Untitled portrait (16 x 20") in stages

I've rarely thought to take images of my paintings throughout the process (or at certain stages of the process), but in the days of Instagram and #wip (work in progress) images it has occurred to me that — social media aside — it could be a useful learning tool as well as a reminder to take a step back from time to time to assess. Having an iPhone (or smartphone) helps.

Figures in the Cityscape

I recently finished an online "interactive" workshop with artist Robert Joyner titled Figures in the Cityscape. Each week we were given an assignment followed by feedback, and on the fourth week we created a final painting. The first week focused on the figure, and Robert encouraged us to get out in our own neighborhoods and take pictures (and, if possible, sketch from life), then complete several charcoal sketches until we found some figures that appealed to us. Eventually, we would place those figures within a scene for our final pieces.

Most days I try to get out on a walk and generally walk up either Hawthorne Blvd. or Division Ave. here in Southeast Portland. Portland is known for its food truck pods, and I took several pictures of the ones I would walk past. These provided many interesting subjects for me to draw, as people waited in line to order, sat in the seating area talking, eating or checking their phones, or simple waited for the bus to come after getting a coffee.

Figure painting

Nearly two years ago I began attending some of the figure drawing sessions here in Portland with some regularity. I had attended figure drawing sessions in the past (in Eugene, Seattle, and NYC), but really only a handful of times and not with any consistency. But two Septembers ago I decided to put more focus on art and one of the first things I did was to attend these figure drawing sessions (at least a couple times a month, initially). There were many ups and downs over the first year, but I learned an incredible amount. Sometimes I felt like I was slipping backwards, and then suddenly I'd take a huge leap forwards. By the end of that first year, I was able to look back and see the progress I had made — which is an incredible feeling.

Last year I decided to put more focus on painting. I still tried to attend figure drawing now and then when I could, though many of the sessions that I was familiar with had slowed down or gone away. After attending the sessions in Springfield a few weeks ago, I've decided to try to add it back into my regular routine — even if that means attending just once a month.

For painting, I get inspiration from many things — sometimes using photo reference, sometimes my imagination, and often a combination of the two. I also sometimes go through my sketchbooks and turn some of the sketches into paintings — often using these as sources for warm-up exercises and experimentation.

The following is a painting I did a few weeks ago from an early pencil sketch of model, Jiling at Dead End Drawing Club. This was meant not as a finished painting, but as a chance to loosen up and experiment. It's painted on a 19.5 x 27.5" sheet of watercolor paper using acrylic paints. Even though it was meant as an exercise, I was happy with the results.

More landscapes

I did a few more landscapes recently — this time drawing inspiration (and photo reference) from a trip we took to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico a few years ago.

Our house

I've been trying to do more landscape paintings these days, since it's something I haven't done much of. I'm not sure if I'll ever make it a main focus in my art, but I have found that there is an enormous amount to learn from it and, honestly, I've gotten quite a bit of enjoyment from the little I've done. Most of what I've done has been fairly loose and sketchy — partly because that's what I'm drawn to and find appealing, and partly because I consider these more sketches and exercises than finished artwork.

Here's one of our street here in Portland (our house is the little green one).

Model Dogs

Over the 4th of July weekend, we visited my in-laws in Tacoma, Washington. They have three relatively large dogs. Much of the time we relaxed in their backyard, eating, drinking and playing cornhole. I had a sketchbook with me and enjoyed sketching the dogs and took some photos of them for later reference.

The other day, while doing some charcoal sketching, I remembered the dogs and what a joy it had been to sketch them so I pulled up some of the images.

The models are Fiona, Bindi and Daisy.

Figure Drawing 2015 Part 1

Looking back through sketch books from last year and thought I'd scan some in. These first ones are from January 2015 at Dead End Drawing Club in Portland. The model is Trina.

Trina, 2015, graphite sketch

Trina, 2015, graphite sketch

Trina, 2015, graphite sketch

Trina, 2015, graphite sketch

Trina, 2015, graphite sketch

Trina, 2015, graphite sketch

Figure Drawing at Emerald Arts Center

I was pleasantly surprised to find the open figure drawing sessions at Emerald Arts Center in Springfield, Oregon — held every Wednesday evening from 6:30 to 9PM — to be every bit as good as what I'm used to here in Portland.

Phoebe @ Emerald Arts Center, Springfield, Oregon, July 27, 2016

Phoebe @ Emerald Arts Center, Springfield, Oregon, July 27, 2016

Melissa @ Emerald Arts Center, Springfield, Oregon, August 3, 2016

Melissa @ Emerald Arts Center, Springfield, Oregon, August 3, 2016