Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stickhandling your way.... When Life seems to take over....

Tools needed: white canvas or panel, acrylic burnt sienna, black india ink, Twigs, a brush perhaps


Quill ends, snub-nosed, chisel-like flats... whatever!




Note the curve of the shaft... again creates opportunity for unpredictable outcomes. Try rolling the shaft slightly as you draw it along... a nice technique!




Note random application of burnt sienna. Note the broken calligraphy of the line with lost and found edges and the unintentional drip of ink in the lower left snowbank. Lots of "mistakes" becoming assets!


Note that despite the application of paint to the sketch... that the original form and integrity of the sketch is adhered to and maintained.





Sorry for the space and silence over the past week... but both Deb and I found ourselves under the weather with very nasty colds... or flu symptoms which required that we simply approach each day.... horizontally! Not fun for certain... but hey!... it's winter and with the ever-changing weather conditions come these challenges to our schedules and intentions!


As well... I have had to put aside my earlier plans and interests to begin the year with a subject that I am very enthused to get on with. Then came a request from the gallery rep at Sales and Rentals at The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax... that they wanted to return three pieces and needed replacements as soon as possible in the New Year. So my project dropped down a couple of notches until this request is fulfilled. Not my choice really... but I do feel a sense of responsibility to meet their request first. Then I can play again as usual!


I spent the last couple of days looking over old sketches and photo references and feel that I have zeroed in on three subjects that will fill the bill. Now... all that I lack is the full measure enthusiasm to launch into the work... and to do a good job. Not being able to go outdoors in search of motivation and fresh subjects is a huge disadvantage for me in my process. Going out here in the -26C frigid conditions will not result in my getting a handle on Nova Scotian themes and moods.


So I am going to create a challenge that I have employed before to heighten enthusiasm and to overcome such barriers. I firmly believe challenge stimulates a fresh... loose and painterly approach and final product. This particular approach might seem flaky at first glance... but if you are looking for a novel way to get over a dry spell... then this one is a fun exercise... and will teach you a great deal about "happy accidents"... and going with the Flow!


STEP#1


The process begins with creating new tools for your initial drawing efforts. No costs involved... just some time to go outside and choose some smallish twigs as seen in jpeg one. Then... using a sharp utility knife or Exacto type knife cut quill type shapes that will serve as nibs for your new wooden styluses. Create your very own nibs ... not merelly copying what is conventional and familiar to you. Experiment on paper beforehand to find suitable shapes that work for you. Even this is fun... and surprisingly... you will discover that these tools are in fact... effective drawing implements. Just give yourself some time to gain a feel for their fluidity or individual marking possibilities.


STEP#2


Once you have a specific subject selected you can choose two possible approaches that I have found work for me. I choose a suitable white canvas format... let's say... 20x24 inches for your intended surface.


In method one, you apply acrylic burnt sienna with a large brush or even your fingers or a rag to represent darker appearing areas in your chosen subject... allowing lighter areas to remain the original white. Don't fret over exactness... just treat everything as temporary... and subject to ongoing changes. Once dry..then apply a loose pen and ink sketch/rendering into this new environment... allowing it to have its own life and energy. The use of ink guarantees... that there is no need for an eraser. HA HA!! Simply think first... then have fun discovering new things about your tools and materials. Grasp the twig pen at the end. This allows the new tool to act on its own... and not as a conventional pen or pencil... promoting chance breaks and deviations that encourage a fresh and painterly look.

In method two place your canvas on the easel in the ready to paint position and simply create a loosely constructed line drawing... sketch with your new tools and india ink directly onto the white canvas... again with no attempt to make it fussy. Allow for accidents to happen naturally... ink will drip and run... GREAT! The burnt sienna can be added after the sketch is in place... or the sketch can remain on the white ground "as is."


In either approach changes can be made after the fact to enhance your initial drawing. In method one... if too much burnt sienna is a problem... that can be corrected with the application of pure gesso to "correct" that problem... or even an ink error... just like in typing. It is fun to play... and believe me... it makes one think outside of the normal box for certain. And... on those days when one feels boxed in... and unmotivated... an afternoon or evening of simply playing is rewarding... and enriching!



The final step is to proceed further adding paint in the same fashion... or as is usually your practice. Again... there is much room to carry the experiment further and to explore deeper. It's all up to you! Just have fun... and relax!



This challenge activity is sent out directly to my good friend Joan Sicignano. She thrives on challenges and has "caught the fire" this year which has resulted in outstanding artistic growth and development for her. Hope you enjoy this one Joan! Visit her by Googling Joan Sicignano's Fine Art and see her marvellous sketches and paintings!


I will post some other examples in the next few days... along with my start on the new Nova Scotian drawing-to-painting processes to help you get your head around this novel idea further. I do hope that you enjoy this offering and hope that some of you might take the challenge and go "a-twigging!"



In my own work and process my approach is always open ended. It invites further contemplation and often these can occur long after the initial undertaking. Today's sketch was first presented ... framed and for sale in its original sienna appearance. However.. I was constantly feeling the compulsion to "Shermanize" it with pigment... but hesitated because I so loves its spontaneous and lively qualities. I finally easeled it... and was completely happy with that glow and mood that evolved. The couple who purchased it are Quebecois... and were so very pleased to add it to their sizeable collection of my works in their home.



The lesson to be learned here is again to risk... both accept challenge and create challenge for your Self. Take control of your process and make it what you want it to become. Then have the courage to step out again... and find new challenge. Emerson said it so well:



"Once you make a decision... The Universe conspires with you to make it happen."




Good Painting!... and Decision-making to ALL!

31 comments:

  1. Hi Bruce, this post has brought back happy memories of life drawing at college using this technique with charcoal. It's such good fun! I may have to have another go myself :o)

    I love the calligraphic (-I think I just made up a word?) qualities to this painting and the juicy warmth of the burnt sienna glowing through. The exciting composition is a winner too.

    The irony of -26c and a warm painting wasn't lost on me...brrr.... I hope both you and Deb are staying warm and getting better. Best wishes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi there Lisa!... Yes .. this exercise does share similar goals and results with the use of charcoal as a sketching tool.

    I often use thin vine charcoal stix in the same fashion... and merely set the reulting image with fixative when completed... thereby eliminating the contamination of pure pigment when paint is applied.

    Both are very similar and freeing... encouraging processes.

    The outside extreme cold wave continues... but our colds continue... to subside... thank heavens!

    Thanks for dropping by and for your encouraging comments!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

    ReplyDelete
  3. ooo, i hope you are both feeling better. it's always nice to have company when you're not feeling well but it's always a shoot out here when there's tea to be made!

    what an extraordinary post! that painting is delicious. i just love the sumptuous application of color in the foreground leading back to the scene. just beautiful bruce. and the sticks, the challenges, it really makes one think. i'm such a coward, you are such an inspiration.

    feel betta both of you and stay warm.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi there Suzanne!... thanks for dropping by!Seafood chowder... java... many snoozes and Vicks Vaporub up the nose...
    (pour moi seulement)... and we're back to normal runnin' speed again! Thank goodness!

    Glad that you enjoyed the post and that it inspires some thought! Now to put it into action this week!

    Feelin' betta... and definitely huggin' the hearth this week at least!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sorry to hear you have been layed low with those nasty flu bugs, plenty of hot toddys should do the trick!
    Love your new sketching method, I can imagine it would be great fun and really great way of creating loose, unfussy sketches, but I love the addition of pigment as you call it and the track leading into the picture echoeing the colours of the buildings a very harmonious and exciting painting at the same time, love it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. One fo my new favourites Bruce! Happy New Year to you and Deb!

    ReplyDelete
  7. So sorry you have both been down with flu/cold bugs! Not fun I know (but a great excuse to take it easy, read some books under the warmth of blankets, and drink good hot tea and soup!). I remember this technique from art school days and really should give it a try again! I could use some stimulus these days...very hard to motivate myself to paint lately! Anyway, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this painting you did. One of my all time favorites, I think, of your work. Wonderful colour also.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi there Diana!... Thank you for visiting and for leaving such encouraging comments! Glad that you enjoyed this post!

    I'm hoping that this strategy will allow me to get back in the groove to get these paintings on their way to the Maritimes... SOON!

    The colour ... I agree is rich and the light vs dark contrast strong. I was a bit hesitant to put it under the brush... but the final outcome more than justified the risk!

    I know that you face the same decisions in your own very demanding process and detail. Always a risk to go out on the limb... but that's the only way to grow... isn't it?

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi there Kim!... Welcome back... and Happy New Year to you... Harry and Family! Glad that your Paris adventure was rewarding and chocked full of new ideas and experiences! Travel really does broaden one... and for certain sharpens the artist's senses!

    Glad that you liked the painting... as much as I enjoyed the making of it. Paintings that seem to fill one with joy in their creation... tend to pass that along to the viewer!

    Thanks for dropping by and for the compliment!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi there Karen!... Good to hear from you again! Thank you for visiting and for your very complimentary remarks re: the painting!

    Life does seem to get in the way every once in a while for us all doesn't it? You sure have had your dose of that this past year!

    The only thing we can do as artists/creative spirits... is to re-energize... re-evaluate and re-enter the fray... with a new and more determined desire to continue to do what we love to do! What other alternative is there?

    Good luck at your end! Look forward to seeing new and exciting things from you... SOON!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

    ReplyDelete
  11. I immediately loved the rich earthiness and rustic quality of this work that must be the result of the technique. I really, really like it. You can almost imagine your boots getting stuck in the impasto paint of that mucky road!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Bruce,

    So sorry you have been down with the flu. Great post and what interesting methods. The painting is beautiful, I love all the steps you show as well as the happy accidents.

    Sue

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi here Allison!... Thanks for your support and encouraging words!

    I always value your critiques and suggestions because "You" have been along for most of my journey... and really understand what my work and my mission are fully about!

    This sketch-paint strategy does in fact contribute to the qualities that you have identified in it!

    Impasto placed carefully... does in fact mire down the eye and grab one's attention!

    Thanks for taking the time to come by and comment Sweetie!

    Much love always!
    Dad
    XXXXXOOOOOXXXXX

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hi there Sue!... Good to hear from you again!

    Glad that you enjoyed the post and that the methods appealed to you!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

    ReplyDelete
  15. Would that "making it happen" - universe conspiracy and all really worked for me, Bruce. LOL Dreck I tell you. Much of my output is mere dreck!! Love that piece even before you completed it. The burnt sienna and the ink sketch make a compelling piece without the addition of color on top. Still, the final outcome is just beautiful! Did I ever tell you that one of my favorite pieces of yours is that sketch of the windmill on the sidebar? I just think it is so beautiful!

    By the way, I am having problems commenting using my Wordpress blog name, alas. So? This is me, Sherry, using my Blogspot name. New blogspot name? ex AutumnLeaves, ConservativelyBohemian on Wordpress...

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi there Sherry!... Sorry to hear that you as well... are having problems with commenting on blogs. A number of us have experienced similar problems... and I still am experiencing glitches. I think the problem lies within Blogger itself.

    Glad that you enjoyed the post and the "paintless" version. I still feel it had an identity that stood solidly in its own funky way!

    "Pure Dreck"... ???? You are too hard on your Self Sherry! I enjoy your blog... your thoughts... but mostly your sensitive and generous soul which supports others. Be generous with Sherry! "She"... deserves that!

    The windmill sketch was done in the Barbados. It captures the excitement and sense of joy and adventure that being there caused within me. We hope to return in April... so maybe more of those to come??? Stay tuned...

    Good Painting and Writing!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hi Bruce, I hope you and Deb are feeling better now.

    I was interested to see pen and ink used in this way on a canvas. It shows how natural a painting can look if things aren't tidied up too much.

    I hope you can get on with your plans soon.

    All the best,
    Keith

    ReplyDelete
  18. Bruce, this is a great painting. I love it at the Sienna and Ink stage which I think stands on it's own merits. A very inspiring post. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Hi there Keith!... Thanks for the visit and positive feedback!

    You are absolutely right about maintaining the natural feel of the preliminary work in any painting. It is most often really all about knowing when to stop!

    Already back in the traces Keith... lots underway!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi there John!... Thanks for your enthusiastic response and observations here!

    This process is a very good strategy to help one loosen up... and to experiment. The unpainted version certainly has a unique identity of its own... and makes its own strong and valid visual statement!

    Glad that you found "food-for-thought" in the post! Thanks for dropping by!

    Good painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hi Bruce nice to have you back with us. I am sorry to hear you had a bad cold but good to hear you are now better. And experimenting and starting the new year with real inspiration work. What a bonny painting!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hi Bruce,

    Glad to see you are back in the saddle again. Wonderful approach and technique. Love the words and okay, tomorrow, something new and different. Oh boy. Thank you for sharing.

    All the best to you,
    Joan

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hey Bruce,
    Thanks for the suggestions. I do love using a stick to draw with. It forces me to loosen up and find an interesting line. It's always fascinating.
    Have a happy creative weekend,
    Nora

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi there Caroline!... Thank you for your concern... and encouraging compliments!

    It's good to be back... and to have some energy and initiative once again! Nasty... is the only word!!!

    Rather than delay posting any longer... due to a lack of painting.. I decided to share an idea and a "fun" way to get back on the horse and painting... for us all!

    I'm glad that my readers...including yourself enjoyed the post and image! I'm hoping to post my next painting process ... using the method... step by step! Stay tuned...

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi there Joanie!... Glad that this post excited you... and stirred something within! I knew that it would!

    I'll be anxious to see and hear "what" that... "something new and different might be! I'll be tuning in!

    Thanks for checkin' in... and for the encouraging words Joan!

    Good Painting... and Playing! HA HA!!!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi there Norma!... Glad that you enjoyed this post and the ideas!

    We do share a common interest in whimsy and line... and playfulness in our imagery!

    "Stick" to your strength Norma... those very natural and painterly pencil-watercolour figurative pieces are outstanding and joyful to the eye!

    Good Sketching and Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

    ReplyDelete
  27. Bruce! This is such an inspiring post! It makes me want to take out my paints (which I'm still afraid of!) Pastels are so different..but after reading this post, I have to try painting again. I love this technique with the pen and ink on the burnt sienna!! I definitely will try it!! I am sooo happy that you are feeling better!!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hi there Hilda!... Thanks for dropping by... and for providing "Muxo's Chicken Noodle Soup"... for the body and soul! HA HA!!

    Seriously... this exchange of ideas and support is win-win for everyone willing to learn from others!

    It pleases "Me" greatly to think that I might motivate others to take courage to try something new... to advance their journeys and art!

    Do keep in touch and let me know how you made out with this technique. I think that you will be pleasantly surprised... and pastels are comapatible in this process!

    Good Pastelling and Playing Hilda!

    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

    ReplyDelete
  29. -26 that's cold !!! love the initial sketch ..i have a few favorite sticks and twigs i enjoy making marks with watercolour :) .. very glad to have found your blog bruce ..just started to look at your paintings sketches and thoughts...hope you and deborah feel 100% soon.

    ciao jane

    ReplyDelete
  30. Hi there Jane!... Welcome to my blog site... glad to have "You" aboard!

    There are any number of seemingly "ordinary" or found objects that can be used as tools in one's creative process... as we both have discovered!

    That is the pure joy in painting! To discover a new way to "see"... or to solve problems in our individual processes!

    This method of sharing really is another effective tool... both to grow and to offer opportunities for growth to others who share our paths and passion!

    Does it get any better? I think not! Thanks for dropping by and for sharing your thoughts! I must get over to your site now!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

    ReplyDelete
  31. eToro is the #1 forex broker for beginning and advanced traders.

    ReplyDelete