Faces in Strange Places

I know I’ve ranted about the “mixed media style” where everyone draws “girls” with ridiculous proportions and bizarre expressions. But here I’ve been, stuck in a face phase with seemingly no end in sight. It’s just been coming out of me inexplicably. I make a few marks on the page, a few drops of ink or watercolor and I see a face ready to be defined. For me, a novice in the art of representational rendering, this is comparable to when people find images of Jesus or the Virgin Mary in their bag of Fritos. It’s a bizarre, but thoroughly engrossing experience.

So. Since “Seasmoke” a few days ago, this is what I’ve been possessed by:

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This was quickly sketched with black FW Daler Rowney acrylic ink and the little eyedropper in the bottle on a 9×12 sheet of warm grey Canson Mi-Tientes Pastel paper. It kind of reminds me of that puppet on PeeWee’s Playhouse with the giant jaw and orange hair.

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This is not something I would normally make. Ever. It’s kind of cutesy and I don’t do cutesy. I was using a Tuscan Red Prismacolor Art Stix on its side to catch the texture of the paper (a goldenrod colored Canson Mi-Tientes page). This technique picked up water damage ripples on the surface of my desk and transferred them to the paper like a rubbing. To my surprise, there were the top halves of two faces. I outlined what I saw with a carpenter’s pencil (knife-sharpened) dipped in ink to give me sketchy lines. Color was added with Caran d’Ache Neocolor IIs in Silver Grey, Flesh, Golden Yellow, Burnt Sienna, and White over top Indigo and Tuscan Red Prismacolor Art Stix.

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Channeled my inner Sinead O’Connor for this one. I was feeling a bit… angsty and started scribbling words over top of words with a General’s 6B charcoal pencil in what would become the forehead and jawline. The words along the cheekbone were done with carpenter’s pencil and the words in the lips and eyelid were done with Derwent Graphitint pencils in Port and Ocean Blue respectively.

I also used Liquitex Basics acrylic paint in black, applied with a palette knife to mask some of the writing a bit more. Daler Rowney FW black acrylic ink for the outlining, background wash, and some misting as seen below. Some various gesso highlights. I think that’s it.

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It’s been very freeing to do so many things outside of my usual styles, but I think I’m a little exhausted with faces. For now, it’s back to basics. I’ve rented some chick flicks and my collage stash is low, so I’ll be cutting and ripping and saving like a madwoman (and also indulging in Mr. Darcy daydreams).

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Seasmoke

After flicking through several art posts on Tumblr, I was struck with a burning need to create something loose, sketchy and expressive. I took an empty bin and filled it with grungy, earthy colors of my favorite materials, as I thought the limited palette would keep me focused and the piece cohesive.

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For my grand, elaborate, sketchy vision, I was feeling toned paper, so I took the biggest white, mixed media paper I had and made it a soft grey with an ink wash.

While this was drying, I took some lesser quality paper and kept the creativity flowing by doodling. Little did I know that this doodle would suck me in and I’d end up with a full blown… thing…

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It’s a little quirky, and I wish I could have made it a little grungier. The paper just couldn’t handle any more media. I used a Blick drawing pad with 80lb paper. The dimensions are 12” x 18”.

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Writing over writing for texture/stress-relief.

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I absolutely LOVE the textures here, especially where the paper began to ripple and pill.

This piece took me less than 2 hours and 8 minutes (because that’s how long the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice is).

It would be easier to list the materials I didn’t use! But, here are the materials I can remember using:

  • Caran d’Ache Neocolor II watersoluble wax pastels in Prussian Blue, Aubergine, Pale Yellow, Black, Silver Grey, English Red, Moss Green, Ochre, Russet, Saffron, Indigo Blue
  • Prismacolor Premier colored pencils in Cloud Blue, Warm Grey 20%, French Grey 10%
  • Black 3B Conté pencil
  • Liquitex Basics acrylic paint in Ivory Black
  • Liquitex white gesso
  • Black Stabilo ALL pencil
  • Derwent Graphitint in Juniper, Meadow
  • Prismacolor Watercolor pencils in Terracotta, Copenhagen Blue, Black
  • Derwent dark wash watersoluble graphite
  • General’s 6B charcoal pencil
  • Faber-Castell Pitt pen in Black Fine
  • Ink wash with gesso-y water and black Daler-Rowney acrylic ink
  • Carpenter’s pencil
  • Shiva Artist’s Paintstik in Iridescent Gold
  • Prismacolor Nupastel in Black, White, Iron Blue
  • Faber-Castell Gelatos in Black Licorice and Coconut

I think that just about rounds out the list.

Sometimes it can be hard to know when something is finished. Luckily, my paper stopped me before I could ruin it by adding too much, and my movie ended so I felt like I needed to move on. If you’re having trouble knowing when to stop or working in art time into your day, set a timer, be it for ten minutes or two hours. When the timer goes off, stop working on that piece; you’ll be surprised how much you can get done in that space of time and you’ll thank yourself for not having too much of a good thing.

Art Journal 1.3

Art Journal 1.3

Art Journal 1.3

The background started out with Speedball Super Black (true to name) india ink drips. As I became impatient for them to dry, I blotted at the page, accidentally, and to my displeasure, leaving the pattern of the paper towel. The watercolor came after, and when I was left with a 70s vibe (mildly influenced by my SNL Season 1 John Belushi/Chevy Chase obsession) Woody seemed an appropriate addition to the page and my mood. The page needs no caption– his face says it all!

I’m growing increasingly more aware of the role that serendipity has in my art making and of the importance of embracing the unexpected. Half of the challenge–and the fun–of creating is steering the curveballs the process throws you to land in your favor.

Maurice Prendergast: By The Sea

Yesterday I paid a visit to the Bowdoin College Museum of Art in Brunswick, Maine with my lovely friend Sam. Their summer exhibition, “Maurice Prendergast: By The Sea,” has had rave reviews in our community, so I was more than happy to see it.

My art history knowledge is limited, but I found Prendergast’s work to be unique, lively, and the perfect relief from this summer heat. The paintings are done in the Impressionist style. Most are watercolor which lends a light, luminous quality to the works. The oil pieces were equally as impressive, but there was something more organic and inspired about the way watercolor captured the energy of the coastal scenes.

But what I found to be the most rewarding and exciting portion of this show was Prendergast’s sketchbooks. They appealed to my recent interest in watercolor sketching and gave a glimpse into how art involved itself in Prendergast’s life when he wasn’t working on large paintings. He would even dedicate annual trips to the New England coastline for sketching and painting. Williams College has digitized his sketchbooks, which I was very excited to find. As we were gazing in awe at these books, Sam said: “I just really need to get in there and turn all the pages.” Now she can, and you can too!

The show is up until October 13th. You can find more information about the exhibit and the Bowdoin College Museum of Art here.