Tag Archives: drawing

Thursday, 4/28/11: Spencer Hawkes

Thanks to guest writer Kinoko Evans for today’s post.

Spencer Hawkes arrived at Muse armed with several pencil thumbnail sketches, fully prepared to take one image to the final stage.  “I draw all the time when I’m sitting around,” says Hawkes. In a crisp combination of M. Graham and Golden Acrylics, Hawkes fleshed out his newest robot portrait. With a playful shade of orange, this robot expressively strategizes over a game of chess. Painting mechanical figures offers Hawkes the creative freedom over anatomy. This allows him to invent whimsical, stylistic characters that don’t challenge predetermined expectations viewers have when a figure is human. Hawkes says that his love for robots came long before his recent stay in Japan. Having only just returned to Portland a few months ago, Hawkes was delighted to share stories about his adventures that include sketch book drawings of riders on Japanese Rail and of learning to play bike polo with Japanese cyclists.

Having been raised by a father who is a professional illustrator, Hawkes talked about his early exposure to the practice and world of narrative image. Being taken to midnight showings of Star Wars with his dad has been added to his list of early influences. Having illustration artists brought to his attention at an early age gave him an awareness of styles and he mentions John Ford and James Gurney artists that he has drawn inspiration from.

This summer, Hawkes will be living in Portland where he enjoys bicycle culture, drawing comics and drawing observational details of the city including its food carts. In a few more months, Hawkes will be moving on again, this time to Utah where his will be returning to Brigham Young University in order to complete his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art with a Major in Illustration.

Click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.


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Wednesday, 4/20/11: Acey Thompson

Thanks to guest writer Sally Murdoch for today’s post.

Acey Thompson says she has almost always had a hard time staying still. Now in her final year at PNCA with her thesis proposal staring her down in just a few short weeks, the field of study she has chosen hits, literally, close to home. She is OK with being a dog artist amidst conceptual art students at PNCA, and for her thesis she has chosen to artfully depict a dog’s ability to be completely idle and zen-like, docile, blissful almost to the point of catatonic. She hopes to conduct this study starting with her two dogs at home, her pit bull Maggie and Catahoula leopard dog Jasper.

But there’s another reason the docile nature of dogs captures Acey’s heart and imagination; when she graduates this fall, she hopes to throw time and energy into softening the stigma against pit bulls. She hopes to do this through art, with exposing people to images of pit bulls with a partner out of LA, appropriately named Diamonds in the Ruff, a no-kill pet rescue shelter:

Last year, Acey’s painting of a Great Pyrenees dog lovingly arched over the shoulders of a woman fetched $250 at the final auction for An Artist a Day. One person liked it so much because it reminded her of her own dog, and when she was outbid, she later commissioned Acey to do a similar watercolor and ink rendering.

Today’s painting is her pit bull Maggie, who accompanied her on the journey to Portland five years ago. In the photo, Maggie, now nine, wears an expression that Acey loves and knows well. A recently finished watercolor of Maggie  is also on Acey’s homepage, and so realistic and detailed that many often mistake it for an oil panting.

Acey chose today’s photo for her Maggie’s expression as well as to capture two things she loves in her life: one is a sheer curtain with gold flecks and patterned with fleur de lys, giving the portrait a regal air. The other is an Afghani pillow that was once a dress her father brought back from the Middle East. The repurposed pillowcase, with its tiny mirrors and webby patterns, contributes to the colorful foreground of the painting.

Last summer, Acey took two classes at PCC that she says really broadened her horizons in her artistic adventure. One was a watercolor painting class taught by Theresa Redinger who shows at Blackfish Gallery. Redinger took students through technical basics such as color theory using a color wheel, stretching paper, and taking the palette from small primaries to larger ones. The other class was a soapstone carving class, which gave her newfound respect for rocks and polishing.

The supplies Acey uses are: Synthetic brushes from Da Vinci, Escoda, and Raphael. Her large porcelain palette is from Muse. Watercolors are M Graham and Sennelier, and paper is Arches 140 lb watercolor. The gouache is M Graham. Her elegant bamboo brush wrap is from Muse, and she is trying out a new wax crayon to save whites, a technique she gleaned from John Singer Sergeant. She’ll use pearlescent liquid acrylic for the details in the curtains and Maggie’s collar.   UPDATE:  The last picture shows Acey’s finished painting.

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Monday, 4/18/11: Carolynn Wagler

Thanks to guest writer Christina Hugo for today’s post.

Today Carolynn Wagler helped to bring spring to Portland with a watercolor of warm, vibrant, orangey tulips. It was a fitting subject as we sat in the window of Muse safe from the intermittent April showers.

Carolynn came ready with a light graphite sketch of her design, which was from a photograph she had taken at a tulip festival a few years back. It was an image she had been saving, waiting to give it new life in paint. After a few touch-ups with her pencil to define her lines, which would be the map for her piece, she began by masking her whites. Carefully identifying any white detail in her color photo, she mimicked these areas with masking fluid to repel paint and maintain her tulips’soft white tips. The plump blooms were then washed with a wide, wet brush followed by a sweep of lemon yellow. Carolynn then used a blow drier to set the yellow, and already the strong effect of the masking fluid was evident. Bright yellow tulips with sweet white highlights now filled much of the page. She told me that as she added more color the masking fluid would be scrubbed away to blend the white naturally into the petals.

Crimsons, golden oranges, and bluish purples gave the blooms dimension, texture and richness . Thin upward strokes of color brought out the veins and spines of the petals, while a water-charged brush diluted color in other places to give contour and shading, bringing it all slowly to life.

Carolynn used a test palette of watercolor paper painted with her original yellow to see how each new hue would appear layered on the last. On this tiny watercolor laboratory she discovered, through trial, error, and inquisitive patience how to coax her perfect purple from a neutralizing yellow background.

Carolynn has been painting with watercolors for 11 years, but has experience with acrylics and pastel as well. She says watercolor is her favorite because of its fluidity. She says she finds it “a thrill to see what you come up with through the nature of the water and pigment together.” Carolynn’s portfolio is filled with landscapes in all seasons, and expressive faces which portray emotion through bright eyes and flowing features. She is looking forward to painting some of the tropical flora she captured on film during a recent trip to Hawaii. Carolynn teaches pastel painting through Portland Parks and Recreation and she is a member of the Portland Fine Arts Guild.

The last picture below shows Carolynn’s painting at the end of the day Monday (with watercolor paper still taped to board).  We’ll post an update with a picture of the finished piece.  UPDATE:  The last picture below shows Carolynn’s finished painting.

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Sunday, 4/17/11: Thérèse Murdza

Thanks to guest writer Cameron Hawkey for today’s post.

Thérèse Murdza’s paintings remind me of whistling: light and playful, simple, yet unexpected; and like all good whistlers, her skill makes it look deceptively easy.

Her skill was quickly made apparent in our conversation: her knowledge of materials is considerable. “Golden acrylic paints have a high pigment load, which is why I water down the paints so much,” she says on the beginning stages of her painting. Sometimes she’ll just use the water from her brush bucket for especially soft effects. Not only does this let her feel out the form that her painting is going to take, it adds nuance as well. She tells me of a recent interview she listened to of Stephen King. “He doesn’t outline a book,” she said excitedly. “He just begins with a vague notion, and builds from there.”

In contrast to her painting, Thérèse likes to incorporate drawing into her work as well. “Drawing gives it a definition that painting doesn’t, and really, it’s just about the elemental nature of making marks,” she explained. Sometimes the pencil doesn’t make a strong enough line for her, and in those cases she uses Aquarelle watercolor crayons and watercolor pencils. They give her the flexibility of making strong marks along with being able to diffuse the line afterwards with a brush if it is too forceful. A dulled utility knife lets her subtract by scraping off the top layers of paint, and letting some of the layers beneath show through.

All the inventive line work adds a lot of physicality to her painting, but the spontaneous look belies the process. She works in the studio, exploring different methods of making marks and techniques, which she then will use later in her work.

The rhythmic nature of her painting owes to her background in music, which she says started at age 3, with an accordion. It should be no surprise, then, that after seeing her work one is left whistling a happy tune.

The last picture shows Thérèse’s piece at the end of the day Sunday.  We’ll post an update with a picture of her finished painting. UPDATE:  The final image shows Thérèse’s finished painting.

Click on thumbnails to see larger pictures.



Saturday, 4/16/11: Anna Magruder

Anna Magruder joined us today for her second year of participating in “An Artist A Day.”  Anna’s portraits in oils have a unique and recognizable style.  Her use of color is expressive, sometimes surreal, and her figures are often creatively distorted or combined with unexpected backgrounds or objects. Influences and inspirations for her work include vintage Americana, the works of Renaissance portrait painters, and a variety of contemporary illustrators and painters including Joe Sorren.

A number of Anna’s most recent paintings (on view through April 24 at Guardino  Gallery) were inspired by vintage travel and vacation photos.  In many of these pieces, landscapes have begun to play a more important role along with her figures.  The landscapes in her backgrounds add character to the scene and animate the thoughts of the people in her portraits.

Anna has worked with a variety of media, but prefers oils because of their ability to create subtle blends between shades and colors.  She started today with a line drawing on a vivid solid red-orange background.  With her drawing as a guide, she first painted and blended her subject’s face and hair.  With this portion of her subject mostly finished, she then moved on to surrounding her figure and background landscape elements with a pale yellow-brown.  She used this color to outline and define shapes and details of her figure and landscape.  As she painted the clothing and figure of her subject, she layered and blended colors, but also left the original bright-red background showing in highlights and accents.  The composition of her painting along with the interplay of cool colors, warm colors, subtle colors, and bright colors gives this painting a feeling that is both energetic and pensive.

The last picture shows Anna’s painting at the end of the day Saturday.  We’ll post an update with a picture of her finished painting.  UPDATE:  The final picture shows Anna’s finished painting.

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Tuesday, 4/12/11: Matt Gauck

Thanks to guest writer Kinoko Evans for today’s post.

As I park my bike next to Matt’s, a crew of his friends on bikes show up to support him. It’s a very Portland day, and we talk the upcoming comics festival as Matt paints a portrait of a barn owl in oils. His portfolio of work is diverse. He’s been painting, creating album art, designing posters and illustrating social justice and narrative images since he graduated in 2005 with his MFA in illustration from Savannah College of Art and Design. His focus shows in the clarity of his visual communication. Even this owl tells a story. There’s a forest of thick vegetation with the top of a ziggurat rising through the canopy behind the snowy barn owl and a wide sky. I ask about the ziggurat and Matt explains. It’s the story of his recent trip to Mexico. “I have been painting a lot of ziggurats lately,” he tells me. The story continues about an owl’s nest that was in the upper temple of one of these Mayan pyramids he had climbed during his travels. Also, he learned of a legend attached to these ruins of a woman who took the form of an owl. She is called “La Chuza the witch owl.” In his painting is reflected the mysticism and the appreciation of the bird, wet with paint.

Matt prefers working in color, and is versatile enough to create line work when necessary for situations such as screen printing. The owl is painted with M. Graham oils. Matt uses only blues and yellows to create his greens, while raw sienna and titanium white also help create his natural palette. He also uses M. Graham walnut oil and remarks that the Windsor & Newton Liquin medium he’s brought is a staple to his process. Using as little as two faded, grayscale references, Matt is able to create this scene without preliminaries and with only a faint penciling of the owl before he begins to paint. He’s recently created a poster for Will Potter’s new book, Green is the New Red. The posters will be available May 16th at Powells books on Hawthorne during Potter’s scheduled reading.

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Monday, 4/11/11: Stephen Welch

Steve Welch is an artist and designer who creates mixed-media collage-and-acrylic pieces and also works professionally in digital media.  He says he follows a similar process no matter what type of project he’s working on.  He starts with a lot of sketching to generate and explore ideas, then he starts developing his ideas with a certain visual goal in mind.  As he proceeds, he allows new ideas and discoveries to influence his path along the way until his series of artistic decisions sets a definite direction.

Like many artists who have a background in design, Steve finds inspiration from wide-ranging and diverse visual sources.  Steve has a three-year-old daughter and has been inspired a lot lately by the art in children’s books.  He sometimes finds children’s books that might be more advanced than his daughter is ready for, but that he picks up because of the ideas he gets from the subjects and style of the illustrations.  His piece today was partly inspired by illustrations in a book he found recently, and partly grew out of sketches from projects he’d done in the past — labels he designed for a line of biscuits for horses, and flowers from a collaboration on a book project.  Steve likes to save sketches and ideas that he’s worked on before to adapt and re-use in new ways. Collage is an art form that allows an artist to bring a lot of different ideas together in one piece and also lends itself to a very fluid, intuitive process of development.  These characteristics fit Steve’s style and creative process very well.

The  last picture below shows Steve’s mixed-media painting at the end of the day Tuesday.  We’ll post an update with a picture of his finished piece. UPDATE:  The final picture show Steve’s finished piece.

Click on thumbnails below to see larger pictures.