Happy Thanksgiving and Surprises…

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving! Today is a busy day for us, but I’m procrastinating…I have to bring pumpkin pie and “sausage balls” to my brothers house for our feast. However, our oven broke two days ago and I have to go to my mom’s house to bake the sausage. I didn’t know she had to leave early to go over to make her potatoes, so my husband, my kids and I are going to take over her oven this afternoon before we trek to Raleigh.

The best made plans aren’t the best if we don’t communicate our expectations…oh well.

I guess it’s safe to say that the “plan” was that I was going to pick my mom up from her house in my little car while my husband goes to my brother’s house with the kids. Then, we were going to “go to a movie” after Thanksgiving while my mom kept the kids. Except that the movie will be…in Wilmington. Shhh….I’m surprising him with a weekend there without the kids. I hope he’ll like it. He’s been talking about things to work on for my studio. (He’s excited about it, so I really, really hope he likes his surprise. I mean, I’m taking him away from what he wants to do this weekend…). Now I just have to figure out the cars…

My Nephew, The Artist

I’m so excited, that I just had to post this. (I got permission from the artist and his mom). My nephew’s art was chosen to be exhibited at a local bank. He’s in 3rd grade and has been interested in art for a while (in a cool sort of way, of course). A few times I’ve talked to him about techniques and such, but I never know what’s the appropriate teaching level for the different age groups. Right now, I just casually talk about perspective and how to hold the pencil out to get the angle and how certain paintings are created. I try to get his input on pieces of art as well. This past summer, I took him to the “Arts At The Meadow” (an art festival in Chapel Hill, NC). He enjoyed it and was even willing to discuss what paintings he liked. Although, he kept telling the artists “my aunt is an artist…she has a website”…(that was right before I created a hole and crawled in). Of course, he has this “all agog” way of holding himself, so I wasn’t sure if he was enjoying himself, but maybe that’s normal for boys his age.

Anyway, I am really glad that his artwork was chosen to be hung at the bank. Do you know what I really like about this piece? The sky and the mountains…I love it because it’s not the typical colors of these things. Skies don’t have to be blue, mountains green or brown or grey. The strokes create movement in the painting, almost as if you’re in a car looking out the window at the scenery, looking at the mountains as the trees go whizzing by your eyes.
What do you think about it?

Charcoal Portrait from Life

Anne, charcoal, 18×24

I decided to switch to charcoal for yesterday’s portrait class (1 1/2 hours). It had been a while since I’ve worked with pencil – I was just too impatient last week. I prefer using willow charcoal since it allows me to block in shapes, planes, etc instead of getting distracted with the detail. I’ve seen artists who lay down charcoal first and pick up the highlights with the eraser. I find this fascinating, but not for me. I sketch the blueprint (nothing too detailed), then block in the shadows. At this point, it’s not a pretty sight! I typically use a tissue over my index finger to blend and soften the charcoal. I push the charcoal around to create the mid tone, usually going in the direction of the contours. This really helps to build the face and allow you to see beyond the eyes, lips, nose, etc and instead, see the hills and valleys. I then take my kneaded eraser and pull out the highlights. This process is repeated as many times as it takes. I feel like a sculptor chiseling with my charcoal.

As for the portrait above, using charcoal on drawing paper really created a wash look to it. Almost like pen and ink on hot press watercolor paper. I’m not sure if I like the look, so I might bring with me some charcoal paper for my next class.

Portrait

I’ve added the final update to the couple…I’m not sure if any of the updates I made show up, but I thought I’d post it here anyway. I will be shipping it off tomorrow!

On another note, I am taking a portrait drawing class at the Carrboro Art Center. Tomorrow night is my second class. Last week’s was a nice “reintroduction” to using live models. It’s very different from using a photograph! Having a model really ensures that your eye is trained to pick up light, shadow, soft and hard edges…and negative shape. It’s amazing how lazy the eye can get from photographs. (My eyes just glaze over after a while and the simplest mistakes occur and elude me sometimes).

Anyway, I don’t want to scare anyone away…the first few sketches are always the worst…(This one is done with pencil (I think 4b)). It’s pretty large – the pad of paper is 18×24 and I was successful in using the space. The teacher recommended that a portrait shouldn’t be larger than life unless you have a really large or tall wall to put the portrait on…you can measure your face with your hand (open palm – place the thumb on your chin and your middle finger at the top of the forehead…or wherever it reaches.
Since it’s late, I was too tired to do anything special to this one, so sorry about the flash. Tomorrow, I might go back to charcoal!