Musings from the Moonroom

Thoughts on Art, Inspiration, Creativity and Spirit


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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

Day2.30SecondSketches

One Minute Portraits

Day2.1minutesketches

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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Watercolor Angel and Angel for Paris

The second lesson in the Angels Among Us Online Workshop was created by Stacha “The Daydreamerie” Conboy. Stacha is a watercolor artist (watercolorist?) Stacha has an easy-going demeanor and her art is simple and beautiful.

I’ve always admired artists who work in watercolor. To put it plainly, it’s a medium that can be a PIA. Watercolor has its own mind. And it will let you know just that as it meanders across your paper, flowing into areas you don’t want it to go. (Sometimes that is a happy accident. Sometimes it’s an “Oh S***” moment.)

Anyways, I was happy to give this lesson a go. I knew it would be a challenge. It took a while for some old memory yarn to kick-in. The last time I really worked with watercolors was back in high school. Eghad.

Watercolor Angel

As always, we begin with a sketch straight on the watercolor paper.

Next I worked on her wings and hair.

At this point, I wasn’t crazy about her wings. The purple was too saturated. The watercolors ran every-which-way. I just wasn’t getting the hang of using watercolor paints. This was definitely the ugly stage for me.

But I kept plugging along…

Adding color to her face. Now she was starting to come together. It was tricky painting a face on such a small scale. I admit that she does look a little shell-shocked.

From here I started to work a little quicker, adding words and paint to her torso and adding finishing touches to the wings.

7WatercolorAngel_FinishedFull

8WatercolorAngel_FinishedFaceClose

Overall, I’m mostly happy with the way this angel turned out. It was a bit frustrating not to get the hang of working with this medium until I was about half-way finished with the piece.

What I learned was the type of watercolor paper used, the format of the watercolor paints (tube or “cake”) and even the paintbrush all contribute to the quality of the painting. And practice, practice, practice.

Angel for Paris

In the aftermath of the bombings in Paris, I, like many artists, was compelled to create something as an expression of our sadness and empathy for the victims and the citizens of Paris.

The day after the attack, an image came to me while I was getting ready for the day. I picked up a small sketch book, put a rough idea on paper, and transferred it to Bristol paper a few hours later.

The piece below, “Angel for Paris,” is the final result. It incorporates Micron pen, Caran d’Arche pastels, and watercolor.

AngelForParis_1

AngelForParis_FromiPad (1)

 

 


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Friday Featured Artist: Finnabair

They say it’s nice to share. So with that in mind, I’m starting this new feature-The Friday Featured Artist-a periodic blog post on Fridays on a new-to-me-artist.

Today’s featured artist is Anna Dabrowska also known as Finnabair. She is an artist originally from Poland now living in Ireland. I love her melding of Steampunk, mixed media, and collage, and her use of color.

Check out Finnabair’s blog and portfolio here.

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