Thursday, November 2, 2017

Musical composition

edited using GIMP

Music and Art, have something in common. Composition. I wanted MORE than just a visual, of musicians playing their instruments. Music, and art, had to somehow blend together.

Not entirely sure how I would achieve that, I experimented with my free digital software, GIMP.  I scanned the original sketches in my art journal, then set about cropping each image. It had to represent the best expression, of the individual musician and their instrument. When I began rearranging each picture in relation, to the next, I discovered the "white space", was talking to me.

If you notice the violinist on the far right, I flipped her, so she was facing the other way, to the original sketch. Because the lines worked better that way. As a triptych, the form of the instruments and the musician's arms, made a kind of geometric shape. Resembling closest to a triangle, and yet, not entirely enclosing the ends, either.

I always intended this to be a triptych - or 3 individual pieces, meant to hang together. While I'm happy with the composition, I'm not sure what medium I will use. Should I stick with pen & paper, or venture into paint?

Friday, October 13, 2017

Triptych times

So there was this incredibly LOOONG spell, between my creative muses. I put it down to being uncomfortable with my mediums. I've tried painting, charcoal, pastel, watercolour, different kinds of crayons, pencils, and even collage. No matter what I tried though, my muse always felt stifled. So I had to force it onto the page.

Naturally, that kind of creativity isn't enjoyable - so I've been avoiding the studio, ever since. But then something dawned on me recently. I was listening to music with my headphones, and the main lyric in the chorus was, "write your story on my heart." Don't ask me why, but that repeated chorus ignited an old story, in my heart.

Me, a piece of paper and a pencil - that's how it all began. From as early as I can remember, this is how I taught myself to draw. Three muses, like a trio of musicians, working together to find the right note. Was this, what I was missing? Then my subject matter, suddenly fell into my lap...

Violinist #1

Using an image online as a rough guide, I started to play with lines, in ways I haven't felt confident doing before. I played with the long diagonal of the bow, contrasting with the neck of the violin. Then, completely out of the blue, she was wearing a curved hat, with extra lines to match the bow. Was it even meant to be a hat? I was just playing with what lines could express.

Violinist #2

Another violinist, but this time, her stance was more subdued. The bow was almost vertical, as if she was willing the perfect note into being. I played with her hair, to make the curves, mirror the shape of the violin. But after I finished the sketch, it felt out of balance somehow. So I added a large spherical object - most likely a moon, in the background. It embraced her and the violin.


To finish the triptych, I needed a cello player. To my surprise, it was the cello that wasn't going to play second-fiddle, here. As I continued to sketch, it filled up more of the page and hid the cellist. I liked this contrast, against the other two musicians. I wasn't sure how to treat the face, so cast shadows across her eyes. Which looked more like a blindfold. I decided it was acceptable. Because it was like the cello could play itself, without seeing the eyes or expression of the musician.

I knew when my muse hit me, what I was missing in the studio. Illustration. It was how I became an artist, in the first place. It's the one thing I don't have to force. I've decided to dance with illustration once more, and see where it leads me.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Tranquility piece

It's been ten months since I worked in my studio. Nesting priorities, come first at this stage in my life. But what was working against me getting back in there, was having my studio overtaken with remnants of a quilt project, and anything else we cared to dump, when visitors were expected

I did a massive clean recently, and reclaimed my creative space. To mark this special occasion, I selected a subjected matter, I hoped would create a sense of tranquility and reflection, in my new space.

I found a picture online, of a young girl, playing with water from a jetty. But she had a frilly skirt on, and I wanted to create a lady. So I sketched with charcoal, something more from my mind - using the online image for cues.

I started with hot pick and green acrylic paint, for a more abstract use of colours. But the more I added, the more I found the pink burning into my retina. I wanted something more tranquil.

Using white gesso, helped me tone back the pink, with just a hint remaining. I could probably play with this piece some more, but figured it went against the tranquility I was aiming for. Too many details would have forced me to concentrate, more than I actually planned to.

So I leave it on my wall as a reminder, not to force creativity. Just accept it, how it flows sometimes.

Materials used: watercolour paper, charcoal, gesso, acrylic paint and water soluble, artbar.

Monday, October 10, 2016


What a difference, appropriate materials make! I explained the problem I had with my first monochrome attempt, was the IXL charcoal blocks - used on top of the gesso paint. Well, I found some charcoal sketching pencils, hidden in my supplies cupboard, which I hoped would be more appropriate. I used the "soft" one (as opposed to medium, or hard) with great success this time.

The charcoal blended perfectly with the gesso paint and allowed me to make more expressive marks. I used a reference picture of a windmill, but added my own marks to make it appear as if, it was moving.

It's a simple study, but one of my favourites. Because it's the first time I've been able to capture "movement". It aims a little more on the abstract side (technique wise) but still a recognisable subject in the end.

I was able to complete this in about an hour. Why is it important to note the time? Because it's one of the strategies I'm using to be able to fit creative time in. It's a little window I get in the evenings, where toddlers are asleep and older siblings can watch a favourite show with dad. So small and simple projects, are what works best.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Male torso

I did a painting during the Touchstone course, which I would not normally do. It wasn't part of the course material, but I stumbled across it on the course creator's video collection.

When (or if) I ever find that video again, I'll be sure to post a link. I could not find it in my history files, and a search of the blog again, did not result in success either. It was actually a tutorial from one of the courses she runs, to demonstrate what to expect from the course. Perhaps it was removed?

So anyway, enter my abstract figure painting, in acrylic...

completed September 28

I decided to opt for a male figure, as it tends to be traditional to paint the female figure. The entire painting is different to anything I would normally do, but what I like about the Touchstone course, is how it pushes you beyond what you believe you are capable.

Not that it necessarily "forces" you to. It's however much you want to push yourself, in whatever direction you choose. It was fun to be prompted outside my regular process.

Monochrome Bromeliad

I haven't been very good at updating my progress on the Touchstone course. It has now officially completed (the live session anyway) but we are free to return to the private members group on Facebook, to continue sharing our progress. I will endeavour to continue updating this blog, with the art I made during this time.

Recently, I drew a monochrome study, as part of the course. The aim was to get a feel for the different values between white and black.

Bromeliad - click to enlarge

It was recommended charcoal and gesso (thick white paint) be used together. Although I found it really difficult to work with them. The gesso went over the charcoal, no problem, but the charcoal ate into the gesso - leaving indent marks, instead of black.

I switched to an oil pastel however and it worked much better on the gesso. If I were to do this again, I would just use my white and black charcoal blocks. It was a fun exercise nonetheless.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The worker

As one of the exercises I worked through for my online course, I chose a worker, planting rice in a paddy field. When looking for reference photos, I stumbled across the humble rice paddy worker, and there was something about them, I deeply admired...

I respect the fact their civilisation, took to feeding themselves by the sweat of their own brow. There's no industrial agriculture here, feeding extremely large populations. Their food is somewhat sacred, by maintaining their annual pact with the land, to respect the paddy field. Sacred, because they placed themselves delicately in the environment which would feed them. Complimentary to abundance.

Any civilisation which still feeds itself like this, is ahead of the Western civilisation pack, in my opinion. Because they have natural equity to farm from, instead of depletion and erosion. The people themselves also have beautiful environments to work in, without heavy pollution and cumbersome infrastructure.

So it was with great admiration and respect, I captured their important work in their sacred office. Truly worth committing to paper. The IXL charcoal blocks I worked with, complimented this earthy subject beautifully too. In some cases, like the trees and bamboo in the background, I barely had to scrape the surface.

For so many reasons, I really enjoyed working on this piece.