Yet again a long time between drinks.
A lot has been going on, most of which I won't blog about. Private matters that are not entirely down to me to disclose. Suffice it to say things have been hectic and quite stressful. I have, however, managed to keep drawing and painting throughout. Nothing of huge consequence, more to keep me sane than anything else.
I did get a week off (it was that or go under. I've never got to that point before so that was quite confronting), and went to my brother's farm at Murrumbateman. Took a stack of drawing pads, and also my paints, some canvases and a travel easel. I would have loved to have taken my big wooden easel I made, but it came down to that or clothes for the week, and common sense won out. Barely, but hey...
Some painting did get done, although nothing I am willing to show yet, as they are just underpaintings, and for non-figurative abstracts at that, so not terribly exciting to see at this early stage. There was a lot of drawing, quite a bit of Zentangle in the evenings when we all sat down to watch television - I am one of those people who cannot just sit. If I do you can bet I'm coming down with something. Otherwise, no, I have to be doing something.
It was great to get away on my own, to pootle into Canberra on the odd day to see friends, to hang around the farm, go for walks down to the sheep or out to the cows. Betsy had a calf while I was there. I missed the birth by about an hour. That's what I get for not being vigilant. Nellie, because it's an N year for naming. Unbelievably fluffy, even for a Belted Galloway calf, which are normal fluffy when they're young. A-Spot is due soon, but no movement on that front yet.
By the time I got back I was on a bit more of an even keel, and better able to be the support the family needs. Funnily enough (or not so funnily), as things have improved here, I have found it harder to cope. Not with everything that needs to be done, but with everything else. My presence online has become fleeting, because feeling like you have a huge weight on your chest because of some horrible piece of world news, or because someone has sent you an email or a message that needs a reply, it sort of takes any joy out of the whole exercise. I'm also not keen on socialising as I am finding that very difficult. I was never the most social of animals as it was. Parties are my idea of personal hell, social lunches are stressful, etc., (I love seeing friends, but I worry all the time about what to say and then beat myself up afterwards about what I did say. So... fun. Not) and right now it's much worse. So I've been keeping myself to myself socially, while making sure all the medical appointments are met and school meetings are done and everything else that is required.
I know I've missed birthdays and news and other people's lives, and I'm sorry. I'm especially sorry about missing a friend's 40th. I had a drawing planned and it's only half happened because yet another crisis hit while I was working on it. It will get done. It will just be very, very late.
So what the hell am I doing on the blog today? This will make you laugh, albeit wryly. After things going well for a while and me consequently freaking out, yesterday we spiralled back down into one of the deeper levels of hell. So here I am today, writing on a blog. I know, it's crazy. Yet, it is what it is.
Where's the art in this? Are you asking that? Is anyone even out there?
My eldest is in the final year of high school and has a number of major works for subjects, including art. She wants to do a series of portraits in graphite on paper, but wants to do something a bit special. I am introducing her to the wonderful world of coloured paper and graphite with white chalk. Add a bit of drama, do something most other high school students won't even have an inkling of. Old technique, but technique doesn't seem to be something taught anymore. What do I mean anymore? It wasn't taught when I was at high school, too, too long ago. Luckily I learnt later, and I'm getting my child onto it a darn sight earlier than I did.
I grabbed about half an hour on the weekend to sit in my work room (while everyone else was asleep) and do a quick pencil sketch in a grey sketchbook. The colour is a little warmer than I'd like. There are flecks of red fibres through the paper that just kick the temperature in the wrong direction, but as this was for demonstration purposes I wasn't too bothered (it is not one of my favourite books). It was supposed to be Evangeline Lily as Tauriel from The Hobbit, but the jaw and mouth aren't right. Some days a likeness just doesn't happen, but that wasn't the point of the exercise, so again I wasn't too bothered (well, I was a bit, but I put up with it).
|Tonal Study 1, Megan Hitchens, graphite on grey paper, 2017|
The colour isn't quite accurate, but you get the idea.
Once everyone was up and about and breakfasted, the eldest and I sat down together and I took to the drawing with a white chalk pencil while we talked about using the paper for your midtones, how very old and very young subjects should always be on cool colours while those in between are fine on warm and cool, and why that is (it's to do with body temperature. Draw a child on a warm paper and they look older than they should), what to do with darker mids (light application of graphite) and lighter mids (light application of chalk).
After a couple of minutes (the conversation took longer than the chalk did), we ended up with this:
|Tonal Study 2, Megan Hitchens, graphite, white chalk on grey paper, 2017|
The paper colour is pretty much right in this one. Same camera, same room, same desk, just later in the morning. Amazing the difference a few hours can make. And amazing the difference the chalk makes too. That really is the only difference between the two - this one has highlights in white chalk.
The offspring was suitably interested and now has a pile of coloured papers from my stash and one of my chalk pencils. I tend to use actual chalk sticks, but starting out with the pencil is probably a little more familiar.
By the way, the pencil used is a Blackwing. I love my Blackwing so much. I have a stack of pencils from 4H to 6B, but I tend to use the ultra hard ones for fine sharp lines and otherwise just go with the Blackwing. I can get line variations that match everything from an HB to a 6B with the one pencil, and it is heavenly to draw with. So all that tonal variation you can see in the graphite is the one pencil.
And finally, because I can never leave well enough alone, and because I love trois crayons (although technically this isn't because it's graphite rather than black chalk), I went back into my work room for a couple of minutes and whipped out the sanguine.
|Tonal study 3, Megan Hitchens, graphite, white chalk, sanguine chalk on grey paper, 2017|
The hair really benefitted, but the face not so much. I'll try to do her again, because the lack of likeness is bothering me after all. And I'll do it on warmer paper. It will be interesting to compare the effect.