January 16, 2018

More Rodin Sketches Before the Exhibit Ended

Before leaving for a weekend with our son and his family in DC, I sketched two more Rodin sculptures before the exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art closed.  I walked the corridor that houses the Met's Rodin collection many times every year, and until I go back to the Museum, I won't know whether these two pieces that are owned by the Met will still be on view. 

I loved this marble sculpture of Orpheus and Eurydice, it is beautiful from almost every angle.  However, I decided to sit down on a bench in front of it because of the amount of traffic walking through the area to get to the Michelangelo Exhibit, and the view of Eurydice from the bench was not as good as that from either side.



This is a very small sculpture named Despair, one of many that I didn't remember, although it is from The Gates of Hell.  I loved the position of the figure and just had to draw it in case it disappeared.


January 12, 2018

Looking Back to the Beginning of My Blog

I'm away for the long weekend and thought that it might be fun to go back and look at a few of my earliest blog posts, which began in January 2006.

I always loved other people's travel sketchbooks, and I wanted to see if I could make one.  I took a Moleskine sketchbook with me to do quick sketches while touring the Amalfi coast, even though I learned that the SKETCHBOOK paper does not take watercolor well. Here is a drawing I did in Sorrento, looking out from our hotel window.


I had no  idea how to correct the color on the scan of the yellowish paper in the Moleskine sketchbook.  It also doesn't take watercolor well, so I went to a copier store and made A3 copies on drawing paper so I could add a watercolor wash on site, and this is the result. 


Our tour guide and one of the other members of our group spent lots of time watching me draw, and encouraging me, so I gave them each one of the unpainted A3 copies I had made.  

January 9, 2018

NYC Urban Sketchers at the Met Museum

The NYC Urban Sketchers met on Wednesday this past week in order to draw the Christmas Tree in the Medieval Hall  at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The ornaments were made in Italy and are ceramic and fabric, with lush silks for garments.  We listened to wonderful choral music while we sketched.  Unfortunately you can't get close enough to the tree for detailed drawings of the angels, but can see all of the sculptures around the base of the tree slightly better. 

This sketchbook page is a painting of one angel and a few of the figures around the base. 


Photo of the Tree



Some of the Urban Sketchers at the back of the tree - busy drawing. 


After drawing at the Tree, I went upstairs to the Auguste Rodin exhibit and painted a sculpture by his mistress and muse, Camille Claudel.  There are so many small Rodin scultures in this exhibit, that I hope that I have time to sketch more before it closes on January 15th.

Rodin Exhibit:  "The Implorer" by Camille Claudel  Cast in 1905


January 5, 2018

The End of Christmas Season

Manhattan is a Christmas Wonderland each year, especially 5th Avenue from 42nd Street (Bryant Park) to 59th Street (Bergdorf Goodman).  Bergdorf's  window decorations are always spectacular, and this year each window represented a cultural institution in NYC. 

The American Museum of Natural History window was my favorite.  This photo has way too many reflections, but you can see that a model is surrounded by jewel encrusted dinosaurs.


Detail:  Every inch of the "sculptures" are "jewel encrusted" on every square millimeter of their body.  It was dazzling!


On one of my walks past all of the Bergdorf windows, I stopped to sketch the NY Philharmonic Window, and painted it at home. It was totally red, with neon musical instruments filling the background. 


This morning we took down our Christmas tree, with an outside temperature of 10 degrees and a wind chill of -12.  The Holiday season is officially over in our apartment as we try to deal with the Artic freeze and almost 8 inches of snow yesterday. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR and may your lives in 2018 be filled with good health and wonderful art. 

January 2, 2018

Blog Anniversary and 2018 Art Goals

My Blog is 11 years old on January 4th, and it continues to be an extremely important part of my post-retirement connection to a community of artists and friends.  Last year I posted twice each week, fulfilling my ongoing goal.  In the beginning, commenting on blogs was part of the interaction in the blog world.  Now I also share my blog posts via Facebook in several art groups. 

Art Goals for 2018:  Develop better drawing and painting skills on paper and with dye-painting and surface design on fabric. 

1.  Take classes to keep me inspired and motivated:  Sketchbook Skool, Craftsy, Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), MoMA, and then keep open ears and an open mind about other opportunities for continued growth. 

2.  Maintain a Community of Artist Friends through participation in the:

NYC Urban Sketchers, Battery Park Conservancy Adult Art Programs, Central Park Sketching and Art Meetup.

Return to regular drop-in drawing sessions at the Society of Illustrators

Museum Exhibits and Galleries to draw the Masters with my friends, especially NYC Master Drawing Week in January and Asia Week in March.  

3.  Deliberate Practice:  Maintain my dedicated sketchbooks to practice drawing hands and feet, and to draw from my imagination. I should also continue practicing fast drawing of figures in motion (Suhita Shirodkar), and loose watercolor sketching using Anne Watkins method. 

New Project:  Learn how to do drawings on toned paper with black and white chalk or charcoal - using my newly made, dedicated, grey-toned paper sketchbook 

4.  Bookbinding:

a.  Make everyday sketchbooks for drawing and watercolor paintings

b.  Recycle old books as vacation travel sketchbooks

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

c.  Make a new accordion sketchbook for outdoor NYC USK paintings.  Create a tutorial for my blog.

d.  Make a 2018 "Remains of the Day" Scrapbook for Art Adventures with my friends

5.  Special Project Ideas:  I love to have ideas for special projects when I'm thinking about the new year ahead. 

These are some ideas for 2018 - but I always remain open to other possibilities:

Idea 1:  Draw and Paint everyday in January - again challenging myself to draw from observation in my own apartment.  I already missed one day!

Idea 2:  Watch videos about "drawing on toned paper" and start my newly bound sketchbook to practice using black and white from photograph references.  Then move to direct observation and drawing from museum sculptures. 

Idea 3:  Use a dip pen, Brause nib, and brown/black ink to copy drawings from my photographs from assorted exhibits, including the current drawings from the Thaw Collection at the Morgan, and Drawings from both Sotheby's and Christies' Fall Auctions. 

Idea 4:  Study new "Paste Paper" designs and make sheets of paste paper that are big enough to make two covered boards for new accordion sketchbooks. 

Idea 5:  Deplete my stash of Christmas Fabrics by making a simple patchwork quilt during the cold winter months (machine piecing and quilting). 













December 29, 2017

Art Progress 2017


Art Progress for 2017:  I love reviewing how I spent my year and thinking about my goals for the upcoming Year.  I did sketch and paint regularly and posted to my blog twice each week in 2017.   This quick annual reflection always makes me happy, because I realize how much I have accomplished, and how much fun and fulfillment these activities add to my retirement.

My Main Goal remains the same: To develop better drawing and painting skills on paper and surface design on fabric. 

1.  Take Classes:    I took a combination of online and in-person classes through the year and tried to complete everyone, even the homework.  Work done in each of these classes is regularly posted on my blog.

Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT):  I love the 3 hour classes over a 14 week semester at FIT, and this year took two classes from their Illustration Department.  In the Spring I took a class called Watercolor Comps, in which we learned many techniques for creating illustrations, and it was a great opportunity to learn and practice watercolor painting.  This Fall I took a class called Fashion Applications, and each week we had 2-4 models and expert instructions on figure drawing. 

Urban Sketching with Marilyn Rose:  A several day class in Bryant Park in which we used a pen and rapid sketching techniques to record our environment.

Painting Figures with Anne Watkins:  This was an evening workshop in Bryant Park - one of the 10 X 10 Workshop Program developed by NYC USK.  I loved seeing her technique and need to spend more time practicing! 

Battery Park City Adult Art Program:  I did indoor figure drawing with this group in Feb and Mar, and outdoor figure drawing from May through October, weather permitting, and if we weren't on vacation.   

Surface Design Classes at the International Quilt Festival in Houston:  I took two full days of surface design/shibori classes - one using natural indigo, and one using a synthetic Procion MX dye named Indigo.  These techniques/skills will be used in my sewing, quilting, and bookbinding activities.  

Sketchbook Skool:  I love the multiteacher 5-6 week online classes, and enjoy "meeting" new teachers, and working through the homework assignments, even if they are out of my comfort zone.  This year I took Exploring (Class #7), and Imagining (#8).  The two creators of Sketchbook Skool also had some Online Book Clubs in which Danny reviewed one of his favorite artist books in each session, and Koosje continued her short videos called "Draw Tip Tuesday" on You Tube.

Craftsy:  Although I don't love painting landscapes, I really enjoyed Shari Blaukopf's Sketching Landscapes Class, and on Labor Day watched two free Craftsy classes:  Suhita Shirodkar's Figure Sketching Made Simple and Steven Reddy's Dynamic Detail in Pen, Ink, and Watercolor.  I immediately practiced the rapid figure drawing technique, but won't ever use the more detailed techniques presented in Reddy's class. 

2.  Maintain a Community of Artist Friends:  My goal is to participate in at least one NYC art activity per week, in addition to my FIT classes, and I have accomplished this when I'm in town. The friends in these groups inspire me and help me to enjoy the community of artists of all skill levels.  In addition to Battery Park City and Urban Sketchers, there are several Meetup groups that I now can only attend occasionally.  And my dear friends Benedicte, Eunice, and Pat provide companionship for regular museum and gallery visits where we draw "the Masters."   

3.  Deliberate Practice:  I continued to maintain my regular hand bound sketchbooks, and to work regularly in my dedicated sketchbooks reserved for a. Drawing Hands and Feet (from photos), and b. Drawing from my Imagination (including lots of Axel and Alice illustrations like on this blog post).  

4.  Bookbinding:  I made 3 140 lb watercolor sketchbooks for regular sketching, and two recycled books - for our 50th anniversary vacation in Venice and for summer beach vacations.  I made my 7th "Remains of the Day" book (MaryAnn Moss) which is an annual "scrapbook" for all of the NYC art adventures with my friends. This week I taught Eunice how to make a Double Pamphlet Book with Arches watercolor paper, and reposted my tutorial for making these books to my blog.  To my delight, I took a Coptic Book all day class at Quilt Festival and learned how to use the two needle sewing technique.  

5.  Special Project:  I love to have a special project for the year, either for January, or as a monthly activity for the first half of the year.  Last January I used an 80" accordion book to collage 38 of my favorite "resized" figure drawings.  I also intended to transfer some of the same drawings to fabric as an art quilt.  Instead I finally finished hand quilting my Liberty of London Lap Quilt, which started in 2006 when my daughter and her family moved to London for 15 months.  

Art Goals 2018:  Next Week. 



December 26, 2017

Easy To Make Double Pamphlet Art Journals

Today my friend Eunice came to my apartment to learn how to make a Double Pamphlet Book.  This is a good "first book" to make because you learn about paper grain, scoring and tearing paper, making folios and signatures, creating a simple paper cover, and putting the two signatures and cover together with a single 3 hole pamphlet stitch. 

In 2012 I posted a tutorial on my blog for this book, with photos.   


One CORRECTION to the Tutorial:  I said that the Mi Tientes cover paper I used is Grain Short, and now I think it is Grain Long.  However, grain is not very important in this simple book structure.


Eunice made a 32 page small watercolor book (5.5W by 7.5H) from one sheet of Arches 140 lb cold press paper, and I made a 32 page toned gray paper book (7.75W and 10.5H) from 2 sheets of Canford toned grey paper. 

Here is Eunice with her book.  She still needs to "decorate" the cover. 



Here is my book, which I will use for figure drawing practice on toned paper.



Here is the Canford Dreadnought Grey toned paper. 



December 23, 2017



I made 4 more tree ornaments, one each for our children Noah, Jason, and Rachel, and the red present for our tree.

What I want in my presents:  Joy, Good Health, Intellectual Stimulation, and World Peace. 


The Christmas tree is up and decorated, and the family gifts are in stockings or gift bags I made for everyone over the last 15 years.  We're ready - except for the cooking.


December 20, 2017

Final Fashion Illustration Drawings for the Semester

I loved this class and learned from a master fashion illustrator. 


This week was our last class, and we had 3 models, and many quick poses.  While we were sketching Professor Salek, as a final review, talked about all of the skills she presented during the semester. 

I chose four 7 minute poses from the class to post on the blog, to  remind me about:

1.  The angle of shoulders and hips - which are usually opposite in direction - and should be exaggerated.

2.  To be bold drawing the shapes.

3.  To start drawing from the head and then to  proceed down the figure, switching from side to side.

4.  To elongate the drawing and narrow the form.

5.  To pay attention to opposition, which to her means don't draw both sides of an arm or leg with identical lines.  Exaggerate differences. 

I wish I had erased the hand on the first figure - but maybe my new Craftsy class on Drawing Hands will help me as 2017 ends!! 






Shirley Parker Levine
New York City

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