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Back From the South

My body is trying to readjust to the cold and I’m not helping the process. I dipped down in a hot tub earlier today and then relaxed in a steamy sauna. I’m just not built for the cold. I think it’s all genetics. My dad’s ancestors were the Choctaw from the bayous of Louisiana, so a predilection for heat must be in my blood. Still, it’s nice to be back home.

Today I ran into one of my old professors and we were talking about the art I saw on this week’s trip. Here are a few of my favorite paintings:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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Bellona – Rembrandt

I saw this painting and immediately fell in love with one thing: that shield. Rembrandt’s mastery of light is quite apparent in the shadowed face of the Medusa and the slow progression of scattered light over the shield’s surface. It feels so metal and yet so real. But I could only stare at it for so long before I had to move along. If the week was a whirlwind, our museum trips were super-cyclones. We tried to see as much as possible before moving on to the next stop. I don’t regret that. It was what I wanted to do. But I also look forward to the vacations where I can relax in these museums and take time to study the art.

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Chrysanthemums in the Garden at Petit-Gennevilliers – Gustave Caillebotte

The photograph doesn’t do this painting justice. Of course, I could say that about every painting. This photograph just doesn’t capture the transitions from light to dark. It was great to see how Caillebotte dealt with lights in the dark and darks in the light. And I just love how the canvas is almost split in half at a diagonal by the light.

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Marie Julien – Vincent van Gogh

I’ll admit that I wasn’t always a van Gogh fan. Back in school we would look at his paintings and I’d struggle to see what the big deal was. Then I saw his other paintings. That’s when I started loving van Gogh. Take this painting for example. It’s a blend of texture, large shapes, small shapes, line, saturated color, and complementary and contrasting colors. There’s something firm and solid about the painting and yet it is built up by small brush strokes.

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Irises – Vincent van Gogh

I saw a lot of van Gogh on my trip. And I came to like his flower paintings the most. I’d like to incorporate more flowers in my own paintings.

The National Gallery of Art

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The Island and Bridge of San Bartolomeo, Rome – Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot

On our way back north we stopped in DC and managed to spend a little time in the National Gallery of Art. It felt quite small compared to the MET.

I like this particular painting because it is able to represent a city with simple shapes.

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The Tragic Actor – Edouard Manet

I see this painting as a counter piece to James McNeill Whistler’s Symphony in White, No. 1. If only because of its heavy and all encompassing use of black. I’ve lately been intrigued by paintings that focus mainly on one color.

edgar-degas-girl-in-red-ca-1866Girl in Red – Edgar Degas

Degas’ technique attracted me to this painting. Everything seems scraped and blurred to the point that the colors flicker and glow. It’s as if the colors bleed through each other.

A21167.jpgInterior, after Dinner – Claude Monet

I first saw this from across the room and then was surprised at how loose it was when I got closer. It works well from afar because of Monet’s use of light. The mind fills in the small details that the large shadows don’t distinguish. It would really be a great painting to do a study of if I could get into the museum with my easel.

Inspired by all the art I saw, I made sure to get some drawings down in my sketchbook.

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On Monday we journeyed from Columbia to Charleston and relaxed on the beach. We were there for four hours while I worked on the above sketch. I’m not exactly pleased with how it turned out, but I learned I was really working too big to be effective with markers.

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We arrived at 12:30am and the beach was mostly empty. It didn’t stay like that. For the rest of the day I had people asking me questions about my drawing. One guy asked to take pics of me drawing so he could prove to his art teacher friend that not all students were getting non-stop wasted on spring break.
spring break me1I applied and reapplied sunscreen all day long and I still got burnt. The backs of my knees and my ears got the worst of it.

Man my neck looks weird and elongated in this photo. I definitely was standing too close to the drawing.

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When we were done with the beach we drove into Charleston proper. The city is like a beautiful movie set. I’d love to live there some day.

Because I was unsatisfied with my beach drawing, I drew a portrait of my girlfriend as we waited for dinner at Kickin’ Chicken. Then it was a two hour drive back to Columbia, where we fell immediately asleep and woke up early for more fun.

On Tuesday we went to Congaree National Park and explored the swamps and hanging moss. We didn’t have real hiking equipment and thus were confined to the boardwalk. Though were still able to take in a huge chunk of the park’s beauty. I’d like to go back and travel deep into the swamp and see the amazingly tall champion hardwoods.

From there we went to the Riverbanks Zoo.

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There were very few people at the zoo and we only ran into crowds when we crossed paths with school groups.

My first few sketches didn’t turn out too bueno, but I hit my stride once I got to the flamingoes.
springbreak2015003I enjoyed the reptile house since those lizards were kind enough to hold still for me. My favorite drawing of the day is the one of the Grand Cayman Blue Iguana.

springbreak2015004Later we passed through the aquarium section and I found an unlabeled fish that was happy to patiently pose for me.
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After seeing all the animals, we went to the flower garden and I got in a quick sketch of a brick arch and its surroundings. We were exhausted at that point and called it quits for the day and returned to Columbia. The rest of the trip we drove from city to city without a home base to return to at night. We arrived back at my parents’ house at 2am on Friday. It was a hectic end to our week, but I’m happy with all we got to see.

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Passing Through the MET

It’s spring break and I’m down in South Carolina. My girlfriend’s aunt and uncle recently moved down, so we’re hanging at their place. It’s wonderful to be able to sit outside in shorts and a t-shirt. And it looks like we got down here just before snow hit New Hampshire again. So huzzah to that!

On our way down we stopped in NYC and took in the sights. I’d never been. Which is strange since I live only 5 hours away. We saw Times Square and Rockefeller and then we stopped at Christie’s. It blew my mind. For once I could see museum quality pieces and know their probable cost. We spent a little time in there, but left before knocking over a statue and putting ourselves deep in debt.

From there we went to the library, Central Park, and the Shake Shack. I’d read this article on the company and was interested in stopping at one of its locations. Lemme tell you. They have some tasty burgers and fries. Then it was to the MET.

We were pretty tired at that point, so we took frequent couch breaks as we wandered through the museum. After marveling at the artifacts from Egypt, the painters of the Renaissance, and the Impressionists, we stopped off at the European sculpture gallery.

I took some time to work on a sketch of Domenico Guidi’s Andromeda and the Sea Monster.

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By taking some time, I mean it took me two hours to do such a simple sketch… I wasn’t too happy about that. Though it was nice to rest, I had wanted to get in a couple statues. Unfortunately, it took forever to figure out the angles of her neck and body. She’s in quite the contorted pose. I worked on the pencil sketch for fifty minutes before just giving up and going straight into pen. It worked out in the end. Except I tried my brush pen and wound up laying in too much ink in some areas. Her arm did not have that much black.

This week is going to be one non-stop adventure, but I’m going to try to get in some more drawings. Stay tuned.

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No Page Wasted

After doing my last self-portrait with the new markers, I noticed that I’d been a little careless and let the ink bleed through to the next page. Usually I avoid this by popping in a piece of scrap paper behind the drawing I’m working on. I thought about skipping to the next page so I would have a clean sheet, but then I realized the blotches didn’t really matter. They would probably get covered up anyway. And so I drew right over them. I guess I’m mentioning this because it’s important to work through mistakes and see situations like this one as opportunities. It made me think a little more about composition and how I could include the blotches so they would be less noticeable. Be adaptable.

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You can see a bit of the bleed-through next to my chin, though the rest of it is pretty unnoticeable. I’m starting to get a better idea of how to use the markers. They’re forcing me to think in strictly dark and light, which will help better my oil work as well. But because I spend the majority of the time sketching and working out the base drawing, I spend little time actually using the markers. It will be a while before they feel completely natural. They feel good so far though.

I’m a little behind on achieving a drawing a day. Been so busy. I’m not worried though. The goal was to get 365 drawings done in 365 days. Perhaps I’ll wind up with a day where I can crunch in a bunch. For now I’m focusing on two or three a week.

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Developing the Selfie

I think I’m going to try for 365 self-portraits in a year. It seems like a lot of drawing, but that’s only 45 mins a day. And it’s great practice. Starting with the last post and including this one, I’ve got 4 out 365 done already. Woo! That’s like, almost halfway there.

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I warmed up with a 40 minute sketch. I’m trying to keep my poses original so I’m not just drawing the same self-portrait every day.
Selfie 4-1Then I tried the techniques in this video using the supplies I posted in the last post. In order to get an idea of the shadows, I blocked them out before adding marker.

Selfie 4I’m really pleased with the results. There was a learning curve, but the whole process felt quite natural. I encourage you to watch the video and try out the process. Basically, the sketch is filled in with darks and then worked up to mid-tones, and finally to lights. The darkest darks are plopped in at the end because the original darks dry lighter. I’m definitely going to keep working in this style and see where it takes me.

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New Supplies, Same Face

Despite the amount of work I’ve been doing, I managed to squeeze in some art time these last couple days.
Selfie 1

The other night I spent about 45 minutes on a self-portrait. It was the first drawing I did in the book my parents got me for Christmas. The paper is wonderful and has a thick quality that makes it feel almost like canvas.

Selfie 2The next day, over breakfast, I sketched out another self-portrait. I spent about 25 minutes on it.

Sorry for the less than stellar quality of these photos. I’m still figuring out the best way to deal with certain mediums. Scanning seems fine for pen and watercolor, but pencils don’t show up as nicely.

And oh! I got new art supplies as well! I’ve had a gift card to Dick Blick for a while and not known what to purchase. Finally I decided on some new pens and markers. I like working with pen a lot, so I thought I’d explore that avenue more. I purchased a set of 8 Sakura Pigma Marker pens, which are in the sizes: 005 (0.20 mm), 01 (0.25 mm), 02 (0.30 mm), 03 (0.35 mm), 05 (0.45 mm), 08 (0.50 mm), Pigma Brush, and 1.0 mm Pigma Graphic. And then I bought a Chartpak warm gray #3 marker, a Chartpak cool gray #5 marker , and a Prismacolor warm grey 60% marker. You can see a comparison of all these in the photo below.

DB Pens

I picked the pens after doing a little research on drawing pens and then picked the markers after watching this video. I also bought two white pastel pencils for dropping in highlights over the marker. Next week I’m going to try and follow that video tutorial and do a portrait with the various markers.

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The Villa

It’s crunch time. The semester is ending and my papers seem to all be due on the same date. It’s made for long hours of typing and flipping through notebooks. One of my projects was to design a lesson plan around multimedia or multimodal texts. Since I have been writing about the educational benefits of comics the entire semester, I decided to incorporate comics into my lesson plan. After I finished writing and constructing the exercise, I then had to execute it as though I were a student. I answered my own questions, analyzed comics, and then drew my own six-page comic. I based it off a poem I wrote for a previous lesson plan.
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I wanted this comic to be short and simple, but like most things I undertake, it wound up being overcomplicated. I’ve had the idea to do a graphic novel about my school years at The Villa and I tested out some of those ideas in this comic. Therefore I decided to include a perspectival drawing of the outdoor stairs when that wasn’t necessary for the assignment. That took the most time.

The stairs on page 4 aren’t exactly to perspective and it bugs me, but I was rushed for time. I started plotting out the lines and then I just winged it. I think it turned out all right.

Despite my struggles, I enjoyed working on this comic immensely. I kept smiling as I drew the children, remembering classmates who wore similar outfits.

In a couple weeks I’m going to go to The Villa with my mother to snap some photos. It’s closed now and in a state of limbo, so I want to get some good reference pictures in case it gets bulldozed over. That way I will have something to go by if I do start the graphic novel.

Next week I will update with the remaining drawings from NaNoDrawMo.

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Sketching it Out

Staying at my girlfriend’s place this weekend, so when I woke up this morning I decided to do a sketch of her. I set up a desk lamp to focus the lighting and spent about two hours sketching.
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I made her neck a little too long and positioned the head too high above the shoulders. But it felt good to do some sketching from life.

Hopefully this coming week I’ll have time to get into painting. I’ve been busy with work and finishing the colors on one of my children’s book pages.