Welcome to my Art Blog! I paint or draw most weekdays and sometimes finish a painting a day. I fondly call them my "Postcards from Paradise" because it's such a beautiful place the Lord made here for us.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Using Compressed Charcoal

(left) "Arc"
Charcoal and chalk on 
rust colored Canson paper, 11"x7.5"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

Although I usually sketch with willow or vine charcoal and occasionally use charcoal pencils for detail, I'm trying out some sticks of compressed charcoal.

I have used it in the past but it has been awhile. One can get nice darks with the stuff, but it is different than using the natural charcoal.

Natural charcoal (such as willow charcoal) is carbonized wood, having been burned over heat with incomplete combustion. Compressed charcoal sticks are charcoal powder mixed with binder. The amount of binder determines the hardness of the stick.

For my use, willow charcoal is an easy medium for sketching the model, especially in quick poses. I can make fast changes with only a swipe of my hand or the end of my shirt (one more advantage to wearing black.)

However, the compressed charcoal is useful, especially when building dark areas. Using it feels much less careless, so it's good to not be rushed. It works well for those longer studies. The charcoal pencils (another compressed charcoal product) are nice for detail, too, especially on smaller work.

These drawings were both drawn with compressed charcoal sticks and charcoal pencils. White highlights were added with the white sticks and pencils.

 (left) "Looking Up"
Charcoal and chalk on 
grey colored Canson paper, 11"x7.5"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Charcoal Figure Sketches

(left) "Backside"
Charcoal and chalk on grey paper, 18"x12"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

I did these life drawings in May at our (somewhat) local figure drawing Open Studio. We hire a model on a weekly basis and each group member chips in for the cost.

We had not been meeting for awhile, due to not enough people signing up for the group.

If you are an artist, you know that it doesn't take long to get out of practice. I felt pretty rusty. I had a lot of wipe outs but here are a few decent ones.

I ran across this quote from artist William. F. Reese not long ago and it sums up the difficulty of staying in shape for painting and drawing, "Don't forget you have to work every day to get better, every other day just to keep from getting worse." 

(left) "Attentive"
Charcoal/chalk on Canson paper, 16"x12"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin 

(left) "Watchful"
Charcoal/chalk on charcoal paper, 12"x18"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin 

This wiry fellow was a very good model even though he had never posed before. His extremely low percentage of body fat made it a cinch to see bone structure and muscles. I hope he is able to pose for us again when we resume group meetings.

Charcoal/chalk on grey paper, 18"x12"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Moses Botkin Challenge for July: Eggs

Pencil drawing on paper
approx. 7.5"x9"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

An alternate title for this could be "Three Birds with One Stone". (Please contact me if you would like to own this original drawing.)

Our subject for this month's Challenge is brought to you from group member Vicki.

You might recall that one of our Challenge goals is to paint or draw something we have not done before. Although I've painted an egg or two in the past, I figured there were plenty of aspects about the subject that I could do.

And then I remembered a concept I had thought about awhile ago but never got around to trying. I had picked up an egg-shaped rock somewhere and considered that it would be fun to pose it with eggs.

So this month's Challenge was the perfect excuse to do that, and I figured my pencil drawing skills could use the practice too.The rock has been buried under some stuff on my desk for maybe a couple of years, just waiting.

I hope you enjoy these fun interpretations of our subject.

Vicki has been tackling various mixed drinks for the past few Challenges, as subjects. Her clever juxtaposition of objects makes for a whimsical visual treat.

(left) "Dusk Flip" 12" x 16" pastel
©2013 Vicki N. Ross  
Suzanne's painting is typical of her work: wonderful! I always enjoy her take on whatever subject she chooses to paint. And her technique forever fascinates me. I loved her comment when she sent the painting image to Vicki and me, "Here are my eggs, not cooked but done."

(last image) "Seeing Double"
48x36" oil on heavyweight canvas
©2013 Suzanne Berry

Sunday, July 14, 2013

More Thoughts on Pencil Drawing

(left) "Bright Light"
Original pencil drawing on paper
approx. 11.5"x8.5"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin
Fairly tight realism is the m.o. for many pencil drawings: pretty much the opposite of how I've been wanting to paint with looser brushwork and thicker paint! So... I've really switched gears to do these drawings.

Although it's been awhile, I'm well-acquainted with doing detailed drawings, especially with pen and ink.

Using pencil feels similar, especially when working in layers and cross-hatching. It's quite familiar to me and comforting in a way (except for the neck and hand strain from working with small tight strokes for many hours bent over a drawing!).

(second image) "Stretch Up"
Original pencil drawing on paper
approx. 11.5"x7.5"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

Pencil as a drawing medium can be quite tedious and time-consuming, especially if detail and subtle shading are desired. Developing images can really eat up the hours.

Although it can be used for fast sketches, it is better suited for more finished, careful drawings. Not everyone is cut out for the tight technique, or wants to use it. For artists who like quick results, using this medium can seem like an endless process.

It's certainly not what I typically like to use for quick studies. However, if an artist doesn't mind working slowly and putting in the time, it's perfect for doing detailed drawings and for tight realism in black and white.

(third image) "Elongate"
Original pencil drawing on paper
approx. 11.5"x7"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

One has to also not mind being careful because there are several factors which can ruin drawings such as skin oils or unexpected results with shading, blending or smudging. Or dropping a pencil on a drawing, leaving a mark in a place where it's not wanted.

(last image) "Confident Outlook"
Original pencil drawing on paper
approx. 11.5"x8"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

Using pencil as a drawing tool is about as simple as it gets for making art: some paper, a few pencils, a kneaded eraser and possibly a paper stump and you're set. No need to worry about color, or wet paint.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Few More Pencil Drawings


Original pencil drawing on paper
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

I've pretty much settled on the pencil techniques and methods I want to use for my big drawing I'm creating for a client. I like developing the detail in the figure using various hardness grades of pencils and prefer a vellum finish paper. I need to make a smooth gradated grey for the background. I think the background is going to be quite time consuming as it has to be built up. 

I promise I'll tell you more about it when the project is all done! For now, I hope you'll enjoy these additional practice pieces.

 (second image)
"Graceful Back"
Original pencil drawing on paper, 11.5"x8.5" 
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

Using pencil as a drawing tool is about as simple as it gets for making art: some paper, a few pencils, a kneaded eraser and possibly a paper stump and you're good to go. No need to worry about mixing color, or dealing with wet paint if you're out and about.

Please stayed tuned for more thoughts on the challenges of working in pencil. And speaking of challenges, it's almost time for another subject for my Challenge Group to post. Look for it Monday on the 15th!

(last image, at left)
Original pencil drawing on paper, 11"x8.5"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

Friday, July 12, 2013

Drawing, Smudging and Erasing

(left) "Thoughts"
Original pencil drawing on paper, 11.5"x8.5"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin


Although I most often use charcoal (usually willow charcoal) for life drawings, I sometimes use graphite.

I've had a request by a client for a pencil drawing, so I thought I should to do some practice pieces before tackling the larger commission project. I wanted to try various papers and get comfortable with the assortment of pencils and smudgers I considered using.  

Technique with pencil can be rough or smooth, depending on paper used, and what tools are used for blending and smudging. White paper can be masked off or the artist can use an eraser to take off graphite, with varying results.

These two drawings show the difference between using the pencils alone for value vs. doing some smearing and smudging for shading.

(left) "Before the Dive"
Original pencil drawing on paper, 11"x8"
©2013 Diana Moses Botkin

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My New Green Article at Blick Website

I promised in my post last month that I'd let you know when an article I was redoing was up and running online. I'm pleased to report that my revised and updated piece "12 Practices for Artists to 'Go Green'" is now live at Blick Art Materials website.

I hope you find some useful information in the article and pass the link along to others who might like to read it!

Being a good steward of all that the Lord has given us includes being wise with our art materials so we don't pollute this beautiful earth we've been given.

This painting at left is a piece I painted in pastel over two decades ago. It remains one of my favorites.

The idea for this image came in response to a cold clear mountain stream I encountered near Crested Butte during a summer vacation while living in hot Oklahoma.

(above) "Sunlight and Snowmelt"
Original pastel 20.5"x16" 
©1989 Diana Moses Botkin

The original traveled to a show at the Sacred Arts Gallery at the Billy Graham Center Museum not long after I painted it. This is the verse which goes with it.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it." ~Isaiah 55:10,11