Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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Letting Loose with Expression

The fourth and final week of “Drawn to Expression” started this week. I’m still playing catch-up. I’m so inspired by Gillian’s work and challenged by several of her lessons. Which is a good thing. If it were all easy-peasy, I don’t think I’d grow much as an artist.

Expressive Animals

We spend a fair amount of time working with portraits in class. We’ve also been challenged to sketch animals. I can’t quite figure out why sketching an animal seems easier and quicker (in some cases) than human faces. Do you find it easier to sketch an animal versus a human face?

In this first sketch, we were challenged to create the bee without outlining his body. That is, use tone to create the shape. And to imply a sense of movement.

Day4.BeeSketch

Bumblebee (Charcoal, charcoal pencil, graphite powder, Conte crayon, graphite pencil)

The next animal we sketched was an owl. Here the challenge was to create the image of the owl without putting in every.little.detail. Quite a challenge when you’re used to being told to put all the attributes of the model into your drawing.

Day4.OwlSketch

Owl (Charcoal, charcoal pencil, graphite, white gesso, Conte crayon)

Then, just for an extra challenge, we were asked to draw pairs of beetles (or butterflies, or flowers) using both hands. At the same time.

Yep, a piece of charcoal in one hand. And a charcoal pencil in the other hand. Drawing at the same time. Drawing with both sides of your brain.

Talk about a brain cramp.

Keep in mind the idea here is to challenge oneself. These are not meant to be pretty pictures that end up in a gilded frame. These are exercises meant to stretch our creative brains. To loosen us up. And to make us giggle. Which is what happened here.

Day3.TwoatOnce_Beetles

Two At One Time

The pair at the top in the center look like they’re waltzing. Personally, I think they look more like smooshed frogs than beetles.

And Bold Flowers

One of my favorite exercises thus far has been sketching flowers. Some of Gillian’s approaches in helping us become more expressive is to draw fast and then slow. To create and then obliterate. It moves one away from detail and from becoming too precious with the outcome. The hard part is noticing when you are getting “too detailed” or “too precious” with your piece.

We set a timer for this assignment and turned the paper 90 degrees every few minutes. I’ve taken the same approach (turning the paper or canvas 90 degrees) when painting. It really does force you to look at your piece differently. Perhaps finding a spark that you didn’t notice before.

Landscape pose:

Day3.FlowersinVase_Landscape

Flowers (Charcoal pencil, graphite pencil, Conte crayon, soft pastel)

And portrait pose:

Day3.FlowersinVase_Portrait

Oh, not only did I turn the paper 90 degrees every few minutes. I also turned the vase of flowers each time I changed the direction of the paper. So the visual perspective was changing all the time.

I have much more to share but will end here for now. Till next time…

 


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Going Back to the Beginning

One of the early exercises in “Let’s Face It” is to look back at some of the face sketches, drawings or paintings that we created early on in our creative journey. It’s a great exercise to remind us of where we started and where we’re going. It will also help us see our progress throughout the course this year.

So I thought it might be amusing to share with you some of my early face drawings and paintings. It’s okay to laugh or cringe at some of these faces. I do the same thing when I look at them.

Turn on the Way Back Machine, Mr. Peabody

These drawings were created about 6 years ago. I was dealing with some health issues and used art to work through that process. This was my self-portrait. The question mark represented not knowing what would come next in this situation.

HowIFeel120110_edited

I hated drawing noses and almost always placed the eyes too high on the head.

Ironically, I made sculptural pieces, my Spirit Messengers and Ornimals, for several years. But many of those pieces had heads/faces that were imaginative and not all were based on humans.

Fast Forward

Now it is 2013. I’m taking a non-art related class though we are creating mandalas or other forms of expression in response to readings. Here I decided to create my first “portraits” in many years.

 

I notice how much I enjoyed creating these pieces. Not anywhere near “perfect” but it reminds me how much I like drawing and painting.

As time progresses, I stop making sculptural pieces and turn my focus to sketching, drawing and painting. I start finding sources with instruction and guidance on drawing faces. (Waaaay too many resources, in fact.)

However, that doesn’t mean lady confidence emerges and my paintings of faces magically appear on the canvas. Hardly.

In these two paintings from 2014, I found myself quite afraid to paint eyes and noses. Again. Instead of taking the risk that I might completely mess up the faces, I found it easier to give the appearance of eyes (or eyelids). That perfectionist voice inside, the one who says “You should know how to do this” appeared to win this round.

Breakthrough

Finally, in 2015, my love of drawing faces and the desire to put in the effort to improve my skill comes full circle. I buy Pam Carricker’s book, “Mixed Media Portraits. I sign up for online classes. I’m invited to participate in a sketching group.

Now the practice begins to pay off.

Where is this leading?

Even though I took art classes during all four years in high school and had a basic knowledge of how to draw a face, I found that it was easier to avoid drawing or painting a face at all costs. Perhaps it was some old memory of being told I “couldn’t” draw that kept me from creating faces. Or old lady perfection who was more worried about screwing up the facial features instead of just playing and experimenting.

What I can say is that if you also love to draw faces, then by all means, draw those faces. There are many resources out there with tips and tricks to get you started. Yes, practice is important, whether it’s every day or a few times a week.

It’s also important, I think, that you try really hard to get past the worry that the face you’re drawing won’t look like whomever. I told myself early on that I wasn’t going for perfect portraiture. I’m developing my own style and you should too. Make your face drawings whimsical. Make them caricatures. Give them green hair and purple eyes. Have fun with it.

In both the “Let’s Face It” class and “Drawn to Expression” I’m feeling better about interpreting the faces in a way that fits my style. Whatever that style is at this time. Finding a “style” or “expression” doesn’t happen overnight for most of us. It takes practice (which, for practice sake, might include copying). It takes having an open mind and a willingness to play and experiment. It’s an ongoing learning process.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Getting Sketchy. Getting Messy

Okay, well, where has the time gone? Each week I put “blog post” on my to-do list. And each week passes right by without writing an update.

With this new month of the new year, I’ve been busy with my volunteer work, which has brought with it a couple new responsibilities, and also taking two online classes. (Actually, I signed up for three online classes. But the third one is a free class, and, honestly, the two that I paid for are my priority.)

So, what are these two online classes?

The first class is called Drawn to Expression with UK artist Gillian Lee Smith. I absolutely love this class and it is getting most of my attention right now. This class is more process & technique based than product-outcome based. I love that I’m learning to use new-to-me materials, like charcoal sticks, graphite powder, Conte sticks, and pastels. And trying to become more expressive in my work.

The other class is Lets Face It with Kara Bullock and 15 other mixed media artists. Kara also lead the “Angels Among Us” online class that I took last fall. In “Lets Face It” the topic is faces. Full on face portrait, side view, 3/4, as well as portraiture with bust, hands, and even a full figure. This class runs the whole year and is chock full of information, process, technique, and final product.

Drawn to Expression: Week One

Most of the work I’ve created since the classes started has been in DoE. So that is where I’ll start.

We’re two weeks into the class but I’m still working through the first week’s lessons. Of course.

We started by sketching a household object. Something with interesting angles or curves. These early exercises are timed. The time limit keeps you from getting stuck in the details.

10 minute sketch-Household object

From here Gillian takes us through a variety of exercises to help us loosen up as we work with our materials-charcoal, charcoal pencil, graphite pencils, Conte crayon, and pastels. I haven’t practiced drawing this much since high school art class. It has been a great practice. I actually *want* to get into the studio to sketch or draw.

Portrait Practice

The first week has also included practice in sketching portraits. Or at least the “hint” of a portrait. When exercises are timed at 30 seconds, then one minute, then five minutes, an impression of a face is about all you get.

30 Second Portraits

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One Minute Portraits

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Five Minute Portraits

When I started this exercise, I stood, frozen, in front of the paper. Literally. I could feel myself stop and not know where to begin. “How the heck am I supposed to draw a face in 5 minutes?,” I thought. What about those guide-lines I’m so used to putting on the paper first? I don’t remember how to draw a face!

Well that moment took up about a minute of my allotted time. The result being the first picture in the upper left corner above. Gradually, I loosened up and was able to start making sketchy, flowing lines.

Now, I love this as a warm-up exercise or to simply practice, to get your hands moving, and get something onto the paper if I don’t have a lot of time to spend in the studio. It’s a great way to get out of your head and to not worry about details and accuracy. It’s PRACTICE. Not a finished piece for exhibit or sale.

20 Minute+ Portrait Sketches

This exercise culminates with a 20 minute or longer portrait sketch. Now you get more time to delve deeper and explore a particular area in your portrait sketch. It’s kind of a balance between having the right amount of time and too much time before you get hung up in picky little details. That is, self-editing and knowing when to stop. (Or as Flora Bowley says “Spiral in, spiral out.”)

Day2.20MinutesketchA

First 20 minute portrait sketch

In this first attempt, I was more hung up on the materials, especially the graphite powder and trying to build layers. This was created on Bristol board. The surface was a bit too smooth.

Day2.20minutesketchB

Second 20 minute portrait sketch

Now I’m getting used to the materials and also the technique. I like the highlights on his chin, nose, and under the right eye. But the darks are too dark, I think. It doesn’t feel like I’m building the layers slowly and gradually enough to give the portrait a more “mysterious” feel.

Day2.40minutesketch

40 minute portrait sketch

Okay, now I think I’m getting the hang of it. I decided to very lightly sketch in some guide lines for this face first, then added in successive layers of graphite powder. I’m learning I have to add in some darker areas, then remove some of them to get the depth.

I really like the highlight on her lower lip and on the philtrum under her nose; on the right eyelid, and around her right nostril. I also like the dark shadow under her chin at the top of her neck and the light area directly below it. She looks serious and pensive. And her face isn’t even finished. It doesn’t have to be completely finished.


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Friday Featured Artist: Hillary Waters Fayle

Today’s featured artist is Hillary Waters Fayle. Her original, creative work was brought to my attention via the site My Modern Met.

Hillary’s work is delicate, original, and organic. Through her art, Hillary explores human connection to the physical world, binding nature and the human touch. Her art is something that makes me say “How did she come up with that?” I love it when art causes you to question.

To see more cool pieces, visit Hillary’s web site here. Read the post on My Modern Met here.

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What Lifts Us. Hillary Waters Fayle

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A Hillary Waters Fayle

 

 


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Birds of a Feather

During the Angels Among Us workshop, the first 6 weeks were devoted to each guest artist teaching a new lesson each week. For the second half of the workshop, each teacher was paired with another teacher. They were asked to use each other’s lesson as inspiration to create a new lesson.

I decided to jump ahead to the week 9 bonus lesson with Brandi Dayton. Brandi’s lesson was inspired by Stacha Conboy’s week 3 lesson. In that lesson we created a watercolor angel.

Brandi’s lesson was quick and fun. A nice break from the more detailed lessons with longer videos. She enjoys birds so that was the focus of her bonus lesson. Materials used included watercolor, ink, marker, and pen.

BrandisBonusLesson_BirdsOfAFeather

Birds of a Feather

 


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Friday Featured Artist: Maria Pace Wynters

This week’s featured artist is Maria Pace Wynters. Maria is a mixed-media artist from Canada. I first saw her art on Ivy Newport’s blog, GraceandIvy.

I love Maria’s use of color in her paintings and the childlike innocence in many of her portraits. Simply yummy work here.

Check out Maria’s blog and her art here.

Happy Friday!

MariaPaceWynters_faith-trust-and-pixie-dust


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Her Name is Cherish

Next up in the Angel painting series, as part of the Angels Among Us online workshop, is “Cherish.”

This painting was created following some of the techniques provided by Deanna Strachan. Deanna was the instructor for week 6.

How did I get to week 6 when the last piece I shared was from week 2? I got bored. The beauty of falling behind in an online class is that you can choose which lessons you want to watch instead of waiting for the upcoming lesson. And since each lesson in Angels Among Us stands alone and is not built one upon the other, you can work chronologically or start wherever you like.

Anyways, I went to Pinterest for inspiration for the sketch of this angel. I found this painting by French artist Louis Treserras. I love this young woman’s face.

AngelFaceInspiration_Week6

And here is my sketch of this young woman’s face.

Week6_AngelFaceSketch

Once the background of my canvas was ready, I transferred this sketch on to the canvas. As with some of the other lessons, it seems to be popular to glue a layer of torn paper onto the canvas first and then paint on top of it. I’m still not sure if I like this technique. It can give you some interesting texture in your background. However, I’ve also had papers peel off and tear away from the canvas. So the jury is still out on this approach.

1CherishSketch_BackgroundCanvas

Face sketch transferred onto background

Oh yes. Now I remember another thing I don’t like about the torn paper backgrounds. When transferring an image, the texture from the torn papers can sometimes muck up the transfer. In this piece the lines of the sketch weren’t lining up. I had to remove as much of the original transfer as I could and then try again. Poor girl’s nose was looking a little twisted and her eyes uneven. Fortunately I knew I could correct some of this once I started painting her face.

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First layer face paint

One thing that was fun with this lesson was Deanna’s loose approach to painting. My confidence in painting faces is also improving. The combination of loose paint strokes, better paintbrushes, confidence and wet paint was a recipe for success.

3Cherish_MoreFaceDefinition

A bold lip color

When I got to this point, I thought I would give her a nice, soft lip color. You know. Angelic like lips. Hah! In Deanna’s lesson she used a magenta color with a small amount of black. I didn’t have the exact same color and ended up with a deep purple tone. I figured I could always change it to something lighter if I found it really repulsive.

I didn’t change it. The color makes a bold statement. Cherish owns those lips!

And then came the wings…

4Cherish_WingsOutlined

Now I’m not so sure about this. I think she’s looking more like a fairy than an angel. Not that there is anything wrong with fairies. But this wasn’t quite what I had in mind.

Unfortunately, my brain seemed to be hitting a wall when it came to figuring out a different way to work the wing. It took a few attempts before I finally felt satisfied with it.

5Cherish_WingsPainted

A few more tweaks here and there and then she was complete.

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Her Name Is Cherish

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Cherish

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