Sketching In the Car in Winter

February 24, 2014
Farmer's field sketched from my car, watercolor

Farmer’s field sketched from my car, watercolor

The Northeast has been buried under lots of snow this winter.  I’ve enjoyed painting it in the studio using some references I’ve taken as departure points, and also have rediscovered an interest in pen & ink sketching from my window. I have missed painting on location though, so I went out this morning in search of a good place to paint from the car.

The hardest thing about painting in the car is finding a good place to do it. Some of the best vantage points are on busy roads, and where I live, these can be very hilly, winding and narrow–with no good place to pull over and park. I find using watercolor or pen & ink to be the easiest and cleanest way to sketch in the car. I’ve worked with pastel, but it really is too dusty for a confined space. Using hard pastels however, does help a lot.

I keep a small back pack readily available and usually in the car with the following supplies:

– Winsor Newton portable watercolor set

– Small bottle of water and a little container

– Moleskine watercolor sketchbooks

– A few paper napkins

– Mechanical pencil for making notes about location

– Sharpie marker for any ink I may want to add

This small bag ensures that no matter where I am, I have what I need to sketch at a moment’s notice. I often find I have time before classes or when running to and from appointments and having the materials with me enables me to sketch wherever I happen to be. If you are pressed for time, try assembling a little kit like the one I describe. It doesn’t have to be a watercolor kit–you can substitute pencil, colored pencil, charcoal or pen & ink. It’s a great way to get in more practice time and build your skills for when the weather warms up!





Drawing Subjects in Motion from Life

February 19, 2014
Gestural study of birds, from life and memory, watercolor

Gestural study of birds, from life and memory, watercolor

Bird in about 5 strokes, charcoal and Sharpie, 1 minute sketch from direct observation

Bird in about 5 strokes, charcoal and Sharpie, 1 minute sketch from direct observation

Remember all those figure sketches you had to do in 30 seconds in life drawing class? Didn’t they seem like a waste of time, because after all, what can you really draw in 30 seconds? Many years later, I am finding quick, gestural drawing to be an excellent way of really understanding how subjects move.  By working quickly, you are forced to grab the purest essence of what makes a bird a bird–how it balances on a branch, how its feathers puff out against the cold, how it looks as it takes off with its wings fully spread.

Drawing in this manner is appropriate for any subject that you wish to depict in motion–cars, figures, animals–anything that moves! I find the best media for this to be ones that are the most immediate, charcoal and watercolor work very well because you can block in large areas with form and value. Throw a little bit of line work on top with a Sharpie, and you are able to really capture the movement quickly and efficiently.

Try not to focus on the outcome when you do this–rather, try to learn something about the subject you are studying. That’s why it’s called studying, because you are doing it with the intent of learning, not of creating something that is a masterpiece.


Why I Shared My Facebook Movie

February 5, 2014
Why I Shared My Facebook Movie

Why I Shared My Facebook Movie

Facebook was all a buzz last night with talk of the Facebook Movies released in celebration of Facebook’s 10th Anniversary. Many users were aghast with concerns over privacy violation and sharing of content without their permission.

Well, guess what? When you agree to use Facebook, and you put content on your profile or your likes page, they have access to it and can manipulate it as they choose. They cannot share anything you don’t mark as public however, so if you got freaked out by your movie, rest assured, no one saw it but you unless you opted to make it public and share it!

You DO have options–you can either not share it, or you can delete it (just go to the “Options” tab below the movie and select “Delete”).

However, I have chosen to share mine. I look at it this way, if Facebook wants to make a nice little video of my paintings for me for free…COOL!!! I have no concerns about the content because I carefully curate all of my posts. I only post topics that have to do with my paintings, exhibits or classes and workshops. Facebook for me is a business tool, and while many artists claim to use their profiles that way, they intermix the business with political, religious and personal content. I believe this is a mistake.

First of all, there some things that should always remain private–medical histories, divorces, break ups, family disputes, funerals, lost weekends and anything that you wouldn’t want the world to know about fall into this category. Even if you use Facebook for personal reasons, posting content of this nature on the internet is just not a good idea. Think of it this way–the people who need to know something as private as these things in your real life, probably already know, so why share it on Facebook?

Also, remember,you have the ability to make personal posts private–use it!!! You can even select specifically who you want to share individual posts with.

The above seem to me to be the obvious things to leave off your Facebook page. However, there are things you can do that go beyond the obvious damage control as suggested above, that will make your page or profile compelling for users and increase its value as a marketing communications tool. Here are a few guidelines I use when choosing what to post:

– Be concise. Users don’t want to read a novel, they are just browsing for items of interest. Post a picture rather than just a status.

– Make sure the photos you post are clear and well lit. No one wants to look at a bad photo.

– Know your target audience! Choose pictures of content that will be of interest to people you want to reach. For example, my target audiences are: artists who may be prospective students, collectors, and galleries. Sure my high school friends and family can see it too, but so what, they can always hide me from their Newsfeed if I’m boring them.

– Your page is not really all about YOU–it’s about your audience! They do not need to see you as much as they need to know about or see your product or service (in my case my paintings and classes). A shot of you here or there is fine, but not 100 awkward shots of you standing in front of your paintings. A good head shot for a profile picture is a must, have it taken professionally or by someone who knows how to capture you at your best. Above all, be sure you look natural, avoid trying to look like a “serious artist”, just be yourself.

So, think before you post…always ask yourself, is this something that I want the world to see? And when in doubt, leave it out!