Thursday, July 31, 2008

Non Rational

Recently I've been looking at a lot of early to mid-20th century modernist architecture. This is the kind that was inspired by Le Corbusier to build pristine white box structures with big rectangular windows. These things are still being built today. They are supposed to be built along rational principles, for intelligent human beings who have gone beyond primitive stupidity, irrational beliefs, and the need to ornament their living quarters. 
My latest Dodson doodle is a take on one of these rectilinear modernist plans, but it kinda got out of hand. It's boxy and unornamented, but you can't find your way in. And if you somehow get in, you can't find your way out. It's perfectly rational though.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dodson Algorithms

These two are from my next set of "Dodson doodles," creative experiments from the "Drawing with Imagination" book. This time I am assigned to do each doodle following an "algorithm" or set of instructions which I keep consistent for that particular drawing. The book asks for quite a few of these so I will "publish" only the better ones.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Classical Art School Effort

You're supposed to do drawings like this in a "classical" art school, so I did one. I may or may not have pastel to draw with, but it's a lot less messy in Photoshop. I imported the shaded pencil drawing into the program and then did the coloring there. 

My mother is an artist and she goes to lots of life drawing sessions. She has been doing this kind of drawing in pastel for more than thirty years and after all that time she has thousands of them piled up in her studio. All I have is a notebook and a few megabytes.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Last 2 of first Dodson set

Here are the last 2 of my 6 "Dodson Doodles," made for the "Drawing with Imagination" challenge book. Mathematics, but no flowers in the last picture. Somehow these two have a sort of "fifties moderne" look. Now on to the next artistic mini-adventure.

4 Standing Poses

I find standing poses the hardest to draw. You have to get the weight distribution on the legs just right. I replicate this "sketchy shading" style from some thirty-year-old life drawings that I found in old sketchbooks. Those old drawings weren't too bad. 

Saturday, July 26, 2008

More Dodson Doodles

Two more "Dodson Doodles" from the creativity book "assignment" where you draw one continuous line until it meets back at the beginning, and then you color it in. The theme continues to be "Mathematical Flowers." Kids' markers on paper.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Global Tax

It was a splendid summer day, and I got to draw outside right in the middle of Falls Church. This is a building I've admired for years. It's an old private house which has been re-built for offices, rather than just torn down. One of the businesses in this place is "Global Tax," which I guess prepares taxes for the many international types who live around here. 
In this ink drawing colorized in Photoshop I'm trying to imitate the style of Swedish Christina Jonsson, whose site I have linked to on this Weblog.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Creativity Experiments

I got a book called "Keys to Drawing with Imagination" by Bert Dodson. You might think that a professional artist wouldn't need a book aimed at amateurs, but professionals need inspiration too. And I'm often too wrapped up in conservative realism in my art. So I have decided to work through Dodson's book, as well as continuing to draw my figures. The first exercises in the book are "doodles and noodles," where you draw a bunch of shapes without taking your pen off the paper. Then you color them in or add patterns to the shapes you've made. I am using the multicolored marker "crayons" which are for kids but will do fine for my doodles, as long as I keep the drawings in the sketchbook out of the light, and scan them to digital for posterity.
Dodson asks for six doodles. Here are my first two. The theme that has emerged is "flowers and mathematics." You can tell that I've been looking at a lot of Art Deco lately.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Smudgeless Virtual Charcoal

Here's another shaded figure drawing, done directly into Photoshop from a CD image on the screen. No paper, no messy charcoal, no smudgey fingers. The technological wizardry simulates it all. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Architect Hero

Ayn Rand, much-reviled by anyone who reads, is considered at best a "philosophical" novelist or more often, a loopy right-wing ranter who formed her own cult. I am a longtime Rand fan and ignore the politics, the philosophy, and Rand's own skeevy personal life. What Rand is, for me, is a fantasy writer. She is brilliant in her creation of what I would call "Randworld." She created an Art Deco-styled world of socialites, industrialists, and hilarious satirical characters. Towering over it like Art Deco sculptures are her heroes, such as the guy above. Strong men, dazzling women, meant for the stylized lines of Randworld. Only in Randworld ("The Fountainhead") could a heroic architect design a building in someone else's name under a private contract, and when he finds the contract betrayed and the building's design altered and desecrated, single-handedly blow the place up. And even more, only in Randworld could this heroic architect defend himself with a long philosophical speech, and be acquitted. Can you imagine what his future clients will say to him? "Hey Roark, we'd love to hire you, but if we have to change something on your building, are you gonna blow it up?" 

I depict Roark as the architectural hero of Randworld: dedicated, ruthlessly creative and pure, hard-edged, tall, and rugged, and colorized in Photoshop.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Shading Nude

I added more shading to tonight's figure drawing. It's as if this were one of the "long poses" the model does in art class, when you have more time to work. This is sort of a classic "art model" pose anyway, but perhaps not one that she would take for more than a few minutes. Working with photos takes away the time element that constrains live models. Even a thirty-second action pose is frozen forever by the camera. 

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Vineyard View

Last night I was too tired and failed to place a daily post, so today you get two. This Saturday I went on a drive through the wine and horse country of North-west Virginia. Whenever possible I stopped to photograph the lovely green countryside, with buildings and animals. I did this drawing at a vineyard, the Philip Carter Winery, while sitting at a table on their patio. I enjoyed a wine-tasting there, too.

Panera People

Bagels, coffee, and a sketch.
Some digital white-out has been applied. The subjects were fidgety.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Pointing and Standing Man

I'm glad I'm not in art school where I have to listen to the professor telling me my drawings suck. These aren't too bad. The one on the upper right is done in a thicker pencil which I will be experimenting with. I will also try to do some of these figure drawings in color.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Temple of the Human Spirit

In Rand's "Fountainhead," the hero architect designs a "Temple of the Human Spirit" for what turns out to be a fraudulent client. The ideal was to build a place of reverence which had nothing to do with any religion, and which celebrated human greatness and exaltation. Inside, on a central pedestal, was the statue of the woman standing at rapt attention, which I have been working on in previous posts.
In the book, the Temple is destroyed by vicious intellectuals and the hateful public. I decided to design it myself, in a virtual world where even fictional hate cannot reach it. 

I am not an architect though I am constantly thinking about and drawing buildings of any sort. The obvious reference point for the Temple's architecture is Frank Lloyd Wright, who is the model (though he denied it) for Rand's hero. 

The central part of this structure is the large high temple space with the statue in it. The two wings on either side would be a small concert/lecture hall, a library, and some meeting and study rooms. I'm not entirely satisfied with this design because of the rather monotonous lineup of windows in the two wings, but this is only a sketch.

In conceiving this Temple I realized that people would use it for events like (secular) weddings or other gatherings, rather than just sitting quietly in front of the image of perfection. But I also realized that (unlike the hateful crowd Rand wrote about) many people would come to think of the exalted female as a Goddess, and might lay flowers or devotional objects at her sculpted feet. Rand would never approve of that.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Standing and Crumpled Man

These guys look a bit better drawn. The top two are different views of the same pose. The one on the bottom is lying there with his legs in an odd scissors-kick position, and I got the foreshortened view. 
In the old "atelier" system of classical drawing, I would be doing these drawings for years before the Master would allow me to work on any kind of "official" finished work, let alone anything "creative." I'll keep doing them anyway.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Looking Upwards

He's not that well drawn, and his head is out of proportion, but I made the drawing nevertheless. He has a rather apprehensive look on his face, as if he fears that the sky will fall on him. Don't worry, it's only a helicopter.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Dominique Statue Sketch

I'm still working on re-creating Ayn Rand's "Temple of the Human Spirit." This is a very quick sketch that I did in Photoshop showing the pedestal and the goddess-like statue of Dominique. This version is the one where I had her with one foot in front of the other, as if she were walking or about to dance. But I think that a solid, feet-apart frontal stance was what Rand was probably thinking of. Stay tuned.
Reading Rand always makes me full of ideas and yearning for the "heroic" and "greatness" in my art. I don't care how ridiculous this makes me sound.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Dominique standing

I'm still trying to come up with a reasonable design for Dominique's statue in the Temple of the Human Spirit. In the book D. is described with the figure of a fashion model, long and thin and angular, but that is hard to make into a statue without making it look like a clothes dummy in a display. I made her more muscular and athletic looking. This page has some attempts at a standing pose. The pose is described in the book as being tautly at "attention," straight and vertical, with her head up and her hands down palm forward at her sides. But this violates the figure-drawing standard that figures must never be stiff or straight. I like putting one foot somewhat back, rather than having her stand as if she were stuck in a bottle. I imagine that the final statue would have some Deco stylization as well. 

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Draw a Guy

I think I'll draw some males. Male models for life classes, at least when I was regularly attending them, are difficult to find. The picture books not only feature decent-looking, well-posed men, but they have the same pose from different views.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Art in the Park

Thursday evening, July 10th, I was the featured artist at a bluegrass concert in Cherry Hill Park, in the center of Falls Church, VA, my current home town. I sat under a canopy with a helpful friend, with my prints set out on a couple of folding tables. I drew these concert-goers during moments when there were no people at my display. I didn't sell anything, but it was perfect weather and a very nice time. The canopy depicted above wasn't mine, it was the ice cream stand next to mine.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


My figure drawing for today symbolizes my aspiration to draw well and become a successful artist. It also symbolizes my desire to do "great things" and not be just a drudge. In my younger days, and in school, you were never supposed to voice sentiments like these, because they were "vulgar" and "naive." And figures were not supposed to "act" or be a symbol for anything, which would be considered an embarrassing throwback to the moralizing narrative or allegorical art of the 19th century. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Space Music CD Cover

The geometric abstractions that I do in acrylic or markers can also be done digitally. In fact, they're a lot easier to make in Photoshop than they are on paper with paint. Blends that would take me hours to do in acrylic are done in seconds on the screen. They may not be as collectable for the art lover, but they are useful for graphics whenever that spacey look is needed. Here is a draft version of a design for a spacemusic CD. Done in Photoshop, about 2 hours' work.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


My figure sketch is also a character study for Ayn Rand's THE FOUNTAINHEAD, which I am currently revisiting. Dominique Francon poses nude for a sculpture which is to adorn a "Temple of the Human Spirit." She's supposed to symbolize the striving energy, beauty, and power of human beings. The final sculpture has her standing up, but I think of this one as a pose that was rejected - probably because kneeling is too submissive.
Direct to Photoshop, using model image from a CD. 

Monday, July 7, 2008

Gecko Australian Wine

This aboriginal-style gecko lizard adorned the labels of these Australian wines. I gave him the wineglass and the soused expression. This is an example of what I do for Trader Joe's, day after day. Opaque acrylic markers on painted chalkboard and foamboard.  

Sunday, July 6, 2008

More Hazy Summer Color

This is taken from my illustrated 2005 journal. I tried to capture the muted soft colors of greenery on a hot, hazy, humid July day. It looks like watercolor, but it's actually alcohol-based markers which can be blended on the paper.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Security Blanket

This young lady (age 7) was at a July 4th party I attended. She had just traveled across the country from California with her parents and sister in an RV. She asked to be portrayed with her "baba," a soft pink garment she used as her "security blanket."

Friday, July 4, 2008

Colors of Summer

This is from my 2005 illustrated journal. It's done in markers. I never tire of the endless variety of leaf greens, which are then changed and muted by the warm atmospheric haze. 
Somewhere in the continental USA is a place where this kind of warm wet weather lasts almost all year. I want to find it.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Japanese Models

And now back to drawing figures. One of my model books is from Japan and has lots of pictures of agile girls taking interesting action poses. (Note: none of my model books are pornographic. Porn models aren't too useful for artistic purposes.) I've been drawing rather static poses so far, so now I'll add a bit more motion to my drawings. Remember that my project is to fill my whole sketchbook with well-drawn human bodies, before moving on to doing character and action illustrations. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Alien Spaceship, Not Cows

Cows! Barns! This blog is in danger of becoming BORING! Here's an alien spaceship. About two hours' worth of work in Photoshop. Are the aliens hostile or friendly? From the contours of this spaceship, I don't think they make those distinctions, and certainly they don't look like us. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


In August of 2006 I toured through Pennsylvania's Amish country. I did sketches whenever I had the opportunity. I made sure to do them on site ("plein air," like a proper classical 19th century artist). Here's my rendition of an Amish farm. It has everything people love. Barn? Yes. Silos? Yes. Greenery? Yes. Cows? Yes of course. Alien spacecraft? Uh, no.
Done in colored pencil with some ink lines in a sketchbook.