Friday, February 24, 2012

A Flexible Schedule

Sometimes, much as we might like to be, we are not in control of our own schedules. Take my schedule for instance. Yesterday I found myself here...

sketch of airplane interior

That wasn't really a bad thing, but according to my schedule I was supposed to be on that plane on Wednesday, not Thursday. Which would have meant I was home on Thursday. If I was home on Thursday I would have posted this then.

shark & barracuda sketch

However, since I was not in control of my schedule, it fell victim to mechanical issues which required the cancellation of said Wednesday flight. With no other flights available, my family and I were forced to stay an extra day in a sunny, warm vacation place. Truth be told, I wasn't complaining. And the kids not only weren't complaining, but took it a step further, and were doing a very energetic happy dance.
palm tree sketch

So the Wednesday flight became a Thursday flight and the Thursday blog post became a Friday one. A worthy trade for a few additional hours of sun and a safe flight.

ottoman sketch - random I know but found in our vacation accommodations

I hope you enjoy my vacation sketches as much as I enjoyed the vacation.

All sketches were created with graphite in a Moleskine cahier sketchbook.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Finished Cardinal Painting

Some paintings flow off the end of the brush as if by magic. After they are finished it almost feels like I painted them in a dream.

Whatcha Lookin' At?
cardinal painting
6" x 4" watercolor on paper
©2012 Stacy L. Rowan

Other paintings need a little more help and hand-holding to get them safely through their adolescent stage. It doesn't make me love them any less. However, it does take a little longer to evaluate those paintings and see if my work is done.

This guy was a bit of a hand-holder.

Several years ago I took a bunch of references as this cardinal snacked on some birdseed outside my kitchen window. The photos have been patiently been waiting in my files until it was time for their turn under the brush.

What I loved about this reference is the quirky turn of his head. I feel like he is eyeing me with curiosity and just a touch of an attitude.

Of course the part I loved was also the part that proved to be most challenging. Why is that so often the case?

We don't often view a cardinal from this angle so I had to make sure I didn't lose the parts that would identify him as a cardinal while I was focused on capturing his attitude.

I think I managed that goal. However, I am going to set him aside for a few weeks and then re-evaluate the painting just to make sure it doesn't need any last little tweaks.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Step Back for the Big Picture

With regards to my artwork, I am typically better known for detailed pieces than for sweeping views. But I have found that sometimes taking a step back and getting the bigger picture is necessary.

Take today for instance. I went to a portrait drawing session offered by a local art group. I chose to set up at the back of the group. One of the other artists expressed concern that I might be too far from the model. But I saw the situation differently.

portrait sketch
charcoal on Mi-Teintes paper
approx. 12" x 10"
©2012 Stacy L. Rowan

Being further from the model keeps me from getting tied up in and distracted by the details. The position makes it easier for me to focus on the shapes of highlights and shadows.

When I sit close to the model I tend to label the parts as I draw. My mental chatter focuses on "What shape are the eyes? What are the lips like?" Labelling the features as I work makes it more challenging to ignore the mental symbols of those features and draw what I see.

When I sit further back I can't really see the details of the features. With a little squinting I can focus on the big shapes. And by drawing the big shapes the features sort of magically appear.

Definitely a situation where stepping back and seeing the big picture works better for me than getting up close and focusing on the details.

Our model today was the sister of one of the artists. She was very good both at getting back in to position after a break and at consistently holding the position. Not an easy task with 20 artists staring intently at you!

My sketch was completed in three approximately 20 minute sessions.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Moment to Relax

sketch of mug
markers on paper
©2012 Stacy L. Rowan

I made myself hot chocolate tonight. Which is kind of ironic since the 60 degree, sunny weather we had today felt more like spring than winter. But there is something about a warm drink that gives me permission to sit and relax while I slowly sip my treat. And tonight I felt the need to relax.

I suppose I could, and maybe should, give myself that permission without the crutch of a warm, sweet concoction, but I never do.

Do you have a special treat that you indulge in when you want to relax? Or a ritual you follow that signals the start of your relaxation time? Feel free to share the details in the comments section.
While I was relaxing I decided to play with some markers I found recently while cleaning my studio.

The mug was drawn using a set of cool gray markers. There are 12 dual tipped markers in the set. I really enjoyed the wide range of values. The sketch below is a marker from this set, but was drawn with a markers from a different set.

sketch of a marker
markers on paper
©2012 Stacy L. Rowan

The second set of markers is made up of six brush tipped markers - 3 cool grays and 3 warm grays. I like the brush tips, but found myself wishing I had more intermediate values.