Saturday, May 31, 2014

sketch dump: 5/25 - 5/31/2014

So I decided to grant myself a one week break from daily sketching, since I was getting swamped by work and after-work things. Part of me felt a bit guilty that I didn't take some time out to keep up with my daily practice, and part of me felt it was absolutely necessary. Ultimately, I'm glad to have taken that break, and get back on track again for the final week of May.  Overall, it was recharging and I couldn't wait to draw again, after it was beginning to feel a little more like a chore earlier in the month.

For this final week of May, I decided to employ the trusty ivory black Derwent Watercolour pencil one last time, once again, using it to draw without using brush and water. I also decided to focus on only trees I've seen and photographed while in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. The trees there were a highlight for me, standing there in all their old, twisted glory.  It's funny seeing how the pencil shrank from the earliest drawing, to the last and latest.

One issue that I had with the watercolor pencil was that it was almost too powerful, and I found I had to carefully and slowly build any layers, first with a light sketch, later applying more layers where necessary.  So, yes, these sketches took some time to make, at least an hour each, so I had to find and utilize pockets of time that might normally be spent on more casual pursuits, like reading or being online (or napping, for that matter!). The most difficult part is having the discipline to make that initial step to sit down and draw.  That lazy little demon on my shoulder will tell me to "take it easy man, you had a long day, why add an extra load of work to your day?", then I realize, this drawing stuff might be work, but it's extremely satisfying work - work that I enjoy more than anything else. That's the motivator for me to take a seat and essentially, get back to work again.

In the meantime, an appropriate and excellent song and video by the band PULP.  Go tell it to the trees.

Monday, May 26, 2014

sketch dump: 5/11-5/17/2014

Here's another set that I finally had time to photograph and post about. I've been waiting to get some good shots during the day, as I've found that taking sketchbook pics later in the evening, when I've been doing much of my drawing, results in diminished image quality. I've been loving working with my Ivory Black Derwent Watercolour pencil in the meantime, minus any brush and water. I find it very easy to get a wide range of tonality, almost too easy if you're not working slowly. In the meantime, I decided to let myself take a one week break from my daily sketches, the day after our fifth wedding anniversary. With traveling and knowing how much I had to get taken care of at work and after work last week, it made sense. However, I'll be making up for that lost week by having some days where I do more than one sketch in a sitting, especially this coming summer.  I have some great places in mind for this, and it'll be good to sketch out of doors again. Until next week!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

5th wedding anniversary visit to williamsburg, va

Thanks to a great deal on Groupon, Kris and I spent last weekend in historic Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. We stayed at the Powhatan Resort for two nights/days for about half the price you would normally pay, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I wanted to try something different that felt like we were getting away, but without too much travel. I was somewhat hesitant to book, after I read some reviews on Yelp about the resort being a bit dated, having old tvs, etc. Well, for one, the place was extremely clean, it was spacious, the beds were so comfortable we slept like bricks, and there was some updating already done, and what might have needed to be done was mostly superficial. Kris can be kind of picky too, with regards to where we stay, and she loved it there, which says a lot.

I had also read about how they try and get you to go to a time share meeting when checking in, and in turn, try to get you to buy into one. They weren't too pushy, and quite friendly, to be honest, and when asked to go to the concierge desk to pick up our special package, a simple friendly "no thanks" sufficed, and that was that. The truth was, we just wanted to get away for a weekend to celebrate our five years of being married without any hassle and anyone bothering us. The condo we got was perfect for this, as we didn't have to deal with hearing loud, inconsiderate guests carrying on in a hotel lobby at two in the morning, which seems to happen more often than not. The grounds were beautiful as well, and I witnessed turtles, a Great Blue Heron, and a swan during our brief stay. Unfortunately, two days wasn't nearly enough time, as we were hoping to walk the trails more, try some mini golf, go swimming and hang out on the back porch. 

During our second day, we decided to try a casual visit to Colonial Williamsburg, which was no more than ten minutes away. I slightly recall being through the area en route to Busch Gardens as a kid, which was my only experience with the place. Kris, who is from Trinidad originally, was completely in love with it all. The ideal weather didn't hurt either. It was fun walking around, taking in some American history and simply exploring the town. Of course it was cool seeing folks dressed in Colonial garb and reenacting what life was like during those times, and there was plenty of amazing architecture to see, preserved as if it hardly changed since the town was built in the 18th century. There were some incredibly cool old trees throughout the town as well, which made for great photographic subject matter, as well as for drawing and sketching. Neither of us are much for guided tours, so this approach worked best for us. Maybe next visit we'll stay longer and get more of an educational lowdown on the place. 

The one place we paid for was a visit to the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum, which cost less than thirty bucks for the two of us. It was definitely worth a gander, but my only wish was that there was more art work and less emphasis on craft, as amazing as some of it was to see. Sometimes, with a lot of early American folk art, the lines can be blurred with regards to art and craft, but in a lot of cases, it was pretty clear which was which. What's good about the place is that exhibits change, so a second visit might be in store next time. In the meantime, I took some pics of some of the art (below).

For both Kris and I, our stay at Colonial Williamsburg and the Powhatan Resort was a delightful win. Only a three hour drive from Loudoun County, VA, time slows down and the pace of life is far more laid back. The great thing is, there were plenty of things to do and places to go in the surrounding suburbs, including a winery, a variety of restaurants and grocery stores, a book store and more. Looking forward to our next visit!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

sketch dump: 5/4 - 5/10/2014

It's about time I photographed and posted up my most recent sketches! Been busy celebrating my wife Kris and my fifth wedding anniversary by taking a little trip to Colonial Williamsburg, VA, which was a beautiful time. I'll make sure to post some pics from that soon. In the meantime, it was good continuing my series of tree-face drawings. Doing these is a real exercise in "seeing", as well as cultivating creativity. I also did a couple of drawings based on some wild and wonderful sculptures I saw a couple years ago in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. Drawing from these gave me some idea of the artist's own creative thought-process, and gave me more of an understanding of how inventive this person was. The artist, Jorge Zeno, is pretty elusive online, and I featured him HERE at the blog a couple of years back. These are among some of my favorite sculptures to see in person, and I could imagine an entire garden full of them in a variety of imaginative shapes and sizes. Sketching from another artist's work can put one in that person's shoes and provide some very useful insight.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

wild ocean art exhibit at off-rhode studio and book release

Last Saturday afternoon I attended the art exhibit for the brand new book Wild Ocean, released through Fulcrum Books and edited by Matt Dembicki. The exhibit took place at the Off-Rhode Studio gallery portion of Art Enables in Washington, D.C.. The book will mark the third major graphic novel anthology edited by Matt Dembicki and released through Fulcrum.  A portion of sales from Wild Ocean will be donated to Pangea Seed, who use art as a means of spreading the word about oceanic wildlife conservation. In addition to this excellent exhibit, beautifully put together by the fine folks at Art Enables, Matt held a free comics-making workshop with an emphasis on paneling a story line. Above is a shot of the book and below is some original cover art by Steven Russell Black, on exhibit at Off-Rhode. 

Putting together a comic strip is no easy task, and it's good to see some behind-the-scenes original art from a book, showing some of the hard work and process that went into it. It's also good to see comic art increasingly accepted as a valid fine art form, which was quite evident at the Wild Ocean exhibit. The image above is one of two amazing pieces of original art that sold on opening day, by Matt Dembicki. The next couple of images below include more of Matt's work, featured in Wild Ocean.

Despite the wet, rainy weather, it was good to see so many people come out to Art Enables Saturday! The people who participated in Matt's workshop really got into it, and it was cool to see some of the great work they were doing, some of which was quite humorous and well drawn. 

I remember when the school district I work for offered a grant to visiting artists for several years. Four years in a row I had Matt come by my school to do comics-making workshops. Matt's a natural teacher, as well as artist, and he's come a long way since the early days of organizing comic-jam mini-zines. 

The people I met, and some of whom I had the pleasure to meet again at the opening were all so good to talk to and so supportive of the arts. It's comforting to know there are quite a few folks out there who care about and cherish work made from another individual's hands and heart. Lots of art sold on opening day, as red dots were abundant. I was fortunate enough to sell three of the eight pieces I have in the show pretty early on Saturday, which meant a whole lot to me, especially since I got to talk to a couple of the wonderful people who bought work I made for the book. I know I've said this before, but this is something I absolutely never ever take for granted and it truly warms my heart to know my art goes out to good people and places in the world. I am eternally grateful for this.

Above are some shots from my work in the show, and below is a sneak peek at my story's opening pages, lettered by Matt Dembicki. I'm so happy a poet, artist and photographer I met on Flickr named Simon Clarke allowed me to use his seahorse haiku, which I thought served as a perfect verbal introduction to the story of this revered and mysterious little beast of the sea. 

Again, the work in the show and book is pretty astounding, and what I love about these anthologies from Matt and Fulcrum is the sheer variety of styles, bucking the trend of increasingly slick, generic-looking paint-by-numbers work found in so many major comics publications today.  

In the exhibit, visitors are also treated to some top notch oceanic and aquatic-themed work made by some of the regular weekly artist participants who come by Art Enables to get their art on! Below are just a few examples.

A huge thanks goes out to Matt Dembicki for putting this book and show together. I don't know how he does it all, and sometimes I think he has secretly cloned himself a few times to accomplish all that he's done in the past decade or so. Also, many thanks to all of the amazing artists and authors involved, and to Fulcrum Publishing for making Wild Ocean a reality. A big thanks goes out to Mary Liniger and Beth Baldwin and Art Enables for putting on a beautiful show as always, and to the truly awesome folks and friends who came out in support of the book and exhibit! If you're in the Washington D.C. area during the next couple of weeks, don't miss this!