Sunday, March 2, 2014

Going Abstract!

After Raena's last exciting contribution, I just wanted to keep the book open to the "diorama" page.  And I did just that, for a while.  In the studio I kept the sketchbook open on the shelf I have in the studio for displaying art and works-in-process, so I could enjoy and gape every time I walked by.  What a wonderful page it turned out to be!  Raena did something I hadn't thought of - she expanded the scope beyond the dimensions of the page.  Now that's what I'm talking about!!

Where could I go from there?

I was thinking of Raena's words, in response to my comment on the last post:  "This is supposed to challenge us, push us, make us better than before!"

So that got me thinking.  All of Raena's talent and creativity and I've never seen her do nonrepresentational work.

Not that I do so much either.  I always lean towards the representational.   But I've been infected a bit by the abstract bug, from scanning the internet.  Honestly, it has really thrown me, because it is difficult for me to be satisfied anymore with a purely representational portrayal.  Not that I am throwing it to the wind.

Except for now - I am doing just that!  Abstract for page 4 of our sketchbook!

For this I used a dip pen and some waterproof india ink.  It looked mighty good as a black & white, and then I added the watercolor.  I've tried things like this before, and this is the most successful to date, I think.

So what will Raena do?  It doesn't have to be the same - maybe it is better if it is not - too busy.  I'm interested to see!

(By the way Raena, here is my advice, don't think too hard.  Instead as Thom Yorke suggested - paint to the spot in the middle of your head.  If you want to get exactly in the frame of mind that I was in when I did this (maybe you don't!), go to Grooveshark and listen to the album "Amok" by the band, Atoms for Peace, Thom Yorke's other band (the one I prefer) - it's quite different - unbounded creativity there, for sure.)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

If you ever hear me say...

If you ever hear me say that I want to be an actress or work in Hollywood (It would actually never happen...I hate being in the public eye.), quickly tell me NOT to quit my day job!  My idea for this was instant and I was so enthusiastic that when I got the book I set to work immediately.  My idea was to seem like a mad-scientist-sort-of-person creating a diorama...not that that is what I think mad scientists do.  For this I needed reference photos of myself looking crazed.  Which is where the actress thing comes in because after about twenty or so shots I resigned myself to the notion that I am not capable of making a mad scientist expression.    Here look...all I get are silly faces:

(Did you see the giant nose to the left of the pictures?  Yes, Rex was doing his best to hog the camera.)

I was going for up-lighting but shadows from my glasses were getting too dominant.

So I settled on a picture and got to work.  The drawing went quickly.  I painted the background and the sweater first.  Then I decided I didn't like the lighting, so I put it down to 'think' about for a while.  A while turned into two weeks.  So I decided to just go with it, maybe not go as strong on the shadows, and picked it back up yesterday.  Things were looking fantastic; I was ecstatic, elated!  And then I made the bad decision to change the color of the sweater.  Followed that with a few more bad decisions.  It suddenly looked hideous.  No really.  It did.  I just couldn't send it back to Dan like that, so I kept at it.  I struggled.  I sweated.  I finally ended up with something I liked.  But then I started fiddling and I could see it going back the other direction.  Really, I could have used someone standing next to me, screaming to STOP already!

I did stop eventually.  And even though I don't think I did anything USEFUL that last half hour...I am still pleased.  I do think that my skills aren't quite up to my imagination just yet.  This was still fun...and I don't think I've ever been pushed this far.  If it hadn't been in Dan's sketchbook, I probably would have given up.  That is probably one of the best lessons I have learned yet with this.--To keep pushing and not give up too soon.

So is now on it's way back to Dan.  Or, it will be tomorrow.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Page 3, Part Three

[Click to enlarge.]

Despite how it may appear, the tortoise did not win.

Raena and I took, well, a nine month break from our joint blog.  But we are back!  And we intend to treat this sketchbook like a hot potato - or at least a lukewarm one, so that we will post more often in the future.  We resolve not to try for perfection and not to be intimidated by the blank page or each other.  Instead we are going to be challenged by one another's art and ideas, and grow, grow, grow!  (We hope).

You can see how we started this page in the last two posts.  To this page, I have now added the boy who is pulling the dinosaur's tail.  Months ago I had no idea what to do when Raena added the dinosaur.  I was toying with the idea of a boy swooping down, riding a pterodactyl.  I made several pre-drawings.  But I couldn't make it work.  I'll leave that kind of thing to James Gurney, at least for now.

This time, the idea of the boy trying to hold back the dinosaur came to me right away.  First I looked at several tug-of-war photos.  I was aiming for a certain body position, and found a woman that was just right.  Then I found a photo of a young Indian boy.  Then I looked for facial expressions by googling the word "determination", to get his expression.  I used all of these as guides for the final product.

The entire time I had Sadami's advice in my head - I tried to capture his movement, effort and resolve.

I'm using a thicker pen these days than before and automatically picked it up without thinking - it gives the boy a rougher appearance than the girl that works, I think.  In the arms though, I accidentally picked up an even thicker pen.  It's okay.  I think whatever background is put in place will minimize most of it.  I've learned that this is the attitude we must have - use the mistakes - it's what makes your art unique.  Also, perfection is boring!

So there you go, Raena - it'll be in the mail shortly on its cross-country journey to you.  What will you do next?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Page Three, Part Two

Whew! This has been a long time coming, hasn't it! Sorry, life got in the way. It can be cruel like that.

When I first saw Dan's image of the girl, walking off the page, into the unknown, I was overwhelmed. One, it is even better in person. Two, the ideas were flying out at me. There were so many that it actually became difficult to settle on any one thing. I did know that I didn't want it to be predictable. A line of ducks or cutesy little somethings is the first thing to pop into my head. I didn't want to be cute. I wanted something unexpected. I wanted to throw Dan a curve ball.

That said, I'm not happy with what I ended up going with. I had settled on a trapeze artist hanging from the top looking like he/she was swooping down on the girl. I couldn't find a good reference photo that I liked. Now, you're probably thinking, what on earth made her decide to do the dinosaur?! Well, like I said, life has been cruel lately and I was desperate. This was a sketch in my sketchbook from my last trip to Vegas to see the in-laws. We stopped at a dinosaur museum in Tucumcari, New Mexico for a rest break. This is a 'hesperosuchus', by the way. Never even heard of it before that day, myself.

Well, I look forward to seeing what Dan does with this.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Page Three, Part One

We're back!  After a long hiatus, I have dusted off our sketchbook and it is in the mail to Raena in Texas!  I am excited about the possibilities of this page.  I have a definite idea as to where I would want the page to go, but I am going to keep my mouth shut.  Because I need to see what Raena will do.  Because isn't that the idea - feeding off of each other's creativity?

This is a very special sketchbook. When I pick it up, I am always a bit uptight, because I want it to be good work for Raena, and I know I don't want to mess up the page. So every time I am pushed to try to achieve extra quality. This time I based the picture on a "Creative Commons" photograph at flickr.

The smart thing to do might have been to draw on a separate page and use carbon or something (like I hear folks sometimes do), but I frankly don't know how to do that and I get a bit tired redrawing the same thing. I like the freshness of a first drawing. I did pencil it in first though.

I started at the feet. Initially I was trying to measure visually to get everything just so. I concentrated so hard on the proportions that it was a mess. Finally, I just erased it and gave myself permission to sketch. And that is when the drawing worked. It doesn't look exactly like the girl in the photo here [It is a beautiful photo by Jonas Hansel of a Cambodian girl], but it works for the page, and that is what matters. This is what "adapted" and "derived" means. I toyed with changing the colors of the clothing, but I rather liked the feel of it, so I kept the colors the same. I was trying for a picture book-style feel.

Raena - So glad you're back! Hope you enjoy it, and can't wait to see what you do!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Page Two, Part Four

I was so completely blown away by the whimsical, magical life force of the music that Raena illustrated at the top of the page. I was left with a thin strip at the bottom, and wanted to further that concept. So I thought about it: Grass?, flowers? thought of a fish leaping from the water and the splash and bubbles, and bubbles turning into notes, much as Raena's notes sprouted branches. I tried to illustrate the fluidity of the music, and the way the music itself spawns life.

Once I thought of the idea, I looked all over the web for an adequate photo of a leaping fish. I couldn't find what I wanted. So in an idle moment I drew a fish leaping from the water, splash and all, on a piece of notework paper without looking to any reference. And that is what I used as my guide.

I was impatient on the day when I did the drawing/painting, so I didn't pre-ink, and trusted myself to do it right the first time. It became a bit busier than I expected, and I overworked some spots and that I think is a reflection of my mood at the time. I'm happy with it though. (Click on the picture to see it larger.)

Finally the page is done. All in all it is a very active page! Too busy perhaps, but it was a wonderful collaborative learning experience. I truly appreciate how Raena stretched me away from reality. When I sent the page to her the last time, I expected curtains or ceiling fans.

So here it is: In almost ten months, we've done seven posts. The book has crossed the Gulf six times. And we've completed two whole pages in our sketchbook!

Raena has asked me to start the next page which I hope to do fairly soon (by the standards of this blog). Any ideas on what I should do?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Page Two, Part Three

This was incredibly difficult for me; I really struggled with what to do. My imagination is a rusted out, 1967 model. The gears don't run smoothly. If Dan hadn't mentioned that he didn't think it looked finished (I agree), I probably would have just started a new page. My first inclination, and don't laugh because it is REALLY boring, was to add floor tiles and ceiling fixtures. But, I did at least realize that it was a boring solution!

I thought a lot about what Dan's wife had mentioned...that the dancer didn't really match the 'big band' type of music, so I thought I would make it about music itself. Music and it's ability to transport us, make us feel alive. I painted the music bars yellow to show that it can bring light into our world. I thought of writing a quote at the bottom, but couldn't find a single one that I thought would go well. If Dan wants to do something else with it he is certainly welcome. Otherwise, I'll keep looking around and add one later. (Any suggestions?) Maybe I should just add some grass or something??

One of the ideas behind our exchange is that we would challenge each other. This was certainly a challenge for me! Part of it was connecting the big band with the colorful girl. I thought long and hard on how to do that one! The other part was in the composition. Dan placed his band right smack in the middle of that space. I'm not sure how well I've handled that, composition being a weakness of mine, but I did enjoy, through gritted teeth, working through it.

You should see this in person. I have to say that Dan did an excellent job on that band. Each person has such a unique face. The details are impressive!