Jeff is reclaiming his unique digital identity with a sense of clarity.

color pencil

I may start blogging here more again.

It’s been a while since I did too many blog entries here. We are now in to the third trimester. Things are so exiting. Baby is kicking a lot every day now.

Work’s been a bit crazy since January when the replists were re-split so I had to work a different part of the alphabet than before January, but I’m almost getting it back under control in the new alpha at the level it was right before the split in January.

It’s looking like with the baby coming we’ll probably be moving back in with Mom and Dad for a while til we get on our feet financially and in a few other ways (being new parents is hard work). Financially it’s a bit of a struggle when we were trying to figure out the budget the other day since Tekla plans on being a stay at home mom for the most part, at least during the week. Gameplan is to have her work during weekends and me work during the week, so maybe, possibly, we might be able to avoid having to get a sitter or daycare… Moving in with Mom and Dad will help with that a bit, but I’m not sure how much yet since they have their own crazy work schedules, etc.

As far as the pregnancy goes we have been doing Lamaze classes the last few weeks and have learned a lot. A nice couple of apps to have to help with ‘focal point’ techniques are N7player for playing mp3 music and Quickpic for creating slideshows with photos. Also there’s the Stay Awake app that works to keep the screen on for an extended period of time so that slideshows are a possibility that won’t turn off after a few minutes… and it’s little brother, Screen off and Lock app to shut off the screen and wifi when you are ready to shut off that nice little slideshow for a while.

Since we are ‘downsizing’ by moving in with them a lot of things will be going in to a storage unit for a while. I probably won’t have much time to do a lot of art, but will still do some things from time to time. Besides photography, color pencil will probably be the media of choice for a while since there’s not a lot of mess involved with it or toxic fumes, etc. Just have to keep the pencils in baby-proof containers…

I’m starting to exercise more regularly when not hauling stuff to the storage unit. I’m going to try to start getting up at 5:00 am every morning again to do a morning routine. Finding time to do evening routines is not easy, but I might try to work those in from time to time too.

I’ve allowed myself to become caffeine addicted a bit. I was starting to get up to 4-5 cups of coffee a day at work. It’s hard to avoid there since it’s available freely in our department and they keep a pot going all day long. This last week I limited myself to a maximum of 4 cups a day. Next week I plan to limit myself to max of 3 cups a day… the next week after that go to a max of 2 cups a day… then the week after that 1 cup a day, and hopefully after that eliminate it all together, or if that’s too extreme, maybe go to max of one every other day or something til I can get to the point that I don’t need it any more.

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A few 5″ x 7″ doodles

These are a few 5″ x 7″ doodles on hard board. These works, among others, were presented to my brother in Texas as a Christmas present this year (we met them halfway in Oklahama City yesterday and drove all the way back last night getting home around 1:30 am – fyi – If you are looking for 435 in Kansas City, DO NOT TAKE 135 after the toll booth – take 35 instead! Also, there’s a nice little connector off of 435 that will let you hook over to just south of the Independence Mall that we found for the second time on accident last night – nicely done happy accident since that saved us some time – hard to miss that connector since it veers off to the right so it’s really an exit but seems to not be). Any work that is ‘from the imagination’ instead of depicting something like an illustration or drawing from life, I consider a “doodle.”

The color ones are mainly color pencil or color pencil sticks. The white one is china marker. There’s also a little China marker in some highlights on some of the color ones since I like to use china marker and prismacolor color pencils as top layers to add extra ‘punch’ to Crayola and Roseart (cheap color pencil) underlayers that get worked and reworked over and over. The white of the china marker can’t be beat nor can the pigment in the Prismacolor for the final touch.

Many artists use Prismacolor only and never use other brands. I think that’s just wasteful spending since Prismacolor color pencils average about a dollar a piece and on some really layered works I can rework an area enough to burn several pencils on one drawing sometimes. For underlayers expensive pigments in Prismacolor is not needed if you are going to work, re-work and then re-work again a few hundred times as I like. It is a nice touch for top layers, but for underlayers, it can get very expensive very fast for something that I’ll just essentially erase away and smudge to death so that the pigment itself isn’t visible anyways as it gets coated by layer upon layer of wax with more new layers on top.

In the upcoming year I plan to create many more 5″ x 7″ works. I love this size since it’s exactly twice the size of traditional “art cards”, exactly the same size needed for postcards or framed reproductions, and is just right for travel or hanging in a home vs larger works that work better in galleries that have tons of wall space.

I’m also starting to experiment a little bit with mixing color pencils and oil pastels with encaustic painting (wax painting that basically mixes oil color with a mixture of bees wax, paraffin wax and some manmade waxes to add more durability as bees wax and paraffin are both extremely brittle under certain conditions). I’m not sure I can do much with it since the encaustic doesn’t take the color pencils too well, but if the color pencils are the lower layers it might lead to some interesting potential as the encaustic can be layered three dimensionally much more than flat color pencils can by themselves.

I probably don’t have enough room for it now where we are currently located, nor will I for the next few years, but I’ve always wanted to experiment with mixing plaster sculpture and encaustic painting techniques someday. That’ll be many years down the road though. This upcoming year I really want to focus on the 5x7s and really ‘learn’ all the techniques and tricks I can about working on these small panels.


How many hours a day should I draw?

Came across an interesting thread over at conceptart.org today…

http://www.conceptart.org/forums/archive/index.php/t-35391.html

One poster in there indicates that he draws 4-8 hours a day. Currently since I’ve been focused on working out/loosing weight, I have cut back my own personal time to do art… but I want to get back in to it.

I also might possibly try writing during lunch/afternoon/morning breaks at work to make more time for ‘morning pages’ but maybe not… because I rarely have a bunch of free time at work even on breaks…between going up stairs, to bathroom, to cafeteria, then back down stairs, etc. there’s rarely more than 5-10 minutes of ‘free time’ during breaks… I could possibly get up earlier, but am not sure if that will work or not since plan of going to be bed at 10 only gives 7 hours max when getting up at 5…. been going to bed much later than 10 lately… one night during the weekend I was up til 2 AM I think… luckily next day I could sleep in since it was weekend… sleeping in on weekends is something I need to do away with eventually.

Goal for second month of the 1000 day challenge (which starts in two days on Wednesday) will be to do a second work out a day in addition to the one a day I’ve been trying to get in this first month. I originally was going to make doing the NO S diet the third month’s goal and possibly doing one page of ‘morning pages’ in the evening a goal for the month after that but may make drawing/painting the goal for the third month. I might try to do it some little bit during second month to get used to it more…. working it in might be tough but should not be too hard since I have all of my color pencils next to the couch now all organized by colors… light reds/earth tones, dark reds/earth tones, light blues, dark blues, light greens, dark greens, neutral/black/white/silver/gold, and yellows… I also have some room set up in the art/storage room on a few tables to do paintings/drawings… now just need to make the time.

Honestly, the first few weeks of the working out twice a day will probably be tough on me due to sore muscles/etc… so it’s probably a good thing it’s not the second month’s goal to draw/paint right at the first…

Now for the third month I need to think about how long to draw/paint… and how much time to set aside for each. Paintings typically take me a very long time to do since I’ll rework an area over and over and over and add new layers later, etc. then there is drying time, which for acrylic is not as long as with oil painting but it still is time…

In theory evening workout time should be from about 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm by the time I get shower etc. done. That leaves from 6:30 – 10:00 to try to work in some art, assuming Tekla and I are not spending quality time together, etc. 20 minutes of drawing, either in one session or like four 5 minute speed drawings mith work… maybe alternate between those two, and/or ten 2 minute drawings to fill the same space maybe… then after that 20 minutes go on to longer work.. either with acrylic or color pencil for an hour or three… and then 10 minutes or so cleanup time to get brushes clean, etc. might work. Not sure if I’ll be able to do that every night, but want to make it a goal to get to that level, give or take a little… and then work in art on weekends too. Saturdays being the ‘rest days’ on workouts should be best day for art in theory… but on Sundays being laundry day might be better as a ‘rest day’ instead of Saturdays since gym shorts can’t be dried so have to be hung dry, and are not always dry all the way through before I want to workout if I work out on Sundays… I alternate between shorts and then wash them at the week’s end so that way I don’t have to have a 6 or so pairs. I used to only use one pair but working out twice a day, that’s not acceptable since they are typically still sweat soaked by the time the next workout rolls around. I might need to buy more gym shorts with the next incentive money, if more comes in in the future… and also might get at least one more kettle bell set so that I can do two arm kettle bell workouts eventually, or so there will be one set for me and one for Tekla if we start working out at the same times regularly.

Right now, I’m thinking maybe 2 hour minimum of drawing after month 3 starts might be a good low aim, and any more than that is just nice little extra. that way I’m not kicking myself with negativity snowballs from hell if I don’t get in a full 3 hours a night…

Eventually I’ll need to get the scanner going again… laptop needs to be used for that since main computer doesn’t have a driver for it… laptop is on it’s last legs I think, but it is still useful for that and a few other oddball tasks that I don’t have drivers for on the latest version of windows… Just wish Linux, which is what I use on laptop, had a driver for US-RR 360 sound recorder… becuase i really don’t want to have to reinstall windows xp or drag out an old computer from storage that has it to be able to use the sound recorders again…


Lightbox is risky..

Well that lightbox does technically work but seems way too much of fire hazard for me to use a lot.  I figured out a way to rig up my studio easel with the plexi off of that and a spring clamp to draw on the back of a photo to get the interesting things going on I’m trying to do… I back lit it with lights from the studio and also just looking at light in the dining room on the ceiling while I lay on the floor with easel hovering above me. Finally went to the studio since some of the color pencil marks were falling off… that blasted gravity…  I really am interested in this sort of thing since it lets me combine photography, illustration, drawing, and painting all in one interesting and bizzare process that gets very neat results, or I am hoping will get neat results. 😉


Galveston Harbor

Galveston Harbor, © Jeff Thomann, 2011
Galveston Harbor, © Jeff Thomann, 2011

Media: Watercolor Pencil, Color Pencil & China Marker

I still don’t think this image image is ‘done’ but it’s getting close to where I want it to be. I’ve reworked it many times. I’ve been technically working on it about 2 or 3 months, but most of that time I was just looking at it. Since I started The Artists Way again this week I’ve been working on it an hour or two every morning and night, every day.

I have no idea how many real working hours have been put in to it, but there’s been a lot. I’ll put multiple layers in, erase them out, scatch out highlights with a burnisher, add more color, erase out some with an electric eraser, add more color areas, rework, etc. The gesso in the foreground has probably lost most of it’s tooth, as has most of the ‘water’ area to the left, but I keep adding new marks to it all the time, so I may have another few hundred hours of work to put in to it before all is said and done?… I’ll probably move on to some other artwork for now so I don’t really overwork it beyond a point that I can’t fix it any further. The scan was taken without any fixative added. I hate how shiny color pencil glare causes an image to really get a lot darker looking in the scan then it is in reality. The image is based on a couple of photos that I’m putting together in to one image in the drawing. I’m trying to be careful to leave some of the white of the underlying gesso. Most of the cloud area is almost pure white from the gesso with very little color pencil. I probably need to rework the middle ground and the ship in the background a lot more, but maybe not since some atmospheric perspective isn’t necessarily a bad thing here.


8/2/2011 Rose Study © August, 2011 Jeff Thomann
8/2/2011 Rose Study #1 © August, 2011 Jeff Thomann

8/2/2011 Rose Study #2 © August, 2011 Jeff Thomann
8/2/2011 Rose Study #2 © August, 2011 Jeff Thomann


woodless color pencils.

Bought some woodless color pencils today. I was going to get derwent but opted for crayola since I’m new to these, and they were a bit cheaper. I know crayola likely has more wax instead of pigment, which is why they are cheaper, but in this case, that may be a good thing since it might mean that they don’t fall apart too easily. 😉

I also bought some wax paper to stack color pencil drawings that are not framed yet on. I don’t have many drawings yet, but plan on doing a lot more in the near future, and am fairly sure I won’t be framing all of them.

I’m probably going to use shoutcast on the roku for background music when drawing so that there’s not a lot of distractions. I love the roku. Best investment in a long time – and very nice alternative to expensive monthly cable bills. I learned about the colorless crayola from a podcast on color pencil drawings I watched a few days back. I love the roku for that sort of thing too, especially since the soundcard on the computer I usually use has been non-functional for over a year now.