rich surfaces

frog teapot july 12 sennelier oilcard

The Sennelier oil pastel card paper was sitting in the pile from years ago.  When I first purchased the paper, I used it with Sennelier’s own oil pastels — and I didn’t really like the results particularly.  I’ve since found out about another artist who uses Sennelier card with Sennelier oil pastel to great effect — Benjamin Hope — so I might reconsider (though Sennelier oil pastels are a little pricey for my budget).  I already have some Sennelier oil pastels — but using them, for me, feels like going to visit the Queen.

Anyway, I am using the paper for the drawing above with Caran d’Ache Neopastel and I love the smooth effect.  It’s very rich.  Amazing how differences in paper affect the materials so keenly.  Thus I’ve found a use for the paper that I love and now of course I want to get more of it!  Even though the present tablet sat unused literally for years …

The great thing about good papers, though — they last!  Almost forever …


art supplies!

seashell on strathmore 500 9x12

I got a new supply of paper so I can knock myself out drawing seashells and the blue jay figurine, the frog teapot, the flowers of Capitol Hill and whatever else captures my fancy.

This drawing above is Neopastel on Strathmore 500 charcoal paper.  I also got Strathmore 400 pastel paper, these in two different sizes.  They are added to my supply of Canson pastel paper and Sennelier oil pastel card.  So I’m experimenting with lots of papers.

And my daily motto now is “draw till you drop.”  Sleep.  Repeat.

bird brain (and frog teapot brain)

blue jay and frog teapot july 13 am

Drawing and redrawing this duo, I have a bird on my brain — and a frog teapot.  I no longer know if I am making studies for the painting, or if I’m just obsessed with the motif.  Degas had advised artists to redraw the same thing ten times, a hundred times. He also said that you should draw things from different angles — and he was true to his word as his drawing of the circus performer Miss La La of the Cirque Fernando amply demonstrates.  (She is seen from below, hanging from a trapeze by her mouth.)

I had to find something that mesmerizes me sufficiently before I began drawing the same things from lots of different angles.  Who would have guessed that it’d be a blue jay figurine and a frog teapot.

bird and frog teapot june 19

en plenitude

two lilies 2 july 11 (2)

Been drawing!  En plein air, I drew these two lilies.  There were three, but I ran out of time (parking regulations), the sun shifted finding me straight in the path of its hot rays, and the mosquito invasion began to wear upon my patience. But I like what I managed to depict in just under 2 hours.

It would have been fun to have taken a photo of the set up.  I could have shown my flowers right next to their models because indeed they were “right there.”  But I am getting the hang of going out to paint and still learning what equipment I want.  I forgot my camera.  Need to form a habit of including it among the gear.

Here’s a close up of the main flower —

two lilies detail july 11

in between times

rock creek park scene

Courses in life seldom run straight.  Like a river or creek they bend against time.  I work steadily toward my “big painting” project and yet it seems to be standing still at present.  In between times I am also beginning to draw landscapes outdoors in oil pastel.  I made this drawing quickly.

Might be going out again today.  These drawings — at present — aren’t ones that I set out to make — not yet — not so far.  They are instead things that I do while I’m waiting around for someone else.  So sometimes when I am on someone else’s schedule, I still draw.  I am finding more and more that bits of time gathered here and there are useful for seeing.  I probably never would have made this drawing had I not found myself momentarily at loose ends.

And you never know where these things lead.

setting the stage

studio with painting and studies.jpg

Lots of props help me to organize my materials, and once I’m ready to resume working on my big painting I will have all these tools at my disposal.  Several music stands prove very useful for placing studies where I can see them.  Everything is ready except me.

I am stuck on the position of two objects: the much drawn blue jay figurine and the frog teapot.  I still cannot decide how I want them arranged.  So I am delayed in painting.  At some point I shall simply have to choose and be done with it.  In the interim, I admit that I do enjoy drawing and redrawing these objects in search of my visual solution.


a finger in many pies

moth on june 25

Even as work proceeds on “the Big Painting,” I still have other projects that need attention.  One is this partly completed 30 x 40 inch painting of a moth.  I am at a crossroads of sorts with it and must decide which direction it will go.  And I must decide fairly quickly as I have plans for it — plans that have a deadline attached.

But the lovely thing is that every activity helps with all the others.  Making drawings after sculpture at the National Gallery sharpens my drawing skills for my other work.  And the Big Painting and this picture of the moth have more relationships to each other than might ever be apparent to an outside observer.  So it all works together.

drawing with friends

drawing 6 alphonse legros

I went to the National Gallery of Art today to draw in the sculpture galleries with my friend.  The drawing above is from  Aimé-Jules Dalou’s portrait of Alphonse Legros.  I’ve drawn it before.   And I drew it twice more today.  The drawing above is today’s second drawing.  Below is the first, which was also a sort of “warm up” drawing.

drawing 5 alphonse legros

The first drawing measures 12 inches in length in the longest area; the second measures 11 inches, but the man’s features are larger in the warm up because the format is tightly cropped in a notebook.  Both are drawn using Caran d’Ache Neopastel crayons, using just three colors.

After doing these two largish drawings I turned to a smaller notebook to draw two of Rodin’s face studies of Honoré Balzac, both of which are amazing sculptural works and comparatively difficult to draw for their exaggerations and foreshortening.

I started first with a pencil drawing made very freely.  I let myself get acquainted with things when I draw and some drawings are ways of talking to myself about what I’m seeing.

drawing 4 balzac

For the other drawings I made of the Balzac, I used a wonderfully expressive Stabilo CarbOthello pastel pencil.

drawing 1 balzac

In each drawing I feel like I am learning something about Rodin’s visual ideas and his feelings about the man he was portraying.  He portrays Balzac as a powerful and mysterious figure. It tells something about the power of great art that Rodin’s forms create these inferences about Balzac’s personality in ways that photography of the man clearly does not. In contrast with the writer’s rather ordinary appearance, Rodin creates a Protean figure while preserving elements of likeness.

drawing 2 balzac

The forms are so exaggerated that it’s difficult to get them right.  But I will draw these sculptures again because I want to learn these things.

drawing 3 balzac

I realize too that I have to allow myself my own reactions — that I am reacting to Rodin, and I am reacting to my reactions to Rodin, and I am translating the three dimensional images into 2 dimensional ones, and striving to be sensitive to the qualities of the particular materials that I’m using whether it’s the Neopastels or pencil or pastel pencil.

The drawing that made of Dalou’s Alphonse Legros appears in an earlier post:

Here’s today’s Legros and that earlier one together:

Of course the wonderful thing about sculpture is that you can walk around it and draw from different vantage points.


A link to the NGA feature on the sculpture can be found at that post.  And a link to NGA’s two Rodin faces of Balzac is here:

and here:



drawing without friends

after brocade in Cezanne portrait of Hortense Met

I was supposed to be drawing with friends Sunday, but I misplaced them.  My drawing group was meeting at one of the other museums on the mall and I had planned to join them.  But I could find nowhere to park until too late, and that parking space was quite far away.

However, I did draw at the National Gallery of Art, making some drawings after Cezanne. Above I drew one section of the curtain in the Met’s painting of Hortense, the artist’s wife. You can find the section of a fruit with leaves on the lower right below.


I also drew some faces from two other paintings.

after Cezanne Hortense

Both of these are portraits of Hortense.

after Cezanne

Love drawing Cezanne.  Sorry I missed seeing the friends.  But glad that I did get to make drawings after Cezanne’s beautiful paintings anyway.