June 19, 2018

Urban Sketchers 30 X 30 Challenge: June 10-16

I am faithfully doing the 30 X 30 Urban Sketchers challenge this month and just passed the halfway mark. The challenge is to do "direct painting" using only paint and brush every day in June.  I made a 16 page watercolor journal for the challenge from Teesha Moore's Tutorial on YouTube.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1z6qmXGRrsE 

I usually do quick pencil drawings from observation, and paint my inked drawing on location or take a photo to paint at home (when in museums, galleries, or when there is no time).  I see everything as a series of lines. Seeing only shapes is totally different and I'm so happy that I'm gaining this experience.   I will have to develop these skills more after the month is over.  But it is a start.

June 10 and 11:  I like drawing and painting bottles, like Morandi, but not forever as he did.  These were painted as shapes from photographs.

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June 12 and 13:  Two figures painted as shapes, from photographs.  The lines on the far right are bookbinding thread from the pamphlet watercolor paper booklet I made for the challenge.

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June 14, 15, and 16:  Leaves and a Lily from photos I took at the Jefferson Market Garden, and Belvedere Castle from my stash of reference photos I took over the years in Central Park.

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June 15, 2018

Different Varieties of Drawing Figures

I love to draw figures, and gravitate to drawings and paintings of Masters to practice my skills when I'm at museum and gallery exhibits.  I saw a huge sumi ink and collage painting on paper by Kara Walker at MoMA this week.  It measured approximately 12 X 18 feet in size, and contained 80 heads and figures.  It is called Christ's Entry into Journalism (2017), and was inspired by slavery and misogyny, chronicling American racial history.  I sketched her Confederate soldier.  Exhibit ends June 22nd.

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There is a new, exhausting exhibit of Giacometti's sculptures and paintings at the Guggenheim Museum NYC.  Unlike a previous sculpture exhibit by David Smith at the Guggenheim, and Picasso at MoMA, there is enormous repetition of similar pieces in this exhibit.  But I like Giacometti's art and specifically liked this table top sculpture of 3 figures.  I would find a place for it if someone wanted to give it to us!

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Line of Action Drawings:  I watched a free Craftsy Class by Suhita Shirodkar called "Figure Drawing Made Simple" last Labor Day, and started to draw figures on 1/4th sheets of used copy paper to practice the technique.  It has now become a habit for me  to draw figures from magazines/catalogues after breakfast each morning.   I did them with my non-dominant hand while my cast was on - and now continue.  The following drawings were done after my cast was removed, with my dominant drawing hand.

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June 12, 2018

Urban Sketchers 30 X 30 Challenge: June 1-8

Liz Steel and Marc Taro Holmes, from the International Urban Sketchers Group proposed a challenge for everyday in June.  Instead of using lines for drawing, they proposed using shapes to directly paint the art.  I love drawing and think in "lines", not "shapes," so this was a perfect challenge for me.  I made a Teesha Moore 16 page watercolor book with one sheet of Arches 140 lb cold press to use for challenge, and will try to paint something every day.  Each page will need images from two days, and I'm starting small so I can develop some beginning skills. 

SeaGulls:  from photos I took on our beach walks.

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Rocks and Flip-Flops:  I'm trying to learn how to paint rocks wet-in-wet and make them look smooth as they are deposited from the ocean on the sand - painted from observation.

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Gentoo Penguins and Flower Planter:  We watched a PBS documentary on Nature called Penguin Post Office on Wed. PM and I loved seeing the Gentoo Penguins in Antartica at Port Lockroy.  These were painted from a photo.  The planter was one of 4 around the pool at the beach- painted from observation

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Seagulls and Lifeguards Stand:  More seagulls and the life guard stand on Cooper's Beach - from my photos.  I painted the lifeguard stand by painting the negative space shapes.  A enormous challenge for me! 

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June 8, 2018

Beach Vacation Three - 2018

We were shocked to find a shark on the beach during our morning walk.  I still need to use the shark identification algorithm to figure out what type of shark it was.  The week we arrived we saw a big seal on the same beach, and we found out very quickly that it wasn't dead!  But the beach had very few shells or other interesting marine life.   

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The one shell I did find was the gorgeous deep sea scallop shell - my 6th in 11 years. 

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I am participating in the Urban Sketchers 30 X 30 challenge and painted this sea gull by its shapes - no lines.  I have a separate sketchbook for those daily paintings, and I will post some as the month progresses.  I think in lines, and not shapes, so this is a good learning experience for me.  

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I'm still also doing really fast line of action figure drawings - pencil to make the line of action and pen for the drawing.  These were the beach type ads in the magazines I saw, love these quick sketches for figure drawing practice.  I sketched them on scrap paper and collaged them on one of my sketchbook pages.

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June 5, 2018

Beach Vacation Two - 2018

I found this dead Monarch Butterfly on the beach, and brought it home in a large clam shell to draw and paint.  I've tried photographing them as they move from flower to flower, but can never get a photo that is good enough.  It is gorgeous with all of the white spots in the dark black edges.   

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I saw something move in my peripheral vision as I was reading very early one morning in the sunroom.  And for the second year in a row, a big doe was quietly munching the hydrangea bushes for breakfast.  I slowly stood up, she noticed my movement, and stared at me, for many minutes. I was able to take many photos of her before she moved again.

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Although there a very few shells on the beach right now as we take our 2 mile early morning walks, I found these 3 shells that were worth painting:  scallop, oyster, and moon snail.

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These sketchbook pages were photographed, not scanned, and I don't know how to remove more of the blue tinge with Photoshop.  Any suggestions? 

 

June 1, 2018

Beach Vacation One - 2018

We are at the beach with friends, and loving our early morning walks.  In spite of the thousands of shells I've collected, I still love looking for more.  But on our first 2 mile walk we saw almost none.  I therefore picked up a few items to draw and paint for the day.  I only learned about "wampum" several summers ago on Martha's Vineyard.  It is the purple part of quahog clam shells, and beautiful jewelry is made from this parts.  Wikipedia says it was used by the Northeast Indian tribes as a form of gift exchange, and the colonists adopted it as currency when trading with them.  I found quite a few pieces here, but don't remember noticing these fragments in prior years on these beaches. 

These pages were photographed and not scanned.  I was able to make the backgrounds slightly whiter in Photoshop, but definitely need more help with this. 

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My husband and his friend walking in front of us.

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I love the smooth stones we see on the beach - they are buffeted by the surf and have such beautiful shapes and surfaces.  I spent a considerable amount of time looking for watercolor tutorials about painting them, and finally painted them wet-in-wet.

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May 29, 2018

SeaGulls 2009-2015

I'm embarrassed to admit that I didn't understand the flight of sea gulls until I started watching them take off and land on the beach.  I love watching them run down the sand as if it were a runway, then unfold their two part wings, and lift off - finally tucking up their legs like jet landing gear.  I try to take a few pictures, and draw the sea gulls from photos taken during our morning walks.  Here are some from years past. 

2009

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2011

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2013

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We watched this gull fighting with a fish on Martha's Vineyard, and my friend was able to capture several terrific photos with her telephoto lens.  I painted it several summers ago from the photo. 

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May 25, 2018

Beach Shells: Summers 2010-2017

We began going to the beach in Southampton each summer in 2008.  Although I no longer enjoy sitting on the beach or swimming in the ocean, I discovered that I love long early morning beach walks, and careful observation of the life on the beach.  And I can't control my love of finding shells.  Our annual visits have resulted in two BIG containers of my favorite shells - and I will undoubtedly collect more this year.  Collecting them also means drawing and painting them and these are a few of my summer sketchbook drawings. 

Common and Rare Shells:  Scallop shells, which come in so many colors, and moon snails are very common and among my favorites.  The deep sea scallop is gorgeous, and I have only found 5 in 10 years. 

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Mussel Shells - I'm attracted to the pearlescent blue interior of these mussel shells.

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We also visit Martha's Vineyard, and this sketchbook page includes a Razor clam shell, "wampum" (which is a white and purple clam shell),  and a knobbed whelk shell.

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Whelk shells are rare on both beaches.  This is one other type I've found - a channel whelk, and I wanted to see if I could accurately represent the holes in the shell.

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In addition to shells, I've seen and drawn so many other things on the beach, including a Portugues Man of War, skates or rays, and many varieties of crabs.  If you "search" on my blog for "sand collars" you'll see one of the mysteries I loved solving.

May 22, 2018

A New Sketchbook for Summer Vacation

For the last 10 years I recycled an old book to use as a summer sketchbook.  They are all different sizes, and have original titles that may or may not suggest a summer theme.  But I like the variety, and they are easier to make because I use the original book cover.    This year it was a strain on my wrist, because I'm still in PT after my fracture, but I DID IT!.  This book was purchased on the $2  carts outside the Strand Bookstore in NYC.  It is 9.5" tall and 7.5" wide, and has 24 pages of Fabriano Artistico 140 lb soft press watercolor paper - enough for daily paintings while we vacation.

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I have a tutorial for "Recycling an old book as a sketchbook" - a 4 part series - at this link.

http://www.paperandthreads.com/2012/02/watercolor_sketchbook_tutorial.php 

I make pen/pencil holders for the front cover of each book making it easier to carry,  draw on location, and paint when I'm back at the house.  Mine are made with Velcro, but a simple one can be made from a tube of fabric and elastic.

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I usually save one or more of the original folios to add to my book, to honor this old book that will be discarded if not purchased from the carts.  This book was called BE, and it has a quote on one side of the cover ("Life is here and it is now"), and one interesting page that I made the title page of my sketchbook.

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Shirley Parker Levine
New York City

June 2018

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