I successfully completed 31 drawings for Inktober 2017! They were made in the Sketchbook Project sketchbook that I will be submitting to the Brooklyn Art Library for 2018. The highlight of my Inktober, was on Halloweeen when the Mütter Museum reposted my Inktober sketch of conjoined twins that are on display at the Mütter Museum. My Inktober sketches are mostly cartoons of robots, aliens, and skeletons, with a few other things thrown in there. I used a dip pen with Liquitex Ink! muted colors for several sketches, but I fell back on my old standby, the brush pen, for most of the drawings. As this was quite a challenge, this was my Create-A-thon activity for the entire month. Here are all 31 sketches.
This week in Create-A-Thon 2017 - Urban Sketching. I have, in the past few weeks, been carefully putting together an urban sketching bag with essential supplies that I might want to use without carrying too much. I've found a light weight stool and had thoughtfully chosen which sketchbooks I wanted to carry. I have been a member of two Urban Sketching Facebook groups for a little while and I finally got up the nerve to join in on a meet up for each of them this past weekend.
On Saturday, I joined Harrisburg Sketchers at Fort Hunter Park along the Susquehanna River for a beautiful autumn morning of sketching. After completing two sketches, I introduced myself to a few of the other sketchers and enjoyed a couple of conversations about sketching, art materials and looking at sketchbooks.
On Sunday, Isaac joined me to meet up with Urban Sketchers Baltimore in Fells Point. Isaac had intended to work en plein air in oil, but was unable to find a suitable subject. I was able to meet a fellow sketcher in person that I had communicated with on Instagram. After completing a couple of sketches, I talked to some of the other sketchers, but was not able to stay to have lunch due to a prior commitment. I was excited that Urban Sketchers Global later reposted my favorite sketch of the day on their Instagram account.
It was a great weekend to get outdoors and try Urban Sketching, and meet new people. I'm looking forward to future events with both groups in the coming months. I think I might sketch outdoors on my lunch break until the weather starts getting colder.
7 Paintings in 7 Days - Create-A-Thon 2017 update. Though I haven't been specifically focusing on one creative activity for a weeklong period at a time recently I have been making lots of sketches, taking lots of Instax photos and thinking about other creative ideas.
This past week, I decided to paint 7 paintings in 7 days - 5 x 7 size mostly, with acrylics, using my own photographs as reference. Brenda and I also spent one day at Rehoboth Beach and painted outside at Cape Henlopen State Park. I really enjoy painting landscapes, and want to work toward painting them in an impressionistic style. I like painting outdoors and would love to be able to do that more often, but it's just not possible with my current daily commute. Some evenings, it was hard to pick up the brush to get started, but I think that painting daily is the way to improve, no matter whether you feel like painting or not.
I think that I would like to expand on this activity and try painting daily for 30 days, not necessarily creating 30 paintings, but that could be my goal. The key would be to work in a small size, such as 5x7, or 5x5. I also have some miniature canvases, that could be fun too.
Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils - A brand new 48 color set that I received for my birthday. I used these to render in full color two alien sketches that I had originally drawn in my Sketchbook Summer sketchbook. For one of the drawings I also used Nicole Dual Tip Design Markers from A.C. Moore that I have in my collection. I used the markers as a base layer, blending the colors and then adding another layer of blended Prismacolor Colored Pencils. I created this drawing in a Strathmore Visual Journal with watercolor paper.
For the second drawing, I used just the Prismacolor Colored Pencils on a Canson recycled bristol paper pad.
Next up - Apple Pencil vs. woodcase pencil.
Brandon Dayton threw out a challenge on his YouTube channel, which I subscribe to, for the month of July 2017 called Sketchbook Summer. The challenge was to fill and entire 8 1/2" x 11" hardbound 110 page sketchbook (which is 220 pages when filling both sides of the page) with sketches. I initially attempted to do this while also working on the World Watercolor Month Challenge for July 2017 of painting in watercolor everyday.
I was able to get to day 14 of both challenges, when I simply could not keep up with the demand of working on both of them, so I put aside the watercolor challenge and concentrated on filling my sketchbook. I did finish the Sketchbook Summer challenge on July 31st, that is to say that I managed to put something down on every page of the sketchbook. It was difficult to think of things to draw everyday, and I did take a day off here or there when I was simply too exhausted to sketch after working a full day and an almost three hour commute. There were other days where I could unleash my creativity and go all badass on the sketchbook and burn through pages, and other days were a real struggle. This forced me to think of ideas, no matter how bad, and put them down on the page. As a result, I now have some good starting points for other sketches and drawings that I want to explore and create in a more finished form.
I may go back and ink in some of the drawings or maybe just redraw them and ink them on other paper. This has prepared me for once again taking up the Inktober Challenge in October, coming up in a couple of months. I will use my 2018 Sketchbook Project Sketchbook for the daily challenge of drawing in ink and trying several techniques. I may also have an overall subject or theme for the project.
Next up in Create-A-Thon 2017, a yearlong creativity project, I will be using Prismacolor Colored Pencils with Premieré Dual Tip Design Markers to create finished drawings from Sketchbook Summer sketches.
Create-A-Thon 2017 summer update - Over June and July this summer, I took an Outdoor Sketchbook class at the Adams County Arts Council in Gettysburg. For this class, I broke out a new sketchbook and sketched in pencil almost daily for four weeks. I averaged about 1 - 2, ten minute sketches each day trying to capture the essence of the outdoor object I was trying to draw. Mostly trees and flowers, with a few urban objects thrown in.
This is very different from the way I normally sketch, usually drawing in brush pen, marker, or watercolor, mostly from my imagination, creating cartoon characters or making repetitive patterns. I learned some very good drawing exercises for sketching from nature using a light pencil technique - something that I definitely needed to work on.
Another activity this summer has been attending my son Isaac's Portrait Drawing class on Thursday nights at Waldo's in Gettysburg. This class is also venturing out from my drawing comfort zone, though I have frequently gone to figure drawing sessions. When making figure studies, I usually focus on trying to capture the essence of the pose rather than a detailed portrait study. I want to draw something quickly, unable to focus on a subject intensely for a long period of time. This class gives me the opportunity to study the face and learn a thing or two from my son!
And lastly, I'm in the middle of another drawing challenge while also trying to complete World Watercolor Month. I'm participating in Sketchbook Summer, for the month of July where I'm working on filling up an entire 8 1/2" x 11" 110 page sketchbook (on both sides of the page). This has been challenging, trying to fill up an average of 7-8 pages each day to keep pace with completing the sketchbook by the end of July.
Over the past few months, I've been taking a break from traditional film photography, and focusing on instant photography, specifically Fuji Instax film. I'm in the middle of 26 instax packs - a six month Instax Mini film project. I'm shooting on different Instax Mini Films including themed Instax Mini Film character frames that I've bought from ebay. I use different cameras in my collection, mostly the Lomo'Instant Automat and a Diana F+ with Lomography Instant Back.
Stay tuned for upcoming Create-A-Thon art techniques that I will be trying in the coming weeks.
Week 23 - Derwent Inktense Pencils, which are much like watercolor pencils in how they work, but after activating them with water, the colors become permanent. Other mediums can be used with them to create interesting effects.
I thought I would try to make a few cloud studies using Inktense pencils but the finished effect is not how I thought it would turn out. I found the pencils didn't quite blend the way I anticipated, thinking they would be more like watercolor. It was more like I was trying to color the clouds, and I think a different style of drawing would have been better. I do like the pencil texture showing through in the washes after adding water, I think this effect might be better suited to a different subject.
I then made a drawing of foliage with photo reference from Flickr, but I found it difficult to get the vibrant effect I was expecting. I think that it may have been the paper I was using, which was a Stillman and Birn pocket Beta Series sketchbook. Other water media seems to work well with this sketchbook though. The colors appeared more vibrant on the Strathmore Visual Art Journal that I used for the cloud drawings and an onion still life I made from photo reference found on Flickr.
After making the first couple of sketches, and not being happy with the way they turned out, I looked for ways other artists were using the pencils and tried a different technique with the onion drawing. I like this style of drawing with the pencils and I think they might work well with another of the techniques that I use - mixed media drawings with watercolor and Derwent Aquatone pencils.
I will, for now, put them aside and maybe revisit them in the future for other drawings or journal entries when I start working on a memorial art journal for my mother over the winter and for the 2018 Sketchbook Project, that I'll be starting soon.
Next up in Create-A-Thon, a year long creative exploration - Ballpoint Pen Scribble Art Technique.
Week 20 - Experimenting with ink using an inexpensive bamboo pen, a stick, and ink wash with fountain pen details. I picked up a two pack of the bamboo pens at Hobby Lobby, and the stick from our backyard.
I was inspired to get out the bamboo pens after seeing a video from one of my subscribed channels on YouTube. I used photos of Egyptian Art that I had taken at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore for sketching ideas. I found drawing with the bamboo pen allowed for some variation in the lines and sometimes distributed blobs of ink that were unpredictable, but I like the results. I especially liked the Liquitex Muted Inks with these pens. I have four of the five colors in the line - violet, turquoise, green and pink. I may pick up the last color, gray, at some point.
My niece is studying to be a graphic designer and she showed me one of her college projects made with stick and ink, so I thought I would try that out. Drawing with the stick was even more unpredictable than the bamboo pen and it was easy to make loose, random strokes with it. I held it high away toward the end of the stick, allowing for a less controlled line, the effect is very sketchy. I also liked the Liquitex Muted Inks better with the stick.
I only tried one wash and ink line drawing, the last of the day. This exercise was described in the book, Art Before Breakfast, by Danny Gregory, a great book filled with creative ways to get you drawing more. I like the results with this as well, and may experiment with that technique using different colors of ink.
Next up in Create-A-Thon 2017, a year long creative exploration - Derwent Inktense Pencils.
Week 19 - Trying out Yupo Paper. Brenda bought me two sizes of Yupo paper pads for my birthday and I finally got around to trying it out this week. I had used a sheet of it earlier with Winsor and Newton Pigment Markers and I liked the results with that.
I didn't get to experiment with Yupo much during the week but spent all day in my studio with it on Saturday. The surface of the paper is a matte surface with a dull sheen, not slippery or shiny like you would think a plastic synthetic paper would be. The surface is waterproof, so waterbased mediums do not absorb into the paper, but instead the water evaporates and leaves just the pigment.
I tried Yupo with my Winsor and Newton artist quality watercolors, non-waterproof Higgins black ink, and Marabu Mixed Media art spray. Since the mediums don't absorb into the paper, they can be wiped away before or after drying to create interesting effects. I played around with the different mediums, creating several abstract pieces. I also tried a floral painting of plants in a pot. It was very therapeutic and relaxing to spend hours in my studio experimenting. I'm not entirely sure I like any of the pieces that I created, but there is room for more experimentation.
Next up in Create-A-Thon 2017, a year long creative exploration - drawing with Bamboo pen, stick and ink, and loose ink wash with pen detail.
Week 17 - Digital Collage on iPad Pro 12.9" with Apple Pencil. My resources for these collages were my photographs that were digitally altered with Snapseed, Diptic, and Photoshop Mix using my iPad and iPhone. My clipped art resources were from several collections of permission free and copyright free vintage anatomy and clip art.
I prepared the clipped art files by isolating the images in photoshop on the desktop and then saving the files as png so that I could import them already clipped into Procreate on my iPad Pro. The files were saved to a cloud account where I can access them as needed on my iPad. It was very easy then to manipulate and combine the files into a digital collage. Procreate has some very nice brushes to allow for adding effects like the blood splatters and drips in the image above, titled "Three Heads in a Field." The background for that image was a photo from the landscape at Gettysburg, then edited in Snapseed and Photoshop Mix. The background photo was then mirrored in Diptic to create a surrealistic background to this haunting image of three anatomy heads floating above a field.
For "Marburg Skull," I combined a skull photo that I shot in Washington D.C. with another of my favorite things, tentacles, to create what I imagine is beneath Lake Marburg at Codorus State Park, which covers the old town of Marburg.
In "Heart of the Universe" I combined a vintage anatomical illustration of a human heart with a galaxy background that I had created in Procreate last year. I also added other vintage art and brush effects like the water waves brush to complete the piece.
Last night I worked on another, "Fish Filet" where I combined a background photo that I had shot out at Codorus State Park earlier in the week with vintage art illustrations from The Clip Art Book. The background was edited in Diptic, Photoshop Mix, and Snapseed, and the clipped art was colored with the Apple Pencil to create another surrealistic composition.
I really enjoyed working with this digital collage process and will continue to work on it this week when I'm not out painting en plein air with Brenda. Look for an upcoming post on Plein Air Painting coming up in the next few days.