Sunday, April 28, 2013

Alleyway in April

oil on board 6"x7"

I've drawn and painted this same house and alley several times, and feel a little guilty returning to the same subject. I do find it so charming, though. Here are some of my other versions of the same scene from the past:

October Morning oil on paper 2012

A Small World Lay Spread Before Me pen and ink wash 2013

Alley in Perkasie oil on board 2008

The last one is from a few year's back. It's so small- 3.4"x3.75"! I'm glad to be painting a little larger these days...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Checking Angles

Pencil is a great medium for those times when the weather is changeable but I still want to work outside. I can concentrate on line rather than light and shadow, and still plan out compositions for later paintings.

When I teach drawing, I like to devote one entire class to drawing boxes in perspective. I get a real kick out of seeing everyone improve their observational skills simply by holding a pencil up vertically or horizontally to check angles, and trusting what they see. Drawing houses is not any harder than drawing boxes. You get the first one right, and the others will follow.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cold Spring Morning with Hesitating Trees

pen and ink wash 5.75"x7.5"

So far spring in Pennsylvania has been quite cold, which seems to be the reason most of the trees are still bare. They are hesitating for a while before they decide to bud. 

It's so satisfying to spend a morning on a pen and ink wash drawing. The technique allows me to get into a fair amount of detail in just a few hours, but encourages spontaneity. It also forces me to make peace with accidents (meaning big fat ink drips). 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Above the Roof-peaks of the Town

Pen and Ink Wash 6"x 7.25"
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My title comes from a Howard Nemerov poem that I've always loved, "The View from an Attic Window". Here is the first stanza:
Among the high-branching, leafless boughs
Above the roof-peaks of the town,
Snowflakes unnumberably come down.
There is a line that comes further along in the poem that used to really get to me, and still does- even though my cynical older self finds it a trifle overwrought:
I cried because life is hopeless and beautiful. 
I'm still in my re-learning phase of working with pen and ink wash. I've been using 300 lb hot-press (smooth) watercolor paper, and it seems like my pen nibs keep picking up bits of the thickish soft paper, and then get clogged. These pen and ink drawings are therefore mainly wash drawings, without much line. I may switch to regular drawing paper for a while and see what happens- probably lots of buckling from the wash, but at least my lines will flow.