The portrait above is of my son. I was interested in trying to capture the effect of the light reflected onto his face from the computer screen. If I’d known it was going to turn out so well, I would have picked out a better piece of paper for it. These six drawings were all done in a tiny sketch book I bought because it was pocket/purse sized. I’m always looking for compact art supplies that can be carried with me when I’m out. This one was for doing small studies like the ones below. However, these types of sketchbooks tend to get beat up from carrying them around, so after I did the portrait of Wyatt I retired it early for fear that something would happen to that particular drawing.
The reason these are different colors is because I scanned some of them and photographed the others. The gray ones were scanned into the computer. The others were photographed in front of a window that brings in light reflected from a red brick wall outside. Thus the slight pink tinge.
I usually don’t record dreams but the little creature above was so interesting I didn’t want to forget it, so I drew it first thing in the morning. My version of Surrealism.
The house we used to live in had a kitchen window overlooking a big back yard with shade trees and grass. It was like a mini Peaceable Kingdom with all sorts of birds, squirrels, butterflies, and lizards going about their business. Ducks and rabbits also resided there from time to time. And a few stray cats who were mostly “peaceable” but had to be monitored to make sure they didn’t eat anyone else in the kingdom. Sometimes as we looked out the window, the animals would stare back at us. One day the cat in this drawing decided to hop up on the window sill and have a closer look. I took a picture of her with my Android camera and worked directly from the phone screen image to create this portrait.
As I mentioned in a previous post, smart phone cameras are wonderful resources for artists. You can keep a whole gallery of images to work from. You can crop awkward compositions to balance them and you can use the edit features to get creative effects. I used a color enhancement setting on the photo for Stray and tried to capture the effect with my colored pencils.I liked the result but think it would have looked better on smoother paper.
Below is a small painting of the same kitty. Or a close relative.
In a previous post I showed the steps involved in creating this interlaced pattern. Eon is the result of going off the grid with it, skewing the lines to create a kind of flowing rhythm. I tried out some variations in line and then picked this one to finish with colored pencils. There are numerous ways it could have been shaded and/or colored. So many doodles! So little time!
As I mentioned in a previous post on doodling, you can find patterns all around you and figure out how to draw them by breaking down the patterns into basic components. This yields a step by step drawing process called a doodle algorithm. I developed the algorithm for Interlaced Pattern from the faintly colored background on a paper check. Below are the steps:
I used a dot grid to help draw this but it’s doable without one. After creating these steps I drew the finished one at the top of this post. I used that one to practice pencil shading and try out a new set of colored pencils.
Surrealism is an art movement of the early twentieth century that has continued unabated in popularity to this day. Route 1 Ellisville ismy nod to Surrealism.
Like Erthling in the previous post, Route 1 Ellisville is a form of altered art in which photos are transformed to create a new work. This one has three photos – the house, the sun disc and the car. Drawn lines radiate out from the sun to create rays and a road that unify the composition and provide an imaginary setting for the house and car. I filled in the rays and the road, extended the building, and added cast shadows to the ground with colored pencils. I also used colored pencils to alter the colors in the sun and add shadows and highlights to the car and the house. This helped to integrate the objects more fully with the background. Finally, I used white paint to add the stripes on the road and the vanity tag on the car.
An artwork that has been created by transforming or recycling an existing art work is called altered art. This can also involve the alteration of ordinary objects such as game boards, books, and toys, etc. Erthling is an altered photograph.
My process for altering a photograph is to glue it into a sketch book and transform it with paint media and collage elements to create a different and interesting new work.
The photo for Erthling was of an abandoned car sitting in an overgrown drive-in movie parking lot. I used paint to turn the sky from day to night, the parking lot from grass to pavement and made the car pink. I also painted in details like the fence and the people inside the car, and then collaged in the blue sky on the screen and purple flying saucer (which was actually a ceiling from an old building cut from another photo.) I added the saucer on the screen and the vanity tag with colored pencils and markers. I also used paint to extend the photo beyond it’s edges so it would fill the page.
Artists have incorporated photos into their work since Picasso (or Braque – no one knows for sure which) invented collage. The legal term for incorporating other people’s work into your own is called Fair Use. Since my photo for Erthling came from an old magazine I decided to review the subject before displaying this and the next couple of items on the blog. From what I gathered, this work is okay to show because (a) it is transformed enough to be a new artwork and (b) it’s not for sale.
Recently my son bought me a set of Prismacolor™ colored pencils. I started experimenting with them using some little outline designs I already had in a sketch book. Being wax-based they blend smoothly, but the tooth in my paper allowed a lot of texture and tiny little white spots to show through. You can see it in the version above.
So I went over it with a blending pencil. This covered most of the white spots and gave a smoother appearance as you can see in the version below.
However, while cropping the scanner versions for this post, I noticed that the color – particularly the pinks – seemed washed out, and some texture still came through even though it’s almost invisible in the original. So I decided to see if a photograph would show the artwork better. The version below was photographed with the camera on my Android phone.
As you can see, the textures are more subdued. However in the camera version, the color changed. The oranges and yellows are now more saturated than in the original and the blue-green is not green at all. I played around with the color tools in Gimp trying to get color truer to the original but everything I did to one color altered the other ones as well. I’m nowhere near an expert at using editing software, but this brings up and interesting problem in publishing artwork online or even in books.
Compare, for example. these versions of Monet’s Impression Sunrise.
There are many more of them online. I prefer the one on the top which came from Wikiart. However the important thing is not which version I prefer but what the artist intended it to look like. The only way you can know for sure is to go to Paris and see it for yourself.
Sgraffito is an art technique that involves scratching through a layer of paint or other media to reveal a contrasting color beneath. Historical applications include painting, pottery, and glass, but the definition also applies to drawing media like scratch board, crayon and oil pastel etchings.
In this acrylic portrait of my conure I’ve used sgraffito to liven up the background. The process was simple: I put down a layer of paint, let it dry, then put on a thicker coat and used a pointed stick to scratch designs into it while it was still wet.
The invention of the camera was both a curse and a blessing to the art world. It was a curse at first because artists had to find other reasons to paint in order to make up for some of the market taken by photographers. That effort to find new direction was one of the springboards for the art for art’s sake and the self-expression movements in modern art.
Before long, however, artists began to find ways to actually exploit the medium of photography. For example, the Hyper-Realists of the twentieth century used cameras to create extremely realistic paintings that would have been impossible before due to constantly changing highlights, shadows and reflections.
When slide projectors and overheads were invented, artists were able to project their subjects directly onto the canvas and produce super accurate drawings. (Some traditionalists disapprove of this practice, but the use of a projection device by professional artists was not unprecedented. For example art historians believe that the great eighteenth century scene painter Giovanni Canalleto used a camera obscura to project his cityscapes onto his canvases. The accuracy of his paintings are considered to be extremely valuable to cities like Dresden Germany which suffered so much destruction in World War II).
Cameras also provide a convenient source of subject matter. Today’s artists don’t even have to wait for pictures to be developed before using them. We can work directly from the screens of phones, tablets and laptops. The pictures above and below are examples. They were drawn from the screen of a smart phone.
One outcome of twentieth century art – particularly Pop Art – was that the range of subject matter expanded far beyond the traditional landscape, portrait, and still life. Artists started taking a closer look at the mundane in their surroundings as though seeing those things for the first time. This is a useful concept in keeping a practice sketchbook in that it opens up an almost unlimited source of subject matter. The subjects of the two drawings above are examples. Sometimes finding a model is just a matter of seeing potential in the ordinary.