Saturday, February 21, 2009

Breed a Week Project #7

Irish Dancer 8" x 10" - SOLD

Week 7 in the Breed a Week Project is an Irish Draught (pronounced "draft") horse. The Irish Draught has a long standing admiration in its native home of Ireland where the breed was developed and much sought after for his versatile traits, and good nature. During the 1800's and through the early 1900's crossing the Irish Draught with the Thoroughbred, Clydesdale, as well as Connemara, came to enhance the horse and create the Irish Draught as we know it today. Infusing these various breeds created a modern and versatile breed of horse that has tremendous stamina. Their docile, but intelligent demeanor makes them a suitable mount for beginers to experienced riders; and their supple action makes them a great mount under saddle, as well as carrying a cart through the countryside, or in competition.

I spent a couple hours on this one using just a 4B graphite pencil, keeping it fairly light. The dapples were a bit tricky and got a little lost in the barrel. For the dirt/dust kick-up I did a rough circular stroke then blended from light to dark with a torillion to try and give the effect of flying dirt. I'm not sure I want to call this one finished yet, so I'm going to let it sit for a while then revisit on a rainy day.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Tres Caballos - Drawing Class Homework

Okay, so I said I was going to do three candles on a mirrored rock tray for my still life homework this week, but after I set it up it just wasn't working for me. Instead, I set up a wine bottle, glass and corkscrew. That didn't work for me either. Just couldn't set up a composition that inspired me. Thursday morning I was at work stuck in a meeting thinking about my still life set up when I saw this one in my mind - three horses, each completely different. On the left is an old Breyer model, in the middle is a handcrafted Caribbean bamboo souvenir, and third in my herd, a plush toy horse a friend gave my when I left the country for a walkabout. His name is Wylie. :-)

I placed the three in various positions until I found one that worked for me, and then adjusted a halogen desk lamp above them until I found a good contrast of cast shadow. I was happy with what I set up and fortunately, Bear, my overly inquisitive Australian Shepherd, left them alone so I wouldn't have to reset them every time I sat down to draw.

I started with a 2H graphite pencil and very lightly roughed out my composition using the spidering technique our teacher showed us in class. When I was happy with the overall composition, I worked over the light lines pulling the image out of the spiderwork. It was actually pretty cool doing it that way instead of using an eraser - I had to pull the Breyer model out a few times until I was happy with him - or so I thought at the time - then I switched to a 4B graphite pencil and started laying down the heavier lines. That's when I realized the Breyer model needed a little more composition work, but, the heavy lines were started so no going back.

Because I did this in my lightweight sketchbook I worked left to right with an extra piece of paper between my hand and the sketchbook. Seems the graphite sits high on this lightweight paper and smudges far too easily.

When all three horses had been filled in and detailed somewhat I tried to make an effort to display the textures that differentiated them. For the Breyer model I used a tortillon to blend and give the impression of a smooth molded surface. For the bamboo horse I left it partially blended and partially raw so the contrasts were sharper. For the plush horse I used a circular pattern with a 6B graphite pencil and left it raw. For the overall base shadow I used simple hatching with the 6B pencil. The finished work sits nicely in my 9" x 12" sketchbook.

I'm so looking forward to class tomorrow - Baroque-modeling the form, tonal drawing; working with light and shadow. :-)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Breed a Week Project #6

This week's Breed of the Week is for a Peruvian Paso - not to be confused with a Paso Fino. The trademark of the Peruvian Paso is a special, inherited, and completely natural four beat lateral gait called paso llano. The paso llano is a broken gait. It consists of a permanent, harmonic, and rhythmic tapping in which the animal makes a gentle and pleasant alternating movement. It is a quick advance in which the center of the horse's gravity stays almost immobile, producing a smooth ride. The paso llano is executed with a distinctive action in the front legs, called termino, a graceful, flowing movement in which the forelegs are rolled towards the outside as the horse strides forward, much like the arm motion of a swimmer. Termino is a spectacular and beautiful natural action. It is not a wing or paddle and originates in the shoulder giving the horse the ability to swing the leg forward with minimum vertical force back. Both the gait and the flashy leg action are naturally passed on to the offspring.

For more information about the Peruvian Paso, visit

I don't have much time this week, but I couldn't pass up on this breed. These are so gorgeous, powerful, graceful horses. If you didn't love horses before, these guys would win your heart. Since I didn't have time for a full-on detailed drawing, I limited myself to 30 minutes to complete and kept it to a quick and dirty sketch. This is roughly 5" x 7" and is done with a 4B graphite pencil on Strathmore Sketch.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Artist Choice Awards 2008

I was happily surprised to find myself not only nominated, but also a finalist, for the 2008 eBay Artist Choice Awards in the 2D Drawing category. I'm not sure when the final judging date is as they are still collecting the finalists, but I'm thoroughly stoked just to have been nominated.

Back to School

This year marks the 25th anniversary of my high school graduation. Yikes - a quarter century ago! There must be a typo in there somewhere.

When I was approaching graduation people were constantly in my ear saying, "your art is so good, you should go to Emily Carr" or "you have to go to Emily Carr" and so on. And I'd respond, "but have you seen what's out there? I'm not that good."

Emily Carr University of Art is a prestigious art school here on the Canadian West Coast. I would have loved to have gone and earned a degree in fine art there, and had considered it, but there was the issue of the juried acceptance into the school... and my aversion to doing what everyone told me to do... and not feeling that I was good enough... and having no confidence in my natural talent... Oh yeah, I had a lot of excuses not to go, all of which were silly but legitimate at the time. What it really came down to was a fear of my own talent. What if I wasn't good enough?

Art is such a personal thing to me - to every artist. Its my private place to breathe and dream and heal, to wander outside myself and simply be. To let it out into the world was to expose myself to its criticisms and rejections. At eighteen years old, that was the last thing I wanted to do.

So instead of going to Emily Carr and getting a degree in fine art, I studied criminology and then took off for California to be a rock star, but ended up spending the next twenty years working in the graphic design field. I kept drawing all the way along, but only here and there as the urge struck - no real focus at all - until the last few years.

Now that I'm a little older and wiser (one would hope!) I feel a deep need to truly follow my art to its fullest potential. It's what I was always meant to do. Its like finally realizing you can't fight curly hair. Life gets easier when you stop fighting it. I guess I just had to get everything else out of my system to see that clearly.

Other than art classes in high school I'm basically self-taught. I felt I needed to study the foundation of traditional techniques in order to further develop my talents and define my own personal style.

So, a quarter century later, I am finally now getting a chance to go to Emily Carr through their continuing studies program. I was so excited I went through the Spring Course Catalogue and checked off more classes than I could possibly afford to take all at once. My first course is Traditional Drawing Techniques. The fact that the course description offered learning through "historical review and practice with techniques applied since the Renaissance" intrigued me.

Yesterday was my first class and I loved it! I found however, that the historical aspect was most intriguing to me. We didn't create any masterpieces in our first class, but that wasn't the goal. The first goal was to learn to let go of the fear through a series of very loose and fast exercises in form and composition. It was fun for me - someone who is very detail-driven - to cut lose and simply draw. The chair was simply shape. Nothing more.

And I have homework! I'm not sure I've ever been excited about homework before. Our first homework assignment is to "take a walk with line". We have to do six compositional line drawings without detail or tone maintaining a consistent theme. Yikes, no detail and tone?! It will be a fun challenge for me to stop at the line drawing and not go all out. I'm not sure what my theme is just yet. I might wait and see what the next "Breed of the Week" is and do two challenges in one. Either way, I will most likely post my homework at the end of the week. If I feel confident enough to let a simple line drawing out of the safe confines of my sketchbook. ;-)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Breed a Week Project #5

This week's Breed a Week is the American Bashkir Curly Horse. Horses with curly coats are an ancient breed. They have been depicted in art and statuary in early China as far back as 161 A.D., with evidence also of their presence in South America and Europe. Indian pictographs illustrating the "Winter Counts" of Sioux stealing curly horses from the Crow in the early 1800's, gives the curlies verification of their presence in North America. Many curlies from throughout the United States can be traced back to the 'Standing Rock/Cheyenne River Reservation' where this incident took place.

Curlies have a proud carriage, are very alert, not lazy, and most move at a running walk. They have a double mane, which splits down the middle leaving curly ringlets hanging on both sides of the neck. Their body coat sheds out in the summer and they become wavy, or fairly straight on their body, with their beautiful coat returning in the late fall. Several winter coat patterns have been observed, from a crushed velvet effect, to a perfect Marcel wave, to extremely tight curls over the entire body. It has been tested and proven that flat hair is curly, yet when the hair of curlies was tested it was found to be round. Also a number of owners who are allergic to horses find that they are not allergic to their curlies.

You can find out more about the Bashkir Curly horses at American Bashkir Curly Horse Registry

This is my drawing for this week's project - a 5" x 7" graphite pencil on Strathmore Lightweight Sketch paper.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Breed of the Week Project #4

I am a member of an artist community named Wet Canvas. There is a forum there dedicated to horse artists, and within that forum group is a weekly project called "Breed of the Week". Each week a new breed is decided and then any artists who wish to participate have one week to complete their renderings. Its a fun and educational opportunity to branch out a little and draw breeds we don't normally draw.

I know, some people think a horse is a horse is a horse, of course. However, anyone who knows horses knows that isn't the case. An Arabian looks nothing at all like a Clydesdale, and a Thoroughbred looks nothing like a Friesen. 

So, it is with that that I wanted to display my first foray into the weekly horse breed project. I didn't discover the forum until they were already two weeks in and just didn't have time to get to the third, so here we are with my Week 4 drawing of a Percheron. Thought I'd show the work in progress (WIP) for anyone that might be interested in the process. 

This is an 8" x 10" graphite pencil drawing.