Thursday, November 30, 2017

Sketch practice #38-41

Daily Art 11-29-17 still life sketch in graphite number 38-41 - 10-minute apples

Today I wanted to pick up my pace and get more sketches done in a session so I finally did the 10-minute apples exercise. It's been on my list of things to do since reading Carol Marine's book Daily Painting: Paint Small and Often To Become a More Creative, Productive, and Successful Artist.

I used my gridded viewfinder and noticed something right away that I hadn't been so aware of before: when I looked up at my apple, then down to my paper, and back up to the apple again, if my head wasn't in the exact same position each time I couldn't rely on those grid marks. Just a tiny shift in my eye position meant my measuring and marking would be incorrect. It makes total sense! But before I started reading more about proportions and sight sizing it just hadn't sunk in completely. So I think that's one drawback to the viewfinder method…if I'm going to use it I have to be really sure I'm positioning myself properly.

I like this exercise because it gets me trying slightly different sketching methods more quickly. I made a variety of shading marks today, which was good because one of my goals for this project is to develop a consistent language for expressing line and value.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Sketch practice #37

Daily Art 11-28-17 still life sketch in graphite number 36 - pears

I finally remembered to do some quick sketches of the geometric forms in my pears today! I do think it's helping me look more critically for form shadows. Once those were done, I started measuring for the drawing by finding the height and width of the pear on the left. I really wanted this sketch to be more proportionally accurate and for the forms to look more pleasing than they did yesterday.

This took a lot of the 30-minute time block so my shading isn't very developed and I didn't get the dark background toned like I wanted. The shaping of the pears is fairly accurate and I like their forms. I'm still a little gun-shy about the stem sizes, after making them way huge in a previous session lol! So they're too small. And I placed the pear on the right too far from the one on the left. Which explains why I was struggling with the angle from upper edge of the left pear to upper edge of the right pear and sizing the height of the right pear in its spot.

I'm deep into reading about classical drawing techniques, atelier training, and the Bargue plates methods. I'm reading C. Bargue Drawing Course and bought an online class on traditional portrait drawing techniques that demonstrates the Bargue method and sight sizing. I'm hoping this will help me develop my measuring, proportion, and shading skills.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sketch practice #36

Daily Art 11-27-17 still life sketch in graphite number 36 - pear
It would have been better to draw this pear after the simple study in the lower right. I get in a hurry to start shading!

Back to sketching from life for today's sketch. And back to drawing things too wide and short. I wish I had started with the quick study of the underlying geometric shapes in this pear — I think it would have helped me get a feel for the subject better than starting with the angles. I keep forgetting to do them until after I've already finished the initial sketch and felt frustration with the shaping and shading.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Sketch practice #30-35

Daily Art 11-25-17 still life sketch in graphite number 33 - drawn from photo reference of my pear still life
For this sketch I used the photo I took of my still life as reference and explored different shading techniques. It's by far my favorite from this weekend's sketches!

We took advantage of the long Thanksgiving weekend to take our camper over to Joshua Tree National Park. Unfortunately it was hot and crowded, so wasn't that great an experience. But time away in the camper is always appreciated and I had lots of time to sketch and read.

I sketched a few random objects we had with us, including a fork — which was a great challenge! As it sat on the table in front of me I was sure I understood the angles, until I really started looking at it carefully and noticed how wrong my assumptions were.

I also wanted to experiment with drawing from the photos of my still lifes, to compare them to my sketches drawn from life (the three pears and the bowl/apple/knife). With the advantage of a square cropped photo that included center line marks, my sketches are much more accurate than the previous sketches. I think the main thing that helped me was having stationary marks that act like plumb lines.

There were a couple of big takeaways from this weekend's sketching:
  • use more plumb lines to check relationships and keep assumptions at bay
  • starting with hard graphite and building to soft graphite really makes a more engaging value scale (compare the measuring cup to the pears)
  • combine smoothly shaded tones with sharp hatching for interesting marks
  • pay attention to the contrast between the subject and background — for example, when the subject is light, consider making a darker background (compare the pears with a dark background to the white bowl/apple on a white background)

Daily Art 11-24-17-11-26-17 still life sketch in graphite number 30-35 - weekend roundup

Friday, November 24, 2017

Sketch practice #27-29

Daily Art 11-23-17 still life sketch in graphite number 27-29 - pears

Today I tried loosening up and focused on getting more sketches on paper rather than getting stuck on measuring. I was talking with my husband about feeling stuck in this way and he suggested turning on some music or something to distract the left brain and let the right brain just observe and draw. I liked this idea so gave it a shot by playing an episode of Savvy Painter. I think it was helpful!

It also helped that I set that intention to sketch more (faster) and nitpick less.

So what was the result? My sketch seems no less accurate than the previous two days. I'm consistently drawing that pear on the left too large, which is interesting. I also need to keep working on lengthening the heights of the subjects so they don't get squished down/too wide.

Daily Art 11-23-17 still life sketch in graphite number 27-29 - overlay
My sketches overlaid on a photo of my still life.

I'm starting to wonder how they would turn out if I sketched from my reference photo rather than the still life…

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Sketch practice #26

Daily Art 11-22-17 still life sketch in graphite number 26 - pears

I'm trying to improve the proportions and relationships between objects in my still life sketching again today. I started by measuring the height and width of the arrangement but that's not going well. Ironically I had the right overall dimensions marked out but everything was shifted over as I built from the centerline of my tallest object (the center pear). So trying to fit everything within my original lines caused distortion in the other two pears.

I can't quite figure out what's causing me to measure inaccurately. Maybe I'm tipping my hand as I use the skewer to mark lengths and compare them to each other. I also haven't found a rhythm for what to use as my standard unit, and by changing it all around within each sketching session I'm sure that it's making things off.

Daily Art 11-22-17 still life sketch in graphite number 26 - sketch over photo
My center pear is fairly accurate, but the other two aren't sized well in comparison.

If I were using my viewfinder to locate edges and relationships it would probably go better. But I want to keep working on this to see if I can improve. Next I think I'll try leaving out that bounding box and just concentrate on the angles and relationships of the pears.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Sketch practice #25

Daily Art 11-21-17 still life sketch in graphite number 25 - pears

Today my excitement about sketching a composition with these three pears quickly went from enthusiasm to frustration once I started actually drawing on my paper. My intention was to explore finding the overall geometric shape of the composition — where its tallest and widest points meet. In this case, I saw a triangle.

This was really challenging for me, and once I started laying my lines in I became aware of how when my highest point isn't at the horizontal center, there's a lot more measuring that needs to be done. I had a lot of trouble getting the pears to fit into the triangle well in relation to each other as well as keeping them from looking distorted.

Daily Art 11-21-17 still life sketch in graphite number 25 - pears layered on photo
My sketch layered on a photo of the still life.

In this photo of the drawing overlaid on a photo reference of my view, I can see that one main issue is I didn't bring the pear on the right all the way to the bottom of my bounding shape, so everything is vertically smooshed. And while the overall shape could be described as a triangle, the lower right corner doesn't match up with what I envisioned and drew. I got the lower right corner confused with the outer edge of the pear on the right and it really threw me off.

Some improvements I could make to this process next time are:
  • decide if I want my vertical and horizontal foundation lines to be at the center of my drawing area or some other landmark (such as the center of the tallest item)
  • mark the ground plane early on for a landmark reference
  • mark the major angles in relationship to each other instead of creating a geometric bounding shape to work within

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sketch practice #23-24

Daily Art 11-20-17 still life sketch in graphite number 23-24 - pear

As I read Lessons in Classical Drawing: Essential Techniques from Inside the Atelier by Juliette Aristides I'm taking notes and thinking about how to apply the techniques to my sketch practice. I just read the chapter on the illusion of depth, where she covers identifying geometric solids. I've explored this concept before, and usually after dipping my toe into it I push it away because it gets so technical and cerebral and I just want to draw. But in the spirit of embracing these lessons in classical drawing, I gave it another try today.

I drew the pear on the left first, then did some studies of the circle and triangle found within the form of the pear second. Which was totally backwards — after drawing the studies I immediately saw where I could improve my first sketch. I went back and added a bit more shading to the left side of it to help describe the changes in angles on the interior shapes of the form (not just around the perimeter of it).

I really enjoyed the chapter on line quality, too. It helped me understand a bit more about my own preferences with line. After looking at some of the examples in the book, I'm drawn more to the marks that show evidence of the medium than the very smoothly-rendered forms. I like the graphic quality that lines have, and the play between smooth and sharp.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Sketch practice #21-22

Daily Art 11-19-17 still life sketch in graphite number 22-22 -pears

Today my goal was to simplify my value marks so the sketch stayed more in the sketching realm than the finished drawing realm. But I got sloppy (hurried?) with my proportions and the pears on the left aren't very accurate to real life. The stems are closer to reality than yesterday though.

I found myself adding deeper values even though my intention was to just to two values: in shadow and not in shadow. It was just too hard to stop once I went down that path!

I'm still feeling out hatching vs. smoothly-shaded tones. On the left I mainly used hatching and on the right did the smooth tones (side of the pencil). I thought hatching would be faster and looser, but so far that hasn't really been the case. I do like the hatching in my first pear in this series of studies, where it's a combination of the side of the pencil and the tip. That contrast looks lively to me.

I'm also noticing that once a second subject is added to the still life, it's much harder for me to find those proportional relationships. Maybe tomorrow I'll try finding the overall shape of the composition and then locating the individual forms within it.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Sketch practice #20

Daily Art 11-18-17 still life sketch in graphite number 20 - pears

This still life of two pears was set up next to my north-facing window without any shades or reflectors. Today is sunny, so I got some nice light and shadow.

My drawing was fairly accurate, but my shading makes it hard to tell how the pear on the left is sitting. It looks like it's lying down, but it's actually standing up. And my stems got way too large. I was pretty distracted during this sketching session (problems with our water heater, ugh) so that probably accounts for the problems I encountered.

11-18-17 pears reference photo
This was my view of the pears as I drew.

11-18-17 pear drawing overlaid on photo
My drawing overlaid on the reference photo shows the comically large stems. But I'm happy with the pear shapes!

I did another block-in of the overall shapes using an HB pencil and that went very well. The shading was dicier because the 8B woodless graphite pencil I started shading with was too dark, and the whole tip snapped off in the middle of using it. I switched to a 4B woodless pencil which worked OK.

It's occurred to me that I'm in this weird zone between making a sketch and making a drawing…tomorrow I want to reset my expectations and focus on accurate drawings and two-value shading with a single object.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Sketch practice #17-19

Daily Art 11-17-17 still life sketch in graphite number 18-19 - pear

Today I continued sighting angles and drawing in the form of my subject with straight lines, then adding the curves where needed. I also incorporated a "two-value stage" of shading described in Proko video How to Draw an Eye – Step by Step. I really like this approach to shading because I had gotten stuck adding values in these discrete shapes, naming each part as I went. That's a habit I'm trying to break out of, and by instead determining what's in shadow and what's in light it helped me with this. This reminded me of Dianne Mize's notan video as well.

I also thought about edges as I sketched — where I could lose an edge into the background or shadow, and where to sharply define an edge. For shading, I used a combination of the side of the pencil for softer gradients and broad strokes, and the tip for some sharp hatching. The woodless graphite HB pencil I used in the top sketch is lighter than I'd like, but the control I get with it is nice. My pencil tip goes dull very quickly with the 2B.

Yesterday evening, after I wrapped up my work, I configured a standing easel at my work bench by clipping my drawing board to a sign I had made for my handmade business. My goal was to find a better way to bring my whole arm into drawing and standing at a more vertical surface helped with that. My little sketchbook has become an obstacle for this style of drawing though, which I discovered while sketching this little cosmetic pot. I do like how it turned out, though!

Daily Art 11-16-17 still life sketch in graphite number 17- pot of blush

I used the two-value shading stage. The lid of the pot is black, and this demo about bracketing values was super helpful for helping me determine how to shade the different sides of it: black isn't black in the light, just in its deepest shadows. Artist Mike Rooney does a great job of simplifying the concept of how you'd paint the 3 visible surfaces of a white, grey, and black cube with 5 values.

Last night I read something that struck a chord with me while catching up on Stranger Things (I'm late to the show, but I finally get what all the hype is about!). It's from the book Rendering in Pencil by Arthur L. Guptill:
"So the beginner must strive to retain in any subject the elements that have the greatest significance, in some cases even exaggerating them, and sacrificing at the same time some of the lesser truths, if this makes the drawing as a whole easier to read or understand."
It made me think about finding that balance of learning how to skillfully draw with accuracy and using artistic license to convey the spirit of the subject. It's really easy for me to get caught up in describing details, losing sight of the bigger picture. And that doesn't just apply to art! ;) 

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sketch practice #15-16: classical bananas

Daily Art 11-16-17 still life sketch in graphite number 15-16 - cut banana

Continuing my ellipse practice, today I sketched a cut banana and also tried out a different drawing approach. I picked up a book at the library that I'm really excited about called Lessons in Classical Drawing: Essential Techniques from Inside the Atelier by Juliette Aristides. It wasn't one that I was necessarily looking for, but this week I've become fascinated with the classical drawing techniques and the rigorous training that helps you learn these methods.

I came upon this path after downloading the Kindle sample of Hawthorne on Painting. When I reached the end of the sample, it recommended Lessons in Masterful Portrait Drawing: A Classical Approach to Drawing the Head by Mau-Kun Yim. My first response was "oh, I'm not interested in portraiture." But then I realized I totally am interested in portraiture! Just not humans. I prefer drawing animals and think it would be really cool to apply this timeless, classic style to portraits of animals. I spent some time exploring May-Kun Yim's work and am captivated by what he does with charcoal.

When I first started learning how to paint with watercolors, I got swept up in the idea that it's all about color — bright color and lots of it. There was some internal tension there for me because I prefer neutrals. The more I immerse myself in the world of painting though, the more I realize I need to find my own way to make paintings, and using the colors that I feel good about is part of that. These classical paintings and drawings with either monochromatic or subtle color palettes resonate with me more, so I think that's a big reason I'm attracted to learning more about how they're made. Plus, mastery is important to me, not just playing around. I may end up with a playful look, but I want to know the skills that allow me to do whatever I choose, not get stuck in a style that's the limit of my abilities.

So back to today's sketches. In the DVD that accompanies her book, Juliette begins her drawing by marking the overall height of the subject to establish scale, then blocking in with straight lines at different angles. There's a video by Dianne Mize that demonstrates this same basic idea very well. I forgot to make the lines to establish height (or width) today, but I really liked the way it felt to use Dianne's method of phantom drawing her lines before actually marking the paper. Even though this sounds like a small step, it was a huge difference in my confidence — by mimicking the angle in the air, it helped me make the mark land more accurately on the paper because I knew what it felt like to make that line.

I also made more of an effort to use my whole arm and not just my hand and fingers to draw. I don't love doing that in my little square sketchbook though… I can't quite figure out a sustainable way to hold the book in my left hand. Maybe this little book will be better for contour sketches?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Sketch practice #12-14

Daily Art 11-14-17 still life sketch in graphite numbers 12-14 amber jar

My first two sketches today were done with the dot-to-line contour approach using an HB woodless graphite pencil. After I drew them in I looked for the terminator lines and added shading. On the third sketch, I toned the paper with the graphite, erased the light area on top of the lid, and shaded the rest of the form without drawing contour lines first. I like the effect of no hard contour lines in this one.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Sketch practice #10-11

Daily Art 11-14-17 still life sketch in graphite - dot to line contour and seeing squares

Today I sketched the same object in two slightly different ways: first with a strong focus on using a grid and second with a dot-to-line contour approach.

I just finished the chapter on proportion in Eye of the Painter by Andrew Loomis and was inspired to make an adjustment to my viewfinder. I clipped my picture plane to the viewfinder and drew half- and quarter-lines directly on the picture plane. This let me break the objects down into smaller pieces, with the goal of getting the proportions and shapes more accurate. This definitely helped me block in the objects more quickly and I liked that part of it. I'm drawing this particular object because I'm working on ellipses, and today they were close but still a little wonky. Part of that might be the shading throwing it off. I also wish I'd erased the planning lines before shading because I find those distracting.

Last night at Crafthack I did some drawings of terriers I found on pixabay using the dot-to-line contour approach. I've played with this drawing technique before, and it was fresh on my mind because I'm watching Pat Weaver's Pet Portraits class on Craftsy. Since I was happy with last night's results, I figured it couldn't hurt to try it with this little cosmetic jar.

It was really cool to compare these two drawing techniques side by side! I was surprised by how much more I preferred the dot-to-line contour approach. There's more life and personality to that sketch, plus it helped me focus on the shapes I saw (including areas of light and shadow) instead of naming parts (like "The lid stops here, the powder gets darker there"). One of my main hesitations with this contour approach has been figuring out where to start drawing so that the entire subject fits onto my drawing surface. Using the gridded viewfinder/picture plane really helped with this because I could get a visual snapshot of where things would fall on my paper.

My expectations are also at play here…with the first sketch, I was very carefully trying to get accurate placement of things by blocking them in and measuring with my pencil. So I put a lot of pressure on myself to make that one accurate. With the second, I wasn't doing precise measuring and blocking in. I felt my way around the contours, pausing to check that things weren't going horribly awry, but not really expecting "perfection". I'd like to practice this more to see if it continues to feel good and gets me the results I'm looking for.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Contour drawings of Jack Russell Terriers

dot to line contour drawing of a happy terrier

dot to line contour drawing of a serious terrier

This week at Crafthack we worked on our own projects while enjoying some relaxing waterfalls on Netflix. Which was the first time I'd seen this Moving Art nature series — it was really cool!

I did some sketches of Jack Russell terriers, practicing the dot-to-line contour drawing technique Pat Weaver loves. It was nice to sink into some sketching without any pressures of time or intense concentration. There's always a fun chatter at Crafthack, and allowing myself to flow in and out of sketching and chatting is nice.

I started with the eyes and nose, imagining plumb lines going up and down at key points for placement. The top sketch is quite accurate when compared to the drawing. But with the second sketch, I struggled with something that's come up several times for me and that's making the face the correct length and width. I tend to make them too wide and not tall enough. I think this could be improved by spending more time getting the eyes accurate since I build the rest of the relationships off of them.

My sketches also extend past the frames I drew. Which isn't a huge deal since these are just little sketchbook drawings, but I really want to learn how to fit them into my target size better.

Sketch practice #9

Daily Art 11-13-17 still life sketch in graphite - jars

I only got one sketch done in today's 30-minute session. I wanted to do some ellipses work but I bit off more than I could chew by choosing three jars instead of just one.

The proportions are close to accurate although the shapes are a little crooked on the page. If I had backed up after blocking things in I probably would have caught it earlier in the sketch. I was definitely influenced by the ticking clock and a desire to complete at least one sketch with values. 

Tomorrow I'll pick just one jar and give it another go.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Dog nose watercolor exercise

black dog nose watercolor tutorial with Rebecca Rhodes

I found a watercolor tutorial on YouTube that helped me think more about doing studies of individual animal parts instead of jumping in with painting the entire animal. Rebecca Rhodes has a few demos (this one is How to Paint a Realistic Dog Nose in Watercolor) as well as longer, full tutorials in her online school.

It was helpful to see her process of abstracting the shapes of the nose and building the tones up by glazing. She gives really detailed and thorough instruction, which is nice for learning how to paint realistically like this.

I'd like to do more studies of individual animal details. I also bought Pat Weaver's Pet Portraits class on Craftsy and cannot wait to dig into her looser style of painting animals! This class also includes some demos on painting dog and cat eyes before doing the whole head.

Sketch practice #7-8

Daily Art 11-12-17 still life sketch in graphite - white mug

The shape of this white mug that I've been sketching for awhile now is tricky to get right. And I don't know that I've actually gotten it right once (the closest is this value study that I love). The way it angles down from the rim to the base needs some further studying, for sure. I should get out the seam gauge from my sewing supplies to get the proportions better!

I'd also like to do a sketch of this mug where I focus less on the contour of it and more on interesting shapes of shadow and light.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Sketch practice #5-6

Daily Art 11-11-17 still life sketch in graphite - white gouache tube

Today I set up a small square viewfinder in front of my still life to help me measure locations, angles, and proportions better. It was so nice not to have to hold it with my hand! I could never keep it in the same place that way and this method is much better.

The ellipses on the caps were hard to place. I tried a few approaches to mapping out the cap shapes and got stuck with the angle of the ellipses. Is the center axis of the top of the tube at an angle? I'll have to do some exercises specifically for this scenario.

square viewfinder with centerline marks held in place with a florists pin frog
I cut this square viewfinder to a size that works well when I'm sitting in front of the still life. It's corrugated cardboard, held in place with a florist's pin frog.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Sketch practice #3-4

Daily Art 11-10-17 still life sketch in graphite - broken clothes pin and binder clip

Yesterday I started a new focused practice project of improving my sketching skills by drawing an egg with a couple of different lighting angles. Today I chose a couple of small objects — a broken clothes pin and a large binder clip.

I definitely enjoyed sketching the egg more than today's objects. Although today's were much more challenging with the different angles and straight edges. The shadow shapes were far less interesting today, which is part of the reason I didn't enjoy sketching them. Things with more rounded or organic shapes seem to respond more interestingly to light.

I also tried swapping my blade-sharpened 2B drawing pencil with a yellow HB school-style pencil sharpened the same way. Since the lines were a lot lighter, I dulled the point really quickly, and at this small scale the details (primarily on the shiny, reflective metal) got lost. But on the plus side, being too lazy to get up and sharpen it prompted me to stop fussing and move on to the next step.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Improving sketches with focused practice

Today marks 100 days of creating some kind of art every day! On August 2, 2017, I decided to make a painting in my sketchbook every day. Shortly after, this idea evolved into a larger goal of becoming a professional artist and illustrator. I traded in the "daily painting" idea for a more structured, self-guided art education practice and prioritized developing the basic skills like drawing, value, color, and composition. Ultimately I'd like to grow to a point where daily paintings makes sense, but first I wanted to set a stronger foundation to build upon.

Since it's a good time to reflect on my daily art mission, I'm selecting a new drawing goal. When I completed my self-assigned focused practice of making 100 gesture studies of animals, it felt like a huge accomplishment. I made quicker progress by doing 5-minute studies every day than if I had sat down once a week and sketched 2 or 3 with more time. After that experience, I set a similar goal with value studies, but was much more vague with my goal and strategy.

So taking what I learned from those two things, I decided to get more detailed with my next goal:

I want to make better sketches, faster. 

In order to make better sketches, there are a few things I'd like to address:
  • Drawing from life to strengthen my ability to analyze the subject, avoid lens distortion from the camera, set my own lighting and composition, and see values with my own eyes instead of what a camera lens interprets
  • Drawing accurate proportions by blocking in big shapes before addressing details
  • Developing a consistent language for expressing line and value
I'll make 100 of these sketches, aiming to complete 2–4 in each 30-minutes session. I should complete the project in 25–50 days. 

And for a fun change of pace, I'm using my newer Handbook Travelogue Journal because I love the ivory paper. I'm also trying out a different pencil technique by sharpening my drawing pencil with a blade, exposing more of the lead. This gives me greater variety in the types of lines and marks I can make, but I'm also trying to loosen up my drawing approach and using more of my arm instead of just the wrist. By changing the shape of the lead tip it will help me change my habits: instead of holding the pencil underneath like when writing, I held my pencil (more loosely) on top with my fingertips which feels very different and helps me put the pencil marks down differently.

Daily Art 11-9-17 still life sketch in graphite

Daily Art 11-9-17 still life sketch in graphite

For today's sketches, I set up an egg on a white surface with a single light aimed at it. I never realized how interesting and captivating light and shadow on forms could be until I started looking at them more carefully!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

A different pattern every day for #The100DayProject

I'm a sucker for daily challenges to help build a creative habit. So a summertime Creativebug binge inspired me to start a theme for The 100 Day Project. I initially resisted, thinking it would become an overwhelming chore rather than quick and fun. But when Courtney Cerruti explained that her own daily project was to simply paint a different color and write a short phrase to go with it, I was intrigued. So it didn't have to be complicated!

One of her tips for success was to draw the grid for each color swatch in a designated sketchbook. That way, it was all ready to go every day. I loved this idea so much — it's a simple but genius way to be prepared and avoid procrastination each morning.

I took this approach and gridded out an accordion sketchbook of Fabriano Artistico hot press watercolor paper. The only guidelines I gave myself were:
  • each day would be a different pattern swatch
  • each pattern swatch be completed in a short amount of time (about 5-10 minutes) in one sitting
I used whatever media I felt like that day, sometimes pre-painting a unit with a color the day before so it would be dry by the time I wanted to make the pattern.

It's fascinating for me to look at them all in a row like this because I can see times where I became intrigued by a different mark-making process, tool, medium, texture, class, or even just a recent Pin I saw. It also helps me remember some little things, like when we were camping, or what book I was reading.

One of my favorite aspects of this project was that sticking with one theme got me to explore a lot more than if I had just done it for a few days. I had to keep digging and digging to find new ways to make patterns and marks.

I only missed one day of this challenge — I got wrapped up in other art projects and the day after I realized it I was sort of shocked! I had been doing it diligently for 93 days and somehow toward the end just spaced it.

I'm super glad I completed this challenge, and when it was done, was also super glad it was done ;)

My daily patterns for The 100 Day Project

100DaysProject - daily pattern days 1-16 part one - by Amy Lamp

100DaysProject - daily pattern days 1-16 part two - by Amy Lamp
Here I learned that my dip pen works great with diluted Copic opaque white ink. I was inspired by sashiko stitching and other textiles.

100DaysProject - daily pattern days 17-32 - by Amy Lamp
During this spread, I got inspired by intuitive painting, mixed media, and art journaling.

100DaysProject - daily pattern days 33-48 part one - by Amy Lamp
This was after I did a whole bunch of different mark-making on a sheet of paper — I discovered how to make some interesting marks with my brush pen.

100DaysProject - daily pattern days 33-48 part two - by Amy Lamp
The final pattern on this spread was done while camping in the woods. I love pine trees!

100DaysProject - daily pattern days 49-64 - by Amy Lamp
Experiments in black and white, complementary colors, and messy layers.

Days 65-80 of 100DayProject
The first day in this set is one of my favorites, and the one next to it is my least favorite. Funny how that works out!

Days 65-80 of 100DayProject
I really like the groove I got into with earthy orange, teal, black, and white in the last four days of this set.

Days 81-88 of 100DayProject
I'm reading a book about drawing animal textures so a few of these are inspired by those ideas.

Days 89-100 of 100DayProject
The most gratifying part of this last set is that I was still finding new patterns to experiment with.

If you want to check out the CBTV video, it's the 100 Days Project Kickoff from 4/4/2016 (I couldn't get a direct link to this episode).

Still life sketch with mark making exploration

I feel like after a few weeks of focusing on value, I've learned how to look for values much better and how each value relates in the subject overall. Now I'd like to start working on bringing some skills together and getting more accurate and quick with sketches. When I open a page in my sketchbook it's hard for me to get started laying in the subject and I'd love to feel more confident about that. It's time for another focused practice assignment!

On that note, I'm inspired by the sketches of Sarah Sedwick, an oil painter who sells her paintings on Daily Paintworks. I love the way her sketches are loose and unfussy, but also accurate and very descriptive of values. They're just as interesting for me to look at as a painting completed from the sketch would be.

Today I set up a simple still life on a white surface with a single direct light to get some strong shadows. I selected a basic HB pencil and a square format and paid attention to proportion, value, opportunities for lost edges, and line quality. To help me get things in the right place, I blocked them in roughly and then went back to refine the shape. This was so hard for me! I get in a hurry to define the shapes quickly, and I know that's one of the things that causes overall proportion difficulties for me.

One of my goals is to be able to make marks that describe the form with ease, and that look like they belong together without being conscientiously consistent if that makes sense. Hopefully doing daily studies with this approach will allow me to develop my style with this.

Daily Art 11-8-17 still life sketch in graphite

I sketched from life, but here's a photo of the setup for reference (the angle doesn't match up exactly with what I was seeing while standing next to the still life):

still life reference photo of knife bowl apple

This sketchbook (a Canson XL Mix Media book) is almost filled, and I'm excited to be able to switch to a different book. The Mix Media paper is good for a variety of things, but for drawing with graphite I enjoy using a paper that's meant more for drawing and not just "whatever". I have a little square HandBook Travelogue sketchbook that I'm going to try out — I like the tooth and soft white color of the paper.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Watersoluble pencil sketch in Zion National Park

sepia water soluble pencil sketch on the Pa-Rus trail in Zion National Park

On one of my walks through Zion National Park last week, I stopped on the trail to sketch out a scene from the landscape. This was near Canyon Crossing on the Pa'rus trail. I used a Derwent Inktense pencil in Sepia in a HandBook Travelogue Sketchbook, and after sketching in the marks used a waterbrush to make a toned wash.

The sun hitting the rocks, mountains, and trees was making such interesting shadow shapes, which is what I was capturing here.

Value studies Day 20

Daily Art 11-7-17 value and contrast - tonal composition studies

It's finally feeling more like autumn in Phoenix which means roasted veggie season is here! I set up a simple still life of a butternut squash, red onion, and sweet potato and lit it with a single light for today's value study sketch. I used a square viewfinder to draw in the veggies, trying to keep it very still for more accuracy. In Daily Painting, Carol Marine talks about making sure her elbow is held tight against her side to keep the viewfinder in place and planting one foot so she doesn't lose her original view. That definitely helped, but I'm also considering buying a double clamp flexible arm like she suggests to do that job so my arm doesn't get tired.

I focused on four values (dark, mid, light, and highlights), looked for the terminator line, and paid attention to where the core shadow fell. My goal was to simplify the shapes I saw rather than get overly detailed, and as I worked I imagined what it might be like to paint this still life. I'm reading The Eye of the Painter by Andrew Loomis and he talks about an exercise (credited to American painter and instructor Charles Hawthorne) that sounds cool:

"Set up a still life, and without any preliminary drawing, start painting in areas and masses of tone and color; then in these masses develop the form. Drawing can be easily corrected in oil when it is dry. Where edges merge or are very close in value, keep them lost or soft. Where they stand out in contrast, make them so."

He says this is a way to train the eye to see things in relationship to each other as opposed to getting caught up in the little details and lose sight of the big picture. Definitely something I want to be improving!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Value studies Day 19

Daily Art 11-6-17 value and contrast - tonal composition studies

Today's value study turned into more of an exercise in using charcoal. I toned my sketchbook page with a stick of compressed charcoal, and then lifted out the light areas with an eraser. It didn't lift out very cleanly though, so there's a textured grey tone throughout. I think this charcoal works better for making gestural and expressive marks than a toned background or accurate value definition.

While making this drawing, I imagined horizontal and vertical guide lines to see where elements of the bird lined up, which saved me from making the bird tip forward which I'm inclined to do. But my proportions are a little wonky— the bird's body should be longer to be in proportion to the feet.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Value studies Days 10-18

Daily Art 10-28 - 11-5 2017

We just spent a week camping in beautiful Zion National Park. When we scheduled the trip for late October/early November, our hope was to see fall color in the trees and we were not disappointed! I don't think we could have gotten luckier with the timing.

I kept up my daily value studies, varying my medium and approach. I've been reading a lot of Andrew Loomis books so did my best to apply what he teaches about light and shadow on form, as well as perspective.

My favorite value sketches are of my little Pipsqueak and an apple still life:

Daily Art 11-2-17 value and contrast - tonal composition studies

Daily Art 11-3-17 value and contrast - tonal composition studies

I toned the background first with graphite, then sketched in the subject, and erased the light areas and darkened the shadow areas. I wish I had taken a moment to check that my drawing of Pipsqueak was accurate before starting to complete the values — I can definitely see where her eyes need improvement and her face is too wide because I didn't get the eye spacing accurate. But I still love it as a drawing.

I can tell that I'm getting better at actually seeing light and shadow because in the reference photo of the apples, there's a reflected light in the shadow side of the large apple on the left and I know I would have missed it just a few weeks ago.

The final sketch of the trip is special to me because it was a moment where I got past my fear of starting and just started drawing.

Daily Art 11-5-17 value study sketch on the road between Zion National Park and Arizona border

As a passenger in our car, I had plenty of time to be sketching, but the idea of capturing the landscape while moving on the road overwhelmed me. I finally made myself get the sketchbook and pencil out and put into practice some of what I'm learning about drawing perspective and shadow. The lines are very wiggly from the car bouncing around, but I actually like that because it loosened me up. We were lucky to be getting some really interesting cloud shapes (normally it's just blazing sun and blue sky), and the bushes next to the road were great shapes as well.

Being in the park, surrounded by the red rocks, blue sky, fall color, and the river flowing all through the canyon, made me want to take up plein air painting! There was a gallery show at the museum featuring several plein air paintings in oil, watercolor, and pastel. I can feel the itch to start experimenting with oil paints, although I'm trying to spend more time using the supplies I already have instead of buying more. I think there's a lot I could do with my acrylic paints to get me closer to the feel of oils, as well as the gouache.

I was struck when looking at the plein air gallery how the watercolors weren't speaking to me nearly as much as the oils. I found the oil paintings to have more sparkle and depth. One I liked in particular was by Prescott artist Bill Cramer called Liquid Jade - Virgin River. The pieces from 2017 Zion National Park Plein Air Invitational can be seen on the Zion Park website.

I'm continuing to study value, and also working to improve my drawing skills with exercises from Perspective Made Easy by Ernest Norling and pretty much whatever I can get my hands on by Andrew Loomis.