Friday, July 3, 2015

Coffee from Jan

No, not a coffee cup, but a gift card for coffee at Peet's.  And there is a Peet's right across from my favorite movie theater, E St Cinema.  I just drew the mug while I was there, and I think it worked out great....I can have more coffee other times and think about Jan.  And wish that she were there with me.  Maybe next time she comes to visit.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

June Flowers

One of the  really fun things I look forward to on my birthday is flowers from Virginia.  She does not disappoint,  This was a lovely bouquet from Caruso Florist, one of the nicest in DC.  They were really colorful and perked up my living room mantel.

The also sent me a very thoughtful card and a birthday bonus, which I always deposit into my art account.  I don't make as much money on my art as I did in Portland, so a cash infusion is a blessing.

Thank you, Virginia.  This little card is on its way to you.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Cartoons at the Luce Center

I was able to make it yesterday for the weekly drawing session at the Luce Center in American Gallery of Art/Portrait Gallery.  I enjoy it whenever I do make it.   One of the interns usually makes an assignment.  The assignments can be very diverse, but always focus on using the art in the center as the subject.  We have made drawings showing perspective, dimensions, energy and all sorts of things.  I am probably not describing it very well, but this is a center that has a lot of art and so plenty of material.

Today, I arrived hoping for some classic drawing experience, but that was not to be.  The challenge was to create a cartoon with a story, based on something in the exhibits.  

I have been working from items in  a particular case in the exhibits to do my challenges.  It is some random items from the archives of Nam June Paik.  They include both his works of art and materials he wanted to have on hand to create art.  They are totally random to me, but had meaning to him. The case display is relatively small--about 12 feet wide, 8 feet tall, and 3 feet deep.  Plus, everything is behind glass....but I love it.

I wasn't particularly inspired by the challenge, but trusted the process.  I noticed that a small statue of Beethoven is close to a large bust of Elvis.  I got to work on Elvis, but still didn't have an idea for a story.  I wanted to make it cartoonish.

My first drawing was Elvis (above). It doesn't look at all like the bust, actually.  Next to that bust, is a small robot.  I looked it up on-line and found out it was a lamp.  It seemed like the lamp and Elvis could have had a conversation, but Beethoven kept interesting me.  Eventually, I decided on conversations between modern items in the case and Beethoven.  What emerged is silly, and that is what it was meant to be.  Elvis announces he is The King.

Beethoven responds, "...that is not my kind of music"   Above is my rather crude cartoon of the Beethoven figurine.

The Robot Lamp claims that it can light up the room,

And the same Beethoven (I did him on a separate sheet of paper so I could move him along the strip and not have to redraw him) responds that the lamp is not beautiful.

I had time for another drawing, which is an old Sony TV that Paik had identified as "12" with a strip of masking tape.

The TV brags about bringing the world to you.  Beethoven responds that he just wants a simple, beautiful life.

All this is rather silly, but it was fun at the end when we got to see how each person approached the assignment.  We had two totally new sketchers, with about 15 participating.  I love to meet people who haven't sketched and then just do it.

Apologies for the quality of the photos.  I have a new computer and therefore new referred to as apps.   I am having trouble getting used to it, but I think it will be good once I learn the tricks.  The paper was ecru, so that is why it looks a little yellowish.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Plein Air Gouache Painting

I've been spending Saturday mornings learning about gouache painting, and it has been challenging.  I have used gouache before, but still have so much to learn and, so far, my work has not been "blog-worthy." However, I missed the sketch group this week and wanted to put something on the Plum Gallery blog.  So, here is my painting of a blue umbrella at the West end of the National Botanic Garden, done last Saturday.  It was a really lovely spot, with a fantasic fountain.  I wish I had taken a picture of that.  I think it is called The First Ladies' Fountain. We're going back next Saturday.  This painting is very small, about 5" x 8."  My teacher, Bernie Dellario thinks I could go even smaller, but I would kind of like to go bigger. It is hard to get used to putting light over dark when I have done the opposite in watercolor for so many years.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sketching at the Museum Objects that show unusual centers of gravity

I was very fortunate to draw again at the Luce Foundation last Tuesday.  The assignment was was to draw sculptures that show concepts relating to balance.  After last week, I had decided I would focus on work that relates to Nam June Paik's archives for the time being, but I wasn't sure I could find something.  
I was delighted to see that there are some exquisite little figurines in the case devoted to Paik's archives, and they were perfect for this exercise.  They are ceramic and, as I understand it, Paik collected these figurines for assembly into larger works. They are related to him because they were in his warehouse at the time of his death.  They are pretty small (maybe 10"), and are behind glass, but were fun to sketch.  I did three fairly quick sketches.  The one above demonstrates that, if one leg juts out, you need an opposite arm and maybe a little head action to counterbalance it.   

This next sketch shows that the leaning back and protecting with your arms pose needed to be counterbalanced with a strong thrust of the front leg:

I might do him again because his expression was so severe!  I would like to capture that.

The next one was actually the first I did, and I think I missed the mark.  

It is very dramatic, and the actual figurine shows that you have to have a strong leg and a front arm out if you are going to balance on one leg with your back arm in the air.  I may have overdone it, so may do this guy again.    I am not sure it would work the way I portrayed it.  The drape behind his standing leg does add some weight, but probably not enough to make the center of gravity actually work in my drawing.  It does work in the figurine.  This is why I keep trying!

It is fun to do these assignments and to challenge my sketching skills..not to mention learning about balance!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thank you Jan

My friend Jan recently went to, that is always fun.  She had a good trip and was so thoughtful to bring me a "Dragonfly" gift.  This is a very unusual little treasure.  It is a holder for sticky notes.  On the top, it has a woodburned design and some openwork.  I love it.  It sits on my kitchen counter and I always now have a place to make a note and pull a sticky when I need a quick jot.  Thank you, Jan, for the gift and for thinking of me on your trip.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Smithsonian Sketching Group: Perspective

I went again last Tuesday to what they call "Sketch and Discover" at the Smithsonian American Art Gallery/National Portrait Gallery.  The assignment was to draw something showing perspective.  We talked briefly about various kinds of perspective.  Linear perspective where objects in the background are smaller than those in the foreground;  atmospheric perspective objects in the background are less clear than those in the foreground; color perspective where saturation of colors is less in the background than in the foreground (and I also think actual colors:  warm colors move forward and cool colors move back), and planar perspective, where overlapping planes create a sense of depth.  I was fascinated by an assemblage by Nam June Paik, "Untitled (robot)."  It is also known as a "Paaikbot."   It includes portable tvs, a movie camera, a tv, record players for "45"s, a large speaker and radios.  It has real personality and Paik did make a cartoon face on the screen.  My sketch of it is above.

I took a picture of the piece, but there were too many reflections, so I lifted a better picture off the web that shows how it looks when it is plugged in: