I usually work on an acrylic painting on canvas at my weekly art class. These painting can take several months to finish. After a lengthy project, I often take a mental break by working on drawings that can be completed in a couple of weeks or so. After wrestling with the adorable snowman still life, which took more time than I had anticipated, I began a series of large charcoal drawings based on my teacher’s photographs of wildlife. These are about 11 x 14 inches on Bristol board, which should be the right proportions for making note cards.
This year’s Christmas card is a watercolor painting of a chickadee. The birds in my yard rarely pose long enough for their portrait (ha ha) so my source photograph was taken by my art teacher and used, with her permission, as the model for my 2020 card. I finished the painting in the Fall of 2019 and I sent it to the printers this Fall in time to mail out my cards. However, the mail system is so overwhelmed during the Pandemic, that I am sending more digital copies than usual. Merry Christmas!
Sketching wildlife in black and white brought me back to my Pandemic Sketchbook in September. There seems to be more critters in my yard and neighborhood, or maybe I just have more time to observe nature these days. I did not get to the beach this summer, but painted a gull from a photo I took years ago.
I have been drawing nature finds and things growing in my garden for quite a while in the Before Times or BC, Before Corona virus. I think of my style as not very precise botanical drawings. So I kept drawing things from the natural world in my Pandemic Sketchbook, things I spotted on my daily walks when the lockdown was very strict here in the New York metropolitan area. Everyone was walking and walking in the neighborhood, partly because everything was closed and sitting at home was making people stir crazy, I suspect. Leaving my sketchbook aside when I found several pieces of blue card stock in a file cabinet, I drew some flowers and a visiting House Finch with watercolor pencils on the blue background. The paper could take a little bit of water with a small brush and some blending with a tortillon . I also realized I can wet the point of the pencil to get texture. After three drawings, I ran out of this color and moved on to something else. I’ve been trying different styles and techniques in my sketchbook and trying to use up the supplies I have in my studio rather than succumb to Pandemic online shopping syndrome. I see Amazon boxes piled on every door step on my daily walks. Now there’s a topic: delivery man carrying a teetering pile of boxes! It’s hot and humid summer now so people are back indoors in the air conditioning. Shops and things are opening up and traffic is increasing, and my extremely Blue Period is over for now. Let’s hope it doesn’t have a resurgence. (Metaphor alert there…)
In recent days we’ve learned that the United States and Canada have lost three billion birds since 1970! I drew this picture of two Canada Geese last Spring before that sad news story broke. My art teacher photographs the birds and other wildlife in New Jersey. This drawing is based on one of her photographs. As in previous exercises, the challenge for me was to get the very dark values and to accurately catch the range of values from their bright white feathers to the midrange grays of the pond. I borrowed a 6B XXX pencil (or something way beyond my 5B) from my teacher which enabled me to catch those velvety, reflective black feathers on their necks. I hope my drawing is not a Momento Mori for our birds and their turtle friends here in New Jersey. Note: admittedly there seem to be too many Canada Geese on corporate campuses and public parks, but other species don’t adapt so well to our human sprawl and overuse of pesticides.