangaroo.

She sees clearly and draws the minimum necessary to convey the scene, unencumbered by a need to crosshatch and all sorts of tone into her drawing. The results are as upbeat and fresh as she is.

I was feeling in a regressed sort of mood, I guess, in part because I havent drawn this view in many years, and I pulled out my sack of ten-year old brush markers (later augmented with some Doc Martin’s). The results look like a drawing I might have done in the late 20th century when I first started to draw.

I really enjoyed my visit with Liz — her experience at the Symposium and her worldwide visits with many of the artists I admire but know only through the web inspired me to want to get out and meet more drawing people in person. It’s so great to sit around and talk about pens and folding chairs and share lessons and observations.

I’m also delighted that Liz and her work are going to be in my book, An Illustrated Journey, which I understand will be available in February or thereabouts.

The Artist’s Pulse – now on video

At the end of March, I was part of a panel of artists (including Karen Cole, Jill Zaheer, Roxanne Evans Stout, Julie Prichard, and Michelle Ward) gathered to discuss our work and Seth Apter‘s new book, The Pulse of Mixed Media.

It was an interesting morning and for those who were not able to attend, Seth has posted a rather abbreviated video of the discussion.

If this doesn’t satisfy you, there is more on Seth’s blog. More importantly, there’s Seth’s book, brimming with many more inspiring thoughts and art thingees.

A new Sketchbook film: Hayley Morris in “Under the Sea”

Hayley Morris is a whimsical, sometimes dark stop-motion animator whose sketchbooks are filled with creative musings and pencil sketches. My girlfriend Jenny met her recently and immediately called me to say she thought she’d be willing to be in a Sketchbook film. I love Hayley’s films and videos and was super-excited to visit her Brooklyn studio and once again collaborate with Tommy Kane on shooting her creative process.

Despite her scratchy line, Hayley puts down each stroke with confidence and vigor. Her drawing seems to pulse and vibrate. She layers her watercolor quickly, wet-on-wet, creating more vibration and vitality. I like the ease and spontaneity of the way she makes art — you’d think a stop-motion animator would be enormously controlled in her work but Hayley leaves room for reaction and response as she makes her art. In an era of CGI and digital processes, her work harkens back to stop-motion puppeteers like the Jan Švankmajer and the Brothers Quay. It’s beautiful and emotional.

Hayley uses her sketchbook to incubate ideas, jotting down notes in the margin to remind her of how she will execute the thoughts in film. We watched her develop creature designs for a new video, animating to the strains of a new collaboration by Hilary Hahn and Hauschka. It’s a dark and powerful piece for violin and piano and Hayley turns it into an undulating underwater dance in a densely populated tidal pool.

——

We shot this film more quickly than our last one (we didnt need to stop to replenish huge amounts of alcohol or to wipe up blood) and even we managed to fit in a few crude little  stop-motion animations of our own. I filmed Hayley with a Canon 7D and four lenses (a 15/2.8 Fisheye, a 50/1.4, a16-35/2.8 L II, and a100/2.8 L IS MACRO) and Tommy used his own video camera for the aerial shots.

The music is the classic chanson “La Mer” by Charles Trenet.

PS The film was just mentioned on motionographer:

Book learning

Yesterday, I ducked out of my office for a couple of hours to visit the midtown Sheraton, site of the National Art Education Association (NAEA) conference. I was the guest of Bob Fisher, a contributor to my upcoming book, An Illustrated Journey. Bob was participating in a seminar with his former teacher, Greg Stanforth, who has taught art at Cincinnati’s Archbishop Moeller High School for thirty years. Their topic, “Creating a Culture of Sketchbooks in a High School Art Program,” was close to my heart.

Greg’s school has about 1,000 students and they have three 90-minute art classes each week. He requires them to fill a page in their sketchbooks seven days  a week, and to cover it completely with color, collage and line. The boys fill at least one complete mid-sized Moleskine every semester and by the time they graduate have a tall stack of a dozen or so volumes. Greg brought a lot of these books with him and passed them around the room and then discussed how he gets these teenagers to produce so much beautiful and personal work.

FIrst of all, he insists that they consistently make pages: they work on them at home and in school and their grades are based on their consistent commitment not on any evaluation of the work itself. Nonetheless, the quality was really high and it was clear that they had spent a lot of time and thought day after day.

He also has them share their work with each other, something the students actually insisted upon. They pass their work around and boys pick out pages they like from others’ sketchbooks and discuss what they like about them. Many of the pages were surprisingly personal, discussing their reactions to parental divorce and other major issues in their lives. Greg reported that one boy even came out to his classmates, (and this is a Catholic school!)

He also brings them all sorts of inspiration, showing them established artists’ work and bringing in guests like Bob, an alumnus who went on to be a succesful illustrator and designer. But he also insists that the boys don’t copy from others but rather channel that influence through their own work, drawing always from observation, using each others as models and sketching and painting the scenes and objects around them.

Apparently Bob’s students have earned over $1 million in art scholarships, a fact that helps the program vital and cherished among the school’s administration.

Greg runs an amazing program and I’m glad to say that the room was packed with teachers sitting on the ground and eagerly asking questions after the talk. It certainly suggest that there may be many new converts to the world of sketchbooking and illustrated journaling.

At the end of the presentation, Bob distributed a list of sketchbooking resources which you can access here.