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Me and Egon Schiele

I go on many Wikipedia journeys. If I want to know more about a place, or I’m working on a project, or I hear someone mention a person I’ve never heard of, well then it’s off to Wikipedia. After browsing for a bit, I’ll often click the associated hyperlinks. This causes me to jump from topic to topic, and sometimes land very far from where I started. During one of my recent explorations, I stumbled upon Egon Schiele.

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Self-Portrait 1910

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Self-Portrait 1912

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Self-Portrait 1912

I love the raw, unadulterated, self-deprecating quality of his work. He didn’t try to pretty himself up in his paintings, and instead chose to accentuate his angular skinniness. It makes me wonder how he arrived at that style. How many hours did he put in before these paintings? When did he realize he had a style? And these questions are why I enjoy studying the evolution of painters. For example, Picasso started very traditional and then founded the non-traditional cubist movement. How does this evolution happen? Is it just a process of time and exploration? And I wonder when I’ll know I’ve found my style.

Though I spent this last week looking at Schiele’s work, I didn’t exactly attempt to duplicate his style through a self-portrait. Mostly I thought about his use of line to define the boundaries of the figure.
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I started with a pencil sketch before working in some pen, but I kept my line work loose. I didn’t want the pen to become a definitive and bold boundary.

Selfie 7Because of the harsh lighting, I applied heavy sections of white pastel, but I may have overdone it. I didn’t let the tone of the paper do most of the work. It was fun to do a playful expression though.

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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.

Selfie 5

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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NaNoDrawMo

Every November people around the world undergo the personal challenge of writing a novel in a month. This event is known as National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I’ve thought abut participating in the past, but have not made that leap yet. However, this year I am participating in NaNoDrawMo. Woo! Yeah, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Somebody took the idea of NaNoWriMo and modified it for artists. Though they should probably rethink the acronym. It doesn’t translate perfectly for drawing. Right now it seems to be National Novel Drawing Month. Eh. I suppose “Novel” could be replaced with “November” and then the issue would be solved. Let’s just say that’s the way it is. And maybe that is the way it is, I just couldn’t find a definite source for what the NaNoDrawMo acronym stands for.

The rules are simple:

Complete 50 drawings or sketches by the end of November.

I’m going to be focusing on figure drawing. My parents brought me back a leather notebook from their trip to Italy and I’m going to try to fill it up with quick figures done in pen.

Color Scan

Here’s a color scan of the opened notebook. See that stringy tassel on the left? That ties the pages into the leather. But why is it visible on the front page? Well, it’s not. I opened the book the wrong way and wound up starting in the back. I don’t know if I should just continue going in reverse or start again at the front.

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This was originally drawn in pencil and then gone over with a wash of tea. I’ve seen other artists use tea and coffee like watercolors, so I wanted to give it a try. I ran into two roadblocks. The teabag had already been used to make a couple cups of tea and was incredibly weak by the time I got to sketching. The color of the water wasn’t strong enough. The second roadblock was the paper. The water chewed it into a fuzzy mess. I’ve painted on non-watercolor paper before and usually the water just bows the paper. The fibers in this paper must just be too loose.

Hoping to salvage the mess I’d made, I attacked the drawing with my pen. I worked with the wet spots and let the ink bleed. However, the left side was mostly dry and I was able to use a firm line there. I kinda like the contrast between hard and soft.

All these drawings were done from references on deviantART. This reference can be found here.

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Reference.

figure_3

Reference.

figure_4

Reference.

figure_5

Reference.

figure_6

Reference.

figure_7

Reference.

Let’s see if I can reach 50 sketches. I should be able to.

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Painting the River…. Oh Wait

Once again I went north this past weekend and visited the White Mountains. We met up with my girlfriend’s cousin, who is hiking the Appalachian Trail, and camped out Saturday night. But during the day Saturday we went to a river and I set myself up to do a watercolor. And then we got some bad joo joo. One person in our party locked the keys in the trunk of one car, so then we only had my CRV. And then my girlfriend’s future brother-in-law fell into the river and broke his toe. Except we weren’t sure if it was broken or sprained, so we hopped in my car and drove around looking for medical attention. Eventually we found some EMTs who looked at it and directed us to Plymouth Hospital. Turned out that he broke it pretty good. So I was unable to do a plein air painting, but that’s okay! Because I’ve spent some time doing a watercolor of my girlfriend.

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I feel eh about this. From the start I made sure to push the watercolors in new directions. I went deeper and stronger with the color and only used a quick pencil sketch as a guide. So while I’m not too happy, I think I did benefit from the practice. The background did come out how I envisioned it though. So that’s good.

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A Quick Post

Been working away at my children’s book during the week. I’ve got 14 pages done and I’m trying to finish a page a day (weekends excluded) so that I’m done before June. We’ll see if I can reach that goal. But because I’ve been working on the book I don’t have much else to post except for a few Facebook sketches. Oh well. Here they are:

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Some time soon I’ll be publishing the post that chronicles my progress with art over the last several years.

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Toy Shelf

I felt totally discombobulated this week. Monday I started out with a still life I had organized last week and I just wasn’t feeling it. So I wiped out that canvas, put it aside, and worked at a new still life. By the time I got it arranged and sketched out, it was the end of the day. Then Tuesday, I wasn’t feeling the new still life either. So I let it sit and started on a side project. I photographed and uploaded all the paintings and drawings I’ve made since I started art school. It took me all day and a little bit of Wednesday as well. Eventually I will have a massive post where I go back and analyze my progression over the last few years. But by the end of all that, I was ready to get down to some actual painting. However, I realized that my still life still needed some tweaking. I went about tweaking it and then I painted. It still wasn’t right. I tweaked the still life some more. I moved things around on my canvas. I omitted objects and backgrounds. I organized and reorganized everything to get my composition the way I wanted. I’ll explain more photo by photo…

Before I start, I’d like to apologize for the quality of the progress shots. I arranged my lighting just the way I wanted without realizing it was sort of backlighting the entire thing and that the lamp was now going to be shining into my eyeballs while I painted. This also caused my photos to be washed out from glare. Fortunately, I took the time to take a proper final shot. Though it is a little darker than the actual painting, it doesn’t have glare. Which is nice. Anyway, on to the painting!

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This was the original drawing and underpainting I did. You can see that it is unbalanced on the right side. I tried standing the bottle upright to remedy that, but it didn’t look right. So I left it for a day to think about it.

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My solution for balance was to add another cardboard box. I didn’t have a small tan one though. I had to use a white one, which changed a whole lot of my painting. It cast reflected light all over the still life, brightening things immensely. I liked it. The concept of the painting was changed by its inclusion, but not in a negative way. After dropping in the white box, I moved the coke bottle forward to prevent the painting getting flat. The angle and slightly shortened perspective of the bottle gave everything a depth I needed.

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My next problem was the Rubix cube on the left side. Its original angle threw off the flow of the painting and diverted the viewer’s eyes away and off the canvas. I swung it around to show a third face and keep its lines in rhythm with the rest of the piece.

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On Thursday morning I realized the background was too complicated and distracting. I unified the left side and darkened the right. I still wanted a division between sides, but I found the solid tones to be much more pleasing to the eye.

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The rest of the painting was a fight to keep myself from getting overly detailed. I went in and simplified the tallest box and removed its dangly flaps. I darkened the smaller boxes. I darkened the white box. And then I had to deal with the coke bottle.

When I paint glass, I focus on simplifying and take time to work segment by segment. I blocked out the largest color areas first and after went through with the green streaks. Then I added dark streaks. My final step was to swoop in with the highlights. I worked base to mouth to base to mouth until I had the bottle where I wanted. Or close to where I wanted. I still think it could do with some more simplifying. I suppose I neglected it too much while I focused on everything else.

For only two full days of work on a 16″x20″ canvas,  the painting turned out pretty decent. I’ll probably go back for one final session and straighten out a few angles.

In other news, one of my paintings, which I’ve titled “Playhouse,” was accepted into the New Hampshire Art Association’s 28th Omer T. Lassonde Open Juried Exhibition. The show runs from April 2nd to 25th. You can find more information on the New Hampshire Art Association’s website.

To close, here are a couple facebook sketches:

 

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