Archive for January, 2013

Drawing from Photographs

January 27, 2013

As I am just getting back into painting, and drawing, I have to work on it all the time.  The book I’m relearning from is “The Fundamentals of Drawing” by Barrington Barber.  I’m a firm believer in learning the basics, and building up from there.  I’m going with a book; and learning on Youtube, because I don’t have the money for classes.

In most classes, they place an object in front of the class, and tell you to draw it; at least that’s what I’ve been told.  In the book, she shows drawings of objects to draw, so you can learn shapes, and shading, but they are objects that don’t do much for my desire to draw.  What I like about the book is she gives you the basics of drawing, and uses the shapes as examples, but she says to find things you care about to practice with.  Two days ago, I found some sea shells, and had a ball doing it, and the other thing I use is photographs I took myself.  Some artists like to use a pencil in the field to make quick sketches in the field, to work on later, but being a photographer, the camera is my way of getting a quick sketch.

Someone had asked me if that was cheating, and if you’re wondering the same thing, my simple answer is “no”.  Just because I use a photograph, I’m still doing the work of drawing it by hand.  I’m not tracing it, or converting it to a drawing on Photoshop.  I am just choosing a subject that has some meaning for me, and making it easier for me to recall at home.

Here are two pictures from today’s practice.  The first image is the photograph I went from, and the second image is what I drew from the photograph.

Picture of my cat

Picture of my cat

pencil pet portrait


When you draw something that you’re interested in, it becomes fun, which is what drawing is supposed to be.

Accidental Awakening.

January 23, 2013

Before I tell you the main story, with my point, let me start with a background story.

When I was twelve, I was told I have a talent with paints, and having a mom who is a painter, I decided to ask her to teach me.  She happily agreed, and set me up, as well as my 10 year old brother (he wanted to learn too).  My mom started teaching us, and we worked hard for an hour.  One thing to keep in mind here, I was a horrible perfectionist, when I was twelve; I am still working on that today.  My mom’s came out fantastic; my brother’s was really good for a ten year old.  Mine looked like a three year old had got into oil paints, and ran all over the canvas.  Right then, I declared myself a talentless hack, and I haven’t picked up a paint brush since then.

That incident took place in 1979.  A couple of weeks ago, I went into an art store, looking for something cheap to make a point in a photography video I’m working on.  Finally deciding on a cheap watercolor set, I brought it home, and thought it would be fun to goof off, and make a fun painting.  I found a photograph I took of a particularly colorful sunset, and started trying to paint it.  After some mistakes, and corrections, it didn’t come out too bad.  I’m not saying it’s going to win any awards, but for a person with no training, and who was just “goofing off”, it wasn’t half bad.

This moment that I like to call an accidental awakening;  a chance moment that awakens a dormant part of your mind; has had me running out to buy art supplies, and books on learning the fundamentals of drawing, and painting.  My mother was ecstatic that I was going to give it another chance.  My goal for this year is to paint a beautiful landscape, like I wanted to when I was twelve.

here is the picture I painted that started my new goal.


There is a saying, “If you don’t use it, you will lose it.”  I don’t believe that anymore.  I believe that if you don’t use your talent, it will become dormant until something happens, by chance, that may awaken your passions for the talent you thought you lost.

Don’t Blame the Camera!

January 9, 2013

This morning, on Facebook, I read a post that got me thinking.  When you meet an author you admire, you don’t say, “I love your writing, you must have a great word processor.”  When you meet a painter, you don’t ask, “Beautiful painting, what paint brushes do you use?”  Here’s a great example, in a nice restaurant, where you really enjoy the cuisine, you don’t pay compliments to the stove.

With most artists, people are awed by the artist’s creativity, and know how; so why are photographers always complimented on the camera they use.  I can’t count the amount of times someone has looked at my photographs, and said “You must have a great camera.”  They just don’t realize the amount of work that goes into the art of photography, or the creativity it takes to overcome obstacles in order to get that one “perfect” moment.

Before I get carried away (and on this subject I can) let me just say; it doesn’t matter what camera you use, or how much equipment you have.  All that matters is that you learn how to handle your equipment, and that you know what you want to say with your pictures.

With that said, here is a special picture I took on my last street photography session in Portland.  I call this one “The Birdman of Portland”

birrdman 3

If you notice, this man is not homeless; he is just retired, and his greatest pleasure is coming out daily to give the birds a loaf of bread.  He told me that he was fined 50 dollars for this activity, but it was worth it.  I even had one of the birds land on my camera case which gave us both a laugh.

I hope you enjoy the picture.