Sadly, the pretty Mustang that’s been sitting in our driveway is headed to California tomorrow. Matt organized a pickup, and while it’s been fun having it here, I can’t really drive it much due to mechanical and legal worries. It really deserves to be out of the rain and in the warm dry sunshine of Southern California. So off it will go to automotive Valhalla to make someone very happy.
I’ve been fooling around with some illustration during my downtime, and the more I work on it the more I want to try out some methods I’ve seen online using an iPad Pro. Before I spend a shit ton of money, I’d like to test drive the process. It turns out my favorite lens rental company also rents iPads, and for about $120 I can try one out for a week to see if I like it. The idea of being able to do scratchboard-like work with an Undo button and have it go right to vector artwork is super-appealing, and the ability to change brushes and sizes on the fly is even more interesting. So when I get paid next week, I’m going to give this a try.
Digging around in the idiotking archives I found some now outdated links to the timelapses I shot painting the house in 2004; I found the original picture sequence, built a new timelapse file, and put it up on YouTube:
This is what I consider to be the best rendering of a cat, ever.
Another good night at figure drawing class. We had male models this time, although one appeared to be a post-op transsexual (there were no dangly bits there, but hey, I’m not judging) so the body forms were different. The long-pose model I’ve had before, and he’s a tall gangly dude with skinny stick legs which never look right once they’re committed to paper, so I was happy with the short-pose model.
This mixed-media paper I bought is total shit for working with wet medium, so I switched to bristol and had better luck. Now, to see if I can get bristol in 11×14 sizes or larger.
And, after about ten years of attending these sessions (and seeing many of the same people over that period of time), I’m finally breaking out of my misanthropic shell and interacting with other folks in the class. Wow! Progress.
Last night went well, even though I tried out a new paper which didn’t lend itself well to brush and ink. On the plus side, the model was very good and the lighting was perfect, so my overall output made me happy.
I thought I’d try a Canson 90 lb. paper, looking for something heavier to resist buckling and (presumably) stay wet longer in order to work with ink, but instead it tends to dry out immediately, and the tooth sucks in ink without giving it back-much quicker than the thinner sketch paper I was using. As a result, I had to really think about what I was doing before I started using water, which was good and bad—good because it made me think, bad because I started overthinking. The two sketches above were both 10 minute poses, which seemed to be the right amount of time to work before I started adding too much.
This sketch was done on bristol, which behaves much better with water and ink, and was 20 minutes long. I need to find bristol wire-bound in a larger format (11″ x 14″ seems to be the ideal size).
I had an excellent night at figure drawing last night. It was one of those evenings where the first sketches I did went smoothly, got into a real groove early on, and was able to stay out of my own head enough to keep the flow going. I made an effort to block out areas of light and dark, and then transferred that to brush and ink, staying with a total of three values as a maximum.
I think my efforts over the last few sessions were getting too fussy and additive, where much of my skill in draftsmanship tends to be subtractive (choosing what not to include vs. adding every little thing), so going back to washes of a medium value highlighted with black details really works well.
One of the things I’ve been struggling with for years has been accurate drafting of facial features. I tend to use my mental library of what a face should look like, based on familiar shapes and lines I’ve used for years, vs. what I actually see in front of me (hence, getting out of my own head). I made an effort to slow down and pay attention to what I was seeing, and let that come through to the page. I had mixed results, but a few drawings were promising, and that’s my next hurdle.
I’m toying with the idea of bringing color next time. Which makes me nervous.
I tried out some new paper this evening. It’s a Bristol cold press, so it stands up to water better than sketch paper, and I found that it dries a little slower. The problem is that I’m overworking just about everything I sketch out, which means it just looks sloppy and fussy when I’m done with the brush. I look back at the first two weeks with ink, and every brushstroke is economical and assured. I’m not sure what to do.
Not as much luck at the studio this week. I’ve been fighting with the medium enough that any finished piece doesn’t look finished; I’ve overworked areas or haven’t been able to pull things together into a cohesive whole. I definitely need to find some paper that’s in between sketchbook weight and “watercolor” paper weight where it won’t dry immediately or stay wet for an hour so that I can stay ahead of it. I’d like to start working with colors during the next studio, so trying to iron out this issue will be the goal for the remainder of the fall session.
After a skip week last week where I was only one of two people who showed up for a class that never happened, I was back at figure drawing last night. Only one model showed up, and she’s someone I’ve drawn about ten times over the last ten years (plus two weeks ago) so there’s not much challenge as far as subject matter. I’m still working out the brush technique, and I haven’t done any research on paper yet, so I stuck mainly to the sketchbook and got a few decent poses out of the evening.
Meanwhile, my 8-year-old iPod is sick; any attempt to use a playlist results in a crash and shutdown. I put a new battery in it about two years ago but it’s not registering a full charge. I haven’t done any troubleshooting yet to determine causes, but I hope I don’t have to retire it.
My Smashing Pumpkin Ale kit is in, but I think I’m going to go all the way and brew it with real pumpkin (instead of pumpkin spice), which also means I have to run out and pick up some extra grains to boil it with before the extract goes in. I’m going to shoot for this weekend to get it going (first, I’ve got to bottle the IPA in the basement).
Working with actual watercolor paper had its own set of challenges. With only 20 minutes to work on each pose, I would up having about 10-12 minutes to actually use the brush; the thick tooth of the paper took a long time to dry, so I had to be very specific with which areas I was going to use washes and then add detail.
I think I need to find a paper somewhere in between sketch weight and true watercolor weight.