Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Springtime in Our Yard

Below are the "before" and "after" pictures from this past week of weeding and edging the gardens which, indeed, made a tremendous improvement!

Cortisone shots in both knees enabled the weeding and edging of our 7 flower bed. They've been pretty much neglected for the past two years for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the fact the the gardens bloom riotously all spring and summer - so why disturb what works, right? Except these poor plants still need some thinning out and eventually they will, indeed, be thinned out.

The peonies are getting ready to bloom, the seedlings are nearly ready to plant, and today it's raining - perfect timing for the garden, to be sure!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Colored Pencil Weekend Workshop

I took a 2-day workshop in colored pencil last weekend with a local artist, Veronica Winters. She is an excellent teacher and I fully enjoyed taking her class. She began with simple, basic exercises: value studies; hue & intensity comparisons; drawing and shading oval shapes.

Next, she had us create a simple still life to begin drawing in preparations for colored pencils. She recommended Strathmore Bristol Board, a smooth paper which I also use for both colored pencils and for pen and ink work. Below is my chosen still life:
My set-up. Note the small black & white pencil study on the left side of the page. That is to help me remember where the darks and lights belong.
She recommends doing an underpainting such as the masters did in oil paints for many centuries. Thus, for my green geranium leaves, the under-painting of shadows was done in red and orange colored pencils. Above, notice the middle leaf is colored only with those warm tones. Below is the completed still life - not yet cut down to size or matted!

Here's the image in black and white - it's much easier to see the values when viewing in black and white. Since I started and completed the drawing in day one of the class, this photo merely serves to show me where I am "off" in my values.

On our second day of class, we were to bring in objects or photos to draw and color. Since I had already drawn up a cat portrait of Lucy, complements of fellow blogger, Nina, I was able to begin coloring right away. First is the value study, this time in blue. Since the cat is warm dark brown, the opposite color on the wheel would be a cold dark color, thus I chose Indigo Blue for the undertones.

Next, I began to add the warmer colors, laying the browns over the blue, adding yellow ochre and other tones to both lighten and warm up the drawing.
Then it was time to put in some basic preliminary details in the eyes, especially, while continuing to layer on the warmer colors of the cat.
Veronica (among others) recommends using mineral spirits to blend thick, dark layers of pencil. Often, the areas show distinctive line directions of the coloring, despite the fact that each layer is applied from a more or less different direction.
Below is the drawing, now nearly complete. The whiskers are added after all the dark and light colors have been applied. There's something not quite right about Lucy's eyes, so I'll be going back to work on that after my gardening and book editing is done. Well, the gardening won't be "done," and the editing will take all week, so I'll probably slip in some drawing time in the next day or two, while I'm still psyched up on the class!

My final drawing in the last hour or so of class was of this lovely, old glass bottle.
I used to enjoy painting glass objects in watercolor and that experience paid off in how quickly and easily this drawing came to life.
Veronica Winters has recently published her work in a catalog style entitled, Life in Colored Pencil: Art Catalog by Veronica Winters and she is presently working on an art text book for university and college art classes. Because her teaching style is both complete and simply explained, I expect the text to be an excellent one for use by any artist seeking the basics and beyond. Veronica has a teaching degree from Oklahoma State University, and has an MA in art from Penn State University, State College, PA.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Colored Pencil Revisited

Title: Carolina Wren I - matted 8x10" - colored pencil (c)2009 Pat Dolan

Continuing from previous posts about re-tooling myself at this time of physical challenges:
I spent more than a few years exploring both pastels and colored pencils while selling my watercolors. Unfortunately, I no longer have photos of any of that work. This week I set aside the watercolors and chose to play with colored pencils - combining my love of drawing, of color, and of birds. Here's an abbreviated, step-by-step of one piece, plus photos of others completed this week.

Using Strathmore's smooth white Bristol paper and PrismaColor Light-fast Pencils, I begin with one of my photos, do a quick drawing in 4H pencil, followed by a sequential laying in of colors. Each layer enriches the next, with the final layer merging them all into one somewhat translucent piece of art. The pencil lines here are heightened in contrast so they can be seen at all. Generally, the pencil lines are so faint they can barely be seen. Carolina Wren II: - matted 8x10" - colored pencil (c)2009 Pat Dolan

And more:
And when completed: Title: Tufted Titmouse - matted 8x10" - colored pencil (c)2009 Pat Dolan
Title: European Robin - matted 8x10" - colored pencil (c)2009 Pat Dolan from a photo taken while we were in Ireland a few years ago

Title: Black-capped Chickadee - - matted 8x10" - colored pencil (c)2009 Pat Dolan

Title: Eastern Blue Jay - - matted 8x10" - colored pencil (c)2009 Pat Dolan

Title: White Throated Sparrow - - matted 8x10" - colored pencil (c)2009 Pat Dolan

Title: Nuthatch - - matted 8x10" - colored pencil (c)2009 Pat Dolan

This is quite literally "play" for me - I love birdwatching, photographing birds, drawing birds, painting birds. It's much the same with flowers. This coming week I think I'll try doing some of those wonderful orchids I photographed last weekend!

If you are interested in purchasing any of these little bird portraits, they are $45.00/each, including postage & handling. If you would like to commission a specific piece done from one of my many blogged bird photos or from your photo, please send me your query.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Central PA Orchid Show & Sale

After viewing these amazing flowers in the darkened Penn State Ag building, each highlighted with it's own spotlight, I can easily see how Georgia O'Keefe became enthralled by the exquisite beauty of each blossom.

This was the only blue orchid I saw last Sunday at the show.

The plant above is quite a beauty - a detail shot is below. The flowers are like miniature pinwheels!