Gaining Inspiration And Trying Stuff

I do more sketching ‘off camera’ than I post on my blog.  I do these for a variety of reasons.  Most are done quickly for the simple reason that I need to draw something.  Sometimes I do them to try out a new pen or paint.  Sometimes they’re done to practice a technique, like the little gouache paintings I did a couple days ago (horrible by the way).

But sometimes, quite often actually, I draw something inspired by something I see on the internet.  Most I try to mimic the style of the artist in an attempt to walk a mile in their shoes.  Mostly this fails in a ways similar to me trying to walk in high heels, but these are also some of my favorite things to do as there’s absolutely no pretense that I’m creating something “from” myself.  It’s sort of an out of body experience.

I thought I’d share with you a bit of that stuff, with apologies to their real authors, the internet sketchers who share their work so we can appreciate, enjoy and maybe learn from them.  This first sheet is from a Canson XL multi-media (7×10) pad that sits next to my laptop.  It’s full of stuff like this.

The top right is from a set of fire hydrants drawn by Arlene from the Artist’s Journal Workshop.  She did a sketch of several very colorful hydrants and when I saw the yellow one with a lime green top I had to draw it.  I decided, however, to extend its top a bit, give it a head tilt of personality and I added a pair of eyes.  I was having fun.

I’m sad to say that I can’t remember who did the geranium plant but it was a very freehand version of one and so I followed suit.  Leaves and flowers randomly stuck on the page as I tried to turn a piece of paper real estate into a geranium.

The little landscape came from the background of one of those pesky ads that precede a YouTube video, with a lot of ‘it could look like this’ thrown in for good measure.

Lastly the lonely girl.  She was was from another commercial and standing on a street.

Erik Davis posted a sketch similar to this, saying he was trying something different.  I thought that a good idea so I followed suit.  It’s about 3×4.

If you’ve taken any of Liz Steel’s great courses you know that there are lots of things to copy and/or mimic.  While you’re supposed to be doing it ‘your way’, I often try to do it Liz’s way.  I’m rarely successful because her style is so much more loose and quick than my own.  It always feels good to me, however, so I’ll continue doing it.

This time it’s a sketch slightly in advance of her Watercolor on Location course that starts Sept 4th.  I’m signed up for it so I have access to the introductory lessons.  Liz’s sketch is somewhat more complete than mine.  Hers is also a LOT bigger than mine (mine is about 4×5).

Walking in the shoes of another artist is probably not for everyone but I find it very informative.  It makes me appreciate even more how special their art work is and I think I learn quite a lot from doing it.  Doing this also causes one to understand that you  can’t precisely walk in another artist’s shoes.  It’s more like walking in high heels if you’re an old man.  But give it a try.  You might like it.

 

 

Our New Cow

My wife is a gardener and she loves to visit garden centers.  She was doing just that a couple weeks ago and they were having a big sale.  She came home with a car full of plants and a plaster garden cow that, to me, looks like a sheep with horns.  I think it’s the stone fur that does it.  In any case, it’s cute as can be so I drew it.

Stillman & Birn Beta (8×10 softcover), Platinum Carbon Black, Platinum Plaisir

Sketching Ocimum basilicum

Today I drew our Ocimum basilicum plant.  Sweet Basil is a one of my favorite herbs.  Did you know that it’s related to mint?  And while it tastes just dandy, it’s those big, puffy leaves that cause sketchers to be drawn to it.

There’s not much to say about this sketch.  I sat on our deck and drew it.  Not a big drawing (about 4″x4″) but I did switch pens.  Instead of my fine nib fountain pens, I chose an old Hero fude pen just for a change.

 

Why Draw A Squash?

Why would anyone draw a single squash?  Because it was there, of course.  There need be no other reason.  And so it was as the squash sat on our kitchen island and I drew it.  This one was odd-looking in that while most Sunburst squashes are round, but flattened, this one was almost as high as it was round.

If I were Charlie O’Shields (Mr. Doodlewash) I’d have a charming story to tell you about how Philippe prepares squash or how his mother forced him to eat it when he was young.  I’m not nearly as talented.  I buy squash, I cook squash, I eat squash and now I can say I’ve sketched squash.  Anyway, I had fun sketching it.

 

Sketching More Stuffed Animal Nostalgia

I’m still having fun conjouring happy memories as I sketch my way through Jodie’s stuffed animal collection.  This time I was reminded of a time before Jodie was born.

If one could bottle, for sale, the energy of mothers preparing the nest for a baby we could stop burning fossil fuels.  But once the room was set up, Chantal was just getting started.  She began making clothes and stuffed animals.  Here’s one of them, a cat.  The ‘real’ one has a very complex pattern of flowers all over it but I didn’t have the patience to draw that.  I wanted to finish the sketch in my lifetime.

Flowers On The Deck

We were enjoying cheeses, a baguette and some wine while sitting on our deck last week.  It was a delightful evening, one of the evenings that we dream about during our long winters.

Eventually I got the urge to draw some of the many flowers we have all over the place, courtesy of Chantal’s green thumb.  I only had a small sketchbook with me and was too lazy to go get something larger so I just started drawing little flower drawings. Here’s a couple of them.

Piglet Gets Some Attention

When people think of Winnie the Pooh stories they think of sad-sack Eeyore, bouncy Tigger and, of course Pooh himself.  Almost forgotten is a fourth member of their tribe, Piglet.  He doesn’t have as many lines as the others but he’s still an integral part of the Winnie the Pooh mythos.

In spite of his being Pooh’s best friend, he was omitted from the first Disney rendition of Winnie the Pooh and it took A.A. Milne’s (Pooh author) protestations to get him included in subsequent films.  Piglet should get more respect than that because he tries so hard to be brave in spite of his small size.

I’m continuing to draw my daughter’s collection of stuffed animals and I really enjoy it.  I’m not sure whether this is because they’re stuffed animals (very different subject for me) or because its studio work, something I am dis-inclined to do, though I should.  In either case, drawing Piglet was a joy.  Piglet, you’re the star today.

My Daughter’s First Teddy Bear

Every collection must begin with a first and this teddy bear was the first of what would become a huge collection of stuffed animals that my daughter acquired (cuz her dad liked to buy them so much).  There’s nothing special about this teddy bear except that it was her first.  I guess that’s enough.

My Pepper Plant Sketch

In my last post I mentioned that I had to cancel a local sketching adventure because my knees weren’t cooperating and I suggested that I might sketch a pepper plant that I’d bought. That’s exactly what I did.

The weather was wonderful and I sat on our deck, got some sun, and communed with my pepper plant.  I find drawing plants to be a challenge as it’s easy to get lost in the overlapping contours of the leaves.  As I draw them they become abstracts; I’m no longer drawing a plant, but rather a whole bunch of curves relative to one another.  There’s considerable cross-checking between the curve I’m drawing and those I’ve already drawn, locating my position by comparing angles and distances constantly.

When I finish with the ink contour a decision must be made.  Do I add a bunch of cross-hatching or do I add watercolor.  Sometimes I consider the third option of leaving it just as it is – a contour drawing.  At this point I almost always choose one of the two ‘shading’ options but when I’m done I often wish I’d left the sketch as the contour.  This may be because I love pen lines so much.  Maybe it’s because I’m too impatient to do a good job with watercolor.  Here are both stages of my pepper plant sketch.  What do you think?  Which do you prefer?

DeAtramentis Document brn/blk, Fabriano Artistico CP

A Look Back Through Sketching

I’m an old man and part of being an old man is that my daughter is now a grown, confident woman who is off beating law school into submission.  I’m extremely proud of her and because of her age and maturity we now have conversations to solve the world’s problems and maybe a few of our own.  That’s pretty neat.

But there is a part of being an old man that causes me to miss the days when she would giggle as I’d bounce her on my knee or carry her on my shoulders.  Back then drawing meant scribbling with crayons and she was far better at it than me.  That was also a time when we shared a common interest in stuffed animals.  She was my excuse to buy them and she loved every one.  The result is that we now have a literal mountain of them, each with memories attached to them.

I’ve started drawing some of them because, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, it rains here all the time so I need stuff to draw indoors and I’m tired of tomatoes.  But what really drives me with this project is that as I draw these puddles of fluff and fur, memories of those early days fill me with joy.  Here’s one I did of a little poupée (doll), one of many in the collection.  For some reason she lacks a nose or mouth and I saw no reason to add them.

Stillman & Birn Alpha (4×6), DeAtramentis Document brown/black