Monday, August 31, 2015

Trivial Stuff Only Artists Worry About


I keep an illustrated journal and have for the past 47 years. I am not making that up. I started it in 1968 when I was in high school and have kept it ever since. Most of my journals have illustrations, doodles, and scribbles in them. Once I became a professional artist though, these journals got "organized" and I put sketches in them that might be preliminary drawings for larger work. Or they were "reality" drawings depicting things in my world like glassware, stacks of books, flowers, buildings, or coffee machines. The "reality" drawings had to correspond to the journal entry near it on the page. Lots of famous artists like Van Gogh or Turner used to do this, so if it was good enough for them it was certainly good enough for me.

But what happens when there's too much reality and not enough journal? Or the other way, too much journal and not enough reality? I've had that problem lately with my 2015 journal. I write in it and put my daily entry in (usually only a couple of paragraphs), and then I either forget or run out of stuff to draw in it. I had a "theme" for my journal in 2015 that it should have my industrial patterns and other complex small drawings done in brown technical pen. The winery and architectural and on-site stuff was done elsewhere. So I reserved space for the mini drawings in my journal notebook. And I didn't draw'em. There are holes in my closely written pages where these drawings are supposed to go. Grumble! I'd better do more journal drawings! But they don't correspond to any reality I was writing about. What to do? I must RE-Date these drawings so I will know when I drew them. Thus this little piece, drawn on August 31, appears over the written entry for July 18. That's reality for you, temporal and artistic dislocation in the service of an artist's vanity. 

Steel mill structure looks like a castle! "Industrial Patterns 11" is brown tech pen ink on sketchbook page, about 3.5" x 3.5", August 31, 2015.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Draw Model 1975


I thought I didn't have much formal art training but after looking back in dozens of old sketchbooks I guess I have. I did lots and lots of life drawing from models. Many of these are in pencil and the paper has faded and yellowed so this image is as good as I can get from the archives. It was a perspective challenge too since the model is sticking her hand out toward me and I see her head first. I think this is a nice drawing for student work and I wonder if I could do so well nowadays. 

Pencil on sketchbook page, about 5" x 6", 1975. 

This 1975 sketchbook also contains a copy of a letter dated April 29, 1975, by Marver Bernstein, then-president of Brandeis University, requesting that students stop occupying Pearlman Hall in a protest about, uh, something about a "transitional year program" for "minorities." As I remember, every year in springtime students would get all outraged about something, and they would do political action which involved taking over an administration building and partying a lot. Pearlman Hall was the sociology department and they would always support the student cause.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Barren Ridge


I can't resist these Blue Ridge vistas. Look at the brilliant blue of those distant hills. I could sit on this deck for hours watching clouds go by. And look at that big meadow. Not a gas station or McDonalds to be seen! Have a sip of Barren Ridge wine. Of course the place is anything but barren, there are plenty of grapevines and they are loaded with grapes right now. Harvest begins in a week or two. I enjoyed their "Red Barren" blend. This spot here is one of the finest views I've seen from any winery in Virginia. 

Brown ink and colored pencil on sketchbook page, with some wicked Photoshop enhancements, 8" x 11", August 21, 2015. Click for a larger version of this jaw-dropping view. You'll never believe what wine can do for....

Friday, August 28, 2015

August Green Hills


Early summer was very wet but after June the weather got much drier and so the trees and grass in Virginia have taken up their August colors which are mostly yellow greens. I always enjoy depicting the layers of hills in the landscape which fade into bluer and bluer shades. Atmospheric perspective is the key here; as an area gets more and more distant, there's more air between the viewer and the subject. And as with blue skies, light gets scattered among the air molecules and looks more blue rather than the actual August green of the trees. 

This is another memory drawing from Central Virginia taking atmosphere into account.

ArtStudio app on the iPad, some Photoshop re-working, August 16, 2015.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Keswick Barrels


When you taste wine at Keswick Vineyards, you get to see some of their winemaking equipment through a big window right behind the bar. I put my sketchbook down on the bar and they let me draw while standing up at the counter. Through the window I see barrels, tasting vessels (which are chemists' beakers) and big steel tanks where white wines are fermented. I could have drawn more but I ran out of time. I don't think I'll add color to this one. This means that I will need a color sketch to finish off the winery page that this goes on. I wouldn't mind going back to Keswick again, even in the winter. But it is not close enough to make it a day trip from where I am and I'd have to stay over somewhere. Wine logistics are a constant concern.

Brown tech pen on sketchbook page, 7 1/2" x 7 1/2", August 18, 2015.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Road in Central Virginia


Route 15, depicted here in north central Virginia, goes more or less north-south all the way into North Carolina. In central Virginia the terrain is not too hilly though you can see the Blue Ridge in the distance. This is a memory sketch of Route 15 on the way to Orange, where my innkeeping friends live on Poplar Hill. This part of Virginia still has open country, with no developments or strip malls except in small bunches near towns. There's so many nice things to draw or paint there, I would fill my studio with pictures of idealized rural places and buildings if I could. And then someone would have to buy them and take them off my hands. Better to do these sketches on an iPad and thus fill only hard drives with spaceless data.

"ArtStudio" app on iPad, August 16, 2015.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Land of Honah Lee


Is it "Puff the magic Flagon?" The land of Honah Lee (in Orange, Virginia) has up to now been only a vineyard, not a winery. But now the people of Honah Lee, Jackie Paper and his fami-lee, including new baby Erika, are a wine clan. The older generations are making their own wine. I visited this country idyll on the first day of my vacation week. I did these drawings outside despite brilliant sun and burning heat. Plein air art must go on in all weather conditions! Although I admit that I finished the drawings in the shelter of the tasting cabin. The medieval-ish event tent in the woods was recently put up in anticipation of parties and weddings. The phallic folded cloth shape on the pole is an umbrella which is used for outdoor wine-sipping and produce sales. Honah Lee also sells delicious locally grown fruit, and baked goods made by the grandma of the family. I got a commission to do a portrait sketch of baby Erika (from a family photograph), paid for with two bottles of Honah Lee wine, one white and one red.

Brown ink on sketchbook page with colored pencil and a bit of Photoshop, about 11" x 7", August 17, 2015.