Thursday, February 12, 2015

One From Column A and One From Column B, (Part Deux)

If thinking about all the work I did in the last post about 2014 didn't tire you, well, it tired me! And yet, that was just a minor part of the everyday art I was producing. Throughout the year I worked with two of my favorite teachers, Carla Sonheim, and Jane Davenport. Both have very different approaches to inspiration and education, but both equally committed to helping her students find joy in the work, and success in advancing her skills.

This was my second ""yearlong" with Carla, although I will admit that I only participated for the first half of the lessons, as frequent guests and travels took over my attention and time in the second half of last year. Carla's "Year of the Fairytale," was an intensive class in various processes of developing illustrations for any purpose, but specifically aimed at learning to illustrate children's storybooks. Having taken Jane Davenport's fantasy based "Joynal" the previous autumn, I assumed this would be the class to follow up. Unfortunately I was not a fan of the actual stories that are the basis for traditional fairy tales, and not as inspired as I thought I would be. What did inspire though was Carla's fantastic lessons in interesting new mediums and materials.

My "Happily Ever After" 

The first tale, "The Frog Princess" worked on character development. I chose to do for my three illustrations the princess, the princess as frog, and the magic bread. Each item was researched and drawn over and over to develop a character based in real life features, then stylized. We learned to layer pan pastels with water color for our final pieces.

Drawing and redrawing to refine and choose a character

Each of my three final pieces had lettering as an integral part of the illustration
The second tale, a traditional French story with many animals and plants to be illustrated, began with drawing 100 imaginary plants by looking at photo references of things that were not traditional land based plants, and using parts and pieces to make them fanciful. All our practice work this month was done in graphite on vellum.
One of several pages of my own designs for plants. I never made it to 100 because I got a bit carried away with the complexity of each.
The animal practice portion of the lessons involved using real life reference photos and using an "eraser" drawing method to subtract graphite for all the highlighted textures. This was a great deal of fun and much easier than the additive way of working from light to dark values.
The character, Bonne-Biche, in development
The final mixed media drawings were done on an unusual substrate called Yupo, which had a similar look to the vellum, but is made of polypropylene, and made for watercolor painting. The paint sits on the surface rather than sinking in and can be fashioned with the subtractive method as the erasure of graphite. It also pools and mixes on the surface and creates interesting areas of light and dark, not totally under control. The drawings were completed with pencil shading.

Here is my watercolor painting of Bonne-Biche.

For the character, Beau-Minon, I used a photo of my own cat as the basis for the eraser drawing on vellum.

And here is Beau-Minon in water color on Yupo.
The third story for which I completed my lessons was the very short and well know, "Princess and the Pea."  After creating a modern princess character for my story, I worked out my composition with the parts and pieces of her room in collage scraps. The favorite composition was then completed in paint on mixed media paper with unusual paint applicators such as a credit card.

It was a dark and stormy night when she knocked at the castle door.

The princess faces her challenge head on.

The one teacher I have acquired in the last two years who sees me through a creative session almost every day is Jane Davenport. She is one of the most joyful people I have had the pleasure to have met on the great big Internet, and her lessons have brought me such a long way toward feeling accomplished at drawing faces, telling stories, and being part of a community that creates for the sheer love of image and color.  

Jane has us make our own journals for most of her classes. This one, an epic and expensive book of good quality watercolor paper was mostly unused at the end of "Joynal," so....

I flipped it over and created another side for the "Express Yourself" class. It is still half empty and continues to be used for other Jane classes as needed.

The theme of "Express Yourself" is facial expression, most especially in learning to vary the eyes and mouths, plus the tilt of the head. We started with a gallery of miniatures of all the expressions we could think of.

Learning to tilt the head down and partially close the eyes for demure, shy, sad, etc.

A lesson in going beyond your comfort zone. After creating a beautiful calm face with lovely normal feature, we learned to overlay color and detail to create depth with glazing, and tell the story of a different sort of woman.

Pouty and kissy mouths, and a pouty face.

Mixed media on black gesso for drama

The altered book that I often work Jane's classes in was started for "Joynal" and is a child's fairytale book. Here is the start of a page of a broad smile with teeth based on a photo of Marilyn Monroe.

The mixed media Marilyn was pretty but a bit too soft and "chalky."

After a basic session in Photoshop, the colors sing! Jane offers a course called "Print and Scan" which teaches Photoshop basics along with many other aspects of refining and preparing artwork for printing and/or sale.

Probably my favorite finished page from the whole class. After an in-depth lesson in drawing an eye, I added the notes to the opposite page and the surround and gave the eye a trompe l'oeil torn page to peek through. 
An artist and teacher new to me, Danielle Donaldson, led a two week workshop in some new techniques on four very specific projects. "The Land of Light and Shadow" gave me a different perspective on what a class could be and four different completed projects in a short time.

"Anatomy of an Artist Taking Flight"

"Hippo Love, It's a Part of Us"

As Danielle's class rolled seamlessly into Jane's "Frolicaholic," the Creative Girl character was tweaked to become the cover of my Frolicaholic Journal.
"Frolicaholic," the expanded version of Jane's "Draw Happy" was offered live last spring, and was some of the most fun I've had in any of her classes. We made an awesome shaped book and filled each page (or page bits) with each week's new lesson in how to believe in yourself and your art.

"Building Confidence"

"Start the Art"

"The Lizard Brain"

"Your Style"
Meanwhile, back to work Jane's most basic class, "Supplies Me," which I had started the previous summer and was fitting in when I found the time.

In colored pencil week, I learned to draw with depth and texture, blending colored pencils

In marker week, I got a nice start with my Copic alcohol markers, then turned that drawing into a mixed media piece with collage and paint pens, ink and colored pencil.

A mixed media piece during a lesson on simple or "lolly" legs

Watercolor week: watercolor on texture paste (and always colored pencil!)

My ink week girl had a collage inspired friend, plus hair and dress from the scrap box.

For pastels week, a mixed media piece that used Shiva oil paint sticks (previously only tried for fabric painting)

And for acrylics week, a 3/4 turned face, my final painting of the class, and one of my proudest achievement of the year.

In just a couple weeks I will be beginning another intensive Jane class, brand new and based on her Amazon top rated new book: "Drawing and Painting Beautiful Faces." Won't you come join me?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

One From Column A and One From Column B (Part 1)

Just recently I took a gander at my blog posts from 2014 so that I could bring you up to date on my art adventures. I was aghast to see that after only one or two posts summing up 2013, I had failed to post any art last year, and that I hadn't even shared all my travels! What gives? Have I gone lazy? Well, actually just the opposite: madly busily creative! There is no way to show it ALL now, so I have decided on a two part journey of summation, traveling through some of my favorite moments. This post I will cover Danny Gregory's new online teaching venture: Sketchbook Skool, a nod at Teesha and Tracy Moore's Artstronaut's Club, my first ever painting class which is also my first time with new online teacher, Tracy Verdugo in Paint Mojo, and finally an epic stitched "painting" with my favorite art stitcher, Arlee Barr.

For years Danny Gregory, of "Creative License" and "Everyday Matters" fame has inspired those of us new to drawing and journaling our lives to "just do it". Trouble was, many of us needed direct inspiration and a class. So last spring Sketchbook Skool opened it's online doors for the first of three six week "semesters": Beginnings, Seeing, and Storytelling. Each program includes the lessons of six different professional sketchers of widely varied styles, a smorgasbord with something to inspire every one. A new class will be offered in March, and each of the others is being repeated over time.

Here are some of my favorite page spreads from the three classes.

Danny's "Drawing Toast"

Danny's "Fast and Slow"

Andrea Joseph: Drawing an object with only ballpoint pen

Andrea Joseph: drawing a collection

Andrea teaches us some interesting handwriting

Jane LaFazio: ink and watercolor laid out in a grid (in progress)

Koosje Koene: drawing with colored pencil

Tommy Kane: epic detail!

Koosje: a selfie a day

All throughout the year I can always go to the inspiration of "The Artstronaut's Club" run by Teesha and Tracy Moore. The Moore's and guest artists post video lessons, collage sheets to print out, and just generally share inspiration for artistic growth. Much fun! (And quite reasonably priced.)

Here I took Teesha's lesson on "wormhole doodling" and added it to a journal page in a round robin which had been inspired in turn by a painted textile, THEN re-inspired, I began the task of duplicating the doodling in embroidery on the original painted textile! And the wheel goes round.
I had been vaguely aware of Australian artist, Tracy Verdugo in my travels about the net, but until she braved her first online adventure last autumn, her talent and my interest weren't going to meet. Luckily she was able to put together an outstanding e-class based on her weekend workshops, called "Paint Mojo". Tracy has an amazing persona that reaches out through the camera and into your heart. Her class was so jam packed full of love and learning that I was only able to complete about half the assignments. Luckily I will have access for a while yet to return to watch the videos and continue. The one thing I made it my business to keep up with was the focal assignment: a six week layered canvas of personal symbolism and imagery. Tracy is running her class again mid February, so run over and check it out!

The class begins with finding inspiration around the house and creating thumbnail "mash ups" to create a print plate and prints.

Here is a collage of six different prints I made from the hippo design. A seventh one, not shown here, was over painted in a folk art style.

My very favorite side project involved learning to use dripping inks to advantage to create dream catcher paintings. (This is a cropped image of the full painting.)

After completing the first larger dream catcher, we created a sheet of four more "beginnings" with four different ways to compete. Here is my dream maiden.

One of our weekly inspirations for the imagination was called "Palettes of Possibility" and involved taking the paper palette used in painting the other assignments and using it as the base of another painting. Here is the free play on a palette with a little extra ink drawing and fingerprinting.

Here is the same palette after the addition of collage and paint, pulling a story out of the random shapes and lines above. Incoming! Get off the runway!
Our major project was to paint a large canvas (mine was 30x30 inches), the first time I had ever done so. Each week we watched Tracy paint along with us, demonstrating her special techniques for inspiration, use of materials, and freedom of application. It was a glorious experience.

After making a worksheet of favorite symbols, they are added (according to a bit of a formula) to the divided canvas. Throughout the layers, the predominant type of coloring media were Golden Fluid Acrylics and Daler Rowney Acrylic Ink, applied with unorthodox tools and often with the fingers.

Week 2: Fluid mediums in a sheer layer

Week 3: Expanding on the symbology (mine done with the assistance of a poem written during the first lesson)

Week 4: Unifying the canvas with color and design elements. At this point it could have been called finished, but then we wouldn't have been taking it to the limits!

Week 5: Looking for imagery to keep

Covering the extraneous design to highlight the imagery desired

Week 6: Refining the imagery and adding back color to unify the design

In most years of my life, my art and craft have revolved around textiles, and even though I am drawing and painting now, I am attempting to bring the two together with original textile art. I was fortunate to participate this past autumn in an e-course with Arlee Barr, eco fabric dyer and pioneering embroiderer. The course, "The Third Dimension" was intended to produce highly textural results with applique and embroidery telling a story.
Pulling fabrics from my stash to help design the tale of a cat and a blue moon.

The individual pieces of the cat have been embroidered and are ready for assembly.

The background fabrics are woven and embroidered to supplement the story.

Energy fields flow about the blue moon character in variegated cotton threads in satin stitch.

The cat's whiskers reach out to the cosmos.
A second face appears, the winds, blowing positive energy to fill a heart shape.

The nearly completed piece with a tryout of framing and backing.
Be back soon with part two: classes with Jane Davenport and Carla Sonheim.