Archive for April, 2015

Burning the paintbrush at both ends

Wednesday, April 15th, 2015

I’ve been playing with yet another medium this spring – charcoal this time. I’m finding it much quicker to work with than pencil, and it lends itself to loose construction, so I’m more inclined to block in my notan structure properly before getting ahead of myself and trying to sketch in any details too early, as I’m tempted to do when working with pencil.

150307cc Feeling the Water

Charcoal smudges easily, which can be both good and bad. It’s advantageous because it softens and blends beautifully, but it’s also a problem because it smears … often far more than desired … onto other parts of the paper, my hands, my clothes, and any surface that comes in contact with the sketch.

I expect to try various types of charcoal—vine, willow, pencils, shaped sticks, both compressed and uncompressed, and in various levels of hardness in the months ahead. Then there are such peripheral materials as white chalk pencils, tortillions, chamois, and fixatifs. Not to mention experimenting on a variety of surfaces. (So much to check out even for such a seemingly simple medium.)

But overall, I like what I’ve experienced with it so far. I like the sense of spontaneity it conveys, the rapid application that suggests an immediacy and liveliness of the subject matter, even when drawn from a photograph rather than from life. I’m not sure yet whether I would choose it as a medium for finished work, but in the meantime I’m enjoying using it for studies and sketches.

Foolish Fun

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

The painting I posted in yesterday’s blog was obviously a departure from my usual approach to more realistic subject matter. But sometimes it’s fun to escape into fantasy.

A photograph of my two grandchildren suggested a number of possibilities for a painting. I played with a variety of concepts and facial expressions to decide how I wanted to treat it. Did I want to portray children with fish faces or fish with children’s faces? Did I want to depict the children making fishy faces or playing like fish? Ah the possibilities!

As you probably saw in yesterday’s post, I decided to treat it as fantasy and forget about realism for once. The suggestion of a fish tail behind them invites interpretation.

150204w Fishy Faces

Here’s a completely different take on the idea. I chose two kinds of fish that the children’s expressions reminded me of—a surgeonfish and a damselfish. Ignoring comparative sizes, since damselfish are considerably smaller, I loosely designed the colors and faces after the appearance of actual fish. It was a challenge I hadn’t attempted previously. But it was definitely fun, a welcome change after a focused effort on a more demanding project I’ll write about some other time.

April Fish!

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

As I try to pick up a smattering (or better) of the Italian language this year, I’m getting a kick out of learning curious little factoids. One is that an April Fool is referred to as un pesce d’aprile – April Fish! Think I’m kidding? Think again.

150203w Underwater Small Fry

Check back tomorrow for a bonus blog…. No fooling!