Saturday, 31 May 2014

Life's a struggle

Life drawing is a process, as they say.  Usually the process is: 1. Trial.  2. Error.  3. Repeat.

The first model was a muscular woman, but she posed in a slouched seated posture.  It was hard to reconcile the two.  The charcoal drawing captures the muscular part, but not the slouch - and looks a bit like something from a sci-fi graphic novel.  The painting captures the slouch better, but misses the muscles.  And then because it was a long pose, I felt obliged to try the feet and hand.  I like the composition; the anatomical accuracy, not so much. As a fellow life-drawer said, "drawing the feet" is awfully similar to "drawing defeat".

The right side of the next week's model came out oddly shrunken compared to the left side in the painting below, but I still can't decide where that puts the picture on the scale from "interesting" to "creepy weird".  The charcoal drawing was a bit bland, so I added a background (the drawing is on translucent mylar, so the paint is on the back).  It's okay, except I made him balance precariously on his left shin.  That placid, slightly supercilious look is about to change into one of shock, as he tumbles backward into the abstract Howe Sound sunset.

Sometimes I like best the drawings I do at the end of a session, quickly with the flat side of a charcoal pastel stick.  They never fail to meet my expectations, since I have none by that point.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Society for the Promotion of Purple Houses

The Society for the Promotion of Purple Houses uses a liberal definition of "purple" - extending through red, orange and yellow in one direction, and blue and green in the other.  Basically, anything that isn't grey or brown.  But this house on McFadden St. just off Commercial Drive in Vancouver doesn't need any stretching of definitions.  It definitely, unmistakeably, unabashedly purple.  

Monday, 19 May 2014

Granville Island again

 Granville Island is a favourite with the UrbanSketchers, and, on a long weekend, with most of the non-UrbanSketchers as well.  5000 people walked by me as I stood against a railing drawing the cement plant.  Half of them bumped into me, so I decided I'd climb the railing and draw from inside the cement yard.  I was midway into scaling the fence when the 5001st person came by, who happened to be a security guard.  He quizzed me on my intentions.  "I'm going to draw without being run over by tourists every 30 seconds."  "Well, that's alright then."  I suspect they've seen far more outrageous behaviour with the art college on the island.

I drew some of the passing multitudes, human, canine and avian.  I did the drawings by looking intently at the person/creature for a few seconds then closing my eyes like a camera shutter - I make a little clicking noise in my mind - then drawing the photo I've taken on the back of my eyelids.  It sort of works if you're not too fussy about the details.

The boat is a quick drawing in the 5 minutes before the group met up at the end of the day.  The Aquabuses are little shuttles that scoot around the bay.  I think they might be re-fitted bathtubs.  But they are a bit more sea-worthy than my vertically-exaggerated drawing makes them look.

Friday, 16 May 2014

David and Carolina

No, not a tale of secret romance - two trees on Grand Boulevard.  Carolina is the Carolina silverbell, a lovely little southener covered in white bell-shaped flowers, with large exotic-looking seeds.  I managed not to notice it in the 14 years we have both been living in the neighbourhood.  David, six blocks away, is Davidia involucrata, more commonly - but less elegantly - known as the Kleenex tree.  (Its marketing people try to have it known as the "dove tree", or at least the "handkerchief tree", but everyone not named David calls it the Kleenex tree.)  Both are at their finest now in the middle of spring, ringing their tiny bells or waving their handkerchiefs to each other, forlorn, separated by those six suburban blocks, before tomorrow's rain and the summer's drought wither them away... Maybe it is a secret romance after all?

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

A tale of two habitats

I did my annual bicycle pilgrimage up the Seymour River on the weekend.  It's the easiest place to ride to to hear blue grouse for my annual non-motorized bird list (birds seen or heard in places you get to from home without involving a motor).  There is also a stand of truly magnificent Sitka spruce trees.  I drew an area of "habitat enhancement" (according to the sign).  It was cold and damp, and downright gloomy, with the only signs of life being two chickadees, a forlorn mallard and one water strider.  It's really meant to be enhancement for salmon and trout fry, and even they were missing from the lifeless black water.  My drawing was quick, because it wasn't a pleasant place to be.  I then moved to a natural side channel on the river, and it was full of creatures: mergansers, rough-winged swallows, band-tailed pigeons, flickers, sapsuckers, several warblers, two vireo species, flycatchers, robins, jays, a kingfisher, two deer, and tracks of a bear and a weasel.  It didn't hurt that the sun finally came out when I was there.  But I think there's a lesson about trying to engineer something like "habitat" that nature is pretty good at making herself.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Recent life drawing

 Here are some life drawings from the last week.  Ones with two legs and no wings are done in water-soluble ink and watercolour, or my usual stand-by of charcoal on mylar.  The other models were not quite as good at holding poses, and were done quickly in permanent ink and watercolour.