Thursday, January 31, 2019

Dancers (Painting) as of Jan. 31, 2019

This is the painting I started yesterday, a double portrait based on a photo.  At this point, I am just trying to block in the composition and to get the proportions and positions of the figures right. Today my goal was to make some corrections of yesterday's work. My reference photo is 8 x 10, and I put a grid over it.  When I work this way, I usually mark a corresponding grid on the canvas with pieces of tape on the edge.  But to get these figures right, today I decided I needed to mark the grid on the canvas so I painted in a grid of pale yellow lines. I think that helped.  I made some adjustments, mostly the position of the arms and shoulders.  But there are many more changes to come, many more mistakes and many more corrections along the way.  

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Dancers (Painting) as of Jan. 30, 2019

I have been thinking about this double portrait for a long time and it feels good to finally get underway. I am working from a photograph. Last week I published a rough pencil sketch.  Today I finally got started working on canvas.  Right now I am just blocking in the composition and trying to rough-in the figures.  I am concentrating on the layout and on making the positions believable. I am not yet worried about trying to get a likeness. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Bouquet for My Daughter (with Prisma Filter)

My beloved Prisma app has been out of commission for over a month, on both my iPhone and my iPad. The app has been effectively frozen and useless. Messages back and forth with the Prisma app folks has been to no avail; it is a "known issue" with the latest iOS upgrade. My latest message was yesterday and they are (still) looking into it.  Today, I was whining about this to my daughter.  So she fiddled around with the app on my phone and presto, chango, she got it to work. Then she managed the same little miracle on my iPad.  Does she have some kind of magic touch, like the Fonz had with the jukebox? Or was this a big coincidence? Did the Prisma folks fix the problem just as my daughter picked up my phone? Maybe, but I prefer to believe that my daughter is magic.  (Well, she is.) The image is a bouquet that I photographed a few months ago, modified today with my newly resurrected Prisma filter.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Daydream with Roses (As of Jan. 28, 2019)

This was my drawing for today, a little daydream with roses.  I worked with Sharpie fine-line markers on paper.  I am not sure this is done.  I do know for sure that I need to do some digital cleanup.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Dancers (Rough Pencil Sketch) Edited as of Jan. 27, 2019

Two days ago I posted a very rough pencil sketch for a double portrait that I am going to do.  Today I did some digital editing of the sketch as preparation for the starting portrait.  I opened a jpeg of the sketch in Painter and added space to the left side and the bottom of the "canvas" so that I could get the figures centered.  (I was drawing the original sketch in a sketch book and ran out of room on the left.) Then I used cut-and-paste to elongate the figures slightly, finished drawing in the man's foot, and used digital pastel to do a little cleanup.  I didn't change anything else about the figure.  This is not exciting work but the result is an image I can use to set up the composition of my canvas: the figures are basically centered, and the image will print out at 8 x 10 inches, great to use as a reference for a 16 x 20 inch canvas.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Flowers for a Rainy Day (Edited)

Two days ago, I posted the original version of this drawing, created from my imagination and drawn with Sharpie fine-line markers.  Today I used Painter to do a little digital editing.  The main thing I did was to center the vase (had to make it just a bit wider).  Then I used digital pastel to clean up a few small mistakes.  Now it is a little more presentable, in case I want to frame it or make in into a greeting card.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Dancers (Rough Pencil Sketch) as of Jan. 25, 2019

I am getting ready to start another dual portrait, working from a photograph.  This project is going to involve some figure drawing as well as portraiture.  Today I did a very rough pencil sketch just to get an idea of how hard this will be. (Answer: very hard, but doable.)  This is as far as I got today. I was working in a sketchbook (maybe 8 x 10) and was running out of room on the left.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Flowers for a Rainy Day

Here north of Boston, it is 55 degrees in January and it has been raining all day. But you don't have to shovel rain, so no one is complaining. My hopes for a long walk outside turned into the reality of a long walk at the mall. Later,  I got out my Sharpies and created some spring flowers.  Even though I am partial to this drawing as it is, I think it needs a little bit of digital editing.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

January Sky (Digital Woodcut)

Today we were running errands late in the afternoon, and I took a picture of the sky and the first real snowfall of the year, still on the ground.  Later, I edited the image in Painter.  I added posterizing effect to sky and snow, and woodcut effect to the houses and trees.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Daydream with Nasturtiums (Digitally Edited)

This is a digitally edited version of the drawing I posted two days ago.  I drew the original with Sharpie fine-line markers, Because markers are transparent, sometimes the only way to correct mistakes is with other media. In this case, I used the Painter program on my computer to make corrections. I adjusted the color of the nasturtiums, going for a brighter red-orange than I could get with my Sharpies.  I also changed the color of the shadows from dark blue to purple, and used a brighter purple color for the outline color.  (For most of these changes, I made most of these changes with the magic wand selection tool and the paint can fill tool.)  I also adjusted the color on some of the leaves, and I redrew part of the vase (on the right-hand side). These are small changes, but I think the overall effect is better and the drawing is brighter.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Realms Beyond (Rescued Photo)

A few months ago I received two boxes of my dad's old photographs, sent to me by my cousin Rori Kates. Many photos were unfamiliar, and they unlocked many small mysteries, mostly about identities of relatives, the places or years the photos were taken. But this photo was different. I didn’t remember this photo and had no idea about the location or the event. But in many ways, the image it wasn’t surprising at all and I loved it so I started to try to unravel the mystery. 

What is not surprising about the picture is that my father is playing a musical instrument. He played piano by ear, in a style that sounds a lot like Duke Ellington. He also played the accordion, the ukulele, and almost any other instrument, including the organ, but he couldn’t read music at all.  So why the sheet music if my father is at the keyboard? The title on the sheet music is "Regions Beyond," a spiritual. (I Googled it.)  So why is this Jewish man who can’t read music sitting at an organ with sheet music for a Christian gospel song? 

Standing at the organ are four African-American young ladies — I would guess perhaps 11 or 12 years old — holding the same sheet music and apparently singing. They are dressed in matching blouses, ties, and skirts. Was this a rehearsal for a special event of some kind, maybe even some kind of interfaith or civil rights event? From my dad's looks, I would guess this was taken in the 1960s which we be the right time. . .

I see a cross on the bench behind one of the girls. Is this is a church? Could this have been at one of the AME churches in Pueblo? But what was the connection? My dad was a furniture salesman in a family-owned store, so he met a lot of people. (He spoke Spanish and became the go-to-guy for Spanish-speaking customers). Did he make this connection through the synagogue? Chess club? Bowling league? I have no idea. 

And who took the photo? At first I assumed that the photo was taken by my uncle Ike Fitterman, a local photographer in Pueblo. But my husband suggested that perhaps this was a new newspaper photo. So far I haven’t been able to find out whether that’s true. 

So wild guesses and many unknowns.  I will try to discover more information. But what I already know for sure is that my father was a gentle and open and loving person.  He was talented and generous with that talent. He tried to do the right thing. I also know that his quiet examples had lasting power. 

So on the day we honor the memory of Dr. MartinLuther King Jr., I am posting this photo of my father. I know he would have liked that. He kept this photo for years and it must have been important to him.

We look to great national leaders like Dr Martin Luther King for moral leadership. And If we are very lucky, we also find good examples close to home. 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Tree in All Seasons

Here is a little video in honor of "Tu B'shevat" (Jewish Arbor Day) (starts tonight). This is a holiday that I have loved from childhood. Who has a new year for trees? But it has a serious point: we need to celebrate and care for the natural world. Yesterday I drew this on my iPad with the Procreate drawing app, which captures a video playback as you draw.  If you don't like the season you are in, just press play.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Daydream with Nasturtiums

I started this drawing this afternoon, working from my imagination though I did look at some photos of nasturtiums.  Well, I got carried away and worked on this for hours.  I used Sharpie fine-line markers on paper. Although I am happy with this drawing as it is, I may do a little digital cleanup on it.  

Friday, January 18, 2019

Zinnias and Forget-Me-Nots

I did another drawing today with my Sharpie pens: zinnias and forget-me-nots in water.  I was working from my imagination.  I got a little carried away with the zinnias so this sketch took extra time.  But I enjoyed it.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

January Flowers in Glass Vase

This afternoon, I used my Sharpie felt tip pens to create this drawing. No particular reason but it was fun and a good little drawing exercise.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Inside Out at the MFA

Here's one more photo from our trip to Boston's Museum of Fine Art last Sunday.  I love the glass corridors on the outside of the old building. It feels like you are inside and outside at the same time. So even though it was almost time to go home, but we went out there and took a few pictures.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Outside Inside at the MFA

Here's another picture from last Sunday's trip to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. This is one of the glass corridors added during the latest renovation of the MFA.  I love to stand inside and look out at Boston, as in this photograph.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Boston Seen Through MFA Window

This is another image from our trip to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts last Sunday.  There is lots to see in the MFA, including the building itself.  One of my favorite post-renovation features: new all glass corridors build on the outside of the old building.  I was standing in one of these indoor/outdoor hallways when I took this picture of the Boston skyline.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Courtyard at the MFA

Last Sunday my daughter and I went to Boston to see a pastel show at the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA).  We grabbed a snack in the cafeteria.  I liked the view of the courtyard through the window, so I took this picture.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Blue Lights under Longfellow Bridge

Here is another image from last Saturday night's trip into Boston.  Even though (especially because) it was windy and rainy, I took pictures, from the passenger seat. We were on Storrow Drive when I saw the new blue lights under the Longfellow Bridge.  I loved the lights, so I took a picture. The weather, the darkness, and the movement of the car created some odd effects, but then this is how we see the landscape from our cars. In this case, the image is almost abstract, but the the blue arches suggest the outline of the bridge.  The buildings in the distance are Cambridge (across the Charles River).

Friday, January 11, 2019

View of the Charles River

Here's another photo from our trip into Boston last Saturday night.  This is a view of the Charles River from the Leverett Circle Connector, heading toward Storrow Drive.  The wind and rain combined with the city lights to create some impressionistic effects. Today I edited the original version to create more contrast and cropped it to get this composition.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Heading into Boston (on Leverett Circle Connector Bridge)

Here's another image from Saturday night's photo shoot.  We were heading into Boston on a rainy night. The effects of lights and weather made some of my photos look impressionistic, even abstract.  This is a view of the Charles River and Boston from the Leverett Circle Connector Bridge, taken as we headed towards Storrow Drive.  Tonight I cropped the original photo to get this composition.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Zakim Bridge on a Rainy Night

Another photo from our trip into Boston on Saturday.  The Zakim Bridge is always beautiful, but at night it is lit with blue light and it looks awesome.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Lost in Boston

On Saturday night, we drove into Boston.  It was windy and rainy, not easy photography, but the upside: some interesting accidents.  I call this "Lost in Boston" because our GPS was sending us on unintended adventures and detours. This red light gave me a chance to take a quiet photo. Although this is a pretty traditional photograph, the reflected light and raindrops add some interesting effects.  Some of my photos were much less traditional, almost abstract.  To be continued.

Monday, January 07, 2019

The Lennox

On Saturday night, we drove into Boston.  It was windy and rainy, and there were lots of street lights, which can be confusing if you are taking pictures. But all of that can also make for some interesting effects.  We were in the Back Bay, heading for the Prudential Center, when I took this picture.  Tonight I cropped the original to get this composition. 

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Cattle Trail and Leather Chair (Found Art at Long Hill)

Another photo from our New Year's Day walk.  Our walk at Long Hill took us off the beaten path, on the  border between the formal gardens and fields, and the trails into the wooded areas.  We came upon this little scene and I couldn't resist photographing this ready-made art: a worn leather easy chair next to a sign that says "Cattle Trail".

Saturday, January 05, 2019

Trail at Long Hill

This is another photo from our New Year's Day walk at Long Hill.  We usually stick pretty close to the formal gardens, but on New Year's Day, we wandered a bit closer to the trails at the edges of the property.

Friday, January 04, 2019

Flagstone Path (Posterized Photo)

I used Painter to add posterizing effect to the photo published here yesterday.  The difference is subtle, but the color is a bit more intense.  This is from our New Year's Day walk at Long Hill, here in Beverly, MA. 

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Flagstone Path at Long Hill Gardens

Here's another photo from our New Year's Day walk at Long Hill Garden.  There are lots of little paths throughout the gardens.  This flagstone path is one of my favorites.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Path with Pillars (New Year's Day Walk)

New Year's Day began with  temperatures in the fifties so we took a walk at Long Hill, also known as Sedgwick Gardens.  Long Hill was formerly a private estate with formal gardens, and is now open to the public. It is is an interesting mix of natural trails and formal elements.  I have ways liked this path flanked by pillars, and thought that somehow it seemed a fitting image for the beginning of 2019.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

New Year Skating Rink (Digital Drawing)

Yesterday's post was a little video that I created on my iPad with the Procreate app. As you draw, Procreate captures a video playback.  Today I am posting this digital drawing, which is the final frame of the video.  In case you missed the video, you can see it at