Tuesday 16 December 2014

It's a draw

Carol Marine must have talked with Bert Dodson because they both want you to sketch a lot and both of them start with drawing your hand. She suggested drawing your hand holding something.

She also recommended carrying around a sketch book to draw while waiting for things like oil changes.  Funny I just had to have my oil changed.  This wasn't the first time that I sketched in public but it was really creepy.  Every time I looked up this guy was staring at me and I wasn't even drawing him.  Usually when two strangers glance at each, they take a quick look and turn their heads, but this guy was just staring at me.  Unfortunately our cars were ready at the same time, but I waited to get mine - I was really creeped out.  The sketch below is from the library - a great place to sketch because people tend to return to the same position or they sleep.  Either way it is a good thing. 

Thursday 4 December 2014

Lean to the left, lean to the .....

I love this book.  The more I read it, the more I want to.  After saturation, came the fact that colours have a lean.  For instance Cadmium yellow leans blue while  Cadmium yellow light goes red and so on. I love this hint she gave  - put the colours you use on a piece of paper and which way they lean.  This is so important and just this hint is almost worth the price of the book.
You should know which way your colours go because if you mix them you could get grey unexpectedly.  If this doesn't make sense buy the book.

Paint what you see.  She had a problem with egg yolks because everyone knows they are yellow, but really they are not the  bright yellow out of the tube..  I had a similar problem with candles (cheesy plug for my other blog   5minutesfromcool.blogspot.ca ) and the colours of flames.

She warned about using white because it makes things chalky - that is what my evil teacher Suzy always says- maybe I should listen to her more. She talked about burnt umber - it sounded so good I may go buy a tube.

The next exercise was to do colour charts and maybe one day I will do them but not today.  My inner child is having a tantrum and my outer child says she can`t make me.

She did suggest using paint chips.  The exercise is to mix a colour to match the paint chip.  This isn't the first time I have done this but a good exercise is always worth repeating.

I think I am pretty good at this and if the painting career doesn't work out I can always get a job putting drops of paint on a paint chip. You can`t even tell the beige ones I did - I am that good.

The orange one does show but if you squint it goes away.  Squint really hard.

The colour card is from Farrow & Ball.  I keep their card because the names of the colours amuse me.  I would love to paint a room Wimborne white or cat`s paw but the winner is elephant`s breath. Say no more, say no more.  (from monty python it seemed appropriate).

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Red but not really red

Carol said that most beginner painters paint apples with paint right out of the tube.  The red is so bright that it doesn't look right.  I tried very hard and there isn't a single red in this painting that wasn't mixed with something else.

Boy does she make painting apples look easy.

Please join me in my other blog 5 minutes from cool where I post my current paintings.

Thursday 20 November 2014

I knew it

Value does the work but colour is more fun.  First subject is saturation.  The exercise is to mix 2 primaries and then slowly add the other primary to desaturate the colour.  I used cadmium red, cadmium yellow and Ultramarine blue. The first column is an orange (from the red and yellow) and blue is slowly added.  The next is green added by red and the last is purple adding yellow.  The purple didn't really change that much - I guess the yellow is weak in comparison.  The final column is cadmium red desaturated by equal amounts of blue and yellow.

I mixed it with a palette knife and I was quite careful to keep the knife clean which is a habit I should develop.  

Grey or Gray - I never know which one is right and the spell checker isn't helping it accepts both.  I have always argued with teachers that it makes no sense to worry about complements.  For example to get the a red grey you have to  mix red with its complement  - green which is blue and yellow.  So you are mixing all the primaries.  I never understood worrying about the complement just mix all the primaries and you add more of any colour to get it to lean to the colour you want.  If you want a bluer grey just add more blue.  Carol agrees with me.  She just mixes red, blue yellow and sometimes white to get a grey. 

I told you so.

Monday 17 November 2014

How fast can you paint if you had to

This exercise was to arrange a still life and paint it in 20 minutes 10 minutes and then 5 minutes.
Can you guess which one is which?

They are in the order painted - 20 10 then 5 minutes.

Five minutes was a a fight but the others were enjoyable.

Saturday 15 November 2014

White on White

I have figured out my problem or at least one of them.  I usually work on Carol's book after I've done everything else and usually at the end of the day.  I am now changing it to a priority and going to work on  it first thing in the morning - after the dog, breakfast, a load of laundry and a couple of bills.

Still working on values - this time a light painting with secondary midtone and a smidgen of black.

5minutesfromcool.blogspot.ca S. Charto Light values

I don't think we will eat the egg that has been sitting under a lamp - the dog is about to get lucky.  

Friday 14 November 2014

Black on Black

I figured it out.  I mean I figured out how to get the dark values.  First cover your canvas with black paint.  I think it would have been better to let the paint dry but who has patience.  Put the subject in a box and then turn of the lights and paint in the dark.  Works for me.  The majority of the painting is black the midtones is secondary and the white is just a smidgen.
S. Charto 5minutesfromcool.blogspot.ca Black on Black

Just like the books says.  Tomorrow I will try to have a white painting - at least I don't have to paint in the dark.

Thursday 13 November 2014

Value (1)

This is a very short chapter but it is deceiving.  It is just like learning chess - the rules are simple but the game takes a lifetime to learn.  Values seem so simple it is just dark and light but training your eye to see them is not as easy as it seems.  

It is simplified to 3 values - obviously dark, medium and light.  Highlights are not included in the value scheme. Each painting should have the values divided into "dominant, secondary and smidge amounts".  Sounds easy doesn't it, well its not.  I tried a couple of paintings that, well excuse the expression, sucked.  

5minutesfromcool.blogspot.ca S. Charto

This one isn't bad but it still doesn't obey her rules.  Mid tones are dominant, light is secondary in theory and black is a smidge.  In reality it seem to me that white  and black amounts are equal. The background was toned and is peaking out.

I tried a painting with black dominant and I couldn't get it to work.  

At least I am painting in acrylic and can easily cover the work and try again. And in the imortal words of Scarlet O'hara, "I'll think about it tomorrow".

Tuesday 4 November 2014


The next exercise was to walk around your neighbourhood and take pictures.  I am a little incapacitated right now so I just hung my jacket  on my easel and worked on that.
I am so excited to be working on this book but painting for me is really hard right now.  I am not used to sitting while painting so I am finding it frustrating.  Oh well.  

It is poppy season now.  I make a poppy painting every year. I am a sucker for all those veterans who sell them and I am incapable of walking by without giving a few dollars.  So each of my jackets has a poppy.  One soldier I was talking to said this year the poppies are being bought up.  All of us are distraught over the events in Montreal and Ottawa where soldiers were murdered. Just buying a poppy doesn't seem enough.

That is it for chapter 3.  The book is full of beautiful paintings and I am wasting a lot of time looking at all the artist's websites.  Tomorrow is chapter 4 on values.    

Saturday 1 November 2014


Carol`s next exercise is a self portrait.  Boy did I have a tough time with this one.  I hurt my knee badly and I had to paint sitting down.  I just could not get comfortable, everything felt off.  I also didn't wear my my glasses.  I have heard of artists painting without their glasses to make everything a blur but between my knee and glasses I just couldn't wait until it was over.

Where did all those wrinkles come from.  I need a hair cut.  

Wednesday 29 October 2014

We interrupt this blog for Carol Marine "Daily Painting"

I have been feeling really sorry for myself -  my knee is killing, my washing machine is leaking and my tooth just cracked.  I just went to the drugstore to get a knee support and as I was leaving there was someone in a wheelchair and I was thinking I didn't really have anything to complain about and I could hear my brother's words "just suck it up".

Well things have  turned around.  My physio called and said she had a cancellation, the repairman came on time and the bill was much lower than I expected and my dentist's line  was busy.

To add to my good feelings my copy of Carol Marine's book Daily Painting  came a week before it is supposed to be released. I am really excited to get this book so I am going to put  "Keys to drawing" aside for  just a bit and go through this one.

Chapter one is about  her background and the advantages of doing a small daily painting.  She gives many reasons but the one that resonated the most with me is that you improve quickly.  I noticed that when I did the 30 in 30 paint challenge.  I learnt a lot and if one painting  didn't work out, well just move on to a new one the following day. Other artists discuss why they paint daily.

Chapter two is about her materials: easels, surfaces, palettes  and lighting.  I liked her tip of cutting a tennis ball in half and using the inside to wash her brushes instead of her hands.  One thing I always have is old tennis balls, the advantage of having a Golden Retriever.

Chapter three is about subjects: lots of suggestions about still lifes, landscapes real life vs photographs.  It sounds like I am just zipping though this book but I really am enjoying all the pictures from other artists and her generosity.  Which brings us to the first exercise - one or more objects on a plain colour background.  I could only find black and pink paper so I used that.  On the bright side, I found an old ink drawing I love, 3 brand new tubes or paint and an empty sketch book, I really have to clean up. I did this painting of weights.
S. Charto 5minutesfromcool.blogspot.ca

 They are much more fun to paint than to lift. 


Tuesday 28 October 2014

And now for something completely different

This exercise is not from the book but it is fun to do.  I am a member of an art group that meets every Wednesday and we are having a guest artist give a workshop about abstraction.  I don't enjoy painting abstracts but I am willing to try.  We had some  homework to do  before the workshop. She asked us to draw multiples of the same thing..  Being the procrastinator that I am, I of course waited until Tuesday night to do it.  I really haven't changed from elementary school.
  Here's are my pictures:
Can you guess they are hangers? Not too tough a question, but it was fun  - try it. 

Sunday 26 October 2014

I see you

Today's exercise is to draw your eyes but not straight on.  Try doing a 3/4 view, this way you are forced to see the differences between the both eyes and not draw what you think you know.
Here are hints
  1. Do it front lit not back lit.  If your head is back lit everything is in shadow
  2. Wash off your mascara that you have rubbed so that you can actually see your eyes 
Now excuse me  I have to go wash my face

Friday 24 October 2014

Is it real or is it....

The point of this exercise is to highlight the difference between what we think we know and reality.  It is pretty easy to do.

  1. Draw what you think a pepper looks like using your imagination
  2. Draw a real pepper 
I just happened to have a red pepper rotting away in my fridge.  I really have to stop wasting food. An apple or a pear would be just as suitable..  I think anything would work that wasn't too complicated and you could visualize it in your head.
When I first drew this I thought it looked okay but really doesn't it look like a weird apple? Hmm. 

Then I drew it really looking - do they  look like peppers to you?

Monday 20 October 2014

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

I think I may be dating myself by this joke - how do you get to Carnegie Hall - practice, practice practice.

Bert, I am taking the liberty of calling him by his first name, suggested drawing things with an unusual shape or not in  the position you are used to.  This is to get you out of the habit of  drawing what you think you know and instead drawing by actually looking at it.  He suggested a book of matches which really dates him because I can't remember the last time I had one.  I don't think restaurants give them out anymore, which probably ruined a lot of mystery stories but I digress.

Can you figure out what this is?
Or does is this version a little clearer?

It's a ladle.  Don't worry I'm not insulted I think you can guess from these pictures I am not working until I get it perfect or pretending to be great - this is a blog for me to learn and I hope you will too.
What do you think this is

Does this one help?

I'll just tell you - it is a tape dispenser.  This is a great exercise just draw things in an unusual position so you really have to look - try it you have nothing to lose.

Thursday 16 October 2014

The Devil finds work for idle hands

Working on hands now.
Exercise :
Draw your hand from an unusual view point -  straight on. His instructions were to hold your hand 12 inches in front of you - looking more at the hand than at the paper.  Pretend you don't know you are looking at a hand but at something new. It is okay to redraw lines because that makes the drawing more interesting. Don't worry if it doesn't look like a hand - it is hard to get it right away.
After I did his exercise I did a whole bunch of other unusual positions

The next one was tough.  From my view point, I could only see the tip of my pinky but I still kept drawing it.  I knew a pinky is longer so I was drawing what I knew not what I saw.

Thursday 9 October 2014

Enough shoes

Enough with the shoes - what woman ever says that - but I have had enough.  Today is my last one. Notice the holes on the side I must be the last person in the world that still has some continuous form paper from, well let's just a really, really long time ago.  I have enjoyed doing these more once I stopped worrying about the time.  I think that doing drawings like these are a great way to warm up.  On to hands tomorrow.

Monday 6 October 2014

Well back to the drawing board

I had to take a little time off from blogging and painting, because we helped my daughter move.  I am getting too old to drag boxes up and down stairs, but I suppose it keeps us young. It was kind of nice that she didn't have internet and we actually had to talk to each other.  
We had a long drive from Toronto, where she lives to Montreal where I do.  The thing about long drives is there is plenty of time to sketch.  I am not fast enough to do trees as we pass them but I do little drawings of my husband's hands, the car, my shoes etc.

Exercise 1 A
The first exercise in the book is to make a drawing of your crossed feet using a pencil or pen.  He said allow 1/2 hour, at least.  Well I never got  beyond 10 minutes and I don't even think I got that far.  I kept thinking of varicose veins or blood clots and I got tired of crossing my legs, so I went and started drawing keys.

The drawing were 5, 8 and 10 minutes.  I find it pathetic that I was observing so closely and left out one key.   It is also pathetic that my attention span is so short.  Eight minutes feels like an eternity and I think I spend more time looking at the timer than my drawing.  I don't want to move on yet and I am going to repeat the exercise tomorrow.

Wednesday 24 September 2014

So let us begin.  The first step is to actually find the book. I bought it many years ago, and put it away. It was buried under a couple of dog training books, cookbooks and 2 mystery books.  It is in pristine condition and that is pitiful.

Books, like baseball cards should be stained and crumpled.  The top of pages should be bent and marked for future rereading. I think I'll accidentally spill some coffee on it to get that worn in look as if I had used it. That would make me feel better.

I like this book.  I have a pet peeve of books that promise and don't deliver.  One day I will make a review of books that do that but today is not that day. I even like the cover it is clean and the drawing  shows what you are going to learn or would learn if I actually read it.  Let's skip over the intro which talks about learning to see and trust in your eyes.  He also tells of a story of an artist and a dead duck which I find gross.

Chapter One
Before he got into drawing, he talked about the difference between "Critical Dialogue" and "Practical Dialogue".  An example of the  the first is - this painting sucks or I can't draw trees.  Practical speech is the angle is wrong.  I think we should all take time to watch what we say to ourselves whether we are drawing, painting or any kind of creation.
He emphasizes your drawing will improve if you look more at your subject than at the paper (easier said than done). Here's a quote "look at the subject take note of a contour or shape hold that contour or shape in your mind for a moment and draw it while it's still fresh.  Look hold draw.  Don't think.  Isn't that the same speech in the movie Bull Durham?  The shortstop says to the pitcher "You just got lesson number one: don't think".
Project 1 Cross your feet and draw accurately.  Look at your feet more than your pad.  Use pencil pen or anything.  Don't erase.  Allow 1/2 hour.  Here's mine.

http://artbythebooks.blogspot.ca s.charto

I'm calling for an intervention.  He suggested taking 1/2 hour for the sketch. I made 5 in 10 minutes.  I just couldn't slow down and observe.  Obviously I need this book.  Tomorrows exercise try to spend at least 10 minutes on a drawing and really observe. Have fun.

Monday 22 September 2014

in the beginning

I have, as I am sure just about every artist I know has, a billion, well at least a million art books.  I have decided to stop buying new books and actually go through the ones I own.  The first one I am going to read and work through is "Keys to Drawing" by Bert Dodson. I chose this one because I love to draw and while I have pretty good drawing skills, I think everyone can improve.  I believe the better I can draw, the easier it is to paint and the more fun I will have.

So find your copy of "Keys to Drawing",  pick up your pencil, pen or whatever and join me in a book journey.  I am going to post results of the exercises quite frequently.   Lets begin with chapter 1 - a very good place to start. The first exercise is a drawing of your feet crossed.  I will post my drawing Wednesday.
Remember have fun.