Sunday, May 20, 2012

Emily sketch

This Sunday, I found the perfect excuse to utilize my new sketchbook. My family was over and while my cousins were playing dominos, I realized that their still, concentrating faces were ideal for drawing. This is a quick, five-to-ten-minute sketch I did of my cousin, Emily. I've been so involved in studying birds and animals that it was a nice refresher to study the human face again. I think I'm going to keep up this habit for future family gatherings and such.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Field Museum Painting Day: May 8, 2012

Before my graduation rehearsal on Tuesday, I took advantage of being early in downtown Chicago and scheduled an appointment to visit the Field Museum's Birds Collection again. I still needed more references of the Carolina Parakeet to gain more familiarity before I began my next two paintings. Unfortunately, I only had an hour to paint, but the advantages of this short time frame forces me to work quickly and record the bare essentials of my subject. Plus, I like the unfinished quality of my studies in my sketchbook.

Before the end of the month I plan to finish either a large painting of the Carolina Parakeet interacting with the unicorn, or a smaller painting that focuses more on the parakeets. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Sketchbook Project 2012

It's finally finished! At the beginning of the year, I took part in the Sketchbook Project, a publication and exhibition opportunity where participants receive a small sketchbook as a manner in which to show their artistic process to the general public. Each year, new themes are introduced to see what new and returning artists come up with. I choose the theme "the last word ever spoken," knowing immediately that it was a great excuse to draw some extinct birds.

At first, I thought my project would be very straightforward: just quick drawings of some interesting extinct species to aid in my future studies. I had wanted to add some color, which meant as a watercolorist I needed to remove the original pages of the sketchbook and rebind them with watercolor paper. I wanted to keep in touch with my current working process by adhering the watercolor paper using gesso. So, page by page I gessoed and adhered the new paper. This was going well, until the cheap paper couldn't handle the water absorption and started to fall apart. I couldn't rebind the book and it was starting to get too thick for the project's requirements. By this time, I had spent so much effort preparing the paper that I was itching to just start drawing, and I had successfully destroyed my book. Needless to say, I wasn't happy. So, I  unwillingly ditched my oh-so-beautiful-watercolor-paper and rebound the book with regular copy paper. I started drawing with the intention of just getting it done but quickly realized that my book was not as creative and interesting as I had imagined it to be. During the last few days of the project, I started to worry about my drawings. I needed something to imply the somber mood and express the birds' fateful nonexistence. Out of desperation, I began experimenting with different mediums and stumbled across something very cool.

Here's the result...






All of the pages were first drawn with graphite and ink, which I had already done prior. Then, I painted with black acrylic a dark "cloud" to represent the thoughts or "last words" of the bird(s). After that, I added thin layers of white gesso over both the images of the bird and the black, creating beautiful grays and off-whites on the already white paper. While the gesso was still wet, I carved into the white to expose the black paint underneath, adding my interpretation to my sketchbook's theme.

Overall, this project was not what I expected it to be. It turned out to be a great learning experience about my personal aesthetics and process. I would love to continue to painting like this as a side theme to my larger works.