Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Grand Champion

I entered three drawings into our local Open Class 4H exhibit at the fair this year and they all did very well.

1st in Class (nature/animal)

1st in Class (other) & Reserve Champion

1st in Class (portrait) & Grand Champion

But now is not the time to be complacent.. I have a commission portrait to do so it's back to the drawing board.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Natures Bounty- Part 3 (final)

This definately proved to be more challenging that I'd thought. Here are the final steps and a few notes:

Still laying in the background bark and foliage details.

Getting the base down. When I tire of working on the base, I go back to the beginning and work in even more details from left to right.

Then it's back to detailing the bark . . .

To give you an idea about how much time I spent on this, the little incomplete section on the bottom right took me almost two hours to complete.

I did not like the big leaf that was originally in front of the bunny. I found it too distracting so I decided to take it out and rework that area. When you are working from a photo, don't get too caught up in making your picture look exactly like the photo. Take some things out, add some things if you want to. Many of the leaves and grasses are from imagination, letting the drawing work itself out visually. So often, if you depend on your photo reference too much, you will end up with a really flat drawing. This is one of my better ones, I think, because I looked more at my drawing to see what I needed to do next instead of looking at my reference photo.

I hope you've enjoyed this work in progress. I'll try do do more of these, with more detail, in the future.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Copyright- A Brief Introduction

Note: I wasn't able to progress much further with Nature's Bounty since yesterday so I don't really have much to update today. The next update will probably be on Monday. Until then, I'm happy to share some other information with you.
I found a picture on the web a couple years ago and thought it would be the perfect reference to try my hand at doing a charcoal drawing. So I used the photograph as a reference. Since this was just me doing a practice drawing for my own benefit, I figured that it was okay. Uhhh, no. Not necessarily true.

"Tea Rex" by John Watson, see article: http://photodoto.com/still-life-photography/

The drawing turned out really well. So well, in fact, that I wanted to post it with my collection of other drawings. However, I did not want to be a thief (not knowing at that time, technically, there was a high likelihood that I already was a thief). Although my brain had not been educated about the facts regarding when you can and when you better not, my heart was in the right place. Of course when it comes to ignorance of the law, I doubt the courts would care much about the positioning of my heart.

I went back on the web to search for the original photograph so that I could contact the artist and ask if I could use it. Yes, that is the backwards way of doing it and I don't recommend it. I did find the photo and discovered it was posted under a Creative Commons license allowing use for derivative works. Yay!!! I escaped theifdom!

But then . . . what do you do if someone likes your derivative work so well, they want to buy it? You contact the original artist, obtain written permission to sell your piece and abide by any conditions that he or she requests in return. If you sell your painting, drawing or whatever derivative work you created without that permission, you've entered theifdom. Don't go there. Have the same respect for other artists as you would want for your own creations.

"Caffeine Rush" by Sarah Salisbury, a derivative work of "Tea Rex" by John Watson

I contacted the photographer and he gave me permission to sell my piece. Then we all lived happily ever after. Please reference the US Copyright Office for more in depth information about copyright and the types of creative commons licenses: http://www.copyright.gov/

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Natures Bounty- Part 2

Here's where I left off in my previous post:

Here is where I am now:

This is about three hours into it so far. I've found the coldpress watercolor paper, which gave such a lovely texture to the bark, is working against me now that I'm really getting into the details of the foliage. It's not so much the paper as it is the Graphitint I'm using for the slight hint of color in this piece. Because of the tint of color in the Graphitint pencil, the lead is much softer than I'd recommend for paper this rough. But hey, I like a challenge! I do think I'm going to back off a little on the color and use it only for larger leaves and blades of grass in the foreground. I'll have to trust that my reliable 2b mechanical pencil and a lot of patience
will get me the results I'm looking for.
Now that I'm into the details of the foliage, I'm using a bit of imagination and the negative drawing technique.

I have some basic leaf and grass shapes laid out for placement based on the reference photo. As I go I'm imagining where I want other blades of grass and leaves to be then I'm blocking in the space around them. Mike Sibley's book, "Drawing from Line to Life" is an excellent reference for drawing foliage and negative drawing. (Here is his site address: http://www.sibleyfineart.com/.) I've also laid out the basic tone on another large section of bark. I will go back in later to add the texture details of the bark.

For now, my focus is on the foliage in the lower left corner. I've been scooting along with confidence until now. I've reached my first, "oh crap, I'm never going to get this right" creative barrier. I go through this, usually more than once, with just about every piece I do.
One thing I've found is that a single reference photograph will only take you so far. I recommend having multiple photo references when possible, but even more importantly, study your subject in "real life". So I think it's time for me to step away, do some study sketches and reference Mike's book for a refresher on drawing foliage.

Part Three coming soon!.

Copyright 2009 Sarah D. Salisbury. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Nature's Bounty- Part 1

Last weekend my sweetheart and I hopped in my convertable and took a drive north to the state park in Brown County. It was a beautiful day for a drive with the top down! We went to explore and to get some scenic nature shots for artistic reference. God is always sending us little surprises when Cecil and I are out and about like that and this time was no different. We decided to explore the Friendship Trail (which isn't really a trail as much as it is a community meeting circle with a circular stone campfire pit at it's center- way cool actually) and one of God's most adorable little creatures decides to get into the friendship spirit and do a little posing for us.

I had some Strathmore cold press watercolor paper, 6x18, at home and I wanted to do something on it. With a little cropping of one of my bunny photos, I was able to come up with a layout that would work for me with those dimensions.

I initially intended to try an ink and wash, but as is often the case, intent rarely has anything to do with what actually happens. Normally I would not do a graphite drawing on cold press paper, but as I was putting down the outline and brief notes of tone, I discovered that I liked the way the paper and graphite were working together for the textures in this piece. I still wanted just a hint of color so I decided I'd try out my new Derwent Graphitint pencils.

To emphasize the subtle color from the Graphitint, I decided to do straight graphite, 2b, on the tree bark. So far, I like the effect.

I have a pretty good layout now so I'll work the details into this piece from left to right. Stay in touch for part 2 of Nature's Bounty.

Copyright 2009, Sarah D. Salisbury. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Little Color

Rebecca and Doll
8x10 Mixed Media

The process: Last night I just felt like doing something with color for a change. The garden, girl, doll and bird bath are all from separate references that I digitally put together to create this scene. This is acrylic paint on acrylic canvas paper with some colored pencil overlay. It didn't turn out the way I'd anticipated, but the whole point of this piece was to do a little "experimenting".

What I learned: I tried underpainting with a red first, hoping it would bring out the greens. It just didn't work out very well on the acrylic paper. The paper is just too textured and the underpainting showed through too much. Also, the heavy texture was not friendly to colored pencils and did not allow for fine details. If I had used Strathmore or Crescent illustration board or watercolor paper, I'd say this would have turned out much better.

Final thought: Since my favored technique is realism using graphite, this was a step outside of my comfort zone. I think I'm going to need a lot more practice doing illustrative type work, especially since one of my goals is to eventually write and illustrate a children's book. I really liked the concept for this painting and will probably revisit it again using a different technique, or at least a different paper!