Thursday, August 15, 2019

August Art Update

Toni Morrison by Cindi Moynahan-Foreman

I have been incredibly busy this summer since my last blog post and, with lots more travel in my immediate future, I thought I would post a quick August art update.

Captain Tom Workshop

Since my last blog post, a highlight for me has been the workshop that I attended on July 20th with Tomas Pajdlhauser (aka Captain Tom) called: “Effective and Expressive Urban Sketching” http://captaintom.studio/about

Photo  by Tomas Pajdlhauser at his workshop July 20.

I have already posted pictures and details about the workshop on the Ottawa Urban Sketchers Blog https://ottawaurbansketchers.blogspot.com/2019/07/ottawa-workshop-with-captain-tom.html and what I wanted to add here is: I went to the workshop as a fan really hoping to simply witness Tom's process more than anything else. What I walked away with at the end of the day was so much more.

For starters, even before the workshop started, I added neutral tint and turquoise to my palette because they were listed in Tom's emails. It had been a long time since I purchased any "new colours" for my palette and I absolutely love them!
  • Neutral tint was developed in the 18th century by English watercolorists and is essentially a light red (red iron oxide) + indigo (or iron blue) with a touch of yellow (gamboge or yellow ochre). It was preferred over sepia ink as a neutralizing (de-saturating) mixer because it did not dull either warm or cool paint. It is apparently very effective for stormy sky and Tom said he loves using it for his winter skies.
  • Turquoise is a beautiful earth colour on the cool side and it is the preferred colour for Tom when mixing greens (Tom mixes with yellow ochre.) I bought a Winsor Newton Cobalt Turquoise (PB28 PB30) from all the turquoise variations available for sale.
More details on what I learned from Captain Tom can be found here: https://moynahanstudio.blogspot.com/2019/08/effective-and-expressive-urban.html, One of the outcomes was to a project to DRAW 50 CARS!


#50Cars

Realizing at Tom's workshop that I edit out cars from almost ALL of my city sketches, I created a new project for myself to draw 50 cars. I'm not even half way through the project and the exercise has already been helpful in building confidence so that, in the future, I will stop avoiding these essential city objects! I've been tweeting some of my car sketches: https://twitter.com/cindiforeman/status/1155120136942161920?s=20tps://twitter.com/cindiforeman/status/1155120136942161920?s=20://twitter.com/cindiforeman/status/1155120136942161920?s=20

This is NO.5 of 50 cars that I have challenged myself to draw.

Ottawa Plein Air Adventures

I have been available to attend only two of this summer's Ottawa Plein Air Adventurers outings. The first one at Mer Bleue Bog was dreadfully hot and once the horseflies and mosquitoes found me I called it a day. I managed to get some quick field studies done for a future acrylic painting for the ArtEast Art Show (scheduled for 2020).

Mer Bleue Bog quick field studies
The second outing that I attended was at Petrie Island with there was yet another weather warning in effect but I managed to find some shady spots to do some quick watercolour sketches

My shady spot at Petrie Island

Quick Petrie Island watercolour study

 #DrawingAugust

Drawing August is a fun activity where artists are challenged to sketch every day and share their sketches on social media (twitter, Instagram) and I really enjoy these challenges because I use them to experiment with materials, subjects and styles and get feedback from other artists online. https://www.painters-online.co.uk/techniques-and-tips/view,improve-your-drawing-skills-as-you-join-haideejo-summers-for-drawingaugust_18503.htm


#DrawingAugust No.11 by Cindi Moynahan-Foreman
#DrawingAugust No.7 by Cindi Moynahan-Foreman

#DrawingAugust Day. 4 by Cindi Moynahan-Foreman

Ottawa Urban Sketchers

I was invited to speak about Urban Sketchers at the Ottawa Art Gallery to the Ottawa School of Art class taught by Maya Hum. I was surprised and delighted to receive a gift from Maya - a small handmade sketchbook that I filled with sketches of "Humans of Ottawa" and I finished this sketchbook with a sketch of myself!

Lovely handmade sketchbook gift from Maya Hum
Humans of Ottawa sketch
Self-portrait sketch added to Humans of Ottawa sketchbook

My sketchbook travels with me everywhere I go and I love the times that I can stop and do quick sketches here and there. I plan to sketch every day for the rest of August and hope you will join me in "Drawing August" https://www.painters-online.co.uk/techniques-and-tips/view,improve-your-drawing-skills-as-you-join-haideejo-summers-for-drawingaugust_18503.htm

Happy sketching everyone!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Effective and Expressive Urban Sketching Workshop

On July 21, I attended a workshop with Tomas Pajdlhauser (aka Captain Tom) called: “Effective and Expressive Urban Sketching” and this blog post is about what I learned.

This was the ad for the first workshop offered by Captain Tom - demand was so great, he added another on July 20, 2019!
Our July 21 workshop group
 A Captain Tom Fan

I first met Tom in 2015 when I was part of a group organized by Ottawa artist Colin White doing "Alley Sketching" around Ottawa and I've been a huge fan of Tom's ever since!

Not only do I love Tom's unique sketching style, I also follow his many world travels & sketching adventures and his work with youth (teaching animation and storytelling) on social media.

He is also co-owner of Birling, a store located in Centretown (across the street from the Art House Cafe) where he combines his passion for skateboarding and art offering great merchandise (I picked up my Birling water bottle there) and ALL of these activities happen concurrently while Tom works at his day job as Creative Director doing backgrounds for animated TV shows and movies!

The Ottawa Urban Sketchers have wanted Captain Tom to do a workshop in Ottawa for quite some time (I might have begged but it was Kristina Corre who succeeded). When Tom offered to do a workshop in Ottawa in July, and posted it to his Birling website, I signed up as fast as I could!

Captain Tom (Tomas Pajdlhauser) demonstrating his approach to inking
Captain Tom demonstrating in the afternoon portion of the workshop

I have already posted pictures and details about the workshop on the Ottawa Urban Sketchers Blog https://ottawaurbansketchers.blogspot.com/2019/07/ottawa-workshop-with-captain-tom.html and what I wanted to add here is: I went to the workshop as a fan really hoping to simply witness Tom's process more than anything else. What I walked away with at the end of the day was so much more.

For starters, even before the workshop started, I added neutral tint and turquoise to my palette because they were listed in Tom's emails. It had been a long time since I purchased any "new colours" for my palette and I absolutely love them!
  • Neutral tint was developed in the 18th century by English watercolorists and is essentially a light red (red iron oxide) + indigo (or iron blue) with a touch of yellow (gamboge or yellow ochre). It was preferred over sepia ink as a neutralizing (de-saturating) mixer because it did not dull either warm or cool paint. It is apparently very effective for stormy sky and Tom said he loves using it for his winter skies.
  • Turquoise is a beautiful earth colour on the cool side and it is the preferred colour for Tom when mixing greens (Tom mixes with yellow ochre.) I bought a Winsor Newton Cobalt Turquoise (PB28 PB30) from all the turquoise variations available for sale.
"Effective Urban Sketching"

Anyone wanting to do "Expressive Urban Sketching" Tom believes, should first learn "Effective Urban Sketching" and that was the focus of our morning session.


Tom believes that if you "mess up perspective ... proportions ... it tells your audience that you really don't understand what you are drawing"

Tom demonstrated how to locate the horizon line and how to use sighting for proportions and angles.
Tom's perspective sketch from the morning demo
Not so easy! My perspective sketch from the morning session

 My Takeaways From the Morning Session

Tom said that within the first five to ten minutes before he even begins to sketch a scene, he ascertains (in his head and not on paper like at the demo) a number of practical basics such as:
  1. Scale on the page
  2. Identify the horizon line
  3. Identify perspective
  4. Blocks out proportions
  5. Details
I do none of this. At the very most, after determining my "Why" and my "What", I make a thumbnail sketch to map out my composition and try to establish my values. When I start to sketch, I use my pencil for "sighting" (measuring and for angles), but a horizon line is not even part of my thinking process and I suspect it's not part of many other sketcher's processes either!

Here's what I will takeaway with me from this workshop's morning session:
  • I understand the principles of perspective but I never practice perspective and I am going to start! Using pencil only, I plan to do daily sketches where I draw the horizon line, perspective and shape proportions of everything around me.
  • I understand what the horizon line (eye line) is but I never practice establishing the horizon line either in my head or on paper prior to starting my sketch. I plan to do this from now on. 
  • I still need thumbnails. Tom does not create thumbnails and instead takes mental "snapshots" of details (people, shadows etc) he plans to use later. This will not work for me. I often forget what I went downstairs for (LOL) so I know that I personally need these visual notes (thumbnails)
  • I will use "Perspective Made Easy" by Ernest Norling for reference with my daily sketch practice.
  • I will stop excluding cars from my sketches. Tom wanted us to include people and cars in our sketches and I realized how much I have been avoiding cars. Tom says "they're just boxes with wheels - apply perspective and proportion" I may spend more time just sketching cars in Centretown.
Tom highly recommends "Perspective Made Easy" by Ernest Norling and said its the only book you'll ever need. (It is available in pdf online at http://www.storytellerartist.com/documents/Perspective_Made_Easy.pdf )

"Perspective Made Easy" by Ernest Norling
Tom demonstrates how to add details to your sketch that are in proper perspective and proportion.
The Afternoon Session

In the afternoon, Tom demonstrated his approach to creating his signature expressive urban sketches.

Tom demonstrating his process for inking in the scene
Tom uses only  a number 10 watercolour brush and a simple watercolour palette of only nine colours (Ultramarine Blue, Turquoise, Neutral tint , Cadmium Red, Alizarin Red ( used rarely ), Cadmium Yellow, Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna, and Yellow Ochre) and believes that anyone (with practice) "can make magic with just that".

Tom began to ink in the scene.

 My Takeaways From the Afternoon Session

Tom's trademark sketching process goes something like this:
  • Penciling in a minimal amount of detail ("just a reminder")
  • Inking using a fountain pen working left to right. "It's terrifying. Every line is the final line." said Tom, but it is his trademark process and requires that you be fearless, embrace mistakes, and adapt along the way.
    • The more you draw, the less you have to paint. You can't ruin a great ink drawing with paint.
    • While inking constantly be looking at your subject making editorial decisions always keeping in mind that you want your viewer to see what YOU think is important. Lead them to it.
  • Painting: Tom is actually thinking about the colours he will use while the ink is drying on his sketch
    • Your first colour dictates all the other colours
    • Leave white paper - don't cover everywhere with watercolour -
    • Be aware of watercolour consistency ("tea", "coffee", "pure pigment" which reminded me of Marc Taro Holmes "tea, milk, honey") for your foreground, mid-ground and background
    • Tom seldom looked up when he was at the painting stage "the painting part has less to do with what I see (in the scene) and more of what I am seeing on the paper", he said
Here's what I will takeaway with me from this workshop's afternoon session:
  • I will experiment my newest palette colours (neutral tint and turquoise) regularly
  • I won't rush to use my watercolours. I will spend less time with my pencil and more time with my fountain pen inking a solid sketch before wetting my brush. 
  • I wont rely as much on the scene for the painting part. I will concentrate on the design on the page.
    Tom's easel: A camera tripod fitted with hardware on a board and a tray
    Captain Tom Links

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Dog Days of Summer

Here are a few of my sketches and activities from the dog days of summer so far. 

Daily Sketch: My dog Lexie pausing on the cool grass at Ottawa City Hall
I don't function well in oppressive heat and humidity but I always enjoy my early morning walks with my dog Lexie (who stops frequently to cool off). In the daily sketch above, I joked that she was the "hydrant toll-keeper".


I superimposed a quick urban sketch that I did of the fountain in Confederation Park during the Ottawa Jazz Festival and folks seemed to enjoy the short little video that I created.
 
This fountain in our Confederation Park is made of Peterhead granite and was relocated from Trafalgar Square , London England where it stood for over a century from 1845-1948!

Daily Sketch: Margaret Gallagher

I still maintain my practice of sketching every day. Sometimes I sketch from photos and sometimes I sketch from direct observation.

I am often inspired by stories I come across on social media like the one about Margaret Gallagher who lives off the grid in a 280-year-old cottage with a thatched roof in Belcoo, Northern Ireland.

The Stone School (Portage-du-Fort): Workshop participants doing contour sketches

I was happy with the workshop that I facilitated in Portage-du-Fort, Quebec and I hope that the participants enjoyed it as much as I did. I had fun putting together their kits including my handmade viewfinders. I learned from participant Catherine Timm (who is a fiber artist) that the viewfinder with the red cellophane is used in quilting and called a "Ruby Beholder"!! I love that name for it and I love when the learning goes both ways in a workshop.

Participants workshop kit with my handmade viewfinders and sketch pads and pencils donated by Holbein

I received the email below from workshop participant  Jadwiga (who gave me permission to share her finished sketch) and it made my day.



I was also happy to get out to Mer Bleue Bog for the first of this summer's scheduled "Ottawa Plein Air Adventurers" events. It was oppressively hot (40 with humidex) and the insects (mostly deer flies) were vicious but I managed to do several quick studies before heading home.


Mer Bleue Bog study done in water colour
 My Summer Plans


I will be attending a workshop on Effective and Expressive Urban Sketching given by Ottawa artist and designer, Tom Pajdlhauser. He will be going over the importance of understanding and practicing perspective & design fundamentals and how to apply them to loose, fun and exaggerated observational work. I'm looking forward to applying exaggeration to my work!
Urban Sketching Update


We lost a great friend and fellow sketcher, Mike Lomas recently. In memorium, I created a photo tribute to our sketching adventures with Mike over the years here: https://ottawaurbansketchers.blogspot.com/2019/07/in-memoriam-ottawa-urban-sketcher-mike.html


 Some Art Inspiration 

I'm always looking for art inspiration and I still schedule weekly artist dates for myself whenever I can. My Artist Date for Week #27 was watching the “Rolling Thunder Review” on Netflix and I highly recommend it.

Other inspiration this month so far:

I was inspired researching artist Corita Kent (1918-1986), particularly her teaching style in the classroom. In the following video excerpt of “We Have No Art” (1968) at 17:20 there is a wonderful art assignment worth a look!


I was also inspired by a number of posts from Ottawa artist John Wright and especially the one that pointed me to a new artist (for me) George Butler.


We lost a number of Ottawa artists this summer including the prolific Ben Babelowsky. In remembering him, I revisited the book that I purchased of his Ottawa sketches and I was very inspired indeed.
 
Ottawa artist Bob Babelowsky at work

Ben passed away July 2 at the Ruddy Shenkman Hospice in Kanata. He was 87. "It’s estimated that more than 750,000 Babelowsky prints were produced."

My sketches of Ottawa's black swan last summer (2018)
I was sorry to hear that the always-inspiring Ottawa swans were re-gifted to Montreal by the Ottawa city council. Sketching and painting the black swan (in horrible heat) was a highlight for me last July (2018)

I am always inspired when I come across wildlife, especially in Ottawa, and the swans will be missed by me and many others. I hope they fare well in Montreal.

Jack's snake
Ending on a more positive note, another one of my daily sketches from July is of my B.C. cousin's son Jack. I only see photographs of Jack and I love his curiosity and energy! As soon as I saw the photo of his encounter with a snake, I knew I had to make it my daily sketch.

Stay curious ... sketch every day .... and I hope to post another update before the end of July!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

My June Update Is Overdue But I Can Explain

I have just returned from three weeks of travel and I have been spending this past week finishing off the participant kits for next week’s “Sketching Portage-du-Fort (Quebec)” workshop.

I am happy with my handout (sneak peak of the first two pages below) and I hope the workshop inspires the participants to develop a daily sketching practice 😊 and become part of the urban sketching community !



Stay tuned for an update on my recent travels to Ireland, Scotland and England and the challenges of travel sketching while “on the go”


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

My April - May Update in Photographs

April and May have been incredibly busy and there has been little time for posting on my blogs so here is a brief summary using just photos of some of my art activities and adventures.
Sketching on May 11th at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum (photo courtesy of Diane Duford)

Schmincke and Holbein 
Watercolour Demonstrations
 
It was great meeting Anke Heintz yesterday (all the way from Germany) in Ottawa at DeSerres to talk about Schmincke watercolours.  
I attended the Holbein artist demo at Wallack's with North American rep Jamie-Lou
  
I purchased a primary-colour set of Holbein Acryla Gouache to experiment with.
Platinum Carbon Ink

Testing Platinum Carbon Ink on some of my watercolour papers

More testing Platinum Carbon Ink on more of my watercolour papers
  Life Drawing at the Rooster 
 
I attended Life Drawing at the Atomic Rooster ... 2, 3, 5, 10 and 20 minute poses from three different models. I love experimenting and playing with different papers & materials : pencils, watercolours, gouache and fountain pen.

Travel Sketching






Galway sketch in my Molskine Watercolour Journal
Postcards Arrived

My postcard order came in from VistaPrint

Mark Patton's Art Show

It was great to help my artist friend Mark Patton with his first art show and it was an amazing success! I can't wait to see what is next for this amazing artist!

Urban Sketching

Our April sketching event was at the National Art Centre

Our May sketching event was at the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum