Category Archives: pencil art

Do things smell better if your nose is held high?

I came across the most curious discussion.  I searched for a watercolorist presentation and discussion group on one of the popular artistic media websites.  What I stumbled into was an intense debate on the subject of “who *really* is an artist.”

It started with a discussion over whether a piece of work which was predominately watercolors but also included some ink lines was *really* watercolor art?  That moved on to discussions concerning *how much* of the work was ink and how much watercolors (ah, the artist ink police!).  Not stopping there, the discussion went one about whether one should use a pencil sketch as an underdrawing, and if one did were they *really* a watercolor painter.

That wasn’t the end.  The next subject concerned why watercolorists represented only about 10% of the marketable art world.  (Internecine fighting would be my answer)  Another way to interpret that was “are watercolors really art?”

So here’s what comes to mind.  Watercolors in basic sets are available to most kindergarten children, just as water-soluble finger paints are available.  The argument seems to be that if the medium is available at the kindergarten level, anything produced with that medium is probably not *serious art.*

Oh balderdash (I cleaned that up).  The result can be art regardless of how it is produced.  I would tell my new colleagues to stop trying to be so full of themselves, or to paraphrase Laura Ingraham — shut up and paint, don’t worry about what you use.

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Mountains and Trees

Although I have take a few photographs since my last posting, none have been really interesting in terms of “good art or craft.”  However, I continue honing the few skills I have sketching.  My two latest are “St. Peter’s Dome” and an original sketch of a bare tree which was then manipulated in PSE to produce a long winter shadow.  I was asked to turn that last on into a note card, and the pdf file which will print notecards from the Tree in Winter image is located here.

Tree in Winter is not yet on my pixels page.

Tree in Snow small

My other effort which is on pixels in its full size at this location is “St. Peter’s Dome,” a graphite pencil sketch on 60 # paper.  It was an interesting exercise in tonal range, a subject which still gives me ‘issues.’  The image was rendered from a photograph of Colorado’s St. Peter’s Dome mountainous area.

St. Peters Dome Small

Ingrid

This is my sketch of Ingrid Bergman as she appeared in Casablanca — a movie I have always found to be as much about style as about acting and writing.  The gallery is posted at this link — here.  I think this will be my last of the classic movie stars — unless something or someone particularly inspires me.  I have branched out into landscapes drawn from imagination and enjoy doing those, but more importantly, I feel I am now ready to go back to black and white photography and see what I can produce.  Meanwhile friends “we’ll always have Paris.”  (grin)

IngridB_jeb_small

Lucille Ball

I continue my journey into sketching with this rendition of Lucille Ball taken from a profile photo of her early in her career.  The text on my gallery image, here, explains more about the closer than usual connection I have with Lucy and is a cleaned up version of the small image shown below.  But this post is about my sketching, not  Lucille Ball.  I may have reached the top of my meager game in terms of these profile and full face drawings – and what a learning curve it has been.  As noted before, it has really provided much instruction to my eye in terms of “shades of gray” which I intend to put to good us in my photography efforts.  I need to branch back to landscapes as there is a real challenge I have in that area concerning “suggesting” what should be seen rather than trying to depict each tiny detail.  Will keep everyone posted.

Lucy Sketch_small

Garbo

I continue trying to progress in the ability to render sketches.  Not really where I want to be yet, but making advances from time to time.  The side benefit of trying to learn how to see and render various shades of gray with pencils, various blending tools, and shear luck at times is that I now can see a color scene in terms of its tonality whereas before I merely saw different colors.  I’m close to making  a side trip back into some B&W photography and see if any new skill has transferred over, but in the meantime, here is my latest.

I think Greta Garbo was one of the most photogenic movie stars in Hollywood.  She was one of the golden era stars where, regardless of what they did ‘off camera’ so to speak, social custom and strong studio PR departments produced the essence of glamour.  I intend to return to Garbo in different ages and poses as I find them because I think her face works so well in sketches.   The gallery version is here.

Garbo_small

Sketching evaluation

For those of you who followed this concept, I began around the first of February — maybe a week or so earlier — to try to teach myself how to create pencil sketches.  Access to a learning center where I lived abruptly closed this year, so that left me to figure this out by myself with the use of those youtube teaching videos I could find.

I have just about completed my first sketchbook and I can look back to see how I progressed – a kind of self evaluation in some sense.  I began sketching things I could see, and noticed I was able to produce a recognizable hand — in proportion and with appropriate shading — right out of the barn.

I progressed to some landscape scenes and discovered that I was very heavy-handed with a pencil.  I had to go back and learn pencil use skills, something I figured I had conquered in first grade.  Pencil skills included the ability to reproduce four shades of gray which along with the white of the paper would give me five B&W tones.  That turned out to be quite a challenge which took a couple of weeks to conquer.

I progressed to portraits and found I had a real problem with proportions of the human body – I call this my “cubist” period.  It was necessary to study each component of the face (overall shape, hair, eyes, nose, mouth, and ears) individually.  It took quite a while to reach adequacy.

At that point my sketches began to look like human beings, just not the people I was drawing.  More practice and study led me to the concept of a very light sketch underlaying the sketch itself.  I knew painters often sketched a rough out of their work before applying paint, but it never occurred to me that a pencil drawing required the same thing — or at least in my case looked better if I did.

I discovered that all of this work about ways to affix a range of tones to the drawing really improved my photographers eye for lighting a black and white photograph.  And I also found that I can interpret a scene in color as gray shades, something quite new for me.

I’m returning to landscape drawings, but for those interested here is a link to those sketches I thought were good enough to post on my photography webpage.