Drawing inspiration

You’ve heard the recommendation to draw studies from the work of folks who inspire you, to get a sense for their craft, right? I’d add that it also helps you appreciate their work on an entirely different level. Take these sketches I did from Rembrandt the other day. I love the intense darks and smoky sepia tones in his work, but it took sketching from him to realize just how subtle and mischievous the facial expressions of his subjects are. For anyone who’s painted or drawn from a live model, you’ll realize what a challenge this is–over very long sitting periods both artist and model tend to settle into a grim and rigid expression. The number of quick sketches he did for these must have been extensive.

Rembrandt sketches

The look of bemusement on the man in the gorget’s face–I’m imagining that this is a ridiculous outfit even for the wealthy of 17th century Holland. Or the sly and considering look of the woman in the door, her wedding ring just peeking over the top of her blouse. You can really see why his work is so enduring.

Beastly

A sketchbook spread using the idea of ‘beauty and the beast’ as a stepping off point.

Beauty and the Beast

I’m working on a number of things that can’t really be shared until the projects launch, so this is all I have to show for myself at the moment. Enjoy?
(You can click it for a full view, since my blog’s format wasn’t wide enough for it. Any suggestions for stock wordpress themes that are more accommodating to art?)

(Oh, and it’s ebony pencil in a moleskine sketchbook, for anyone curious)

The freelance mindset

One of the dangers of setting your own schedule: it’s really easy to allow weeks to slip by without noticing. I’ve been pretty loose with scheduling lately, as a follow-up to a contract that had me pretty rigidly locked in for a few weeks, and it has not done good things for my timeliness.

For one, I forgot to blog a mention about my guest post over at Inkpunks, which outlines some basics of website design (applicable even to lazy folks like me who rely upon blogs and premade themes to do the bulk of our work).

Today Evan’s guest post went live on Inkpunks, in which he talks about his struggles in finding a comfortable space he can feel creative in, even in cramped living situations.

And this past weekend, my little brother graduated from JMU! In an outdoor stadium, in the pouring rain! Congrats Warren! I’m so proud of you. I hope your celebratory 3 day, 50-mile canoe and camping trip in the pouring rain still manages to be extremely enjoyable despite everything.

And just for fun, something new from my sketchbook:

Wizard + cat

Happy agenda management, everyone!

Oh look what I found

I was cleaning my desk cubbies yesterday, and found these.

Dragon and BirdsMoth monster

The moth creature I remember abandoning, because I realized that I’d accidentally used water-soluble walnut ink on a piece I’d intended to watercolor. The dragon I remember drawing (it was around the same time as this piece), but I can’t for the life of me recall why I put it down.

Artist secret: we give up on a lot of things. Though now that I’ve found these, who knows. I might clean them up and use them for digital coloring practice.

In other news, I recently revived my Dribbble account. If you’re a member, be sure to drop by and say hello! I need more folks to follow.

 

Outdoor drawing days

Spring, waiting just around the corner all winter long, has truly sprung on us here in the Mid-Atlantic. We’ve had highs above 70°F for most of the week which — while troubling in what it might mean for the coming summer — makes for good outdoor sketching weather.

So here… some sketches!

Bald cardinal

This poor be-mited chap's been getting progressively more pathetic looking every time he visits our feeder. He's doing good otherwise, though. Has a mate, is king cardinal of the territory. Just... has a tonsure.

Bird dragon

I've been noodling around with this image for weeks now, playing with colored pencil shading and blending techniques.

Seal person

Was considering possible mermaid types while sitting and watching Evan fix the weather stripping on his old volvo. Doodled this in the process.

If you’d like more art, go take a peek at my website. I just updated it. :)

Rest up

Is what the orthodontic surgeon told me to do. But since it’s never so hard to take it easy as when you’ve been commanded to do it, well… here are those ink sketches I posted yesterday. But colored.

Llama deer person... in color!Cheshire Cinnamon, coloredNow I’m going to go lie down, because the painkillers are making me dizzy and tired. But I’ll probably make more art tomorrow.

Toothless

I’m supposed to be taking it easy today. I had all four of my wisdom teeth pulled yesterday. And while it wasn’t as terrifying an experience as I’d expected, I’m still in a fair bit of pain and a little out of it from the high dosages of vicodin I’m taking every 4-6 hours. But of course being told you’re supposed to relax makes it all the harder, so instead I’ve been knocking about online and doing minor design work for most of the day.

But then I remembered this blog, and the fact that I hadn’t posted any art on here since my trips to the museum. I recently, on Eric Orchard’s recommendation, acquired a new pen nib to replace the several I utterly destroyed while making these pieces. So far it’s held up really well, and on top of that it’s been producing just the sorts of lines I’ve really been wanting from my pens anyway. Here’s my first stream-of-consciousness ink test with it:

Llama Deer personAnd at the same time, I went and found my initial ink test for my lovely tachikawa sepia fountain pen (which I also destroyed, and had to order a new one of). It was sketched back when Cinnamonopteryx had been living with us for just a few days, and still needed to be babysat in our room or else he’d start crying. So, rather influenced by him:

The Cheshire CinnamonI plan on painting both of these at some point soon.

Oh, and if you happen to be on Google+, I’ve been fairly active on there lately. Find me!

Visiting the museum

One of the things I’m extremely privileged in, living so close to Washington DC, is free access to some of the best museums in the world. I don’t take advantage of this nearly enough, so last week I spent two days in a row trying to rectify that. Day one, the Museum of Natural History (my favorite museum, I admit it), and day two the National Gallery’s West Building (the old stuff). I brought a sketchbook* and a pencil, and spent at least four or five hours each day just wandering between exhibits and sketching things. Well, sketching things that were conveniently secluded and maybe near a bench… The museums get really crowded in the summer, it’s difficult to draw otherwise…

Beside bones, the Natural History Museum has tons of taxidermy animals. Visitors often talk about these animals with their kids as if they’re alive, at the zoo. I overheard a lot of these conversations… Kids asking what the animals were doing, or insisting that the okapi was either a zebra or a giraffe (??), or adults claiming that they could take that bear on. It was interesting, too, the sort of people who’d stop and talk to me. In the Natural History Museum it was almost exclusively kids, and one teenager, who’d want to shyly complement me, or ask me questions about my technique. In the National Gallery, it was exclusively older men, also wanting either to complement me or nervously ask if it was ok for them to photograph whatever painting I was sketching from at the time. Interesting, and I’m curious to see whether my experience is much different when tourist season’ over.

I took notes on the name of what I was sketching from, but my handwriting is atrocious. If you’re having trouble reading it, let me know and I’ll transcribe.

Page 1The rest after the cut!

Continue reading

Inky fingers

First of all, I finally set up a new Flickr account! Since I couldn’t get back into my old one… If you’re a flickr user, find and contact me! :)

This post is going to be a bit of a sketchdump. I’ve been working on that inky, chunky linework a little more, and made two more pieces with that in mind:

Inky self portrait

Inky self portrait

Ahhh… I’m having flashbacks to highschool. Self portraits. Well, it does look like me: angry. Though maybe older? The ink was acrylic, but despite that it still smeared when I put down water: too much ink. Also, that weird thorny thing and flower up front? To hide smudge marks where my inky hand landed on the page…

The short way homeHad a *lot* of fun with that leave mold. Not so sure about my idea of using blue ink (or on the general design of that creature, or the girl…) Also, something this complex needs to be a tad bigger than 4 x 6″.

Moleskine frontispiece

Moleskine frontispiece

I always like putting *something* on those first blank pages. Those are Jack O’Lantern mushrooms. The ink I used on the left didn’t like moleskine paper much, though. Soaked in as if I’d put it on a sponge. Trying Dr. Ph Martin’s Bombay black next time.