Drawing My Dreams Daily Again

Girl with wildly matted hair on pretty deck off pretty kitchen. Old lady dancing for people while workmen powerwashing on a roof spray water than turns to hail.

LEFT: Girl with wildly matted hair on pretty deck off pretty kitchen. RIGHT: Old lady dancing for people while workmen powerwashing on a roof spray water that turns to hail. Ink and White Pitt pen in compact Moleskine, 5.5 x 7 inches.

I used to start my mornings by drawing images from my dreams but got out of the habit some years back. I got inspired to start again after seeing Nina Johansson’s project of drawing from imagination daily in a Moleskine daily planner. Her strangely beautiful pages are skillfully drawn scenes from a vivid imagination. I loved her idea of using a dated journal so I bought up a pocket-sized yellow Moleskine planner and started drawing my dreams again every morning.

Russian soldiers marching and big feet. Chinese vase with butterflies and lady bugs.

Russian soldiers marching and big feet. Chinese vase with butterflies and lady bugs.

I was pretty rusty at first, but with each drawing I’m feeling more confident about mostly drawing without references or props, and without worrying about accuracy. I’m using a variety of pens including Pitt Artist Brush Pens and their new PITT Artist Pen – White pen that works really well. I’m throwing out all the other yucky white markers I tried before.

The big screen kiss and lots of goats. Visiting my secret hidden basement room again and bowl of M&Ms.

The big screen kiss and lots of goats. Visiting my secret hidden basement room again and bowl of M&Ms.

The paper in the journal is thin so there is a little show-through from previous pages but the Pitt pens are great at not bleeding.

Woke with a migraine: shipwreck and monkey. Eat on Time.

Woke with a migraine: shipwreck and monkey. Eat on Time.

Sometimes if there are no visuals from the previous night’s dreams or I wake with a migraine, I draw what I’m feeling or something else related to life, like the two above, the migraine image on left and the reminder to eat on time (to help prevent stupid migraines).

Guy from Ace Hardware tried to take my dog and phone. Tall ships, bundt cake and a painting in progress.

Guy from Ace Hardware tried to take my dog and phone. Tall ships, bundt cake and a painting in progress.

Odd, the food items that appear in my dreams, mostly stuff I don’t eat.

No dream, just a sketch of a shitty migraine.

No dream, just a sketch of a shitty migraine.

From time to time I’ll post my favorite dream sketches here, but if you’d like to see them as I draw them, visit Drawing My Dreams Daily on Tumbler or my Instagram page, which I’m using to keep daily posting simple (no computer, just iPhone shots of the sketch).

Millie, A Dog Portrait Oil Painting

Portrait of Millie, oil on Gessobord panel, 10x8 inches

Portrait of Millie, oil on Gessobord panel, 10×8 inches

This painting was a labor of love: love for my sweet Formosan Mountain dog Millie who has come a long way (literally and figuratively) and love of painting. Millie was rescued from the streets of Taiwan as a 4 month old feral pup and flown to SF with some other rescued pups. She was very fearful and independent (e.g. standoffish and stubborn) at first, but after one year together she is now a very happy pooch who makes me laugh every day with her quirky ways.

I love painting dogs, and gladly accept commissions to paint animals of any kind (including humans). You can see photos of the work in progress as I painted Millie below.

I started with some sketches (posted here previously) and then took photos of her in the studio to paint from. (The little bow on her collar was from Mud Puppies Tub and Scrub at Pt. Isabel after they washed off the sticky brown mud from her dive into the bay at low tide). I did a drawing on tracing paper from my favorite of the photos, corrected the drawing by taping it to the iMac monitor to compare to the reference photo and then transferred the drawing to a Gessobord using Saral Transfer Paper. I used Panpastels for the first block in and then began painting with oils, starting with her face.

Sketchcrawl 46 – Bernal Heights, San Francisco

SF Bernal Heights Sketchcrawl (original) ink and watercolor in XL WC Moleskine

SF Bernal Heights Sketchcrawl, ink, watercolor, gouache, 7.5 x 11″

When it was time to leave for the Sketchcrawl in San Francisco I couldn’t find my sketch kit containing all my favorite sketching tools. I scoured the studio and the house. No sketch kit. I feared I’d left it at my figure drawing class the day before at the community college where it had probably already been adopted by a needy art student. Sad and frustrated, I cobbled together some pens, pencils, brushes and paints, threw them in a bag and drove across the Bay Bridge to San Francisco.

Catching up with my friend Susan Cornelis who came down from Sebastopol for the day, and connecting with some other local sketch buddies helped me forget about my missing precious pens and paints for a little while. Since I was so late, after a quick walk around the neighborhood, I decided to sketch what I could see from a bench on the porch in front of the library where the final meet up would be. The lamp post in the sketch above was up on the porch too, which is a little confusing perspective-wise, being up about 8 steps from the sidewalk in this hilly neighborhood.

The good news is that I had a great time at the sketch crawl AND the next day when I was getting ready to go out to the studio I picked up the basket I use to carry things back and forth from house to studio and my sketch kit was in the basket! YAY! And I put a “Reward for return” note in the bag with my name and phone number on it in case it ever disappears again.

I think I like the sketch better broken into two separate ones (below). What do you think?

Julia Kay’s Portrait Party: Portrait in Gouache

Portrait of Jan Jaap for Julia Kaye's Portrait Party, gouache in XL WC Moleskine, 9x6.5"

Portrait for Julia Kaye’s Portrait Party, gouache in XL WC Moleskine, 9×6.5″

When I learned that Julia Kay’s Portrait Party (Facebook) (Flickr) was coming to SF in March for a weekend of live portrait party events I signed up. My goal for 2015 is to develop my portrait drawing and painting skills and this seemed a perfect way to get started, along with the excellent 4-hour figure/portrait drawing/painting class I’m taking at my local community college.

Since I’ve been experimenting and teaching myself to paint with  gouache (more about that soon, with reviews of paint and brushes for gouache). I thought it would be a perfect medium for my first Portrait Party attempt. One thing that I know about gouache but am not yet accustomed to, is that it dries significantly darker than it looks on the palette (unlike watercolor which dries lighter). That explains the very vibrant tones in the portrait above compared to the original photo (which I don’t have permission to post here)! Below is the original sketch that I painted over in my X-large Watercolor Moleskine.

Sketch of Jan Jaap for Julia Kaye's Portrait Party, graphite, 9x6.5"

Sketch of Jan Jaap for Julia Kaye’s Portrait Party, graphite, 9×6.5″

Wedding Bouquet (FIXED!)

Wedding Bouquet (Fixed), oil on panel, 10x8"

Wedding Bouquet (Fixed), oil on panel, 10×8″

Thank you to everyone who responded to my previous post and offered feedback about whether to try to fix the right-hand rose that was bugging me. I figured if everyone said leave it I would, but if others saw the problem too, I’d try again to fix it. They did, so I did, and now I can look at it without feeling frustrated.

To solve the problems with the rose, I turned the photo and the painting upside down and could immediately see I had the shape wrong. Then I converted the photo to gray-scale to check values. I reshaped and repainted the rose using grayed-down, paler colors. I touched up a few other spots in the painting (back top right flowers, some leaves and small changes to both left roses). I added a black border to simulate how it will be framed.

Now I think the focal point (the middle rose) stands out, and the minor right rose recedes. FYI, the reason these roses don’t look that rose-like is because although I started working from life, I could quickly see that the flowers were about to completely fall apart (it was several days after the wedding) so I took a photo of the almost over roses.

Below Left (AFTER): fixed final painting; Below Right (BEFORE): before adjustments and fixes.

Wedding Bouquet (Finished or Fix?)

Wedding Bouquet, oil on linen panel, 10x8"

Wedding Bouquet, oil on linen panel, 10×8″

I started this painting of my daughter-in-law’s wedding flowers soon after the wedding in January 2014 but wasn’t thrilled with the way it turned out so set it aside. I began reworking it again recently, and after several times reaching a point of saying, “Finished” and then working on it some more, I remembered the saying, “Art is never finished, only abandoned” and decided it was simply time to stop.

But there’s still one thing that bugs me in this painting: the pink rose on the right just feels too Barbie pink to me. Every time I look at the painting it irks me. But I’ve repainted it 5 times and perhaps because the photo I’m working from isn’t very good, especially of that rose, it keeps turning out the same. I may try one more time. What do you think? Leave it or try again? Or maybe find another photo of the set up with a different view of that rose and try again from that photo?

My challenge in painting is always how to maintain the freshness of my original inspiration, color choices and brush strokes while holding back my inner perfectionist who wants to keep noodling around forever. Another challenge with returning to an older painting is that the fresh flowers are long gone and only a so-so photo remains to work from. Likewise all my new fresh ideas about painting have to be set aside to work on something from the point of view of a year ago.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 985 other followers

%d bloggers like this: