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

Reflections on life and on being an artist

three generations detail

Adriana Burgos, “Three Generations” detail, Charcoal and pastel on paper 2008

With the transition of 2015 into 2016, I have been reflecting about a lot of things,  especially remembering my father who passed away last February. My dad lived a great life, he was very accomplished professionally and personally, he earned his PHD and became a father before he was 30, he went on to have four kids and a great career and throughout his life he was always generous and very humble. He experienced true love with my mother, I can honestly say, their marriage was truly exemplary. Thinking about his life has led me to reflect on how to live a full life myself. This is why my main goal for 2016  is to learn to integrate all aspects of my life in a balanced manner.

Like everyone else, I wear many different hats, I am a mother, daughter, wife, artist, professor and someone who loves to be active and enjoy nature. Being one thing should not rule out another, but after all these years I am still learning to juggle it all.

Professionally, I am a college professor and artist. Time for research and studio is as important as all the other professional demands. Over the years, I have come to realize that productive time in the art studio does not have to be a long painting session like the ones during graduate school. Although uninterrupted studio time is ideal sometimes it’s not possible. Under those circumstances it is better to work shorter times than do nothing at all, even if it means an hour here and an hour there.

When I first graduated from my MFA, 17 years ago; I balanced a full-time job and studio practice, by scheduling long studio sessions in the weekends. This was a change from being in the studio day and night but I adapted.  Two years later, I became a professor and I am still teaching full-time. I love teaching, it has deepened my understanding of visual arts and creative thinking; more specifically my understanding of drawing. I find that teaching forces me to evolve continually and allows me to be a constant learner.  My work in the classroom has influenced my art work, for example I have reconnected with direct observation drawing and though it’s not the only way I work, it has affected my work in a positive way.

During the academic year, I tend to work on small pieces and focus on larger ones in the summer.  As long as I’m regularly drawing, even if it’s only in my sketchbook  I am still growing as an artist. This is one of the reasons why keeping a sketchbook is so important for me, and why I started the Sunday sketchbook feature in my blog.

At  a personal level, my roles as mother and wife are central and I also try to find time to nurture personal interests such as reading, exercising and being in contact with nature. My reality as a mother is changing now that the boys are 9 and 12. I can do many of the  things I love with them, such as taking long walks or bike rides, enjoying a movie together and finding time to work in my studio. Things were not like this in their early years, I remember feeling like studio time was simply impossible and it would frustrate me. Now looking back, I wish I had not been so hard on myself for not being able to do much art work then. In the end, the joy and intensity of motherhood has only made me a better artist.

Many artists often have to change the way they work while they have small children. In my case,  I began working small,  which was a contrast to my preference for large format. Because of my focus on a new format, I began exploring silverpoint as a medium and did observational drawings of Nicolas (my firstborn) as he slept.  At the time, I was concerned about the drawings of my baby coming across as sentimental, now I understand I was responding to the wonderful experience of becoming a mother.

My work has become much more personal over the years. At my age, I have seen people’s stories unfold and I am more responsive to life. I realize now, that the drawings of family members at different ages, including the ones of my children and the ones of my father’s struggle with Steele Richardson’s disease are all part of one grand narrative. My every day life experiences provide powerful content for expression.  I have come to the realization that instead of compartmentalizing each aspect of my life, the key is in the integration.

Three generations

Adriana Burgos, “Three Generations”, Charcoal and pastel on paper 2008 Enter a caption

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.

Collaborative journal entries from sketchbook project

A while back I posted some mixed media work from the sketchbook project journal I worked on in 2010-2011. The theme I chose was dirigibles and submersibles. This week I am posting some collaborative sketchbook entries I did with my son Nicolas (then seven). Working collaboratively can enhance creativity. In this case the sketches were very meaningful for me, because I was collaborating with my own son. These include collage and drawing as well experimentations with overlays. This brief post leads into an upcoming post about children and drawing. Look out for it soon!

Mixed media sketchbook entries

The sketchbook is a great place to explore materials and ideas, therefor it is a valuable tool to expand visual possibilities. These images were sketchbook entries from a journal I created while participating in the Sketchbook Project

www.thesketchbookproject.com a few years back. The theme I chose for the journal was dirigibles and submersibles, which was on their list of suggested topics.

These entries are photocopy and gel- medium transfers combined with drawing. I took the photos in Jekyll Island, which is one of my favorite places around here. The two-page spreads allowed me to explore different formats within one book.