May 25, 2015

Gouache Painting Inspired by Mary Blair

I am participating in Jeanne Oliver's second Studying Under the Masters online course.  Contemporary artists select a master artist and become their apprentice, researching their life, their art, their materials and methods.  They then copy one of their paintings to learn more about their style and use what they learn in a painting of their own.  Mary Blair (1911-1978) was an early 20th Century illustrator who worked for Disney and or was a freelance illustrator who was commissioned by Disney among others.  Parents the world over, will remember her Disneyland "Small World" exhibit.  

I copied one of her gouache paintings and posted it recently. 

http://www.paperandthreads.com/2015/04/_i_am_slowly_making.php

It took me awhile to finish Part 2 - my painting inspired by the work and style of Mary Blair.  My main goal was to again use gouache for the painting to get more experience with this medium, using bold colors, crisp edges and black outlines.  I chose to work from a photo that I took on New Year's Eve.

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May 22, 2015

Urban Sketchers and Figure Al Fresco This Week

An Urban Sketcher from Sydney Australia connected me with a Sydney watercolor artist who was coming to visit New York City and we spent two days together this week.  I'm constantly amazed at the international world of sketchbook art and the friends I meet through Everyday Matters, Urban Sketchers, and my blog.  On Monday Eunice and I met for coffee, and were in the café so long that we ordered and ate lunch!  This is a picture of us following lunch and before we went downtown to buy art supplies.  It was wonderful to meet her and I'm delighted that she will be visiting regularly.

 

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On Wednesday we met for a combined Weekday Urban Sketchers and Battery Park Conservancy Art Day.  Eunice and I sketched Pier A, at the tip of Manhattan overlooking New York Harbor, and while we sketched we watched Navy and Coast Guard vessels arrive for the annual Navy Fleet Week.  Notice the Statue of Liberty, which is on the other side of the harbor, right above the back of this destroyer.

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We were freezing while we sketched and had to go into Pier A for hot coffee.  Here is my "as yet" unpainted drawing over New York Harbor.   Pier A is on the left and way in the distance is Governor's Island and the Verrazano Bridge

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In the afternoon we moved to the Battery Park South Cove for Figure Al Fresco, the weekly figure drawing session sponsored by the Battery Park Conservancy.  The wind and cold made it unpleasant, so I did only the 1, 5, and 10 minutes sketches.   From left to right - 10 minute, and two five minute sketches done of our model who was sitting or standing on rocks in the South Cove. 

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Next Wednesday it is supposed to be in the 80s, so we will meet again under better weather conditions for outdoor sketching. 

May 20, 2015

Bookbinding - Making a Watercolor Sketchbook

I started to make my own watercolor sketchbooks by first learning how to repurpose $1-2 "soon to be discarded" books.  The original page block can be removed and a new watercolor page block inserted into books that are the size, and even perhaps a theme that you like. 

In 2008 I posted a tutorial of one of my first repurposed books.  In 2012 I posted a 4 part tutorial which is more detailed, and photographed each step as I repurposed a book called Italian Dreams for a 2012 vacation in Venice.  I recommend using the 2nd tutorial if you want to learn how to make these watercolor sketchbooks.

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

 

Each year I repurpose a themed book for our summer beach visits and for our vacation.  I found an 8 X 8" book for $2 on the carts outside The Strand bookstore in Manhattan.  It has a 1/2" spine and I can fit 3 signatures, each with two watercolor paper folios and one folio from the original book.  I can paint on both sides of each page, so I will have 24 watercolor pages to use and several text pages from the original folios to collage over. 

 

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I cut out the original page block  and carefully cut the binding threads so I could remove some of the original pages to use as endpapers and to mix with my 140 lb watercolor folios.   

These are the front and back endpapers, which hold the new watercolor page block in the cover. 

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This is an original folio that I nested inside one of the signatures. 

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I also found a similar size book called Spanish Paintings for $2, and will make it into watercolor sketchbook for a Fall vacation in Spain. 

Please leave a comment if you have any questions. 

 

May 18, 2015

Sketchbook Skool Homework for Fabio Consoli

Fabio Consoli, our 3rd teacher for Sketchbook Skool Semester 4, wanted us to enjoy "Child's Play" by sharing a page in our sketchbook with a child, allowing them to make a drawing which we would then use as inspiration to extend and complete the composition.  My 5 year old Grandson Zach did two drawings with markers in my sketchbook, but filled up the complete page, and I wasn't sure how I was going to extend the images and story.

The next day he only had time to do a pen drawing on an index card while we were at lunch, and I chose to use that image as a collage and to allow it to inspire my painting on a page in my sketchbook.  I'm currently trying to improve my drawings from my imagination, so this was a double challenge for me.  Zach's drawing is the blue man on the right. 

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I decided that I liked my drawing of the green man and wanted to introduce his girlfriend.  So I sketched them both in pen for my 100day Drawing From Imagination project. 

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Here are Zach's first two drawings - done with Tombow markers on a full sketchbook page - The Monster Man and Secret Grouch:

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May 14, 2015

Fashion at the Met and Warhol at MoMA

Every May, the fashion world of NYC comes together for the Costume Institute Met gala.  This year the exhibit is China:  Through the Looking Glass.  It is the most extravagant fashion exhibit I've seen there, in part because the exhibit is both in the Costume Institute galleries, and throughout the Asian Galleries.  It took us 2 hours to go through the galleries (even without reading many labels!).  And I did just a few sketches to remember the event.

This is a wonderful Met video of the exhibit. 

http://www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2015/china-through-the-looking-glass/video 

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Pat, Benedicte, and I also went to MoMA to see the new Warhol exhibit, and to attend the first of many sessions about Warhol's Materials and Methods -something they are calling Warhol's Pop-Up events.  A museum art educator discussed Warhol's career and led us through 2 exercises.  In the first, we used one of his iconic shapes and created a new product/brand/logo.  I created a shopping bag, with an extravagant hat on it, for my store called "To the Races."  I imagined a shop for hats to be worn to the Kentucky Derby and Ascot. 

For  the 2nd exercise, we were given stacks of ads from the 1950s-1960s (I think) and a light box, and asked to trace images from these ads to create a new ad.  I just collected women's faces and made it an ad for Lifesavers - a hint at the rise of feminism during that time. 

Warhol is not an artist I admire.  I keep looking for evidence that he did more than transform work by others.  But it is always fun to work with the MoMA educators and I probably will sample one session from each of the 4 who will be leading these sessions in the next few months to see how they differ.  

 

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May 12, 2015

More Drawings From My Imagination

I am still doing daily drawings from my imagination as part of a 100 day Drawing Project.  Some days I have to just draw a squiggle and go from there, and they are mostly dreadful drawings.  Other days ideas flow as I'm drawing and these silly little people appear. 

 

I drew a table and added the "patient."  Then I decided it must be a physical therapy session and added the therapist and the room details. 

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I started out drawing a car, and then wondered where it was, and a gas station materialized.

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Are these cartoon faces able to express emotions?

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Last Friday I went to a "Working Rehearsal" of the New York City Ballet and did a few quick sketches from the Mezzanine before the lights went down too low to see my sketchbook.  I just redrew what I remembered and the 3 dancers morphed into my imaginary people!     

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I'm having fun drawing from my brain to my tiny notebook and will periodically show a few drawings here on my blog.   But it is hard work!  And I really need an encyclopedic store of images in my brain from what I drew previously.

 

May 8, 2015

Battery Park City - Figure al Fresco

There is a free, outdoor Figure Drawing session in Battery Park City at the tip of Manhattan every Wednesday afternoon from May through October.  Yesterday was the first session, and many of the artists, and the model, were old friends.

The model is Donna - an incredible, colorfully dressed, experienced model.  I prefer the younger models who are dressed in tank tops and leggings so I can draw their full posture, but yesterday Donna was dressed in so many layers and colors that I had to pull out my watercolors for the longer poses.

This is the 5 minute sketch - in graphite.

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There were also two 10 minute sketches and one 30 minute sketch, which I did in graphite and then added paint.  But I missed the lines after painting, and brought them home and added India ink lines with my flexible nib over the watercolor.  Over and over I find that line is the most important element for me in art.  I prefer drawings to paintings, and ink and watercolor to any other paint medium.  And among oil paintings, I gravitate to the paintings with definite black lines in the paintings, like Matisse and Beckmann to name a few of my favorite artists.

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For this 30 minute pose Donna added yet one more scarf, a deeper auburn color over her bright pink one.  Her dress was a multicolor print and I simplified it to only capture the colors. 

Donna30.size.jpg 

May 5, 2015

My New Small 3D Printed Palette

I have a new, amazing 3D printed palette!  Our friend Pat saw it on a Facebook Page and emailed us the photo.  Teri showed it to her husband Lou and within days, Lou made one for each of us, on his 3D printer, to slip into an Altoid size container!!  I just searched for the original link, and found this:

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:753052

It is a solid piece of plastic with 10 wells and it easily and snugly fits into the Altoid-type tin that Teri bought for us. 

I loaded up my new palette with Schminke Aquarelle paints.  After several years using Winsor Newton artist grade watercolors, I decided to try Schminke based on multiple recommendations.  But I was used to my regular WN primary color triads to mix colors, and set the new tubes aside.  So they were perfect for this new small palette. 

Warm Triad: Gamboge Gum Mod. Scarlet Red, Phthaloblue

Cool Triad:  Lemon Yellow, Madder Red Dark, Ultramarine Blue

Convenience color: Neutral Gray

This weekend I took them into Central Park just to enjoy the weather and do some mixing studies.  I always use primary triads and mix the secondary and complementary colors - but also have Winsor Newton Neutral Tint, Van Dyke Brown, and Lamp Black in my palette "for convenience."

 

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I really like the range of colors that I got from mixing these primaries and will probably add a brown and black to the 3 empty wells to complete this pocket size palette! 

May 1, 2015

Dip Pen and Ink Wash Drawings

We are still drawing with dip pens and ink washes, and I really enjoy it.   Others in the class have gone back to graphite, although he is also recommending that we try Conte crayons.  My experience in figure drawing class convinced me that charcoal and Conte crayons would never be among my favorite media, so I'm thrilled to continue with ink and my Brause steno nib.

I assembled this Shoe still life when I arrived in Drawing class last week, so I could have it on my desk to draw.   Our professor usually puts props on a table in the center of our desks, 8-10 feet away, and although I don't need glasses, I do like to see more details.

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I selected several other props for two more drawings - a plaster sculpture missing a foot (but I added it) and a metal lantern that had a great shape. 

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Two more weeks, and then I can say I've taken one college figure drawing class and one drawing class - and proceed on my own as usual.  Sketchbook Skool Semester 4 is delightful so far - Jonathan Twingley, Lapin, and France Belleville Van Stone. 

April 28, 2015

Studying Under the Masters- Mary Blair

I am slowly making my way through the 2nd Studying Under the Masters online class by Jeanne Oliver, and I'm enjoying it as much as I did the first one.  Master Artist #5 (out of 6) is Mary Blair and I had never heard of her before. 

http://jeanneoliver.ning.com/groups/group/show?id=6550528%3AGroup%3A134645&xg_source=msg_mes_group 

In this class, an apprentice selects a master who they would like to study, presents lots of information from their research and then, in the ancient art tradition, copies the Master.  In Part 2 they do an original painting using techniques learned when copying the Master.  Cori Dantini selected Mary Blair because she was one of the only woman illustrators in the early part of the 20th Century and created the images of Peter Pan, Cinderella, and the Small World exhibit for Walt Disney among many other famous works. 

Mary Blair did her concept paintings in gouache and Cori Dantini was anxious to experiment with gouache, when she normally paints with watercolors.

I selected a different painting to copy - and here is Mary Blair on the left and my copy on the right. It is the first time I have ever used gouache for an entire painting and I'll now experiment more when I decide on the topic for my Mary Blair-inspired original.  I used 2 Winsor-Newton triads of primary colors - one cool and one warm, plus white, black, and brown.

 

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Shirley Parker Levine
New York City

May 2015

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