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“PEDAL CARS”   7 x 9 inches. Gouache & Watercolor on Strathmore drawing paper.

This is a Painting I did on purpose to submit to the annual Community Art Show at our town library. It’s a deliberate, planned work, which contrasts with what I generally do–that is, spontaneous sketches of what I’m observing at the moment.

I decided to take pictures of some steps involved in this painting, and here they are:

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My inspiration was this photo I took two years ago at an exhibit at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The show was various people’s prized collections. I found these restored kid’s pedal cars from the past delightful, and felt a strong urge to draw them as soon as I spotted them, though I didn’t actually try to do that till now, two years later.

They sure look like rich kids’ toys to me, but remind me of the pedal car my brothers and I had as young children, way back in the early 50’s. What I vividly remember is a kind of bulbous and round-fendered little convertible with a battered, scuffed-up deep blue (almost indigo) paint job. I’m sure that my father picked it up used from one of his fellow factory workers whose kids had outgrown it. How I loved that midget jalopy! We also had a neat pedal firetruck, but I much preferred the little sporty blue number.

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My first layout idea for the painting is a very rough and unfinished sketch, even for a first try. I admit that I proportioned it to conform to the size of a picture frame and matte I already had, so I could easily mount it to submit to the library show. Our library has this art show every year, but I hadn’t yet heard the details of when things needed to be submitted. I didn’t work on the idea again (consciously anyhow) for a couple of months!

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When I got back into serious thought about the painting (or I guess you could call it an “illustration”) I experimented with different sizes and positions for the objects within the picture plane.  I wasn’t satisfied with just the three vehicles, so I went online and found the image of a pedal firetruck to include. I like the fact that it runs off the page.

PC BLOG 4Here’s the final layout I settled on. It has a number of things tweaked about it, especially the floor pattern. This is done on tracing paper. I was able to then trace this design onto the drawing paper by laying the paper on top of this layout, then both on top of a light box with sufficiently powerful lights to show the pattern through the heavy drawing paper. That’s much easier than trying to work out some other way to transfer the lines.

I wanted to do a practice run with the paints on that kind of paper, so I traced just one of the pedal cars onto a small piece of it, then did this painting, which is 2 3/4 x 4 inches:

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This little project was fun to do, and definitely gave me useful practice with the medium. The floor and shadow are of transparent watercolor, and the airplane is done in gouache, which is opaque or semi-opaque watercolor.

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I guess the word for it would be “formal” as opposed to “sketch”. When I do a “formal”, planned piece of work, I like to tape the the paper firmly down to a flat drawing board. This time I used this blue painters’ masking tape, which is excellent! It was also great for masking out straight edges within the picture. I used liquid masking fluid to protect shapes like the cars themselves so I could run a wash of watercolor over them without contaminating those areas. I used Windsor-Newton “Miskit”, spread on with paint brushes. It has an orange tint added to it so you can easily keep track of what spots you’ve applied it to. In this photo I’ve laid down a yellowish wash for the floor, and am working lines of brown into it for wood grain.

A few of my photos here have this very yellow cast to them because I forgot to turn off the drafting table lamp that I was working under before I snapped the shots, and I can’t edit that yellowness out of them. The rest of these photos I took using only the ambient light in my workroom, which is fluorescent ceiling panels. Also, a few of these images are scans done on our printer.

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Closeup of  last picture.

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In this step I’ve put in watercolor washes for the walls and the display stand floor, and masked off sharp edges for a different shade of gray for the front plane of the stand. I’ve also carefully added dark gray (almost black) washes for shadows.

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Closeup of the job of peeling off the masking fluid.

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This shows all of the areas of the painting that I did with transparent watercolor.

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Okay, now working on parts to be done in gouache, and being careful to shield the lower half of the painting while doing it.

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Top part basically done. Ready to start on the other two vehicles.

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Done with the firetruck. That blue tape is so right for this use! Not even a speck of the slopped-over paint ran under the tape. The edges were perfectly clean when I finally peeled all of the tape away, and it came off easily from the smooth surface of the paper. I like to let a crisp edge of the painting show within a matte when I frame something like this.  It’s a professional look. It always impresses me!   I sometimes need to touch up that outer edge a bit, but not this time.

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One more car to paint.

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Finished and signed.

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Framed and ready to submit. It’s a juried art show, and this piece was accepted and will be on display at our library (with about twenty-five paintings, photographs or drawings by others) through the month of May.

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TRAIN VIEW(Painted later, at home.)

Hey, it’s pretty amazing: this is my first post on this blog in 16 months!

It’s inspired by our recent vacation to Italy and the Mediterranean: two days each spent in Florence and Rome, then a 10-night cruise to Greek islands and other ports.

 The pages of the sketch book I took on this trip measure 5 1/2 x 7 1/4 inches, and there are 28 sheets of paper in it. I’ve used that thin type of book often (when carrying stuff around can be an issue) and I bring a simple supply of pencils, pens, etc. and a compact watercolor set.

 I usually fill the book with sketches and then start back on the other side of the paper, but this was a very different vacation for us. Its a true understatement to say that we got lots of exercise. In fact, we were more-or-less STRAIGHT OUT for 16 days!  Two weeks on the trip and 24 hours of travel at the beginning and at the end.

In spite of the endurance-test-like nature of the trip, this was a profoundly rewarding experience for us! Marilyn and I enjoyed seeing so many things in person that we studied about and admired in Art History classes years ago, and we barely scratched the surface of the treasures to be found in the places we went to.

My notes here are quite pathetic compared to the real details of the wonders we were privileged to take in…..

I like to tinker with sketches before I put them away. All of the notes (and the last nine sketches) I did at home. Its taken me over a month to finally complete this exercise.

When the sketch is in “portrait” orientation next to a page of my notes, I include them both here in the same image; where the sketch was done in “landscape” mode I’ve rotated it here.

If anything shows up too small, click on it to zoom it up. Then you need to hit “back” or the return arrow to get into the post again.

After reading over this completed post, I decided to include a “gallery” at the end–of some of the many many MANY photos we took on this vacation, just to illustrate a few of the things I mention in the notes.

 

DECK VIEW

TEXT 1

BERNINI

TEXT 2 ATEXT 2MORANDI 1

TEXT 3

TEXT 4 POOL VIEWTEXT 5GREEK THEATERCLOUDSTEXT 6

PERAEUSTEXT 7TEXT 8LIFEBOATTEXT 9TEXT 10MYKONOSTEXT 11AT SEA 1AT SEA 2AT SEA 3AT SEA 4AT SEA 5

TEXT 12

CASTEL NUOVOTEXT 13  I used the same art materials that I’d taken on the trip for the sketches below, done at home:

ROME RUINSBORGHESEACROPOLISAPOLLORHODESEPHESUSThe statues in the niches above represent Wisdom, Virtue, Knowledge and Insight.

MYKONOS 2POMPEIIANGELSThis is a small detail from a large painting in the Uffizi Gallery called “Madonna and Child with Saints” by Rosso Fiorentino (1518).  I see it as me and Marilyn looking over some of the fantastic things we encountered on our first serious trip into the cradle of Western Civilization.

Now, as I threatened, here is a gallery of some of our vacation pix:

Vivid Umbrella

Vivid Umbrella

We were booked for a week in June at White Cap Village, which is a cluster of very cheerful one-family-owned and excellently maintained [including a beautiful outdoor swimming pool] accommodations in several older buildings on tiny one-block Bay Avenue in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

We’ve been going there for a summer week trip for many years. From the building our room is in it’s a short hike over a dune to this great beach on the southern coast of Maine.  It’s a wide, sandy expanse there—not rocky at all, although the iconic boulders and lighthouses of Maine are just a short drive away.

Over the course of eight days I did nine sketches that I’m quite satisfied with. I looked up in my previous sketchbook: during last year’s stay I did only two sketches, and I considered them so lackluster that I didn’t even post them on my flickr account. That’s unusual. Dunno what was up with that….  These sketchbook pages are 6 x 9 inches. The media are pencil, ink, watercolor.

Woman and Children at the Shore

Woman and Children at the Shore

I guess this one is my “warm-up” sketch. Pencil with some watercolor wash later.

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Dune House-- Ink & wash.

Dune House– Ink & wash.

This is a composite of parts of several houses glimpsed behind the dune from the beach.

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Dune Path to Beach

Dune Path to Beach

You can see this view from the deck of our room, which is on the second floor, but I did this modest sketch at our kitchen table inside, easily, from memory.

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Giant Healthy Pine Tree

Giant Healthy Pine Tree

This sight is also visible from our deck. I drew it while sitting out there early one morning. It’s a lofty solitary tree that’s a few yards north of the beach walkway. It seems to have its own ecosystem–a sturdy home for many noisy birds and insects. It also has a Virginia Creeper growing on its trunk that’s made it all the way up to the very crown of the tree!

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"Journaling" Lady

“Journaling” Lady

We noticed this woman bundled up in a chair on our first morning at the beach. She was set up far away from everybody else, and, atypically, facing the dune rather than the sea, and she appeared to be scribbling away in what seemed to be a sketchbook. I like to try and connect in some way with anyone I run into on our vacations who also has brought art supplies and is doing some work. That is an extremely rare occurrence! In fact, I can’t remember it ever happening during one of our Maine trips. In the Caribbean a few times, but never in Maine. She was so absorbed in what she was doing I was wary of approaching her. Also, I didn’t have much to show off at that point, having just begun work with this sketchbook, so I didn’t go anywhere near her.

A couple days later, though, she was there in the same spot in the same way again when we arrived at the shore. I felt bolder and walked toward her with my sketchbook, but saw before I got within 8 or 10 feet that she was writing, not drawing, and I just swerved away. She didn’t notice me. She never did seem to notice us or anybody else as she earnestly toiled away with her pen in a black bound book. Trying to converse with her wouldn’t have made much sense. It’s possible she might not even speak English–many many French people from Quebec vacation in the area. If she had been drawing, a language barrier wouldn’t have been a problem–artwork doesn’t need to be translated.

Back on our beach blanket it occurred to me that she stayed in the same position for long periods of time, why not make her the subject of a sketch? She never did glance over at us, or even at the ocean for that matter…..

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The other sketch I did that day is the one at the top of this post: the umbrella flapping in a sea breeze. It was an ad for some kind of beer I believe. That’s not unusual. I can’t remember the name of the product. I did a quick plain pencil sketch of it late in the afternoon, but I was haunted by the brilliant oranges of the umbrella in the sunlight. I brought my watercolor set up to the beach with us the next day and used it to fill in some color as seen above [the same couple were back again using that umbrella]. That involved carrying a cup and some water and setting everything up on the beach blanket in a useable way, and not getting sunburned by staying in one position too long, and also overcoming any self consciousness about painting while at the beach. I decided not to attempt to fill in the sky with blue. Of this whole group of sketches, that’s the one I like the most.

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Tribute bench [& memorial trash can?]

Tribute bench [& memorial trash can?]

This is another variation of the “Pier View” sketch. I did it while sitting on a mirror-image bench on the other side of this path entrance (one of many) to the beach, from a different little avenue.

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Fence & Gate with Birdhouse.

Fence & Gate with Birdhouse.

This is a sight to be seen at the dune-base end of yet another little street that’s perpendicular to the beach. This one is “Camp Comfort Avenue”, the next street north of Bay Avenue. The path over the dune is a few feet to the left of this view. I don’t know if this is an actual  bird house or just decorative. It seemed unoccupied (and too clean), but it interested me with the vines growing all over it. Very picturesque!

I painted this sketch while lounging on our beach blanket also. I did a quick pencil layout on the spot first, and took a few reference shots with my camera, but when I got going on the sketch I never did refer to any of the photos. The finished image has a kind of greeting card vibe to it, but I like it anyway.

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MAINE 13 K

“Wild Mouse” and other amusements seen from the beach.

Prediction for the day that we had to check out of our room (Saturday morning) was for good beach weather in the A.M. so we packed our car but paid for a parking space near the shore so we could spend that morning on the beach. We parked at “Jimmy’s” Ocean Front Parking Inc. located near the pier and the amusement park: “Palace Playland”. We’d been walking by the street entrance to this parking lot all week. The sign said “All day parking $10.00!” but when we pulled in on Saturday morning the price had suddenly doubled–for the beginning of the actual “season”.

We could have parked cheaper a few blocks away, but what the hell? We didn’t want to mess up or miss our final beach time of this vacation. The price included use of bathrooms and changing rooms, and they also have a restaurant right on the beach. We cheerfully paid the 20 bucks at about 8:15 A.M. and then left around noon for the six hour drive home. Dodged some thunder storms and managed to drive all the way with the top down on our Mustang (’11).

Thanks for looking!

G on Beach

George

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Tulip on Windowsill

Tulip on Windowsill

I wanted to finish with my current sketchbook, so I could start in on a new and slightly larger-sized one with a different kind of paper. There were 12 pages left in this one (Moleskine brand 5 x 8 inch watercolor book that I had changed from glued to spiralbound on my own–so I could lay the damn thing FLAT to work on).

It was a nice day at my house on May 7th. I walked around the property and did 12 quick pencil scribbles of various items that I randomly found interesting. I photographed the items also.

It’s taken me almost a month now to finish off all of those sketches with some keener attention and color, using my photos for reference. Page size is 5 x 8 inches. I dated each one the day I felt it was complete enough. Used watercolor paint and some ink and colored pencils.

Dandelion

Dandelion

Hosta

Hosta

Rhubarb

Rhubarb

Hose Reel

Hose Reel

Bleeding Heart

Bleeding Heart

Pear Blossoms

Pear Blossoms

Daffodils

Daffodils

Pink Nancy

Pink Nancy

Milkhouse

Milkhouse

Our Pond

Our Pond

Mailbox/Paperbox

Mailbox & Paperbox

Thanks for looking!

George

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6 1/2 x 8 inches. Ink and Prismacolor pencils (shades of gray, plus black)

6 1/2 x 8 inches. Ink and Prismacolor pencils (shades of gray, plus black)

This is my drawing of the Kalamazoo wood-burning cook stove that has been in my wife’s family since the early 1920’s.

When we moved here from Boston in 1984 to live in the old brick farmhouse after her parents died, we replaced a broken-down attached kitchen in back of the house with our own new addition. We dismantled this stove into three parts (top unit, body and base), loaded them onto a sturdy wooden sled, and with great effort managed to drag it out to the old barn behind the house for storage, where it sat under heavy plastic sheeting and a growing pile of forgotten flower pots, bird feeders, broken baskets, tools, etc. [and squirrel nests–ugh!] for 29 [!] years until I recently got obsessed  with the idea of uncovering it, taking apart its many components and putting them back together again in a place I cleared for it in our “new” (1984) basement—under the spot where it once sat and functioned in the old kitchen above.

This is the only picture of this stove in its original location that I could find among the many family photos we have:

At 190th birthday party for the house. 1981

In old kitchen at 190th birthday party for the house. 1981

And this (below) is the Family who would have purchased the stove from the manufacturer (“A Kalamazoo–Direct to you!”) and been amazed and delighted with its great advantages over whatever they had previously cooked on:

The DeLongs circa 1923

The DeLongs circa 1923

The young man with the rifle and scout uniform is my wife’s father at age fourteen.

I shot many photos in the process of this project. I started out doing it alone, but my brother-in law Will joined in and I couldn’t have completed the job without his expertise at loosening seized bolts, and some of his tools and manpower. It turned out to be a lot of work, but we did learn much about how the stove was constructed. Very clever, but Soooooo HEAVY! Even with all possible pieces separated from the body of it, Will and I had to strain hard to lift the carcass  the few inches from his heavy-duty dolly back onto the stove’s splayed-legs base. He and I were the ones who had moved the stove out to its spot in the barn 29 years ago.

After I put the stove back together in our basement, I painted the cast iron surfaces with “stove black” paint, and touched up some corroded parts of the chrome trim with very fine aluminum paint. The amount of rust and pitting (the effects of nearly three decades out in the barn) were just too ugly and depressing to leave it in that state! The fired-on gray and white enamel surfaces were undiminished by their long stay outdoors.

So now it’s an odd-shaped storage unit itself—in our basement. I cut pieces of Masonite the size of the missing racks–for shelves in the oven, and the top can be a table. It’s not up to being operated again as a stove. It’s just to look at now.

I arranged some of my photos of this project in two collages. I guess those images can speak for themselves. Click on them to zoom in:

Stove Restoration Collage 1

Stove Restoration Collage 1

Stove Restoration Collage 2

Stove Restoration Collage 2

I did my drawing of the stove after it was all reassembled and painted.

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White Amaryllis

White Amaryllis

Watercolor & Gouache 6 x 11 inches

Watercolor & Gouache 6 x 11 inches

I wanted to draw or paint something in color next. Chose for a subject this Amaryllis that I got for my wife Marilyn as a Christmas present. It was a modest gift, but a “perfect” one–something she specifically asked for; it couldn’t be the wrong size…. We had gotten one that reached its growth peak over the week of Thanksgiving and produced two very sturdy stalks with a total of seven brilliant red blooms on them. We enjoyed watching that one grow and flower so much that we both wanted to be able to see that kind of miracle happen again this winter if possible.
I found this particular bulb in a forlorn little pyramid of boxed leftovers in the flower shop section  of our local grocery store in mid December. I got it at half the original price (though I didn’t care about the cost). They don’t cost much anyway. This one was four bucks. The big sales push for Amaryllis seems to be between Halloween and Thanksgiving and then they’re not restocked. That makes sense because poinsettias take over for the Christmas season. [Poinsettias we forgot all about this year until the holiday was actually over…]

This bulb shot its stalk right out and up! It was startling and fun to watch it grow. You have to keep rotating the pot or else it’ll zoom diagonally toward the window. We were delighted when the four giant blooms branched out, poised to open, but then I was suddenly disappointed to realize that they were going to be white. WHITE?! We’ve had many Amaryllises over the years; none of the bulbs were ever the wrong color for the box they were in. I wouldn’t have taken a white one for free. The picture on the box said it was going to bloom like this:

AMARYLLIS PINK PHOTO

 Once these white flowers opened up though, the spectacular healthiness of the whole plant won me over. It was more than usually phenomenal! I have to admit that there’s as much textural variety within the “white” blossoms as there could ever be in the pink striped ones I was expecting. In fact, its a subtlety that’s way beyond my painting skills, but I can produce a just-satisfying-enough-not-to-give-up-on-it caricature of the plant—as shown above. I will say that there’s somewhat more subtlety in my painting than comes across in this mediocre scan of it……

Here’s another blog post I did a while ago about Amaryllis:

https://hubbmax.wordpress.com/2010/02/23/amaryllis/

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VICTORIAN RTE 5

 

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Found myself in a creative slump [“void” is maybe a more descriptive term] for a couple months, coinciding with the 2012 end-of-year holiday season (that universal devourer of attention and energy). Then, over the last two weeks I managed–without resorting to a “resolution” about it–to get back into a creative (or at least craftsman-like) mode and gradually did these six sketches in my current small sketchbook (5 x 7 1/2 inches).

They’re all based on photos, the first four of which I took myself on various wanderings over the last couple years. I tend to take shots of buildings that strike my fancy, while sentences like “Wow, I’d love to draw that!” repeat in my head. The last two of these six are based on images from the internet–part of the results of googleing “Victorian house decoration”.

B & B MONTOUR FALLS

VICTORIAN SARATOGA

 

VICTORIAN TEXAS

VICTORIAN LOOSE LINE

had a definite goal in mind with the sketch above: to use a more fluid, illustration-ish style: looser line, less shading and no gray “wash” to make it more 3-D. Also, I decided not to fill in the windows with black, as I had done in the other five sketches. I had to curb my enthusiasm. Consequently, I’d say that this is a quite different kind of work than the others. I enjoyed doing them all, but I like the results of this one best.

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I worked with the internet photos before–two years ago when I did the larger (7 1/2 x 9 inches) drawing below. I stretched and combined a lot of the features of those two houses, and tossed in some of my own distortions and made-up flourishes [basically drunk on the extravagant and daffy sincerity of high-end Victorian gingerbread…..]:

VICTORIAN FANTASY 2

 Thanks for looking and reading! You can click on these to drastically zoom in and check out the details if you want to.

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