Saturday, June 28, 2008

Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel - Nearly Finished

OK - I'm nearly finished with this one for one main reason. I really don't like the paper and almost tossed it halfway through. It is so much rougher than what I like to work on but the little ground squirrel is still cute.
I told you the wrong size of this one - the paper is 8"x10" and the image, which includes the upper blank background, is 6"x8". I'll let this sit for a day or two and if it needs any tweaking will do it then.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel - continue

I've worked a bit more on this today however I couldn't get a good scan of it so ended up taking a picture of it with my little camera and it isn't that much better. Sorry!

Anyway I worked mostly on the bits of pine needles and twigs in the hollow of the rock. I'm using negative drawing to accomplish the desired results. When finished, it creates a nice feeling of depth and layers. It can be a rather slow process but it is definitely worth it.

Basically to do this, you draw in your main pieces of twigs, needles, leaves, etc. leaving them white and then fill in the abstract background areas as dark as you can. Then with a light touch and a 2HB I go lightly over the mid-ground pieces and then add a vein or slight shadow to the foreground pieces. You can even go in with Blu-Tack and create leaves or twigs that you didn't actually draw in.

It can be a time consuming process and you do have to pay a little bit of attention to where your twig ends and begins but if you make a mistake it really won't matter that much. I'm sure there are bits and pieces in there that don't align.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel

I'm working on my first drawing since coming back from Yellowstone. It is a Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel. It looks a little like a chipmunk but after showing it to the park ranger in Yellowstone he told me it was a Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel.

I learned quite quickly that any time you saw cars pulled over and people out of their cars, there was usually an animal to be spotted. Sure enough there he was in all his glory - this little critter. He was a real charmer, running up really close and then darting away. Mike Sibley was sitting down on the ground with his camera and super long lens taking pictures of him and the little thing almost ran up his pant leg. It's not a great picture since he ran so fast, but you can see the little squirrel's bum as he escapes a few feet away from Mike's foot.

What a sight that would have been seeing Mike dance a jig right in the middle of Yellowstone!

Anyway I've been trying to decide what to draw since I got back and kept going back to the little squirrel despite all the larger and more impressive animals I was able to get pictures of.

Like I said, he has lots of character. This drawing is 6x6 and unfortunately is on Bristol Vellum. When I started drawing it I kept wondering what was wrong with the paper then I realized instead of using my Strathemore Smooth I had pulled out the Vellum. It is much rougher paper than I like to work on but didn't want to start over so I'm just going to go with the flow here. I'm using graphite mechanical pencils, 2B, 4B for the really dark bits and I think I'm using just a regular HB too.

In the wild, the squirrel is rather camouflaged against the rocks so I wanted to keep him rather close to the value of the rocks as possible but still make him stand out a bit so I've been using my Blu-Tack to lift some of the graphite on the rocks as I go. It is really kind of neat to do that because you get a rather abstract pattern that you can enhance to make your rocks look very nice.

I will probably work more on this later tonight and then post my progress tomorrow.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Back from West Yellowstone

I’m back from West Yellowstone, Montana.

I left on June 7th for W. Yellowstone and had a 6 hour lay over in Salt Lake City – ugh! When I got to W. Yellowstone that evening, I went to pick up my luggage and found it had been lost – actually it stayed in Salt Lake but was delivered the next day. The down side to that downside was it was very cold when I landed. I thankfully had my leather jacket with me and didn’t wear sandals like I had planned. Needless to say though, I was rather stressed.

The next morning I had planned on going on a bus tour to Yellowstone but after many calls to the airlines and making sure they had my luggage and would deliver it on the one flight into W. Yellowstone that morning, I missed the bus. As it turned out, that wasn’t a bad thing because I met up with Rich Adams (who organized the workshops for Mike Sibley) and his wife who were taking Mike and his wife through the park. I was able to join them and had a much more personal trip through Yellowstone than I would have had on the bus.

Over the course of my stay I saw lots of animals in the wild and took lots of pictures! I saw eagles on their nest, a black bear, lots of elk and bison with their babies, a coyote, a golden mantle squirrel, a chipmunk, a yellow bellied marmot, a prong horn antelope, lots of ravens and some beautiful blue birds, and then at the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center I saw grizzly bears and wolves. What magnificent creatures! I was lucky enough to get a few pictures of a wolf that climbed up on a small rock water fall and then stood up there howling! What a melodic sound the howling was – truly beautiful! It is much softer than I had imagined. Then, before I left, a group of us went on a trail ride at one of the nearby ranches. The views were breathtaking!

Beside all the animal pictures, I took a lot of landscape pictures too – some with snow and some not. Yes it snowed while I was there! In June it snowed! Mind you I left behind 100 degree weather in Texas. In fact on the day it snowed really hard we went to the Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center – nothing like taking pictures of grizzly bears and wolves in a blizzard! The roads were actually shut down in and out of W. Yellowstone that day because it was snowing so much. I got a few pictures of Old Faithful too on one trip to the park but the day was rather dreary at that point so the contrast wasn’t that great between the clouds and the steam of Old Faithful. Still it was a magnificent sight. Also I was able to get some beautiful pictures of the Lower Falls in Yellowstone. That is a lot of cold water going over the falls!

The workshops were full days and long nights. During the day, Mike Sibley gave his art workshops on different techniques he uses in drawing realistically. The Rich Adams gave presentations on taking pictures with digital cameras, workflow and printing; and Owen Garratt gave presentations on art marketing each evening. There was a lot of information thrown at us during a short period of time – hopefully some of it will stick!

The best thing about the entire trip was meeting my good artist friends from Art Papa in person that I’ve known for years on-line and then to make new friends too. Not to mention the beautiful location! At one point during my ride through Yellowstone I was actually brought to tears because of all of its beauty.

My flights back on the 15th were uneventful and I had no long layovers – my luggage even made it back with me! I’ve spent a couple of days visiting with my daughter and grandson before taking them to the train station yesterday. They came down from North Texas to take care of my animals and house sit while I was gone. Sassy and Samantha were very glad to have the company while I was gone. Billy Bob was just glad someone was there to feed him and let him out to the pasture.

Now to get back into the swing of things. . .

PS. I apologize for not posting any photos – I’m still sorting them out and trying to use what I learned in the workshop. I’m a slow learner - you may just have to wait for the drawing or painting the way I’m going.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Mike Sibley Art Workshop in West Yellowstone!

In just a few short days I will be in West Yellowstone, Montana for two workshops given by Mike Sibley!

I’ve known Mike since 2005 when I became familiar with his work via Art Papa. He is the moderator for the animal and wildlife forum there. He does absolutely wonderful, realistic, graphite pencil drawings and is the author of Drawing from Line to Life. If you don’t have this book I would urge you to order it – it is well worth the money. Mike is also designer and webmaster of my website.
Although I’ve know Mike since 2005, I have never met him in person since he lives in England and I live in Texas! Also taking the workshops will be some of my fellow artists/friends from Art Papa so it will really be fun – kind of like a family reunion of sorts.

Needless to say, I’m so excited about attending Mike's workshops and the opportunity to learn from him, finally meeting him in person, meeting my artist/friends, and being able to see a bit of Montana! Unfortunately, I won’t have a lot of free time to sightsee but plan on putting my cameras to good use when and where I can for reference pictures.

So for now I’ll be out of pocket but I’ll have lots to share I’m sure when I get back!