17 September 2009

naked ladies

watercolor on velke losiny moldau CP 300gsm, 20"x30".

i bought these flowers at bill's market and set them in a vase for two days. i drew a foundation in watercolor pencil, then in charcoal or carbon pencil over that. finally the drawing was washed or filled in with watercolor paint. i didn't like the way the background turned out, so i trimmed the sheet at both ends, and i finished the pot quickly because i was bored with the work.

the point was the freehand drawing, a more complicated drawing than i've done in a long time without a grid or projected image. i am becoming more aware of how a drawing emerges out of first marks so that i can make those marks with the right focus.

i like the way the blossoms cover the stems, and the variety of curls and perspectives in the six pointed star at the end of each blossom cone. they are called "naked ladies" because the blossoms stalk out of the bare ground. the leaves emerge and die off in the summer.


watercolor on velke losiny moldau CP paper, 300gsm, 30" x 22".

the star field between the pleiades and orion (across bottom) and between the milky way and the variable star mira (bottom to top). it includes several different distance scales: the star clusters of orion, hyades and pleiades, the milky way background, the red shifted galaxies in the distance.

first the star positions were identified in blue watercolor pencil using a grid to copy and project part of a star chart in the norton's star atlas. beads of latex resist were applied over the marks, and the whole sheet washed with indanthrone blue, prussian blue and phthalo blue. the resists were removed from the dried sheet and the star images edited with a brush.

the moldau paper is really a delight to work on, but the internal sizing does not hold up under areas protected by latex mask, so diluted color applied to them tends to creep or spread, which introduces variety into the star shapes.

15 September 2009

binocular self

Kremer pan watercolors, Wolff's carbon, Arches CP 300gsm, 16" x 12".

i have been feeling a desire lately to get back to vision rather than photography for a working basis. a lot of things going on ... looking at stars through an infrared scope, testing color combinations using photoshop generated media, finding the camera based paintings stale and timid, difficulty in focusing when i draw freehand, an interest in how objects are identified in vision, looking through japanese hantai comics and other graphic novels ... feeling boxed in by the image.

i had a grid traced on an acrylic sheet that i used to transfer a starscape into a large (30"x22") format, and thought to use it to draw my face in binocular view. the trick is to focus on the grid, but look at the image behind it; if the grid is propped against a mirror and the mirror is a few feet away, the binocular image appears fairly clearly.

it was very difficult for me to draw in this way, mostly because the binocular rivalry became stronger, and one image would dominate. there is actually great depth to this kind of image that becomes more apparent the longer you try to draw it; the difficulty is to draw both images with equal contribution.

the eye does various things to reconcile the images. the edge of the head (hair) and the eyes are pronounced, because the eyes overlap in the center (the right eye looks directly into the left eye, and vice versa). the mouth appears as a horizontal feature. the nose is split in separate images that are only half as strong as the eyes, and so on. where areas overlap, the image "behind" the other appears attenuated at the edge, as if the image in front were surrounded by a nimbus. features coalesce to make shapes, and the shapes change as one or the other image asserts itself. it was quite tiring.

the binocular issue was foregrounded by a large painting i am doing of "naked ladies", a type of lily that blossoms once each year around the first of september. the profuse lily cones created a dense pattern of overlaping and occluding volumes.