Saturday, November 30, 2013

SKETCHBOOK: "Thanksgiving 2013"

This Thanksgiving, I took a trip to my hometown of El Dorado, Arkansas to spend the holiday with my Mom, my brother and his family.  Since I was there the whole week before Thanksgiving Day, I had a lot of time to spend with Mom sketching.  I told her that this is sort of like our version of when Dad used to take my brother and I hunting and fishing back in our youth.

The sketch above is one of my favorites from the trip...SPUDNUTS, the breakfast of champions!!  For the uninitiated, spudnuts are made from potato flour.  The Spudnut Shoppe is a landmark in that town, and is always busy in the mornings.  Mom brought out her festive plates for the season...and a cup of tea made it all "just right" for drawing.

The weather was really cold and wet for the first two days I was there.  So we set up a "still life factory" and had a great time drawing some of the many interesting objects Mom has all over her house.
I tried something new this trip...a cartridge "calligraphy" pen.  Unfortunately, the ink was NOT it was a mess.  I also did not care for the flat nib of the pen for drawing.

I decided to go back to my standard approach...a felt-tip artist pen.  I liked the decorative stein we were sketching, so tried it again, with more pleasing results.

Here is an interesting candle holder, and some brass objects in the background.

Though the drawing is not flattering (Sorry, Mom!), it was fun to catch "Miz Dee" in action!

I decided to give my calligraphy pen "one more chance"...hated the results.  But it's nice for lettering my notes, so I may keep it for that purpose.

Once the weather cleared up, we were able to get out and about to draw some.  This view is from a church parking lot, looking off into the distance at the oil refinery.  El Dorado was an "oil boom town" from it's beginnings, and oil still plays a major part in it's identity to this day.

This view was something I had never noticed before.  Mom's blinds are usually drawn.  After I peeked through them to see the early morning sunlight hitting some birch trees, I had to sit at the little table and capture the moment.

Finally...this was at the end of Thanksgiving day.  Mom was napping, and I sat on a little bench by the fence and drew my Ford Focus and the trees at the end of the driveway. The next morning, I left at 6:30 a.m. for the 9-hour drive home. A wonderful trip all around!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

SKETCHBOOK: "Ren Fest 2013"

HUZZAH! I spent all day sketching at the RENAISSANCE FESTIVAL in Bonner Springs, KS!

This was the last weekend for this year's fest, so it was crazy crowded.  But the weather was perfect, and there was so much to draw.  I got there an hour before it opened, just so I could sketch the entrance, shown above.

The sketch below took me at least an hour to draw...maybe tired rear-end lost track...and feeling...after sitting on my little tripod stool.  This was one of the concession stands there.  It's so nice to have all these permanent buildings on the grounds year round.

The next sketch is of the Jousting Arena.  I was sitting in the grandstands opposite the stage where the King and Queen sit during the tournaments.

Next up...a camel taking a rest from giving rides.  He went back on duty before I could add color.

Below are some bits of armor and spears from the Royal Guard's Armory.

Below are just a few random sketches of various characters out there.  I really didn't spend as much time as I wanted drawing people in costumes.  It was SO very crowded and hard to find a spot where folks weren't walking in front of me all the time.  Plus most of the people with the best costumes kept walking around.  I chose not to take my camera, because there are so many pics posted online.  But now I'm kicking myself for not taking a few shots of the really cool looking outfits.

Last of all...a REALLY cool metal Dragon Fountain.  This thing was very tall, and there were a lot more amazing sculptures in this area...all welded metal pieces.  I forgot to get the name of the vendor.  This sketch was at the end of the day, and the lighting kept shifting as I was drawing. There was just a hint of sunlight left hitting the dragon by the time I added color.
All in all...a perfect day to be outside!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

SKETCHBOOK: "Japan Festival"

Yesterday I spent some time at the annual "Japan Festival" held at the Johnson County Community College.  I'm finding JCCC to be a wonderful place for sketching and a variety of interesting activities.  Of course I took my sketchbook!  Above is the entrance to the festival.

Below are the other sketches I did that day...a view from above the Bonzai trees exhibit...a Taiko Drum workshop...and an amazing candy sculptor.  The sculptor had a video camera that projected her work on a giant screen in a lecture hall.

As is often the case when I am out and about, there are too many interesting things to sketch fast enough.  So here are a few photos from the day.  This scene below cracked me up...a samurai still has to buy a ticket to get in!  I saw the guy later, patroling the hallways.  Besides traditional costumes, many of the teenagers were wearing outfits depicting their favorite "Anime" characters (Japanese animation, for those who don't has a specific style and look).

Below is a view of the Carlsen can see the red archway that I sketched.  There was a gorgeous flower arrangement in a cart in the center of the room.  I forgot about the garden workshops that were outside...didn't get any pics of that, unfortunately.

One of the rooms had a wonderful display of traditional Japanese dolls...amazing attention to detail!

Here are some Samurai armor...the one on the right was "child sized".  I cropped out the little guy who, I suspect, had to wear that...he was none too happy looking.

Here is the Bonzai Society's display...some wonderful miniature trees and gardens.

Below is MIYUKI making "candy art".  She was SO fast...about one sculpture every 10 minutes or less.  I don't see how she did this all day long!  Really fun to watch.

And this last photo was of the "Taiko Drums" workshop.  The participants were doing stretching exercises in this pic.  I was really impressed with how fast the beginners learned some of the basic rhythm patterns...a lot of memory-work in short order.  The woman in purple (on the far right with the microphone) would call out specific commands, and the group had to hit the drums with the correct technique and sounds (oh...and shout, too...very cool).  I don't think I could have done that without a LOT of practice!

However, I did get to play drums "my way" with "Hard@Play" band at another gig at "Murray's Tables and Tap" last night.  A really good day of fun!  (Today...I'm resting!!!)

Monday, September 30, 2013

SCULPTURE - Monster Heads! Pt.3


Here is the third entry in my ongoing series of Monster Heads.  These have really been fun to work on!  This particular design actually started over a year and a half ago. I had been kicking around the idea of a full-on fight scene inspired by two rivals from the world of college football. You can read about that original post here: "King Hog vs. Bullzilla!"  However...I may never get around to finishing that sculpture.  So in the mean time, I thought I'd see if I could get inspired with just doing the head of one of those monsters.

As usual, I start with a wood base, with a nail wrapped with wire.  This time I did not use a pre-made piece from the hobby shop.  I thought I'd try a base that looked like boulders.  I added aluminum foil as the core of my armature. Once I gave it a "skin" of Sculpy, I baked the basic shape with a heat gun.

Next came the teeth, which I sculpted and baked.  I didn't want to keep bumping the teeth in the process of sculpting, and had already decided to have the mouth closed.

I began to play around with various profiles.  I had intended on making this creature look more like a mutated BULL (a Texas Longhorn to be specific).  However, it started to feel too much like the "minotaur" from ancient Greek mythology. So, I decided not to lock in to being so literal with the details of a real bull, and just let my imagination run free.

Here are a few pics of the development of the back of the neck.  It just sort of grew into more of a spine, with the bones showing at the surface.  I roughly blended the forms, leaving the linear texture...then smoothed it out by painting on oderless paint thinner.

After adding the basic shapes of the face, I continued the process of smoothing things with the thinner.  But I tried to keep the wrinkles showing.  After I was basically done with the face, I thought it would be nice to add some battle scars!  Then I finished out the details on the horns.

The next images show the rock and sand mixture that I put on the base of the creature.  I'm not sure I'm so happy with how it turned out.  I would have done better to just use sand on the sculpted rock base...the bigger gravel bits obscured most of the details of the form.  Oh and learn!

The paint job came next.  That is one of my favorite parts of these projects.  I had decided to try to keep with a burnt orange color palette, to match with the Texas Longhorn school colors.  However, in the end, the paintjob wasn't quite true to those brighter colors.

Here are a few "turn-around" shots of the final sculpture!

 I will continue to add more to this growing little family...probably the next one will be a version of "King Hog" inspired by the Arkansas Razorback!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

SKETCHBOOK: "Plaza Art Fair"

Today, I had a blast at the Plaza Art Fair in Kansas City. Now anyone who knows me very well, is aware that I do not like crowds.  However, instead of just wandering around looking at all the artist's booths (which I did enjoy doing), I decided to MAKE some art.  Somehow that changed how I was seeing everything...I was in "the zone" and looking for then next thing to draw, instead of feeling overwhelmed with all the people.  Sketched for about 5.5 hours!  
It was a gorgeous morning when I did the sketch above.  I was walking out of the garage where I had just parked my car, and saw the view looking down the steep hill. I just set up my little stool on the sidewalk and began to sketch.  As usual, lots of folks stopped by and wanted to watch for a bit.  Several asked if I had a booth set up in the fair...and were surprised when I said I just did the sketches for fun.  I don't mind chatting with folks...I can handle crowds if it's only a couple of folks at a time!  :)
The sketch below was of Brush Creek and the main stage for the bands.  It was not supposed to be divided in the middle. I had meant to put all of the scene in the upper box.  But my drawing was "off" in scale from the start.  I hated to lose the nice shadows under the I just drew in another box and completed the scene.
The rest of the time was spent "people watching".  It was quite a challenge to capture a sketch...most people kept moving.  A couple of artisans were sitting on stools, though, and that helped.
The last page below was of some of the musicians there. The Art Fair has three stages at strategic locations.  The drawing in the middle was of the "acoustic" stage...five gals in that band.  The same drummer was playing with a jazz trio later in the day on the main stage.  I set up in several spots to catch various views.  The bass player was the most fun to draw...he got the most sketches on the page.
It was a terrific day.  I might go back on Sunday, just to listen to some more great music.  Who knows...I might even sketch!

UPDATE!  I need to add one more sketch to this post.  Tonight I went to hear "Sante Fe and the Fat City Horns" (all the way from Las Vegas)!  One of the most outstanding bands I've ever heard!!!  They were playing at the Johnson County Community College Performing Arts Series.  I did a quick sketch of their instruments about 20 minutes before showtime (from the front row).  Then I got most of the guys in the band to sign the drawing after the performance.  Such great way to end the day!!!!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

SKETCHBOOK: "Yep...Summer's Over"

Today I decided to enjoy a nice quiet Saturday morning sketching at nearby Shawnee Mission Lake. I am always sad to see the rental boats all dry-docked for the season, as the fall is still a great time to be on the water.  Since I don't have my canoe anymore, I just have to enjoy the water from the banks.  The colors of the paddleboats all lined up caught my eye and I found a nice spot under a shade tree.

I've been trying to force myself to do quicker sketches, as I can get lost in the details for hours.  So the sketches above of the main dock were done with a looser feel.  Still not super happy with my technique yet...but will keep practicing.  In fact...I had a "total fail" on one sketch...ripped it up and tossed it.

The sketch below was done as I was walking back to my car. I saw the bright colors of a sailboat at the boat ramp.  As I was sketching, the owner appears, backs up his trailer, and loaded up the boat.  I was forced to work even faster than I had planned...but kindof like how this one came out.

Below is a sketch I did last weekend, after church, on my way home.  This is a construction site that I had posted sketches about a few weeks ago, next to a Methodist church.  I suspect that this won't be the last drawing I do from there!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

SKETCHBOOK: "Airplanes And A Flying Dog!"

Today was my second "sketch-crawl" event with the URBAN SKETCHERS-MIDWEST group.  It was a gorgeous day, as we met at the Excelsior Springs Airport, to enjoy the annual "Fly In and BBQ" weekend!  I had the chance to meet a few more artists than before.  And the BBQ tasted great!

Above is a portrait I drew of our illustrious leader of the group, Cathy "Kate" Johnson.  However she is sitting right in front of the tractor that pulls planes into the hanger.  So you'll have to use your imagination.  :)  Below is where I was sitting...some folks like to see a photo of the viewpoint that artists are drawing here ya go!

The next sketch was a view of earlier in the day, when there were about 25 planes all around.  By the time we left, there were only about 5 left on the grassy area next to the runway.

I thought I might be able to take my sweet time with drawing the airplanes there.  However, the whole concept of the "Fly In" was that aircraft were coming and going all day long!  I had to sketch faster than usual, so there are more "mistakes" in my drawings.  I tried some opaque over-painting to "fix" a couple of these sketches.  I'm not so happy with the two shown below.  But even with "mess-ups", I learn something.
The yellow plane flew off, just as I was starting to draw it...the photo below shows it as it taxied by.  The blue bi-plane came and went several times, giving rides, but always ended up at the same spot.

Okay...this next series of photos just made my whole day!! This cute little dog flew that tiny little plane...almost all by himself!  He let that guy in the red t-shirt come along for the ride...probably was a good friend of his.
 Time to suit up!
 Please return your trays to their upright positions...
Clear the runway...we're outta here!!!

The pilot in the blue bi-plane did a fun "fly by" at the end of the day, leaving a trail of white!  What a great finish to a very fun day!