Thursday, January 31, 2013

Post square 013113 ~ Because He Had To Leave

In the summer of 2011 Javed Ahmadi, age 19, left his home in Helmand province to escape being kidnapped by the Taliban. He was headed for Sweden where his cousin, Zia, was waiting for him. He left behind his wife and baby daughter with the plans that he would bring them to Sweden, too.

A year and a half later, he had made it only as far as a small fishing village on the Aegean Sea. There, his smuggler crowded him onto a 30-foot wooden fishing boat with 22 other refugees. Just before leaving the shore, Javed borrowed a cell phone and called his father to ask him to pray for his safe arrival.

Just minutes after leaving the harbor, the small boat started taking on water. Within an hour it had nearly sunk.
According to the one survivor, when the boat capsized, Javed tried to rescue child. His body was found on the shore of the Greek island of Lesvos.

Zia found out about Javed's death through a television clip. He flew to Lesvos to identify Javed's body and arranged to have it transported back to Kabul so that his cousin could be buried in the family graveyard.

This drawing I did with the intention of being less obsessive and more expressive. Colored pencil on bristol.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Post square 013013 ~ Where Millie Dances

Every day, since the beginning of this year, I have looked at the main photo on the front page of the Washington Post and chosen one square inch to blow up into an abstract drawing, measuring approximately 4 or 5 inches square. I call these drawings "Post squares" and I number them according to the date they are drawn. I title them in a way that relates to the image of the original photo. I generally use colored pencil on bristol board.

The title of this drawing refers to my great niece (and she is great), who is a ballerina. She is eleven years old and has been getting some pretty cool dance gigs at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Millie was most recently a beautiful hedgehog in the National Ballet of Canada's performance of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

The square inch this drawing comes from was part of a photo of the Kennedy Center, which is due for an expansion. The only part of the celebrated building included is the white shape in the middle on the right side. I liked the shapes of what I'm guessing is the Watergate in the background and then what I think are probably headlights on the road shining into the Potomac River.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Post square 012913 ~ Patrolling the Streets of Gao

This was drawn quickly with charcoal pencil, mostly, and some colored pencil. I meant for it to be quite abstract, but I imagine you can tell pretty easily what this is. Amazing what one tiny square inch of a rather complicated photo can reveal.

The larger image, of which this drawing is a small part, is that of a group of Chadian soldiers on patrol in Gao, northern Mali.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Post square 012813 ~ The Mourner's Dress

Yesterday 230 people died in a fire at a nightclub in Santa Maria, Brazil.

When I started this project of, every day, taking a square inch of the front page photo of the Washington Post and turning it into an abstract drawing, I'm not sure how much I considered that some of the topics would be difficult. Like the soldier's story yesterday, and this tragedy today.

Yesterday, when I saw that the photo was from a video of a soldier under attack, initially I thought that I shouldn't do my project because I was afraid it might be taken as exploitive or disrespectful. But I decided that what I am doing is acknowledging. Terrible things happen, and they happen so often that I feel sometimes I'm enured to much of what I hear or read about, simply because it is so much. What doing this project makes me do is sit with the idea of what I'm drawing... and think about it. A practice of empathy.

This detail from the photo is not actually the fabric of the mourner's dress. It's part of the wreath placed by the coffin. The woman kneeling beside it is wearing a flowered blouse. Not the standard and depressing total black garb we don here in the US to attend a funeral.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Post square 012713 ~ Daniels Retrieves His Weapon

Instead of one big picture on the front page of the Post today, there were four small frames from a video. The video was taken by a helmet camera on Pfc. Ted Daniels' helmet. Pfc. Daniels was fighting in Afghanistan and the footage witnesses him being caught in a Taliban barrage.

The YouTube of his experience has been viewed 23 million times. That means that 23 million times there was someone braver than I. I don't want to watch a video of a soldier screaming for help.

He does recovery from his injuries.

I used the same approach as I did on the square three days ago, starting with a a print of one of my texture photographs. This was a photo of snow that had fallen off a power line onto the dark road. I inverted the contrast.

The colors were chosen randomly from my box of colored pencils, but I decided what section of the composition I wanted them to go in, instead of making that random, too, which is what I usually do. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Post square 012613 ~ Silent No More

Wasn't feeling particularly creative or inspired to experiment with anything new, so reverted back to the random color pencil with just a little detail with pen.

I chose this portion of the top of a head because I wanted to use the organic shapes of the hair against the hard architectural edges in the background.

The hair belongs to an antiabortion activist with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, praying outside the Supreme Court. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Post square 012513 ~ Not Quite Enough

It was easy to choose the square inch I wanted to work from today. I was immediately drawn to the big shape of this snow saucer and the shadow under it. A six-year-old kid named Ivy is carrying it back up to the top of the hill to try to make the best of not quite enough snow.

I added acrylic to the mix this time. And watercolor, which I started with. Then went back and forth with acrylic and colored pencil, overlapping to build up the texture. There is some watercolor pencil and a brush pen, too.

I was looking at the paintings of Peruvian artist Nebiur Arellano for her use of surface treatment and color. And I meant to add some details from a book I was recently given on Aboriginal art, but I scanned it in before remembering that I wanted to do that, and then it was time to watch a movie...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Post square 012413 ~ Visiting Lincoln

This one came out pretty weird, huh? It's the first one I've wanted to turn any way except the way I drew it. Here it's up-side-down from the composition in the photograph. The green shape on the right is the knee of a sightseer climbing the steps to the Lincoln Memorial.

So, what is the blobby pattern in the background? Here's what I did. It's something I've wanted to try for a while. I found a photograph I took of snow that was melting around gravel, cropped a detail of it to a square and printed the image on a piece of bristol board. I drew the composition from the Post photo over the print. Then I did my random pencil thing, choosing two at a time and using the darkest pencil of the two on the dark blobs and the lightest one over it to color in that section. It has a sort of spacey 3-D look to it, don't you think?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Post square 012313 ~ They're Back

Today's drawing was fun to do. So cold and wintry here, I was inspired by some painters from Key West (I'd been perusing Art News). A deliberate use of color and pattern, not random.

As a reward for working all day on a sad portrait of a woman who died too young, commissioned by her brother, I got a glass of wine, put on my favorite CD that Nan gave me and went at this with gusto.

And the whole time I was drawing I was thinking of you. Even though I know I said before that I had to see myself as my only reliable audience, I still get a kick out of knowing that you will, for some reason, want to know what I drew today and why and what I have to say about it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Post square 012213 ~ Michelle's Coat

More playful. More fun. A lot less time! Randomly chosen colors on a design inspired by the small checks of Mrs. Obama's coat.

Thick layers of pencil scratched into with Exacto knife blade.

Post square 012113 ~ Sworn In

I spent all day on this. And the whole time I was working on it I was thinking it was one of the least successful of this series so far. I was just being too careful. Staying in the lines. Didn't start with an idea of what I wanted to accomplish or try.

I started with the random color thing, doing the 4 big stripes on the bottom first. Each of those stripes is composed of three (randomly chosen) colors layered one on top of the other. I then repeated those colors for the top curved forms, but used them with more shading and variation. I did the weird little ball and stripe thing last, using the same colors, but singularly. And that really wasn't working, way too flat and oddly graphic for the rest if it. So I went over it with one of the lighter pencils and then scraped the color off the yellow circles with an Exacto knife blade, which improved it a little bit, but not enough! Oh well, better luck next time, huh?

The image is part of the drapery behind President Obama and family as he took the oath of office.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Post square 012013 ~ The Happy Painter

From a photo I love of President Obama staining a bookcase at a DC elementary school. He looks so happy!

Post square 011913 ~ Newseum (Ai WeiWei)

Not sure what to tell you about this one. Except that it felt emotional. And that I was pressing down so hard with the pencil that I had to stop occasionally until my arm stopped aching. Lots of layers.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Post square 011813 ~ Hair of snow ball thrower

Worked quickly and with lots of layering with multiple colors. Wanted a higher contrast between the hair and background, but this is what I got.

Post square 011713 ~ C-17 Interior

Looking like a scene from a science-fiction movie, the photograph I took this from, by Andrew Winning, was of a dramatically lit interior of a C-17 cargo aircraft, with a Land Rover rolling down a ramp, in Bamako, Mali. I picked the square inch that showed the ribs constructing the roof of the plane.

Back to a more careful approach (staying in the lines) with the pencils, I chose them randomly again, but repeated colors instead of making each segment a new color. 

As I was coloring away, I thought of a quote from a book Judy gave me for Christmas called Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers by Leonard Koren : "Nonthinking repetition of mechanical forms allows one to concentrate simply on being without the distraction of having to make decisions, artistic or otherwise."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Post squares 011113 - 011613 ~ Symbolic Raines 2nd Run Local Rockaway

These new pieces haven't exactly been a hit on Facebook. Not very accessible, granted. Certainly not as accessible as some other things I've done.

Thing is, I really like these. They feel fresh and exciting and contemporary. Spontaneous. Creating with no worries. And I love the process. Prismacolor glided onto buttery bristol. I drew each of these squares with soft graphite first, added just touches of color with the colored pencil, then smeared them with a cream-colored pencil. I like that smeared look.

Catching up with the one-drawing-a-day idea forced this 6-at-a-time composition ~ another happy "accident". I like the grouping. The words written under each square refer to the subject of the photograph from which the image was taken. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Post squares 010713 - 011013 ~ Fourth Capital Drought Out

I love bristol board! What a difference. I was using plain old card stock and it was brought to my attention by my crit group that if I had any concern for the archival quality of my work I really should be using better materials. Not that these little color drawings need to be archived! But what a treat to work on such a buttery surface. The pencil just glides on, and the smearing I like so much is richer.

The title of this piece comes from combining 4 days in a row. 1 - 010713 RG3's 4th Quarter, 2 - 010613 Capitals, John Carlson, 3 - 010913 Illinois Drought, and 4 - 011013 Outside Senate Chambers.

Video of my 365 presentation.

Here is a link to a video of a talk I gave on my 365 project. It's kinda long, but my buddy Dave did a wonderful job ~ again! I was at Bridge Gallery (thank-you, Kathryn!) here in Shepherdstown, with about 30 of my wonderful friends in the audience. Thanks to everybody for making this so much fun!!!

Post square 010613 ~ Redskins Fans

Different approach from first few pencil drawings of the year. Blurred edges instead of sharp. I used the reference much more closely. I didn't use random colors, but chose them carefully to match the photo. Nine different Prismacolors. The colors are more integrated than in the earlier drawings. I tried to make the most of the transparent quality of the pencils when they are layered and overlapped.

List of materials I used in my 365 project last year.

List of materials used in the 365 projects ~




Stink Bugs

Cakes of soap

Pipe cleaners
Plastic bags
Aluminum foil
Rubber bands
Masking tape
Duct tape
Horse hair
Baling twine

Grape vine
Wood (both milled and found)

Old and new books
Old boxes
Magic marker
Watercolor pencils
Spray paint
Metal wire
Origami paper
Craft paper
Notebook paper
Paint swatches
Tissue paper

Printable acetate
Color copies

Papier mache
Polymer clay
Make up
Hotel note pads
Foam core
Mat board
Watercolor paper
Acrylic paint
Acrylic medium
Colored pencils
Regular pencils
Oil pastels

Grape nuts cereal

Cake mix
Green beans
Ground turkey
Ice cream

Bubble wrap
Old T-shirts
Bar codes
Kit for a building for a model train layout
CD and cassette tape covers
Needle and thread
Light bulbs
Dollar bills
Clothes with an emphasis on
Scrabble pieces
Kitchen utensils and tools
Various jars and containers
Toilet paper tubes
Cat toys
Sticky notes
Found objects
Googly eyes
Misc. hardware
Wine bottles (not to mention consuming said wine in the process of making much of this stuff)
Scroll saw
Band saw
Sewing machine
Wood burning tool
Magnifying glass
Cell phone (which became the perfect subject of one of my projects to add wings to something when it drowned in the washing machine)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Post square 010513 ~ Joe Biden Takes a Walk Through Statuary Hall.

This one is small ~ 2.5" X 2.75" And much simpler than yesterday's! I like the way the yellow pencil smeared the black 'floor tiles' ~ creates a fun energy, movement.

Colored pencil on card stock with ink border. An abstraction of a square inch of a photograph on the front page of the Washington Post, January 5th.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Post square 010413 ~ The Women of the 113th Congress.

Colored pencil on card stock. 4.75" X 4.25"

An abstraction from a square inch of the Washington Post cover photo, January 4, 2013.

Post squares diptych 010313.

For this image, because the swan in the photograph from the Post was so beautiful, I found two different square inches to create a diptych.

I was so disappointed when the randomly chosen colored pencil for the white swan came up black. But now that the drawing is finished I see that the strong graphic shape works well.

The photograph, from January 3rd, illustrated the good news that the Chesapeake Bay may be regaining its health.

If you are just joining me here, I've been taking the main front page photograph of the Washington Post and finding a square inch (or, in this case, two) to abstract into a drawing usually measuring about 4 inches. I choose the colors for each section by randomly, and without looking, selecting a pencil from my box full of Prismacolors.

I'm using the photographs to start because I like to have a reference from something that I can abstract and make my own. Selecting random colors makes it great fun! I love to see how the piece is going to turn out, like a surprise package opened. And it gives me ideas for color combinations I might not think of myself, as well as pointing out ones I don't want to use in the future!

These pieces are studies I plan to turn into three-dimensional mixed-media work.

I'm not sure I want to have them be quite so representational as this one turned out, so I will probably work on abstracting the image more for future drawings.

Post square 010213.

Another abstraction of a square inch of the photograph featured on the Washington Post, January 2nd. It's part of a trellis over a celebrating, newly married couple.

I did the whole drawing in the layout pencil first, letting the colored pencil smear and blend with the graphite.

I've been experimenting with different brands of colored pencils and find I definitely prefer Prismacolor. They have a rich waxiness that allows for nice, opaque covering of the paper. I'm using a smooth-surfaced card stock.

This drawing, with its randomly chosen colors (I close my eyes and grab a pencil from my shoe box of colored pencils for each color section of the drawing) is 3.75" X 4.25".

Post square 010113.

I took the main front page photo of the Washington Post on January 1st, and found a square inch that I thought would make an interesting design. I made an abstract sketch from it and blew it up to a drawing measuring 4.5" X 4.25". You may recognize some of the classical architectural forms of the DC buildings from the photograph.

I used the graphite again, specifically an Ebony Layout pencil, under the colored pencil and smudged it. The stronger, little black squares on the pink are done with ink over the pencil. Again, using randomly chosen colors. The columns in the bottom right were royal blue with that yellow (yuk) and I toned it down by smearing over the blue with the yellow creating that sort of hairy effect and I like that.

Colored pencil drawing 123112.

5" X 4.25", another randomly chosen colored pencil drawing. I've used some graphite here, in the top swirl, under the colored pencil and love the smear! To finish this drawing I burnished the whole surface with a piece of tissue which gave it a wonderful satin finish and a hazy halo around the edges, which I like.

This is the last one based on a tile. Even though it's quite different from the original design, I still don't want to continue using the basic idea of another contemporary artist. A non-living artist feels okay, but not an artist who is currently producing. So, in the next drawings I have another idea...
Colored pencil drawing using an abstracted design from a tile and randomly chosen color. 4" X 4.25"

These are turning out to be interesting (to me, anyway!) color experiments. I'm building my vocabulary of colors and color relationships. I have never been a faithful student of color theory, so I'm still having a lot of fun seeing what color I'm going to pull from the box, and then seeing what it does in and to the design.

Experiment with rice paper.

Another colored pencil drawing (randomly chosen colors), this time printed on rice paper using my color copier. I crumpled the print, flattened it again and brushed it with black ink to enhance the creases. I painted the back of the print with acrylic medium, and while that was drying I rolled bond paper, with music printed on it, into tubes and glued them to card stock (next time I'll use mat board so that it stays flat). I formed the rice paper print over the tubes using acrylic medium to adhere it and also over the surface. The medium made the print somewhat transparent, so the music is visible through it. I formed the paper at the ends of the tubes to have an opening because I want to use this in a larger piece with something (not sure what yet) extending from the tubes. It's 5"X7" far.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Colored pencil drawing 122912.

Hey! I'm back. Happy New Year.

I wanted to show you the first in a series of colored pencil drawings I'm doing and that I really like. They are inspired by the project I did on Day 363 (last year) where I had to really work the pencil to get a saturated color, which I'd never done before. And, you'll love this part, the colors were chosen by picking out a pencil at random from my box of about 100 different colored pencils. When I see what my blind groping has come up with I say yikes! I would never have chosen THAT! and then it turns out to look more interesting to me than what I might have chosen on purpose. Random. Fun. Spontaneous! Oh, and the initial drawing (design) is a loose interpretation of a fragment of something I saw somewhere.

This drawing is about 4.5" square.