Thursday, 8 January 2015

BASIC BLACK: 41/4 X 6 (Part Four)

It should be noted that Basic Black: 41/4 X 6 was but one of my sketchbooks. I’ve employed numerous sketchbooks of all sizes over the years to help me to record ideas for future drawings, prints, and paintings. Much of what I recorded never materialized as finished works. Some sketches led to further sketches before reaching my work area to be transformed into prints and paintings. Sketching is a wonderful way to explore ideas, as well as various  papers and mediums without, as I pointed out in a previous posting, fearing critique. It’s a wonderful way to explore your creativity and to learn to draw.

From time to time I run into someone who is quick to tell me that they can't draw. Sadly, once you erect the "can't" barrier you probably never will learn to draw. The fact of the matter is that no one is born with the ability to draw, it's  a learned discipline. Some may learn more quickly than other, but none the less drawing is something that you must learn, and it all begins with a single mark on a piece of paper and quiet observation. Not unlike any discipline learning to draw does not come easy and the sooner you make marks on a piece of paper, the sooner you will learn how to draw.

We're coming to the end of Basic Black. The sketches that it contained were done over a period of years, and if you look carefully you will observe progress in my drawing/sketching ability. Needless to say, I'm still learning.

This sketch was something from memory. There was a blank page at the end of the sketchbook, and I couldn't let it go to waste. Lumsden Lake is in Killarney Provincial Park. Wishful thinking on my part. We used to do a lot of hiking and canoeing up in Killarney Provincial Park. Unfortunately, time has a way of catching up with one's health, and I'm no longer able to hike long distances and climb to the top of high hills. So, there's a message here do what you can while your young. Fill up those sketchbooks with memories. Good for the soul during a long cold winter.

Since I've bored everyone to bits with my sketches I'm, once again, going to take a break from posting to craft another book. As to its title, I thrashed about with Shades of Grey, A Quiet Solitude, Whispering Wings and Other Things, then thought what about Time Spent, and then I thought what about............. So, I'm working on putting together a large book of sketches from here, there, and everywhere, together with some writing, some poetry, and so on. Heaven only knows when it will be finished, so check back from time to time and I'll let you know the outcome of my efforts.

Best wishes everyone.....and keep sketching.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

BASIC BLACK: 41/4 X 6 (Part Three)

So, where did we last leave off..........

31. As my notes indicate this watercolour sketch was made from the top of the ski hills at Horseshoe Valley Resort looking down into a forest preserve known as the Copeland Forest. I spent many a lunch time break sitting at the top of the hills learning how to interpret the mass of green of the forest.

32. The best times to sketch in Algonquin Provincial Park is early spring, and early autumn. In between these times it's either too buggy, or really cold. Unfortunately the weather sometimes doesn't cooperate and often you're forced to make your sketches from inside your vehicle. This particular time up we encountered rain and fog. But, all was not lost as the fog and mist yielded some interesting results.

33. The small sketchbook is ideal when cross-country skiing remote trails, and you don't wish to pack a lot of weight. Here I am at the top of a hill doing a small sketch. Some of the hills would be well skied and icy, so the last thing that you want is a backpack with some weight to it that might shift while heading full tilt down a hill with a curve at the bottom.

34. I remember this day. Not the best of days, cold and cloudy with the threat of snow causing us to ski full tilt to avoid being caught in a snow storm. Still, I couldn't help but stop for a few minutes to do this pencil and watercolour sketch of the frozen over spruce pond just off the trail.

35. In March of 1999 I challenged myself to completely explore Algonquin, and to put together a sufficient quantity of sketches and paintings to produce a book. This pen and ink of Smoke Lake covered in snow and ice was the beginning of many sketches and paintings to be made over a period of three years.

36. Outside my studio window was a large Maple tree. Close by were several bird feeders. Woodpeckers, as well as both Red-breasted, and White-breasted Nuthatches would land on the Maple tree and hang upside down for minutes at a time. Both species became the subjects of several paintings and etchings.

37. I had this idea for a painting, and occasionally while shovelling snow I'd dig up some leaves 
which I'd bring into the studio and make studies, attempting to work out in my mind what the final painting should look like....................

38. In late March, early April, of 1999, despite a late spring and ice still on the lakes in Algonquin I began to make a collection of sketches of Algonquin Provincial Park.

39. Smoke Creek  Watercolour Sketch  April 1999

40.  Canoe Lake,     Watercolour Sketch   April 1999

41. Smoke Lake    Watercolour Sketch   April 1999

42. I love to paint Birch trees simply because it's impossible to paint a bad birch tree. 

43. I definitely remember painting this little watercolour sketch. It was a warm summer day. We were on the last leg of the Track and Tower Hiking Trail where, just off of the trail, there's a very small lake. I took a few steps off of the trail and began to sketch and paint, when all of a sudden there was a crashing in the brush behind me. All that I could think of was that it was a bear, and as it got louder I stood up to run when suddenly a man burst out of the bushes. Apparently he had become lost and had been wandering aimlessly for a time. He was glad to have found us, and his way back to the trail. I was glad that he wasn't a bear.

44. Winters can be long in this country so in April, despite the fact that there was still ice on the lakes I went back up to Algonquin to continue my sketching.

45.  Beaver Pond Trail, Algonquin   Pen and Ink Sketch    April 2000

Almost finished scanning Basic Black: 41/4 X 6.............

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

BASIC BLACK: 41/4 X 6 (Part Two)

The wonderful thing about a small, hardcover, 41/4 X 6 inch, sketchbook is that it fits easily into a jacket pocket, and can be taken anywhere. Add a couple of pencils, a small set of watercolours consisting of the primary colours, a small bottle of water, and you're set to travel just about anywhere in all kinds of weather. A small sketchbook also attracts little attention should you be a bit shy of sketching in front of others.

Sketching is a wonderful way to learn how to draw. Though important to the artist they are not thought of as finished works of art. Treated as such it allows the student to explore various mediums without fear of the finished sketch being critiqued. After all a sketch is but a sketch, an idea with possibility.

14. As I've mentioned in various postings I used to haunt various marshes during the spring to observe and sketch waterfowl. Although I no longer remember this particular instance, no doubt a lone Canada Goose flying close by must have struck me as worthy of noting as a possible subject for an etching, or painting. In fact I painted and made prints of numerous Canada Geese over the years. First to arrive, often times before the ice is off the marsh, they are for me harbingers of spring.

15. We discovered Algonquin Provincial Park sometime in the 1970s, but it wasn't until 1996, or thereabouts that I began to make sketches in the park. Up to that time I painted and made prints almost exclusively of wildlife. It was when I committed to doing a book about the park that I turned my attention to drawing and painting landscape. This pen and ink sketch was made on the Centennial Ridges Hiking Trail.

Whitefish Lake #1   Pen & Ink Sketch  1996

16. As the sketch notes it is of Whitefish Lake in Algonquin Provincial Park. There is a group camping area at the Pog Lake Campground where we would go to picnic and I would make a sketch, or two. It was usually quite quiet so I could sit at a picnic table and sketch without being bothered. On this particular day I made four sketches.

17. Whitefish Lake #2   Pencil Sketch  1996

18. Whitefish Lake #3    Pencil Sketch   1996

19. Whitefish Lake #4   Watercolour Sketch  1996

20. This pencil sketch was made at the top of Ragged Falls of the Oxtongue River.

21. From a different location, on the same day that I made the previous sketch, I made a pencil and watercolour sketch of the Oxtongue River.

22. Our home at Horseshoe Valley was beside the cross-country ski trails. Needing a bit of a break as well as exercise I'd spend a hour, or so, each day skiing various trails. Occasionally, I'd stop to make a sketch of something that looked interesting.

23. Another quick sketch made while skiing. 

24. Yet another quick sketch of the ski trails at Horseshoe Resort.

25. My sister and brother-in-law have cottage on a small island out on Georgian Bay. One day we went for a boat ride. I took along my sketchbook and as we were motoring along I made a couple of quick sketches. No mean feat sketching in a tossing and turning speed boat.

26. Georgian Bay #2  Pencil sketch  1997

27. Georgian Bay #3  Pencil Sketch  1997 

28. Lunch time I'd go for a quick hike up the ski hills. From the top of the ski hills you could look down on what is known as the Copeland Forest. I would sometimes stop and make a watercolour sketch.

29. Another Day At The Top Of The Hill - Copeland Forest
Watercolour Sketch 1998

30. New Mexico  Coloured Pencil Sketch 1998

One day we got in the car and drove to the American Southwest the beginning of a love affair with the Enchanted Land.

There are still sketches to be scanned in my Basic Black: 41/4 X 6 sketchbook, so if you're not to tired of listening to my rambling, and looking at old sketches come back in a day, or two, for the final word.