Drawing Lesson 4 — Coloring Your Apple

I wasn’t able to resist coloring the apple I drew the other day. The challenge of making videos is satisfying my need to do something creative and productive right now… So…

It’s very revealing. You will see holes in my sweatshirt. You’ll see fingernails that have never had a manicure. I got the idea of doing this video after I came in from cleaning up the yard and didn’t think about the fact that I was wearing my oldest sweatshirt. Perfect attire for wrestling with unwelcome elm trees, though.

Here goes, I hope you enjoy it.

Drawing Lesson 3 — Blind contour drawing

Anyone who really wants to draw should draw every day. The exercise I posted yesterday with the apple is the ideal daily practice. No, you don’t always have to draw an apple. 😉

This is a pre-drawing exercise that focuses on training your eyes and hand to work together. The purpose is to warm up your drawing muscles, all of them.

If you’re doing these exercises, I’d love to see your drawings.

One thing that’s happening on this end, I’m getting better at making videos and using iMovie video editor.

Here’s the apple exercise if you missed it.

Tomorrow I might go into color. 🙂 Thanks for watching.

Drawing Lesson 2 — Another Informal Drawing Lesson

For this lesson you need an apple, a pencil and a Conté crayon (or charcoal, chalk or a crayon). I apologize for the jumping around of the visual and the fact that the camera isn’t always “looking” at something. It was challenging for me to hold the phone, look at the subject (an apple) and show you my work. Maybe I’ll get better at it. 😀

Drawing Lesson One –Adults “How to Draw”

Some friends were interested in drawing lessons once I started with the kids up the alley. I love that!

Anyway, here’s adult lesson 1.

The only thing you need is a How to Draw book of things you like, some paper and something to draw with. One of the kids has a “How to Draw Animals” and the other has “How to Draw Trucks and Other Vehicles.” A friend who loves to ride has “How to Draw Horses.” There are dozens of these books on Amazon and the more basic the better. I think a “how to draw” something you like is the best choice.

Here’s the first adult lesson: Starting to Draw

1) Assemble your tools — paper, pencils and your “how to draw” book. You can draw with anything, and it’s actually better to learn to draw with a tool you cannot erase, like colored pencils, but this is completely YOUR choice because IT DOESN’T MATTER AT ALL!!!!

2) Find a space without distraction, someplace tranquil where you’re unlikely to be interrupted for 30 minutes. Tell your family members to stay the hell away from you because you’re about to engage in something SUPREMELY COOL and holy.

3) Put on some music you like, put in your earphones.

4) TURN OFF YOUR PHONE and all irrelevant alerts.

5) Get a beverage that you like — I drink water with ice in it or sometimes decaf but it doesn’t matter at all. It should be what you like. Wine is good for those who can drink it (I can’t). Poor me.

6) Open your “How to Draw Book” and don’t read too much. Find an image you like or start at the very beginning (It’s a very good place to start, la laa laa)

NOW this is the hard part (for adults…)

Do your best and don’t worry how it comes out. Nobody cares.

Draw for thirty minutes, and if you are still engaged, keep drawing. Do this every day for at least 30 minutes.

Drawing is seeing. It’s amazing how the more a person draws, the more of the world in general they are able to see. It’s better to draw without erasing, to look at your drawing after a day or two, and try again if you’re not happy. Why? Because, the more you draw, the more you’ll see.

I would love to draw WITH you and we can do this via Facebook messenger, Zoom or anything else. Let me know. I think it can be more relaxing for someone to learn to draw when they’re drawing with a pal. Let me know if you want to and when, and I’ll be here to go online with you. I love to draw and I’ll drop whatever I’m doing to draw along with you.

Art Appreciation for the Kids

I got two beautiful things yesterday from the National Gallery. Both are for the kids’ art class. One is a book An Eye for Art and the other is a set of activity cards, Famous Paintings. The book turns out to be not quite their thing at this point of their learning trajectory. The cards, though? That was a brilliant idea. On the back is information about the artist, the painting, the times in which it was painted and an interesting historical fact.


My plan is that out of six cards every few days they will each pick one. It will go into a notebook we’ll make this Friday along with worksheets that tell about the painting and the artist and five reasons they like the painting. I don’t plan to tell them how or why to like a painting. In my humble opinion, there ARE bad paintings, but a lot depends on who’s looking at a painting whether it’s good or not, becomes famous or not. And then there’s personal taste. Because I know them and how they have been raised, I want to stay within their realm of competence, only stretching it a little. My entire goal with the kids is just to get them to look at paintings.

The book is a textbook for art history and art appreciation. What I like about it is its organization — the chapters are not “arty” but instead they look at what the artists were doing in the making of their work. There is a chapter called “Studying Nature” (the first <3) and others “Telling Stories” and “Observing Everyday Life.” I love that. I love the focus ( ha ha ) on artists observing their world and representing it.

I included a geography component to this — in their notebooks they have maps and they have to identify the countries from which the artists come. And, as I was writing this, I realized that the kids are also going to take small journeys through time.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/09/15/rdp-tuesday-stay/

Cold and Dry

I’m not much for dry media. Even my colored pencils are watercolor pencils. I have a beautiful set — untouched for 25 years — of Swiss made Conté Crayons in all colors, but chances are I’ll never use them. But when we were kids, and my brother and I got Jon Gnagy Learn To Draw kits for Christmas, the charcoal was the coolest part of them for me. At that point in my artist “career” I didn’t know how to manage watercolors. Part of that, I now understand, was not having had real watercolor paper. That stuff is a big help. All I had was so called “good paper” (it was all white and had never been used before) and ordinary paper (we got to draw on the backs). Once in a while we’d get an entire drawing pad.

Charcoal was especially good for the exercises in Jon Gnagy’s book that pertained to “values.” My brother was perfectly happy to turn 2 dimensional circles into spheres through shading over and over. I wasn’t. I did it once and that was enough for me. “OK, I get it, NEXT!!!” When I got oil paints, my world changed.

For those who don’t know Jon Gnagy, here’s a video.

The Weather Forecast

This is the forecast for Monte Vista, Colorado. It’s going to be a wild and freezing shit-show with big losses for agriculture, and not just my beans. The total forecast indicates that Monte Vista could get as much as a foot of snow in the three or four day period of this storm. It’s still officially summer here in the US (even though I know those Aussies declare fall on September 1 or Spring, if they happen to be in Australia). It’s snowed in September before in my memory, the fall of 1983, but not this early.

And then it’s supposed to turn back to summer/fall and go on like nothing happened. I’m on the fence about how much I want to fight this on behalf of my beans and tomatoes. I’m going to pick the largest bean pods and bring them in. I’m going to try to cover everything, but four nights of below freezing might turn out to be too much for all of us. Too bad I don’t have one of those charcoal smudge pots they use in the orange orchards.

But I know deep in my soul that nature will as nature will and in the end I have no choice but to resign myself to her/it.

But, I woke up with this poem in my mind. I don’t even like the poem, but considering that last night I trimmed back iris under a fire-sky, red from smoke, and I’m now considering how to cover my plants from frost and wondering where my snow shovel is, it seemed right.

Fire and Ice 

BY ROBERT FROST

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

On that profound note, I leave you. I have to clean up the deck for a Covid-19 tea party, or wake for summer, not sure yet.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/09/07/rdp-monday-charcoal/

Random Stuff…

Last night I watched a couple of speeches from the DNC. They were both good. Bernie Sanders’ had substance; Amy Klobuchar’s didn’t, but it wasn’t meant to. Michelle Obama? I watched, she’s a good speaker, but Bernie Sanders laid it all out.

I wasn’t interested in most of the stuff going on and I decided to come back when it was all over and watch some speakers on Youtube instead, even though I was mildly interested in how a political party would do a convention without doing a convention. I briefly remembered last year’s which I found a grotesque and offensive display. In any case, we’re where we are. I hope this convention succeeds in its goal of inspiring people to get out (or in) and vote. I’m glad Pelosi recalled the House to work on the postal crisis. But basically I’m very tired from living and breathing crises and politics for the past three+ years. I think a good government is one that doesn’t need the relentless attention of the people in the nation.

In other news, on Facebook, I got turned on to the Livestock Guardian Dog group, and it’s the first time I felt that phenomenon of being unable to tear myself away. People are posting their experiences, challenges and questions about their working LGDs — all breeds. Yesterday I decided to share Bear’s story since the only job she’s ever had is taking care of me which she’s awesome at. Not all livestock guardian dogs get to live on farms, but it’s a little unusual for them to be pets, not that I consider Bear to be a pet.

One thing that’s incredible about the group is the universal respect people have for these dogs.

In other news, the Etsy shop has had its first sale to someone I do not know. That’s pretty meaningful for an artist. Friends might buy my work at least partly because it’s connected to me — I do that, anyway. I don’t buy art I don’t like, but when its art done by someone I know whose friendship I value, I really want it. In my kitchen is a pastel drawing by my friend Wes that I got for $40 just because he needed groceries, but I also happened to love the piece. I still do, and now that Wes is dead (HIV) it is a whole world in its way. It’s a real treasure. But, selling to someone who doesn’t know you or care about you at all is another thing.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/08/18/rdp-tuesday-party/

No Where Near Being a Master

Every time I paint, I paint a masterpiece. It’s true. I am completely in love with most of my paintings as I’m painting one and right after I finish it. Then, with few exceptions, I’m not in love with it any more. Sometimes I’m on to the next one, sometimes not.

Maybe the reason I’m not a “master” is because I never got serious about painting. The pity there is that I’m not good at a lot of things and I approach the surface not knowing what’s going to happen. Maybe no artist knows what’s going to happen.

There’s a wildlife artist whose work I like very much, Greg Beecham. His work is amazing. He offers lessons — I’d like to learn some things about his technique. I’m pretty sure he uses glazes, something I’d like to try, but haven’t figured out. I watched a segment of one of his lessons and what intrigued me wasn’t him, what he was saying, or how he was painting, but how he’d literally drawn everything onto the painting surface somehow. It resembled the surface of a paint-by-number kit from back in the day.

When I approach the surface, it’s with colored pencils. Depending on the painting I’m imagining, I might have a small version in water color like this one for a BIG painting I started two years ago and that now overwhelms me. Usually I just block in main areas of color and that’s it for “drawing.”

Sometimes I draw elements of the painting and then take my painting from the drawing, but I don’t normally draw much on the painting surface. In my mind there’s a difference between a drawing and a painting. I think most artists have their ‘approach.”

I drew this painting on an envelope at a conference. There are a lot of strange things in this painting. First, I painted it in California but it is a painting of the San Luis Valley down to the contour line of the San Juans as you see them from the 160 between Monte Vista and Alamosa, pure accident. Second, it was inspired by the stranger than fiction tale of having written about my own family in Savior without knowing it at the time. When I did genealogical research later and discovered that, I realized that all I’m ever going to find as a writer is something about myself and the entire planet is an immense graveyard of bones and stories.

I integrated a quotation from Goethe as the bottom strata of the land where “I” am digging. It says: “How all in a single whole doth weave, one in the other works and lives.” This painting hangs in my living room along with another that is more mysterious, even to me.

The World is Out There

I didn’t fully understand this painting until I’d lived here for a year. I painted it in California few years before I moved. It began as a painting for my stepson and his wife, a street scene of New York I started in oils and realized it would be better as a watercolor. Quite a distance from one to the other…

My paintings — for me — fall into two categories. Personal paintings and landscapes. Only one landscape has crossed the line a little bit.

I don’t have — for myself — an identity as an artist. It would take more painting for me to figure that out. Mostly I experiment and play.

In school, I got encouragement from some teachers and outright discouragement from others. Over the course of my life, what this gave me was freedom. I didn’t even try to make a living as an artist. I didn’t believe I could, I understood the competition and the difficulty, and art went into the “garage,” the “shed,” and now the back room. It’s good that it did. Most of us are not going to be “great artists.” I’ve had some work hang in juried shows and sold most of my bigger paintings which is good because they take up space, but I think the best I can do is enjoy painting.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2020/02/02/rdp-sunday-masterpiece/

Natural Pigments #5

All my paintings kind of look the same because winter in the Rio Grande Riparian Zone looks pretty much the same everywhere. Today I decided to try painting all in one “swoop” and learned from my friend, Rita Cirillo, painting that way is called Alla Prima. Basically, painting wet into wet. I’m not an artist that mixes a lot of colors and with the natural pigments that hasn’t worked really well since the colors are all, essentially, dirt. They mix all-right with each other and with white, but they are also what they are, no matter what.

This little painting is the work of an afternoon, basically two hours.

I think I’m finished for a while. There is nothing new happening in the paintings now, but who knows.