Saturday, February 28, 2009

Virtual Sketch Date, February: Lake Louise

Lake Louise by Sydney Harper

Lake Louise
8 x 10 inches, acrylic on canvas

This month's reference for the Virtual Sketch Date was a photo of Lake Louise, Canada was provided by Debbie Later. I decided to do this month's Virtual Sketch Date in acrylic. I tried not to get too caught up in all of the details in the rock layers. If I don't watch myself, I will. I had fun with this and learned a little in the process.

I visited Lake Louise many years ago. It's absolutely beautiful. It was spring when I visited. There's a trail that goes around the lake. At that time on the shady side of the lake, there was still some ice. Some of the ice was in little needle like pieces arranged vertically. When a breeze would come through, you could hear the little ice needles tinkling as they fell over.


See all of my Virtual Sketch Date posts.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gordon House, Natchez Trace

Gordon House by Sydney Harper

5 x 7 inches, watercolor

I'm still playing around with limited palettes. This is a quick little watercolor of the Gordon House along the Natchez Trace in Tennessee. It's not inhabited in real life, although you can go through it during the day. I've been rumaging through my photos of the Natchez Trace lately, looking for likely painting candidates. The Natchez Trace goes by near our house so we end up taking it when we have the chance. I end up stopping along the way to take lots of photos.

This week, well this month actually, has been flying by. I can't believe the month is almost over. It's been a busy month but I've managed to accomplish a lot in spite of it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Week 7 Sketch Page

Last week was all about Valentine's Day, mostly because it turned into a drive-by Valentine's Day that lasted half of the week. We were in a magic show on Friday night, so Valentine's was spread over Thursday and Saturday. But it did involve much chocolate, dinner, and a singing balloon. It's supposed to sing when you tap the yellow circle, when I was taking it home in the car, it would sing every time I hit a bump.

Last week I also discovered
Floy Zittin's blog. Besides her own gorgeous watercolors, she covers the results of some of her classes and workshops. They're not quite tutorials but there's enough information and examples for you to experiment.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cypress Inn

Cypress Inn, 5 x 7 in, acrylic on illustration board
Sydney Harper

This is a quick little painting of the cross roads at Cypress Inn, Tennessee, just across the Alabama border. It's actually more of a community than a town. In this part of the country, you often see these older buildings right along the road. Often they've been abandoned and overcome with kudzu. This particular building looks like it's being used. I painted this from a photo I took last spring. At the time, it looked in better shape than the previous time I saw it. I've always been curious to know it's history though. It's located close to the Natchez Trace Parkway.

I said it was a quick painting but I tried it several times before I got something I was willing to keep. I started out a few times in watercolor but quickly ditched those efforts and moved to acrylic. I don't often paint buildings so I'm trying to get more practice at it.

Speaking of photos, I came across a good method for organizing your photos in the Adobe Photoshop CS4 Classroom in a Book. I take a lot of photos for reference and other purposes. Finding them again can be a challenge though.
Jay Graham proposes making a folder by date and subject and then numbering your photos by date inside the folder. For example photos of Yellowstone on June 20, 2008 would be in a folder called 20080620_Yellowstone. The photos inside would be named something like 2008_06_20_01 with the last number being the number of the photo. I do something similar. I make folders by subject with folders inside that by date. I may try to reverse that one of these days.

Finally thanks to
Michael Nobbs' tweet, I found a copy of Harold Speed's The Science and Practice of Drawing on the Project Gutenberg web site. I did a little search and also found Walter Crane's Line and Form. The last book is focused mostly on decorative arts but there's still a lot of good information in it.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Week 6 Sketch Page

This past week has been one of those where I've been painting but I haven't been happy with any of my paintings. I'm working through it but let's just go right to the sketch page. We had to take our cat Katie to the vet this week. The first task is to sneak her into the carrier before she realizes what happens. She does not like to go to the vet. I almost had her in the carrier when the phone rang. Katie grabbed my back and wouldn't let go. I lost a bit of blood that day. It took two of us but we did finally get her into the carrier. I've also been doing a lot of knitting for upcoming baby shower gifts. The sketch is done in ink and watercolor with a little bit of colored pencil in the knitting sketch.

There have been a few links I wanted to pass along. Roz Stendahl has been posting a tutorial on eraser carving and printing. She's been giving some excellent information. I've learning a lot. She's up to Part 4 right now.

If you have a microphone on your computer, try out the voice drawing application at . I haven't had a chance to try it yet. I've got to dig out a microphone first.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Week 5 Sketch Page

2009 Week 5 - ink in sketchbook

Now I'm caught up with my weekly sketches. Last week I was stuck at the computer most of the week. It was a project I had been trying to finish for a while but kept coming up on a sticking point. I finally found a way around it. I also worked some more with my PITT pens. I might have to try out some of the other colors they have.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Week 4 Sketch Page and PITT artist pens

2009 Week 4
Ink and watercolor in sketchbook

I'm a little behind on posting my weekly sketches so I'll start with Week 4 and post Week 5 later in the week. Week 4 was inauguration week and Obama was on everyone's mind, including mine. This also shows what happens when you randomly add start adding stuff. You end up with random arms and heads coming out of Obama's chest and neck. But hey, the idea is to practice. Actually this has some good points. Portraits aren't my strong point since I don't practice them often. From that aspect, this isn't bad. The poor hand ended up short and stubby like a baby hand. Obama has much more graceful hands. I think I was hurrying a bit too much when I added in that arm.

This was also a practice piece for my new set of PITT artist pens. It's a set of 4 pens - superfine tip, fine tip, medium tip, and brush tip. I did this with the brush tip. The superfine tip doesn't seem that fine to me but when I compare it to my old pen, they're about the same width. I think the ink in the PITT pens are just blacker and more pigmented. I'm still getting used to the brush tip but overall I like them. I also did a quick sketch of Katie to try out the pens.

Sketch of Katie - 22 Jan