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The challenge was to document a day in one’s life. It has taken me all week to even get this far, so here is my incomplete day, as recorded in pen and ink and watercolor in my sketchbook.
1 April 2013
My day usually starts in this chair with a cup of coffee, reading the Bible. It’s often dark when I sit down and I get to watch the light brightening the water and the boats on the creek through the windows beside my chair. Since the windows face west, the morning sun turns the boats and trees on the far shore yellow-orange while our side of the creek is still in shadow.
We had eggs and English muffins for breakfast. Rick commented that he’d never seen me cooking with a sketchbook in hand before! And, yes, the eggs were cooked a little too much, but not burned!
Morning found me doing further work on a program cover for the New Score Chamber Orchestra. My friend wanted more color and contrast than the drawing I had submitted previously. Here I’m working out a possible color scheme for some of the detail.
We had Easter dinner with my folks yesterday and my generous step-mother sent us home with ham for my sandwich.
Physical Therapy for my knee. The therapist thought my sketchbook was an electronic game! Not shown in this sketch are the two pads with wires attached that provide electrical stimulation for the muscle on my right thigh.
More work on the program cover in the afternoon. I’ve sketched with pen and ink and am starting to add the watercolor washes. The gray spots are masking fluid, and will become multi-colored shapes to represent the music being played.
I did also do laundry, take a walk, and make dinner, but those sketches are still in very rough form and the pencil lines don’t show up well on the scans. Thanks for allowing me to share my day with you!
Like Michelle of the Daily Post, who meandered along ancient stone paths, I was drawn to some old stones for this week’s picture for the theme: Forward.
This pen and ink drawing from my sketchbook is of the Ulmer Münster, a Lutheran church in Ulm, Germany, which I visited with my son several years ago. The church was started in 1377 and finished in 1890. It is the tallest church steeple in the world (530 feet), and has 768 steps.
As an artist, forward means creating the illusion that a subject is closer to the viewer in the picture frame than other objects. There are several ways to create this illusion:
1.) The subject in the foreground is usually lower down in the picture frame with objects further away appearing higher and closer to the horizon. Note how the feet of the man with the blue shirt are off the bottom of the picture, but the feet of people further away in the crowd are above his waist, some even at his shoulder level.
2.) The subject in the foreground is usually bigger than similar subjects further away. Again, compare the size of the man in the blue shirt with people further away, or the sizes of the windows in receding buildings.
3.) The subject in the foreground is usually rendered in greater detail while objects further away are lacking in details and may only be suggested, as in the spires on the steeple.
4.) Subjects in the foreground may overlap other objects, pushing them further away visually.
5.) In colored pictures, objects usually tend to lose color, becoming grayer and lighter as they recede.
The Daily Post has issued a challenge to post a portrait of the blogger doing whatever it is that inspires us to blog. Since my blog is about watercolor and art, and because I live near the Chesapeake Bay and often paint pictures of sailboats, here is a recent picture of me doing two of the things that inspire me: sailing and drawing.
This November day was chilly, and I was bundled up because of the wind and the cooler temperatures on the water.
The most interesting subject for me that day was my husband, who was at the helm of the boat. He has pointed out that the boat’s tiller is missing. Since he doesn’t like to have to sit still while I am drawing, I am challenged to capture a moving subject. Sometimes his right hand was on the tiller and at other times he was stabilizing it with his foot, so the tiller got left out.
And thank you, Daily Post for a wonderful way to celebrate: this is my 100th post!
You can see more answers to this challenge at the Daily Post.
I will be participating in a bazaar at St. Margaret’s Church this Saturday, and I decided to paint a picture of the church. As I looked at my reference photo, I noticed a lot of distortion from the camera lens. So I got out my ruler, string and tape, and worked to put the building back into perspective, an artist’s lesson in geometry.
My first step was to determine the horizon line (orange horizontal line). All the vertical lines (yellow) are perpendicular to this, for which I use the square on my ruler. To make the building sit properly and look like the builders knew what they were doing, I determined the vanishing points, one on each side and located on the horizon line. The left vanishing point is close to the door on the left hand side. The vanishing point on the right side of the picture is outside of the picture, at the edge of my work table. I tape a string to each vanishing point, and use the string to determine the slant of the lines that will appear parallel in the building. I have drawn the lines to the left hand vanishing point in green and to the right hand vanishing point in blue.
Now that the outline is done, I can trace it onto my watercolor paper and begin painting. One advantage of having a drawing like this is that I can trace the building multiple times, perhaps once for each season….
Today, I want to take the same sketch that I posted previously and do some evaluation.
Although I am happy with the ideas and the overall impression, there is room for improvement.
I think that the house in the center should be bigger. Right now, the house, the porch, and the barn all occupy spaces about the same size on the page. Making the house bigger would give some variety in size. It would also put the chimney on the right overlapping the porch and eliminating the halo of sky that is there now.
When doing a final picture, I would spend more time on the dogwood flowers, giving them some shadows and more details. I wanted a darker background to help them stand out, but I couldn’t figure out how to transition between the background and the sky. Next time, I would make the edge of the dark background shape to look like more blossoms, leaves, and branches.
The pig in front on the left has his head in the grass, but this didn’t come out at clearly as I had planned.
The barn should have some hay bales and farm equipment. Right now it is too neat.
The color washes for the sky and the grass are blotchy since I started this in pen and ink on sketchbook paper and decided to add the color directly on the sketch. Putting the final picture on watercolor paper would allow me more control in these areas.
I am wondering if there are other areas which should be addressed. You, my readers, have been very kind and supportive in your comments and I now welcome your suggestions as to other improvements that can be made.
One of my goals in creating art in watercolor is to make images which elicit a response from the viewer. Here is one of the positive reactions that I’ve gotten this week.
I’ve been posting about a picture of Western View that friends have commissioned me to do. I’ve sent them the sketches that I wrote about last week, a regular “house portrait” and an evening view with the lights on in the porch area. Then I attempted a composite picture of the house and some other scenes on the property.
To my great delight, I was immediately greeted with several stories: tales of taking care of the pigs every summer while in high school, about loading hay into the top of the barn, and riding the tractor.
The current Western View doesn’t look like these pictures. Some trees are gone, as is the windmill. A couple of the chimneys fell down in the earthquake last summer. And I’ve been asked to replace some of the shutters on the house and trim the boxwood hedges.
Whether they choose this as the final image or not, I am thrilled that this brought back memories and is a picture that made a connection with the viewers.
This watercolor sketch is the only work I got done last week. I made another trip to help my daughter with her children since they all came down with the nasty virus. It was much more serious for the children, giving the 16-month old bronchitis and resulting in hospitalization for the 6 week old. Everyone is much better now.
But while I was there, I snatched a few minutes here and there to capture the morning’s activity… and then finished the sketch after I got home!
I find that it helps to have more than one project going at a time. It means I can work on another one while paint is drying on the first. So, today I also did another sketch of Western View, this time showing part of the north side of the house. Again, I put the sun first on one side and then the other. One of them is an impossible direction, coming from the northeast, but I’m the artist and I can make it happen!
Finally! My studio is under control again and I can work in there without feeling like the rubble is going to take over.
So I moved the sun today. Several times. I sketched Western View with sun shining on it from the east and then the west… in springtime. So I guess I moved the earth too. Anyway, I needed to see how the values would play out with light coming from different angles and falling on the shapes of the house.
As you look at the house you may wonder about the name Western View. The front of the house originally faced west. As you look at the photo from the previous post, and as you view these sketches, the western side would be the side that faces to the right of the image – actually not visible. But over time and with additions to the structure, the main entrance was moved to the north side, which is the full-on view that you see.
The above photo shows sun on the eastern side of the house (it must be morning!). I placed the darker values on the north-facing sides, and the bright value on the eastern side.
Now you can see the shadows (darker values) on the eastern side, with brighter values on the front (north side) of the house. I guess the sun is actually shining from the north-west.
Please pardon the wrinkly 20# bond that I use for value studies. It’s just a work sheet, so I don’t use fancy paper.
I though I would also include a few photos of the newly cleaned studio (I’m so proud of my cleaning!). You can see my work areas: granite-topped work table, and adjustable drafting board You can also see the photo studio arranged against the wall with lights in place facing a white background.