Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dear god I need to go to bed but........I don't want to, even though I'm fading and I have class in the morning. But no test. Just learning all about rational expressions, hey. Hey! I aced that algebra midterm from yesterday hoo hoo hoo!....even though I felt like a dog shit in my head. I cannot believe that I am actually......ahmmm......enjoying math. How inconceivable is that?! I love languages, it's another language, it's about synonyms and puzzles, what's not to love right? ha hahaaaa

So I tackled another drawing-painting. Rather than leave it as a plain ol' pedestrian slice of life (nothing wrong with it, but if you know me, you'll know that I like the drama), I wanted to amp it up a bit. I snapped a photo of a couple ladies out front of The Kiva (locally owned grocer serving up lots of natural goodness and then some), a busker, and some dude doing I don't know what. One of the ladies is one of the owners, I thought that was cool. And I was there the day before, when the other owner was planting the flowers around the tree.

Okay, so. The ladies turned into children. Surprise! I'm notoriously unskilled and unpracticed at drawing small people. And I thought okay, one's pointing, the other should look awed or Oh My God or something. What could be over there? The Apocalypse? I wanted a strong light/contrast. The guy sitting on the planter under the tree could be Some Intelligence - his car is there with the black windows. The big tree in front of Kiva reminds me of one that might come alive and eat you (Poltergeist?).

But......even though there are goodies galore......there are too many goodies. I need to isolate the, uh, variables! The kids. I tried, by putting the strong light on them. But there is too much to look at and subtract from them,  you know? Maybe I should risk totally effing it up and make all the darks darker and eliminate some of the detail and values, to emphasize the strong light and washed-out (destroyed?) world on the left.

Here's the thing, it's pretty big.

This is the size of it:

It's big by my standards anyway. Everything's relative. I could noodle around with it some more working on details......or I could do as I suggested to myself and darken it up. Or, I could do another painting. Hey there's an idea.

I like this portion, it's not as chewy (in an overwhelming way):

How many hours did I spend doing this? Hoo hoo hoo........many. A dozen probably, including the photo finding and layout. I'll sell it. For.......(whipping out my algebraic formulas) even grand.

ps - Instead of drawing on monday when I was singing tales of woe, I watched Shaun of the Dead. Why did I pass this over?! I totally dismissed it. Oh how wrong I was. This movie kicks serious zombie buttocks. I laughed so bad. Please go see it if you haven't. Off you go!

Monday, July 26, 2010


Oh shit and fuck me. I'm falling into the 'it's all been said and done before so why even bother' hole. Ugh.

It all started (this time) after I woke up from a late afternoon nap (today). (what the fuck did I dream? some soul-sucking thing sucked out my soul and I'm soulless now?) I was rather raring to go on some little art project or other (nothing planned). Sat down to see what was up on a few sites, and stumbled back on Odosketch. It was going well enough, me with my mouth slack and synapses popping, holy mother, there is a lot of art out there and look what people are doing. Look what they are envisioning. Look how easy they make it look. Look at all that depth and volume. You can actually click on a finished picture and Odo will reel back time, letting you see the manner in which the damn thing was 'made'.

I started feeling like I was missing something. A way of seeing that seems to elude me, the harder I chase it.

You see where this is going. All of these thoughts, leading me down the rabbit hole. Where it could be fun, except I'm running from the Queen of Hearts who thinks to cut mine out (apparently I still have a heart even though I've been soul-sucked). And she's yelling, "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"

I started thinking, gee, maybe I should use some of that loan money to buy myself a Wacom. They're relatively inexpensive. Relatively.

Dejected and disgruntled, I hung up my hat (so to speak) and went out into the yard, pulled some weeds, and all the dying, leggy vegetables (not much sun back there), composted them, repotted a tomato, watered, ate a few blueberries off the bush and now you see me here.

Maybe I shouldn't read Transmetropolitan before naptime. Oh hell yeah. It's wicked, and I laugh gleefully when I read it. I highly recommend it, can't recommend it too much in fact.  Fully realized future/other-world and this angry hilarious crazy brilliant irreverent subversive (gonzo) journalist whipping it up into a frenzier. I really believe that Spider Jerusalem exists. The writing, the artwork. Look what those people are doing; what they are envisioning....yeah. Well I know how many years those guys have been doing comics and whatnot. They (probably) (hopefully) made a lot of bad art and wrote a lot of suckass stories before the likes of TransMet.

I'm almost ready to grab my trusty ballpoint pen and sketchbook.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

new day

Officially, it's sunday since it's half past midnight. It was so warm today, I love it. Went to see the Banksy matinee (pretty good but I have to admit I expected a bigger payoff - but, as one of the guys who was Banksy's spokesperson said, ".......I'm not sure who the joke's on. I'm not even sure there is a joke.") Who knows, it could all be orchestrated. I shall remain a fan.

I must say I love this weather. It's still warm, all the windows are wide open, I am wearing no socks and dressed in appropriate summer attire. Something deep inside me eases when the weather is warm. I love hearing people outside; I love that the inside comes inside during the summer (even though the crows in the morning grate on my nerves, if I forget to stuff earplugs in halfway through the night). I feel damn near naked, after a very long wet and cool season with lots of layers and warding myself against the chill and the downpours (especially on my bike all winter).

Really trying to focus on how good it is right now, to store it up for the long winter months that are practically right around the corner. I love living here where there is plenty of fresh clean water, great local organic produce and long growing seasons, and bicycling as a means of pleasure and commuting is a breeze. I love that I can bike through town quickly and be on the river paths within minutes. I also long for more sunshine and access to a more diverse nightlife, you know? I need to do some problem solving; I don't think I'll be able to make it through many more winters without completely cracking.

But back to now. The fans are on, it's 83 degrees inside, the music is pouring out of iTunes like bacchinalian rites revisited, I napped earlier so I feel pretty alert, and I've done some painting and drawing and experimenting. Our drawing instructor last term emphasized that it's all about a presence and absence of light, and that it's also all a series of interlocking shapes. I practiced just laying down values straight into ink and after a few tries came up with this which tells me that yes, an old dog can learn new tricks:

I wanted to keep it loose and gestural, especially after doing a lot of careful and more studied painting and drawing over the last couple of days. There is something scary and thrilling about laying down those washes without planning it out. I like the energy in this one. I did it pretty quickly. Learning how to balance a certain distance from your subject and also be involved and focused on what you're doing (painting, drawing, etc) is an interesting exercise. Painting what you truly see? Tricky!! Does everyone walk around seeing things differently? Ohhh yeah. Love it!

Also walked around the blocks tonight at nightfall for some reference shots to paint from. Here's a smaller painting with ink and washes, with a bit of watercolor in the sky. It's so interesting to, interested in drawing more than just figures as I have been in the past. I walk or ride around more slowly (when time permits) and find myself observing all those......interlocking shapes and the presence of absence and light, and what is the gesture of things, you know?

Joan (my landlady) and Lisa (who comes once a week to do yardwork) dug up some small potatoes from some little place in the jungle that's the backyard this morning. I found four of them deposited on my stoop. So adorable. These look more egg-like, but hey....

Right, I need to think about winding down so I am not completely useless tomorrow, or sleep the day away. There is much sunshine to be soaking up!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

what the what?


name that formula! If you nailed it, distance = rate x time, then you might have guessed that I've gone miles in terms of abstract - or maybe metaphorical - distance at a relatively speedy rate in a relatively short amount of time. Drawing class is done after an accelerated four week term and another meaty final assignment; I'm still kickin' it in algebra, for another four, three, actually. Then it's a four-week psychology course to replace the algebra morning time-slot before painting in the afternoon for four hours. Two weeks off, and then Fall term begins.

I'm determined to slow down time. Summers are short here, and this year is exceptionally short in terms of true summery weather. Pause often to soak in the sun before diving back into quadratic equations and drawing. I've set some goals for myself with art and so far I'm carrying them off well enough. My focus has widened to include rendering environments, something I've not previously been very interested in reproducing. After doing the drawing final and receiving some constructive and positive feedback and encouragement from our instructor, I've been drawing and painting scenes from around the city. I've always been pretty astonished by what other people create - especially in graphic novel and animated film format. I'm watching a lot of animation and reading graphic novels with an eye towards perspective and light/shadow, so I can learn how to re-create or even invent environments in a (dare I say) captivating way.

Nothing beats doing the drawing though. Here's my final. Actually I did two, since I love drawing my friend Alex (the wrist dribble was a total accident, geez). Compositionally though, the Luckey's bar is stronger so that's why I decided to do that one as well. These are ink and ink wash, 24 x 30" heavyweight watercolor paper sheets:

I've also been companion to Paul Madonna's All Over Coffee book, which compiles a large selection of his pen and ink with ink washes, depicting scenes from San Francisco. I love his spin on the world and the language of his illustrations. He goes straight to pen without laying out the drawing in pencil first. Amazing. Tom (our drawing instructor) suggested that I do more scenes like Luckey's and do a show and/or sell stuff. I'm beginning to see how I could do that; my confidence and skills are growing. I worried aloud to Tom that I would be stealing Paul's thunder, but of course Tom is right: lots of people draw and paint scenes and sell them. It's not like it's a new idea. Sure we might be working in similar mediums....but if you look at Paul's work and you look at mine, they are sure different. I love how a hundred people can draw the same thing and it looks a hundred different ways.

Here's a couple smaller formats on heavyweight watercolor paper, 9 x 12". This one I did with no pencil prelim and I kinda like the wobbly actually. 13th street, near university campus:

And from the downtown bus stop. Love this guy in the foreground. Wanted to create a warmth and a continuity with the blue colors that happened to group in the sign and what the folks were wearing. Needs a few more shadows and some tweaks but it's good to be building my chops, yeah?

Yesterday I spent some solid hours finishing this one up (below). I laid it all out with pencil first. Much more meticulous. I don't have much experience doing larger and more detailed works, building a longer relationship with the subject matter like this......but I like it. I feel impatient sometimes (what's the rush? I don't know!), I wonder how I'd manage to survive multiple clients and deadlines if I built up a freelance illustration life for myself - I draw pretty slow. But I'm also learning a new language of sorts, so I'm sure I'd learn how to drop in values quicker, determine where to be more gestural and where I want to finesse it, that sort of thing. In reading Paul Madonna's afterwords in his book, I learned that he invests anywhere from 8 to 20 hours per drawing (not including researching, pounding the pavement, sketching, and the like). If he can make a living doing that, then in a few (several?) years with enough practice I could definitely develop my own method and approach......not to just crank 'em out, but to 'work smarter not harder'.

Anyway, with this piece I experienced all sorts of push-pull feelings. I felt excited, but hesitant. I don't want to fuck it up, right? But then again, it's only a drawing and I can make another. But what about all the time I'm investing in this? Well it's not a waste, regardless of whether I make a total mess of it or not; I'll be learning from everything I do or wish I had done/differently. I went very carefully in some areas and felt as though I'd like to move faster, more assuredly, and worried that my carefulness would translate into the picture and make it stagnant, dry, or dead. I thought about all the people on the planet in their creative endeavors, whether doing them fast and dirty or slow and contemplative, and about artists both contemporary and historical who spend hours and days, weeks or even years on a single piece. I like that as an artist (of any stripe) we can choose how we want to create -- warming up with quick gestures, or spending hours just doodling, or knuckling down to some more refined work.....pretty cool.

This is on the north side of the building that houses Paul's Bicycle Way of Life (they just tuned up my bike, with a new chain, cassette, bearings, it rides like a freaking dream now!!), Allann Bros. Coffee and another business I've never patroned. I've been trying to find interesting things to draw, or learn how to make any mundane thing interesting.......and I'm feeling pretty bored by Eugene in general (the architecture is pretty bland). So I decided to draw something I find interesting:

And you're all like, Finally, damn, show us the picture already!

I'm pretty happy with it, I like looking at it, and of course I see a lot of things to do still or that I might do differently. It's a good beginning. Another large size on watercolor paper, ink, ink wash and watercolor. I'm running out of wall space to hang these babies I'm going to approach Shawn over at his store/gallery, the Museum of Unfine Art, and see what we can do about hanging these up there, maybe some time this year. Okay that means I have to frame them. What?! Help.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

tuesday today

Big news! It's actually a warm summer's eve here in the pacific northwest! This really is breaking news and I am ecstatic. The last time I kept all the windows open past 6 o'clock was last...september, probably. It has been a really long wet cool protracted did I mention wet spring. In the first two days of June it rained more than it usually does for the entire month. I feel decidedly bloated and am looking forward to drying the hell out.

My intention was to pack myself off to bed earlier but you know how one thing leads to another and I decided to make one last pitstop. Here. Now. Yes hello!

Very glad that I studied algebra over the weekend because I'm experiencing a big fat estrogen surge tonight which in all honesty impairs my ability to think in a linear fashion, which is a lot of what one must do in algebra. Although the argument can be made that there is a certain intuitive quality to problem solving as well.

So, see, studying art and algebra together is going exceptionally well. I'm completely surprised. Algebra is my go-to subject when I am frustrated with art and vice versa. It's really weird, totally unexpected, and I'm glad it's all shaking down that way. I could also build an argument about how similar algebra and art is but I'm just not in the mood to go that deep right now. Trust me though, it's not a specious argument.

I'm asking you - any one or all of you - to try a grilled cheese and peanut butter sandwich. I am off dairy, so I won't be eating one myself, but it was a childhood favorite (thanks mom). Trust me, it's delicious. Please do us both a favor and enjoy one soon. Try making a half sandwich. Or a quarter sandwich, if your doubts are running high.

The latest art assignment over the weekend was pretty beefy. At least it was for me. I like some parts, and overall, well -- it was fun, it was hard work, there are bits I think that captivate but overall it's not very challenging to the viewer. You know? It's safe art. And I guess that's okay sometimes; what I did fulfilled the instructor's directions, although the composition could be more interesting. I wanted to create a narrative, and in the last panel there was potential to create more tension - so I did the final drawing as if at night.....creeping around the corner of the building....but it's rather dull. I'm looking forward to combining composition, value, and all that fun stuff with more of a spin. Something not so.....straightforward.

So here they are and off I go, buenas noches!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

belated update

Yesterday's Common Ground Work Party was bountiful! We harvested the garlic planted last October - it's HUGE. So are the beets. The peas forest a whole acre (slight exaggeration), and just since last week everything has grown several inches up or out. Amazing. You can see some pictures on this blog. Now imagine everything BIGGER! Such a juicy garden! Things here at home (things being plants of the vegetable variety) continue to grow at a glacial pace, if at all. Too little sun? CUT DOWN THOSE TREES DAMMIT! Too little fertilizer? I glad for our neighborhood Common Ground.

Went to see a fellow art student's opening exhibit at First Friday. Drew Bardana draws! And paints. And I love his experiments with medium and style and subject matter. It was fun to meet him; we found out that we're both signed up this Fall for Grosowsky's figure drawing class. (you will recall Mr. G from last semester, yes?) Drew did an intensive one-week drawing course at the outset of summer term. For six days, you are in class from 9am to 9pm. Whoah. I'm considering rearranging my own summer term schedule (yet again) to accommodate the last drawing marathon which is at the end of summer term. That is some crazy shit! It sounds extreme.....and fun.

Last week we worked on perspective and organic forms. Drew outside most days, with assignments to draw architecture and shrubbery. I like the contrast between linear contained forms and the relatively nonlinear and looser/gestural qualities that shrubs and vegetatives bring to the picture. It's been an interesting week, with the usual ups and downs. But I'm learning what works and what doesn't and how to adjust with different sized drawings.

Here's the first homework assignment, which I really enjoyed doing. Discovering different mark-making techniques and figuring stuff out was actually fun. Graphite, 18 x 24".


The second homework assignment last weekend was to create a still life. I couldn't bear the idea or the execution of another damn fruit bowl or some random objects so I decided to create a narrative. Make of it what you will. I liked doing this one too, and grunging it up. Charcoal, 18 x 24"


I did an extra homework during the week because I wasn't satisfied or excited by what I had done in class one day (I was being social with a fellow classmate, and I really can't divide my attention productively: I have to draw, or talk, not both). The composition is okay but my focus was more on the perspective aspect of it, since I haven't practiced much with this discipline. Eventually I'll be able to keep it all in mind and use mark-making, perspective AND composition all to greater effect. Mixed media: charcoal, ballpoint, marker, graphite. 18 x 24"

Here's this weekend's homework assignment, part one.

The assignment: continue with perspective and organic forms. Create a minimum of six thumbnails and develop three with full value. Then do a full-page (have yet to draw that one up).

There are elements in all three that I like but overall I have yet to really hit the mark. For example........the middle one is too busy. Too many goodies, ya know? The last one I like as an idea: creeping up, almost to the corner of the house, and there is more resting for the eyes. Also, I want to create a sense of tension, approaching the corner of the building. Maybe tilt the frame? But here it lacks a punch that I'm wanting.
Aaanyway, a good learning experience. 

I think if I try that third frame full size in charcoal I might achieve more of what I'm after. I'll give it a go tomorrow.

This kind of drawing exercise is challenging in ways that I haven't taken on before, which is good (and necessary). It's kind of meditative too.....and in a way it's safe. Drawing organic forms alongside architecture is a good mix as I mentioned earlier up there - Mister Teacher knows what he is about in assigning this -- the looser/gestural quality brought to the scene with organic forms is a nice foil to the linear qualities of architecture and buildings.

I'm really glad that this instructor is giving us a variety of assignments. A good introduction to a discipline, and he states in the syllabus that aesthetic end and developing personal style (and composition!! always composition!) trumps skill. Nice.

I'd like to bring something not so safe to the table with these drawings and I am hoping I can introduce that in the third panel (make it nighttime instead?). However, I might just have to abandon ship and start over if it's not happening.

The cool challenge is to complete the assignments within the parameters and put a unique spin on it. Well yeah...that's what it's all about.....

This morning I reworked the three drawings, smoothing out some of the chatter and trying to create the shadows to lie on forms more convincingly; also boosting up the values with more contrast. Things were starting to look grayscale. In the originals you can really tell a difference since last night. Here are some closeups.

So in a lot of ways I think these are pretty safe drawings for the viewer. I'd like to create more tension and mystery. I'd like to discover some new techniques, push something somewhere further. I'd like to learn how to add more depth by laying down medium, erasing, and laying it down again. I've read somewhere that is how to create depth but I'm not sure how to do that. Yet. That third panel, I keep going back to; in this rendition it's pretty boring but I think there is a lot of potential there. I really like the big black of the window right up next to and falling off the edge (or, the implied continuity is technical terms this is called 'closure', when things run off the page).

Here's a drawing I did last week in class, instead of the boring still life in front of us. It's a portion of the studio's ceiling. The best bits to me are the spotlights. I like the ballpoint outline that describes the forms and the 'coloring outside the lines' I deliberately did with the charcoal. I've tried to recreate this effect but haven't spent much time trying (too busy doing other assignments, perhaps....?). Maybe I'll try to employ that in something this weekend; I'd like to finish the homework assignment today and then start on something new that incorporates certain elements of our assignment but that I take greater liberty with :)

The vent on the wall needs some reworking (yes that's a vent, right now it looks like.....what the hell is that?).

A couple of sketchbook sketches round out my appetite and once again I thank my friend J in Leeds for the references and inspiration!

Okay that's a wrap for now. Laundry needs to be hung the SUNSHINE! oh thank god it's sunny again.


The second half of the homework assignment, a full-sized. I decided to go for the night scene, and some things I like about this, but it's dangerously close to being too uniform in value (how do you avoid that at night??). I'm also hankering for some new techniques. Or something.

Interestingly enough, the last couple of days I've been out on my bike I have been looking more closely at foliage and buildings :) How the pieces all fit together, and Wow look at that streetlamp I want to draw that! and the patterns of light and shadow -- looking at the gesture of different plants and trees, and seeing things as the absence and presence of light. Pretty cool.