February 20, 2018

Playing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Joseph Cornell - detail from one of his 12 Boxes inspired by Juan Gris.  Not my favorite art, but I wanted to remember working in a series.


We wandered around trying to find a gallery that inspired all of us, and Pat suggested a random painting by Georges de la Tours, called the Fortune Teller.  We all picked one of the figures to draw. 



Here we are in front of the painting.  My sketchbook page is above.  On the photo below you can't see the sketches in Paula's or my sketchbook, so Pat just drew them in on her iPAD! 


February 16, 2018

NY Philharmonic Young Peoples Cocert

We began taking our Grandchildren to the Young People's Concerts 8 years ago.  There are 4 concerts per year, and before the 1 hour concert, they have a 30 minute presentation called the Young Composers Concert.  Three children from this city-wide music program are selected to have members of the Philharmonic play their short compositions.  Here is a quick drawing of the head of the program, John Deake, and the trumpet player.


I debate about adding this type of sketchbook page to the Urban Sketchers Facebook Page, but thought this was a good advertisement for an amazing opportunity for kids in our urban city.

February 13, 2018

Giovanni Francesco Barbieri - "IL Guercino"

My daughter had a baby in London in 2006  Several months later we saw a Courtauld Gallery exhibit called "Mind to Paper."  I fell in love with this Baroque Italian artist called IL Guercino, the "squinter" because he had a crossed eye.   I loved his drawings and to remember Callum's birth, I sketched Guercino's drawing called "Mother and Child" in my London sketchbook. 



I paired it in my sketchbook with Cal's birth announcement and photo and those pages always make me smile.  



During Master Drawing Week this year I found 6-8 Guercino drawings spread among several exhibits.  I copied the drawing at W.M. Brady and Co gallery, which was my favorite.  The gallery staff told me that it seems to be preparatory drawing for his painting of "Joseph and Potiphar's wife" at the National Gallery in Washington DC.  Maybe if I continue to copy his drawings when I see them, I can develop a little of his style.



February 9, 2018

Mali Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

I walked by this Puppet every time I entered the Met and always meant to draw and paint him for my sketchbook.  When I finished the drawing he looked lonely, so I added the mask and female figure to the same page, and painted all 3 of them at home.


The puppet was used in ceremonial events, and is from the 19-20th C, either the Bamana farmers or Bozo fisherman from Mali.  The other two pieces are also from Mali and were donated by Nelson D. Rockefeller to the Met.

Mali is in sub-Saharan Africa, and I had to search the map to find it. 


February 6, 2018

Comic Book Illustration at FIT

I just registered for Spring Semester at Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).   Seniors register for remaining openings in classes at reduced rates, and of my possible choices, I selected Comic Book Illustration.  This is way out of my comfort zone, but I believe our brains constantly need to learn new information, and each one of these experiences has some effect on my drawing and painting.

This is our class textbook, and it is image-rich.  So the reading is not difficult, and hopefully will amplify material learned in class. 


Over the weekend I gathered all of my drawings/paintings of my imaginary characters Axel and Alice, and I am excited about the possibility of creating a comic about them for my grandchildren.  They all know Axel well, and readers of this blog may know that Axel was born from a homework assignment by Fabio Consoli in the Sketchbook Skool class called Stretching.  The top painting is my homework from that class in 2015.  The bottom painting is my final project in my FIT Watercolor Comps Illustration class in the 2017 Spring Semester. 

My grandson Zach was part of the development of the top painting.  When he was 5 he drew the figure on the right, and I cut it out and collaged it to my sketchbook page - as an exercise to use child art as inspiration for my drawings and paintings.  Weeks later Zach and I discussed the back story, and he said that Axel  (and Alice) were from the Moon, and Axel's head shape was determined by the phase of the moon when he was born.  He and Alice were playing in his mother's one- person space ship, and pushed the wrong buttons, and crashed on Earth.   



In class last night, we had to develop "turnarounds" for our characters - i.e. front, back, and side views. 

I had to name the other two characters - and one will be Boing, because of his method of locomotion, and the other will be Scarey, because right from the beginning this character seemed to set a different atmosphere to my original painting. 

Here are Axel, Alice, Boing and Scarey "turnarounds."  






February 2, 2018

Two New Books - Happy Days Making Both

Not long after I retired and began to keep a pen-ink-watercolor sketchbook, I began making my own sketchbooks with 140 lb watercolor paper.  At first I used commercial bookcloth, and then I realized that fabric I dyed for quilting, could also be used as bookcloth.  The red book on the left was made with fabric that was folded and clamped before dying-which is a form of itajime shibori.  The pen pocket was made with a small amount of fabric made with the same dyes.  The book on the right is called a "Remains of the Day" book, and it is the 8th annual one I made after taking an online class from Mary Ann Moss.  I make these with scraps of fabric I've dyed, and random paper from magazines and books as pages.   


This red book has 6 signatures, each with two folios of watercolor paper, which gives 48 pages.  The pen pocket, which is closed inside the front cover with Velcro, makes it very easy to just grab it and go drawing.  


The wraparound cover of this blue book is made by creating a fabric bag, with scraps on one side, and a lining on the other.  A piece of poster board is slipped inside and then the end stitched closed.  These fabrics are scraps dyed with either procion MX dye or native indigo, and the white areas on the bottom section are actually designed by stitching the designs before dying the fabric with indigo. 

It has 2 signatures, each with 11 folios, that are stitched onto the spine with a 5 hole pamphlet stitch.  During the year I use it as a scrapbook for all of my art adventures here in NYC.  I am recycling paper and I usually cover up most of each page with ephemera, photos, and drawings.



This photo shows the lining and the front of the first signature.  I will use this as a title page and add contact information etc in case it gets lost.  By the end of the year the pages will also include envelopes, flaps, and overlapping photos. 


January 28, 2018

Loving Dance and the New York City Ballet

Dance is my one lifelong physical activity, and loving to take ballet class also means loving to watch ballet.  For the last 3 years my husband and I go to working rehearsals, orchestra rehearsals, lecture demos, and occasional dress rehearsals of the New York City Ballet.  Last week we went 3 days - and these are the 2 sketchbook pages that I created from scribbles before the lights went down.  The dancers move so fast that is almost impossible to capture their movements, but I try to remember at least one pose at a time.





"Painting" My Pecil Drawing of a Goya Master Drawing

Yesterday I posted information about Master Drawings Week in NYC - with a link to the website and a map of the participating galleries. I went to see the large exhibit of drawings at Sothebys - which are being previewed until 5PM Tuesday - and sketched in pencil a favorite Goya pen and ink drawing.  When Sothebys invited artists to come sketch Saturday and Sunday they stipulated pencil only.  This morning I used my favorite Brause steno nib and India ink, followed by diluted ink applied with a brush to finish "my Goya basket lady."

In yesterday's blog post, where I posted the original Goya drawing, I also mentioned that the estimated auction price is 1-1.5 million dollars!   


January 27, 2018

Master Drawing Week 2018 in New York City

Last night Galleries participating in Master Drawing Week had openings from 4-8PM.  I took my husband to one of them because I wanted to see the travel watercolors, and he hadn't ever been in any of the townhouses that we always pass on our way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  For those in or near NYC, it is an unusual opportunity to both see wonderful art and visit galleries in some gorgeous townhouses. 

Hilda May Gordon traveled the world for 7 years in the 1920s, and painted as she went.  Whenever she had accumulated enough paintings for an exhibit and sale, she would visit a large city, sell her paintings, and use the proceeds to finance more travel.  The exhibit was very interesting and the Gallery was welcoming. 



Each year they publish a book of the participating galleries on the Upper Eastside of Manhattan, and you can go to their website for the list, and a map.  The booklets can then be obtained in the first gallery you visit.




Today I went to Sothebys auction house to see the previews for their Master Drawings auction, and they had many more than most of the galleries.  I loved a Goya ink drawing and sketched it in pencil.  I'll add ink and paint it with ink, sometime this week, but wanted to put a photo of it here.  Sothebys is open tomorrow afternoon, and 10-5 on Monday and Tuesday, as the auction takes place on Wednesday.  My little Goya from the 1600s, entitled "Don't Make the Basket Too Heavy," has an auction estimate of $1,000,000-1,500,000!


In March there is Asia Art Week, and we repeat the process to see wonderful art from a different part of the world. 



January 26, 2018

Deliberate Practice January 2018

I love figure drawing and look for any opportunities to practice drawing hands and feet.  Deliberate Practice is one way for me to do that - saving images whenever possible just to draw both, and hope that this practice will carry over to times when I'm drawing live figures from observation.  This month I decided that I need to search my reference photos, clipped usually from ads in magazines, to draw some more feet.

If anyone has a good photo source for feet photographs, I'd love to get the link.  Here are feet from the only two ads I had, and one drawing of two hands together - another one of my goals.  







Two Hands Together - one in an ongoing series of my practice drawings - moving from single hands to two.



More about Deliberate Practice:

In his best-selling book “Talent is Overrated,” author Geoff Colvin writes about the concept of deliberate practice and how by adhering to this principle, the practitioner can attain expertise far more rapidly than they could through repetitive methods of practice that focus on already sharpened skills.  From Huffington Post The Blog 05/24/2016

Here is another link discussing the definition - and since I don't have someone critique my efforts, I may or may not be using the concept correctly.  https://3starlearningexperiences.wordpress.com/2016/06/21/370/ 

But it works for me - VERY slow progress has been made. 

January 23, 2018

Womens March 2018

My husband and I went to the NYC Womens March on Saturday along with 200,000 other people.  The weather was great after our weeks of Arctic Chill, and the crowds were just as wonderful as last year.  Both years I was impressed with the comraderie, and the lack of conflict  People were genuinely happy to be marching.  Husbands marched with wives.  Parents brought their children.  And everyone waited patiently in large crowds even to get on the main march route down Central Park West.  After the Womens March in NYC in 2017 and the Science March in DC in 2017, I am so impressed with the number of truly creative signs, all of which express our dissatisfaction with this administration.  Here are a few of the photos that I took. 

Waiting for the bus to the Upper West Side.  After last year's Womens March I sent it to my Grand daughter in DC, and then needed to borrow it back from her for this year.


Beginning with "Women Are in Charge of Their Own Bodies,"  this sign says it all for me!


This Father marched with his little girl - and he is carrying a sign with sponsorship from the Girl Scouts.


And here is his little girl.


By chance I met one of my favorite friends - Robin - who is part of my 4 person Quilt Bee.  Her sign of course is the Statue of Liberty.


After more than an hour waiting on W68th St., we were fed into the main March route on Central Park West.


This was again an amazing experience!  And I will turn out every year to make sure that the world knows that we are no longer proud of our country, and will resist and persist. 

I didn't even bring my sketchbook, but on Instagram you can see some of the reportage artists' drawings.  They are amazing and really capture the crowds and the moods.   Here is the link:


Shirley Parker Levine
New York City

February 2018

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