As I was looking over my art catalogue last night for something to feature today, I realized that I had forgotten to blog about two drawings I did last year. What a perfect way to remedy that – by spotlighting these two pieces!
Horse head in charcoal
First is one that anyone who knew me growing up would expect: a horse head. The reference photo I found is of a beautiful chestnut mare, likely a Quarter Horse, looking out from the darkness of a barn or stall. I call it Bridled, and recall spending the better part of an afternoon working first to get the background dark enough, then on getting as much of the highlights and shadows right to my eye. This was also the first time I used the Strathmore 500 series charcoal paper, with its laid texture, and the result was pleasing enough I later purchased another pad of it. My only gripe is the paper feels so lightweight after working with multimedia and watercolor papers, but charcoal works need to be displayed behind glass anyway.
The original piece is available – you can purchase it through Daily PaintWorks, which uses PayPal, or in person at One Stop Feed Store in Crescent City if you are local – and it is uploaded for art prints at my Pixels store in various sizes. I’ll probably look back at this in a few years as “not my best,” but right now I am pleased with how it turned out. I drew this in June of 2021.
Pansy pair in graphite
Prior to that, February of 2021 judging from my notes, was this page from my sketchbook that I worked at until I could call it done. Rendered in graphite, which accounts for the greyness, and now a bit worse for the wear after a year of me carrying my sketchbook about, this scan is record of how it looked immediately after completion. Looking back, I am glad I scanned it before moving to the next page, as I went back to this and traced it over transfer paper to paint in watercolor which ended up as my Johnny Jump Ups painting I’ve blogged about previously.
Since I not only left the page in my sketchbook, but used it to transfer the lines to another paper, the original is not available to buy, but since I did scan it, prints are available of it at my Pixels store. Its original size is 9 by 12 inches – perhaps my favorite size for a sketchbook because it is so portable – but the scan was good enough to print larger. It is also available as puzzles for the folks who love a good puzzle and are willing to work on one in greyscale instead of color. I have too many cats in the house to attempt an actual, physical puzzle, or I would give it a go just to see if time spent playing MicroSoft Jigsaw translates into the real world.
Now, for part two of my unplanned month of drawing that bled into the last day of 2021, and continued to the first day of February, and lasted the entire month of January. (Wow, that makes it sound really long!) Considering it is still in progress, I guess we are now well beyond the month idea, so perhaps I should call this a season of drawing? One big advantage drawing has over painting is how quickly it can be set aside to go do something else, and considering I have two nanny goats due to kid in the next month I think it is safe to say I’ll be working with dry media until probably mid to late March because one of the pure JOYS of having my goats is bottlefeeding the kids each spring. Even if I want to take a break from monochrome charcoal, I have soft pastels (I often call them dusties), pastel pencils, regular colored pencils, and even oil pastels, though the oilies will smear if a cat walks across before I’ve sealed it.
Inspiration for charcoal drawing
Enough rambling – back to the drawing spree I am still currently doing. A couple weeks ago, I got an email on a list I subscribed to for a free tutorial offering the “legacy class bundle” for a discounted price. I thought it over, then decided the sale price was fair and bought a whole huge heap of video tutorials, and decided to start with the drawing ones. While I am bouncing around as to which one I do any given day, depending on my mood, here are the first pieces I’ve drawn with the tutorials. I should probably mention the artist who made the tutorial bundle does photorealism. I call what I do just realism, as I don’t actually try to copy a photo down to the tiniest detail, but there are all kinds of small tips and pointers littered throughout the videos’ run times that can benefit me even if I don’t go as detailed as she does.
First a rose
First, I just had to start with this rose in charcoal. Seriously, what is not to love here? I enjoy drawing and painting roses, and apparently people enjoy seeing drawings and paintings of roses, and a single white rose against a mostly-black background is about as dramatic as you can get without using color. To be honest, sometimes the monochromatic charcoal black on white can be more dramatic than color (when the stars align just right and and the picture feels like it just flows out from the pencil). This is in 8 by 10 inch format, and the very first page of a new sketchbook, plus I put it in the top corner instead of centered on the page so the original for this will not be available to buy … but I can do it again if someone wants me to, and in different size or aspect ratio. I do have prints available at my Pixels store, but I didn’t upload it to RedBubble because I am not sure my charcoal work looks as good there.
Fun flamingoes head study in charcoal
The very next day I wanted to do another drawing, and picked a reference photo for a different tutorial. It was a video on how to transfer an image from a printed photo onto your art paper, so this is me taking the tips and general method from the rose video to make these two flamingo heads. Flamingoes are definitely one of my favorite birds to draw and paint, and this image just caught my imagination. This time, I centered the 8 by 10 inch image on my not-quite 9 by not-quite 12 inch sketchbook page, so if anyone wants to purchase the original I can remove the page and trim it down with no problem – if you live outside my area you can buy through Daily Paintworks. Or you can get prints in your desired size at my Pixels store.
Update: This drawing is now officially an award-winning artwork, taking 2nd place in the 2022 Creative Arts Festival for monochromatic drawing.
Kicking up my heels with a horse drawing
Those of y’all who have known me a while are already wondering how long it took me to go completely off the tutorials to do my own thing … and the magic number was three. Two days after drawing the flamingo heads, I decided it was past time I did another horse in charcoal. It took me a while to pick out a reference photo, but in the end I went with a galloping filly. I decided to try using hot press watercolor paper instead of multimedia or charcoal/pastel paper, and that goes back to the tutorial series. It is the first time I’ve used watercolor paper for something other than watercolor, and it is also the first time I’ve heard of using a dry media on paper for water media. I think I need to try a few more times before I can say if I like it or not, but it does have a different feel than normal dry drawing paper. This one is an actual 12 by 9 inch pad of paper, and the original is available for purchase through Daily PaintWorks. Prints of various sizes are available at my Pixels site as well.
Practice for a portrait
I mentioned at the start of this post that my drawing kick kicked off on New Year’s Eve, and that is because I drew the winner of December’s frame giveaway that evening before bed. Since Murphy’s Law governs more than just the army, the winner wants her portrait to go into the frame she won. I am still knocking the rust off my people-drawing skills, and there is a series for that in the big legacy class bundle. First things first – an eye study since the eyes are the main feature that will make-or-break a portrait. I had my dog-eared almost-full old sketchbook within reach, so this is one I am not offering the original … and I have not uploaded it for prints either. About the only place I could see this in a frame and on a wall would be the waiting room of an optometry office. It is still “good training,” as we used to say in the army.
So this brings me current, as of today. I have tutorials on drawing the nose and the mouth to work through, then one on doing a whole face. After that, I may feel brave enough to try my hand at Dorothy’s portrait again. Yes, again – I did try early in January and was not satisfied with the result (which made the sale on the tutorial videos quite timely for me). I may be very much behind my self-set schedule for getting this out, but as I remarked to my husband yesterday, I won’t call a piece done until I am satisfied with how it has turned out. If that means I need to redo it until I get it to my satisfaction, well we did that in the army as well!
Apparently, last evening after I had checked my email for the night, I received not one but TWO emails with the subject line saying, “Congratulations from the North Florida/South Georgia VA Healthcare system.” I immediately knew what it was: I had entered the NFSG’s Creative Arts Festival competition. In fact, I had sent in three entries, as I had artwork for three categories listed: watercolor, monochromatic drawing, and multicolor drawing. Both emails informed me I had won FIRST PLACE in the watercolor and monochromatic drawing categories, and my entries will be automatically advanced to the national level to represent our region.
The image in a pdf file was just the icing on the cake, so to speak. Yes, both attachments were the same, but I really am still feeling a bit too jazzed about taking top spot two out of three times to quibble. Now, what did I enter? Interestingly enough, all three entries were the result of various art challenges I participated in over the summer (entry deadline was at the end of August).
First, the one that didn’t place: my colored pencil on black paper Christmas Candle, which happens to be my friend Keashia’s current favorite. In the watercolor category, I entered one of my favorites, Flamingo in Rippled Water. I need to do up an “on the easel” post for the 16 by 20 inch acrylic painting I am working on, based off this watercolor, but that can wait for another day. And in the monochromatic drawing, I entered my Dew on a Calla Lily piece, which is my favorite from the black and white challenge.
The emails mentioned the regional coordinator is putting together a showcase of the winners scheduled for December, and I am very interested in that … so the two winning pieces have been placed on hold and will not be available to ship or be picked up until after that. I’ve amended the listing for Flamingo in Rippled Water over at Daily Paintworks, and have not listed the calla lily drawing yet. I suppose that technically I could sell these, but hold them until after the winners’ showcase. Eh, it’s not an issue yet, but right now I am quite thrilled, as this is the first time placing in an art competition since I was a schoolkid. Hmm, it’s also the first one I’ve entered in about as long. Either way – I won first place, twice!
A new art challenge has begun! This is a short seven days, with the theme of “liquid,” which to my mind cries out to be done all in watercolor for the medium. I have my seven reference photos picked out, cropped, and gridded … and all seven involve one or more flamingoes, which are wading shore birds so it was merely a matter of making sure they aren’t on dry land. I have been wanting to paint a flamingo for almost two years now, and have done sketches to get a feel for the bird’s lines. Now, it is time to paint some.
First up is a young bird, molting from the grey-purple chick down to the vibrant pink feathers of the adult flamingo. The wings change over before the head and neck, just like chickens. The brilliant rose pink is a perfect contrast to the blue-green I used for the water, with the distant shoreline a blurry combination of yellow ochre for sand, brown in the shadows, and three shades of green.
Flamingoes usually don’t come this far north, nor this far inland, in Florida, but down in the southern part of the peninsula they are believed to be starting to come back and be a part of the wildlife again. Personally, I love the thought of the American flamingo regaining its Florida native status.
I did this piece as a test of a new set of Mungyo Gallery oil pastels along with a new DVD art lesson on how to use oil pastels effectively. As I followed the instructions and sketched out the goldfish with my new oil pastels, I quickly realized the beauty of the lines and colors, and decided to finish it into a completed painting.
A vivid and colorful goldfish changing direction effortlessly and gracefully in the blue water, its scales seem to change from a deep gold to a fiery orange. This is not a complex piece of art, but elegant in its simplicity.
My mother has claim on the original piece, which is oil pastel on 14 by 11 inch primed paper and sealed with Mod Podge to prevent smudging. She also has a watercolor I tried to do of this image, but made a mistake on and my husband refused to use it as a fire starter for our woodburning stove. Mom agreed with hubby, so I gave her that, along with my first ever oil painting, of the exact same subject on flat canvas. Mom complained that I did not sign either the watercolor or the oil paint pieces, so I promised her this one after ensuring it has a legible signature and date.
Prints are available through my Pixels store, and shirts and accessories through my RedBubble shop. Update: RedBubble has started offering pet mats, and one is in a general fish shape, intended for cats. I love it! It appeals to my (probably corny) sense of cute.