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.

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.

Sunrise @ Galveston Bay © 2011 Jeff Thomann

Sunrise @ Galveston Bay © 2011 Jeff Thomann

Sunrise @ Galveston Bay © 2011 Jeff Thomann
Media: Pastel, Watercolor Pencil, & Color Pencil on Gessoed Hardboard
Original Size: 5″ x 7″

 

Genesis – The Golden

Genesis the Golden
Genesis – The Golden
Copyright 2010 by Jeff Thomann
Media: Color Pencil on Gessoed Hardboard
Original Status: Not for Sale at this time
Original Size: 5″x7″

scanning paintings.

I have not tried this yet on paintings that are larger than the width of my scanner, but I might give it a try.

http://www.susansavad.com/t_scan.html

It’d have to be cheaper than trying to get a professional camera studio together, trying to buy gigantic flatbed scanners, or taking paintings off of the stretchers to have some place like Kinkos scan them in their big roll scanners (cost of doing that is like 7 bucks just for getting a digital scan – no printing cost – tha’d be extra, and then I think only flimsy paper stuff works.. and I doubt they’d put charcoal type stuff in their scanner, but I could be wrong?)

On the other hand…
Some of the arguments against flatbed scanning mentioned over at http://photo.net/photography-lighting-equipment-techniques-forum/00Tl26 are pretty good ones…

Color Pallette… Color Blindness… When is a something done?

I have mentioned color pallette in a few postings already, but don’t think I’ve gone in to a lot of detail about my personal preferences in my own color uses, why I have those preferences, etc. so I figured it might be time to post a little bit about that here, even though most of the stuff that I’m uploading to the artfolio is not color yet – It’s mainly black and white or blue and white sketchbook scans for now, but I’ll get around to uploading the color works later, and at that time, it’ll be good to know a little about my use of color.

For those of you that don’t know this yet, I am partially color blind. Greens and Reds that are medium toned or darker tend to look alike to me, which appears to be the same color as a grey color (just black and white) tone of the same value. Luckily, I’m not fully color blind, or else this little issue would have a much more major impact on my artwork than it does now. Bright reds, and greens are very visible to me. It’s only the darker tones that are usually seen in shadows that make things a bit difficult for me.

Because of this, I have a tendency to drive myself towards pointillism type of styles, or similar types of styles that use visual color mixing instead of real color mixing, at least in this part of the color spectrum. That way, I can move in very close to the canvas, and look at what is going on with the color blobs up close and personal to try to resolve issues and create a plan of attack to figure out what move to make next in this chess game of creating art.

Eye strain headaches does come to me after a while of doing this sort of stuff, especially since I’m near sighted… because I’m constantly looking at different areas of the painting, or color drawings at a distance, and then up close, and then at a distance, and maybe upside down to check composition, etc. I did not even realize I needed glasses for my near-sightedness until after I graduated from college, but I really should have probably gotten glasses a very long time before that. My dad loves transitions lenses and got me hooked on using them since they keep me from having to constantly buy sunglasses only to lose them. However, the transition lenses do cause me problems when making art and viewing art sometimes since they put a dark tone on everything I see through them. Because of that, I have to take off my glasses to view things in museums, galleries, or as I paint sometimes so that I’m not making major color/tonal mistakes. That causes even more eye strain on occassion. I do like the transition lenses since my eyes are pretty sensitive to light, and they make staring at a computer all day at my 40 hour a week job more tolerable. However, I hate that they cause me to not be able to see a lot of true colors at a distance… All through school, I remember squinting a lot in painting classes and drawing classes. I just assumed that this was normal at the time since I had never thought to check with a vision specialist. I knew that I was color blind, and just sort of assumed that the squinting and headaches were a normal part of the process of creating art. I sometimes wonder how things would have been different if I had glasses way back in elementatry school….
Strangely, all of this does not have a huge impact on viewers of my work because a lot of artists use green to muddy down red and vice versa to get shadow colors and tones as they are on opposite ends of the color spectrum.

My favorite colors are somewhat bright and intense. As mentioned in another post, I love the color pallette that folks like Remington use, where there’s lots of vividness to the work and it sort of brings a positive cheery mood in to play.

I like mixing colors on the canvas itself visually more than a lot of other painters do. I do mix colors when I can but like using paint staight out of the bottle when possible so that it’s easier to come back to an area and re-work it or balance it out with similar colors on opposite ends of the canvas if I need to… Stuff that comes out of a bottle is usually mixed fairly closely to other stuff that comes out of a bottle that has the same label and is made by the same company. That makes it easier to not have a lot of worries about painting an area and then needing more of that same paint mix later, but not being able to find it because you cannot figure out the exact proportions of which paint you mixed to arrive at that color, especially when, like me, you are color blind so physicially mixing the paint is a very difficult chore. That label on the bottles of paint helps ease my mind in making decisions since I know that the green in that bottle is the same green that I got out of that bottle an hour ago. Pointillism type effects can be used to help mix and match just about any color that exists, at least at a certain distance.

My favorite oil paint colors are usually Cadmium Red (for bright bold red intensity), Crimson Red (for darker red tones and colors), Currealean Blue (for highlights that are in blue – lots of artists are afraid to use blue in highlights, which is a huge loss to their works), Cobalt Blue (for mid-intensity blues), Prussian Blue (for really deep dark blues), and occassionally a very bright yellow, and maybe something strange like violet, which can be very bright and noticible if applied thickly or almost unnoticible if applied thinly with the rest of the colors mentioned above, either scumbled on or put in to small dabs in small pointillism type fields of color on the canvas. I also use just about any other color out there that I can on occassion in small bits, but the colors listed above are the main ones that I usually end up utilizing the most. Most of my works usually end up heading toward red/blue side of the color spectrum because of that. There’s just something about Purple/Violet combinations or near-purple violet that is reached by visual color mixing that I really love – it’s a deep passionate, and dramatic color scheme.

I have a bad tendency to sometimes fall in to the elementary color trap that many artists fall in to on occasions, thinking of blue as dark/cool, red as bright/midrange, and orange for brighter areas than that, and yellows for highlights, instead of really looking at the way things are in reality and trying to match it as closely as possible – where all areas of the color spectrum exist in both bright and dark areas. I do try to balance out that fallacy, which is not always a true representation of reality when I can, but it’s usually a lengthy process since I try to put more and more color range in to both shadows and highlights as I proceed throughout a color pencil drawing or painting — many times I fail horribly and overwork the artwork. It’s hard to know when a work of art is “done.” There are defintitely “levels of doneness” as I like to think of them to any work of art…

Simple abstract forms with simple lines is the first level. The second level takes that and adds more tones or patterned areas to break up the light and dark more. The third level balances things out more and more, making the really complex patterns more worked out with brush stroke placement becoming one of the most important aspects of the work – a small line that’s the wrong color in the wrong place can unbalance everything and cause compositional balance to completely dissappear. Then, on the next level, things really start getting complex… as Professor Bohac used to say, that’s when it’s time for an artist to “fight their way out of a paper bag…” because a simple little thing that’s as wide as a centimeter or smaller can unbalance the entire work…. and as paintings start coming to a level of “reality” that is almost near photo-quality things get even more complex, and the “living elements” of the work start dissappearing more and more… The more realistic a painting gets to be, in terms of photo-realism, the less gestural qualities the work has… Artists, especially those that work with narrative, portrait, or landscape subjects can find themselves in hard to get out of places with their works as they get in to internal conflict about “how realistic” to make the work… since each level of realism requires more work on the entire canvas…

A simple line drawing done in 30 seconds or less can be thought of as a final work of beautiful art just as a photo-realistic painting that took thousands of hours to create can… Any and Everything in between these two extremes is where most artist live. It’s a very dangerous rocky terrain with a lot of smooth valleys full of beautiful smelling flowers. It takes a true artist to know how to balance it all out and make sure that the level of realism is right for the work in question, and each individual area of each work’s composition in question. There’s a different answer for each artists and each individual work.

As I post more artworks in to this blog, I’ll try to explain my own individual tendencies, techniques, and ways of doing things to get my works to where I want them. It is often said that an artist is his/her own most critical judge. I agree with that somewhat. However, that judgement is what makes us who we are, and makes us strive to do better in the future, or to strive to make horrible and hideously disgusting works that cause fear in the hearts of mankind…. It’s all about figuring things out and making them work… knowing the messages you are trying to communicate and trying to find ways to make those messages clear. For me compositional balance is a very important thing. For others, maybe not so much. I’ll try to post more artwork here in the blog later this week.

Interesting Reading – A few Technical “Bibles”

I just wanted to throw these out here because they are amazing books that I use a lot and recommend a lot of other people to use too!

The Photoshop Bibleis THE book that you will want to get if you want to learn how to use Photoshop. I am sad to say that I’m still running Photoshop 5 LE, so I have not picked up a newer version Photoshop Bible that is for newer versions of Photoshop myself, but have read a few pages out of the newer versions in a bookstore now and then. It still appears to be the best source to go to for all things Photoshop. It covers just about every main function in the application and gives you a simple plain English explanation of why everything is there and what you should be using each function for and which Icons you should push on or quick keys to hit to get what you are trying to accomplish done quickly and competently.

The JavaScript Bible is THE book to have on Javascript. You CAN learn some of the basics from visiting websites such as Web Monkey, but when you really want to start digging deeper and understanding how to do things on a more complex level, this is the to go to book that you will be wanting to get. Just about every aspect of Javascript is covered and there’s coding example after coding example that will get you up and running quickly and give you a working understanding of how all the spokes in the wheel run together to get your website advanced to a new level of interactivity.

Beginning Game Programming with Flash is another great book to have for web design. Surely you have played a few flash games on occassion. They are all over the internet. This book teaches you from the ground up how to start building those sorts of games yourself. If you thought Javascript was fun, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The graphics and programming power behind Flash can let you create just about any sort of game that you want online if you have enough time to program and test your stuff out. There are definite limitations to what Flash can do, but many of those limits dissappear with every new version of flash that comes out, especially as more and more people are getting off of dialup and heading to dsl or other high speed internet carriers.

The Artist’s Handbook, or The Artist’s Handbook of Materials and Techniques: Fifth Edition, Revised and Updated (Reference)
is just about one of the best “Bibles” on traditional art methods.

Both of the books cover many of the same topics. Mayer’s is considered a little “better” by some since I think it is actually the older of the two.

They cover just about every technique that there is in the traditional arts, and gives some really neat in-depth information that you just won’t find many other places, especially in a single book. It’s actually pretty hard to believe how much information there is packed in this book…It tells you some of the little known facts about how to make pigments, what formulas to use to make your own gesso, explains in-depth information about various surfaces and how you should treat them and more importantly, why. It just has a lot of little key bits of information that are invaluable to anyone that really wants to create artwork.

Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists’ Writings (California Studies in the History of Art) is another great art related book. While this book is not really a Technical Bible per se, it is a bit like the more traditional Bible in that it goes directly to the source to get first hand accounts of what is going on in the minds of various artist in the contemporary art world. The book is filled with tons of interviews done with artists, diary entries created by artist, and a variety of publications created by artists and those that have an in depth understanding of artists. It gets to the heart of why contemporary art really exists, and has more in-depth, behind the information than you are likely to find ANYWHERE else all in one place.

Exhibits Tag and Category

The Exhibits Tag and Category of this blog is reserved for artwork that I have enterered in to various exhibits. I will try to mention in each individual posting, or in the first comment of each posting which exhibits each item was in. I will also try to create a tag, and possibly as category for each individual exhibit. However, the main exhibits tag and category will be applied to all works that were in any exhibit.

Similarly, I’ll try to tag each item with a tag denoting the original year that the item was created. By default I’m tagging all artwork that I know that I created in College with the college and 1999 tags since I graduated in December, 1999, and I might not be able to pinpoint the exact year between 1994-1999 that the college artwork was created. (Yes, it took me 5 and years to graduate from college, but that’s mainly because I took a few extra classes in order to get a theater minor).

Artwork created in Highschool will be tagged with the tags 1994 and highschool because I graduated from highschool in 1994.