Monday, December 6, 2010

Drawing and more drawing!

I finished the oil pastel "Autumn Drive" and pinned it to the wall. I am not completely satisfied with it, the forground with the road just doesn't work but I can't see any alternative to it.
Winter weather has settled in: Friday, La Crosse saw its most significant snowfall to date: about 5". The new pump has arrived and is now in the watergarden keeping a hole open in the ice for the benefit of the goldfish. I also noticed that I have forgotten to remove all of the solar-powered garden lights! However the frozen ground will make them impossible to remove.
I am in the mood for more leaf drawings. This little drawing actually took much time in designing and altering from the source photograph. An evening could be spent in adjusting light/dark patterns, changing formats and moving elements around in search of the best composition. Derwent Drawing pencils on fawn gray Stonehenge paper.
Derwent tinted charcoal pencils got some use. I did this barn on laid charcoal paper and did a smaller drawing based on the same source photograph of just the silo. Old barns and charcoal seem to go together well.

This drawing of yellow leaves was my demonstration piece done at Gallery La Crosse. It is done on dark gray paper with oil-based colored pencils. I did most of it that evening but later I changed the background some.
Here is my latest work in progress: "Leaves in Gutter", Prismacolor pencils on felt gray Canson Mi Tients.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Back from latest trip! More drawings done

We came back from our trip over a week ago. I am catching up with business. The pump we ordered for use in the watergarden over the winter never came so Don cancelled the credit card charge for it. It was ordered early in October and never came and the seller never responded to inquiries. So another one, from another seller, is on order. The big pump we use during the summer (3800 gph) is much than is needed for winter use.
We went east on this trip, all the way to Hilton Head Island, SC and Savannah, GA, by way of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Asheville, NC. We toured several Civil War coastal forts (Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie in Charleston, NC and Fort Pulaski, near Savannah, GA), The Battleship North Carolina in Charleston, the Hunley exhibit in North Charleston, Tybee Island Lighthouse, Trinity Cathedral and the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, SC. The aircraft carrier Yorktown is at Charleston, but since we have already toured a similar carrier, Intrepid in NYC, skipped it.
Yes, I did managed to also tour the Asheville Art Museum and spent money in their gift shop and made the rounds of art galleries in Bluffton (near HHI) and Asheville. However, my legs are not very good and negotiating the sidewalks in downtown Asheville wasn't easy for me. While in Tennessee, we also did the arts and crafts drive just outside of Gatlingburg, TN and ate in a tea room! The food was good and met Don's approval. (He even liked the Wild Plum tea).
Another highlight was touring Biltmore house in Asheville. Though I had to walk, (the wheelchairs weren't big enough, and couldn't go everywhere) it is a fascinating place and the staffing courteous and helpful.
On the return trip we stopped at Dayton, OH for more time at the Air Force Museum. Last year we spent two and a half days there but Don still haven't seen everything. I didn't mind since the scooters there are very nice and it was an opportunity to fill up the sketchbook I was keeping on this trip. The light levels were low and made some of the displays hard to read, wish I had thought to bring a headlamp like Don did. We did this on November 11, when G. W. Bush was there. We arrived just before 2 PM and the place was filled with uniforms of all kinds, civilians in formal dress and the city police bomb squad and dogs were there just in case. Until 5 PM some areas were off limits but then the museum stayed open until 8 PM. We left at 7:30. The following day was a ten hour drive back to La Crosse.
Home, I looked over the drawing I did just before leaving on this trip and made some slight changes.
I immediately did another one similar to it but done with Derwent Drawing pencils on fawn gray Stonehenge paper.
The fall scenery in the Smoky Mountains was wonderful so I did an oil pastel based on a photo I took. Done on dark blue Colorfix paper, 18" x 18".

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Finished a drawing, another in progress

"Grapevines on Rocks" is finished and on the wall for evaluation. So far I am very pleased with it. The past few weeks have been very dry and warm here in La Crosee and I have been doing outside work getting the yard and watergarden ready for winter. The waterlily leaves have been removed, the bridge that spans the narrow part of the watergarden has been primed and repainted, some of the water hyacinths have been removed. The vegetable garden has been mostly cleared out except for the cabbages that haven't grown much and the onions that I started from seed this spring, I separated and replanted. Next year they should yield bulbs.
My latest drawing is based on photographs I took in the marsh last month. The shadows cast by this lacy leaf on the bridge deck are very interesting. And somewhat complicated to do.
"Shadow Lace", 11.5" x 18", colored pencil on primed paper. In this drawing I brushed the blue shadows with odorless paint thinned and covered with more blue to get the shadows dark enough. On the leaf I scraped out the highlights, the primed surface made this easy to do.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Summer has ended! Fall drawings in progress, the La Crosse River Marsh in flood

"Wooded Road" the last of my summer pictures is now on the wall for evaluation. All that green and yellow! Now is time for subjects with much less green in them. My next drawing is based on a photo I took during one of our driving tours in the region. There was a small dam (I can't remember where) with rocks and grapevines down stream of it. I altered the photo to make it more purple and yellow and more constrasty. For a change I did this drawing on maroon Color Fix paper, (13" x 18"). The sanded surface eats colored pencils fast but the painterly, pastel-like appearance is worth it. After all I have lots of pencils just waiting to be made into pictures. The dark shadows I brushed into the grain to make them darker. I tried using colorless blender in the highlights but it doesn't seem to work well with this surface.

I haven't been bike riding in the marsh since the heavy rains earlier in September. Yesterday I took a short ride to the north end of the marsh trails and was met by road blocks to restrict access. A bicylist came off the trail and said it was water covered in the middle of the marsh and unpassable. So I just rode my bike to the bridge over the La Crosse River. I really didn't do much riding, I was taking lots of photographs. The flooded marsh was fascinating and beautiful! And there were no mosquitos! The few photos shown here are only a fraction of what I took that day. Of interest was the three canoeists coming downstream. The lower part of the La Crosse River is popular with boaters since they can start at a convenient location up river and end up near downtown in Riverside Park.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Last of the summer drawings

Blufftop View is now pinned to the wall for evaluation. I have exaggerated the effects of the sunshine spotting the tree trunks and the shaded ground. Something to help you the viewer stand there and look out over the Mississippi River.
My latest project is also on the theme of sun-dappled woods except this scene is a Monroe County backroad. The deer far off in the distance is an add on to use as a point of interest. After this drawing, I will be working on fall-themed drawings with more reds and yellows in them. Wooded Road is 18" x 24" oil pastel on white color fix paper. As an experiment I toned the paper bright yellow. However, I found that the charcoal underdrawing is impossible to erase completely without removing the underpaint. I had to carefully lift excess charcoal with a kneaded eraser.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More progress on Blufftop View

After a few more days of hot, humid weather, it is back to cool, dry and pleasant. This summer has seen almost twice as much rain as usual. I am more able to do more work inside and out as well do more bike riding. Maybe I can lose a few more pounds before winter! This drawing of the blufftop view is coming along nicely and hope to finish it by this weekend. I have more summer drawings to do in oil pastel planned.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

New work in progress

The heat and humidity has let up and I am now feeling more active. I have been working in the backyard trimming back rose bushes, thinning strawberries, mowing the lawn and other duties. I even started another drawing.
This is a view of the Mississippi River from a Minnesota bluff top. Not a very large drawing for me, just 15" x 12". It is done with Prismacolor pencils on white bristol.
The Art Fair on the Green was a financial disappointment, I didn't sell anything! but the following week I learned that I had sold more matted marbled paper and a drawing reproduction at VIVA gallery.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I'm Back! With new drawings to show!

For over a month I have been having internet connection problems and therefore not updating this blog. I won't trouble you with all the trouble we had getting this computer connected back to the internet.
The month of July is busy for me. Next week I will be at The Artfair on the Green on the UW-La Crosse campus. Five of us are sharing a double site for the Odin Arts Cooperative. Hopefully, some of my cards and prints will sell, at least enough for my share of the entry fee.
Here are some of the drawings I have been working on for the past six weeks.
This oil pastel was inspired by the Bluff Country Studio tour we took in April. Too keep the colors cool and green, I made it a point not to use any earth colors at all. The resulting blues and greens with the pink and orange gravel road kept the effect of the cool, rainy spring day that it was.
The inspiration for this scene of a great blue heron on a fallen tree was several years old. I spotted this while bike riding through the marsh one evening. The digital camera I was using at the time was small and gave a soft image, but it was enough. This drawing was also an oil pastel.
This charcoal drawing is a radical change for me. I was adjusting a recent photo of the La Crosse River and made a gray scale copy to get a good idea of the light/dark pattern. The resulting image was so much more compelling than that in color! So this 10" x 12" drawing was done in charcoal pencils.

My latest is also based on photographs taken recently in the La Crosse River marsh. Early morning is the best time for picture taking. Because of the size (18" x 24"), the background was done with watercolor washes. No way could I get the smoothness required in colored pencil without lots of time and care.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Everything is coming up roses!

There has been great weather here lately, it's a marvel that I get anything done indoors. I finished the Oakleaves drawing and pinned it to the wall. I think some minor changes are needed.
The wonderful weather has encouraged me to bike ride through the La Crosse River Marsh several mornings for exercise and to take photographs.
I am not the only photographer out there! Among the joggers, dog walkers and bicyclists are men walking around with enormous telephoto lenses and tripods to get shots of the birds (great blue herons, white egrets, Canada geese, mallards, etc.). Here are my humble efforts taken with my Kodak Easy Share Z712 IS with its 12x optical zoom. The pictures have been cropped for better composition.

The backyard is coming along nicely. We have moved the tropical waterplants from the basement to the watergarden, brought out the garden statuary and set up the pipes for the box water features. Don still has to get the big pump set up with its large in-ground filter and attach it to other water features. Maybe this weekend. The pink, white and red rugosa roses are blooming, with the yellow ones just budding. Many other flowers, irises, dianthus, and chives are blooming. The peppermint is trying to take over the bed it shares with other plants so I have been thinning it out and making peppermint iced tea.
Last week we noticed a new visitor. A hummingbird moth! We didn't recognized it as a moth at first, it was so strange.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Finished drawing, new leaf drawing in progress

This drawing of the railroad bridge over the La Crosse River is now pinned to the wall for further evaluation. This bridge is near were the La Crosse River joins the Mississippi River and isn't used for the railroad anymore, it is now for pedestrians. In this drawing I used a brush and odorless paint thinner to smooth out and flatten some of the areas of reflections in the water. Other areas I used the colorless blender.
I have just started another leaf drawing of a cluster of young oak leaves. It is only 8" x 10" but small doesn't mean simple. There is enough going on to keep me fascinated in putting in shapes and colors.
Today was the first day this week it hasn't rained or been cloudy, windy and cool. So I have been outside catching up on gardening and picking the first radishes. Earlier this week I was matting and framing drawings.

Monday, May 3, 2010

New work in progress

We got more rain the past two weekends. Which was very much needed. The last weekend in April was the Bluff Country Studio Art Tour. We spent two days driving around Southeast Minnesota and Northeast Iowa to various artists' studios, homes and group shows. Fortunately, the rain held off most of the daylight hours since we drove around alot on gravel backroads. The scenery was great and I took lots of photos. Now we just have to drive those roads again when there is some sunshine!
This scene of the old railroad bridge over the La Crosse River is based on two photographs put together. I did further modification on the computer to make the colors brighter and more springlike. As I work the colors can be further modified. Here shown are two stages in the progress of this drawing. It is 20" x 16" on white bristol paper done with Prismacolor pencils.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Outdoor work and more drawings

The fine weather has kept me outside alot. The seeds planted at the beginning of this month have sprouted and just today I planted tomato plants and more onion sets. The tomato plants have covers made from plastic bottles to protect them, despite the fine weather, April is a bit early.
This has been a dry April so far and extra watering is needed. Today I spent several hours outside. We advertised giving away extra water lilies and other pond plants and had people over to take them away. Still have lots left over. Some even promise to call back in a month and take fish also.
This drawing is done in Derwent Drawing Pencils on gray Stonehenge paper. It is a very nice combination! The source photo is from a series I did several years ago in May. This will make the fifth drawing based on this site! I go back to look over the series of photographs and get more ideas. Which is why it is a good idea to take as many different photos as possible if you can. The pictural possibilities aren't always obvious.
The squirrel drawing is based on photographs taken at a friend's cottage last spring. This curious squirrel was checking out the activity inside. This drawing is also done on gray Stonehenge paper but with Prismacolor pencils. The Prismacolors have much brighter greens and as a rule I don't much mix the varieties of colored pencils.