A Vulcan, from Star Trek Large Handbook Sketchbook
I still find faces to be challenging. I had drawn this from a photograph of Spock from the first Star Trek reboot movie. I had taken a photo off our television screen, the scene where Spock Prime (Leonard Nimoy) talks to Spock (Zachary Quinto) at the end of the movie. Facial portraits are so difficult for me. You have to get all of the relationships right between all of the parts of the face.. the distance between the eyes, from eyes to ears, to nose, to mouth, to chin. If you get too many of these landmarks wrong, the face becomes unrecognizable, thus I had to entitle this one A Vulcan, I really didn't do enough justice to say it was Spock (Prime or otherwise). But, as they say, practice, practice, practice. Of course, I could have turned to one of my old tricks where I trace the image onto the paper, but I didn't want to go through all of that. I had planted myself in front of the TV and was enjoying the movie and didn't want to get all technical. I'm happy with the general anatomy, and I'm steadily improving on getting the shading right to make the face more three-dimensional.
The movie we were watching was For the Love of Spock. It has a very limited theatrical release, nowhere near Phoenix. So we rented it from Amazon. The movie was directed by Leonard Nimoy's son, Adam Nimoy, and the movie not only released many photos and film clips I had never seen before, but it gave an interesting glimpse of how devoted L. Nimoy was to his Trek fans. In one of the scenes, the show had gone into syndication, and the actors were offered the opportunity to do the voice acting for the animated series. However, two of the original cast members, George Takei and Nichelle Nichols, were not invited. When Nimoy heard of this, he said that the whole point of Star Trek was the inclusiveness of the concept, and he didn't like the fact that both faces of color were specifically excluded. he basically told them if George and Nichelle were not a part of it, he would not do it, and thus George and Nichelle were added. The movie included several other interesting turning points, where Leonard Nimoy the Actor basically told the director how he thought Spock would do things, and how all of these moments basically have created the Spock canon as we know it.
The movie did rehash the age-old story of sons desperately trying to understand their fathers (this was the main theme when Gene Roddenberry's son directed a similarly themed documentary a few years ago), and while it added much to our understanding of Adam Nimoy, I can see how it detracted from the story. But overall, it was a very good movie.
Goldie in Watercolor Painted from a photograph taken in April 2016, near Poplar Bluff, Missouri 5x7 Strathmore "Visual Journal" sketchbook DaVinci, Cotman and Schminke Watercolors
Watercolor of dairy cow Painted from a photograph taken at the Wisconsin State Fair, August 2016 5x7 Strathmore "Visual Journal" sketchbook DaVinci, Cotman and Schminke watercolors
I don't know why but I find painting portraits of animals to be my artistic niche. I've continued painting "urban sketches" but I guess it doesn't resonate with me as much as the face of a living thing does. I'm really happy with my painting of Goldie, a stray cat that Brent's Dad took in a few months ago. He hadn't been getting along with the other cats in the house, so he was relegated to living in the basement. It's quite nice down there, and he has plenty of light, but I'm sure it was lonely, so we made it a point to help him get acclimated to living with the four other cats in the household.
Not as thrilled with the painting of the cow. There was something up with the paper (probably touched it too often and too much of my skin oils got on it) but there were many patches that resisted watercolor, and I also was experimenting with utilizing non-so-real hues. A process that I don't really like to use that often. And I really shouldn't have made her skin folds so prominent.
Mister Kitty 8 x 10 Strathmore hot-pressed paper DaVinci, Windsor Newton and Schminke watercolor paints
Painting an all-black cat ended up being a challenge. Previous attempts looked like Rorschach ink-blot tests. I'm pretty happy with this latest attempt. He's quite a beauty, and I think he must weight about 20 pounds at this point. He is massive compared to Pumpkin and even Jazzy ("big-boned", as they say).
Before Missy passed away a year ago, when she was in kidney failure and blind, he would watch over her. Even though she would sometimes hiss at him for coming too close, and even when, in her blindness, she would accidentally walk all over him, he wouldn't ever hurt her. To this day, he doesn't like to "trespass" into the closet where Missy spent most of her final weeks and days.
Pumpkin has taken over as Alpha-kitty in our three-kitty household. As they say on Game of Thrones, she has appointed him Hand of the Queen.
Pumpkin curled up on my bed Handbook large watercolor sketchbook, 2-page spread DaVinci, Schminke and Windsor Newton paints
Typical. I've been working on my computer and both Pumpkin and Jazzy have taken up most of the center of the bed. I never have the heart to push them off the bed, so I end up taking a nap on the couch.
Amazon Prime has added all of the Star Trek movies, so I've given Stargate Atlantis a bit of a break. They usually don't have that many Star Trek movies available for extended periods of time so I have to seize the moment. Plus they have all three Matrix movies. I watched Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions, while I painted Pumpkin above using a photograph on my phone.
Jazzy in Watercolor 8 x 10 Strathmore hot-press paper Schminke, DaVinci, Windsor Newton Watercolors
Yes that's her face most of the time. Painted from a photograph, and her mood really came through. I'll paint her again when she's in a better frame of mind.
I am trying to relearn how to post stuff from my phone but I can't seem to control when photos get posted upside down or on the wrong side, so I've given up for now. For one thing, when I post stuff by email, it takes forever for it to be posted and things just need to happen faster these days. Maybe that's a temporary glitch with Typepad but there's no excuse for waiting half an hour, then giving up on it, then finding a picture of your cat posted on the wrong side two days later. I hate that.
Someone has been trying to hack into my Instagram account. I started getting 4-5 emails a day asking to reset my password. I had completely forgotten I had set up an Instagram account, but have started to post there (@Eric135) because a lot of the watercolor artists and sketchers I follow post there. But I'm starting to get a bit overstimulated with all of the connectedness, between Flickr, Typepad and now Instagram. It's a lot to keep track of.
Campfire From a photo taken on a recent trip to Missouri
A few weeks ago, we went on a trip to Missouri. Instead of flying, we decided to drive the entire way. I really enjoy long road trips, and I remember my family driving all over the place during summer vacations. Before we moved to Phoenix, we drove from Richmond Virginia to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, or to Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia Beach... We drove up to New York City a few months before the 9/11 attacks. We drove to Missouri. Whenever we were bored, we'd get into the car and drive.
That strangely ended when we moved to Phoenix. There just isn't anything within a few hours drive from here. We could drive to San Diego but we'd rather fly. There's Flagstaff about 90 minutes north, Tucson about 90 minutes east. But neither of those cities holds much interest, when compared to the days when we could drive for 2 hours to spend the day at the Smithsonian, or exploring Dupont Circle, or enjoying the cherry blossoms near the Jefferson Memorial.
Anyway, back to our trip to Missouri. I had worked a night shift the night before we were to leave, and then instead of getting out of town by 8a, between packing and a last minute trip to Target for an iPhone car charger, and then realizing right after we left that we didn't have a copy of our car registration in the glove compartment, we didn't leave until 1130am. So I wasn't all that helpful driving on the way to Missouri, only driving about 4 hours over a 23-hour trip.
But it was an adventure. We planned to stop whenever we got down to a half-talk of gas, and we'd then fill up the car, wipe the bugs off the windshield, and get a bit to eat or drink from the numerous gas/grocery stores along Route 40/44. We passed Flagstaff Arizona, then Albuquerque New Mexico, then Amarillo Texas (where I had planned to sleep a few hours but we were going so good we decided to keep going), then Oklahoma City, and then finally into Missouri.
Quite the adventure, and our KIa Soul did great the whole way.
A watercolor of one of our kitties, BoyKitty, no longer with us. Watercolor on Strathmore Hot-Pressed paper, 8x10 Schminke, DaVinci, Utrecht brand watercolors
It is frequently said that a good painting always starts out with a good drawing. I never truly believed this, and for the past many years, sort of "winged it" with either no underlying drawing, or a hastily drawn sketch. But since I've switched to a process where I make sure the underlying drawing is appealing, I have been much happier with my watercolors. Yes, sometimes the drawing takes a long time, as my drawing skills are not all that great. I usually look at a photograph pulled up on the computer screen and I tediously draw. Frequent erasing of false lines. Sometimes I'll spend 30 minutes drawing something, then find the thing I was drawing was not properly placed and end up erasing the whole thing.
Some artists will draw on a piece of drawing paper, and once they get the drawing the way they like it, they will trace the drawing and transfer to the watercolor paper. They do this in order to prevent damage to the watercolor paper, which can result in resistant sections of paper, or differing textures that react to watercolor differently. But I've been switching to Strathmore Series 500 hot-pressed paper that comes pre-cut to 8 x 10 sheets. I chose these sheets because I seem to prefer this size, and if I ever want to frame some of my artwork (something I have yet to do) you can purchase inexpensive frames including matting. But I've noticed the paper will take the multiple erasing without changing the characteristics of the paper. Also, if I really dislike the painting, I can paint something else on the other side, and I feel like I'm not wasting as much.
Work is work. I've finished my three nights this week, and am off until Monday night. We're seeing the new Jason Bourne movie at Studio Movie Grill in Scottsdale.
Since the last time, I've completed my Bachelor's in Nursing degree. It wasn't as bad as I had assumed it would be. Despite my cynicism, I am indeed proud of the fact that i finished it. I still maintain that the most useful (on a day-to-day basis) skills I've learned have more to do with using Word, Excel, Powerpoint and other tools more effectively and creatively. But on a nursing level, I did learn a lot about how to utilize all of the "evidence-based practice" buzzwords that nurses get all excited about these days. Now that I'm an alumnus, I have (supposedly) lifetime access to the CINAHL database of peer-reviewed articles, and that availability has proven to be very useful.
I'm also resuscitating my blog to keep my blogging skills up to date. I've been challenged to utilize my familiarity with tools like blogging and podcasting to try to come up with more innovative and modern ways to keep nurses informed about their clinical challenges, and to help us come up with more effective tools to promote collaboration. I am lucky to have many remarkably intelligent folks on my staff, many of whom are very well acquainted to tools that are only now entering the nursing environment. So I wanted to get back into the groove of keeping up my blog, to keep current on what folks are doing to maintain an effective online presence. There are so few personal bloggers out there (where i used to read dozens of personal blogs, only one or two continue to update their blogs on a regular basis). I just wonder what folks are doing to replace the creative outlet that blogging provided. I can't believe we've all come down to 140 word Tweets and Facebook.
OK, back to the Democratic Convention. I watched the Republican Convention last week, and I still have nightmares and can't seem to get all the way clean no matter how many showers I take, it was that disgusting and disturbing. Listening to Michelle Obama last night gives me hope that there are real people out there that aren't just masses of conflicting impulses. I wish they could take her speech and turn it into a warm smooth salve that I can apply to the bumps and ridges of my brain. She makes me feel that good.
Our 2015 Kia Soul, 5in x7in Moleskine Watercolor Sketchbook Schminke, DaVinci, Daniel Smith watercolors
I don't paint cars well. My mind is overrun by what I think it should look like, rather than drawing what I see with my own eyes. I've been watching YouTube videos of how skilled artists handle this challenge, and how to train my brain to just accept what it sees, and not draw what I think things should look like. Simply getting used to the idea of erasing incorrect lines, and continue erasing until you get the true line, ended up being a revolutionary idea to me. That, and remembering to keep looking at the subject while drawing. Such simple ideas but a difficult process for me.