Thursday, October 12, 2017

Dorothy Dix Project Finish

Portrait of Dorothy Dix (detail)
Mixed Media (Colored pencils both Prisma & Polys and acrylic paints with text on paper glued to the surface) on black illustration board
Portraits painted from Dorothy Dix photos used with kind permission, of Austin Peay State University’s Felix G. Woodward Library, Archives and Special Collections.

This week I'm talking a bit about the finish of my portrait of “turn of the last century” advice columnist Dorothy Dix. She was sort of a “early day Dear Abby”, who hailed from Todd County, Kentucky. This portrait along with four of my other historical illustrations, were featured in Historic Todd County's recently published book: T is for Todd County. You can see more about this book project and where you can purchase a copy at:

After doing her early portrait in coloured pencils, as I blogged about here: http://lyneartblog.blogspot.com/2017/05/dorothy-dix-project.html
I moved onto her elder self, in her 80s. This was also done in coloured pencils. I wanted this version of her to reflect her almost ethereal grandmotherly self. She was often referred to as the “Confident of the Nation” as readers would send letters confiding their problems, seeking her advice. Finally I painted in acrylic paints in the center, Ms. Dix in her heyday in her mid 50s.
Here you can see I'm closing in on the finish:


After I'd gotten the three portraits to suit me, I gave the overall painting a good review. I had wanted from the beginning to emphasize the central portrait, of Ms. Dix in her prime career years. I had emphasized that by making her skin in full colour, working from the old black and white photo,(as were all three source photos). Painting the acrylics on the surface of the black illustration board made the center image “POP!”. I also painted the most detail, and upped the value contrasts of the center portrait.
The other two portraits (in her 30s and her 80s) were in coloured pencils. This made them recede a bit since the coverage of the coloured pencils can't compete visually quite as much as the opaque paints. I still wanted to emphasize this a bit more. So I went back in with my handy dandy eraser and rubbed out some of the more intense colours and lights, making those two portraits fade just a bit more.

And here is the final version of the project:



I've had a blast working on this portrait, and I've really enjoyed getting to “meet” Dorothy Dix!
I wanted to also say a heartfelt thanks to the kind folks at Historic Todd County for jurying my historical illustrations into this lovely book project.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

A Farmer's Eclipse


This bitty blog post is just a bit about last week's eclipse event. We were lucky enough to be in the pathway of totality.....and did it ever put on a show. We, and a "few" other folks that stopped by, stood on a hill on our farm that gave us a lovely 360 degree view of the spectacular "special effects" caused by the eclipse. 

The photo above of a Farmer's Eclipse, was taken in our barn. The hundred year old (plus) barn had been rebuilt after a tornado strike. The tin used in rebuilding was recycled  from another structure. As recycled tin, it had numerous nail holes, that allowed the half moons of the beginning sun eclipse to shine thru onto the shovel. 

The photo below was one I just couldn't resist, a pic of both Frank and my hands having the eclipsing sun shining thru two of the tin's holes.



One of the best effects, in my humble opinion, was sunset all around the horizon, north, south, east and west!  I centered my camera on one spot on the horizon, and within 5 minutes elapsed time.....we went from a sunny August day to twilight. The in-between eerie sunlight.... was so Kool!



The whole eclipse experience was awesome.....in the best sense. And just made even better by experiencing it in such nice company.  

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Update on Chocolatier.......In Traveling “Illustrated Word” Show

 
(Photo of Chocolatier hanging at Hopkins County-Madisonville Public Library with the kind permission of Ashley) 
  
This time around I'm just posting a bit-o-update on my coloured pencil/watercolor/acrylic painting Chocolatier. I was lucky enough to have it accepted into the Kentucky Art Council's traveling exhibit, the Illustrated Word. It's a lovely art show of pieces dedicated to “showing” the different way the written word can be commented on or actually used in visual arts. It's “traveling” around to a dozen different libraries in the state of Kentucky, and it just so happens this July/August it's hanging at the lovely Hopkins County-Madisonville Public Library, not too far from me.


  

(Photo of Ann Morgan, with Chocolatier at opening reception with the kind permission of Donna Slayton)
  
This exhibit “travels' via the “above and beyond” efforts of local librarians, who transport the entire exhibit from their library onto the next one....all on their own dime and time. And they also have to hang the show and repackage the art pieces safely for transport. So KUDOS to all the hard working librarians and volunteers who make this show possible, along with the organization of the Kentucky Arts Council.

It's sorta nice that this painting is included in a "traveling art show" as I envisioned the young lady in the painting as being a well heeled young lady in 1910 or so, who was taking the "Grand Tour" as was popular in "Downton Abby" times.  I think of her sauntering around Paris and sampling candies from the local chocolate shop.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Reading Greek or a Book Fair Moment

 
watercolour on paper, 16 x 20 inches, my own photo reference

This blog post is a bit about how I'm spending my summer vacay......painting, of course!
I pulled this old-ish photo to work on, because a recent watercolour “crash and burn” was on my mind and I wanted to explore ways to work thru the problem of showing a crowd scene in watercolour. I wanted to show enough info to let the viewer see that folks were milling about in the courtyard, but not have it be the main event.
So I pulled an old pic I had, of the Southern Book Festival in Nashville's War Memorial building and courtyard. It had a lovely contrast of straight lines of the building, great shadows with figures popping in and out of the light, and a strong central figure set of the statue and the figure reading at the base.

So, I planned on making three washes for the painting. I masked off the courtyard, main figure and highlights of the shadowed figures, and poured away. As always with these full body watercolour pours.....it warps and bubbles up scarily! But I just go away and do something else, and air conditioning does it's magic and when I come back it's FLAT!
 
Then a second more intense wash....


 
And the final darker wash. The shadowed columns and crowd are beginning to contrast nicely with the lighter first warm wash.

 
After it was (totally!) bone dry I removed all the misket. I began to daub in the bright highlights of the shadowed crowd, the Greek statue, and the reading figure at it's base. I also blocked off the columns and did a small repainting to set the columns “straight” and adjust the values. I was especially pleased with the composition play of both the statue's sword and the crowd shadows "pointing" towards the main seated reading figure.  With a bit of watercolour penciling to straighten up details and a bit-o-white gouche (opaque watercolour) on some lost highlights, I called it a wrap!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Cherry Bowl

CHERRY BOWL 

This  week I'm pleased to welcome my guest blogger, Frank Lyne, who is going to tell us a bit about his recent project:
  
This bowl is made of a knot in a cherry log. The knot wasn't evident on the surface, but revealed itself when I split a log too big to easily move into more manageable portions. I already showed this picture of the knot in my previous post about making Singer. Singer was made from that portion of the billet that's below the knot in this picture.

 
While carving Singer, I set the bowl idea aside, but came back to it later. One side was already rounded and there was already a bowl-like depression in the center. I merely had to make a few cross cuts, round off the edges and sand it down. Mostly used a dremel drill to smooth the interior because no other tool would work. It could be used to store loose change, or maybe snack size Kit Kats.

 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Dorothy Dix Project

 
Portrait of Dorothy Dix (detail)
Mixed Media (Colored pencils both Prisma & Polys and acrylic paints with text on paper glued to the surface) on black illustration board
Portraits painted from Dorothy Dix photos used with kind permission, of Austin Peay State University’s Felix G. Woodward Library, Archives and Special Collections.

 
This week I'm starting out a new historical project....a portrait of “turn of the last century” advice columnist Dorothy Dix. After just a quick search I found that the lovely Austin Peay State University’s Felix G. Woodward Library, Archives and Special Collections had a ton of great photos of Ms. Dix..... aka Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer. So I picked out a photo of her in her 30's, 50's and 80s, and decided to show her as her life and career progressed. I did a quickie sketch combining the three views, along with a bunch of (snail mail) letters representing her fans' questions and a newspaper where her columns appeared.

 
Using the colour thumbnail I made a pencil sketch and traced it off onto the black illustration board using yellow graphite paper. I started on the left with coloured pencils, drawing in the Art Nouveau border. 


 
I then began penciling in the stacks of her readers' letters, resting on a shelf connected to the border. I took some random text with some headline phrases about Ms. Dix....”Confidante of the Nation”.....”highest paid journalist of her day”......printed them out on the computer, the size needed for the painting and glued them down onto a painted newspaper hanging off the shelf. I also included the permission from the Austin Peay Archives. After the adhesive (gel medium) dried I began glazing over the hand drawn text columns and pictures with white and yellow glazes to blend it all together. I wanted it legible but not blaring.


 
Then I was able to get down to the “fun” part......the first of the three Dorothy Dix portraits. I am doing the early and elderly portraits of Ms. Dix in colored pencil because I want them to recede a bit from the center and main portrait, and using colored pencils on the black illustration board will mute the colors a bit. For the center portrait, when she was in her hey day as a journalist, I will paint in full colour acrylics.



Friday, May 12, 2017

Singer

Singer
cherry
  This week I'm delighted to be sharing another guest blog by the talented sculptor, Frank Lyne.  He's introducing his latest sculpture.....Singer.


Upon finishing my last figurative carving, I meant to begin work on a cherry billet already in the shop. It didn't seem deep enough for what I had in mind, so I went back to the stable wood stack and selected a much bigger cherry billet. It was too big to move, so I decided to split it in half. It wouldn't split. After burying 4 wedges as deep as they would go, I stuck a 6 foot pry bar in the split and rocked it back and forth until at last a shell popped off, revealing why it wouldn't split. There was an internal knot that didn't show at all on the surface. Although the shell wasn't very deep, the knot looked interesting, so I took it to the shop to see what could be made from it.



  

It looked like it could be a bowl, so I made a cross cut above and below the knot, then another cut to flatten the side opposite what was already a bowl-like depression. This project looked like it was going to be more trouble than it was worth, so I turned my attention to one of the parts I had cut away from it. It was a slab big enough to make a full size face, but not deep enough for a whole head. It occurred to me that Olen Bryant, my sculpture teacher 50 years ago, would often make faces on slabs not nearly deep enough to make a full 3-D figure, so I thought “Why not?” For source material, I took pictures of a back up singer on a TV show. Although she isn't famous, I didn't attempt to closely capture her likeness, only her expression as she repeatedly belted out the word “rise” each time the song reached the chorus.




With a slight turn of her head to the right, she worked best in our house in a spot where that turn would make her face toward the middle of the room.






 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The Discussion or Paper Cutting My Way to a Successful Painting

 
The Discussion 
8x10 inches acrylic on stretched canvas
  
This post is some more about my current fav “sketching” technique. I wanted to do a little painting sketch, on a small 8x10 inch stretched canvas. My primary technique goal was to paint the figures very broadly and try not to return to my habitual detailing, detailing...detailing. Now stretched canvas is VERY springy.....in other words if you tried to trace off a pencil sketch.....it bounces with every lick of the pencil. Besides canvas weave is also very bumpy.....the canvas texture is very visible.
So......I took the long way 'round.....I traced my sketch onto a piece of heavy tracing paper, and cut out the figures. I taped the cutout paper over my canvas and brushed on the very green grass.


  

This let me get a good clear outline of the silhouettes of the three figures and let me paint in the cool dark colours of the background without worrying about dashing paint over into the facial areas.

 
It also let me work confidently on getting the intense color of the green grass with the warmer grass colour along the center line of the painting closest to the main area of interest.....the head and shoulders of the talking figures. And concentrate on getting the background crowd dark and greyed enough to be a perfect backdrop for the central foreground figures.
I was following a bitty scribble chart noting that I wanted a cool background to transition to a warm foreground. I wanted my two contrast points of interest to be on the two groupings of the three figures. Everything else was going to be muted, and less distinct to leave the focus of the painting to be the three figures having their discussion.

 

Here you can see my strategy for painting the facial features....without painting lines and too much details for the very small space. At this size things were a bit fiddly, but it worked. I also adapted the practice of having three brushes going at the same time.....one with a light flesh tone, one with a mid tone and a third with a very dark tone. I just painted in the mass tones of the faces.....and let it dry.

 
I took the “finding marks” of the shadow masses and went off painting, using them as my guide for facial feature placement. I wasn't satisfied with my pencil sketch's features or hair or in one case, arm placement. All easily worked on and changed as I painted.

 
Here you can see where I painted in the right hand man's boots. I used teensy tiny scissors, cut out his boots, placed the stencil over the correct spot, and painted in the boot outline. After removing the stencil, I painted in more light and shadows to make the boots look like....boots!

This painting has been a blast to do.....and as always....I learned a lot!


 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Barn with Yellow Irises or Change of Focus

 Barn with Yellow Irises 8x10 inches acrylic

Today I'm talking a bit about establishing a focal point in your painting. In this bitty painting, I used a photo I took of one of our barns, in the background. The foreground interest was some yellow irises in the back yard. I decided to paint this on a small canvas, changing the focus from the foreground yellow irises to focusing on the barn in the background.

 
I began with a pencil outline on tracing paper of the photo. I cut out the barn outline on the tracing paper, and laid it over the canvas' already painted blue sky. I then painted in the barn's reflecting roof and darker metal sides. This only took a few brush strokes of my already mixed colours.

 
You can see here how well the stencil worked to lay in the barn, just where I wanted it, with a minimum of fuss. I easily got a nice sharp outline to focus the eye on the main subject of the painting.
 
I proceeded to work on each section of the landscape in the same manner. Here I've gotten to the foreground irises which I had left outlined when I painted in the surrounding grass and bushes. The tracing paper stencil left me a beautiful outline of the iris blooms without a bit of pencil sketch showing thru, since I didn't use any pencil to sketch!


 
Here I'm working on the yellow irises. Tho' I worked a fairly tight detailed painting on the irises at this point......I later went back and blurred the petal outlines, and reduced the chroma (intensity) of the wine coloured lines on the petals. All done to leave the impression of backlit yellow petals in full sunlight, but leading the focus of the painting back to the barn. This was helped by the detailing I painted on the barn, it's straight lines and intense shadows pulling the viewer's eye back to the area of higher contrast in value and detailing.
 


Friday, April 21, 2017

Teacher


This week I'm sharing a guest blog post by sculptor Frank Lyne.  This blog post is introducing his latest sculpture......TEACHER.
   
My favorite wood for making figurative studies is maple, because facial features show up better in maple than any other wood I have on hand. The primary draw back to maple is that it frequently gets too wormy in storage to be fit for any use. Early this February, I started going through some of my maple stock. I discarded 2 billets entirely because they were wormy throughout. Then I found one that seemed to have worm free heart wood and started by carving a face in what looked like the soundest side of the billet.


 
The shape of this billet didn't allow many options for the placement of the arms and I could see early on that a big crack on the opposite end was going to make planting both feet on the floor challenging. To work around these problems, I elected to have her leaning on some as yet to be defined object, which would both give something for her straight up and down arms to do and allow one of her feet to be off the floor without looking unbalanced. At about this point I had a couple of different drop in visitors. Nephew asked without giving her more than a casual glance, “Haven't you done something about like this before?” Don't remember how I answered that, but my thought bubble said, “Sure, it's about like something I did before in that one human looks about like another.” My second visitor, a logger, had a more interesting reaction. He seemed taken aback upon seeing her and seemed to contemplate a moment before saying, “She looks like a member of the British Parliament.” I guess her big, wavy hair made him think of the wigs worn by the British judiciary. I took his comment as positive in that it seemed to imply that he thought she had presence.




I had her almost entirely shaped and still didn't know what the object should be that she was leaning on.


 
Then Kitteh returned from a month long sabbatical to supervise the remainder of my work and suggested that she should be a teacher.




That seemed like a good idea, and with Kitteh's help, it became so.





Sunday, April 16, 2017

Hopkins County Madisonville Public Library Authors Reception....or how I spent Saturday afternoon

 
This is just a bitty blog post about how I spent the Saturday before Easter at a lovely Author's Reception at the Hopkins County Madisonville Public Library.

I and fifteen to twenty other book authors and author/illustrators were invited to set up a table in the main room of the library, to show off our creative endeavors. There were a few authors I'd met before at previous book fairs.....and a whole bunch of new authors to meet and greet. It was a lovely afternoon of chatting with my fellow exhibitors, and a nice sprinkling of local library patrons, along with some family members.......folks just plain ole' interested in BOOKS !

A HUGE shout out to the kind folks at Hopkins County-Madisonville Public Library, the very nice volunteers, and local library patrons who helped make it such a lovely occasion.

I also got to visit a bit with my fellow SCBWI Midsouth member Patricia Wiles......and chat about our joint obsession......kids books!


  

Thanks to all who helped make this such a fun Saturday.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Now that You've Bought It.....Displaying Artwork in the Home


 

This time around, on the subject of Displaying Artwork in the Home, I'm gonna talk “how” you can display your new artwork. Since Frank and I are constantly creating new artworks, we also try to be creative about displaying those artworks. Since I am 2D and Frank is 3D, I tend to take the walls for my display spaces, and Frank takes any flat surfaces. That being said, we still have a limited amount of display space in our home.....just as is the case with customers that purchase our artworks.

As you can see in the first photo, we have a lovely antique bookcase made of a dark stained wood. This bookcase is a lovely centerpiece for the living room wall, and is perfect for Frank's Fawn and otter along with his Loon. Then your eye is led to his dark wood framed portrait above. I'm also showing one of my Still Life in Blue small unframed less formal paintings as a counter to the larger pieces.

 
On this wall I've arranged a trio of his semi-abstract sculptures that all point upwards in different fashions. They “point” or lead the eye up to a small piece I painted, called Haying. These smaller different sized sculptures make a nice grouping, in and of themselves.



 
As an artist, I like painting pieces that are slightly different from the standard size and shapes. And I like to think an art consumer, who is willing to hunt for just the right size/shape/orientation might find just that “perfect piece” on our website. This piece, “Rain Drops Keep Falling on my.....” is a perfect fit in this small bit of wall beside a doorway.

 
Then there are spaces, in “alternative” rooms, like the bathroom, that you don't normally consider a display place. But this little piece, Teacup Rose, fits perfectly in our bathroom, right over a towel rack. The piece goes perfectly with the colour scheme of the bathroom, white with dashes of peach, and navy.

 
Finally, there is always the consideration of just where a piece is displayed to show off the “best views” of that piece. Frank's recently finished piece, Turkey Hollow, puts it's “best beak forward” on this shelf somewhat above eye level. It shows off particularly well the burl of the head and the side grains of the hollow of a tree stump that the turkey is sitting in.

Everyone's home is different and has different opportunities to show off artworks in a person's home collection. All it takes is a bit of creativity and experimentation to show off each piece's best side.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

What He Saw or a Portrait with Lotsa Texture

What He Saw
9x12 inches acrylic on gessoed masonite 
  
This time around I'm showing a small 9 x 12 inch acrylic portrait that I just finished. I've been working on getting the 'sunlit” look. One of the guidelines for working with values (shades of black and white) is to indicate what the light is hitting and what is in shadow. For artists, it's usually expressed in a ten step value scale.....with zero being white and ten being pure black.
In a couple of art books I've been reading, it says that sunlight is best represented by using a four step value separation....in other words any object in the sunlight has a shadow four steps from the value of the highlight value. I know......sounds all stuffy and “math-y”. But in practice it's pretty kool.

I set up my 10 step value scale beside my canvas, and each time I painted a bit of color on the face, I first compared it with the portion of the value scale that I was working with. And it did indeed help me to judge the respective values of the shadows underneath the nose and chin and neck.

As a bit of an extra challenge, I wanted to add in a bit of funky texture to the painting. The background was just broken colours of a landscape, to be painted in loosely. So before I painted in the background, I laid a stencil on the background, and scooped a palette knife's worth of white paint over the background area. This left a slightly raised area on the background that only showed in a certain light. When I painted the background over this, it visually totally obscured the pattern......unless it was viewed in just the right light angle. Sorta a “secret visual surprise”!


 

Next painting I intend to go the further step and work on learning more techniques of “sunlight”. I want to play with colour in shadows and with “bounced” sunlight.