Top-Down Drawing Technique


Drawing can be a frustrating experience if we don’t have a fail proof technique. This is one of my favourites, known by many names including the top-down or ‘figure in the stone’ technique. In order to accurately capture the dimensions as well as plot the composition on the page one begins with quick broad strokes to capture the largest general shape first (demonstrated below in orange.) Once we’re satisfied that we have the overall shape as accurately as we can (taking note of angles in relation to one another) we ‘carve out’ negative spaces and angles in a generalised manner too, demonstrated in black pen below. Obviously this is all done lightly in pencil in a typical drawing.

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If we’ve done this correctly, adjusting as we go along until we’re satisfied with the angles, ensuring that our relationships / proportions are accurate, attention can be given to drawing in the details as demonstrated in the image below.

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This technique works with any subject matter, be it still life, landscape or portraiture. For demonstration purposes I drew a simple tea cup on the iPad which I coloured with digital watercolour and shaded with hatching.

If you’re frustrated by drawing give this method a go, and let me know if it works for you. Remember you can improvise as you wish once you have an accurate drawing on paper, allowing your personal style and creativity to flow freely. I deliberately wanted a loose style of drawing as can be seen by my pen strokes.

Cuppa anyone?

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Daily Prompt: Witness


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Colour secrets


In response to today’s daily WP Prompt: Evasive Action

What if you were wrong?


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I response to the WP Daily Prompt: Alma Mater

Random Art Fact #002


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In response to the WP Daily Prompt: Quirk of Habit

How does a kangaroo eat its food?


Jeremy Gregory. 2006. Gluttony. Materials and dimensions unknown. Accessed from: http://www.imagekind.com/Gluttony_art?IMID=9dd91032-6cd2-4bb2-a78b-9715571f7631
Jeremy Gregory. 2006. Gluttony. Materials and dimensions unknown. Accessed from: http://www.imagekind.com/Gluttony_art?IMID=9dd91032-6cd2-4bb2-a78b-9715571f7631

In response to today’s WP daily prompt: Live to Eat “Some people eat to live, while others live to eat. What about you? How far would you travel for the best meal of your life?”

Trying to keep it light and somewhat silly as this is a sensitive topic.

If that put a smile on your face the bloopers reel will have you chuckling. 😉

A thousand lives, Jon, ten thousand!


Elle Wesson (8 year old). 2015. Coloured pencil on paper. 5 x 7 inches. Accessed from: https://marionwessonstudio.shutterfly.com/949
Elle Wesson (8 year old). 2015. Coloured pencil on paper. 5 x 7 inches. Accessed from: https://marionwessonstudio.shutterfly.com/949

In response to today’s WP Daily Prompt: Second Time Around “Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?”

Many years ago (when I was a teen) I first read Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, available at Amazon. Over the years I have reread it dozens of times, every time there was something ‘else’ that had a deep impact on me.  The book is not merely about a bird, it was about a soul that had the courage to break free from the constraints of norms and expectation to experience its own greatness in this world and beyond. Here are a few of my favourite quotes from the book:

“Do you have any idea how many lives we must have gone through before we even got the first idea that there is more to life than eating, or fighting, or power in the Flock? A thousand lives, Jon, ten thousand!” 

“We choose our next world through what we learn in this one. Learn nothing, and the next world is the same as this one, all the same limitations and lead weights to overcome.”

“Your whole body, from wingtip to wingtip,” Jonathan would say, other times, “is nothing more than your thought itself, in a form you can see. Break the chains of your thought, and you break the chains of your body, too.”

“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.”

“Overcome space, and all we have left is Here. Overcome time, and all we have left is Now.”

“Jonathan sighed. The price of being misunderstood, he thought. They call you devil or they call you god.”

Quotes from Goodreads

Alexandra Leaving


Artist unknown (signature illegible.) 2008. ‘Leonard Cohen’. Watercolour. Accessed from:https://www.pinterest.com/pin/224687468881329941/

In response to today’s WP Daily Prompt: Voice Work “Your blog is about to be recorded into an audiobook. If you could choose anyone — from your grandma to Samuel L. Jackson — to narrate your posts, who would it be?”

Why, none other than the incomparable Leonard Cohen of course. I’ve loved his work and voice for as long as I’ve been alive.

Alexandra Leaving

Suddenly the night has grown colder.
The god of love preparing to depart.
Alexandra hoisted on his shoulder,
They slip between the sentries of the heart.

Upheld by the simplicities of pleasure,
They gain the light, they formlessly entwine
And radiant beyond your widest measure
They fall among the voices and the wine.

It’s not a trick, your senses all deceiving,
A fitful dream, the morning will exhaust
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.

Even though she sleeps upon your satin
Even though she wakes you with a kiss.
Do not say the moment was imagined
Do not stoop to strategies like this.

As someone long prepared for this to happen,
Go firmly to the window. Drink it in.
Exquisite music. Alexandra laughing.
Your firm commitments tangible again.

And you who had the honor of her evening,
And by that honor had your own restored
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving
Alexandra leaving with her lord.

Even though she sleeps upon your satin
Even though she wakes you with a kiss.
Do not say the moment was imagined
Do not stoop to strategies like this.

As someone long prepared for the occasion
In full command of every plan you wrecked
Do not choose a coward’s explanation
that hides behind the cause and the effect.

And you who were bewildered by a meaning
Whose code was broken, crucifix uncrossed
Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.

Say goodbye to Alexandra leaving.
Then say goodbye to Alexandra lost.

Songwriters: COHEN, LEONARD / ROBINSON, SHARON
Alexandra Leaving lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

 

You’ve Been Thunderstruck


Ben Quilty, 2010. Angus Young from AC/DC. 146 x 185 cm. Accessed from: http://www.artofmusic.com.au/previous-years/2010/
Ben Quilty, 2010. Angus Young from AC/DC. 146 x 185 cm. Accessed from: http://www.artofmusic.com.au/previous-years/2010/

In response to today’s WP Daily Prompt: This Is Your Song “Take a line from a song that you love or connect with. Turn that line into the title of your post.”

A better world


 

Todd1000. 'Souring Through a Stary Night.' Details unknown. Accessed from: http://worth1000.s3.amazonaws.com/submissions/6394000/6394454_ca22_1024x2000.jpg
Todd1000. ‘Souring Through a Stary Night.’ Details unknown. Accessed from: http://worth1000.s3.amazonaws.com/submissions/6394000/6394454_ca22_1024x2000.jpg

In today’s WP Daily Prompt: A Bird, a Plane, You! I get to choose a superpower. This is the brief: You get to chose one superpower. Pick one of these and explain your choice.
– The ability to speak and understand any language
– The ability to travel through time
– The ability to make any two people agree with each other

My first thought was time travel. Oh how I would love to travel into the past, to experience life as it was when some of my great art heroes were alive. Like Vincent Van Gogh, I would tell him not to despair, that he will be greatly loved and appreciated someday. Realistically though, even if I could the chances are slim to zero that I would have met any of my art heroes; it is highly unlikely that the life I would have led then would have placed me within their circles. Which made me reconsider my superhero choice.

The ability to make any two people agree with each other. Wow. Imagine that! The ‘any two people’ in the prompt suggests that I would have influence over anyone, regardless of who they are or how important (untouchable?) they may be. If this was my superpower I would immediately direct my attention to world politics. I would use my powers to influence the most powerful global decision makers to implement radical changes that would improve the outcome of events for humanity as a whole and for our planet. I am not going to go into detail about which politics I would like to change as I don’t want to get into a debate about it (I have strong political opinions.) Suffice to say some really big changes would happen for the greater good. Yes, that would be my choice of superpower.  🙂

Laugh in the face of evil


 

Ilya Yefimovich Repin, 1880-1891. The Zaporozhian Cossacks write a letter to the Sultan of Turkey. 358 × 203 cm. Oil on canvas. Accessed from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Repin_Cossacks.jpg
Ilya Yefimovich Repin, 1880-1891. ‘The Zaporozhian Cossacks write a letter to the Sultan of Turkey.’ 358 × 203 cm. Oil on canvas. State Russian Museum. Accessed from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Repin_Cossacks.jpg

Laughter, like art, is a universal language. It is something everyone understands, regardless of language or cultural barriers, and it is contagious.  Whilst there is not much to laugh about during the refugee crisis currently dominating our headlines, there is hope that joyous laughter, rather than fear and hatred, will become our common currency during these troubling times. It is hoped that happiness agents rather than fear-mongers will be first in line to infect refugees with joy and relief when they arrive looking for safe passage to a better life for themselves and their loved ones.

I should probably have added this post to my Artist Research section,  but today’s WP Daily Prompt: Roaring Laughter is a good fit.

When was the last time you had a belly-ache laugh? Here’s wishing you an infection of laughter today (and bonus points if you infect a stranger with some of the same.)  😉

Cruelty, the 8th deadly sin


Congo Belge II, Kalema. 52.5 x 69 cm. Acrylic on canvas. Accessed from: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/05/27/africa/congo-drc-53-echoes-of-zaire-exhibition/
Congo Belge II, Kalema. 52.5 x 69 cm. Acrylic on canvas. Accessed from: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/05/27/africa/congo-drc-53-echoes-of-zaire-exhibition/

The Eighth Sin In response to the WP Daily Prompt:“Remember the seven cardinal sins? You’re given the serious task of adding a new one to the list — another trait or behavior you find particularly unacceptable, for whatever reason. What’s sin #8 for you? Why?”

Cruelty is a human trait that I abhor. Cruelty against fellow humans, animals, our planet, even ourselves. The suffering that this causes is immeasurable. If we could replace cruelty with kindness many of the ills of our world would be addressed.

In the company of da Vinci


Leonardo da Vinci, c.1604. 'Battle of Anghiari' Black chalk, pen & ink, highlights in grey & white. 45.2cm x 63.7 cm. Louvre, Paris.
Leonardo da Vinci, c.1604. ‘Battle of Anghiari’ Black chalk, pen & ink, highlights in grey & white. 45.2cm x 63.7 cm. Louvre, Paris.

When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” – Leonardo da Vinci

I live a quiet Australian country-style life with my perfect husband, cat, parrot and of course my art. As a Fine Art student I promised myself a graduation gift when the big day arrives; nothing less than a trip to Paris! It is there and then that I imagine I will experience the ‘perfect night out.’ Surrounded by the history and art of the Renaissance era in the magnificent city of lights with my beloved sister (from London) and my equally beloved husband; I will be in artistic heaven in the company of da Vinci and many other admired artists’ works. Ask me again then to describe my perfect night out. 😉

This post is in response to the WP Daily Prompt: Saturday Night

My study goals: Exhibition


I had a really good year last year with my study goals. Being my first year toward a Fine Arts degree I wasn’t sure whether I would be able to accomplish these but as it turned out my grades were great; one of my portfolios was chosen by the university as an exemplar for future students and some of my artwork for the past year is currently on exhibition at my local gallery.

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I’ve taken some time off to recharge my batteries and to catch-up on other (non-study) tasks which was a good decision, in fact I might reward myself with a break over the holiday season each year. I feel refreshed and ready to begin my 2nd year undergrad studies in February and will hopefully achieve the study goals I’ve set for myself for the new year.

Here’s to our individual and collective success in 2016.

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Daily Prompt: Resolved Have you ever made a New Year’s resolution that you kept?

Narrative Portrait


Daily Prompt: "Are you a night owl or an early bird? 
When do you do your best work?" Because the Night
Anndelize Graf, 2015. Narrative Portrait. Acrylic on canvas.
Anndelize Graf, 2015. Narrative Portrait. Acrylic on canvas.

I’m on a 12 week study break at the moment before starting my 2nd year undergrad studies in Fine Art & Visual Culture. This is the perfect time for me to catch-up on learning new skills that I don’t otherwise have time to do. Living in a small country town several hours from the big city, attending live art classes in Melbourne is a bit of a struggle. Fortunately I discovered Craftsy some time ago, Atelier-style online classes that suit me perfectly.

The first Craftsy class that I took during my break taught me how to paint a narrative portrait. Daylight is the ideal painting time for me as I don’t have to rely on artificial light sources. Now that it is summer in Australia I set my paints and easel up outside on the patio where I spend my days painting, usually starting early in the morning. On cooler days I do my art in my home-based studio.

In this painting the narrative is about a letter or document she is reading. Can you tell by her expression and body language what she is reading? Narrative portraiture tells a story, I wonder what you would imagine hers to be.

The Mystery of the Penis


david-full-front
Michelangelo, 1501-1504. David. Marble sculpture. 14.0 ft. Accessed from: accademia.org

 

WordPress Daily Prompt: "Tell us your funniest relationship disaster story."
Third Rate Romance

I was the eldest of 3 daughters growing up in a very conservative home and time. My mother was a traditional Afrikaans woman who never, ever spoke to us about sex! I really had no clue. Needless to say some years later my first sexual encounter was also the first time I had ever seen a penis. Ever. I had some idea of what it looked like from a book that my mother had stashed away in the privacy of her bedroom; the book consisted of crude sketches of sexual positions. That was my entire sexual education right there.

After I had been introduced to the mighty penis he invited me to keep him company while he took a bath. I remember it being a cold winter that year. So, I sat down on the toilet seat while he bathed, casually chatting and feeling very adult about it all; somewhat smug even as I was now a ‘woman’ and had so much to tell my two uninformed younger sisters. To say that I felt superior in that moment would be about right. I had discovered the penis in spite of the secrecy surrounding it in our conservative upbringing.

Predictably, my eyes wandered until they rested on his manhood. This fascinatingly mysterious organ that had never been discussed or seen in our all-girl household. I wanted to see it again in all its proud glory. What I saw instead was a shrivelled up little thing that sent a blood-curdling scream through me in fear that he had somehow lost or damaged it! I was mortified! Deeply concerned about his wellbeing I explained the reason for my shock. I cannot remember exactly what happened next but I do remember him laughing loudly, even when his face was underwater, bubbles everywhere. I was concerned about his lost manhood and he was almost drowning with laughter! Confusion reigned for a few moments until he calmed down long enough to explain.

With embarrassment I learnt that penises could not realistically always look the way his did the first time I saw it, he was aroused after all. If they did men would permanently be walking around with tentpoles in their pants. I decided not to include this embarrassing little detail when I later recalled my first penis experience to my admiring sisters. 😉

Dear Easel,


Daily prompt: Literate for a Day
Someone or something you can't communicate with through writing (a baby, 
a pet, an object) can understand every single word you write today, for 
one day only. What do you tell them?

Birth of an Easel from Anndelize Graf on Vimeo.

Music: Blue Skies by Derek Clegg

“Dear easel, as I admire your beauty and the craftsmanship with which you were made; I wonder how Van Gogh, Picasso or Monet might have favoured you if you were theirs. As the rigidity of your spine supported their masterpieces-in-the-making, I wonder whether you would silently whisper encouragement to them. I can’t help but wonder, with every accidental splash of their paint that may have adorned your oiled wooden surface, how grateful you might have been to become part of their process toward creating the art that we love so much today.

Alas, it was not meant to be. Instead, dear easel, you have been allotted to me in my studio; a mere apprentice of the arts. I do hope though that I will experience the privilege of your encouragement as if I were Van Gogh, Picasso or Monet. In return I promise to lean on you with every brush stroke I make, as a testament to your functionality and beauty.

Dear easel, I hope you know how lucky I feel to be yours.”

Yours truly
Artist-in-training

She’ll be apples mate


Today's daily prompt: Write about whatever you'd like, but 
write using regional slang, your dialect, or in your accent.

G’day mate, how ya going? I am going gang busters at the moment,  there’s hardly time to go to the dunny! Writing about this I sound like a total sook, but with three assignments due this arvo I am starting to panic that I won’t get it all done in time. No time for a kip and when we get the munchies tonight, it will be takeaways for sure! Either a hot chook salad or a sanger; there defo won’t be time to have a barbie even though the weather at the moment is fully sick for that. Once I’ve submitted these final three assignments today I’ll crack a tinnie to celebrate ‘cos I’ll be on a 3 month break from studies until I start my second year bachelor’s in March 2016, although that would barely wet the whistle but I’m not one to go on the piss. However, until then I cannot pull a sickie, I need to get cracking so that I can complete and submit these final assignments. I certainly don’t want to do a dodgy job due to being totally knackered, bloody oath! I also need to call the poo man about a leaking tap, hope that’s not gonna be too exy. My hubby is a top fella but he’s a sparky and a chippy so he can’t help and the tin lids (also good blokes) are in Melbourne so I can’t ask them either. In the meanwhile, time to stop playing silly buggers and get on with it. I don’t want to risk my good grades due to feeling rooted.

She’ll be apples mate.

I’ve loved studying fine art and I can defo see an improvement in my artistic talent over this past year, but I am looking forward to my break, that will be sweet as. My house is feral, one would think I’m a bogun; perhaps I’ll even have time to clean it for a change which I couldn’t be fussed with before. I’d also like to catch up with mates over a cuppa with brekkie. It will also be an absolute ripper to have time to create art for the sake of art rather than for uni assignments.

(For an ‘English’ translation see below.)

This will be my last daily prompt blog for a while (2 weeks or so) 
as my blog is part of one of my assignments to which I may not add 
anything once submitted. 
Until then I wish you all well and look forward to blogging
again in the near future, once my results are in.

Hi everyone, how are you doing? I’m under pressure at the moment, there’s hardly time to go to the bathroom! Writing about this I sound like a whinger, but I have three assignments due this afternoon and I am starting to panic that I won’t get it all done in time. No time to rest and when we get hungry tonight it will definitely be takeaways! Either a hot chicken salad or perhaps a sandwich, there definitely won’t be time to have a barbecue even though the weather at the moment is perfect for that. Once I’ve submitted these final three assignments today I’ll be having a drink to celebrate because I’ll be on a 3 month break from studies until I start my second year studies in March 2016, although one drink will hardly do it I’m not one to become inebriated. However until then I cannot call in sick, I need to get going so that I can complete these final assignments. I certainly don’t want to make a poor effort due to being exhausted. I also need to call the plumber about a leaking faucet, hopefully that won’t be too expensive to repair. My husband is great but he’s an electrician and carpenter so he can’t help with that, and the (adult) children (good guys) are away in Melbourne, so I can’t ask them either. However, in the meanwhile I cannot rest on my laurels, I need to get focussed so that I can complete and submit these final assignments. I certainly don’t want to risk my good academic record now due to fatigue.

It will all turn out fine.

I’ve loved studying fine art and I can definitely see an improvement in my artistic talent over this past year, but I am looking forward to my break from studies. Perhaps I’ll even have time to clean my house for a change and to catch up with friends over a cup of tea and some breakfast. It will also be great to have time to create art for the sake of art rather than for university assignments. 

Non-Regional Diction

Waiting for the Postie


Daily Prompt: A Tale of Two Cities
If you could split your time evenly between two places, and two places only, 
which would these be?

We’re scattered across the globe, my siblings and I. Keeping in touch as most people do with electronic media. Yet, the authenticity of a handwritten letter, as rare as it is these days, is what makes our connection real. Laboriously written, decorated with lipstick kisses and doodles, coffee splatters and expletives; nothing compares to receiving a letter in my mailbox from the other end of the world in the handwriting of my beloved sister.

Can you say procrastinate?


Daily Prompt: It Builds Character
Tell us about a favourite character from film, theater, or literature, 
with whom you’d like to have a heart-to-heart. What would you talk about?

Okay, so I am off topic on this one, but… I am a procrastinator, I admit it. Right now, instead of finalising my assignments for uni (fine art studies) I am doing silly things like trying to sketch the alphabet as it might look when I say the letters. I have no idea why. <sigh>

Pencil down. Kettle on. No really, I am thirsty (did I just justify yet another procrastination tactic?) But seriously, after tea that’s it, no more doodling; I have essays to write.