All art copyright (c) Mike Kloepfer
"The level of achievement that we have at anything is a reflection of how well we were able to focus on it."
-Steve Vai

Thursday, October 30, 2014

More fun with SKULLEY II! Watts Atelier_Skull, Profile View

Having more fun with skulls! And tomorrow is Halloween, so I'm totally in the mood.
This is a fun assignment. One of my all-time favorite pieces is Nature's Design, and I enjoyed revisiting a side view skull.
 Of course, Skulley II is different than the original Skulley, so I had to pay attention - no falling back on memory for this assignment. And for that reason, I chose to do the reverse angle profile view. They each have their own 'personality.' Skulls... go figure. ;)
Off to a decent start.

One thing I learned the first time around, is that
the skull is quite a bit longer (front to back)
than one might expect.
Once again, I employed varied line quality to give the skull some 'weight' and help the drawing 'read' better. I really am grateful to have picked up a few things from Scott Robertson along the way. Not only does it harken back to my days as a technical illustrator, but the principles cross over very well to fine art drawing.
The finished (for now) assignment.
Skulley II, Profile View
Wolff's Carbon pencil 2b, 4B on newsprint

I added some light tone to the shadow areas, that ended up becoming not-so-light-tone... lol. I like the way a drawing looks when the shadows are mapped in, just before beginning to turn the form.

There are some things I am happy with, and others I would change if I were to do it over again (which, of course, I will....)
 Fun times.
Happy Halloween!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Watts Atelier_Skull, Front View

And now for one of my favorite subjects: Skulls!!!
I had a very productive weekend, and got into Skull Front View. It seemed only fitting, since we are coming up on Halloween, and I have always loved to draw skulls – not the scary, tattoo-with-flames type of skulls, but the realistic ones. So you can imagine how excited I am for this assignment!
(Yeah, I’m old-fashioned.)
Welcome back, Skulley II!
Since I have my own skull – and let’s face it, who wouldn’t want one? – I used it instead of the photo reference provided in the class materials.
With the exercises in Head Lay-Ins, it made the drawing process quicker and more solid. 
The drawing in progress.
I did employ some varied line work to help the drawing 'read' better. I resisted the temptation to render, but I still put in a solid layer of light tone over the shadow areas, just to help myself visualize what was going on. Plus it really 'brings it together.'

The finished assignment.
Wolff's Carbon pencil 2B and 4B
on newsprint, approx. 8x10" image size
This was a FUN assignment! :)

Watts Atelier_Head Phase I - Basic head lay-ins

This is an interesting approach to drawing the head, unlike what I have been taught in the past.
Between the head lay-ins (Riley-method style) the Asaro heads, and the Abstractions (that really has my interest piqued) I should learn a whole bunch. It's fascinating and fun to learn new things about something I thought I knew a lot about already. ;)
I liked watching Jeff demonstrate what can be done with the Lay-In construction method once it is memorized and mastered. I'm looking forward to getting this under my belt. :)
Basic head construction Lay-Ins; 3/4 view

Basic head construction Lay-Ins;
Front, 3/4, and Profile views/

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Watts Atelier_Drawing Fundamentals II_Building Objects with Basic Forms

I have been working on the Drawing Fundamentals II assignment Building Objects With Basic Forms.
I really looked forward to the process, setting up the still life with objects that have been lying around begging to be drawn.
The setup.
I really enjoyed the drawing process. Still working on getting comfortable with holding the pencil in an overhand grip, I focused on getting the drawing down, 'drawing through' the forms, and mapping out the major shadow areas.

When it came to filling in the shadows with tone, I may have gotten carried away. (That seems to be happening a lot with these assignments.) I began turning the form, and rendering the image, bit by bit. It wasn't the main point of the assignment, but it was okay to take it a step farther.

After drawing the forms and mapping the shadow shapes.
Everything was going great, until I leaned a little too heavily on the drawing table. I looked up just in time to see the chicken timers sliding toward the edge of the books, and before I could react, the whole setup came crashing down into my lap.
Filling in shadows, and beginning rendering.
Lesson learned: set up the still life on a surface that will not be disturbed. Or, if I do set it up attached to the drawing table, be vary careful not to lean too heavily.

The final stage of the drawing, before the whole setup came crashing down...
It was probably for the best. I think I'll be better off to move on to the next assignment than to spend too much time rendering this image. I can always keep working on it, or come back and revisit the setup later. 
My quick re-creation of the event.
"Abandon Ship!!!"

Heroic Life Drawing at DEAD Academy

Our model - the astounding aerial contortionist Grace Ramsey -
I have been attending as many life drawing sessions as possible. A couple interesting ones have come up, including Heroic Life Drawing at DEAD (Denver Entertainment Art and Design) Academy. The model is an acrobat, or more accurately an "Aerial Contortionist"

Gesture, sketch, sketch....

It was phenomenal! We were able to draw the human body in poses that were extremely unusual and exciting. Now I know what the human body would look like in flight! And it was fascinating to see the muscles stretch and bend, it gave me a much better understanding of just what the body is capable of, what the limits are, and what they look like.

The situation presented unusual problems - not only for the model (duh!) but for the artists as well.
First and foremost - finishing the pose, looking at the drawing and thinking "what the heck is that?"
Because the poses were short out of necessity, there were a lot of decisions to make, and very quickly.
Most  of the decisions involved what to leave out. By focusing on one element, you are eliminating many others.

By focuing on just the gesture, I found that it was hard in some cases to tell what was going on - or that it was indistinguishable from a regular life drawing session.

So the issue very quickly became one of how to exploit the opportunity, and get it to read as a body suspended, in the small amount of time available.

Each pose presented its own set of unusual circumstances. Sometimes, the body, or a leg, arm, hand, or foot, was in a position that, when drawn, looked physically impossible. How do you draw what you see, and get it to read believably?

I remembered what Jeff Watts said about painting:
"It's part what you see;
Part what you know;
And part what you wished you saw."
That gave me all I needed to begin to make sense of the poses in the short amount of time available.
Still, I was only able to capture a small amount of the information.

Sketch, re-sketch...
Plus, to see the figure defying gravity is just... well, it's just plain cool.
Gesture, sketch, re-sketch...
I was torn between the desire to draw, the urge to take photos, and the tendency to just freak out at how awesome it all was.
My personal favorite were the poses with the drapery (think Cirque du Soleil.) Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of the poses. I was too busy drawing. The good news is: I was busy drawing. ;)
Detail of re-sketch
The session went by quickly, and I came away with pages and pages and pages of drawings. Still, it was over too soon for me - but not for the model! She was incredible, and we all expressed our gratitude to be a part of an experience that was so unique and spectacular.

In the end, all I could think was:

The sketches, the reference photos, and the experience has inspired me to keep drawing and elaborating on the subject.

Commute Art

SunCor Energy before sunrise...
I have been super-busy the last couple weeks, but not too busy to be creating some art!

With my car in the shop (again,) I have once again taken advantage of the commute time to draw. Once again, I find that interesting images, shapes, and relationships are all around - if you look for them.

I had wanted to explore the scene at the CU Denver Medical Center stop a little more, so I took my new smarty-fone and my sketching supplies with me. I was really enjoying the ability to revisit the same scene a few days in a row.

It was all going great, until the last ride home. I decided to try adding some watercolor to the drawing. It was totally the wrong point in the process - I had already put down too much with the Pilot Hi-Tec-C pen, and everything just melted. The result was a mess, and an epic color failure.
The sketch... about day 3...
Pilot Hi-Tec-C pen and Pentel Aquash brush pen, 9x12"

But I tried something new, and learned a little in the process. I'm satisfied.
After 'the watercolor incident.'
Kind of a mess... but worth trying.
Now I know to put the watercolor down before bulding
too much with the pens.

SunCor Energy before sunrise...
During the commute, I also got some great shots of the SunCor Energy plant just before sunrise. I would like to get some just a tiny bit later, when there's enough sunlight to see the outline of the structures. The lights are cool looking.

Plein Air Painting in Golden

I had planned to meet the DIS Plein Air Club (affectionately known as Pigment Pandas) in Golden for this paint-out. I spent so much time on the phone getting quotes on the car, that I got there just as the rest of the group were leaving.
Golden, CO in the Fall
No matter, I decided that as long as I made the trip, I was going to make an attempt at a plein air study. It was a beautiful day, and the scenery was wonderful.

Nice spot

An enjoyable afternoon.
I found a good little spot, and enjoyed an afternoon of sunshine, warm weather, and beautiful fall colors.

Plein air painting in progress.
The finished Plein Air study.
Gouache, 9x12"

Golden, looking great in the late afternoon as I left.
The end result was a bit more successful in many small ways than previous plein air studies, and I learned a little along the way. Mostly, I was more direct with my color application, and I was much more satisfied with how that affected the process and the resulting study.

Afterward, I took advantage of the opportunity to visit a dear long-time friend who lives literally just down the hill from the spot where I was painting. It was so good to talk, and catch up. We had a few good laughs - we always shared a unique and dry sense of humor.
All in all, it was an awesome day.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

10/11/14_More Costumed Life Drawing

Last night was another fun night at the DIS Costumed Life Drawing session.
The models Adrianna and Joe were cool, dressed in punk-style black leather, and they both had those wild white contact lenses. I would love to do some long-pose portraits.
5 minute drawings.
Conte 1710 B and 2B pencils on newsprint, 18x20"

As it was, I got in a few good figure poses. Joe had a wonderful platinum-blonde mohawk, that lit up like fire when backlit by the studio lights. It would look super-awesome in paint. I was unfortunately situtated, so that if I looked up, I was staring straight into the studio light. But there were two models, so I always had a good choice to draw.

10 and 20 minute drawings.
Conte 1710 B and 2B pencils on newsprint, 18x20"
Again, I was working with Conte 1710 B and 2B pencils on newsprint, the pencils were sharpened to a long, slender taper.

10 and 20 minute drawings.
Conte 1710 B and 2B pencils on newsprint, 18x20"
I tried to get the gesture and proportions first, and then pick up any areas of interest I could while time allowed.

The final 10-minute pose together.
Conte 1710 B and 2B pencils on newsprint, 18x20"
Jeremy split the poses up nicely: one model would do a 20-minute pose, and the other would do shorter poses - 5, 10, 1nd 5 minutes. Then they would switch. That way, there were constantly plenty of good choices.
The models' costumes were cool. The combination of shoes, boots, leather, hoods, hair, and masks meant that there was always something interesting going on. Adrianna did cool gestures with her hands and feet. At one point, she had super-high heels; when combined with her feet gestures, her silhouette would make very interesting shapes.
At various points, the two models were wearing masks: a black bunny mask, and a bird-like mask. This made for very interesting visuals.
I got as much as I could, used a combination of envelope shapes, gesture, and negative shapes; and tried to remain focused on the big shapes first - but it wasn't always easy. ;)