Friday, May 29, 2020

And yet more Zymoglyphic finds



"There's treasure everywhere"
Still working on defining Zymoglyphic. Here are the previous posts. On the wall of the Zymoglyphic Museum Jim has this Calvin and Hobbes cartoon.


This is a particularly interesting find. It's crushed aluminum, found on the street. The age, dirt and texture transforms it into something strange.


This piece of wood caught my eye because it looks so animated, like a little person. I'm very curious to see what it becomes in the museum.


Another stick that doesn't really look like a stick.


This is a piece of a tree that must have blown over in a recent storm. There was bark and moss all over the street so Jim made a nice pile of the good stuff and we continued our walk up to Mt. Tabor. When we came back down the slope we could see the tree removal team was already there. Jim can walk much faster than I can, so I said to him "rush over there and get your stuff." Jim went over and told the guy by the truck he just wanted to pick up some moss and bark. The guy said "okay." But as Jim walked away I saw him kind of roll his eyes and shrug. Very funny. I assume he was thinking "only in Portland do we get these odd balls." But Jim did recover all his bits, that's the important part. This one is about 15 inches long and 12 wide. Some of the smaller pieces with lots of moss were placed in the garden. A few years ago Jim found some pieces of a tree that had been cut down, they had ferns and moss growing on them. He brought them home and put them under a shrub. The ferns have rooted and are happily growing there. The moss didn't transplant so well, but moss is hard to move.

Here's a very nice piece of plastic. New plastic is horrible, but when weathered it can be interesting. This one looked like it had potential to be a good stand.

A large weathered piece of bone. Unfortunately I don't remember anything about finding this.


This is my most recent find - and one of my all time favorite finds. It was on the sidewalk. Can you read the photo? It's a leg from an animal statue. Really gorgeous weathering and so much potential. This is a work of art in itself.



Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Blind Contour Drawing Challenge


Blind contour drawing on paper, scanned
and completed in Procreate.

After looking at these art prompts, my friend Eileen and I decided to try a quick drawing exercise. The parameters we choose were to make six by six inch drawings using blind contour or non-dominant hands for 20 minutes a day for five days. The drawing above conveys Eileen's spirit better than a more detailed drawing could.


Blind contour drawing scanned into Procreate
where hatching was added.

We exchanged around seven selfies (I got photos of Eileen, she got mine.) I was concerned I didn't have enough time because I had just signed up for a Sktchy class that would probably take six hours a week.

The original blind contour drawing which was the
foundation of the two drawings above.
I started doing a few non-dominant hand drawings, but I love the unpredictable nature of blind contour, so that's what I focused on. On the first day I was hooked. I stopped watching the Sktchy videos (they are on YouTube, so I can watch later.) I spent my 20 minutes doing four or five blind contour drawings, then another hour amplifying one of the drawings. After a few days I started using Procreate, a drawing app I favor on my iPad. After another day or so I was struggling with keeping to the "blind" part. The photo and the canvas in Procreate are right next to each other so it wasn't hard to see what was going on in my peripheral vision.

Screen shot of Procreate canvas. Layers show the solid black layer
with a drawing layer above. When the black layer is turned off,
the blind contour drawing is revealed.
Then I realized I could create a solid color layer, then make another layer above that and draw with the same solid color. (see screen shot above) That way I couldn't possibly see what I was drawing. When I was done with the blind contour part, I turned off the solid layer to reveal the drawing. The best part of this is that I don't remember what I have drawn, so there are two right eyes and two left earrings. I also raised my pencil at times, which adds a lot more randomness. More layers could be added for things such as background textures as in the drawing below.

The developed screen shot blind contour above.

The background on this one is a scan of a copy machine error that Eileen gave me last year. I tend to over-do these, in a way I don't think they need a lot of detail. But I'm just going with what I enjoy. I love black and white and contrast, so filling in some areas adds to the interest for me. There are more drawings in this Flickr album.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Free mini-book based on A Child's Introduction to the Wonders of Space

Free Mini-book by Judith Hoffman based on
A Child's Introduction to the Wonders of Space
This one is based on A Child's Introduction to the Wonders of Space. I took some of my favorite pages and cropped them to make a one sheet mini book. Download it here. You can find instructions to make this book here.

Free mini-book by Judith Hoffman based on
A Child's Introduction to the Wonders of Space

The original book was inspired by a copy of The Golden Book of Astronomy we found in Jim's brother's room when Alan died. I love the marks Alan made as a little kid. In the image above he has drawn the constellations pictured with a red crayon. To make sure we know which constellations they are, he also drew arrows. And he x'ed out Perseus, who was apparently not interesting to Alan. The whole story can be found at the link above to the larger one-of-a-kind book. You can view more free download books by clicking on the "Free for All"  and the "Zines" label in the sidebar.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Drawing at Home


This is Bill Ramey, his photo is in the Sktchy app. Drawn on the iPad in Procreate, I spent around 2 hours on this. I used the 6B pencil brush. This month I'm doing a class in Sktchy Art School with France Van Stone - Draw at Home with France. She chooses a muse and the class draws together for at least an hour, 3 days a week. The classes are also available on YouTube to watch later. There are a few free classes on Sktchy Art School, but I don't think any are on Procreate. There are some paid classes on Procreate there. I believe all the classes are $30 each.



This is Dylan Sara, also on the Sktchy app. This drawing took 1 hour 45 minutes. The text is a quote from France. "The interesting thing about cross-hatching is where the lines intersect." She is suggesting hatch at a slight angle, not at right angles. The rough sketch was done with a 6b pencil and the drawing was done with a Rusty Nib brush, from True Grit. Procreate comes with a large number of brushes, but you can also purchase all kinds of interesting stuff on the internet. (Right now True Grit is offering a free sample pack when you sign up for a newsletter.)

I have an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil. There are pros and cons to using a digital drawing program. I wouldn't use Procreate exclusively, but I would never give it up either. Right now I am trying to improve my mark making on the iPad.

Video of the drawing process. Procreate records your marks and makes these videos, you have to remember to turn on the setting the first time you use it. Here I started with the photo copied to the Procreate page. In the end I cropped it away. I also have the rough sketch on a separate layer that I turned off in the end.

Pros:
1. I think the erase feature is my favorite thing in Procreate. I can come back and draw into an area that is too dark with the eraser, making tiny white lines. If I use a colored background, the eraser uncovers that color. The eraser can be set to any brush, so if you are using a Rusty Nib to draw with, the erased mark is also gritty, like the Rusty Nib. This looks great.
2. The Apple Pencil works very much like a regular pencil, so it's easy to get used to.
Procreate comes with many brushes. A lot of them imitate real world tools pretty well. I like the 6B pencil, the hard and soft airbrush (great for erasing away backgrounds), the gel pen, and some texture brushes that imitate rusted decay, concrete block, waste land, heavy metal, twisted tree, etc. I don't use the last to make a twisted tree, but they are good for imparting gritty textures or creating a scribbly mess that you might see something interesting in.
3. There are also third party brushes you can order online. I favor the True Grit brushes, but also have some Tip Top,  and a few of Georg's brushes. It is possible to create your own brushes or tweak existing brushes.
4. A drawing can go faster in Procreate, especially if I know what I'm doing.
5. And of course there is less to carry around if you draw on the iPad. And minimal storage issues.
6. With some practice, you can imitate traditional media. Lewis Rossignol has a great youtube video here about how he does that. When I scanned an in-progress drawing and tried adding different things in Procreate, I wasn't able to get the same level of detail with my traditional media. For me it works better for collage, assuming you are careful to not change the scale of your parts. I need more practice.
7. It's easy to draw on your lap, no going upstairs to get an eraser or my favorite pen. Especially nice in the evening when I'm tired. Of course I keep a pile of art supplies and a sketchbook where I sit in the evening, so maybe this Pro doesn't count.
8. There is an undo command. I try to not use this, but do fall back on it sometimes. It is also nice to use the eraser function, which often looks more "real" anyway.
9. You can resize your canvas. Say you don't have enough room for all the hair - you can just make your drawing a bit smaller and move it down.
10. Procreate has many commands similar to Photoshop. The handbook is online - it will give you an idea of the versatility. I like to lower the opacity on my rough sketch layer if it's too dark.
11. You can use Procreate like a piece of paper and a pencil or pen. You don't need to delve into all the extra stuff until you feel a need for it. I is very intuitive.
12. You have the option of layers, which are handy sometimes. You could put a rough sketch on one layer, the final drawing on the one above. Your lowest layer is the background - you can assign any color to this.
13. If you have a "middle aged" iPad, you can probably still use Procreate. The very old ones don't work with the new version of Procreate. You won't have the Apple Pencil with the middle aged iPad, but you can find other styluses that work almost as well.

Cons:
1. Probably the biggest con is the cost. These things aren't cheap. I resisted the iPad until my son and husband bought me one years ago. It took me about a week to get hooked. Procreate itself is $6, which is a huge bargain.
2. The surface of the iPad feels very slick, something that makes it harder to draw on. I have a matt screen protector. It cuts down the glare, but still feels pretty smooth. I am gradually getting used to that.
3. I find it much harder to control lines on the iPad. Hatching is particularly difficult. I can't control the line length or darkness as well as in the real world. If I delved into the settings I should be able to make it a little less sensitive, I just haven't looked into that. And I'm not sure it would help. I think I just need more practice.
4. Because it's possible to zoom in, I can easily get too detailed and work the drawing to death. But then I can do that with real world tools too.
5. A few years ago I would have said a con was the lack of online tutorials. The manual takes you through each tool step by step, and is very thorough. But for me, seeing things being put to use works better for learning. Now there are more online tutorials. Quite a few are free.
6. Many people don't like the idea of digital, it's not "real." There is a certain validity to that, you don't end up with a single drawing that is fixed in size. Worse, there is a lack of tactile feedback. Or a different tactile feedback. I see it as a new tool to try. People resisted acrylic paints for years too. But they are very versatile and have gained acceptance.
7. Watercolors seem to be the hardest things to imitate digitally. I haven't really explored all the watercolor brushes, but I think some people aren't impressed. If that's important to you, you would need to do some research. Or if you have an iPad already, get Procreate and try some out.
8. A con (or pro?) may be the ability to make copies as backups and to continue working on one of the files. It leads me to fiddling too much. When I look at the drawing of Dylan above, I see several things I want to work on. (his beard looks like a furry animal clamped itself to his chin.) It's probably better to move forward.
9. I'm not sure this is a con - many of the sample drawings on the procreate folio page are pretty slick and finished looking. This makes them less appealing to me. There are some painterly paintings. I believe Karen Devine uses Procreate to mix together photos, drawings and collage elements to make dreamy images.

Sorry, I didn't mean for this to get so long. I do love Procreate. Are you using Procreate in any way? I'd love to see what you are doing.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

new book - A child's introduction to the wonders of space


I think I finished this book in January, but it took awhile to get the photography stuff set up and then to figure out how to use my camera. For a photographer's daughter, and someone who loves pinhole photography, I am certainly bad at using cameras. This time I made notes.


(All these images enlarge) Jim and his younger brother Alan were close when they were kids. Jim has memories of making Alan laugh when he started crying. As they got older, they took different life paths, seeing each other mostly for family gatherings and holiday dinners. Alan died suddenly at 51. When we cleaned out his apartment, we were sad to realize we didn’t know him well.


A year after Alan died their mom went into residential care, so Jim and I cleaned out their childhood home. Among many other things, we found a copy of The Golden Book of Astronomy that had drawings and scribbles in it. Jim has his childhood copy, which is worn but not marked up, so this must have been Alan’s copy. Jim supposes that Alan scribbled in his book so their mom got Jim another copy, and the marked up book went to Alan.


I saved a lot of stuff when we cleared up, mostly old books and comic books. Most of the books were added to a pile of old books I keep for collage. They were mostly geology texts and some field guides. When I was making sketch books and didn’t have enough book board on hand, I thought I would use covers from some of my the old books. I don't normally make altered books, so I thought the covers wouldn't be needed.


After cutting down the cover of The Golden Book of Astronomy there was a horizontal piece left over that contained the title. Things lie ignored on my work table until I feel I must pick up. Seeing the scrap sitting there day after day made me think the long shape with the title would make a very appealing cover for a book. From there I made pages to fit the cover. The obvious content was the marks Alan made in the book and his old comics. Preserving these childhood marks makes me feel more connected to Alan. Of course I had to add a lot of collage and my own marks to the pages, but the scribbles are all Jim and Alan's.


In this last page it looks like Jim wrote his name and Alan's for Alan to trace over. Under the flap on the right hand page is just a shortened version of this blog post. It ends with "Good bye Alan - we'll look for you on the dark side of the moon."

Thursday, April 09, 2020

The Anti-Hallmark Cards



Jim and I make cards for each other for events like birthdays and anniversaries. Over the years he has often echoed whatever kind of book art project I am working on at the time. Here are a few recent cards. I love their roughness because they are so sincere. I believe that's a "28."


He is heavily influenced by all ameboid styles of art. Note the staples to hold the pop-up in place.


Jim is also an excellent grammarian.



Umpteenth might not be romantic, but we have been together a long time now. Puns and bad jokes are his mainstay.

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Free Mini Book based on Stolen Shadows


One of my goals for this year is to make some free mini zines available on my website. I had hoped to finish the new site and then reveal all these new books. But of course the website is taking longer than expected so I am putting them on my blog for now. This is a four page mini zine you can download and make yourself. Click here to download the pdf. The instructions to make the book are here.