not obsessed, really

frog teapot and blue jay figurine on aug 1 oil pastel

It’s not an obsession.  Really.  But I have needed more information for the famous froggie teapot and his side-kick the blue jay figurine so I was doing studies of these two — again — yesterday.  I made the little painting first  (10 x 8 inches) and later in the night I drew them in oil pastel.

I think I have what I need to work on the Big Painting now, but I won’t know for sure until I’ve started dealing with that element directly.  I’m painting the picture from the studies. All the creatures will have eyes in the Big Painting.  They don’t have eyes here because it’s too much trouble.  How’s that sound for a deeply artistic reason?

The oil pastel is 12 x 9 inches on tan colored Strathmore 500 series charcoal paper.

frog teapot and blue jay figurine painting (2)

a big painting is just many smaller paintings stitched together

big painting on july 27

Well, the big painting is back.  If you recall how it looked when I left it and compared that stage to how it looks above, you might wonder what all the fuss is about.  However, the renewed work is a big deal in terms of painting problems and their solutions.  I stopped work because I didn’t know where to put the foreground items, namely the famous froggie teapot, the blue jay figurine, the seashell and the black teapot (temporarily ochre colored in the version above).  I drew them over and over, recall, and posted the drawings here.  And you weren’t the least bit bored to see froggie teapot and the blue jay drawn again and again and again and again and again, were you?!

It does pay off though.  Let me tell you, putting that seashell in that spot, for instance, was an order of magnitude easier for having drawn the object so many times.  So, now that the painting’s things have places, I feel that the rest of the painting can proceed.  The great irony is that I have no idea what exactly the painting is going to look like.  I just know now that these particular objects are going to sit in those locations.  That difference, however, is enough that I can continue.

And whenever I get stuck on matters of detail, can you guess what I’ll do?  More studies! (Secretly, of course, I love drawing the studies — don’t tell anyone.)

I have 2880 square inches to fill with colors, doesn’t that sound wonderful ….

From my blog, I see that I began this project around the end of May.  July is ending.  That’s not a bad time scale for a large picture.  See, there’s another virtue in blogging, it helps you keep track of the days and puts things into better perspective.

https://alethakuschan.wordpress.com/2018/05/28/emulation/

Anyway, the real painting begins.  Wish me luck!

Here’s another link to an early stage of the picture:

https://alethakuschan.wordpress.com/2018/05/28/most-tentative-beginning/

“The Big Painting” is Back!

big painting

Whew!  I finally got the gumption — or the whatever it is — to make up my mind and decide where those foreground objects were going.  I have begun putting them into the picture which means that work can recommence.

Sometimes you just have to DECIDE!  (And I did.)

And for other advice, don’t let your big project get quite this big!  It was looming!  And that’s a little too big — for comfort — inside the brain ….

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 …

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.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miss_La_La_at_the_Cirque_Fernando

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

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.

 

more blue jay figurine & frog teapot

blue jay and frog teapot second drawing

I’m still not sure what this drawing looks like.  I was drawing until there simply was no further light by which to see. As the contours at the far edge of the seashell began to disappear I knew that drawing time was over.  I’ll be curious to see it again in regular daylight.

Unlike my usual habit, I drew the picture from right to left.  I wanted to make sure there’d be enough room to include the shell, though I wasn’t certain I would put it into the drawing.  So I began at the far right, getting that much beloved frog teapot in there.  And I spent most of the session working on it, later adding the blue jay figurine and only getting to the seashell at the very last.  This is the second drawing of the objects from this alternate angle.  (If perchance you’re just discovering this blog, these objects have a complicated story.)

I was drawing in very low light — which I enjoy — using the fading late afternoon light of an eastern facing window on this cloudy summer day, concluding the drawing with the day’s last faint illumination.

arranging the table

blue jay and frog teapot2

Looking at the still life objects from a different side of the table produces a different vibe.  I want to do more such drawings so I can make a better decision about how to set the table in the painting.

Blogging about the still life table helps me immensely too.  As I try to explain the visual questions in writing, drawing and through photography, I find that I get additional ideas.

questions and more questions

100_1990

What do you do when you don’t know where the line is?

Here’s part of the merit in drawing things from new angles.  You have to rediscover some of the fundamental qualities.  Shouldn’t that heighten one’s powers of observation?

And the merit of doing studies generally is that you create an occasion for just living in the moment visually.  If you let yourself escape the need to have things exact, you gain the chance to strive after making them more exact.  I let go of the line in order to find it.  I let myself be willing to put it down wrong.  And each time you do that you increase the chances of getting it right.

But the other way of finding out the line’s location is to draw with masses instead.  I make a broad patch of color with some careless swipes of parallel strokes.  I estimate how large a swath of color to make.  Afterwards if I get a better sense of one line’s relation to another I venture to draw that contour.

blue jay turned

I notice certain mistakes.  I decide to leave them be.  To remove them makes the thought process too fussy.  I just draw over things, if it’s possible.  And if it’s not I pursue the features that remain.

The relative sizes and interrelationships of all the things are so complex and intriguing.  The precise curve of a line can be very beautiful and interesting to chase.

blue jay figurine and frog teapot different angle further (4)

I have other things on my mind sometimes.  But drawing is also escape.  Or, it’s as much escape as one is likely to get.

 

a not boring sameness

bird and frog teapot 2 june 19

While the recent compositional drawings are occasionally boring but necessary, I find that drawing the individual objects — even drawing them over and over again — always brings some new delight.

I feel like I am beginning to get a handle on the relationship between the frog teapot and the blue jay figurine next to it.