the big sheet of paper

Where Fishes Swim in Clouds 42 x 51

Here’s the big drawing of kois swimming in a basin of blue Neocolor crayon.  It measures 42 x 51 inches and it’s on watercolor paper.  I mentioned in the previous post that I tested using acrylic varnish as a coating to seal the Neocolor, using a little test drawing.

Soon I have to apply that procedure to this drawing.  It’s going to be a bit of a nail biter.  Wish me luck!

“Koi Silk” at the Art League

koi silk in frame

Got a chance to see the January exhibit at the Virginia Art League and to photograph my oil pastel Koi Silk in situ.  I love the framing which was done by Carriage House Framing.   The whole thing measures 41.5 x 29 inches.

Here’s another view for scale.

koi silk at Art League

The exhibit in historic Old Town Alexandria goes through February 4.

Here’s a link for Carriage House Framing.

http://carriage-house-picture-framing.business.site/

 

featured work: Celestial Koi

celestial koi 54 x 40 smaller

I like to work large, and this pastel called “Celestial Koi” is large.  The seam that’s visible in the photograph is there because I put two sheets of pastel paper together to create the picture.  Overall it measures 54 x 40 inches. Because I used sanded paper I couldn’t use a single sheet — unless I had applied a sanded ground to watercolor paper myself.  This drawing is made on UArt paper — which is wonderful.  It looks just like sandpaper — it basically is just like sandpaper, but is a form of sandpaper made to the exacting conservation standards required for an artists’ material.

So the visible seam is a fundamental part of the picture, part of its form.

Anyway, one of the joys of presenting artwork at the Fine Arts America site is that they offer reproductions at fairly large sizes.  This image can be purchased as large as “48 x 35.8.”  So it’s not as large as the original, but it’s still pretty large.

The original pastel on the easel appears below.  Some of the interior objects, the bookcases and whatnot, give a hint at the scale.  I had just gotten the UArt paper and I was going crazy drawing kois.

studio 4 (2)

Some background: like many visitors to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, I have long admired the many banners hanging from the building that advertise visiting exhibitions.  And like many visitors I have wondered what happens to the banner when the exhibit concludes?  They are of course too large to hang inside someone’s home — but some of the banners could be cut down in interesting ways and adapted for interior decoration ….

nga banner

Seeing those banners instilled a longing in me to create large versions of some of my pictures for not only do I enjoy making large pictures, I also particularly like making large drawings.  A large drawing is one that you can get inside of — all the whimsy and freedom of a drawing can be there — only LARGE. Thus one of the hopes I have for my Fine Art America site is that it can feature more and more large drawings, some that are in small drawings blown up and others that are real-live large drawings.  We’ll see what happens with that.  I’ll keep you posted.

I imagine the Celestial Koi in a room with a lot of yellow.  It could make a wonderful contrast in an airy, buttery, yellow colored room.  I found this room on the internet.  (I like to search for images of beautiful rooms on the internet!)

-yellow-living-rooms-yellow-rooms
This is someone’s gorgeous room.  But if you take down those prints — lovely as they are — and replace them with my large blue koi pastel — wouldn’t that be wonderful?!

Just like that!  Kois over here, imagine them over there. Or in any similarly airy, gracious room in need of a large company of fish ….

Here’s a link to “Celestial Koi” —

https://aletha-kuschan.pixels.com/featured/celestial-koi-aletha-kuschan.html

the rain outside

dark pond quartet drawing

It’s a rainy day here where I am. It may be sunny where you read this, but you have your rainy days too.

I love the rain: it shows us another side of life. Rain is calming. Rain slows you down. It interferes with your plans, but it makes you accommodate its plans which are Nature’s plans.

A room takes on a new character on a rainy day. Corners of the room farthest from the light assume an air of mystery. Some pictures are like rainy days. They are dark. They are mysterious and somewhat amorphous perhaps. This drawing of the koi pond yearns after that element of shadow, of light obscured, of darkness that you can peer into, a darkness that holds ideas and memories.

I feel like the rain outdoors falls onto this pond as well — in imagination — and makes ripples travel across its water’s surface.

This is one of the drawings available at my Fine Art America site.  You can find it here — especially if you’re looking for something for a rainy day —

https://fineartamerica.com/featured/abstracted-koi-pond-aletha-kuschan.html

And I’ve written about it before, here:

https://alethakuschan.wordpress.com/2016/12/14/looking-back-thinking-ahead/

more of these guys are coming soon

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These were the prototypes.  I have a big clean canvas ready for a new version of this motif.  And I’m getting ready to begin it fairly soon.  A large preliminary drawing is in the works.

But note, I used to have a lot of studio space as illustrated above.  Now I’m inhabiting smaller quarters. Thus I am beginning the Big Tidy Campaign of 2017.  The thought of being able to comfortably work on this motif is one of my incentives to action.

Tidying is the chore.  The big koi pond will be my reward.

It’ll be fun to jump into the pond again … though I still have finishing touches to put on a companion piece.  That’ll be fun too.  But first I must reorganize.

finding the fish

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A close up view of the fish drawing is pure abstraction.  You can hardly tell there’s a fish there except for a bit contour — that along with being told — does vaguely produce a minimum of fishiness.  I am an abstract artist — in some respects.  Someone told me this, one of my insightful students.  I wasn’t even aware.

Why do I like the scrawl of the crayon more than the specific features of the fish itself?  Well, I only like them better in some pictures.  In other pictures I’d be quite content to imitate the look of a koi sliding through the water. But here the energy of crayon markings in bright colors has gotten the better of me.  The markings capture some of the alacrity of koi energy.

There’s still fish there.  And it matters too that they’re fish.

This detail occurs in the giant rehearsal drawing.  I reworked it based on some random lights and shadows that fell on the drawing when I was outdoors photographing it.  Here’s a picture of it indoors with the tool box and step stool to give a sense of its actual size.

drawing indoors

koi variations

The big koi drawing got a rework.

 

big koi april 9 drawing state 2 (2)A few days ago (April 2nd) I posted a large preparatory drawing that I have used to rehearse a large painting that’s in the works.  The drawing is 50 x 42.5 inches large.  One challenge an artist faces making large works is photographing them.  In my case there isn’t enough natural light available in the room where I work to get a good photograph.  Doing photography outdoors, of course, introduces its own challenges (not the least of which is how to drag the drawing and its huge heavy drawing support outside).

Well, I got the drawing and its heavy support outside. But then I had to locate a place with indirect light because the first and easiest location for my photo shoot produced the image seen below.  Very charming, but not descriptive of the drawing.

koi drawing with lights (3)

The photo did however prompt a wonderful idea: the photograph with its “clouds” was so lovely.

 Why not make those effects part of the drawing itself?

And I have since altered the drawing (new version at the top of the post) to introduce some of these lights that remind me of cloud reflections floating over the koi pond.  The over-exposed sections of light, made more dramatic in contrast to various shadows, are not real clouds, but they’re close enough to push the picture in that direction, and do note that these effects were still natural ones.

These were lights and shadows I found in nature. I’m still imitating nature here.

Certainly it’s possible to continue a process of this sort, I’ve taken the reworked drawing outdoors again and repeated this process.

big koi april 9 2 (2)

New lights and shadows in new locations on the reworked drawing.

Portraying Nature is a complex endeavor.  Nature is everywhere.  It’s in your head as well as “out there.” Time is a part of Nature too.

The stages are part of the lovely game of painting. Taking the picture into this direction is, granted, not the same thing as making a faithful representation of the motif en plein air.  But it is nevertheless a kind of naturalism and a kind of fidelity too.

Simonides’ fishes

notebook koi

Simonides of Cleos is reputed to be the first to discover that a seating pattern helps you remember things.  I was using his method to remember where my koi were in the latest koi picture.  I was making an idle drawing while sitting through a slightly tedious lecture and used the time to review the painting I had been working on the night prior.

Strangely enough I had quite a difficult time accounting for all the fish graphically, by remembering their shapes.  And so it was the “seating pattern” at last the filled in some of the blanks.  I didn’t get them all, but I got most.

 

 

Big and bigger

koi drawing a (2)

I like to paint big pictures. One way that I rehearse images before painting is by making large drawings. In that way, I also have twice as much fun because I make two big pictures — the preparatory drawing and its related painting.  The two works are not necessarily in a one to one relationship though.  This drawing, for instance, measures 50 x 42.5 inches but is a rehearsal for a painting measuring 60 x 40 inches.  However they are close enough together that making the drawing offers genuine preparation for painting.

Someone told me that opera singers rehearse their parts in sotto voce to avoid straining their instrument.  Maybe these big drawings are to the paintings what sotto voce is to the opera singer’s full throated singing.

I have another 60 x 40 inch canvas waiting in the wings.  And another large sheet of paper waiting to be made into drawing.  Seriously good fun is just around the corner because this artist likes to paint and to think BIG.