Saturday, October 31, 2020

Wrapping Up #INKtober

What can I say about my choice of theme for this year's #INKtober other than it didn't go as well as I thought it might? At the midway point I commented that I'd be taking a different tact and working on seeing why some faces held at least a hint of the real person while others could have been anyone. This one in particular put me in mind of those police sketch artist renderings made while a witness tries to remember what someone looked like. Instead, this is supposed to be the actor who plays Chief Inspector Barnaby on Midsomer Murders, but even I can't see him in this.


The technique from the Sketchbook Skool class suggested starting with an eyebrow and without lifting pen, sweeping down the nose and back up to complete the other eyebrow. Actual eyes and mouth added next and the shape of the face/head last. Now I tried focusing on the eyes first before adding eyebrows and nose, then the mouth. Sometimes it worked better, but not always. Some mouths were ok, others ruined the whole face, or should I say, made my person now not look like him or herself.

I did more pausing of the tv, more comparison after completion to determine what made one successful and another not (yes, still having roller coaster results), and rued decisions to go back over some areas in the hopes of improving them. This page not too bad, except for the lower left one - it was the mouth again that made him look like someone else.

In the end, I came to at least one conclusion. Nearly every face has the same components - eyes, nose, mouth, eyebrows, ears. It's the shape of each and the positioning of each that gives us our recognizable faces. Distinctive hair styles or beards or no hair at all also adds to a person being instantly identifiable. I know that sounds obvious, but it took me awhile to catch onto it in a discernible way. But the more different faces I drew, the more similar they began to look, at least when I messed them up. No wonder we so often run into strangers we think we must know, or be told we have a doppelganger out there in the world. And perhaps that is the most usable thing I learned with this exercise, that I could create any face at all by putting together these elements in their variety of sizes and shapes, slants and arcs, not just try to faithfully copy those that already exist. Again, perhaps pretty obvious, but now I am more aware of it. It's a step towards caricature and illustration and perhaps adding people to my creative toolbox.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Peace Nearing the End

I did the last of the quilting on the Peace quilt Friday, which left me with this tangle of tails to be pulled to the back. I got to it yesterday, while listening to an hour-long webinar. But alas! There are more tails here than can be dealt with in a single hour. Perhaps not an entire hour webinar more, but close! I'm pleased with the quilting lines I chose, including that last thought to quilt concentric circles around and behind the Chinese character. Not much more now to do!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Changing Seasons

This was Thursday. Those geraniums have borne show-stopping blooms all summer. As the weather has cooled, they have gotten bigger and brighter. I took this picture because I knew what was coming.

This was Friday, the next day. As predicted, our temperatures dropped into the 30's and in came a storm. And yet, the geraniums had just enough protection on the back deck to carry on unscathed.

The leaves have hardly started falling from many trees, although I must admit, the birch out back was dropping them like snowfall itself on Thursday, prompting me to gather some up for the gellie printing session I have yet to embark on. This is a chokecherry tree out front, decorated by the neighbor kids with ghosts and witches, some of which blew off.

The neighbors won't do much lounging in those chaises nor riding of that motorcycle what with the deep freeze settling in for the next 5 days. The 3 or 4 inches of snow we got throughout the day isn't going anywhere soon.

The kids have been going half days to school and may have gotten out a tad earlier as the snow started around ten. Plenty of time to build a snowman from the heavy wet snow, complete with covid mask.

There have been power outages but luckily, not for me. Always a danger of branches and trees buckling under the weight of an early snow when leaves still cling. No more snow predicted for the immediate future but today it has been the winds instead, barreling out of the north, our Canadian neighbor sending icy blasts. Windchill is around 18 degrees and while I did get out yesterday to walk through the snow, today I opted to say inside. The geraniums are looking a little worse for wear. Hot chocolate is on the agenda.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Peace and People

I've finished all the horizontal quilting on the light green section and have just the area around the Chinese character to quilt. I knew there'd be a lot of tails to pull to the back and tie off, something that I really don't mind doing. What I DO mind is then having to bury those tails, a truly tedious job. Thus my decision not to layer this quilt with its backing, knowing that the felt would provide a smooth enough surface not to get caught up in the feeddogs and that I could fuse the backing on once all the quilting was done. Although the process of pulling thread tails to the back and knotting can be almost meditative, it is not fast. This section here took a little more than an hour and a half to complete.

As for my #INKtober daily drawing of people I am watching on tv, I am less than impressed with my progress. When I should be getting better with each day, I seem to be getting worse. At the halfway point, I've gone from faces that have some resemblance to their owners to several days of ones looking nothing like the person I'm drawing. 

A head too long, the next too short, foreheads often encroached upon by a hairline too soon. I'm particularly struggling with mouths, unable to remember any tip I may have read about how to approach them.

Noses are going out of whack too lately. Throwing in a few profiles hasn't helped as much as I'd hoped. I'm beginning to think part of my problem lies in using a ballpoint pen. When I did this exercise before for the Sketchbook Skool class, I was using more of a felt pen with a bold line. I felt I was getting the hang of it as I added faces to my page and likenesses became more, well, like my subjects. I'll keep at it, as I always do, and hope I can start to see where I've gone astray, or more properly, how I can fix what's causing me to draw so off. On the upside, I'm getting pretty good at drawing suit lapels and ties!

Thursday, October 08, 2020

A Little Sun, A Little Paint

We have had the loveliest few days of summer-like weather, temps in the 70's and lots of sunshine to set off the turning leaves. It has pried me out of my routine and sent me to a couple of my favorite places to get in my walks. Yesterday I was feeling particularly energetic and motivated to grab a sketchbook I seem to only work in about this time of the year since I started sketching in it and head for city beach.

After the usual walk taking me past a few people still working on their tans, a few actually in the water and others just out strolling like me or resting on benches, I got the concertina sketchbook with my city beach view sketched in and started adding more watercolor to it. Below you can see how far I got on a similar visit last September. I was thinking that I'd work on sky and water this time, but instead started adding color to more trees and working on the mountains behind them. Mostly getting familiar with the brush again, mixing colors, falling short of what I'd hoped the color would be. Really a first pass though, with some small darker strokes to add emulating the trees on those slopes. And a slightly sinking feeling of how much more I have to do on this - there's a back side you know!

Monday, October 05, 2020

Better . . .

. . . oh so much better, to be able to actually see the quilting lines emerge as one sews, not the drudgery of the stitching in the ditch. All the dark areas are done and I'm ready to switch to the lighter green thread to quilt the green areas. You can see my test piece near the bottom and a short run of that lighter thread.

In the meantime, it has become October, with leaves now turning. I pulled a few of these mountain ash ones to sketch, then use in some gelli-plate printing. Close inspection shows the stems and veins remain a bright green.

Quick sketch with ballpoint pen

As October approached, I also had to make a decision about participating in INKtober, that international challenge to draw anything each day of October using ink. I'm still feeling snowed under with projects I'm trying to get to and/or complete which I think is why my daily drawing practice totally went by the wayside. The past years I've participated, I would find myself spending at least an hour, often more, on each day's sketch. I just didn't want to do that this year. But as I paged through my sketchbook, looking at what I'd done, I was impressed and pleased with each year's theme and the sketches that resulted. My personality traits just wouldn't allow me to let it go, but I did come to a compromise that would help me practice an urban sketching technique while watching my tv shows, and thus I wouldn't have to carve out separate time for drawing. I don't know how many of these quick sketches captured while the subjects talked and moved about I'll share as for now they are not particularly good. Even going with the idea that they are not supposed to be true portraits but more like caricatures and this is practice for when I get brave and try sketching people in public is not making me feel better about some of them (and yes, I sometimes cheated mid-sketch and hit the pause button). Then again, after they have sat for awhile, I may feel better about them. Just like the zentangles from one year; I remember getting pretty frustrated and not liking so many of them, yet when I got to those pages in the sketchbook, they all looked really good to me. Ahhh, such is the critical eye!