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.
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.
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. 😉
Just made a light box today. Had several 11″x7″ hard board sheets that I was originally going to use to draw on or paint on. Still have many of those for that but 5 less now because they are now my new light box… amazing what duct tape, hard board, and an old light off of a broken drawing desk, and a sheet of old plexi glass from many years ago can do when used together. 😉
Ended up taking the sharp edge of one of my many chisels since I used it as a plexi-glass cutter. It worked well though and I have plenty of other chisels. Hopefully the 60w lamp won’t melt the plexi. As long as I don’t make my sessions using it super long I don’t think that’ll be a problem. If it is, plexi is easy to replace. I probably should be using glass instead of plexi but since I’m planning on using a lot of pointillism techniques that will require a lot of banging a pencil against it I figure plexi is better since it’ll hold up where glass would just break. Thinking about using crayon/color pencils on this and then using that as carbon paper sort of to transfer the image on to the boards as base layer/underpainting for the encaustic panels, burnishing the back of the paper as it lays on the encaustic, etc. I tried testing a little today with a transfer bit on my wood burner but that didn’t work at all since the heat was too hot and caused the wax to actually melt in to the paper, so got to do this cool on cool, no heat applied. In theory it should work, somewhat. Still not sure if the encaustic and color pencil waxes will merge/melt together well but in theory they should I think. I think wax pencils have a parraffin type wax in them. If it doesn’t work well I may have to use crayons/wax pencils instead of the color pencils. Not sure I like that idea though since I want pigment in this and most crayons have way more wax than pigment. Color pencils are more leaning the other way a bit.
I made the light box since I think it’ll be easier process of photo to paint surface transfer that will work better than the crazy poke holes in pictures technique and pounce afterwards that I was planning on using. Still may use that sometimes, but it’s a really non-drawing type of thing so I’m not sure it suits my style/technique so well.
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 #1 © August, 2011 Jeff Thomann
8/2/2011 Rose Study #2 © August, 2011 Jeff Thomann
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.