This paint tube almost squeezed the life out of me. It was Friday night. I had cooked a lovely dinner after coming home from painting at the studio. The last thing I wanted to do was draw. This is often my problem in the evening which is why this challenge to draw every day is good for me.
I thought a humble paint tube would get me in and out fast so I could get on to more fun things on a Friday night.
Wrong. My Old Holland Cobalt Blue got the better of me. Must be all that pure pigment in the brand.
This is the first drawing of the month I put to one side to finish when I woke up after about 45 minutes of drawing frustration. This morning I wrapped it up in about 10 minutes. Go figure.
I am crazy for Chanel. Wish I could afford it. So when I saw this vintage bottle of Chanel No. 5, my favorite fragrance, I knew Coco would approve of me drawing it.
A blog post by artist friend Shelley was very much in mind. She wisely asked when does a drawing cease being a drawing with all this wash stuff I do.
Good question. To my mind, if you can still see the drawing lines and the paper in parts when the drawing and wash is done, it still qualifies as a drawing. I wouldn't leave the drawing lines in a painting and I wouldn't leave bare white canvas showing. If you click on this to see a larger image of the bottle, the paper grain is still very apparent.
I agree the approach that I use is a very painterly one and perhaps not for everyone. But that charcoal stick is out to the very end. That is when I place the last few crisp lines to punch things up.
Things in art to my mind have to have a Yin and Yang. Hard, soft. Hot, cold. Lost, found. Love, hate.
I am sure Coco would agree. Her design aesthetic survives to this day intact.
Well, I did it but only just. A simple pink donut saved my bacon in the daily drawing challenge. I have always liked pink donuts. They excite me.
I was looking for every reason to get out of drawing last night. I had done a head study demo from life in my new teaching class during the day that I figured could easily count as my 30 minutes of daily drawing. The block-in is drawing afterall. And then there are ALL those sketches in my sketch books of old I could steal from. No-one would know.
I was reasoning this out with my husband after we got back pretty late from dinner and wine. He gave me a look, a look that said NO. I have to thank him actually for his support in this venture.
I should also mention that I am trying not to do "copy" drawings of other artists work in this challenge. I know that is very useful to do and I have sketch books filled of tons of copies of Kinstler, Vilppu, Brideman, etal., from other the years. I think so much copying was holding me back in a way. It was time to move forward.
So I am trying to develop my own personal drawing style along with the brain hand co-ordination which is harder in a way. When you copy another artist's drawing, part of the hard work is already done for you. The edges thought out, the shading down pat.
But when you are putting down something on paper through your own eyes, you have to think a little more in my opinion. And it takes a little longer. At this point in my art, it is important not only to paint like ME, but also to draw like ME.
I wish I could dress like this every day. Instead I will just have to draw it.
I love all that old glamor. I am certain I should have lived in the 50's as a young women just so I could wear those clothes. Yes, I know women had it hard then in other ways but all those cinched-in waists and crisp cotton frocks, curled-to- perfection hair and pearls, just to cook dinner in makes me overlook that.
As a kid I used to copy just for fun the fashion illustrations in the London Sunday Times. I have since tried to find out who were the artists drawing for that esteemed publication in the early 1970's but to no avail. If anyone knows... I think there was a kind of escapism in it for me.
I also won a competition as a kid with a fashion-style drawing using gold foil from a Cadbury's chocolate bar for the dress. I was so proud of that prize.
Someone said they would like to see a drawing of mine in stages so I decide to do that on this one. This drawing was all about the gesture as much as the clothes. Without it, it wouldn't work.
I started with a charcoal pencil going lightly for the movement, then picked up my brush dipped in black oil to mass in the value shapes on the paper. Once I was comfortable with where I was going, still not putting in too much detail just shapes, I started in with the washes.
A loose chignon....my eldest daughter flew into LA yesterday for a wedding and had her stick-straight hair done in an 'up-do' for the event. I knew immediately on seeing it that this would be my drawing for the day. The chignon had a very J.W. Waterhouse feel to it.
I am happy to say said chic- gnon jumped off my drawing tools and onto the page - although a far cry from the greatness of a J. W. Waterhouse sketch.
That won't happen in my lifetime or the next no matter how much I practise.
I have a brand new sealed Waterhouse book for sale if anyone is interested from the recent show in Canada. It is fabulous. Email me.
What is this, you are wondering? A cherry wearing a toupee? Well, no. I tried to draw a chocolate bonbon candy with a cherry oozing centre. I got the cherry and the ooze bit down quickly but the chocolate part took me forever.
I guess it is all the flat mass shape with few reflections. I had to give up in the end. It was time for bed.
This is actually quite a large cherry bonbon. And I thought it was going to be really easy. NOT. I won't be drawing chocolate again for quite some time.
I did have some success during the day though at my studio painting lemons. Almost finished this still life. It is part of a new series of paintings I am doing, Abundance!
I decided to chose something really simple to draw last night. A humble gooey candy apple. I don't know what was wrong with me but it was like walking with weights uphill in super glue.
I am reminded that one's heart has to be in something to do a good job. Mine wasn't.
I remember years ago taking tortuous figure painting classes at The Brentwood Art Center in Los Angeles long before my skill set was ready to and there was this gorgeous older French lady in the class who did incredible large figure paintings while looking very chic.
Looking back now, they all looked exactly the same. A formula if you like. But her draughtsmanship skills were superb. Stylized but great. I especially loved the way she drew/painted feet. They were George Bridgeman all over. He taught Norman Rockwell at The Arts Students League of New York and remains an inspiration to me and many others. I carry his small iconic anatomy book in my purse every day to doodle from. I don't feel right if it is not with me. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Bridgman
I remember in frustration talking to this french dame on the class break as I could barely get a head on the canvas in the right spot at that time. I had yet to study with Sheldon Borenstein http://www.sheldonsartacademy.com/and Glenn Villpu for drawing. See previous post. The teacher of the figure class told me it was o.k. to draw a head going off a canvas and showed me a book of other artists who had done this. I didn't believe her for a second. Fine if you planned it that way but I hadn't.
I asked the french lady for some tips... what was I doing wrong? Peut-etre?
She replied:" Darling, zee have to fallz inz love wiz what you are doingz".
I have never forgotten that comment. She was right.
If you ain't loving what you are drawing, and just want to get to an episode of Law and Order or The Bachelorette (groan) it will show.
A simple shoe drawn yet again while watching the TV evening news shows' devastating accounts from Haiti. I feel almost guilty doing something so trite while watching something so devastating, the shocking suffering and loss of life unfathomable.
On that note, all I can do is sell each and every one of these drawings donating 100 per cent via the Red Cross to Haiti, as I continue to draw and no doubt continue to watch the painful situation there while I am drawing.
The heads are life size or just under for $50. Ballet drawings also $50. The" feature ones" are tiny, and $15.00
Please show your support. You can write the checks directly to the Red Cross/Haiti.
Another day of drawing...another tutu. I dedicate this one to my eldest daughter, Jessica, THE dancer in our family.
I was inspired to do this drawing by two other people. One by my pal artist Marian Fortunati http://marianfortunationpaintingdaily.blogspot.com/ who recently painted a tutu on her blog that I liked and I felt like doing one too.
The other, the masterful Neil Boyle http://www.neilboyle.com/who I had the pleasure of taking a few classes with some years ago. Mr. Boyle who is now unfortunately deceased, taught a great many students and did a great many paintings in his day, a very successful artist. Bar room brawls and saloon girls were a favorite of his collectors.
On my sickbed this week, I watched an old video of him on YOU TUBE giving a teaching demo from 1990 to a bunch of illustrators. He was hilarious and very good. I was impressed how he did a full body sketch painting in just over an hour talking and joking all the way to his peers. There was a frothy skirt similar to a tutu. Man, he kept it simple. Just blocked in the whole shadow side of the froth as one mass and left it alone.
When I saw this pic of a tutu to work from, I was reminded of him and Marian's piece and decided it would be a perfect chance for ME to perfect a big shadow mass of froth. I kind like how it came out.
I am mad for tutus of any kind. Last night it was time for some drawing fun with a bit of gesture drawing - and tutus thrown on for good measure.
My inspiration comes from Master draughtsman Glenn Vilppuwww.vilppustudio.com. He is a one of a kind. Didn't do much with tutus though. I have every book he has ever put out and look at them often and have done for years now.
I was turned onto him by my excellent drawing teacher of old Sheldon Borenstein, http://www.sheldonsartacademy.com/who learned from Vilppu and is an outstanding teacher himself. No-one explains muscle groups quite like Sheldon. He has a way of making boring muscle stuff fun and making things stick in your brain.
The one thing I learned most from these two talents is that drawing is nothing without movement. It is important to practice gesture as much as slick finish. I have seen plenty of dull perfectly rendered drawings lacking movement.
Seems to me there are three schools of drawing, the super classical french Charles Brague academic way, the 50's illustrator Andrew Loomis way, and then the more animator Raphael way (Vilppu and Borenstein).
People who go to art school for four years have the choice made for them by the school they chose. The drawing faculty will teach them its way of drawing.
I didn't go to art school but hopped around seeing all these different styles and approaches. I struggled for YEARS torn between these three different schools that I saw liking some of each to be honest - which way I was going to go? Which one would I immerse myself in? It kept me up at night and delayed my progress in some ways. But I tried them all on, endlessly. Bought endless drawing books too.
I went through a period of being completely frozen. PARALYSIS BY ANALYSIS.
But in the end, it has created the way I draw today. I pull from all three. Sometimes I am a bit more this way than that depending on my mood.
The one thing I am most sure of though, is that I learned to understand the body, the forms of if, how the body fits together, how to see through it, and how important movement is from Sheldon and Vilppu. My private sketch books recording daily life have reflected this way more than any other looking back over the years. When I start a portrait commission, my drawing is always very loose going for the feel, the gesture first, the construction second, the anatomy third.
Various people have said to me, to meet the demands of this daily challenge, that I should stock pile a few drawings to use on days when there is no time to meet the challenge or I should count a 'head study' painting done from life on a given day as a drawing effort.
To me the whole point of the challenge is the daily discipline of hand to eye co-ordination in a 24 hour period. A pianist would not be able to stock pile his daily practice. A runner couldn't either.
Also, if I wanted to cheat I easily could. I have kept every sketch book I ever completed from the very first one. They are fascinating. Not only do they act as a journal but also a record of improvement. My early drawings were terrible. But I do have some good ones in there, finished to a high degree. I don't want to cheat though.
This challenge is about me improving my observational skills. Yesterday's demo for The Santa Paula Art Group, posted later, was aided I think by the drawing I am doing.
I got home from it tired. I said to myself "All I have to do is 30 minutes of drawing". And that is exactly what you see here.
A simple eye. But still a lesson in drawing. Hard and soft edges, structure...
"THE SARTORIALIST" is my favorite blog,a fascination shared by my youngest daughter. It has more followers than Obama and Time Magazine has given it an award. You can't even become a follower anymore as it has more fans than the blogging system can handle. I am sure my blog will soon have the same problem. Ha!
AS my daughter was heading out for the airport yesterday for her big five month trip to study the environment in South Africa, she grabbed a lime green scarf in true Sartorialist style. http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com/We chuckled about it. I grabbed my camera knowing this would be my drawing for the day when I returned home from the airport.
I got back tired from the day's big emotional event, and lots of driving, but knew I had to draw.
I am still tired this morning. So this is short. But I like my drawing and I nailed it down fast. Things are speeding up from the daily discipline.
Let's hope that continues. I am doing a public portrait demo today for The Santa Paula Art Group which I am looking forward to...those things are always kind of a "stunt" but I have a feeling I am sharpened up after eight days straight of drawing and a head study for life.
I will let you know...now I just need to find the right scarf that would make The Sartorialist proud if he happens to be hanging out in Santa Paula today.
Boldini and Sargent were neck and neck in terms of talent and what they able to do with a ordinary mortal's neck.
They painted the longest most asssured graceful necks ever.
I had this in mind for yesterday's drawing in my 365 Days of Drawing Challenge.
I found an old photo I rather liked. She had an elegant swan-like neck in the photo but I ended up with more of a duck's. I was thinking of Boldini's elongated almost impossilbly distorted 'fashion designer drawing" necks, see photo here. How did he get away with those? Or Sargent's ever so simplified and ever so assured ones. He knew exactly what to leave out.
I sat in The Met one evening last year just looking at a Sargent neck for ages after my mentor, the esteemable Everett Raymond Kinstler, N.A., had suggested the study of necks that day in his workshop at The National Academy of Design which is very conveniently right by The Met. I saw what he meant and have had the deepest respect for a Sargent neck, and a Kinstler neck, ever since.
So I bring my neck home last night from the studio, the drawn one at least, and my husband says "It's too long". He never usually says anything so I need to listen.
Hence more time trying to make it look right at breakneck speed so I could eat dinner.
I will never be a Sargent, Kinstler or Boldini but I can get better at drawing necks. TSimplifying their complicated anatomy and pushing the elegant gesture of it more.
Turn an ugly duckling into a swan.
I didn't manage it on this one.
Anyone out there into a bit of necking in the future? Of the drawing kind...of course.
I AGREE with John Singer Sargent, the greatest portraitist of them all. There is often "something wrong about the mouth" in portraits, including mine. But never on a commission, ha ha!
I was reminded of this Wednesday as I was painting my head study from life, posted here. My mouth needed to be better. Softer, more lucious. Less hard-lined overall but the perfect little hard lines in the right places.
Pucker up old gal, I said to myself. Put your drawing money where your mouth is.
With that in mind, I decided last night just to draw a mouth.
Ok...truth be told I was ridiculously short on time getting my daughter ready for her epic five month trip to South Africa, leaving tomorrow. She was also cooking an elaborate organic dinner for us. Decisions had to be made. I had to chew things over.
I mouthed off a bit about my challenge to my family over dinner and then they pushed me to my drawing board and insisted I get cracking.
This mouth took me exactly 34 minutes from 8.02 pm to 8.36 pm.
The head study two and a half hours with breaks.
Today I am planning on a longer drawing and also taking pictures of my daughter- to draw her while she is far away.
Well, I did it! Another day. Another drawing despite a busy painting day with lots of driving around the LA freeways. Somehow I squeezed in a drawing.
And I am not cheating!
I painted in the evening another favorite sitter of my who I would paint every day if I could, the divine Heather, of "Heather's Braids", the painting that won me an Oil Painters' of America national award, so that sure helped make the day sweet.
I really did feel I was on my game with the drawing part of my evening painted head sketch. There were lots of distractions at the Open House. You know that ONE person who keeps moving around the room trying to find a PERFECT spot to paint bumping into everyone and everything??? Five times over! (There is not a perfect spot). I was finding it hard to get into the zone but my drawing confidence after just five days of doing this challenge really helped. I found myself able to rely on it.
I can only imagine if I am able to keep it up what it will be like in 360 days. Pretty excited about the idea actually. Not sure where I am going to put all these drawings though as they are quite large, on separate sheets of drawing paper, not in sketch book form.
I think I will always have to practice my drawing. Painting comes so much easier to me. But drawing IS the root of all art evil. You can't pretty up a bad painting that is "out of drawing" no matter how hard you try.
The hunt is now on early evening in my home, not for the perfect glass of something nicely chilled, but to find an image I WANT to draw. That will get the juices flowing. Last night I spent almost as much time finding what I wanted to draw as actually drawing. I was really tired after a day at the studio and didn't feel like drawing at all.
The search was a good idea. The drawing came fast and easy unlike the night before. Not that I didn't want to draw Keri the night before, because I did- and do.
Previous nights I would cook a nice dinner, enjoy maybe a glass of wine, that has gone out of the window for this challenge so far. It is taking time but I am enjoying the discipline. I also have a renewed respect for Julie Powell (Julie and Julia movie) who cooked all those complicated french recipes after a day at the office. She gave me the idea to do this.
This next drawing is of a young lady I met at Cafe Noir in France during my recent painting trip there. She didn't speak a word of English but was incredibly gracious when I got my big old camera out. I must have shot 50 frames of her. Smoking a cigarette, eating a baguette. I wouldn't let ANYONE photo me that way. I surprised she didn't slap me. TantePis!
She was also incredibly natural in front of the camera which is kind of rare.
Today will be a REAL challenge to get the drawing in. I am painting at the new studio during the day. I want to get an hour of post-holiday exercise in (long overdue) before driving one and a half hours in rush hour traffic to paint at the Open House this evening at The Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art to push my teaching class next week, and then 60 minutes home late. And I want to paint NOT draw at the Open House in prep. for my public painting demo on Sunday.
Will I pull it off? Will I hit a stumbling block? Wait and see.
Walking in molasses- that was what this one was like. Took me way too long. And in the end I abandoned the hood of the cape. I just had to do something else. Watch a TV episode of Law and Order, The Biggest Loser, eat cookies, or...
Why is it that sometimes things flow with art and sometimes they just don't? Yesterday's drawing felt like I had just begun drawing even though I had painted much of the day. I was glad no-one was watching. My block-in was good, but my work-up was slow and my features went South. Way South. Looked like a five-year old was in the room trying a Halloween portrait for the first time.
When I draw, I always want to be able to look at it later and say, "I like that!". This could be a problem for me on this challenge because a quick 30 minute sketch when I am not 'on' with my drawing, even when I am on, may leave me very dissatisfied. I like a certain degree of finish. And then the thought of posting it publicly. Well, that adds a certain pressure. But that is the point of this too.
I think drawing is a "feeling" thing. You have to really "feel" what you are doing and respond to it for the flow to happen, much like painting. All the best draughtsmen/women I admire have that.
I also think even on a bad day drawing or painting is worth doing. Let's hope that feeling continues.
This head sketch is of a new favorite sitter of mine, Keri. I have painted her from life before and am doing a painting of her right now. She is also sitting for me at my public portrait demo this Sunday for The Santa Paula Art Group in California. And yes, she will be wearing this wretched red cape.
She doesn't have the easiest face to draw or paint I have decided. No cookie cutter features. But this is what makes her beautiful and appealing to me. Piercing eyes. Lovely lips. Heavy french bangs. She is also very intelligent with a certain spark.
I sure hope the painting demo goes a lot easier Sunday than the drawing of her last night. One and a half hours to paint her head, flying by the seat of your pants and talking all the time. Hmm...we shall see.
I hoping my week of drawing will have really sharpened my skills. Think POSITVE.
Tomorrow is Open House where I teach at The Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art, a free painting session if you are around. Class starts next week on Wednesday. I may draw instead of painting.
I know there is an artist reading this in Paris. Bonjour! I love the fact people are reading this from so far away. It makes me want to keep on...
Thank you for all the great emails. Please post too!
My daily drawing challenge for the year continues. Here is yesterday's effort. Drawing number two done Jan. 3rd. I started this project January 2nd.
This drawing, life size, is of a model who sat for me in my teaching class. When I have time, I take photos of the pose/sitter for a later rainy day to paint or in this case draw. How convenient now to have them to draw from for this challenge.
I am getting into a routine which is important. Probably drawing at night as I usually paint during the day, and post early in the morning.
For those of you who have emailed me or posted 'techie' questions, my technique is as follows: a mixed media drawing approach that I have grown to like and develop after first seeing the beginnings of it on the streets of Barcelona. The portrait painters there, all the street artists in fact, were humbling.
I use a quite large filbert brush, dipping lightly into black oil paint, building up my form slowing on regular thick drawing paper that can take a bit of bashing. I like the rough side of the paper some days, smooth others.
Then I use a black charcoal pencil toward the end to put some really crisp lines in. Under the nose, chin...that old Yin and Yang thing. Soft versus hard.
I will also use a white charcoal pencil for highlights, along with gouache either on its' own, or mixed with a high pigment watercolor.
For some reason, I am really enjoying the effect. My other favorite drawing way is a blue Bic pen and white chalk.
Let me know what you think. Please post. I love emails too.
I got this idea following on from my previous blog entry, and the great response I got from the drawing I posted, long distance phone calls even, that I should follow through on my New Year's resolution to draw more. I say this every year.
I also just saw the wonderful movie "Julie and Julia" about a young female chef-fan of Julia Childs, Julie Powell, who, looking to spice up her fairly ho-hum life, committed to 365 days of re-creating a recipe, one each day, from Child's famous bible cookbook about The Art of French Cooking.
It got me thinking yesterday, the first day of the year when I was feeling really lazy after a late night party and the inevitable New Year 'toasting-in' champagne. I didn't draw. I broke my resolution on the very first day. I did eat cake though.
What would happen I pondered in severe couch potato mode, what would I learn if I committed to a year of drawing EACH day, using the same medium, no matter what just like the girl in the movie did with her cooking? She cooked after a long day at work come hell or high boiling point water.
So I have decided to set myself a challenge. I will draw, no matter what. Even if I have to get up with the birds. And post it each day. The good, the bad and the ugly. And there will be ugly, especially if I try birds! For 365 days starting today. Even if I have painted all day (drawing and painting are separate disciplines to my mind that hugely compliment each other), even if I have taught a long class, even if I have...
I don't think it is going to be easy.
Here is my first drawing done this afternoon of a favorite model of mine, Holly Rose. I have set my self no rules apart from it has to be at least 30 minutes a day, no less, whether it be an apple or airport sketch. It can be a copy of a Master, it can be from life or it can be from a photo. So long as I draw. If I get serious flu, I will just sketch the Kleenex.