October 21, 2018

Urban Sketchers NYC October 20th

Saturday at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with the Urban Sketchers:  It was the perfect day to sketch indoors in New York City and we started the morning in the American Wing, even though it was partially closed in preparation of a later event.  I sketched two of the sculptures. 

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I also went to see the exhibit "Art of the Native Americans" and sketched a few masks that were made in Alaska between 1870 and 1900.

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October 19, 2018

Visit to London: Part 1

My husband and I just returned from our 10 day London vacation.  We rented a lovely one bedroom flat in South Kensington and thoroughly enjoyed our visit.  I sketched at least one page per day, sometimes two.  But I just concentrated on our activities for the day and sketched on site, took a photo, and painted later. 

After we landed at Heathrow we were able to take the Piccadilly Underground to Gloucester St. Station, and then waited at Starbucks for the owner to email us when she arrived.    

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The National Gallery has the Courtauld Impressionist Paintings on exhibit while the Courtauld is being renovated.   It was wonderful wandering around Trafalgar Square area, and seeing the exhibit, before taking a long walk all the way back past Harrods to our flat. Cezanne did 5 card player paintings, one with 5, one with 4, and three with 2 players.  I painted the Met's Cezanne painting of the 4 Card Players several times, and then painted some of the individual players from Cezanne's preparatory paintings.  And here is another one from the Courtauld.

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After lunch in Shoreditch we returned to Sloan Square by Underground and walked the whole area in Chelsea where our daughter and her family lived a decade ago.  At the end of the afternoon we stopped on Fulham Road for a glass of wine across from the gym where our family went and our little grandchildren took swimming lessons.  

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We had never been to Shoreditch, but wanted to try a new restaurant that was described in the New York Times.  The area had lots of graffitti and murals painted on walls.  This Rooster was painted directly across the street from the restaurant.  Fun adventure and lunch at BRAT was delicious. 

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We spent one day in Oxford, one hour by train out of London.  We made all the arrangements for the train and a University Tour weeks ago, and it was the worst weather we had in 10 days.  However, Blackwells Book Shop, which began in Oxford, was a wonderful place to stop, browse, and have coffee and lunch in Caffe Nero in the bookstore.  The sun came out just as our tour was beginning, and the rain began again almost as soon as we stopped for dinner before our train ride back to London. 

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October 16, 2018

Art Tools for London

Art Tools for Travel to London:  I wanted to use gouache on a sketchbook page, and decided to draw representative art tools that I am taking to London.  The blue green color is from my Pelikan Gouache set, and it didn't go on as flat I hoped. 

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Pen Pocket for London Travel Sketchbook - made from Laminated NYC Subway Fabric:  Several years ago I started to make pen pockets for my sketchbooks, and then I just carry my waterbrushes,  a few special pens and pencils in a pencil case, and my very light plastic palette with my regular watercolor paints in a separate bag.  My pen pocket has a pencil, eraser and a few Pigma Micron pens.

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We have several more days in London, and the sketchbook with pen pocket travel with me easily during the day.  We take long walks between our destinations and events, and I have managed to draw on at least one page per day, plus a note and a 2 X 2" highlight drawing on a grid I made before we left NYC.  When drawing a full page, I do the drawing, take a photo, and paint each page later.  My goal is to capture some aspect of our experiences each day, not look for iconic London scenes.  Although my husband supports my drawing and painting, I try to limit the time spent by making it part of each day, not the focus of the day. 

October 12, 2018

London More than a Decade Ago

London was the first European city my husband and I visited when we finally had jobs, and we explored London for two weeks.  Over the subsequent years we visited again several times and grew to love the City even more. 

In 2006-7 our daughter, her husband, and their children lived in Chelsea  and we were fortunate enough to stay with them multiple times.  The highlight was the birth of their 3rd baby right before Christmas. 

We haven't been back since, partly because all of those memories were so wonderful and those children are here in NYC.  

I kept a sketchbook and painted everyday, filling 3 fifty page watercolor books.  I looked at them recently and decided to post several of the pages, just to reflect on the City for our visit.  

Admiralty Arch

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Piccadilly Circus

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October 8, 2018

Another Week at my FIT Class

Homework:  Our Professor emailed us a copy of the Titian Painting "Danae" and asked us to draw and shade the figure using the painted image as reference.  We had to preserve the proportions of the painting, but could choose to leave out the background.  I'm beginning to be more comfortable using General's Extra Soft Charcoal Pencils. 

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This past week we had two male models, clothed.  Class began with a demo of the approach to portrait drawing, and then we had a choice of drawing some or all of each figure.  The model with the hat broke his pose about every two minutes, with slight shifts in position.  It is rare to see such bad models at FIT. 

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This is part of a 20 minute pose and class ended before we finished.   

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October 5, 2018

Sketchbook Skool Week 3: Playing with Gouache

I bought tubes of Winsor Newton Artist Grade Gouache in September 2012 - and squeezed out paint into a new palette.  I quickly learned that they flaked, and came out of the wells easily when they dried making them not portable. 

This week our Sketchbook Skool artist Jennifer Orkin Lewis ("August Wren"), an illustrator, showed us how she used gouache and watercolor paints interchangeably and together, adding other layers to either a wet or dry layer.  My 2012 tubes of gouache were dried out, but several months ago I bought myself a 12 color set of Pelikan pan gouache.  Here are my color mixing studies that I did for homework. 

Pelikan Set of 12 Gouache:  Samples of the 12 colors on the top left.  An opacity test on the bottom left.  Mixing studies on the right, from top to bottom: 1 and 2: yellow and yellow ochre in the center, with progressive addition of 2 blues; 3 and 4:vermillion red  and magenta red in the center with the addition of two blues, and finally 5 and 6: yellow and yellow ochre in the center with the addition of the two reds. 

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Testing combinations of paints:  Watercolor and gouache over samples of dry gouache or watercolor; watercolor and gouache mixed on palette;  gouache over dry gouache; and gouache mixed with Chinese white to increase the opacity. 

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October 4, 2018

My Traveling Companion For My Travel Sketchbooks

My companion for my London Sketchbook:  This is Mickey in his bread airplane, taken from Maurice Sendak's book In the Night kitchen.  I painted him on the first "notes page" in my travel sketchbook for my upcoming Fall trip to London.  This is one of my rituals for European travel.

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I loved reading this book to my children and grandchildren, and enjoyed Mickey flying in the bread airplane he shaped from a large lump of dough.

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I first painted him in the grid of small daily 2 X 2" paintings in my travel Sketchbook for Venice in 2012.

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Mickey also appears on a 2 X 2" grid page of my Paris travel sketchbook

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But he most often appears on the first page of my travel sketchbooks - on the top of the page with my contact information, in case I misplace my sketchbook on the trip.  Here he is from our vacation last year in Venice.

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October 2, 2018

Museum, Museum, and Gallery

Last week a very good friend from San Antonio came for her annual weeklong vacation with me, and as in the past we divided our time among the Garment District, Talas Bookingbinding in Brooklyn, Museum and Gallery exhibits, and making things.  The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in Manhattan has an exhibit about color - various historical methods of classifying color and some wonderful examples of the use of color in the world around us. 

Some objects I liked from the Cooper Hewitt exhibit SATURATED, and a link to the website.  The visit is worth it just to see the Carnegie Mansion on 5th Avenue, home to the Cooper Hewitt.

https://www.cooperhewitt.org/channel/saturated/ 

 

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Delacroix at the Met:  There are two big Delacroix exhibits at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  One contains a large number of his paintings, with a few drawings.  The other is a 3 gallery exhibit of his drawings, some with watercolor.  Both are really worth seeing - the painting exhibit is here from the Louvre in Paris.

https://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2018/delacroix 

https://metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2018/devotion-to-drawing-eugene-delacroix 

 

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Will Barnet Exhibit Love Letters at the Alexandre Gallery:  I fell in love with Will Barnet's paintings when the National Academy of Art had a big Barnet exhibit on his 100th birthday.  His lines and his forms are so clean, and in the earlier exhibit it said that he traced his images and simplified them in several steps.  The current Gallery exhibit is small, but lovely.  The drawings and paintings are all "love letters" to his second wife. 

http://www.alexandregallery.com/current-exhibition-/ 

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September 28, 2018

My Series of "After Breakfast" Figure Drawing Continues

I DEDICATE THESE DRAWINGS TO THE STRONG WOMEN WHO STEPPED FORWARD TO TRY TO LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD FOR ALL OF US.  I'M OUTRAGED AT THE REPUBLICAN REFUSAL TO HAVE THE WHITE HOUSE REOPEN THE FBI BACKGROUND CHECK!  WE NEED TO VOTE ALL OF THEM OUT IN NOVEMBER.

I'm still enjoying drawing active figures after breakfast - a commitment to fast drawings as many days as possible (<15 minutes to draw and paint).  I love life drawing and adore dancers and ballet.  This project allows me to continue my sketchbook drawing habit on days when I have nothing else planned.  It helps that I have paper, pencil, pen, sharp scissors, and my reference book waiting for me and ready to go.    

Collaged Line of Action Figures 1

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Collaged Line of Action Drawings 2

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September 24, 2018

Watercolor Rules: Week 1 Ian Sidaway

I am taking the new Sketchbook Skool class called Watercolor Rules.  Ian Sidaway, an amazing watercolor artist from England, was the teacher for the first week, and he was brilliant as he presented everything you always wanted to know about watercolor paints, palettes, brushes, and paper. 

I started this journey with artist grade watercolors in 2005.  I used a list of two recommended triads of primary colors from a book by Anne Elsworth, and just started playing with them. It was years before I actually took a class in watercolor painting and that fits with my personality.  Below is the very first page I did, testing my 6 new small tubes of Winsor Newton paint.  Three were listed as cool and three warm. 

First Winsor Newton Artist Quality Watercolor Paints

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Three years and many sketchbook paintings later, I decided to replace the opaque cadmium paints with almost transparent ones - Scarlet Lake for Cadmium Red and New Gamboge for Cadmium Yellow. 

Although you can make grays and browns with the above 6 primary paints, Cathy Johnson, another wonderful watercolor artist, says that she keeps "convenience colors" on her palette, so she doesn't always have to mix them.

I also read about a different triad of primary colors on Danny Gregory's Everyday Matters Yahoo Group many years ago : the Velasquez triad (also called the "dead triad").  It consists of burnt sienna, yellow ochre, and ultramarine blue.  Since I already used ultramarine blue, I replaced it in this triad with Payne's gray which is a beautiful dark blue.  Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue also make many different, beautiful grays. 

This is my 12 color palette that I've used since early 2008 - 3 primary color triads and 3 convenience colors.

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Ultramarine Blue is considered a warm color and Winsor Blue a cool color, and although I know this intellectually, my eyes never agreed.  In answer to a question from our class, Ian Sidaway said to figure it out yourself for your own paints.  When you mix all cool colors, or all warm colors, the colors are brighter.   Just mix secondary colors - orange, green, and purple - to see if you are mixing two pigments of the same type or mixing a cool with a warm. 

Since I made many color wheels over the years, tested both the opacity/transparency, and lifting qualities of my paints, I decided to explore Ian's suggestion re: warm-warm, warm-cool, and cool-cool mixtures. 

Here are my 4 test strips, all done on strips of Fabriano Artistico 140 lb Soft Press, the watercolor paper I bind in my books.  One of my yellows, or one of my reds, was painted in the center.  I then gradually added my two blues, with Ultramarine Blue to the left and Winsor Blue to the right. I like mixing colors, and always just mix them on my palette to get the colors I want for a painting.  This won't change my methods, but it is fun to see the many colors I can make. 

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In August, an acquaintance of mine, watercolor artist Marilyn Rose, taught a free 2 hour watercolor class at Bryant Park in NYC.  I used my own 12 paint palette to create the end of class painting we did to practice color mixing.

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Mixing watercolor paints is addictive.  After doing the strips in the image above, I decided to add my 3rd triad (Yellow Ochre Pale, Burnet Sienna, and Payne's Gray).  Then I had one more strip left and mixed my original yellows and reds with Paynes Gray.  When I saw the 6 strips together I couldn't resist one photo showing all of the colors I can make with 3 triads of primary colors.

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I was thrilled to just see that the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum has a new exhibit on COLOR through  mid-January for anyone who lives in, or near NYC - or will be visiting during the holidays.  See Link below.

https://www.cooperhewitt.org/channel/saturated/ 

Note: Two of the older images already appeared in a blog post in August 2018, reviewing the class with Marilyn Rose. 

 

Shirley Parker Levine
New York City

October 2018

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