Studio Materials and Techniques

Still drawing...a studio update

Still drawing… Generally, if I am not blogging it is because I am fully engaged with my studio work and not stepping back to process and reflect. It is a good place to be creatively, but in the virtual world, it looks like I have dropped off the planet. In fact, I think my feedburner does not even recognize me anymore.

So, in a meager attempt to nurture a virtual presence, a little studio update is in order:

For the first time in ages, I am working on four simultaneous pieces; the large 5 x 3 foot Sybil, plus three smaller pieces (around 18 x 24). I have spent most of the summer on the Sybil and have completed the figure:

This piece also involves drawing a typewriter and for a reference I am using a 1930s Remington that belonged to my great aunt Sara during her WWII typing years. Oh, typewriter, in you I have met my drawing match: mechanical objects are not my passion – I can draw fabric and veins without much effort, but the angles and planes of the typewriter are a nice new challenge:

In addition to the Sybil, I have three smaller drawings that I want to have completed by November for a show scheduled for early next year. Pragmatic thinking about the time that would be involved for finishing the Sybil made me realize that I had to put her aside for a while. I have at least 200 more hours of drawing ahead on that piece (perhaps more…I seem to be drawing slower and slower as time goes by). Oh, just as well…

The three smaller drawings are based on Strange Tales from earlier this year (one of which is still unfinished). For the most part, I consider the Strange Tales terminal pieces and not studies: these are sketch ideas that were never intended as larger drawings, rather ideas that were interesting enough to engage me so I fleshed them out into little sketchbook drawings. But, something about these three Strange Tales compelled me to make them bigger, each of them embodying a mystical southern quality that harks back to my love of narrative. Plus, I want more detail and refinement and a larger scale so I can embellish them with gold leaf and beading. The first is Leora which now has its gold leaf and is ready for beading:

The second is based on Beatrice, still in progress:

And, at some point in the next month, I will start the third…detail pictures to come as that one is underway.

Oh, and here are my beads - laid out and ready for stitching into the separate drawings (each drawing will have slightly different beadwork):

(Needless to say, I have a nice little stash of beads left over after finishing each of the beaded drawings, so I have taken up beading necklaces with the excess.)

Although I am eager to work on the large Sybil drawing, I don’t mind having a more attainable sense gratification from finishing a few smaller pieces in the span of 4 - 5 months, particularly since over half of 2011 and a fair chunk of 2012 was spent on one drawing.

As stated in my favorite out-of-context line of poetry: “art is long and time is fleeting…” (with sincere apologies to Longfellow for hijacking of original intent).

Odds, Ends, and Strange Tale #32

Kickin' it old in 15th century old school... I now have my newest series of paintings and drawings on my website. These are works that are based in the botanical illustrations of the 16th and 17th centuries, but with a sexualized twist: certainly not suitable for all viewers, the Botanicae Amatorius are both erotic and humorous (granted, I have a dark sense of humor). The final paintings are done with gouache on calfskin parchment that has been stretched onto birch board: the calfskin is an exquisite surface for gouache - similar to the vellum used in 14th and 15th century manuscript pieces.  Vellum, to be technical, is the skin from a stillborn calf, and it is available -  but very expensive.  The calfskin is similar, with a few more flaws on the surface (which I like), still a bit pricey, but not so rare to come by and most specialty calligraphy supply outlets have it available.  I always gripe about reproductions, but I scanned the images on the site directly from the paintings and they are fairly accurate as far as color.  What is lost is the subtle depth of space created by the calfskin - the gouache sits on the surface and light reflects through the layers of skin making the gouache quite luminous (the pigment does not sink into the surface like it would on paper). I recommend the calfskin highly for gouache aficionados; some of the most beautiful works of art, from the Book of Kells to Albrecht Dürer's studies were executed on vellum - not a medium to be missed (I will write more about the botanical artists at a later date - the juncture of science and art is a passion of mine).

If you are interested in seeing the new paintings and drawings, click the link below:

Quite a busy month ahead (aren't they all):

In conjunction with the South Orange Maplewood Studio Tour, the Pierro Gallery is holding its Preview / Post View exhibit.  The opening is on Thursday, May 24th from 6 - 8 PM.  Speaking of gouache, in the Preview / Post View, I will be showing a painting that I rarely exhibit:

Ah yes, this one is on paper, not as luminous as the calfskin pieces, but a little jewel of a painting nonetheless.

The studio tour is on Sunday, June 3rd, from 11 AM - 5 PM; everyone is welcome to attend and this year the tour is free...not a bad deal for seeing 60+ artists in their studios.

Still Drawing...

In the studio, I have started my first of two (maybe three) sybils:

This will be a 5 x 3 foot pencil drawing, the figure is slightly smaller than life size.

Last, but not least...

The latest Strange Tale, pencil on Moleskine sketch paper, 5.5 x 7 inches (this is on a double page of a smaller Moleskine sketchbook):

The Sisters and the Serpent

As always, the jpeg reproduction is on the flickr stream as well.  For the studio tour, I am finishing up 5 of these that have been patiently waiting to emerge, and I will post them as they are completed.

Portrait ~ update work in progress

The leaves are nearly finished:
I thought the leaves/branches would only take me a few hours...I am a bit of a delusional optimist because it was more like 15 or 16 hours.  Next I will finish some details on the leaves, work on the portrait a bit more, and then cover the entire white background with 2B or 4B pencil.  Then, the piece will be sprayed with fixative.
Leafing will come next - first a layer of matte medium on the background (not the leaves or portrait), then the adhesive, then the gold leaf, then the sealant.  All in all it will take about a week to finish - every layer will require about a day to dry.

The Carrier & the tree (the good photos)

One of the most important things that at an artist should not skimp on is to have good photographs/documentation of his or her artwork.  I had photographs of my two most recent large scale drawings taken by a professional art photographer this week (Peter Jacobs Fine Art Imaging...for those in the NJ area, I recommend him highly).  And, the difference in his photos of "The Carrier" (see below) and my photos is night and day.

My duller, grayer image is on the left; the professional photographer's image is on the right

These images truly document what the drawings look like:



Another detail...I do love that black chicken...

The stamping detail



So now, onto the next tree drawing...