It’s summer!!

It’s summer and now that school ended, it’s time to reflect, re-charge, spend time with the family and get busy in the studio. To kickstart the season, I went camping to the beach in North Florida with my husband and two boys. We enjoyed a nine-day getaway, which was a great way to wind down from a busy and rewarding school year.

On this trip, we visited Hannah Park for the first time and really enjoyed the beach and the bike trails as well as the lush wooded campground. As usual, I packed up my favorite drawing supplies and sketchbook and worked on some nature studies of the vegetation and trees around our site.

In a couple of these drawings I set out to explore warm and cool temperature relationships by using the brown and the black or gray.

I enjoy working with different media. Pen pushes me to explore value and mark-making through line, while sanguine and graphite offer more flexibility. The latter allowed me to mass, using the side of the drawing tool while also layering some line work and taking away with the eraser. Pen is less forgiving and forces me to make decisions through the additive approach of mark-making.

In both pen drawings, I set out to create emphasis in the compositions by developing some areas further and gradually easing to a contour line drawing.

Hannah Park, pen study

I have found that when working with this medium, I enjoy emphasizing negative spaces to bring out the positive, something I admire in Corot’s landscapes which inspire me greatly when it comes to plein-aire work.

These nature studies take up quite a bit of my sketchbook work and I find it interesting because I don’t consider myself a landscape artist. The main motivation for these sketches is my love of nature and the act of drawing from direct observation. The process of recording what I am seeing allows me to really experience a particular place and I find it meditative.

An old sketch re-visited

It is interesting when old notes still resonate. Last week I was looking through several old sketchbooks and found a gesture drawing of my boys at play. I drew it a couple of summers ago, while they romped through the sprinklers. Today I worked on a refined sketch using the original as reference.  These images speak to me of childhood through the physical movements.

Sprinklers

Adriana Burgos, Study for “Sprinklers” based on a quick sketchbook drawing. Ink, watercolor, charcoal, sanguine and pastel

For today’s piece, I started out with ink and watercolor and then added layers of dry media with charcoal, sanguine and pastel to develop surface and emphasize shape and form.

sprinklers progress

Adriana Burgos, Study for sprinklers in progress ink wash and watercolor.

Using only a quick drawing as reference forced me to rely on memory, gesture structure and a familiarity with anatomy. Exploring the co-relation of gesture and memory to construct images is very beneficial for my artistic expression at the moment and I look forward to seeing where this process will take me.

Mixed media karate sketch

The sketchbook is a great platform for media exploration. I was experimenting with ink wash this week, playing with warm and cool temperatures. This drawing was based on one of my quick karate sketches while observing my kids’ classes.

I love the immediacy and happy accidents that happen when drawing gesturally with ink. A lot of the warm against cool relationships of the drawing are mainly in the negative space surrounding the figure. For the background I applied brown, black and blue ink and let all the colors run into each other with wet into wet marks. After the wash drawing dried, I emphasized a few areas  with white and blue chalk and black charcoal.

The end result is exciting and has inspired me to explore gestural drawings with ink wash more. Studies from the karate sketchbooks will be a great point of departure for more work like this.

with bow pole study

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Adriana Burgos, Mixed media sketchbook study, 2016

Beach studies

“Ocean and sky study”, Adriana Burgos sketchbook study in oil pastels

Looking through my old camping journal,  I found these studies done at Hunting Island South Carolina. The first is in oil pastel which is a very fun medium for a painterly approach. The format of the drawing is 5.5 x 8.5 so there is not much room for details and meticulous drawing when using the oil pastel. It was a cloudy summer day and the water was choppy.

The drawing below was done with water-soluble watercolor pencils by Derwent. I really liked this set of colored pencils because the colors were not too saturated. There was a good number of earth tones, and greys. Here I drew the landscape first and then quickly captured the figures of the kids through gesture drawing. The children in the drawing are my boys Nicolas and Felipe with Raquel from our adopted family in Savannah with whom we share great memories.  I really like this piece as a study for a large drawing or painting. The great thing about sketchbooks is that you can revisit them and if a study stands the test of time it might be worth developing into a large piece.

Kids on the beach

“Kids on the beach” Adriana Burgos, sketchbook study in water-soluble colored pencils.

 

 

 

 

 

Studies of an oak tree

On labor day weekend this year we went camping to Jekyll Island. The park was full with people getting the most out of the end of the summer and we enjoyed a great weekend there. Saturday was rainy so we spent a lot of time sitting under the awning of our camper and either reading or drawing.

I worked on a small study of an oak tree from direct observation. Oak trees abound in the south and this particular one is a very impressive old one. For this study I focused on the tree itself and the ones on the background aiming to achieve a sense of  depth through atmospheric perspective (less contrast and detail in the background).

Study of an oak tree from direct observation in silverpoint

Study of an oak tree from direct observation in silverpoint

My nine-year old son Felipe, joined me and worked on his own observational silverpoint drawing.  I recommended that he look at the negative shapes and draw the spaces in between the branches to deal with the complexity of the subject and he did a great job!! His loose marks and linear build up of value are impressive and his composition very dynamic. Children are such natural artists. They never seize to amaze me.

Silverpoint drawing by my 9 year old son Felipe

Silverpoint drawing by my 9 year old son Felipe

Progress on large format drawing

I had a blog post prepared narrating progress on my drawing and I did not get to post it while I was working things through. Now the drawing is completed and has been in exhibition at the faculty show for a couple of weeks. It was so energizing to work at a large scale!

I would still like to share what I wrote as I worked on the piece back in August since the process was the focus of the post.

“I’ve been back in the studio working on the “Physiotherapy session” drawing. I have drawn and re-drawn the two figures several times now and love the effect that this restating has on the drawing. The first correction I made on the piece was the pose of the therapist (figure on the right). I felt that the pose was too rigid, not graceful enough. Although static, a standing pose is powerful and can have a  lot of movement. I set out to adapt the figure so that it helped my composition and counteracted with the stiffness of the figure to the left (my dad). This took working from memory and imagination because I was getting away from the reference image.

In the decision-making of how to adapt the pose I looked at some old masters’ drawings. I was particularly looking at the work of Jacopo Pontormo whose work shows powerful gestures and graceful figures. His exaggerated contrapposto and angle shifts in the joints helped me improve the pose for the therapist. I emphasized the forward tilt of the ribcage and backward tilt of the pelvis and changed the position of the legs to add more angles. These subtle shifts really helped the movement in the image.

detail progressThe next session I set out to re-draw the figure of my dad. I was happy with it originally, then I re-drew and the figure lost its original stance, so I went back and corrected. I am still indecisive as to how much I want to show the movement of the different exercises. Looking back at last week’s stages I really respond to the pose where he is holding his hands above his head and would like to show this a little more…

Working on the poses themselves has commanded my attention, but so has the over all composition of the piece. I am working on simplifying the value patterns, at times they seem patchy to me. I am looking for a nice flow and a simplicity to add solidity and power. To work through this, I printed the drawing at one stage and drew into it, exploring different value options on a small-scale. In regards to materials, I introduced some grey and white pastel to show build up some surface on the lighter values.”

Now that the drawing is finished I must say I really enjoyed working large and the constant erasures and corrections. Once I finally decided on the gestures of the figures, I spent a lot of time working the surface of the space around the figures. I loved  manipulating the values to fade and pull out different portions of the figure.   This is only the first of a series of large format drawings. The challenge will be finding storage and ways to exhibit such large pieces, but it will definitely be worth the trouble.

Limited palette drawings

I don’t consider myself a landscape artist but when I go on camping trips with my family I love taking time out to draw nature from direct observation. These two studies are journal entries from my camping sketchbooks. The first  is a watercolor sketch of the woods in Stone Mountain. I did this while sitting at our campsite looking out to other campers among the woods. I used my travel watercolor kit and chose to work with a limited palette of earth tones. Limited palettes in color drawings keep the composition unified and can be a fun challenge for the artist, since it requires a simplification of the observed space on many levels, shape, form and color. This was done during the fall, so there was a red brown and orange dominance in the space as the leaves were turning.

The second image is a mixed media drawing done at Driftwood beach in Jekyll Island this summer. I chose to use copic markers (which can resemble water color at times), graphite and multiliner copic markers. The great thing about using markers is that they are immediate and easy to use on the go, no need for water containers and brushes or palettes. They are great for color studies and their transparent quality allows for subtle value and color effects. It is important however to consider the paper you are using. In this case I worked directly on my multimedia sketchbook instead of working on the marker paper. The porous quality of my sketchbook causes the markers to bleed through. I don’t mind it much since the sketchbooks are very personal in my case. Once again I explored a limited palette, in this case, focusing on warm against cool temperatures, which is a fun way of using minimal color in a drawing. I enjoyed the balance between large value and color blocks and fine linear buildup with graphite and multiliner pens.

Studies for “The encounter”

Today I am sharing a series of studies for “The Encounter” one of my recent narrative pieces.

The first is the original graphite sketchbook study done a while back. I revisited the image last summer and developed it into a small silverpoint drawing. Before deciding on silverpoint, I explored several media options including subtractive charcoal, although it translated well to charcoal, the small format is not the ideal. This summer I plan to develop a large subtractive charcoal version.

The process of working with the same image in different mediums and sizes is not unusual for me. When it comes to working with complex multiple figure narratives, my preference is to work with the same image in a series of studies before committing the large final piece. This allows me to refine the composition and its correlation to form and content better as well as the way media and scale can affect the response of the viewer.

 

Study of cypress trees in warm and cool colors

George L. SmithThis week I am sharing an observational sketchbook study I did on one of my recent camping trips to George L. Smith, a Ga state park with beautiful landscape. There are rows and rows of cypress trees in a lake. The swampy feel is unique to the area and can be so mysterious. I love the pattern made by the receding trees and the way they reflect on the water.

This was my first developed drawing with copic markers. I picked a blue grey with sepia to play the warm against the cool colors. These markers are great for layering thus achieving several gradations of value and color. I also added fine lines with copic multiliners. The drawing was done in my multimedia journal, next time I will use the marker paper.