Art Is A Line Around Your Thoughts

“The line has almost become a work of art in itself” ~ Theo Van Doesburg

Still on the second unit of my first online illustration course, this is my version of how I suppose that Egon Schiele may have drawn a portrait of Broncia Koller-Pinell’s Marietta.

Broncia Koller-Pinell had a considerable influence on Egon Schiele.  She and her husband were his influential patrons.

Schiele’s dynamic, raw works have a beautifully frugal sense of line, the line being a dominant element in the structure of all his works.  He was more interested in contour than volume.  Schiele ranks as one of the greatest draughtsmen of all time.  He had a remarkable touch when building a line and contour of any figures, his extremely distinctive style was formed on one main foundation and means of expression – the line. 

Although there is obvious toning on the body, I perceive an appealing sense of flatness to it, as with many works by Schiele.  The lines do all the work.  Weight is the essence of form.  It is comprehending the solidity of the form.

Can you tell I’m passionate and excited by great lines?

Schiele rarely portrayed graceful nude bodies like this demurely seated female nude, most were curiously distorted and uncomfortable. His interpretation of his models presented bony, knobbly bodies in angular, knotted poses. Evidently, he liked to challenge rather than please the viewer.

His lines show a tendency to peak at points of tension (the outline of the hip, the top edge of the left shoulder and forearm), a trick that makes the contour static but not heavy.  This was difficult to replicate as the model Marietta has considerably more flesh on her than his usual models appear to have.

Carefully outlined in black crayon or ink on tinted paper, crayon has been used to decorate the figure. He often left his portraits in an unfinished state, and rarely with any background details.

Drawing The Soul!

Faces are the most interesting things we see; other people fascinate me, and the most interesting aspect of other people – the point where we go inside them – is the face. It tells all.  David Hockney

Doing a portrait of someone I care about is such a pleasure, because it feels as if we’re having a relaxing conversation as I squint and scrutinise their features.

I prefer to use a highly pixelated photograph for reference and tend to focus on the eyes first (apparently it was Wil Shakespeare who said that the eyes are the windows of the soul), then the mouth and lastly the nose. Being able to communicate what lies behind the is something few artists do.

It’s always possible to tell a true (or Duchenne) smile from a polite, fake smile – the eyes are always the giveaway.

This is a pared back pencil portrait of my remarkable eldest step-daughter, Hannah, who constantly surprises me as she rises to every challenge that life throws at her, never losing her quirky humour – she lights up a room when she enters.  All of which is impossible to convey with a few pencil lines and to say in one breath.

It’s extremely tricky to capture the truest likeness of the subject in a portrait.  There’s always a teeny something that isn’t quite right.  But I relish the challenge.

The fun cartoon-like drawing below shows her very quirky side and that green is her favourite colour.

I’m sure she won’t mind me posting a recent photo of her which for me, is just so wonderfully Hannah and makes me smile.

Life Is Still Life

Life is still life. It’s still tough, complicated, and more than a little messy, with lessons to be learned, mistakes to be made, triumphs and disappointments to be had, and not every day is meant to be a party. ~ Alyson Noel ~

Due to the current Lockdown because of the COVID-19 Pandemic, I am into week eight of self-isolation with my husband and son, so having these images scanned is not a priority. It seems, however, that I am cannot take a decent photograph. The paper looks grey.

These are merely some drawing exercises. Sepia ink was used for the image above and with the two below, ink, oil pastels and watercolour were used. The last one was a quick first try-out on scrap paper, but in some ways I like it the best.

A Smile Makes The World A Better Place

Before embarking on a portrait, making a preliminary study sketch can help to familiarise yourself with the subject – once you begin putting down marks on the paper a relationship starts to form.  Taking that first step will help to reveal what is important as you closely investigate the details of their features.  As the study is usually carried out in a free and spontaneous manner, it is common to prefer the sketch to the finished portrait.

sidneycrayon

I plan to make a few more studies in watercolour as well as in ink before starting the final portrait of my step-daughter’s youngest son.  When drawing his sweet little face I got totally carried away, so have learned not to overwork it….something I do a lot.

Since (unbelievably) that clown Donald Trump is US President Elect, our world has been turned into a circus…and it’s not funny.  So I thought I’d give you at least one reason to smile by sharing this little cutie with you.  This was all done using watercolour crayons.

 

Hello Zazzle, Goodbye Life!

Anyone who wants to make money by selling their art online, let me warn you that it is a deeply formidable task.

When I naively thought it would fun to open an online business little did I realise what I was letting myself in for. Every day sees me investing long hours on activities which do not include painting pretty pictures.  I’ve had to…..

  • Decipher what and how to adhere to the site requirements on setting up the store front.
  • Learn every damned thing alone as Zazzle don’t really offer much advice.
  • Interpret and complete complicated forms to keep the taxman happy.
  • Know what size images are required for each individual product.
  • Be proficient at using imaging software – I’m self-taught on Adobe Fireworks.
  • Think up original ideas.
  • Create new images, not just with paint and inks, but digitally as well.
  • Become a champion at tagging.
  • Delve deeply into my box of descriptive words.
  • Open promotional media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest.

Zazzle©Desk.fw

But still…all I hear is crickets.

It’s going to be a long time before I see any reward for my efforts and I’m realising that it will be necessary to open new stores with other online platforms in order to appeal to a variety of audiences.

The thing I’ve found the most difficult is to not be timid about pushing my Zazzle store on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.  It’s not enough to simply upload a few items and sit back waiting for them to sell.  Constant promotion of each item is vital and I’m convinced that I’ve probably irritated my friends and lost a good few followers in the process.

On the plus side, Zazzle do print my designs on good quality merchandise and I am enjoying the process; the novelty hasn’t worn off…yet.

I just saw an article proclaiming that those who succeed with these online stores have been doing it fo approximately fifteen years, (FIFTEEN!!) producing more than one item per day – I’ll probably be dead in fifteen years.

Well, much as I’d like to, I obviously can’t sit here chatting – got to get back to consistently and persistently producing for my Zazzle shop.

The Art of Wu-Wei & Coloured Pencil Bliss

Isn’t it always the way?  With this drawing of my son I didn’t try.  Really!  It was only a spontaneous sketch with barely any conscious thought…yet somehow, I effortlessly managed to accurately ‘capture’ my son and his mood.  He even likes it enough to use it on his website.

Composer©James

Striving for perfection and overthinking often sabotages creativity.  It’s a paradox!  This was only achieved because I was ‘in the flow’, in a ‘zone’; the usual self-inflicted pressure was off and I didn’t care about the outcome.  I was unleashed!

Composer©zoomDrawing with coloured pencils is extremely satisfying.  It’s just so very simple – all that is required is some paper, pencils and a sharpener.  And the results are gratifyingly fast…no drying time required.

I’ll have to cultivate this – in future, I’ll try not to try.

Paradigm Shifter

Are you a follower of rules?

I recently underwent an epiphany whilst devouring a rare treat of a book, focusing on the raw drawings and watercolours of Egon Schiele, the Austrian Expressionist.  It was edifying to note that this influential figurative artist characteristically left the backgrounds of many paintings unadorned or simply washed parts in a thin, flat, monochrome.  A master of fine line, he conveying much with a minimum of detail.  He did not bow to societal dictates.

An all-but audible ‘thunk’ occurred as my soggy neural structures were permeated: the copious purist ‘rules’ underpinning traditional techniques are not to be interpreted as rigid instruction – they are merely principles to guide.  Fine, mock all you like!

It proved impossible to get this A2 image scanned so my abysmal photograph will have to do – if you click the image a few times it looks better larger.  There’s some artistic licence with the guitar which was a struggle to accurately depict and the body proportions look wrong – which is strange since I conscientiously measured scale and ratios for the first time ever.

This study was, however, brazenly created in the knowledge that nobody will punish me for leaving the subject floating untethered on the paper.  I’m free to vociferously outline in ink or crayon.  Do I dare highlight with white paint?  Do I dare disturb the universe?

Suddenly, I feel vaguely unloosened.