In April-May I began a massive clean out of my art studio. After over 40 years of collecting projects and resources, I have decided I have “been there, done that” and I know what I want to concentrate on from this point forward.
So nieces and nephews were the benefactors of all sort of fun things, but also, there were a few projects I really wanted family to have. While I donated a large amount of raw children’s furniture to a new church nursery, I held out a few pieces for my nieces and nephew. This was the result.
This table top was their Grandma’s farm with the chairs celebrating a childhood cat (a nod to their daddy – and Grandma still has cats on the farm) and the hummingbirds ever present in the summer.
The kids continued to ask for more classes, so in February I sent them all watercolor paints, brushes and paper. We had loads of fun as I taught them how to use their new tools. In the meantime, I continued on with my own project of painting family memories. I am trying to get looser with my sketching, making it less of a detailed and frustrating project.
One of my favorite things is using old black and white photos from my Dad’s family farm. I want to amass a large group of these. Maybe a picture book with stories in the future.
I like to work on a tan sketchbook in January – although I was too busy with nieces and our weekly zoom coaching sessions to do the full Tanuary challenge on social media. We had a lot of fun, even so.
I challenged the kids to use different surfaces, including cardboard pieces and talked about charcoal, pencil, crayon, pen etc. It was good drawing practice for all involved.
This is Notch – I think she may be a first time mother. She has at least 2 babies so she got bold enough to come up to the deck. It seems they get hungry about this time of year. I also see them in the deep winter when the snow is thick. Otherwise, they only visit at night. How do I know? My tomatoes growing on my second story deck keep disappearing.
The Rose-breasted Grosbeak’s have been plentiful this season. I have my own photos, but a friend, Steve Bradley, took one of a male that truly inspired me. I used his photo for my painting and one of my own for the female.
First I practiced drawing them since their big old beaks were a new shape for me.
Then I tried the male on my Mom’s Mother’s Day card/letter. I decided I liked that so well, I did the couple in my nature journal (the first image above.)
I watched a Cooper’s Hawk wrestle with a huge stick that had a smaller one hooked to it. When he finally got them untangled, he ended up with the short stick and appeared quite disgruntled about it. He tossed it down and left, at that point, and went up into the tree and started wrestling with another branch. It was very entertaining.
It is that time of year – it started a month early, in fact, so I have been busy this October with Christmas gift painting. Most of them I can not show until after the holiday, but here is one that I can share.
A study in my various pencils – this is a common thing to do to get comfortable with the tools for the current project.
The Natural History Illustration course has been fun and a lot of learning is happening. Some of the homework included unfinished sketches demonstrating the learning techniques.
First activity was to work with natural items, breaking them down into geometric shapes, working their curves, etc. and this shell really showed me how rusty I am.
We then did field sketches of birds. Some people really finished them out. I need to spend time doing more of that, but part of my problem in the field is thinking things have to be perfect. I am working to let go of that and just get it down on paper first. Also, this was sketch paper and I knew better than to try watercolors, but did it anyway. It is a learning and reminding process.
I learned about studying flowers and how to turn them into geometric shapes (not pictured), measure, and make notations. This lesson was interesting, but I found it a bit too detailed for me. I love seeing these types of illustrations. I hate doing them.
This was about learning how to quickly capture form and essence of mammals. Now we are getting into my “love”.
We studied skeletal structure, which I actually found quite fascinating. I used one of our raccoons who was trying to get to our bird feeder as my model and tried 3 different gesture drawings for each pose. This lesson was real helpful and I enjoyed it immensely. I may be studying skeletal structures a bit more!
The preliminary blocking activities were very helpful. I normally jump right to this type of gesture drawing above, but doing the 2 preliminary gestures made doing this one so much easier and correct. That was an interesting ah-ha for me!
This was a practice on how to block off parts of birds using circles, ovals, and geometric shapes – which is difficult for me to do. We also looked at how their skeletal structure is made.
I am going to have to practice this a lot more and, for once, I am excited about practicing!
This year I did not finish out the month strong – 2 things happened. I began volunteering for Providence Wildlife Rehab and I started getting more Christmas orders than was in my plan, so any creative activities need to go that direction. And I can not show those.
However, I did do some warmup exercises that I thought you might like. The subject was one of our Educational Ambassadors, a Screech Owl named Red.
So goodby, Inktober! You have given me some wonderful projects for the upcoming year. Now if life will just give me the time.