Two days ago I returned from a week in Florida, during which I spent time with good friends and attended an artists' retreat hosted by the Gainesville Chapter 113 of the Colored Pencil Society of America.
I laughed -- sometimes so hard my stomach hurt. I cried. I danced (though not very well, despite the best efforts of those who actually know how to line dance). I visited the Salvador Dali Museum -- fascinating, to say the least. I learned how to make bruschetta. and ate sushi, eel, and seaweed salad for the first time. (I will skip the seaweed salad next time.) I even occasionally adopted a southern accent as a result of spending several days in the presence of the charming drawl of artist Jeffrey Smart Baisden -- so much so that upon my return my son asked, "Why are you talking like that???"
The retreat itself was held at Dayspring, an Episcopal camp and conference center in Ellenton, Florida. Approximately twenty-five artists attended the four day event and though most were residents of Florida, there were several of us from Michigan, California, and Washington state as well. Attendees literally ate, slept, and made art..............and talked, talked, talked. The Gainesville Chapter members themselves are a wonderful group of artists who truly knew how to make this out-of-stater feel welcome. I so appreciated the tremendous hospitality shown to me, and the Ellenton retreat is definitely something I will try to attend in the future.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not thank Jeffrey for the kindness and hospitality she showed me in her home the three days prior to the retreat. Her amazing sense of humour and genuine way-of-being were good medicine for the soul of this "little girl from Michigan". (Thanks Jeff)
While perusing the wares in an area art supply outlet last week, I was excited to find the recently released Derwent tins and packaging that feature Deborah L. Friedman's drawing, "Graphite Stones". The Boston, Massachusetts-area artist is a good friend and fellow CPSA member, and a number of months ago she was contracted by Derwent to do the drawing for their Graphic Soft tins. Recently Deborah has been working on an extended series of still life drawings and paintings of stones in varying compositions. To learn more about her and her work, visit Deborah's website and blog at http://www.dlfriedman.com/ . (And of course as I paid for the Graphic Soft pencils pictured above I smugly said to the cashier while pointing at the drawing, "This artist is a very good friend of mine". I couldn't resist.)
"Graphite Stones", by Deborah L. Friedman
Not nearly so exciting but worthy of comment none the less, is the fact that this week I will be leaving for Florida. Though I do not find Michigan winters to be too objectionable, I must admit that I look forward to temperatures in the upper 60s. My primary purpose for going there is to attend a four-day artists' retreat, during which myself and numerous other artists will draw, draw, draw...........and draw. (I'm also told that this group sometimes engages in less structured types of fun also!) The retreat will be held at Dayspring, a camp and conference center in Ellenton just south of Tampa, and is organized each year by the Gainesville Chapter of the Colored Pencil Society of America. Though reluctant to take a break from the horse drawing at this time, its size makes getting it from Michigan to Florida and back again...........well...........very inconvenient. So I will be working on another graphite bird drawing whos size is more conducive to travel.
I hope to post an entry from Florida, so watch for photos from the retreat -- hopefully not too many of us will be wearing lampshades!
In the most recent photos of this drawing taken yesterday, I have been working my way up the pale horse's face, as well as developing the eye and surrounding area. Following my last post several days ago a good friend emailed me and asked, "Are you going to tonedown those eyelashes?? " (Emphasis is mine.)
The question immediately propelled me into completing the layering in the eye area. Upon doing this, I realized that Scottish artist Elizabeth McCrindle may have a good point. She describes that the correct development and placement of the eye(s) is very important to her, and can effect the successful execution of the remainder of the painting. Therefore she prefers to do this early in a painting's process. There was something about rendering the eye area that resulted in my feeling more engaged in what I was doing: the pale horse suddenly had a soul, and it energized me. Often my work has been somewhat methodical, beginning in one area and working my way across the surface: but I may follow Elizabeth's lead and make a point to draw in these 'windows to the soul' sooner than I may have chosen to before.
................Which causes me to consider -- how much I have learned over the past months by taking the time to read other artist's blogs! Increasingly I find too, as I've stated before, that I learn to draw simply by drawing.
So okay: here is the long-overdue blog post I've been going to share for the past two weeks. Lately it seems as if there has been alot of life-conspiring-to-keep-me-away-from-the-drawing-table going on. Thankfully though things appear to be on the up-tick, and just in the nick of time: this piece and another I'm about to begin are both under deadlines.
Though some areas of the dark horse are not fully developed yet, I needed to move on to the pale horse and take a break from all of that indigo, black grape, and dark cool grey. The lightest tones and details are being laid in over a yellow ochre base, and I'm finding myself struggling with a familiar nemesis..........this being my tendency to attempt to put in every singledetail, rather than to suggest the details. The suggestion of detail can be especially important as the image recedes from the eye, calling for less detail and softer edges. I've already reworked areas of the pale horse in which I placed far too many individual hairs of the horse's coat. This 'artistic character defect' of sorts, has proven to be a stubborn one -- and one I keep having to revisit and work on with each drawing.