Latest Commission

kathy bike 1500.jpg

It’s a great thing to finally have a dedicated room for art that I don’t also have to share with a bunch of household storage, odds and ends, the family vacuum cleaners and I don’t know what all.

Having everything close to hand makes me want to be more productive!  This was a small commission for a family member, who wanted an old style girl’s Schwinn with a basket of flowers on the front.  I found a photo of an old Phantom and did what I could.

For those who are interested, I used hot rolled watercolor paper, then sketched the frame and details with a mechanical pencil.  Very lightly, of course.  I did some of the shading with the mechanical pencil and finalized the lines.  I put on the color with wax based colored pencils, then made the background with some washes, and finished everything with an ultra fine manga style ink marker.

I hope my client likes it – there are things I could improve but all in all it’s all right.  The details are a little rough because of the small scale, which is roughly 8 1/2 by 11.

 

 

 

Juxtaposition

jux·ta·po·si·tion
ˌjəkstəpəˈziSH(ə)n/
noun
noun: juxtaposition; plural noun: juxtapositions
  1. the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect.
    “the juxtaposition of these two images”

This is a rather useful concept in art.  The contrast of opposites can really help bring out the idea you are trying to communicate.  In this sketch, for example, I have a Twi’lek woman fleeing from a massive ship that is just coming in to land.  I was tempted to set the scene at a bloody sunset.  Instead made the sky a clear blue through the clouds of dust as a way of alluding to the shattered peace this ship has caused.  Whether or not my art was effective, juxtaposition is something to keep in mind as a form of contrast.

extermination ship adjusted.png

 

 

via Daily Prompt: Juxtapose

Artist tip – cleaning up your artwork

Though many like the “sketchy” style of artwork, be it a pencil drawing, charcoal work, or watercolor, one simple step you can take to pull ahead of the artist pack is to clean up your art work.

Messy lines (extra sketch lines, ink that doesn’t follow the color in a painting, splotches and smudges) can detract from an otherwise beautiful piece.  Luckily, a little care is all that’s required to turn an artwork from good to great.

It’s good to know your erasers so you can clean things up appropriately.  Most artists know about the venerable kneaded eraser, which is great for cleaning up rough textured paper.  If you are working on smooth paper, though, certain old fashioned drafting tools may work better.  You can use a white vinyl eraser, the kind with the cardboard sleeve (like the one you see above), for many applications.  It’s nice because it’s also gentle on paper but does a very good job cleaning up pencil marks.  As a bonus, the cardboard sleeve gives you a good grip and keeps your gingers clean!

Another secret weapon for cleaning up your sketches is an eraser shield.  They are small, cheap, made of metal, and perfect for taking a bit of a line while protecting the rest of the work.  They look like this:

index As you can see, you can use this to cover your art and then just erase a bit at a time.  Many artists and people who haven’t taken an old fashioned drafting class have never heard of them, especially in this day of Computer Aided Drafting.  I love mine.

 

Last but not least, a really good sketching tool is just a good, old fashioned mechanical pencil.  I really enjoy using one because I never have to sharpen it, I can use a variety of leads, and if I use a light touch with it, the lines are extremely easy to clean up.  It’s perfect for a sketch that I plan to ink later.  Then when I am done, I can make a nice, clean image.   I can go from this sketch to this drawing with very little trouble.

Elephant Sketch 700

Elephant Cow 900

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a last tip for people wanting to avoid messy looking artwork, I do suggest getting to know your graphics programs.  When you scan something in to the computer or photograph it, turning up the contrast even just a bit can help your black and white drawings look that much sharper and clearer.  It takes a bit of practice but is well worth the effort.

As a confession, I used to make the hairiest, sketchiest drawings ever and consider them finished work.  I don’t do that anymore.  I still sketch things out on occasion but I use those sketches as ways to develop ideas instead of thinking they are done.  Now, my erasers and mechanical pencil are my best friends.

Happy creating!

via Daily Prompt: Messy

Art idea: Silhouettes

Silhouettes are a lot of fun to use in your art.  You can make them in any number of ways and they are a great chance to explore the use of negative space.  You can do them in black and white, color, in multimedia, with collage, or use them as embellishments on other things if you’re more the crafty type.  Pablo Picasso used to make cut paper silhouettes of animals when he was a boy.  Silhouette work tends to look elegant and tied together.  It also invites the imagination and can really engage the viewer.

If you’re looking for a new project, this is a fun theme to explore!

Ideas for projects involving silhouettes

Black and White – on a white background, draw the outline then carefully color it in.  Try this reversed, too, so the silhouette is white and the surrounding black.

Black and White with Color – color either the surrounding of the black silhouette, or inside the white one.   You could be realistic or abstract.

Shadow Play – photograph things that form an interesting silhouette.  Or create one behind a white screen then photograph that.

Collage – cut silhouettes of people, animals or objects out of colored pictures.  Place them alone on a plain background or make them into scenes.  You could even use decoupage techniques to put them on an object, such as a box.

Resists – color a silhouette on watercolor paper with white crayon then paint over it.  Or, use frisket or another form of masking fluid.

Papercutting – draw your silhouette onto paper then cut it out.  Glue it onto a backdrop, adorned or not as you choose.

Painting – try something classic, like silhouettes in front of a blazing sunset, or perhaps someones shadow in a window.

A word about Sharpie markers:  Though they are quite handy for silhouette work, I advise photographing or scanning whatever you make right away to preserve what you have done.  They are not archival quality and can fade significantly in just a few years.

 

crows web

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/silhouette/

Beginner’s tips to improve your photos

Do you want to improve your photos by quite a bit, without getting a degree in art or photography?  Make them stand out, and really shine?  Improve the contrast and crop it properly!  It’s simple to do, and I’ll show you how.

(My instructions are for the free art program GIMP, but the process is the same for any photo editing program.)

It’s pretty simple.  First, open your photo in GIMP or your favorite photo editing software.  For folks who are new to this, that usually means right clicking on the picture file and selecting “open with” then picking what you want to open in.

So, now you have your photo open.  Maybe it looks like this.example 1

Not a bad picture, really, but maybe you want to see the lioness better.  So draw a box around the area you want to keep with your selection tool (usually looks like a rectangle in the toolbar) and then use “Crop to Selection.”  In GIMP, that can be found under “Image,” up in the menu.  You’ll get something like this:

example 2

Better, but it could look even better than that!  So try this:  in GIMP, in the menu at the top, go to “Colors” then “auto” then “white balance.”  You’ll get something like this:

example 3

If you don’t like how that turned out, you can go to “Colors” then “Brightness and Contrast” and move the sliders around till you get something you like, like this:

example 4

Sometimes you can preserve the colors better by using the “Brightness and Contrast” tool rather than the automatic white balance, it depends on the photo.  If you are not using GIMP, but instead another program, there will be similar options but they may be called something different.

In any case, there’s a lot you can do to improve an image with very little effort!

 

 

 

Contrasting Black

If you talk to some painters, they will tell you that black is an unnatural color and it shouldn’t be used.  I’m not one of them, I use black even in paintings with color.  Personally, I think black is essential, and a dash of it will really help everything else be more visible.  Black is really great if you want some drama, as in the photo above that I took yesterday.

Here is another example.  Between the two drawings, I think it looks much better once the darks are truly darkened.  That will happen with steady, even pressure, and a pencil that’s on the soft side.

side by side dragon.png

You can also see this principle with pen and ink.  Drawings with fields of black just pop out a little better and draw the eye.  I was trying for this effect when I did this lioness.  I think you will see she stands out a lot better than her stretching sister.

sleeping-lioness-postpro-1000

lioness-1000

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black also looks better in drawings when you use smooth fields of it, and let it truly be dark.  Here, by the way, is an example of a painting where I used black in a color setting.  It’s a book cover that had some pretty specific requirements.

Experimental C corrected 800.png

 

 

\https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/black/

Pairing Poetry with Pictures

If you want to draw your readers to your poetry, add color.  Better yet, add a drawing or photograph.  It can be surprisingly easy to pair a poem with an appropriate photograph.  Here I’ll share some tips for doing just that!

First, start with your poem.  I’m using this one, recently written by poet Lenore Plassman.

August Afternoon

Birds down in the creek dive and chatter

the cells in my ears twitch in acknowledgement

tomatoes ripened to a mirror shine

my bones stretch to grasp flown over,

common doves arc my synapses alert,

sucking in moisture another Sunday,

another tromp humble pie and humble be

for now that’s what I get:

another moment piled into all that live

cell into cell, above, below.

 

It’s nice, and could use an interesting photo to draw her readers in.  So I noodle around on Pixabay (I’m a contributing member, but you don’t have to be) and select something that matches the mood and theme of the poem.  I look for something with an area on it that could be overlaid with text.  I come up with this image:

dove-1269441_640.jpg

That works okay.  Next, I think about my text.  I decide to go with a simple font in white to match the simple words of the piece.  I use GIMP, a free program, for all my editing needs.  I work in layers to make things easier.  You could do most of this in Paint if you wanted to.  I placed my text, picked a size that was readable, tweaked the position of various things, and cropped my image to make the poem the focal point.  I got this:

August Afternoon Poem 900.jpg

Simple, eyecatching, and great for Facebook, Twitter, or other social media.  You can even have the poem printed out at a drug store or online, and make little handout cards with them.  Happy creating!

 

 

 

\