Here are the latest chair sketches in the ongoing social distancing saga. As I wrote to Laureen, one of the loyal followers of my blog, I will probably hereafter be referred to as “the CHAIR-man of the BORED”. The chairs provide a theme to keep me drawing in the sketchbook . I’ve been using a Platinum Carbon Pen, Micron 03 Pen and watercolor in a 5 1/2″ x 8″ Strathmore mixed media Visual Journal.
The subjects of the two latest drawings are very different from each other. The first is of my “computer/office” chair which, in its over designed padding, reminds me of an inflated ancient fertility goddess on a multi-pronged pedestal. It was tricky to draw because it doesn’t look like a real chair but rather a nightmare of some furniture designer’s warped judgement.
The other drawing brings us back to the “homey” feeling of chair reality. It is of a small rocking chair that I bought years ago as a piece of unfinished wood furniture. I painted it in a couple of tones of neutral green trying to bring out the scrollwork spindles. You will notice that the “rocking” runners that should be at the bottom are missing. They broke off a long time ago but we kept the chair anyway because it had “character”.
I had such a good time with yesterday’s drawing/painting experiment that I wanted to try to apply the same technique (painting first and then drawing over with ink) in a more compositional drawing. Looking out of our front window, that composition was just waiting for me.
The view is looking southeast towards the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the “stars” of the scene are the changing Tamarack trees (American Larch). These trees are deciduous conifers. They are like pines and firs in that they grow seed cones but they differ by loosing their needles in the fall. Before the needles come down they turn a brilliant yellow orange and provide some of the last warm color before the onset of winter.
Anyone who follows my work knows that I have a penchant for detail and an annoying habit of trying to get everything I see in front of me into the drawing I’m working on. I also tend to make a “project” of drawing or painting and often fail to even get started with it by making too much of it. With this, I was trying to get away from a fussy, over-detailed style. Yesterday’s drawing inspired me to “loosen up”, work quickly and just put in the essentials of the scene.
I started with the brush and directly painted all of the elements of the composition very quickly, trees, hills, foreground and sky. This was done in about 8-10 minutes. When the painting was dry, I used a #3 micron pen to draw over the color (another 5-10 minutes). I added a bit more color (some of the purples to contrast with the yellow of the trees) and some final touches of pen work and that was it. In aiming for simplicity, I was able to use the brush to paint the middle ground and distant mountains almost as calligraphy, as symbols rather than realistically. That was a very freeing experience for me. I hope to do more like this.
There is an old ramshackle house down our road that we pass by often. I’ve wanted to do a drawing of it for some time and finally did one. Because of various circumstances (uncertain weather, time constraints, etc.) I had to do it in stages. It occurred to me that if I photographed the drawing in each of the various stages, it might make an interesting addition to the blog. One of the aspects of art that I’m interested in is the idea of “process”. Most people who are not involved in the creative process look at an artwork, whether a quick sketch or a masterful painting and only see the finished product. They are not aware of the “process” of how it came to be. The idea is to show at least part of that process through several stages so that getting to the end result can be better understood. For this drawing I started with a light pencil drawing of the composition which I went over with ink. Then gradually added areas of watercolor eventually adding more detail both with brushwork and pen drawing. I hope you find this of interest. Let me know if you have comments or questions.
This week I stayed with pastels (chunky charcoals and Nupastels) for life drawing. However, there was a new element to the session; our model, who had posed for us some time ago and only for a couple of sessions. She provided very natural and some quite animated poses that were inspiring to draw. Although we are fortunate to have several excellent models to work with regularly, it was a challenge and an inspiration to have this new model to work with.
This week I decided to go back to pastels for the Danville Life Drawing Group session. The materials that I use for these drawings usually consist of the following items. Dick Blick sells a very versatile paper (Blick White Sulphite Drawing Paper) in various sizes and weights that is quite reasonably priced when purchased in quantity. I use the 18″ x 24″ size. For the drawings, I normally start with Chunky Charcoals by Cretacolor. They are quite large, 5/8″ (16 mm) thick, and 3-3/8″ (86 mm) long, and I usually break the sticks in half to work with them. They are available in eleven subdued colors. What’s really nice about these sticks is that they can be used either on end to make line drawings or using the long side for broad tonal marks. I will often additionally use NuPastel sticks (available in many more colors than the Chunky Charcoals) to enhance the colors of the final drawing.
It’s been a while since I posted drawings of Vermont. In looking at my past drawings of various Vermont towns, I realized that one of my favorite barn drawings, from Johnson, had not been posted on the site yet. There’s also a newer drawing from Chester that was done very quickly (45 minutes) just a few weeks ago. It’s often the case that the backs of buildings are more interesting for drawing than the front facades so I went around to the rear of a few varied structures on Main Street in Chester and came up with this grouping. I thought the two drawings, old and new, would make an interesting pairing. Both are done with pen and ink and watercolor in 5″ x 8″ Pentalic Aqua Journals.
This week at life drawing in Danville, I decided to use ballpoint pen again. There is something about the way it feels somewhere between using an ink pen and using a pencil that keeps bringing me back to it. When I want to concentrate on really “drawing” the figure and not being preoccupied with color, it seems to be my medium of choice. It looks and feels like an ink drawing but the ballpoint and its oily ink allows for a much greater variety of tones than a nib pen or a drafting type of pen (micron). It all has to do with the amount of pressure I use (lighter pressure, lighter tone). I was using a standard ballpoint pen, in this case a giveaway pen from Manoir Hovey (a wonderful Inn in Quebec) but any ballpoint seems to work well as long as it doesn’t leak and leave splotches.
Our final days in Provence were spent at the spacious and beautiful B & B called Le Mas D’Hermès in the village of Plan D’Orgon. There aren’t enough superlatives to properly describe this wonderful place to stay. The charming stone farmhouse dates to the 1890’s and has been lovingly and comfortably refurbished with three rooms for guests. The grounds are spacious and have an abundance of varied trees and gardens. The provided breakfasts are always varied and plentiful with homemade baked goods and fresh local fruits.
Emmanuelle’s baked goods
wide selection of rolls and breads
Ellen & Jeff enjoying a bountiful breakfast
But the most important attribute is the supremely gracious hostess and owner, Emmanuelle Housseau. She not only speaks fluent English but goes to extremes to make her guests feel at home and to provide any needed assistance. We came as strangers and left feeling like family. On our last day, we just stayed on the premises and enjoyed the surroundings and hospitality. I was able to do two drawings while we were there and, in thanks for her hospitality, I gave one of them to Emmanuelle.
Shari Blaukopf’s sketching workshop was over but before leaving the Hotel du Poète in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, I did a quick 20 minute sketch in the hotel’s beautiful grounds complete with deck chairs and exotic plants.
We later met up with relatives from Germany who would join us for several more days in Provence. After spending the afternoon in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, we drove down to Le Mas D’Hermès, a wonderful farm B & B in the town of Plan d’Orgon, south of Avignon. The stone farm house was built in the 1890’s and has been beautifully converted to a three-room B & B. More on this great B & B later…
Le Mas D’Hermès
Le Mas D’Hermès B & B
Le Mas D’Hermès B & B
Le Mas D’Hermès B & B
View from our room’s window
The next day we travelled to the picturesque village of Venasque with it’s charming narrow passageways and ancient church dating back to the 11th century. It was a very hot day and the town is less well known so we had it practically to ourselves.
The village of Venasque
11th Century Romanesque Church
Passageway in Venasque
After a light lunch at Le Petit Chose overlooking the valley, we meandered through the village and I found a good subject for drawing.
On the sixth and last day of Shari Blaukopf’s sketching workshop, we worked in the center of the village of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. Shari did another inspiring demo sketch of the village and we students spent the morning doing our own compositions of the complex subject. There is a gigantic plane tree in the center of the village that shades the buildings that surround it. I used that as the central part of my drawing. At Shari’s suggestion to challenge ourselves and do something that we didn’t normally do, I included several people in the composition. As we worked, we could hear the river as it flowed through the village. It is an amazingly picturesque spot and all of us kept remarking that it seemed too perfect to be real. Here are the preliminary pencil drawing and the finished pen and ink drawing with watercolor.
Finished Watercolor drawing
In the afternoon, back at the hotel, Shari and a few others including myself did drawings of a decorative arrangement of water cans that were gathered at the base of another monumental plane tree. It was fun to do a quick and loosely handled sketch after the complexity of the morning drawing.
drawing of water cans
Watering cans at Hotel du Poète
Before dinner, we had a little exhibition of the week’s drawings for all of us to enjoy. In the evening the workshop participants shared a final dinner together at the wonderful Restaurant Philip located right on the edge of the river. The meal was amazing and the emotions of the group added to the memorable experience as we shared thoughts about the past week’s events.
Shari looking at the students’ work for the week
1st course at Philip
2nd course at Philip
Entrée at Philip
Dessert Baba au Rhum
Workshop group picture
The workshop was ended but not our stay in Provence. Stay tuned for more from Le Mas D’Hermès in the village of Plan D’Orgon…