Posted tagged ‘drawing’

Biographies and Art Technique Books

January 17, 2017

I bought 4 new books and 2 used books that looked interesting for biography art techniques.

1) How to Draw & Paint Animals: Learn to Draw with Colored Pencil Step by Step by Debra Kauffman Yaun – another excellent Walter Foster publication, and a large format with few pages like their older publications. Many good steps and tips in this without the usual interminable pages of supplies that many publishers use to pad out their books.

drawinganimals_cp

2) No Excuses Watercolor Animals: A Field Guide to Painting by Gina Rossi Armfield – I rather like Gina’s exuberant, loose style which is accurate but so different from the precious approach to painting tedious art that looks like a photograph. Again, no 21 pages of supply discussion padding out the substance of the book.

noexcuses

3) Colored Pencil Cats & Dogs: Art & Instruction from 80 Colored Pencil Artists by Ann Kullberg – Each artist has a picture and a page of remarks and tips. I love this kind of book where you can get inspiration without copying a tutorial.

catsdogs_cp

4) John James Audubon: The Making of an American by Richard Rhodes – A recent biography recommended by several newspapers. The print is a bit small but I’m enjoying it as I knew nothing of his life.

audubonbio

These two I bought used on ABE so it will take a while to get them. I have read two other biographies by Mary S. Lovell, so was interested in the one that she did on the Churchill family. She doesn’t include everyone but some of the well-known Churchills and family history.

5) The Churchills by Mary S. Lovell – I bought an older edition paperback and it’s not as fancy as the newer and larger books with photos of the family on the cover. Winston Churchill wrote his own biography of his famous ancestor, the first Duke of Marlborough, but I wanted something lighter.

thechurchills

6) Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family’s Feuds by Lyndall Gordon – I wanted to re-read the biography of Dickinson My Wars Are Laid Away in Books by Alfred Habegger, but it was tedious to read I thought I’d try another approach and bought this for $1.

emdickbio

I joined a new book group for this year where you keep track of what you read each month (something I always forget to do), and they also read a book together each month. I recently got an app for our tablet for reading eBooks, and it wasn’t as hard on the eyes as I expected so I am enjoying reading the first two classic books.

Years ago I used to be on several book groups on Yahoo Groups, but they changed the format on Yahoo which made it more difficult to read and reply to messages, so I gave up and left them all. I miss talking to people about books though, and part of the fun is checking other people’s lists of books and finding new authors of fiction and new non-fiction reads on fascinating subjects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Books, Bugs, Birds, Textiles, and Pre-Raphaelite Muses and Music

October 4, 2016

Assorted reflections from the past few months…

I read Shoe Dog, Phil Knight’s memoir of Nike and shoes and life which I found to be a page turner. It’s always interesting to hear the inside story of business.

shoedogbk

Generally I’ve been reading mysteries, but throughout the summer I have been rereading The Hare with Amber Eyes in an illustrated edition I purchased, and it was even better the second time. A family history as interesting and poignant as this will be something I revisit along the years.

harebk

A.S. Byatt has a new book called Peacock & Vine: On William Morris and Mariano Fortuny which is a small but delightful read. She often cites Fiona MacCarthy’s excellent biography of Morris which I read from the library in early 2015, but I wanted to get my own used copy so I could read it again.

byattbk

I also thought I needed to read a proper biography of John Ruskin. He often crops up in art history but he was rather strange in his personal life which I always found off-putting, so I’m giving him a chance. I ordered them both from used bookstores and will forward to reading them.

morris_ruskin

My library system had a book called Wives and Stunners:The Pre-Raphaelites and Their Muses by Henrietta Garnett, so I’ll try that for her information on Ruskin and the Brotherhood as well. One thing about these fellows, they often made fun of William Morris and drew caricatures of him, which has always disappointed me, since he had such a enormous work ethic. Rossetti of course had a long-term affair with Morris’s wife Jane which makes me think little of her, but perhaps this book will improve my opinion of her. I doubt it, but I’ll give her a chance.

wivesbk

I had a milestone birthday this summer, so bought myself used copies of two books I’ve had on my wish list for years. I love books on textiles, needlework, and quilting history, so it’s important to me to buy them when I find them as they are scarce.

I bought Toile De Jouy: Printed Textiles in the Classic French Style by Melanie Riffel and Sophie Rouard which is another gorgeous Thames & Hudson publication and contains huge amounts of fascinating information. I’ve only begun it but I am struck by the complicated process of making and printing cloth in pre-industrial times.

I became interested in the tools of needlework because of Gail Marsh’s excellent books on needlework history. I wanted more photographs and explanations of them so I bought a used copy of Antique Needlework Tools and Embroideries by Nerylla Taunton.

toile_needletools

You could spend years studying the history of such things and still not know everything. I find it all inspiring and exciting.

I finally decided after listening to a much-loved recording of an Etude by Chopin with bird sounds, that I had to track down which etude it is. After 21 years it’s starting to bother me every time I hear this exquisite piece, and there is no information in the notes on the recording. Naturally, there are several recordings of the complete etudes, 24 etudes all told, and the recordings get various reviews. I settled on a good, solid one from RCA by John Browning.

chopin_etudes

In Canada, Amazon.ca has raised their free shipping price to $35 CAD again after dropping it to $25 CAD when our dollar was stronger. So as well as Chopin, I got a good photographic reference on bugs from National Geographic and a book on drawing animals, birds, and insects. These books are: Ultimate Bugopedia: The Most Complete Bug Reference Ever by Darlyne Murawski and Nancy Honovich and Drawing And Painting Birds, Marine Creatures and Insects by Jonathan Truss.

bugs_birds_insectsbk

I haven’t been able to draw for about six weeks due to a very painful shoulder impingement and tendinitis, but I have plans, and drawing projects to get to, and I hope my hand comes around soon so I can hold a pencil and paint again.

There is something about Fall and Winter that seems perfect for Art Nouveau and pre-World War I biographies. A fire in the grate, a book in the hand and mind, hot cups of jasmine tea, and warm blankets on my lap. Perfect!

Oh, and maybe some etudes by Chopin burbling in the background? Yes, I think that works.

 

 

New Sketching Book, Pilot Metropolitan, and Handmade Envelopes

April 11, 2016

I am still looking for my sketchbook so I can finish my 2015 weekly sketch project. I’ll try to hunt it up today, but I am settled enough in the new house after moving 4500 kms that I feel like creative projects again, particularly drawing.

I wanted one of the new Pilot Metropolitan fountain pens in the Retro Pop colours. I had originally wanted the red one but maybe because it is Spring, I chose the green one with the stylized band of leaves. I have it loaded up with Diamine Meadow ink and it writes beautifully as does my older Pilot Metro.

While ordering, I needed something for free shipping and was intrigued by the book Sketching People: An Urban Sketcher’s Manual to Drawing Figures and Faces by Lynne Chapman. I am determined to draw people and thought this more casual approach might ease me into it.

RetroPop_SketchingPeople

In a large box of cat figurines, I found my two boxes of scrapbooking paper with my envelope templates, so I made two 1/4-fold envelopes up in cream-coloured cardstock and did some sketchy things of wildflowers on them.

HandmadeEnvelopes_Wildflowers

I was just itching to draw something! I’ve got all kinds of references ready for three of the weekly sketches I needed to do back in November 2015 so I vow to find the relevant sketchbook for that project and get going to complete my drawings.

 

 

Another Art Book: The Realism Challenge by Mark Crilley

May 27, 2015

I was browsing online and this book popped up: The Realism Challenge by Mark Crilley.

I looked at it and the preview pages and it seemed interesting because he often uses coloured pencil, graphite, and watercolour together, which I also like to do. He surprisingly uses gouache to brighten white highlights, even in graphite drawings, so they really pop. Having done a couple of sketches where I was drawing a white object on white paper, I thought this might be useful.

RealismChallenge_Crilley

He has some short YouTube videos of his process, so I watched them. Due to my interest in collecting playing cards, I found this one fascinating.

Mark also draws Manga and has a couple of how-to books for that, and what I liked about his general approach is that he gets realistic folds and shadows and colouring, but they are not so photorealistic that you can’t see it’s a drawing or painting.

I like things to look realistic but not to the point where you can’t tell if it’s a photograph. I find that sort of realism pointless. It’s the small deviations and imperfections of the hand of the artist that make art interesting. Plus, different materials give a different look, from rough to soft, from pale to vibrant, you can draw something several ways and it’s gratifying. Mark is practiced at sketching from life, which is what really makes his studies sing, and I can always use practice for drawing.

I have spent the last five months doing weekly sketches on my Manner and Material blog with a couple of friends. We have been having such a good time, but last week I really noticed how much better my eye was at drawing accurate initial sketches. This week I sat down and did the sketch in about 20 minutes, and it was accurate. They don’t all turn out like that but I’m forging on slowly to get back the skills I used to have. We all know that practice is necessary, all the art books in the world won’t help unless you sit down and practice, and practice using different materials.

It’s like a mountain when you’re out of practice, you climb and climb and feel so lame because you can’t get anything to look right. I’ve heard other artists speaking about this too, so you need to persevere through the duds and build those skills. What we usually find the most frustrating is the remembrance of how we used to draw when we WERE in practice. It’s like being a marathon runner and then not running for years and finding when you try to run that you can only walk short distances. It takes time to recondition yourself and it’s emotionally painful and requires mental discipline. There is no way around it.

Practisss_JJ

It turns slowly, but it does get better. Mark Crilley’s book has many tutorials that you can draw along with and yet retain your own style. I’m looking forward to that.

 

 

Fountain Pen Ink and Water Test

February 15, 2015

This is my weekly sketch from my other blog. I got fed up with perspective and angles and traced the house. The dog wasn’t traced but because of the way I outlined it, it looks like it.

The Pilot Metropolitan pen is fantastic, I love it. I love the Waterman brown ink too. The mistake I made was in wetting the ink it for shading. It is too small a picture and ended up looking muddy and blobby. I also found that sometimes I got a brownish wash and sometimes a pink wash which wasn’t what I wanted.

InkTest

I forgot to take a picture of the ink alone, the dog was better like that with just the red ball in its mouth. Although I did like the wash under the ears and top lip, I went on and ruined it by working the other ink. I also needed to have some variation in line for the outline so it doesn’t look as regular as it does.

The house is just a mess. I think leaving the pen and ink drawing and applying some tinting with coloured pencils would work better.

If you’re doing huge, splashy leaves or something similar, washing the ink would work better. I enjoyed the inking though, and will try more of it without water. It’s challenging to find a way to shade with ink. Cross-hatching works well on dark areas, but I need to practice some other linework to see how it shades.

Time to haul out the books Line and Wash by Wendy Jelbert, and the super comprehensive classic Rendering in Pen and Ink by Arthur Guptill.

 

 

Some New and Used Books

January 16, 2015

I bought two very inexpensive used books before Christmas, and they finally arrived in the mail. The first is an older edition of Hayden Herrera’s biography of Frida Kahlo. I wanted this to get me in the mood for making the Frida Kahlo doll I want to sew and paint.

Frida_Herrera

I also bought a copy of Marti Mitchell’s quilting book Quilting for People Who Still Don’t Have Time to Quilt because I liked the quilt on the left hand side of the cover. She has a pattern for a wallhanging (which I would upsize) and a charming doll quilt that also interested me. They are done in scraps in a colourwash technique that I like and wouldn’t mind giving a try. These are very, very simple quilts but sometimes it’s nice to sew a simple item.

Marti1

I am updating this post to reflect the fact that I deleted one book and placed another because the book on EFT and meridian “tapping” just made me sceptical. So, I bought a copy of Lee Hammond’s book on drawing portraits from photographs. I have her book on drawing coloured pencil portraits but in this first one she goes into more detail and uses graphite.

Hammond_Portraits2

I was talking to Ruth White about her New York Clambake piecing pattern and she mentioned she had a quilt in the book 500 Traditional Quilts, so I bought it too to get free shipping.

500TradQuilts

The author, Karey Bresenhan, used to write articles in the old Lady’s Circle Patchwork Quilts publication. I loved those magazines because of the historical information and emphasis and have all my old copies. I like traditional quilts done with new approaches to colour, but I also like certain art quilts.

I am looking forward to getting these two new books. I was in a funk all week, not feeling well, and you can always count on quilts to cheer you up!

 

 

52-Week Sketchbook Project

December 26, 2014

PromptsGraphic

There are many good, active online groups doing daily or weekly sketching assignments. I either felt overwhelmed by the number of people, or the push to join Facebook, or the push to post on one site or whatever.

So I thought about it and asked my friend Rose (who is a wonderful artist) if she might like to do this, and then I made up a list of prompts from my dictionary. Then I decided I would contain it in a specific blog.

If you would like to use my prompts here is my new Manner and Material blog and information:

My week one prompt for Jan 5 is “cornbread” so this week I’m baking cornbread to draw. I haven’t made cornbread for decades.

Who wants to bake and draw some cornbread?

Silence.

You’re going to miss out, I’m putting chocolate chips in mine….