Crockett’s Funky Main Street

Crockett Main Street, ink and watercolor, 10x8 in

Crockett Main Street, ink and watercolor, 10×8 in

Inspired by a wonderful urban plein air painting workshop and demo by one of my favorite artists, Randy Sexton, I sketched the main street in the funky little town of Crockett that houses his studio, Epperson Gallery and a tattoo parlor. Randy is one of the nicest gentlemen I’ve ever met, as well as a highly skilled and talented painter, and a gifted teacher.

Crockett is home to many oddball characters and funky old bars and shops. When I said I’d love to paint portraits of some of the local denizens he said he’d been doing just that, starting from when a professional model didn’t show up for a figure painting session. He and his fellow artists just popped in to one of the neighborhood dive bars and recruited a regular to come pose for cash and beer.

Leo Take Two: Same Dog, Revised Painting

Leo, Dog Portrait, Take Two, oil on panel, 8x10

Leo, Dog Portrait, Take Two, oil on panel, 8×10

After I varnished Leo’s painting and was going to deliver it to the family that commissioned it, I realized I wasn’t satisfied with the background. I asked for and was granted permission to adjust it. It’s a good thing Leo’s people are very patient: I asked for an extra two weeks but then my dog Millie started having epileptic grand mal seizures and my cat Busby got sick and I was spending more of my time nursing animals than painting them.

Finally, after many visits to the emergency vet hospital, my family vet, and a veterinary neurologist (thank goodness for pet insurance) Millie has stabilized on her meds (no seizures in over a week), and Busby has sadly has passed on to Kitty Heaven. He was a beautiful cat and my remaining kitty Fiona misses him, even though he was a bit of a bully, like big brothers can sometimes be.

Back in the studio I explored how to rework the background. What bothered me was the way the it divided the painting in half vertically and how vague it was. With my realistic approach to the dog, it felt like the background needed more detail so I tried to suggest some of the actual greenery in Leo’s Northern California backyard (see photo below) and added some sky to add depth.

Below, copied from the previous post, are the reference photo and the work in progress before I got to the finished painting above.

EDiM Medley: Days 5, 6, 7

EDiM 5-6-7: Hot, Bristles, Envelope, ink and watercolor, 8x10

EDiM 5-6-7: Hot, Bristles, Envelope, ink and watercolor, 8×10

May 5 was “Draw Something Hot.” I went for the obvious, a cup of hot tea because I like this cup and I was short on imagination and time due to some “first world problems” (iPhone went bad and required way too many wasted hours to restore it).

May 6 was “Something with Bristles.” I wanted to draw the odd, bristly whiskers under my dog’s chin but she wouldn’t hold still long enough. Instead here’s a bristly bottle brush with a bonus soft cotton tip. I bought it to clean something I apparently no longer own since I haven’t used it in years and can’t remember what it was for. I created the bristles by painting in watercolor and then adding white gel pen.

May 7 was “Envelope” and this is the Mothers Day card and envelope I sent to my mom after I sketched it.

Portrait of Richard for Julia Kay’s Portrait Party

Richard for JKPP, Gouache, 7.5x6 inches

Richard for JKPP, Gouache, 7.5×6 inches

I really tried to focus on two things with this portrait, getting the drawing right and keeping the gouache colors light (gouache dries darker). For once I managed to keep a tilted head tilted in my drawing–for some reason my brain always wants to make everything upright and symmetrical. It doesn’t surprise me since I learned that the image that comes in from our eyes is upside down and it’s our brains that convert it to right-side up. My brain definitely has a mind of its own…oh wait a minute–it is my mind!

Below is the original pencil drawing over which I painted the gouache. I wish I could show you the photo I worked from, but I think those are only meant to be visible to members of Julia Kay’s Portrait Party, which you can apply to join on Flickr and play too, if you want to.

Richard for JKPP, Graphite, 7.5x6 inches

Richard for JKPP, Graphite, 7.5×6 inches

Painting with Gouache: Color Charts, Zorn Palette, Brush Tests

Zorn Palette color chart in gouache, 10x8 inches in A4 Moleskine

Zorn Palette color chart in gouache, 10×8 inches in A4 Moleskine

In trying to learn more about gouache I made a few color charts. I’m using mostly M. Graham gouache which I like much better than the Winsor & Newton and Schmincke I used before. The Graham gouache is creamy and brilliant, rewets well and doesn’t smell (like the W&N). I found that using fresh-squeezed gouache is more fun to work with than rewetting dried paint, but frugality keeps me trying to reuse dried. The best solution is to set up a palette for each session, squeezing out tiny blobs, adding more as needed.

Above is an exploration of the Zorn palette in gouache, a limited palette using only Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red, White, and Black. The black paint, when mixed with white, is meant to serve as blue since it is a cool color that can look blue next to warm colors. Next I want to try using it in an actual painting.

M. Graham Gouache paint chart, gouache in A4 Moleskine, 10x4 inches

M. Graham Gouache paint chart, gouache in A4 Moleskine, 10×4 inches

Above is a chart of my gouache colors straight from the tube and mixed with white and each other. Sadly when I removed the masking tape it pulled off some of the paper from the extra large Moleskine watercolor notebook that is my current journal. I don’t recall previous Moleskine WC notebooks having that problem but I’ve switched to low-tack tape now.

Before ordering any new brushes specifically for gouache I wanted to see how the brushes I already had might work so did the test below. I found a few that I liked and ordered a couple of others. I’ll do another post about my gouache palette and brushes I’ve settled on soon.

Old brushes-testing for gouache

Old brushes-testing for gouache

Drawing My Dreams Daily Again

Girl with wildly matted hair on pretty deck off pretty kitchen. Old lady dancing for people while workmen powerwashing on a roof spray water than turns to hail.

LEFT: Girl with wildly matted hair on pretty deck off pretty kitchen. RIGHT: Old lady dancing for people while workmen powerwashing on a roof spray water that turns to hail. Ink and White Pitt pen in compact Moleskine, 5.5 x 7 inches.

I used to start my mornings by drawing images from my dreams but got out of the habit some years back. I got inspired to start again after seeing Nina Johansson’s project of drawing from imagination daily in a Moleskine daily planner. Her strangely beautiful pages are skillfully drawn scenes from a vivid imagination. I loved her idea of using a dated journal so I bought up a pocket-sized yellow Moleskine planner and started drawing my dreams again every morning.

Russian soldiers marching and big feet. Chinese vase with butterflies and lady bugs.

Russian soldiers marching and big feet. Chinese vase with butterflies and lady bugs.

I was pretty rusty at first, but with each drawing I’m feeling more confident about mostly drawing without references or props, and without worrying about accuracy. I’m using a variety of pens including Pitt Artist Brush Pens and their new PITT Artist Pen – White pen that works really well. I’m throwing out all the other yucky white markers I tried before.

The big screen kiss and lots of goats. Visiting my secret hidden basement room again and bowl of M&Ms.

The big screen kiss and lots of goats. Visiting my secret hidden basement room again and bowl of M&Ms.

The paper in the journal is thin so there is a little show-through from previous pages but the Pitt pens are great at not bleeding.

Woke with a migraine: shipwreck and monkey. Eat on Time.

Woke with a migraine: shipwreck and monkey. Eat on Time.

Sometimes if there are no visuals from the previous night’s dreams or I wake with a migraine, I draw what I’m feeling or something else related to life, like the two above, the migraine image on left and the reminder to eat on time (to help prevent stupid migraines).

Guy from Ace Hardware tried to take my dog and phone. Tall ships, bundt cake and a painting in progress.

Guy from Ace Hardware tried to take my dog and phone. Tall ships, bundt cake and a painting in progress.

Odd, the food items that appear in my dreams, mostly stuff I don’t eat.

No dream, just a sketch of a shitty migraine.

No dream, just a sketch of a shitty migraine.

From time to time I’ll post my favorite dream sketches here, but if you’d like to see them as I draw them, visit Drawing My Dreams Daily on Tumbler or my Instagram page, which I’m using to keep daily posting simple (no computer, just iPhone shots of the sketch).

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