Saturday, November 27, 2010

Days 11 and 12: Gorilla and Goat

Day 11: Gorilla
So it started out as art every day month. Then it became art almost every day month. Then it became 30 pictures in 30 days. Now I'm back to art most days (most being more than 15). Hey it's been a good experience though.
Numbers 11 and 12 are sketches from some photos I took a few years ago at the Atlanta Zoo. The one above is a gorilla. The one below is a goat from the petting zoo section.
Day 12: Goat
Both are done in ink. Recently I bought How to Draw Animals by Jack Hamm. It's a small book but it's packed with good information. A lot of space is spent on structure and comparing the structure of various animals. Heads, feet, eyes, ears and noses are compared. It discusses how to use a house cat as a model for a big cat. I've found it very helpful.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

AEDM Day 10: I'm a Chicken

Day 10: I'm a Chicken

"I'm a chicken"
Ink and watercolor, 5 x 5 inches

I've had a huge urge to paint chickens lately. I blame Roz and Jean Haines. I didn't have any chickens or chicken photos of my own (Wait I just might have a few chicken photos.), so I browsed around morgueFile to find one. This chicken was fun to paint. I can see more chicken paintings in my future.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

AEDM: Days 7, 8 and 9

Well I kind of crashed and burned last week with Art Every Day. I had a couple of really busy days which led to little time and a need for sleep. Then I got discouraged because I didn't do art. But I decided to try and make up those days so expect things to be badly out of sync for a while.

Christmas Cactus - Day 7

Christmas Cactus
watercolor, 5 x 5 inches

Day 7: It looks like my Christmas Cactus is going to be a Thanksgiving cactus this year. I noticed the other day that it is full of buds. I neglected it for a while this summer so it's good see it's going to bloom anyway.

Leaf Prints - Day 8

Leaf prints, watercolor and ink

Day 8: A quick little leaf print with my gingko leaves. They were actually a little too dry to do prints at this point, so I decided to highlight the leaf shapes with ink.

Piggy Bank - Day 9

Piggy Bank
Watercolor and a little ink, 5 x 5 inches

Day 9: The other things I've been doing with some of these paintings is trying out some watercolor paper samples. The paper here was not one my favorites but it turned into a nice little painting anyway. I'll have to try painting this little pig again sometime. I love the reflection of colors on this little guy.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

AEDM Days 5-6

I'm still hanging in there with art every day. Some days I have more time to spend. Other days I'm in the mood to experiment a bit. Lately I've been in an experimental mood. Day 6 was an experiment with watercolor paper. I have a lot of small watercolor paper samples. I like the way it turned out but I'm not too crazy about the paper. Okay, I hated it. 

Day 6: Crabapples

Crabapple by Sydney Harper
Ink and watercolor, 5 x 5 inches

On Day 5 I was feeling a little more freeform (and using better paper).

Day 5: Beautyberry

Beautyberry by Sydney Harper
Watercolor, 5 x 5 inches

Sunday, November 07, 2010

AEDM Days 3-4

Okay, I'm getting behind on posting so I'm going to try to catch up a bit over the next couple of days. Wednesday, Day 3, was a busy computer day for me. All I could manage was a quick watercolor sketch of some sumac.

Day 3: Sumac Sketch

I take a lot of photos to use for future paintings. If it's something I like a lot, then I'll print it out and put it in a binder for future use. That's where I got this sketch. It's an easy source for a subject when you're stuck or just to tired to be very creative.

Our downtown area has lots of Ginkgo trees. I love them, especially in the fall when the leaves turn bright yellow. I usually grab a few leaves every fall and bring them back to paint and play with. The other day when I was downtown, I noticed the leaves were turning on one tree so I grabbed a few to paint.

Day 4: Ginkgo Leaves Ginkgo Leaves by Sydney Harper
Watercolor, 5 x 5 inches

The leaves were still green at the base and turning yellow at the ends. With our strange, dry weather this fall, the leaves have been slow to turn. On some trees they just seemed to dry up and fall off. It looks like the Ginkgo will do well though.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

AEDM Day 2: Orchid

AEDM Day 2: Orchid

Orchid by Sydney Harper
Watercolor, 5x5 inches

Hey, I made it to Day 2 of Art Every Day Month. Day 3 is going to be a quick sketch so I can get a little more sleep tonight. I'm hoping that by the end of the month, I will at least have my painting habit firmly in place, if nothing else.

This is a dendrobium orchid that I've had for many years. It has led a hard life and it still looks wonderful. It has been unpotted by cats and ferrets several times. Other times it has gone without water for a couple of weeks or more. It still produces lovely stalks of blooms. It has done so well in it's current location that I'm kind of afraid to move it. I'm very pleased with how this one came out.

Art Every Day Month – Day 1

Morning glory

Morning Glory by Sydney Harper
watercolor, 5 x 5 inches

I'm going to attempt to do Art Every Day this month. Now I usually sketch most days but I don't always paint every day. So I'm going to try to focus on painting. Warning though, I am notoriously bad at "Whatever alongs". We'll see how it goes. Posting my art will be at least a day behind. Mostly because I like my painting to be dry before I slap them on the scanner.

This week, I'm focusing on flowers and other plants. I like the idea of a theme for each week. Today's painting is a morning glory. I just had to do it in watercolor. Yeah, it also looks like it's going to be a watercolor week too.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Getting Ready for Halloween

Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Patch by Sydney Harper
Ink and watercolor, 5 x 5 inches

I couldn't resist a playful little ink and watercolor for Halloween, one of my favorite holidays. Life isn't quite as busy right now. I've been doing a lot of sketching but not so much painting. So I'm trying to get back into my painting routine.

I'm going to run and continue Halloween preparations. If you haven't seen it yet, take a look at this video on 40 years of illustration in the New York Times Op-Ed page. I enjoyed seeing the progression of styles over the years.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Garden Faucet

Dripping faucet by Sydney Harper
It's been a busy summer and there have been lots of changes around here. I'm slowly getting back into a groove though. I've been doing some playing around with Photoshop. The original photo is nice but I think I like this better. Sometimes I'll play with photos to get ideas for paintings. I still will probably paint the faucet one of these days but the Photoshop experiment is definitely a keeper.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Three Spears and Two Tools

Three Spears

Three spears by Sydney Harper
Ink and watercolor

I didn't mean to disappear but I took on some extra work that left me with very little spare time. So I had a choice between doing a little art and blogging about art. I chose doing art because otherwise what would I talk about if I blogged and didn't paint. It's amazing how much art you can squeeze in if you set your mind to it. Here's another veggie ink and watercolor – asparagus spears. The nice thing about these food sketches is that I get to eat my props when I'm done.

Here's a couple useful tools I found when I managed a little down time.

30+ Very Useful Color Tools for Designers

It's set up for print and web designers but I think these tools could be useful for anyone working in color – whether you're painting your walls, painting a picture or making a garment. Some of these tools have been suggested for fiber dyeing.

How to set up an e-commerce site using Paypal

If you're one of those trying to sell your art, or anything really, on the Internet, this article describes the step by step process for setting a Paypal e-commerce site. I haven't tried this myself but it looks to be a very detailed description of the setup process.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Draw Your Veggies

Broccoli tree

Broccoli Tree, © 2010 Sydney Harper
Ink and watercolor on watercolor Moleskine

I bought some broccoli at the market the other day and decided I had to paint it. Besides, it’s been a while since I’ve done any veggies. When my nephews were young kids, they used to call broccoli “trees”. It does make a nice stand-in for a tree.

All of this leads me to the question, what do I do when I’m not feeling very creative or inspired. I thought about this when I was reading Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit again. I was reading the chapter on Ruts and Grooves. To me, being in a rut is often the same thing as lacking inspiration. She makes the point that what you really need when you are in a rut is a new idea. She gives an example from her lectures where she goes backstage and gets a found object, a stool for example, and gives the audience two minutes to come up with 60 uses for it. The last ideas are often the most imaginative.

I do a similar thing when I’m feeling uninspired. I’ll try a technique or a media that I don’t normally use. I’ll look at the work of other artists such as fiber artists, illustrators, collage artists, sculptors, and photographers. What I’m really looking for is a new idea. I’ll rummage around in the refrigerator or my desk or my yard for something to sketch or paint. Then I’m off on another groove.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Meerkat and a Template Change


Meerkat, 7 x 5 inches, acrylic on illustration board
© 2010 Sydney Harper

I changed my template to one of the new Blogger templates. I’ve read that it doesn’t work well with IE6, but I have no way to test that. So if you’re using IE6 and having problems, that’s why. I like the new template choices though!

I’m still painting from some Atlanta Zoo photos I took a while back. This is a little acrylic painting of a Meerkat. All of the meerkats there looked a little chunkier than the ones I’ve seen on TV. I don’t know if it’s just better fed than wild meerkats or a different, chunkier meerkat than the ones I’ve seen. It was perfect for a limited palette painting.

I’ve been filling in for someone who hasn’t been able to work lately. I don’t really mind but it has thrown me off schedule and limited my painting and drawing time. I’m slowly getting back on track.

A few links.

Here’s a few interesting links I’ve found lately.

The Dimensions of Color by David Briggs. If you’ve been wanting more technical information about color, this is your place. I plan to spend more time here. I like the 3 dimensional color space. There are also several interactive graphs that are helpful. (via James Gurney)

Harmony is an online drawing tool written in HTML5. It won’t work at all in Internet Explorer, so don’t even try. (via Drawn!) The Drawn! link has some example drawings and a video.

Flame is another online drawing tool I found on Drawn!. It does much as its name suggests. It is a flame-like brush tool that lets you select color, noise, softness and other characteristics.

Monday, February 08, 2010

An Elephant and My Word for the Year


“Elephant in the Sun” – © 2010 Sydney Harper
Ink and watercolor on Bristol – 9 x 12 inches

About a year and a half ago, I spent the day at the zoo in Atlanta, Georgia taking lots of pictures. I assume a lot of that red-orange color came from the red clay they have in the area. These photos have been good inspiration for those times when I don’t know what to draw.

I have plenty of watercolor paper but it’s all cold-press and I don’t particularly like to draw on cold-press. So I thought I would try Bristol. I like drawing on Bristol but I’ve never tried watercolor.  It has an unusual combination of being slick and absorbent at the same time. It was a little frustrating at times but not too bad.  I think I’m going to put hot-press watercolor paper on my “To Buy” list.

Word of the Year

I realized that I hadn’t posted my word of the year for 2010 yet. I got the Word of the Year idea from Christine Kane’s Blog.  My word for last year was Delight. Most of last year was anything but Delightful though. Then I realized that most of last year was about getting myself in a place where I could experience more delight. So far this year has been much much better than last year.

That brings me to this year’s Word of Year – Abundance. I’m necessarily talking about things and money, although they’re nice too. It’s also about abundant fun, friends, success, health, etc. Basically I’m looking for more of the good things in life that I was lacking last year. So bring it on!

Monday, February 01, 2010

Jack’s Branch in the Spring

Jack's Branch

Jack’s Branch in Spring, © Sydney Harper
Acrylic on painting board, 5 x 7 inches

This is the perfect time of year to drag out some old photos to paint. Throughout the year, I’ll print out photos that I would like to use as a reference and stick them in a notebook. It’s a good resource for those days when I don’t know what I want to paint. This painting is from a photo at the Jack’s Branch rest area along the Natchez Trace Parkway. It was spring when I took this photo and everything was bright and green. It’s a perfect resource to work on when everything is dull and gray like it has been lately.

I painted this very quickly. It’s practically a sketch. It was one of those days where I didn’t have a lot of time to paint but I wanted to complete a painting. Since I exceeded my goal of 40 paintings last year, I decided this year’s goal would be 100 paintings. I have a tendency to get caught up in details when I paint, so this will be good practice for relaxing a bit with my paintings. Now if I can just forget I set this goal like I did last year, I might just exceed it too. Like my paintings, if I think about my goals too much, things start to drag.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Katie Cat and Four Motivational Links

Katie Cat

Katie Cat. © Sydney Harper
8 x 10 inches. Acrylic on hardboard.

Update: I replaced the picture. I kept looking at the painting thinking something wasn't quite right. Then I figured it out. Whiskers! LOL!

I have sketched Katie many times, but I never painted her or any other cat until now. It took me a while to finally say “Done”. I started it in 2009. I would paint a bit, let it sit for a while and then go back to paint some more. Finally I got to the point where I was done with it. There’s some things I would do differently next time but I was ready to move on from this one.

I’m still working on my goals for 2010 so here are four interesting links I found over the holidays. Hopefully they’ll help you, and me, get motivated to do whatever we have been putting off.

  • Is there a fear shortage? Seth Godin covers a topic that is a pet peeve of mine.
  • Beware of Life. Chris Guillebeau covers a similar topic. The comments are worth reading too. Note I’m not proposing that you go out and be reckless, but maybe there is something you keep putting off out of fear.
  • Get Excited and Make Things! Wil Wheaton urges everyone to quit procrastinating and make whatever it is they have been wanting to make.
  • Finally, a bit of Patience for the thing you are going to do. This is a lovely video about a book within a book within a… It’s a little over 6 minutes long.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Goodbye and Good Riddance 2009

Snow Scene

Snow scene, © 2009 Sydney Harper
watercolor on paper

Time to look back at 2009 before I leave it and go forward in 2010. In most years I keep a text file where I jot down my accomplishments, big and small, each month. When I went to look for the file for 2009, I realized I never got that far.  Most of this year fell outside of the norm.

Following Christine Kane’s suggestion, my chosen word for 2009 was Delight but my year was anything but delightful. What I realized as the year wound down and my life calmed down, is that I had major changes to make before I could get to “delight”.

Brief detour here. A friend mentioned on her blog that this New Year’s Eve was a blue moon and the next one wouldn’t occur for about another 20 years.  That got me wondering what was going on 20 years ago, 1989. Those last few months of 1989 were among the worst I’ve ever had – brand new job in a new location, my mom died, car wreck. I could go on but I won’t. I cried more in the last four months of 1989 than I ever have before or since then. But I made some wonderful friends and had a number of wonderful experiences that would not have occurred otherwise. It also made me realize that October tend to be a particularly difficult month for me since I seem to have a lot of stressful Octobers. My point (really there is one!) is that a lot of good came out of all of those bad experiences. That’s what kept me going through the last few month of 2009.

Enough of that, lets get on with the review. When I went back and looked at my index card with my 2009 goals, I was surprised at how well I did.

  • I did not make as much money as I hoped in my goal but I did double the amount I earned the previous year. Besides I intentionally set a very high goal.
  • I had a goal to learn Photoshop and maybe Illustrator and ended up learning Photoshop, Illustrator, and Dreamweaver. I still have more to learn with these programs but I feel much more confident with the programs now and I enjoy using these tools. I used what I learned to make a published magazine ad and to develop a web site for a customer. In fact I enjoyed this so much that I decided that I need to explore this aspect more in 2010.
  • I started organizing and decluttering the house. There’s still a lot more to do but there’s also a noticeable difference.
  • I reached my goal for the number of paintings I wanted to do. They are not the quality I wanted since many of them were studies and experiments but I learned a lot in the process.
  • That leads me to my other goal, to learn more techniques and to experiment. I focused mostly on color and negative painting in 2009 and I learned a tremendous amount.
  • I had some more personal goals like becoming more mentally and physically fit during 2009. I did that but I will be working on that more in 2010.

All things considered it was a successful year. Even though it was full of anxiety and upheaval, there were some amazingly productive aspects to the year.  My next post will cover 2010.  I hope everyone has a Happy New Year!