Friday Figures: A Few Small Gestures

Stretched across the page, resting. Pencil on Rives BFK 11" x 15". 6 minute pose.

Stretched across the page, resting. Pencil on Rives BFK 11″ x 15″. 6 minute pose, I think. It’s all a blur.

Did these drawings using only a single strong light on a stand. Room lights shut off, blinds closed, drawing in semi-darkness. You can really see the figure that way. A single light source, simplicity itself. Every pose starkly beautiful.

Stretched across the page, looking up, one knee raised. Pencil on Rives BFK 11" x 15". This, I think, was a 3 minute pose.

Stretched across the page, looking up, one knee raised. Pencil on Rives BFK 11″ x 15″. This, I think, was a 3 minute pose.

I’m thinking about trying a few oil sketches based on the drawings.

On side, back view, one hand under her head. Pencil on Rives BFK 11" x 15". Another 3 minute pose.

On side, back view, one hand under her head. Black nail polish helped pinpoint the fingertips in the drawing. Pencil on Rives BFK 11″ x 15″. Another 3 minute pose.

I have a bunch more of these from the same session, but it’s time to go sit out on the porch with Ant Man and a glass of wine and enjoy the end of the day. I’ll keep scanning and posting. Something to look forward to.

Resting on crossed arms against the seat of an orange armchair. Not that you'd know if I hadn't mentioned it. Pencil on Rives BFK 11" x 15", 6 minute pose.

Resting on crossed arms against the seat of an orange armchair. Not that you’d know it. Pencil on Rives BFK 11″ x 15″, 6 minute pose.

Happy Friday.

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A Solid Afternoon of Life Drawing

Drawings from today's session with my favorite model. After I get them scanned I'll post them individually. Two hours of three and six minute poses. Nineteen drawings, fourteen keepers. All 11" x 15" on Rives BFK paper. Awesome day. More tomorrow.

Drawings from today’s session with my favorite model. After they’re scanned they’ll be posted individually. Two happy hours of 3 and 6 minute poses. 19 drawings, 14 of them keepers. All 11″ x 15″. Those are the stats. Graphite on Rives BFK paper. A very good day. Tune in tomorrow.

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Wood Stork Colony, 16th Hole

The course at Spring Island features sand traps, water hazards and wood storks. The 16th hole includes the rookery. Pastel on sanded paper, 14" x 12". Demo for the advanced pastel class, Spring Island.

The course at Spring Island features sand traps, water hazards and wood storks. See those tiny white dots in the trees? The 16th hole includes the rookery. Pastel on sanded paper, 14″ x 12″. Demo for the advanced pastel class, Spring Island, South Carolina.

I’m not a golfer, but some of my best friends are. Spring Island has a top-notch course, designed by Arnold Palmer, who, I hear, comes back to play from time to time. The greens are hemmed by pines, palms and marshlands. Alligators love the water hazards, and so do wading birds. The 16th hole is colonized by wood storks. Golfers come through here, too, and they’re interesting to watch, but the storks have them beat by a birdie.

A wood stork sits back on its heels on the groomed fairway. The storks like to hang on the grass and will clumsily get to their feet and stalk off when golfers arrive. Pencil on paper.

A wood stork relaxes. Pencil on paper.

Triangular bills pushed leafy branches ahead of great black-and-white wing canopies on the glide-path down to their bulky stick nests. They preened, tussled, slept, copulated, and pushed each other off perches. Egrets and anhingas snagged smaller spaces between to build their stick nests. They gabbled and croaked and copulated, too.

Intimate moment between two wood storks atop the nest, gently pressed together, one shading the other and giving her (?) a little shoulder massage. Pencil on paper.

Intimate moment between two wood storks atop the nest, gently pressed together, one shading the other and giving her (?) a little shoulder massage. Pencil on paper.

It’s our last morning in South Carolina. We’re off to Savannah for the day, then flying back to Oklahoma. Sorry to leave, glad to have been here, hoping to come back soon.

Happy Friday.

Wednesday afternoon at Little Neck Crossing, where the palm tree meets the pines. Spring Island, SC. Plein air pastel, 14" x 12".

Wednesday afternoon at Little Neck Crossing, where the palm tree meets the pines. Spring Island, SC. Plein air pastel, 14″ x 12″.

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I Prefer The Alligators

Charming spot on Spring Island this morning. Set up and went at it with pastels. I love the palmettos and palms along the marshlands here in the Low Country, as they call it. Tried to capture the scene. The sun came out and warmed the light and the sand underfoot. Suddenly, I began feeling hot stings all up and down my lower legs...Pastel on sanded paper,

A view of palms at Callawassie Creek, Spring Island, South Carolina- with the marsh at high tide. Pastel on sanded paper, 12″ x 15″.

There's a bushel-basket-sized fire ant mound in the foreground, and I was inattentive enough to stand next to it for a few hours, until the sun got the colony activated and scouts run up the sides of my boots, over the battlements and down into the inner soles, where they scooted up under my tucked-in pants legs and got my shins well- populated. before striking en masse. There was much hopping and slapping and cursing and boot knocking, then quick breaking down of art setup and packing away and leaving. I sent Antman a message, which he turned into a poem: "They crawled up my boots and down inside. Then started their evil siege."

This fire ant mound was a few feet from my easel and nearly the size of a bushel-basket. Didn’t notice it, and painted happily until the warm sun woke the colony and sent scouts afield for breakfast. They reached my feet, ran up the sides of my rubber boots and  invaded my socks, where they found bare flesh and struck. Later, I sent Antman a message, which he turned into a poem: “They crawled up my boots
and down inside.
Then started their evil siege.”

 

Posted in Adventure!, Animals, Art, Artists, bad poetry, Diversions, entomology, Environment, landscapes, natural history, Nature, painting, Pastel, plein air, Stupid Critter Tricks | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Postcard from Spring Island, SC

Tidal Creek, right before the water ran out. A yellow crowned night heron landed on the fallen drift log in the foreground and I tried to paint it in but this picture is way too tiny for more than a heron-shaped dot. Bald eagles and red tailed hawks soared overhead, an osprey plunged in right behind me and came up with a fat perch, and two alligators floated like innocent dead logs nearby. Pastel on sanded paper, 5" x 12".

Tidal Creek, right before the water ran out. A yellow crowned night heron landed on the fallen drift log in the foreground and I tried to paint it in but it basically turned out as a heron-shaped dot. Bald eagles and red tailed hawks soared overhead, an osprey plunged in right behind me and came up with a fat perch, and two alligators floated like innocent dead logs nearby. Spring Island, South Carolina, where I am this very moment, sitting in a twig chair on a screened porch and listening to crickets and night herons squawking in the dark. Pastel on sanded paper, 5″ x 12″.

The tide went out like someone pulled the plug. The yellow crowned night heron walked over the mudflats and peered into the little channel, looking for stranded critters, or maybe a fiddler crab. Spring Island, South Carolina. Pastel on sanded paper, measurements approximately 14" x 12"

The tide went out like someone pulled the plug, and by turning slightly to the right I caught this version of the same marsh. The yellow crowned night heron stalked across the mudflats to peer into the little channel, looking for a stranded flounder or maybe a fiddler crab. Spring Island, South Carolina. This week and next I’m teaching pastel classes in this beautiful place. This is pastel on sanded paper, measurements approximately 14″ x 12″

The tide poured back into the marsh before the sun went down. This is at a spot called Palmetto Point. Very flat. The muddy bottom was dry when I started and when I finished, the water was up to the treeline. Not because I paint that slow, but just because the water comes in really, really fast. Pastel on sanded paper, approximately 14" x 12".

The tide poured back into the marsh before the sun went down. This is at a spot called Palmetto Point. Very flat. The muddy bottom was dry when I started and when I finished, the water was up to the treeline. Not because I paint that slow, but just because the water came in really, really fast. Pastel on sanded paper, approximately 14″ x 12″.

Happy Friday!

Posted in Art, Nature, Pastel, plein air painting | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Speed Drawing with a Model

Red spike heels and a black beret and strong light and three minutes. 6B pencil on Rives BFK paper, 11" x 15"

Red heels and black beret and strong light and three minutes. 6B pencil on Rives BFK paper, 11″ x 15″

I recently hired a model for a gesture-drawing session. It was the first time I’d ever done such a thing, and it made me feel like a grown-up artist: in control, entitled to set the lighting, the poses, even the music.

6B pencil on Rives BFK, 11" x 15"

6B pencil on Rives BFK, 11″ x 15″

Artists are notoriously childlike. Anyone who draws the figure should hire a model at least once, just to know, briefly, how maturity must feel. So, I hired a wonderful model, and invited a few friends who also love to draw gestures. We crammed into my Main Street studio one warm afternoon a couple of weeks ago.

6B pencil on Rives BFK 11" x 15"

6B pencil on Rives BFK 11″ x 15″

I’ve drawn this model before; she projects impish charisma and can strike- and hold- dynamic poses, one after the other. I asked her to bring a few accessories for fun. For the first hour, she wore red high-heeled pumps and a black beret.

Almost casual, stretched out with one foot kicked back. 6B pencil on Rives BFK 11" x 15"

Stretched out with one foot kicked back. 6B pencil on Rives BFK 11″ x 15″

A wool rug and orange chair served as the model stand. A dark green bedspread draped the wall for a backdrop. A single lamp cast light from an angle, making shadows. Each pose lasted three or five minutes, long enough to catch essential movement. It became a dance: model, chair, paper, pencils, light.

Just three minutes; only enough time to get the gist. 6B pencil on Rives BFK 11" x 15"

Just three minutes; only enough time to get the gist. 6B pencil on Rives BFK 11″ x 15″

Sometimes, when you work fast, you tap into something unconscious- something almost biological. You draw like blazes and crackle with adrenalin. After nine or ten speed drawings, you might even hit that coveted state of “flow”. When you do, keep up the pace. And try to get out of your own way.

I was going so fast I didn't notice that I was drawing on the back side of the paper, and the watermark was in the image. There's a backward "S" between her eyes. 6B pencil on Rives BFK 11" x 15"

I managed to draw this one on the back side of the paper. Note the watermark between her eyes. I wish I could say it was deliberate. 6B pencil on Rives BFK 11″ x 15″

Happy Friday.

Posted in Art, Art Studio, Artists, figure drawing, life drawing, models | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Field Day Friday

Relaxed rodeo bull chews cud in fresh spring Oklahoma pasture. I drove down random country roads today, looking for nice things to paint. This sweet scene presented itself and I pulled off the road to sketch it. It's also a great way to meet ranchers. Who were friendly and welcoming when they learned I was only there to sketch. Watercolor over pencil, 10" x 8" Strathmore 400 Series Field Drawing sketchbook.

Relaxed rodeo bull chews cud in a fresh Oklahoma pasture. Watercolor over pencil, 9″ x 12″” Strathmore 400 Series Field Drawing spiral bound book.

I drove down country roads and looked for nice things to paint today. It’s been a bright pink and green kind of spring day, with redbuds in explosive bloom and floaty scrims of chartreuse across the gray windbreaks. The grass looked juicy. A herd of hump-shouldered cattle cropped away on foot, or rested on their chests and elbows, processing cud.

A sweetly bovid scene, and I parked two tires on the road’s thin shoulder to sketch it, thus learning what a great way this is to meet ranchers. They rolled up out of nowhere, one after the other, driving extended-cab trucks and inquiring who I might be. But they were kind and welcoming once they saw I was a small female artist, strictly there to sketch. Not even my paper was rustling.

That’s a joke.

Here's something along similar lines- a muskox with her baby flanked against the wind. It's from a life sketch made at the Copenhagen Zoo this fall, and I'm happy to say it's been selected for the show, Art of the Animal Kingdom XX at the Bennington Center for the Arts. Oil on Arches primed paper, 15" x 11". Titled, "Ice Age".

Here’s something along similar lines-“Ice Age”; a muskox mother protects her baby from that cold Scandinavian wind in the lee of a warm flank. It started out as a sketch at the Copenhagen Zoo this fall and ended up in oil on paper. I’m proud to announce that it’s been selected for “Art of the Animal Kingdom XX” at Vermont’s Bennington Center For The Arts. Oil on Arches primed paper, 15″ x 11″.

What is it about hoofed beasts and spring? I’ll chew that one over and get back to you.

Happy Friday.

Posted in Adventure!, Animals, Art, Cattle, Copenhagen, Cowboys, Drawing, Oklahoma, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments