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Because I should put up or shut up, or something Sep. 15th, 2011 @ 01:25 pm
So, I keep talking about my ~art~ - time to post some pictures.

I am old-school enough that I feel bad if I don't post images under a cut. )
And finally, one that brings the debut of a new tag, and also, the possibility of my totally embarrassing myself.

Since I've decided to learn to oil paint, and oil paintings require giving layers time to dry, and since, for a change, I thought this might be a nice idea *before* the painting was well under way, I'm going to try to remember to take progress photos of my first significant attempt at an oil painting as I go.
Image again. )

And that's that for oil paints today, I think.

Human noses begin to offend me Sep. 3rd, 2011 @ 12:29 pm
So, in trying to learn to draw people, one of the hardest things, I found, was noses. Noses are tricky. But I thought I'd more-or-less got the hang of it, too.

And then I discovered that I had developed a new preconception of What Noses Look Like, and amended the shape to the individual nose. And when I encountered a nose that was different from the noses I'd drawn before, I botched it terribly.

Trying to draw a sketch of Marsha Thomason, who plays Diana in White Collar, I ended up with this weird hook-thing appearance because I kept trying to correct an initial mistake from misjudging the difference in shape.

It had gone like this, in my head:

"Okay, so, she's got a wide nose, and the tip doesn't dip that far down... hmm, that's not right, it's actually wider than I thought.... No, wait, actually the problem is that she doesn't have a visible nostril shadow in this photo, and I drew one, and now it looks all weird in the shape, so I need to try and hide that, but I'm doing a quick rough sketch with no rubber to hand, so I can'd just rub it out, and OH GOD SHE'S TURNED INTO THE WICKED WITCH OF THE WEST."

It's such a subtle difference, and yet, the effect can be profound.

Marsha Thomason's nose draws a fairly flat line across nostrils and septum, and that threw me ridiculously lots.
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Surprises... Sep. 2nd, 2011 @ 08:20 pm
Still sick.

Watched an episode of White Collar tonight, and did a quick (less than five minutes) sketch of Tiffani Thiessen (Elizabeth) while I watched. It came out recognisable! I am pleased.

My next planned subject is Marsha Thomason (Diana). Googling her for a reference pic, just then, I discovered that she's actually from Manchester.

That would explain why the episode where Diana had to "fake" an English accent (Manchester dialect), her accent was flawless. Having assumed Marsha Thomason was American, I'd wondered if they'd had Thomason do her best English accent and then picked the region by what matched what she achieved. But no, they just took the path of having a Mancunian actress who normally fakes an American accent.

I wonder if she and Hugh Laurie share an agent or something.

Now for drawing. It's easier to practice faces, at this point, with actors and actresses than people I know - if I'm drawing someone who's a part of the fabric of my emotional landscape, then too much of them and me is in the drawing for what I'm trying to achieve.

Synchronising the creative impulse Aug. 31st, 2011 @ 08:44 pm
So I'm still sick - I'm over the cold but I have a nasty case of bronchitis ongoing now.

In my fevered state I've been working on a drawing when I have the strength. It's an ouroboros circling an image of the Earth, centred over Antarctica - the whole embossed on a shield.

I now have ideas percolating for a story based on the image.

Chas thinks this is cheating - getting inspired by my own art.
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My First Fanart, Sort Of: Steve and Kitten!Tony Aug. 18th, 2011 @ 09:02 pm
So my good buddy [livejournal.com profile] velithya wrote a story a while back that featured Tony Stark getting turned into a tiny kitten.

It was totally plausible (well, Marvel-plausible), but the summary of the story was "WTF KITTEN" for a reason.

Anyway, to continue my exploration of pencil-drawing, and pencil-drawing of humans, which I've been doing for the past few weeks now, I did a drawing of Steve and kitten!Tony.

And Dean has been encouraging me to post it. So here it is:
Scan below. )
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What I've learned about drawing people so far... Aug. 17th, 2011 @ 03:41 pm
Drawing humans, especially human faces, is hard. Crazy hard. It's all too easy to lurk in the uncanny valley, where it's close enough that you can see what it's supposed to be, and far enough away that it's still wrong.

I've recently had a sharp upsurge in the quality of my drawings. Here's how:

A serious problem with teaching yourself to draw is that you can look at something you've drawn, know it's wrong, and yet struggle to work out where it's wrong. In the absence of an expert teacher, I've found a home solution.

Tracing paper - not for tracing the whole drawing, but just for being able to correct your lines.

Draw from a reference photo, for practice this way. Print the photo - a crappy black-and-white printout using my very cheap, not-meant-for-images-at-all laser printer has been more than adequate for my needs - and use tracing paper (or baking paper, or something like that, if you don't have any and don't want to get any) to go over it, marking all the lines and shapes out on that.

Then draw. When you've done some of your drawing, and you're at the frustrating point of "it looks wrong... somehow" you can lay the tracing paper over the drawing, and compare your lines to where they ought to be. Then edit, and correct, and learn, with something to tell you where your errors are.

In which, clearly, I need a White Collar icon Aug. 16th, 2011 @ 09:49 pm
So, Dean ([livejournal.com profile] velithya) and I have been catching up on White Collar for the last few weeks.

There is so much that is awesome about White Collar, but tonight we watched episode 2x13, "Countermeasures", and in this episode, a scene happens which is exactly the fic I had vaguely planned to write.

White Collar DOES MY FIC FOR ME AND PUTS IT ON TV WITH THE REAL ACTORS AND EVERYTHING.

White Collar is amazing.

Speaking of Dean, I drew a picture and gave it to her and she posted it on her LJ (with permission). ♥

So, yeah, there's a sketch I drew over there. Because she likes my drawings. :3

Pencils, Children (not related) Aug. 9th, 2011 @ 09:42 am
My new pencils finally arrived! Staedtler Mars Lumographs - a tin set of 12 (one in each grade from 8B to 2H) plus a 4H and a 6H. Because :EU: the entire back of the tin is taken up with the label of:
Soft pencils of premium quality for professional sketches and drawings. The finely graded degrees from (8B to 2H) generate diverse effects with varying contrasts and effective shading.
Mars Lumograph pencils are especially break-resistant, easy to sharpen and erase. Mars Lumograph pencils are available in 16 degrees, ranging from particularly soft (8B) to very hard (6H), obtainable as a set or individually.


In really quite small font, you understand - it's just printed in German, English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Japanese.

Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon I babysat for a one-year-old boy. And I found myself doing something I'd never had to do before, in all my time spent supervising small children, and which I felt weirdly conflicted about.

I babysit J. regularly, and he and I get on very well. He seems very fond of me, and I adore him utterly. It has reached the point of familiarity where in a range of circumstances I am utterly unmoved by him crying, but I'm not conflicted about that.

To explain why, I shall give you an example set of events:
Babies and crying and why sometimes loving guardians don't care. )

Anyway, yesterday, he was supposed to have a nap. He doesn't like afternoon naps, a lot of the time (and may be transitioned shortly to just "afternoon quiet time", supplied with a toy, but he really needs to rest and chill a bit or he becomes a somewhat unhappy baby for the rest of the day anyway). Yesterday afternoon, he spent the entire period he was supposed to be napping grizzling, except when he decided to escalate grizzling to crying to a full-blown tantrum. He worked himself up into such a state that he cried so hard he choked, and then was hyperventilating.

Obviously, that's not something I ignore; I ran to his cot, scooped him up, and soothed him until he was calm. But I did it sitting next to the cot, in his father's computer chair (for complicated, but *extremely valid*, reasons, J. is currently sleeping in his portacot, set up in what was, until recently, his parents' study, rather than his bedroom). It was actually time for him to be allowed to get up, and not be in the hated-only-in-the-afternoon cot.

... And then I put him back in, and left him there for another fifteen or twenty minutes. (During which he was relatively quiet. I think he may even have slept, although briefly.)

I knew he didn't want to be there, and in theory, he didn't have to be, any more. But I couldn't let him out, then - he'd just thrown a baby tantrum, and I couldn't let him think that that was what got him what he wanted. The only thing giving in to a tantrum does is generate more tantrums, because the kid then knows that it works. As a friend to his parents, I can't teach him that lesson - and hell, as his regular babysitter, I don't want him to throw tantrums at me when he wants something I've refused him.

But I felt really bad about it. This is what children do. They make you feel guilty for looking after their long-term interests when it conflicts with their immediate wants. Children are evil.

I have a video I took yesterday on my phone that kind of hilariously demonstrates this: it starts with J. halfway across the room. He looks towards me, his face lights up, and he charges towards me, crawling at speed, clambers up my legs, and, giggling, appears to attack. It's adorable, but if you imagine that a child is some kind of deadly monster, it could be terrifying.

(J.'s personal evil was clearly demonstrated the first time I ever babysat him, when he was a few weeks old. His mother dropped him off at our place so she could go to an appointment. In theory, he was supposed to sleep the whole time. In practice, he woke up literally seconds after she left. I spent about an hour and a half trying to get him back to sleep; he went back to sleep five minutes before she came back to collect him. He was totally trying to pretend he'd been an angel baby, sleeping soundly the whole time; I was having none of that, and told his mother *exactly* how much he hadn't slept. (Because mothers of newborns need to know that kind of information.))
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I want a replicator now Aug. 2nd, 2011 @ 09:05 am
Something I hadn't realised, until I started sketching and drawing constantly, is that standard pencils don't actually have quite consistent density in their graphite leads. The softer spots that are momentarily darker and smearier, the harder spots that catch on the paper and are momentarily harder and sharper - they're not really noticable if you're using the pen for writing, or even if you're sketching in lines.

If you're using it for shading, though... it's noticable.

Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencils (at the steep, steep price of AU$1.94 inc. GST each, bought separately) don't seem to suffer from this problem, but I only have one, a B, and the extras I ordered in a range of grades haven't arrived yet. So for all my other grades I'm stuck with a mix of Columbia Copperplates and Staedtler Traditions, which just aren't as good. (Previously, I have selected pencils on the basis of: "It's a pencil, other than softness rating, what's the difference?")

Also, Lumographs are awesome because they have the grade stamped on *every side* around the base end of the pencil, so you don't have to pick them up, find the side where it's actually written, and peer at the tiny letters to work out which one it is.

Meanwhile I need another icon for art-related posts where I remember to change the icon. This one depicts a random doodle on a page of Linguistics notes, all done in ballpoint pen. (Even if the keyword I'm using is "creativity!".)

But then, I need to clean up my existing icons and make a bunch more at some point anyway. Seriously, this is a seed account, I get all the shiny DW features, and I basically never use them...

Take your protein pills and put your helmet on... Aug. 1st, 2011 @ 10:54 am
The phrase, "You get what you pay for," is not always accurate, in a range of ways. This includes the fact that frequently, "more expensive" isn't necessarily "better". (Audio equipment is a spectacular example of this.)

However, I've been finding that art supplies are one area where it often *is* the case, to a sometimes startling degree. Hence when I started getting into painting, I spent about $15 on a couple of packs of synthetic brushes of assorted sizes and shapes. Now I have a couple of dozen brushes made of natural fibres, in a still greater range of shapes and sizes, with handles more than a foot long.

Because it actually can make a difference. Sometimes I want a stiff brush, sometimes I want the softest brush I can find. Fine brushes made of synthetic fibres can be a false economy - they're cheaper to buy, but the tips become splayed and useless in no time, where natural-fibre brushes last forever.

Paint gets complicated - for example, I use Windsor & Newton acrylics, which one of the ladies at my art supply shop hates.

W&N have come up with a binding agent for the paint that's clear, which means that the paint, when wet, is the same colour as it is when it dries. This is awesome and one of the things I love about them. However, in our climate, it tends to dry very quickly. A layer of paint can be dry inside ten or fifteen minutes.

She hates this; I love it. So you have different things about different brands, and then you have different *grades* within a brand, and... yeah, I don't know. That's one for people to find what works for them, I think.

But I've just in the last few days discovered that this can even apply to pencils.

I've been doing a lot of sketching and drawing lately, and the other day I wanted a B grade pencil. I bought a Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencil. I hadn't had one of those before. And they're amazingly better.

They also cost twice as much as other pencils - this just doesn't seem to be that significant to me, I think because this still leaves them costing not very much and a pencil lasts ages. I ordered a set of different grades online, because now I want more of them.

As far as sketching goes, the bigger expense is sketchbooks. Naturally, paper type and quality makes a difference there too, but for rough sketching it's not very important at all.
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