April 2017 – International Fake Journal Month – Dana Burrell
This was the year to go big. I needed to if I wanted to include all the thumbnail practice pieces and journaling along with the finished painting. This is an 11 in. x 14 in. hardcover Strathmore 500 Mixed Media Journal which means a full spread is 22 in. wide by 14 in. high. Although the thumbnails are done with graphite and ink the final paintings are gouache.
April was ab-so-lute-ly crazy around here but now it’s May. I’ve had a vacation away and have had plenty of time for reflection on my latest fake journal experience.
Use my 11 in. x 14 in. portrait-style Strathmore 500 Mixed Media Journal. I’ve had it for years and it was definitely time to see if I could be comfortable using such a large format sketchbook. It’s so large that it was impractical to carry it with me therefore it limited my character to working at home.
The theme for this year was Details Matter. I chose to incorporate this by working on portraits and proportions. I decided to include the pencil and ink thumbnails and observations my character made about the drawings.
All the portraits were done with gouache, some over ink drawings, and later, over pencil sketches.
Journaling would be partially about the painting and partially about her life, with no defined story line needed.
Dates were stenciled onto the page with dilute acrylic paint through freezer paper cut-outs. (Note… do not iron freezer paper onto the pages, even lightly… it does not react as it does on fabric!)
What I Learned:
I used the book, Mixed Media Portraits with Pam Carriker as the basis for the detail sketches and proportions. (this is an amazon link for reference only… I receive no commission.) I became more comfortable drawing correct facial and head proportions although profile silhouettes are still a challenge. On the other hand I feel I improved my drawing of 3/4 poses.
I learned that I really prefer working with fresh gouache. I still need to get over what Roz Stendahl alludes to regarding the tyranny of my internal critic and the issue of scarcity. I just need to put out plenty of paint and not be afraid to use it! Thanks goodness I did get better at this over the month.
I love handling this journal! It’s a beautiful artifact; it has size and weight and a certain presence that my previous, and smaller, fake journals don’t have. But that size carried a big weight as the month went on. I would have preferred to take it out of the house and work on it elsewhere but it was just too big.
My character almost always worked on her journal after dinner and this was so unlike my own work process that it created dissonance in my life… not enough to make me stop, but enough that I was acutely aware that this journal wasn’t being kept by “me”!
I love the expression on this woman. she seems to be in deep deliberation. maybe she’s wondering which sketchbook she’ll use next… or like me, wondering instead who she’ll be drawing next. that’s always the issue. who will strike my fancy. I always have a choice on my phone but the final decision is always made at the last minute. slept in late this morning. we both feel like slugs. dinner was amazing! drove down to Walpole… Burdick’s. the same Burdick’s that supplies chocolates for the White House. at least they used to. I’m a sucker for seafood so ordering the Lobster Risotto was a no-brainer. Peter had the Ribeye Steak Frites & we split the Chocolate Lemon Cake. didn’t get home ’till nearly midnight. back to counting carbs… sigh. … and a new sketchbook.
woo hoo! Peter knew who I painted! I finally got a likeness after days & days of doing these portraits. I guess all the studies I did and keeping this sketchbook really paid off. who knows when we’ll get back from dinner so I wanted to get all this done even though I hate doing my write up this early in the day… there’s just not much to say. it is our anniversary. one whole year. we had a mostly sunny but cool day… cooler than we’ll have today… but it was magical. a small ceremony, followed by dinner with just our families and close friends. I remember the flowering trees on the common. I keep guessing where we’re going tonight but P’s keeping mum. just tells me to wear something nice. I guess that means we won’t be going for burgers… burgers & beer… much as I love them I don’t think they’re suitable for a special occasion. P. knows that! even if he’s an “eat to live” person. He knows I’m a n “live to eat” person.
right eye… shadow from hair.
left eye… shadow from nose.
highlights & shadows
teeth… remember to tone down the white & just hint at the texture.
after letting the last square jawline get away from me, I was determined to get this fella right. I also really tried to make his facial lines less contrasty… more subtle. I prefer it. It’s a mix of english red and ultramarine. I would rather have used a darker indigo tone like indanthrone blue but I think I’m out. I need to check if I have another tube so I can fill my palette. the combo of a white plate in addition to the palette works best. when I was leaving today I noticed that yesterday’s woman had arrived with her husband. I hope they take one of the puppies. the litter was quite large & mom seems to be at the end of her rope. we don’t get puppies that often… usually… mostly… adults. they’ll be old enough to go in a few days. I’m psyched… we’re going out for our anniversary tomorrow. P. says it’s a surprise but I keep guessing where we’ll go anyway.
I knew I wanted to draw this woman yesterday. surreptitiously snapped a photo yesterday while she was on her knees goo-gooing with a puppy she was considering adopting. she had come without her husband because he said he wouldn’t come until she had narrowed the choice down to one or two. thank goodness I’ve gotten in the habit of always having my phone in my pocket. I’m always hopeful when I see a person bond with one of our cats or dogs, but it’s tough… some days I’m sure there’ll be an adoption and then I’m crushed when I come back the next week to find the creature’s still there. we already have 2 cats from there and dogs just wouldn’t fit into our schedule… even if the landlord would agree. the long term residents break my heart the most.
squinty, happy, smiling eyes. it’s been a while since I’ve done my eye practice. there are so many variations to consider. all I know is that my own eyes are squintier than these eyes when I smile. so narrow that I can barely see my iris when I look in the mirror. I guess that’s why I draw all these other eyes… I see enough to be able to determine what color they are! Peter says there’s a pitcher in baseball that has two different colored eyes… says it’s called heterochromia. Jeanne’s still out, but her husband’s doing much better. at least that’s what Sara said. she dropped in last Friday after I left. said she’s planning on taking a few more weeks, even though he’s home. Sara asked if I’d be willing to do her Friday’s ’till she’s back. P’s okay with it and it works for me.
now this is an interesting one. I’ve got the likeness yet not. where did his chin go? that upper lip is way, way, way too long. he does have a chiselled chiseled jawline but his right cheek is too round in my rendition. maybe I just got wild with my brush and didn’t really notice it ’till now… then again… I might have just painted what I thought a cheek should be instead of what it really is. what’s really silly is I like it! It’s more like a charicature than a portrait. That’s it! … I’ll get a job at Disney World drawing funny portraits of the tourists… I won’t have to go to the interview next week. I’m happy I got a call-back but I have to wait nearly a week before the meeting. seems the chair is at a conference and won’t be back in the office ’till Monday.
sigh. I put a few years on this young lady. she looks to be in her mid-teens in the photo. I was attracted to her uneven eyes and that hoodie. I thought about using my artistic license to leave it out but it seemed to be integral to the shadowing on her face. quiet day today. much warmer than I expected. the laundry dried immediately in the sun & the breeze. I feel good that I got that done at least. just vegging my way through the day. having visitors just took all the p & v out of me… and they’re family! you’d think I’d be more relaxed about the whole thing. I’m in awe of people who can entertain easily. I just get stressed.
this was a tough save. at one point I was ready to admit defeat and close the book! those eyes… first too light, then too dark. he looked as if he had kohl eyeliner. even now it seems too “outline-y” to me. got the eyebrow shape though. gotta find… and appreciate… the stuff that works. I also like the shading in the iris. P & S left ~ 5… figured they’d be home early enough to catch the end of the Celtics game. at least they have a beautiful ride. the sun was out all day and we had warm temperatures too. not bad for April. stopped at Michaels on the way home from the Montshire. used my 50% coupon on a set of gray pitt pens. they’ll be great to take in my purse when I want to add a little depth to one of my black ink sketches. good for a dropped shadow too. yet another thing to practice.