Legion: Stonehenge Oil, A New Painting Surface

I’ve been on a quest, some might say a fools errand, to adapt oil paint to a sketching environment.  I’ve talked a bit about this in previous posts but today I want to talk about a new product that could help me towards that goal.

It’s Legion Paper’s new Stonehenge Oil.    It’s a paper that resists oil penetrationand looks just like watercolor paper.  lts surface texture is very similar to their Stonehenge drawing paper that many of us know for its’ wonderful abilities to handle graphite and colored pencils.  This makes it ideal for doing a sketch prior to painting.  I find it hard to draw on a canvas-textured surface, particularly when working in sketch-size formats.

It’s sold in standard 20×30 sheets and, rumor has it, will also be available in smaller sizes either as pads or sheets.  Anyways, Legion was nice enough to send me a couple 28×21.5cm sample sheets so I could experiment with it as an oil paint sketching medium.  I’ll report back “real soon”  as it looks like an ideal surface for draw->paint work.

From Sketching To Pencil Portraiture

For nearly a decade I put fountain pen to paper as a wanna-be sketcher.  I would post sketches here and profess to “just draw stuff.”  Mine was a simple approach to art to the point where I questioned whether it was art at all.  I just drew stuff.

Pandemic lockdowns got me reading a lot about art and I came to the realization that I did, in fact, “just draw stuff” and that there was a world of art that I did not know.  I decided I needed to do what everyone says and “get out of my comfort zone.”

I first tried gouache and I liked it, though I was frustrated by light hues drying darker and the dark hues drying lighter.  It was too much for my feeble mind, which was trying to figure out light and shade, values, etc.

So I started painting with oils.  I like those a lot and continue to pursue them, though I’m still very much a sketcher type and so I’m trying to figure out how to create a lightweight, portable oil painting set up.  I have learned a lot about color and values by this part of my journey.

I also realized during the pandemic that I had “skipped a step” by starting to draw with a fountain pen.  I never learned how to use a pencil.  So I’ve started drawing more often with pencil, trying to figure out how to shade properly with them.  This has helped me improve my pen and ink hatching as well.

My current adventure is the next step with pencil, I guess.  Pencil portraiture is slow work.  When you lack the skills it can be frustrating work too.  But it’s also VERY meditative because the work goes slowly, deliberately from vague contours and spots toward something that looks like something.

Here’s my something, a portrait of the head of this statue.  I talked about it and the museum website that allowed me to see it back in April.  I’m not sure I’ve got the patience to do this kind of art and I’m certain that I quit working on this portrait too soon.  Nevertheless, I feel I learned a lot in the process and will do another.

 

 

Sketching Is For The Birds

It was only five days ago that I reported that we hadn’t had high temps above 10C yet.  Times change.  For the next three days we’re going to experience temps around 30C, which is kinda-sorta abnormal for us.  We generally get a couple days like that in mid-summer but certainly not in May.  But I’m not complaining.  I went sketching.

Another bit of news that’s relevant to this post is that I just got a hearing aid.  It’s not a fancy programmable one but it has allowed me to discover a lot of sounds I haven’t heard in a long time.

I stopped at a park bench and decided to try to draw/paint directly with a brush.  I’ve been learning how to handle brushes and Marc Holmes’ 30 in 30days (direct to watercolor) event is coming up next month and I want to try it. I didn’t bring my watercolors but I had a waterbrush with some diluted ink and so I did this simple drawing.  Look ma, no lines.  I include it here only for the sake of completeness.

I was walking along my river and the first thing I experienced was birds singing.  I love birds and spend a considerable amount feeding them every year.  But I haven’t heard them in decades.  Well, I can hear crows, but none of the songbirds.  Anyways, the trees along my river had birds, chirping birds.  And so my first act wasn’t to sketch but to lay down in the grass, close my eyes, and just listen.  It was wonderful.  I spent half an hour doing only that.

But I did want to sketch and so I sat up, noticed a line of trees and started sketching.  The “scene” wasn’t that great so I added my own mountains and came up with this sketch.

It was time to walk so I headed up river and eventually came across some rocks to sketch.  These sit, among others, at the end of a new walk bridge the city built last year.  I’ll have to sketch that soon but for this day these rocks were just the thing.  Color got added when I got home.

It was sooooo good to get out sketching.  Maybe I’ll do it again tomorrow (grin).

Frustrated By Bad Paper Choices

I’m still working myself back into a sketching rhythm and that has meant a lot of spur of the moment decisions and results.  And so it went during the saga I am about to tell.

I’ve been doing a lot of my sketching on cheap paper, mostly card stock and copy paper as I try to get my eye back into shape.  Lots of sheets of ellipses, circles, cubes and spheres as well as sketches of anything in front of me.  That’s working great, lots of fun, and these sketcher calistenics me to get back in shape.  I feel like a baseball player, trying to get his “timing” back.  I know how, but something just isn’t quite right yet.

Anyhow, here’s a couple sketches that didn’t find their way into the garbage can.  The first came while I wandered around Pinterest.  I’m a long-standing train nut and I often ask myself why I don’t draw more of them.

Here’s one, which started as a quick sketch of the nose of a diesel engine I remember from my youth.  I did it on card stock and when I decided to turn it into a color sketch I got the msgs that watercolor provides when it hits paper without sizing.  Everything here is dull, somehow muddy, and I couldn’t add a lot of fine detail.  It’s about 4×6 and done with pencil.

On another day I drew this young girl.  Seems these days I’ve got a thing for little girls looking around corners.  This one was done on photocopy paper and I decided not to bother trying to do watercolor.  This, too, was done with a pencil.

 

 

I’ve just cut up some Fabriano Artistico sheets to provide me with some loose sketching paper.  That should solve this problem (grin).

 

Life Drawing And Sketching With Friends

I’m getting behind in my blogging to I’ve combined a couple things here.  We’re still in pre-spring here, with lots of rain and we have only rarely gotten to a temp of 10C.  Still, sketching season is upon us and it’s been wonderful so far.

It’s also been a bit weird.  I find myself distracted from sketching by a need to reconnect, to catch up, with friends.  And so it was when I went out to Miriam Blair’s house on the Ile D’Orleans with Yvan to sketch.  It was so good to be there, with fellow sketchers, that I had a hard time taking the actual sketching very seriously.  We sat around a table sketching because it was cold and rainy outdoors and much of the activity was done with mouths and ears, not with our pens and pencils.

I drew these pears, first as a pencil drawing but later with some color added.  Then I spied a Ball jar in the window that had something growing from it.  It was too far away to tell what it was (later found to be geranium starts) but I started sketching it anyway.  I find it both hard and easy to draw things I can’t really see.  Hard because it’s difficult to make out the objects being drawn but easy because it’s easy not to be distracted by details when you can’t see them (grin).

This week I had my first opportunity to do actual “life drawing.”  Most of my drawing is done from observation but being able to draw someone while they posed is, somehow special.  But the danse school put on such an event and I attended.  Dancers would do short poses and I would frantically try to scribble down their form.  In spite of a bad headache, I had a lot of fun.  Wish they’d do it every week.

Anyway, here’s three of the pages I did.  Note that I have no “technique.”  I drew on photocopy paper and drew on top of previous poses.  That’s something I will do differently if I ever get another chance as it sometimes became confusing. I worked with a colored pencil and then a plain old 0.7mm mechanical pencil.  Very basic.