“Molto Vivace”

“Molto Vivace”

20180301_MoltoVivace_Taiwan_PasSndppr_215x147mm

“Molto Vivace” – Taiwan – Pastel pencil on sandpaper, 5.8×8.5″/124×215 mm

“Molto Vivace”
-Pastel pencils on sandpaper, 5.8×8.5″/147×215 mm
We headed out yesterday morning after several days of rain, climbing up into the volcanic hills as we followed one trail after another. You can do that around here. There are trails all over these hills. On the way down, we passed by this tree. To me, it’s a reminder to live fully!

#pastel #softpastel #pastelpencils #Derwent #steps #Taiwan #Beitou #台灣 #北投 #粉彩 #陽明山國家公園 #大屯山

 

Studying Trees

Studying Trees

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I’ve been working on a big painting, an “Inner Vision” which is being improvised right on the canvas. In my imagination, this composition includes high altitude trees. Some are already suggested in spiky brushstrokes on distant mountains, but some of them will be seen from up close. Just for practice, I sketched a few, based on a photo I took in a hike up to Sawtooth Lake in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains about a decade ago. Man, has it been that long? Anyway, all of these examples were in the same frame, on the same hillside. Fun practice with a cheap #2 pencil (about 8×10″).

“Beckoning” – Pen & Ink

“Beckoning” – Pen & Ink

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“Beckoning” – Arches N.P., UT – Pen and ink – 11.25×8.25″/285×205 mm

“Beckoning” – Arches N.P. – Utah
– Pen & Ink on watercolor paper – 11.25×8.25″/285×205 mm
(Available for sale; PM me for details!)

The trail is long, rocky and dusty. The sun is hot. We have traveled for miles already. Still, the juniper beckons. We follow.

Old Forest

Old Forest

We spent our Thanksgiving holiday deep in the woods. Taiwanese forests differ from those in the Western Hemisphere, but they are just as evocative. We spent two days hiking the trails in Shanlinxi, reveling in the company of ancient cedars and colorful metasequoias. To me, the most amazing trees in these woods are the Taiwanese rhododendrons, which grow to such scale that one would think they were oaks.

It has been said that Nature is optimistic, and these woods are proof: whatever can grow, will; whatever fails, fails; but nothing stops the next growth. Nothing. I need to remember that, and emulate it.

I drew this duotone from memory as we rested in our room on Wednesday.

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“Shanlinxi Memory” – Taiwan – Graphite and white charcoal on colored paper – 15×21 cm

Early Stage: “Somebody’s Home”

Early Stage: “Somebody’s Home”

During #Inktober 2017, I stretched out quite a bit, trying new things. I found that many of the skills I’ve been using for my pencil sketches translated surprisingly well to pen and ink. When I first started using drafting pens back in the 1980’s, I was mimicking the amazing engravings of Albrecht Dürer (as best I could!) and trying to get every scratch to line up perfectly. What I discovered this last month was that I’m more expressive when I stay loose. The first gray stage of this forest interior, “Somebody’s Home,” is a good example of what I mean.

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Early gray value block-in for “Somebody’s Home.”

In the past, I would have planned all of this out ahead of time, and painstakingly drawn every leaf. While it’s all well and good to do that, I’ve discovered that my style is actually less meticulous now, and I’m having lots of fun letting things direct themselves more.

Note that the tree trunks are mostly denoted by directional curved lines. I find that if work from the bottom of the page to the top, I can use the heel of my hand as resistance, which helps me to make relatively evenly spaced marks, but I don’t try to make them exactly the same curve or distance apart. I don’t even try to make them fit precisely within the faint pencil marks that delineate the trunks. Everything else is about “flow,” how the textures will lead the eye.

The bracken on the forest floor is done in patches. Later on, I use some of the gaps or overlapping marks as inspiration for where sticks and pits might go.

Here’s the final result. (More discussion below the picture.)

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“Somebody’s Home” – Pen and Ink – 10.5×7.5″/20.5×18 cm

You can probably pick out some of the new things I’ve added, and some bits I actually “removed.” With ink, everything is additive: there is no undoing a mark, no chance to erase. If it’s going to be removed, it’s got to be morphed into something else or obliterated in shadow!

I have it easy, though. Back in the 1500’s, Dürer was making grooves in metal with a “burin” or “graver.” Every stroke counted. I’ve always been intrigued by this bit of “The Knight, Death and the Devil,” below, in which the master seems to have corrected a mistake. Look at the light “swoosh” shape that mimics the base of the hoof, and the two bright lines that might have been the initial position of the horse’s shank.

DurerMistake

Yeah, I think we can let that bit pass for a twig or blade of grass. Amazing.