Saturday, January 31, 2009

In the Back Yard

This is a flower growing on a bush in our back yard, although what kind of flower it is I have no idea. The red kind. I drew this in charcoal pencil while sitting on the ground and listening to Robyn Hitchcock.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This Machine Kills Eggs

Every time I work on a drawing of an inanimate object, I am struck by how much I have left to learn about perspective. In an effort to come up with something a little more dramatic while also forcing myself to actually look at the shapes rather than just drawing my own mental image of what the thing looks like, I laid the mixer down on a chair in front of me at an odd angle so I could draw it "upside down."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Waveland, Mississippi

I've spent the past couple of days in Waveland, MS for work. Those who have never been there may be surprised to learn that it is not a place known for its architectural splendor or natural beauty. They do have a couple of cement factories though, so I headed out on my lunch break to do some drawing in pen and ink.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Adventures in Self-Portraiture

Saturday morning I decided to take a shot at a self portrait. I've actually done a fair number of these over the years, mainly because I like drawing portraits and, while there's rarely a model around, there is usually a mirror. This is also why my sketch books tend to be full of drawings of my hand.

Here's my first attempt:

This was kind of an experiment with an ink wash that I don't think was totally successful but which was a lot of fun. I think this does actually look like me despite the fact that the eyes are totally misplaced. This is kind of a pathology of mine - an alarming number of my portraits tend to have the eyes just a bit too high. I like to think that this is something I can eventually learn to correct for, but it reared its ugly head again here.

On to the next one:

The more detail-oriented among you will notice that this is not a self-portrait. I did actually draw one in pencil that I worked on long and hard. I'm not sure how long - long enough to listen to a good chunk of Bob Dylan's "Live 1966" and the entirety of the new TV On The Radio album (which everyone should run out and buy right this instant), so probably just under two hours. It was one of those drawings that started out pretty well but had some inaccuracies in it that I didn't really notice. Then I started to develop it some more and these inaccuracies became glaring problems. So I tried to fix them or work around them, but then other things went wrong. Soon the drawing was getting really over-worked and didn't much resemble any human face, let alone my own. Anyone who wants to actually see the fruits of these labors is welcome to come over and dig through my trash.

At that point I was feeling a little frustrated, so I started doodling the toy bull that we keep in our bathroom (every bathroom should have a toy bull). I knocked this out in about 10 minutes and, looking back at it, I think it's a much better drawing than the portrait I labored over for two hours. Sometimes the quick ones end up being the best, although I do wish I had set up the composition so there was room for the hooves.

Finally, I decided to try one more self portrait, this time in pencil:

I'm pretty happy with how this one came out although, for reasons I can't quite put my finger on, it doesn't really look like me. Maybe something with the chin? Maybe the nose is too long? At least there aren't any elements that are so freakishly misplaced that it couldn't possibly be the face of a living human being.

So, to sum up, my efforts to draw a self portrait resulted in one ink drawing that has lots of mistakes but was still fun to work on, one failure that had to be thrown away, one pencil drawing that I'm happy with even if it doesn't really look like me, and one bull. If I had to translate these results into a batting average I think I'd be hitting about .225 and worrying about being sent down to the minors, which may be why I always preferred drawing to baseball.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Canal Street, New Orleans

Another adventure in pen and ink with an ink wash. I'm still getting a handle on the materials, but I think I'm starting to feel more comfortable. While I would like to tighten up my ink drawings a bit, I'm slowly getting used to the idea that I can sketch with ink in much the same way I can with a pencil, that re-statements and wandering lines are not such a bad thing. I've been especially inspired lately by the wonderful drawings that Marc Taro Holmes and Stephen Gardner have posted on their blogs.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Me vs. Caravaggio, Round 1

I've been sick for a few days so, not being able to get out and about, I decided to set up the easel in our living room and try my hand at Caravaggio's "Saint Jerome Writing" in brown conte. Astute theologians and art historians will notice that I left out the skull because... well, no good reason, it just didn't seem to fit in my drawing. It was fun to sit down and actually spend a few hours on a drawing in a way that I really haven't been able to on some of the things I've drawn from life recently. I think I also developed a new appreciation for what a monumentally bad-ass painter Caravaggio really was.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Howe Gelb

I've been listening to the band Giant Sand a lot lately, especially while I draw, so I felt inclined to do a portrait of their singer/songwriter/mastermind/mad genius Howe Gelb. It seems worth noting that I was listening to "Slush" - the wonderful album that he recorded with Lisa Germano under the name OP8 - while I was working on this. I've also found the Giant Sand albums Chore of Enchantment" and "Provisions" to be an excellent soundtrack to life in New Orleans.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Aftermath of a rainy night

My wife and I went out last night and got caught in a huge rain storm. The storm was no fun, but at least we got to savor the feeling of coming home, peeling off our wet clothes, and getting warm and dry. Here, in ink/ink wash, is the remains of our soaked clothing drying off on the rack in our bathroom.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

It's a heron. No, wait... an egret? Well, it's a bird anyway.

Pencil drawing from a photo that I took in Audubon park a couple of months ago. These birds are all over in Louisiana, but I can't remember if they're egrets or herons. Or cranes? Whatever they are, they're fun to watch and even more fun to draw.

An interesting (or interesting to me, anyway) side note here - I had a hell of a time making a digital image of this. I started out with the scanner, but the light from the scanner reflected off the pencil in a really weird way and totally destroyed any subtle effect I managed to pull off. Then I got out the digital camera and tried it a million different ways with different lights, angles, and camera settings. In the end I think this photo came out OK, but it still seems a little dark. Maybe I should just stick to ink and charcoal drawings since they are easier to run through the scanner.