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2021

Chiaroscuro in the Garage

2021/6/12 Chiaroscuro in the Garage

published: [2021-05-28 Fri]

A few years ago some close friends and I used to work-out in the mornings in a garage. The garage was part of the lease of one of these lovely fellas, and we would convene at 6:30 in the morning to use a shared squat rack and some other work out equipment. We would run to this makeshift gym, even in the dead of winter, often slip-sliding our way there.

Sometimes, in the mornings we would be there before our pal who had access to the garage could open it (he slept in once or twice, bless his heart). On these occasions I would climb the roof of the garage by way of a telephone pole with a series of rungs in it, hop down into the back yard, and let ourselves in. What good memories!

On more than one occasion we took a few photos using a film camera. There are a couple good action poses (staged and not staged). The garage had a very eerie, strange light to it. Green-Yellow-ish.

Anyway, I was going through some archives of photos and found one I wanted to paint. Here's how it came out:

It was quite difficult to try and capture both the gradient of light to dark, the colours of the walls, and the amount of shadow and light on the subjects (especially the hair). It really was a challenging exercise in many ways. This was also the first painting I've worked on that took three sittings to do, probably on average of 50 minutes each.

As usual, (and I'm glad for it) - looking back on a photo of the painting, I'm not quite as impressed with it as when I finished it. I am definitely getting better, but I'm also picking more difficult subjects - and so it can be hard to see the progress.

While I want to stay positive about progress, there's a few things here I note that I will want to work on going forward:

  • Getting the anatomy just a bit more correct before starting painting (in pencil.)

  • Being patient with minute brush strokes (the brick details are a bit rushed and random)

  • Generally - pace myself more. I could have fit in more details in the bottom left. I left it out because I was lazy and just filled in black for the corner (probably knowing well at the time that I wouldn't want to attempt to paint over it, despite using acryla-gouache.)

  • On my last day I did the right side of the painting and because I was ready to be done, I rushed. The colour mixing could have been better and the black metals bars connecting the yellow rack could have been more steady and deliberate.

On the other hand, things I'm noticing that I'm pleased with:

  • My lines are going in the right direction (ha).

  • My anatomy isn't horrible. I messed up the middle lad, though, his shoulder is too wide.

  • I think I was able to identify the distinguished the chiaroscuro dark/lights - I was much more conscientous about how it made the photo unique and stand out to me. While I couldn't capture it as I liked, I am delighted at what I was able to do.

    That's it for now. I'll try and paint some more in the coming week.

I suppose another thing worth mentioning is that I'm almost done "Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters". The anatomy chapter was cool - I do want to learn anatomy more than I did before, but I don't think the time is now for it. I love how the author points out that every master in the book was able to draw a figure from their imagination in any position. That's definitely an incredible goal that I would love to acheive some day, but I'm not going to rush toward that in the present.

Simple update

2021/6/6 Simple update

Small update today. After finishing Pen & Ink I fumbled a bit for what I wanted to be my next study resource. Then I remembered that I have not yet finished Drawing lessons from the great mastersº. I have not put a ton of time into reading it this week so hopefully I will remedy that next week. Overall, I'm enjoying it - it is a unique resource and the closest I've come to finding the equivalent of a mentor that could help me look for technique and intent.

I did a bit of plein air this week again. I'm trying to go at least once a week on thursdays. This thursday past I painted a very flat field in a nearby trail in Toronto that I had not known about - there wasn't much to paint but that made for a good challenge. The next day I went for an early morning bike ride to a park on the west side of Toronto and tried painting a subway station. It was a great challenge, and I was pleased at what I was able to do in the short time I was there. After that I got to enjoy another 15km of biking too.

The subway station was certainly a good exercise in paying attention to light, as the early morning sun was cutting some sharp shadows on the architecture. I managed to not screw up the perspective lines (sometimes I don't see them in their actual direction, and draw them going in their opposite direction).

The rest of the week I was mostly working on finishing up a sketchbook, drawing mostly facial features from photos, and focusing on hatching to distinguish light and form. I tried drawing some faces and some full bodies from my mind and wasn't happy with the results, which is making me think studying anatomy and doing more life drawing is in the near future.

To end on a good note, I am pleased with the amount of drawing from life I'm doing - just bringing my sketchbook everywhere I go, sketching on a trail or simply picking something on a nearby table while I wait for something cooking on the stove. It feels like it's become a bit more second nature now and there is less filtering happening.

Some pics for this week:

Pen & Ink and Plein Eir

2021/5/28 Pen & Ink and Plein Eirinkbooks

published: [2021-05-28 Fri]

Today I finished Alphonso Dunn's Pen & Ink book exercise book. I write briefly about it in the Drawingº page and recommend it. It was certainly useful and I enjoyed having a set of directed exercises. Over time, I could see what I was learning being applied to any imaginative / creative drawing I was doing. I haven't really focused a lot on shading and representing value, but now I feel that I have a few actual tools in my toolbelt for trying to conscientously represent values.


I've been inspired to go outside and paint more. Last night I got out into an empty field that I thought would be fairly boring. Sure enough, when I arrived I saw that someone was getting a hair cut in the middle of the field (where I am things are still locked down due to the COVID-19 Pandemic). I sat down on my skateboard, got out my watercolor set and tried to get things done quickly. I'm still very slow, and often I start focusing on details rather than on blocking in large shapes first. This was a good quick lesson in realizing that overthinking details too soon doesn't work in plein eir, at least when the subject might move.

Pandemic Park Haircuts

Drawing lots of chairs

2021/5/26 Drawing lots of chairsshading

published: [2021-05-26 Wed]

Lately I have been working through Alphonso Dunn's Pen and Ink workbook in my mornings before work. It has been very useful for how to think about values and shading - especially with the mechanical pencil I carry with my sketchbook everywhere. I don't do much ink drawing yet, but the techniques in the workbook have been equally applicable while doing some sketching.

I've so far found shading to be intimidating, and most of my movements in that direction feel like childish scribbling with little through process behind it.

Now, after working through the different exercises and learning about different strokes (hatching, cross hatching, curved hatching, scribbling, stippling) and how to apply those strokes (layers, spacing, weight, direction) I've started to integrate some more intentional shading in my drawings.

This weekend past we spent some time at the cottage, where there are lots of chairs - so chairs I drew. I was particularly proud of the first one, where I was able to sit down and draw when there was some nice lighting throwing a shadow across the seat of the chair.

chair 1

chair 2

I suppose I'm a bit subconscious about these chairs, now that a day or two has passed, but I'm starting to get used to that feeling when looking back at something I've made. Still, I'm quite happy that I'm working through the Dunn book at the moment as I'm sure without it these chairs would look much worse!

Starting Off

2021/5/26 Starting Off

updated: 2021-05-26 Wed
published: 2021-05-26 Wed

Lately I've been very inspired by James Gurney, including his diverse and rich content in his blog (which I have only just started reading). I've decided, like with most of the art I'm trying to create right now, to mimic not just what he does when he paints, but his writings about art too.

I'll keep all my writing in this single file Org Modeº file until it becomes unsustainable (if I can sustain my writing long enough for it to be so abundant!) and will perhaps have to break things up or move to a different blogging tool.