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Sunday, August 26, 2012

# 331 - Sketching Again...

My youngest daughter's 22nd birthday this past Friday presented me with a dilemma, mainly stemming from the lack of funds in my pocketbook. If I have a few dollars to my name, it often goes toward the cost of seeing a doctor ---- my 2nd life is spent in a doctor's office ---- and paying for gas, food, and maybe a small splurge here and there. This past week, a treat I splurged upon was to buy a few new art supplies.

Many artist-types have a preferred medium they like to use...some prefer oils, some acrylics, others opt for watercolors, but I first fell in LOVE pastel chalks that require intense blending and attention to color.


Working with this medium often requires that you be prepared to be covered in a mess. As I work with chalk pastels, I am holding colored sticks that are not protected by paper, and I use all parts of my hands and fingers for blending. For blending large sections, I use the lower side of the palm. My hands, arms, and front side get covered in bits of powdered chalk. Using cuts of newspaper, I lay the paper down to help me get sharp lines or a specific curve that needs to be held firm while blending takes process.

I have worked on large projects with chalk pastels to the extent of my fingers having their skin rubbed off. Nothing puts a project on hold faster than swollen fingertips and busted skin from intense, vigorous blending while in the zone.

After everything is finished, I make sure the excess chalk powder is blown away and I spray the project with a Fixative. This helps keep the chalk from coming off and sets it better than if left on its own. It's very difficult to frame a project with this medium because it will so easily smudge the glass.

Good luck.

However, since I like working with chalks, it would follow that charcoal would be right in line with my preferred art medium. Yes, it is. A mixture of graphite pencils with soft and hard charcoals is right up my artistic alley. As long as the medium lets me use my FINGERS and hands for some blending, along with other tools such as the stump, as needed, I am one happy woman.

Similar to what my hands and under parts of my forearm look like
after a session with drawing. I usually wear an old T-Shirt or a
fuctional apron while at work. This stuff does not wash out easily either.
(Photo take from public internet image.)

For Stefie's birthday, I took a photograph to use as my still art subject and I sketched it over the span of a couple hours. Sometimes I like hard lines and other times I like everything willowy and soft. For this sketch, I put hard and soft together; I love that combination. I love KNOWING it is a sketch; I don't want it to look just like the photograph. If I could get my subject to pose in the same place, during the same time of day, with the same lighting...I'd go by them personally standing in as the still subject and I've done this in my university studies for still life drawings. It can be torture to sit in front of the same object, especially if they are large, inanimate and immobile.

Of course, if I am outside among nature, I'd never get tired of the "still" life in front of me. But, don't ask me to do the bowl of fruit; I despise painting or drawing fruit, but I've done it as required while studying art at the University of Houston in Clear Lake for a few years. Good thing is, I soon forget about the dang apple or other challenge I'm working on, but having a subject that fills my heart with love is a joy to recreate. Eventually, when I am working on a project, all I see is light and shadow.

My working situation for sketching is to sit down at night, in bed, surrounded by my tools and with a sheet pulled up over the bedding to protect it. I keep a lined trash can on the floor next to me so that I can brush off residual charcoal, graphite or eraser bits that come off during blending.

I turn on the music --- to Stefie's project, I listened to Rod Stewart classics. Usually, by the end of the album, I am finished with my project. If not, I start on the next album, perhaps Billy Joel or the Police. Something to get my blood pumping and help get me into the "zone" of creating art.

It works for me.

Of course, I can easily work fast, furious and intensely on a project while listening to Tchaikovsky. Wow, that always does it for me!

My daughter sat opening all of her gifts at her birthday party and she finally opened the bag holding the sketch I'd drawn. I felt nervous and nearly held my breath. What would she think? Would she be embarrassed? Would she feel it even looked like her? The truth is, you never know how a person will respond to how your artist's eye sees that person, even if using a still photograph as the "model." It's the main reason I've been hesitant to sketch people I know and love.

My main effort had been to capture my daughter's eyes in the sketch...if you can capture the person's eyes, you've got the hardest part figured out. I know I could've worked longer on this sketch to make it better, but I've been babysitting a five year old for several weeks and this leaves me truly worn out at the end of every day. So, I don't have much umph to put into extra things besides watching the next movie on my list.

Still, I try to pull it together and to produce a new sketch on a regular basis...even if it ends up shredded, never to be seen by another person.

At her birthday party, Stefie pulled the framed sketch out of the gift bag, stared at it for a tense moment, then she lifted the frame and put it against her face so that everyone could see her big smile next to the sketch for comparison. I must say, the real deal is such a beauty...I could never capture all that Stefie radiates.


I love sketching. Photography is wonderful, but it is a direct medium. It can be altered here and there, a little burning there, a little dodging here, but it's the camera's eye directed by the photographer's eye that gets the image. I want my hand to replicate the finished image instead of an actual photograph. Yes, I use either live "still" art or a photograph for my drawing, but I believe, instead of photographs, from now on, my family will get some kind of sketch from me as a gift. Well, either a sketch or a warped poem about some embarrassing event in their life.

Also, for my blog buddies potential question, I sign my family's works with my middle name...the name they call me, "Rayshel." For obvious reasons, I don't use that name on a daily basis with blogging or with new friends because hardly anyone can even say "Rayshel" correctly, let alone spell it. Yes, I had Hippie parents. The "y" is not pronounced in a hard sense. My middle name sounds like Rushell. However, many of my art pieces, even those that were on gallery exhibit with the university were signed with my first name, "Lana."

My identity crisis continues.

But, my art is moving forward, into the hands of others. They might choose to use it as kindling, but at least I am focusing on doing something different that I love and that keeps the mind and hands busy doing something productive.

I hope to keep sharing some of my work with you. I think this next week will be dedicated to sketching chickens and dogs. Besides, if my feathered or furry friends don't like the results, they can't exactly be offended! What chicken is going to complain that her beak is too big? Such criticism might get her into the chicken-n-dumplings pot. The nonspeaking subject, that's the best kind to sketch.

Yes, my daughter loves her sketch...she has a special token of my love to mark this amazing time in her life. I look forward to presenting many more gifts that come from myself instead of a department store...it feels right. Life is good.

3 comments:

Hookin It With Mr. Lick Lick said...

Your sketch is awesome Lana! She will treasure it for always. You can never go wrong with handmade from the heart with love.

Ian said...

The best gifts are those that someone puts heart and soul into. Your's sure qualifies!

Anonymous said...

I do bet she loved your drawing.
All that love in it !
I bet you could sell your other drawings instead of throwing them away , on Etsy. And some extra cash for things. Beth