thumbnail paintings

I have an ever-growing folder on my computer called “photos to paint”, full of pics I’ve taken for that purpose. Flipping through there is inspiring but a little overwhelming – where do I start?! So lately I’ve begun painting thumbnails of anything that catches my eye, quick little studies that let me play with composition and color schemes without having to commit to a full-sized painting. (Okay, full-sized for me is still pretty small, but I’m working on it.) These are all about 3 inches high and on drawing paper rather than watercolor paper, which doesn’t put up with much fussing – a good thing in this case, as it forces me to be more loose and direct.

Things I’ve quit

Things I’ve quit. Pencil, pen, watercolor 10 x 8 inches.

A drawing of a list of things I’ve quit. Started in 2008, I think? Rediscovered and finished in summer of 2011. Re-rediscovered today!

I can definitely tell this is a pre-art school drawing. Oh the things I didn’t know back then about tangencies and focal points and line width variation! Still, I like this. It comes from a time in my life when I was cutting out addictions – coffee, manga buying, World of Warcraft, cigarettes, and more things that I couldn’t draw. A systematic winnowing out of all the things that didn’t serve me, to make more room for the stuff that did. Like drawing!

This was done on heavy Moleskine drawing paper, which doesn’t like watercolor very much. I’m kinda proud of how my WoW characters turned out despite that. (Quillshwammy the troll shammy, Tryptophan the undead rogue engineer, and Ginsei the silver-haired ninja lady – only three of the thirty-some-odd characters I created for that game. Ahh, I still miss them sometimes…)

Breakfast on Alberta Street

Alberta Street bread man! Watercolor & cheapass ballpoint pen, plus a little marker.

I was in Portland again! And now I’m not. Except I’m going back soon, so yes. Anyway. I was eating breakfast at Random Order Bakery and this dude walked by, knit cap complete with yarn mohawk and hot pink skulls on either side, selling pastries from his basket.* I giggled and texted my amusement to a friend and thought dear god I love this town. The delightful Andrea said it best: “walking around in Portland is kind of like walking around in an adorable dream”.

* One assumes. Perhaps he was bringing them to friends? I dunno, I like the itinerant pâtissier idea better.

Portland Chinese Gardens

Portland Chinese Gardens. watercolor, pen & pencil. 11 x 3.5 inches.

Visited the Chinese Gardens on my recent trip to Portland. They’re small but gorgeous, many twisting little pathways around the central pond. Wish I’d had time to take in the teahouse, but this took me most of the 3 hours I had to spend here.

While I was drawing this, two septuagenarian  gentlemen came and did Tai Chi – or possibly Qi Gong? – right in front of where I sat (after asking if I minded, which I did not). As soon as they started I was awash in spirals of energy, a physical sensation like someone drawing feather-light fingers over my skin. It ebbed in intensity occasionally but didn’t stop until they did. I’m often very impatient when I start a sketch, I get this jumpy anxiety and tend to rush through my initial drawing. Thanks to these guys I got into that calm state of flow much faster than usual.