Monday, December 27, 2010

Watercolor No. 2

Turquoise Door, 15 1/8" x 11 1/2"

Happy Holidays, and here's wishing everyone an exceptional 2011!

After managing to not make a mess of my previous watercolor, I grabbed another photo and decided to venture forth again. As an absolute newbie to watercolor, I was trying not to get overly invested in the outcome and simply get my feet (brush) wet! I thought this image of a doorway in Hydra, Greece was interesting and this piece was really just another opportunity to practice putting some paint on the paper. I enjoyed experimenting with the various textures and added the cat to help bring some life and balance to the composition. I find the process exciting and it reinforces my interest in watercolor.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Venturing Into Watercolor

Greek Hut, 13 1/4" x 9 1/8"

Well, this was my first foray into watercolor. Actually not really the first, but the first in my more recent artistic endeavors - this was done about two years ago. As I've mentioned before, I'd primarily worked in colored pencil. I think that was in response to my years as a sign painter, working daily with oil based paints and solvents, which I then wanted to avoid at home. However, as much as I truly enjoy drawing, I found some of my pieces became very labor intensive. Lord knows I try to fight my artistic nature and loosen up, but somehow I keep finding myself mired in detail! For instance, just doing the background motif in "Pond Shadows", seen in my first post, took two days to complete! So, while the effort is often worth the result, I just felt I wanted a break from it and had a desire to pursue a new medium.

A beautifully done watercolor has a dynamic to it that I have always found intriguing. I think because it has that whole Yin-Yang thing going for it. While it can appear very spontaneous and fluid, it's also a challenging medium that requires control and planning. I thought it might be a good fit for me, in that it still allowed for some drawing but a more immediate approach to the coloring of the image - and I love the transparency and luminosity of it! Many of my earlier attempts at watercolor seemed to end up in a pool of muddy color, probably from my impatience and lack of forethought. This time around I decided to try to be a bit more deliberate and methodical. With that in mind, I grabbed an old vacation photo of a rustic building near Hydra, Greece and jumped in! This was the result, and I was encouraged that it actually came out somewhat as I'd hoped and it left me inspired to try some more watercolor!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Venice in Colored Pencil

Venezia, 13 1/2" x 8 3/4"

I did this one for my mother, from an old photo she had taken of a Venetian canal on a trip to Italy. The picture itself was very small and not very clear, which required plenty of interpretation with the drawing. Once again, it's colored pencil, using a fairly illustrative approach with a bit of abstraction thrown into the sky. I also softened the top of it with some lost edges and pushed some elements out of the frame which then lead the eye into the image. It ended up being kind of a fun result and for some reason, I always get a sort of "stage set" impression from it - not sure why, maybe it's the sky!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pastel Pencil This Time!

Malheur Cranes, 16" x 9 3/4"

Here's another oldie! This time using pastel pencils instead of Prismacolors, but still utilizing the background color as part of the imagery. I had wanted to try the pastel pencils in an attempt to break away from the detail that I consistently gravitate towards in my work. Guess I figured I couldn't sharpen them as much as my colored pencils, which should translate to more looseness! Can't say as I was successful in that regard, but it didn't come out too badly nonetheless.

This piece was done after a trip to Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon. It's a highly regarded bird watching venue and we were fortunate to see some Sandhill Cranes while we were there. The refuge is adjacent to Steens Mountain (in the picture's background), which is a dramatic fault block mountain with striking views overlooking the Alvord Desert and the refuge. It's a bit remote, but well worth a visit if you find yourself in the area!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Another from the Archives

Tropical Bird, 15 1/2" x 9 3/4"

This piece is another colored pencil drawing, with the addition of some watercolor in the background. I just started drawing a Bird of Paradise one day, without much forethought as to the final outcome, and this is where I ended up.

After finishing the flower, I decided that all it needed was a relatively simple background, maybe incorporating a Latin style architectural motif of some sort. After designing the geometrical tile element, I felt it was going to require contrast between the foreground and background, so I layed in a multi-hued wash of watercolor. As it turned out, the background then appeared a bit strident compared to the pencil work, so I outlined the edge of it with a light blue, and crosshatched it with a beige matching the color of the paper. That solved the intensity problem and also created, what I felt, was a rather interesting effect. Sometimes things work out, even if you don't know where you're heading at the beginning!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

An Older Landscape

Smith Rocks Solo, 20 1/2" x 15 1/2"

Here's a landscape piece I did in 1995 of a view in Smith Rock State Park, which is a very pretty and dynamic spot here in Central Oregon. It is a very popular venue for both artists and rock climbers, with sheer rock cliffs along the meandering Crooked River. Personally, I'd far rather draw it, than climb it!

As you can see, I once again incorporated the colored paper background as part of the imagery, this time using a much more representational approach. I did try to add a bit of whimsy with the patchwork cross hatching for the sky, which I thought also complimented the more linear style of the flowing water. The hawk sort of flew into the composition as a bit of an afterthought, because I felt it sort of emphasized both the loftiness of the landscape and the serenity of the scene. All in all, I think it captured my vision of the area.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

An Earlier Drawing

Around Midnight, 20" x 20 1/2"

This is a drawing that I did for my wife nearly 20 years ago. It was actually based on a thumbnail sketch of a cat I did while developing a logo design. It didn't end up as part of a logo, but I liked the stylized, yet realistic quality of the cat outline intersecting with the defining box. At the time, she had an all black cat named Midnight, which led me to envision a drawing using a black background for the negative space and cat, then filling the interior with a somewhat fanciful "stained glass" interpretation of a landscape setting. I used a metallic gold Prismacolor to delineate the colors and enhance that quality.

Integrating a colored background to become part of the imagery, has become an ongoing approach in my colored pencil drawings ever since, such as in the drawing in my previous post. Though the styles I've employed within the context of that technique have varied considerably, I've found it to be interesting and successful.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thought I'd give blogging a try!

Pond Shadows, 19 1/4" x 20 1/2"

One of my favorite things about the internet, is the opportunity to so easily view the work of talented artists from around the world. For some time, via my all too expansive collection of bookmarked sites, I've noticed that many of those artists have blogs here. After retiring from a technology career a few years ago, I've been renewing my artistic pursuits and thought this might be a great way to show some of my work on the web.

To offer some chronology, I thought I'd begin my blog with some earlier pieces and work forward from there. Most of my earlier work was done in colored pencil because of it's "no muss, no fuss" quality, but mostly because I've always enjoyed drawing. Lately I've been exploring watercolor, which is very challenging, but can be delightful in its subtlety and luminosity. So far, I don't believe I've gotten past the challenging part yet! Hope you enjoy seeing some of my work. Thanks for stopping by!

This was the first major piece I did after I retired, using Prismacolor on Canson Mi Tientes paper. During a vacation in Hawaii, I was intrigued by the shadows being cast in a Koi pond, since shadows are typically associated with things in the air, not in the water. Because it was an indoor pond, I chose to translate the bottom in a decorative motif, somewhat reminiscent of tile, but also reflective of the fluid environment of the Koi.