Thursday, August 30, 2007

Miami Coconuts

While every one is working on their poems for Sunday, I traveled to Miami for a couple of days and had a fleeting moment to study the coconut trees in these three little sketches. This my seem like a "daa" to many readers who live among the
tropical trees, but for a guy who lives among the Spruces, it was an "a-ha" moment. Coconut trees have leaves that spread leaflets from the stem, while palm trees have a fan shaped leaf with a long narrow stem that then opens like fingers mid-way up.
Anyway hope you like the studies.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Drawing tools

Neda had asked me to share how I did the street scene drawing in the previous post. Since I am so late in responding to her request (sorry Sis!) I will share with you all my drawing tools and techniques (such as they are). As you will see I am not a purist at all. I do not adhere to any rules and frankly do not treat my tools with reverence at all. I use them as the subject compels me to and I don't worry about the rest!

My drawing tools fall into three broad sets: Inks, graphite and chalks.

On the ink side, I really like using regular writing ink because I love wetting it after it dries and using it as a semi wash or to soften edges. I use a home made mix of Skrip yellow and black which gives me a delicious brown that I can't find anywhere else. Here is an example of this ink in action I use 2 pens for this ink. A very old Shaffer pen and an artist Ackerman pen. The Ackerman pen can take drawing nibs and it is a wonderful instrument to use. I actually interviewed the maker of the Ackerman pen a while back with the hope of posting an article about him here, but never got around to it. (sorry Charles).

I also use a set of Faber Castell permanent ink pens. They come in a set of Super fine (S) Fine (F) Medium (M) and Brush (B) They are excellent and a pleasure to use, and I have learned to open them and re-fill them with ink when they dry up. Here is a drawing done using them and a little sepia in the (B) pen after it dried. I also used these for the sketch on the plane in the previous post. I just added a bit of Graphite pencils shading in the sky on that one.


I don't like simple graphite pencils very much, but sometimes they are the only thing at hand and I do use them. I am always disappointed afterwards though, because you really have to use fixative if you want the drawing to remain crisp. What I love to use are the Derwent water soluble graphite pencils and the Yarka water soluble sticks. They are a real treat. I was introduced to them while doing a live drawing session and I adore them. Try these out by first drawing your object and then going in with a wet brush and spreading the graphite like a wash. You will fall in love I promise you. Here is a quick one I did of the kids today using the Derwent water soluble pencils.



What I call "my chalks" are really Conte sticks and leads. I use these dry, but I also enjoy wetting them on the paper similar to the water soluble graphite. They work well that way and I can enjoy them better knowing I smudge and swirl them around at will.

Of course it would be no fun if you can't mix and match these tools together and add some watercolour or coloured pencil marks to add some colour to the drawings. In short I would suggest that you go wild! Drawing is instinctively in all of us. Our cave ancestors used whatever they could get their hands on to draw wonderful and fanciful images on walls. What keeps us all from reaching back to this primordial skill? Fear. Fear of failure, or ridicule or rejection. Well think of it this way: Your first and second and 50th drawing will not make it to any museums. I can promise you that. So do 50 drawings for fun. Throw them away if you must or burn them so no one will see them. Then scan and post your 51st and let's have a look. What do you say? Use a bic pen if you want, who cares! As long as you are enjoying it!! I once did a very nice drawing using a bic pen and correction fluid. So disrespect the tools and go wild!

Here are a few more from a while back:


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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Best Flight Attendent's Jokes

If you have been following this blog, you know that I have been flying a lot lately. No I am not going to bother beating up on Air Canada. Well maybe just to say that I have no idea how they won the best airline award. They must have employed Syrian vote counters, you know the ones who get Assad voted it by 99.99% of the Syrian population! These soviet style vote counters are rarely employed and Air Canada can afford to hire them to boost their horrible reputation - among the real flying public - as the worst airline in the world!

OK, now that THAT is off my chest, here are the two best jokes by WestJet flight attendants:

1) Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Toronto. The pilot has actually landed the plane in Oakville and will now be driving it to Toronto so please remain in your seats until we get there.

2) This is a non-smoking flight. smoke detectors are located in the lavatories for your safety. Anyone caught smoking will be asked to leave the plane immediately.

3) In case you have been living under a rock, we will now show you how to put on your seat belt...

OK, these may not be great jokes, but when contrasted with Air Canada's grim and cold service???

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sketches on the go

I spent the week in Vancouver on business again. I didn't have a lot of chances to go out and sketch, but I did one on the plane heading to Vancouver, and I did a quick one at the hotel looking out on the bay. Neither is that great, but then I was just having fun.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Lowville revisited

I told you we would be back to Lowville Park and so we did. Yesterday. This time I decided to forgo the grandiose attempts at painting a masterpiece and simply sketched a couple of views with the idea of making my painting at the ehmm...studio...right...read over-crowded desk.

The kids ran after the toads and the tadpoles and I managed to absorb the scene. I wanted to just read the colours right. I had been struggling with aerial view for a while and I wanted to see the colours. I also wanted to compose not just report...and so I did.

Here is the first studio rendition of the creek at Lowville Park. Waddya think?

Lowville Creek


Friday, August 03, 2007

2 Sketches

Lazy day today. We stayed real close to home...actually real close to bed too. I managed to do these two sketches from memory.

Off Vancouver Island 5"x7"

On The Shore 5"x7"

Thursday, August 02, 2007

At the Wiltons

We spent a couple of days in Lake of Bays at the Wilton Cottage. What an experience that was. The lake-front Cottage (castle as the kids called it) is Idyllic in a wonderful area of Ontario.


In between the life guard and barbecuing duties, I was able to do some sketching. Once I knew what I wanted to paint, I did a small painting towards evening and another very early the next morning. The one I did in the evening was hard. The mosquitoes were out and it was distracting to paint and shew them away at the same time. The one in the morning was an experience I will cherish. I actually ended up setting my easel on a pathway between flowerbeds at about 6:00 am. The only creatures hard at work at the time were a swarm of bumble bees. We co-existed nicely and I actually enjoyed their deep buzz around me. It was wonderful and then to top it all, a humming bird decided to join us as well. I left the bees still hard at work and headed in for a cup of coffee. When I came back, the bees were done or they had finished with the flowers next to my easel. I was able to finish the painting and head back in time to meet everyone shuffling out of bed.


One thing about those idyllic places in Canada: Unless you find a cliff side or some other element to paint, the green hills and lakes do get hard to paint. It is hard to find a center of interest and focal point. but anyway, here are the two paintings for your enjoyment:





Lake of Bays from Wilton Cottage (1)





Lake of Bays from Wilton Cottage (2)