California Sycamore – Tranquility – Ink Brush Painting

“California Sycamore – Tranquility”
18″ x 18″
SOLD (commission)

This is the matching painting which pairs with the California Live Oak which I posted yesterday. Together, the two frame the dining room door of gentle lady who commissioned their creation. There is always some serendipity with painting. You never know exactly what is going to happen when you put brush to paper, and this is no exception. I knew that I was going to do an ink brush drawing with wash, but when the ink separated on this particular type of paper, the component elements of the black ink separated into shades of gray and taupe … and the taupe is the exact shade of the paint under the wainscoting in her room. I took advantage of this characteristic of the ink to simulate the gray, white and taupe patches which are so characteristic of the California sycamore, but maintaining the feeling of an ink drawing.

Conceptually, the oak tree (seen yesterday) represents strength, stability, fortitude, structure, endurance. I painted the sycamore to represent shelter, grace, resilience and flexibility.

This Saturday night I’m looking forward to going to her Christmas party and seeing them hung in the room, all decked out and lit by candlelight.

California Oak Tree – Strength

18 x 18 ink and ink wash on paper
SOLD (commission)

This painting was done as a commission for a client and I have posted it here to show an example of my work.
Please do not use it without my permission. It is protected by copyright and is not “free” to use as you wish.
If you wish to use it commercially, it may be possible for you to license it.

Asparagus – Watercolor painting

Asparagus 9 x 12 – 100 lb. paper

From my sketchbook …. When asparagus shows up in stores it’s a sure sign of spring, even if it comes from Chile or who knows where. My dear husband knows how much I love the vegetable and when it appears for a good price at Trader Joe’s or one of our other local markets, he brings it home when he’s out doing errands. I like it simply prepared, like most of the fresh vegetables we enjoy around here. Steamed or microwaved briefly, with a little butter and salt.

This was painted directly with ink and brush and watercolor. Simple and quick, just like asparagus should be prepared.

Hollywood Nights

At the corner of Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Avenue, there’s a big shopping complex where jazz concerts are held on warm summer evenings. You can buy a glass of wine and listen to great music, and then stroll around the shops. I didn’t draw it in this view, but the whole center court has a Babylonian motif. No, I’m not kidding …. take a look at: Hollywood and Highland. I think my favorite “faux sculptures” are the two bas-relief Mesopotamian winged creatures that flank the facade of the Victoria’s Secret store. They both have purses or shopping bags in their hands. Gotta love it.

Anyway, while others were facing the musicians, I listened with delight and found a seat behind a potted “kangaroo’s paw” plant and drew the crowd.

LACMA Courtyard

We went to the LA County Museum of Art yesterday, saw some exhibits (not Hockney, we didn’t have enough time for that) but the one on art glass was wonderful. At one point we took a break in the courtyard. Here are some of the people that were sitting close enough to see, but far enough away that I wasn’t caught drawing them. My objective was to see just how few marks I could make to suggest the person and their attitude.

Following this we went to the beach for dinner, then came back home and caught a 10 o clock showing of Disney’s “Cars.” In In spite of the fact that it’s marketed to a family audience (which all too often means witless and watered down) this was one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in quite a while. There are so many sight gags that only people of a certain age would “get” that it was clearly intended as entertainment for all ages. Without giving away the plot, there’s a part of the story that involves a section of Route 66 … a road that I drove with my parents as a child. We will get this on DVD, no doubt, just to be able to see all the jokes we missed. A great movie with a Randy Newman score and CG as only Pixar can do it.

Dog on the run

Click for larger

My friend Katherine Tyrell is teaching a wet canvas class in drawing and sketching in public, so it thought it would be fun to participate in some of her assignments and challenges. It sort of takes all the surprise out of it when I come up with my own challenges and it’s nice to let someone else throw a curve for a change. And I know her lessons wil be quite good. One of the first assignments was to do a series of 5, 10 and 15 minute sketches, and to try to do them as quickly as possible to loosen up. I don’t know any model who is looser than Ripley, and she obliged me with a few sittings, er, lyings. I’ll have to pay off in Milk Bones later.

Zoo Story – Part 1

On our LA Zoo sketchcrawl on Saturday, I took along a bagful of different art supplies because I wanted to experiment drawing the animals using different tools that seemed appropriate for their textures and coloration. I’m going to be scanning them and posting them throughout the week, so please check back if you’re interested in seeing more. The smooth graphic lines of the zebra seemed to lend themself to ink, and our model posed quietly in the shade for quite a long time. Thank you, zebra – you were the most cooperative subject of the day! I scanned and painted it later in Photoshop – my drawing paper doesn’t lend itself to wash.

Next subject: A mother kangaroo who had recently given birth to a little girl “joey.” Following some of the advice given in David Rankin’s Fast Sketching Techniques I used a dark, soft pencil and brought a stomp to smudge the lines. I think this captures some of the feeling of the soft fur of the mother roo who was taking a much needed rest. That big lump under her tail is where her daughter is napping! After scanning the sketch I added a little Photoshop color from a reference photo so you can see the before and after. Rankin is certainly right, drawing with a smudgeable pencil does allow you to get a faster impression with volume – good for drawing animals that won’t hold still.

If you’re in the So. California area (from Santa Barbara to San Diego to San Bernardino) and you’d like the experience of drawing with a group of friendly art-loving people, drop me a note and I’ll put you on our list so you can find out about upcoming get-togethers.

Two guys out for a walk

Seen at a farmer’s market … a man and his lizard. I liked the look of the these two buds, hanging out together, getting some fresh air and a snack. Some days it actually is easy being green.

Sketchcrawl Downtown #3 – Olvera Street

Click picture to enlarge
Here’s the third and last of my drawings I did last week on the sketchcrawl in downtown LA, and another response to the “draw a local landmark” challenge. With limited time for drawing I opted to spend the time drawing rather than doing washes or painting on location. Today I took some time to figure out how I wanted to handle those washes. As an experiment, I printed out the line drawing on watercolor paper rather than use the flimsier paper in my sketchbook. That also gave me a backup in case my ideas didn’t work – I could just toss the printed version out and print another one. In fact, I might paint one using bright colors instead of this monochrome/sepia scheme which is primarily based on tonal values.

Unlike the Union Station fountain painting, in this experiment I decided I would draw it as it actually was, because I liked the angle and the bustling activity following the morning’s rain. Also, unlike the courtyard painting, I opted for Rapidoliner and wash because I wanted to draw the small details of the shops instead of suggesting dabs of color with the brush. I did take a picture before I left, so I might still try an impressionistic watercolor sketch for comparison. Below is the drawing before painting, if you’re curious. Click to enlarge.

My artworkbooks

As you can see, I use my journals for a lot of different purposes, not only for sketching pleasure. As I’ve committed myself to doing more painting this year, I find that I’m reaching for it more and more as a practical workbook, not a chronological diary of my days. In fact, I have numerous workbooks with different paper in different sizes. I keep notes of ideas for paintings, I try out color mixtures. I paste in swatches of different kinds of paper and practice different drawing techniques. I work out designs for soft block carving. I carry it with me to museums and make notes about the artists. I even print out and paste in my sketches and paintings done in Photoshop or Painter.

This is my portable personal encyclopedia free of rules and concern about outcomes. The disastrous pages are as valuable as the “good” ones but none of them gets torn out and thrown away. It’s not an artists book destined to look pretty on its own. It’s a workbook – raw, spontaneous and full of scribbles and wrong turns. It’s where I map my “Creative Journey.”

Do you keep an art workbook for experiments and testing paint and such? Write and tell me about it.