Well, I'm still working away on that pinecone drawing. (Scroll down if you missed that post.) My already-slow pace came to a screeching halt this past week while I've enjoyed some family visits. So, to hold you over, I'm posting a drawing of two little lady apples that I started during the holidays. It was intended to be larger (see below), but I got caught up in the holidays, and the apples started to look a little tired. I love these beautiful little apples; the better produce markets always stock them at the winter holidays. The scale isn't evident in this drawing, but they're just a couple of inches in diameter—perfect for tucking in among evergreeens and pinecones on the mantel or on the dining table.
I've also got a new post on my life-drawing blog if that interests you. Now, back to that pinecone...
The first drawing I ever posted on my blog was this pinecone—and it's still one of my personal favorites. (You can read that original post here.) Now I'm starting on a second, larger pinecone piece. You see, I've wanted to draw a big, beautiful Sugar Pine cone ever since my son brought several of them to me from the Sierra a few years ago. I hang them in my three dining room windows every winter, and as I was taking them down this week, I thought it'd be a great time to draw one.
I'm drawing it in graphite, which takes less time than colored pencil, but I'm guessing it will still take a while, as I'm drawing it full-sized. (It's about 17" long!) So I've decided to share a few work-in-progress posts along the way. Today I'll show you how I set up my "model". The pinecone is pretty fragile, so rather than handle it much, I wanted to hang it directly in front of me. This was a challenge right off the bat, until I remembered my new portable easel—perfect!
I know it will get a bit confusing keeping the different parts straight as I draw, so I tried hanging a grid behind it (I marked up some graph paper) to give me some reference points, but I didn't like that. I ended up positioning a ruler up against one side which is simple and should work fine to help me "keep my place".
So, now I'm all set—time to get underway. Hmmm...I'm starting to reconsider my decision to use graphite for a tonal piece instead of using colored pencil—what do you think?
Our family has had an interest in birds for years. My daughter had a pet cockatiel that she got as a fledgling. As a boy, my son used to count the hawks on long car rides; his first job was at a store for backyard bird enthusiasts. (He's now 27 and is a field biologist working with peregrine falcons on the California Channel Islands.) My husband and I have become pretty good at identifying the many birds that visit our backyard, and love watching them..so why aren't there all kinds of drawings of birds in my portfolio?
Sure, I have these drawings of feathers, nests, and even an emu egg. And I've drawn my chickens a few times, but never our wild backyard birds.
So, yesterday I sat down in my kitchen to sketch some. Of course, they're always moving, so I just tried to get some basic shapes down; I had to take a couple of photos to examine them more closely.
Such fun! Maybe it's because I've been getting back into life drawing (of humans), but I'm excited to explore drawing birds a bit more. I think I'll use this toned sketchbook to document the birds at our feeder a couple of times a week. Besides being great drawing practice, it will serve as a nice record of which birds are visiting.
Maybe it's the unseasonably warm and sunny weather we're having, but I decided to grab a coconut at the grocery store and draw it. (I like botanical subjects like nuts and things that won't wilt while I draw.)
I started to draw the exterior first, but wasn't inspired—time to crack it open! It's awfully hard to not see a face (a sloth face?) when looking at this end of a coconut:
The "mouth" of the face is the soft spot—it was a breeze to poke a hole there and drain out the coconut water. I got about 10 ounces out of this one! Then you just keep whacking it around its "equator" with the blunt edge of a butcher knife or cleaver, and it eventually cracks right open to reveal that beautiful snow-white interior.
This textured, toned paper may not have been a great idea, but once I was committed to it, I decided to keep feel of the drawing sort of rough and textural and maybe it'd work out. I'm relatively happy with the outcome, but might make another attempt on my usual white bristol. In the meantime, I'm going to try and toast some of that coconut for a snack!
Reminder: If you're into figure drawing, feel free to visit my new blog chronicling my progress at my life-drawing meet-up. You can click here, and it'll always be over there on my right sidebar under Gallery Pages.
I just sat down to start a detailed colored pencil drawing of some beautiful strawberries, and soon realized that this is one of those days when my Parkinson's decides to make itself known. I think that I must've had a little too much caffeine this morning, as I've been pretty tremor-free as of late.
Even though I'm right-handed—and my right side isn't yet affected by my PD—when my left side gets in a shaky mood, it's a real distraction. As I started to draw, that left hand got even shakier; once my left leg decided to join in the fun, I decided I'd better just get a quick sketch done and call it a day.
But to tell the truth, I'm rather happy with my little sketch—being forced to draw quickly can be a good thing now and again.
And speaking of drawing quickly, my new blog is up and running with work from my weekly Life-drawing meet-up! You can get there from here, or click on it over in my sidebar under "gallery pages".
Prismacolor colored pencil on Strathmore charcoal paper, "Golden Brown"
One of my Christmas presents from my daughter was a fabulous selection of vegetable garden seeds from the Seed Savers Exchange. (If you're into gardening, you must check out their website; you can also order one of these catalogs that I just received—isn't that cover gorgeous?)
Among my seeds was this packet of Hidatsa Shield Figure Beans. That name had me intrigued right off the bat, and the photo on the front of the packet sealed the deal. So, I did a little bit of research: The markings on the beans are supposedly reminiscent of the painted shields of the Hidatsa tribe who raised corn, squash, beans, and sunflowers in the Missouri River Valley of North Dakota. I looked for an image that supported this theory, but didn't see anything strikingly similar, but I'll keep sleuthing. Shield Figure beans are described in the fascinating Buffalo Bird Woman’s Garden (1987) which you can read more about here.
As for my drawing, it was lots of fun, but I'd forgotten that the charcoal paper needs a lighter touch than I gave it, I'm afraid. Here's how I set up my little "models" on my drawing table. I just stuck them on a piece of foam core with this Quake-Hold museum putty that I use all of the time when positioning the things that I'm drawing. (And yes, when you live in earthquake country, you do also use this stuff to secure valuables in case of The Big One.)
While working on this drawing, I had to get out one of my favorite picture books, the exquisite A Seed is Sleepy. Sylvia Long's amazing illustrations could keep my entertained for hours. They've also collaborated on A Butterfly is Patient, A Rock is Lively, and the stunningly beautiful, An Egg is Quiet. I simply adore these books.
Well, it's getting warmer here in the Bay Area, but we're experiencing quite a drought this winter (this is our rainy season); the plants in my yard don't know what season it is. Here's hoping that Mother Nature gets some rain on its way in time to set the scene for my seed planting!
Update: I've just realized that this week's topic on Illustration Friday is "beginning". What's more of a beginning than some seeds? (Okay, we could get into the which-came-first conundrum but we won't...)
graphite and charcoal on drawing paper Update! My new blog is up and running with work from my weekly Life-drawing meet-up. You can get there from here, or click on it over in my sidebar under "gallery pages".
Prismacolor colored pencil on Strathmore Bristol vellum, 5" x 7"
On a day when much of the country is suffering sub-zero temperatures, I'm happy to be a Californian. I'm not a native Californian, however, like the beautiful Haas avocado. Fun fact: Did you know that every single Haas avocado in the world can be traced back to a single mother tree in La Habra Heights, California? (You can read about it here.)
Every time I cut an avocado open, I am amazed by the contrast between the creamy, smooth flesh inside and the dark, bumpy skin, which gives it its nickname, "alligator pear". And that beautiful pit that looks like polished wood: haven't we all taken one of those pits and balanced it on the rim of a jar with toothpicks to grow an avocado plant? If you haven't, you should! Here's how.
This was really fun to draw. I experimented with that bumpy skin as I went (I was too lazy to scan these WIP shots, they're just quick pics at my drawing table, so the lighting is very uneven.):
And then I cut it open and finished the drawing of the inside:
You may have noticed that I moved the two images a little closer in the final file at the top of the post—I never draw digitally, but I do love Photoshop for cropping and formatting like that!
On another topic, I'm working on setting up a separate blog for my drawings from the weekly Life Drawing meet-up I've been attending. (It will be linked to this one.) The drawings of nudes just seem a tad incongruous among my usual subjects, so we'll see how this works out. I'll let you know when it's up and running!