Getting In The Saddle…Or Did I Ever Leave It?

Two posts ago I wrote about my extreme distaste for my current watercolor situation. So, I decided to begin at Square 1, which was: clean my palette completely off and start hunting for a wider range of colors.

“My Reflection” Gouache and pencil. © Katie Kath 2022. Do not copy or reproduce.

I’ve been using the same color palette/scheme since about 2014. While the colors one can potentially mix from a mere set of reds, yellows, and blues is supposedly infinite, I’m here to tell you that’s honestly a load of horse patties. Sorry, color-theory folks.

Now, I was faced with the first problem. Paint is expensive. Like, seriously expensive, even for .5 measly little fluid ounces of the stuff. Granted, a little Daniel Smith goes a long way, but still. I can go through a whole lot of Shadow Violet.

And then, I remembered.

The GIANT TUB of gouache and watercolors I received from a dear friend who lost her cancer battle several years ago had sat languishing in the back of my closet for quite awhile, begging to be organized. Well, then. It was time to organize.

What a treasure awaited me.

Tube upon tube of colors arrayed before me. So many exciting new colors I’d never used or heard of–or simply hadn’t bought because of the expensive gamble of buying a color and deciding I hated it–were miraculously at my finger tips. Folks, I haven’t been this excited about painting in awhile.

I spent an entire evening sorting through almost all of the empty tubes, dried up tubes, leaky tubes, and perfectly fine tubes of paint all in an evening, creating a pile for gouache and a pile for watercolor. Then, I organized each paint type into color families so I wasn’t spending valuable time hunting for a Dioxazine Purple amid my Yellow Ochres. I made color charts and painted various experimental doodles with both gouache and watercolor to decide which I liked best. It felt like I was putting all of my favorite pets into little comfy corners of the room, waiting to be doted upon.

I think I might finally be heading in a better direction for myself. As always, stay tuned.

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A Post Dinner Sketch

With company over last weekend and this week shaping up to be very full as well–we have a toddler starting a Mommy and Me gymnastics class and a husband who has started school again–I haven’t found the energy to post something lately.

“Playtime for Little Ones” – © Katie Kath 2022. Do not reproduce without permission.

So: for now, here is a quick sketch of M., happily stacking plastic rings after dinner this evening.

Good night!

A Bit of Opera

“Dreamland” – pastel on paper. Katie Kath 2022. Do not copy or reproduce without permission.

Tonight’s drawing of my snoozing son is inspired by a sweet aria entitled Evening Prayer from the opera, “Hansel and Gretel,” by Engelbert Humperdinck. (And no matter how beautiful the music is, I cannot for the life of me get over that name. What did his mother call him? Lil Dinkey? What did his friends call him? Bert? Did he have any friends named Ernie?)

I digress. To the point, it’s a wonderful lullaby and a dreamy tune, with lyrics which I will inscribe herein:

When at night I go to sleep, Fourteen angels watch do keep, Two my head are guarding, Two my feet are guiding, Two are on my right hand, Two are on my left hand, Two who warmly cover, Two who o’er me hover, Two to whom tis given to guide my steps to heaven.

Sleeping softly then it seems, Heaven enters in my dreams; Angels hover round me, Whisp’ring they have found me; Two are sweetly singing, Two are garlands bringing, Strewing me with roses, As my soul reposes. God will not forsake me when dawn at last will wake me.

More Pastel Adventures + VIDEO!

Happy Saturday! I know it has been several days since I have posted, but hopefully the wait will have been worth it since I had to spend some time filming and troubleshooting a: (drum-roll please…) time-lapse video for the first time ever!

That’s right, folks. Today you get to see one of my drawings come to life before your very eyes–several hours worth of work blitzing by in a matter of seconds for your viewing pleasure! (And maybe for your inspiration as well.)

“Taming the Wildfires” – © Katie Kath 2022. Do not reproduce without permission.

As you can see in the video, this piece is a bit larger and more involved than most of the work I have been posting here of late, so it was filmed over two days. Unfortunately, on the second day my filming angle got a bit off-kilter, but you get the bonus of seeing my wonderful mother-in-law drop in to chat with me about family resemblance and the dog chase our cat out of the frame (Ah, family life!)

As a double bonus you get to hear my lilting voice describe a few of the techniques I’m using so any viewer can take those little nuggets of knowledge and apply them to their own pastel adventures, too.

Happy painting!

Possum Watch

Y’all, we got possums in the crawlspace.

Aside from the fact that the above sentence sounds like either a bad book title or something a hillbilly might tell his doctor when asked what is ailing him, we do, in fact, have a whole family of possums lurking in our crawlspace.

We first caught a possum on a Ring camera we have outside, and after several nights we noticed one possum became two, then four, then six, and then one large one started carrying some nesting material back and forth with its tail. Obviously, this posse of possums found a great piece of real estate and they were MOVIN’ IN.

We will probably end up calling someone to relocate them, but in the meantime we had a fun date hanging out back in the cooling breeze of a summer sunset, waiting to see if any of our new possum friends decided to poke its head around the corner and greet us.

Spoiler: none of them did.

Does It Make A Good Drawing?

“Two Girls Seated” charcoal, pastel – © Katie Kath 2022. Do not reproduce without permission.

Often, the most bland photographs make for the best drawings. (Likewise, the best photographs make the worst drawings. No one looks good in a drawing when they are smiling. EVER. And I stand by that!)

Take this one, for example.

As I said in a prior post, it is best to draw from life–especially if you aren’t very familiar with drawing the human figure–but this is not always possible once you step outside of art school. People generally have very little time or patience to sit for long periods of time like a paid model is willing to do.

This picture was just a snap shot, one of those you take with your phone that you’ll likely completely forget about soon afterwards. However, it stood out to me in a way that all of the other smiling family portraits did not. The composition of the figures, the positioning of the limbs and fabric (ok, I added the stripes. Artistic license.) and the contemplative look on both girls’ faces screamed to be turned into a drawing.

I’m glad I did.

A Wyeth Twist

“Stepping Forth” inspired from “Trodden Weed” by A. Wyeth. – Dark field monoprint on Kozo paper. © Katie Kath 2022. Do not use without permission

A long time ago I was fortunate enough to see a special exhibit on Andrew Wyeth at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and it was AH-MAY-ZING.

They had just about every scrap of painting and drawing the guy ever did, all collated into one, huge, fantastic show. The opening picture, smack in the middle of the wall when you walked in, was “Soaring.” I could almost feel the wind whipping at the feathers of the birds depicted in the surreal landscape, as I felt somewhat sorry for the hundreds (thousands?) of gallery-goers in various museums around the US, sadly staring up at blank frame-shaped patches of wall once holding these beautiful works, now displaying a “temporarily on loan” sign in their place.

Ah, well. C’est la vie. Meanwhile, I feasted my eyes.

Tonight’s monotype print was inspired by one of my favorite Wyeth pieces, a painting entitled, “Trodden Weed.” (Feet modeled after yours truly.)

One of the things I love about Wyeth’s work is how his paintings cannot help but make you feel.

So, I leave you with this question tonight: How does this monotype make you feel?

Tiny Bather

Y’all, I need some sleep.

M. has been waking up at those hours where no matter WHAT you do, you just can’t fall back asleep. (I’m looking at you, 3 and 4 am…) So, in light of this situation, all I’ve got tonight is just a simple, tiny bather, using a not-so-simple method.

There is a second kind of monotype printing process besides the dark field monotype (still my favorite) and I wanted to give it a quick go because why not?

In this type of monoprint, a thin layer of dark ink is rolled onto glass–much like what you do for a dark field–but this time, you delicately lay a sheet of paper down on top of it, practically letting it float on top of the ink. On top of this you can add a sketch, carefully tape it to the paper on top of the ink, and trace the sketch with a drawing implement (preferably a sharpened pencil or pen) bearing down upon the sketch so the paper underneath picks up the ink on the bottom. Peel away, and hopefully, the drawing comes out without too many smudges (or worse yet, just a big black blob).

These types of monoprint are really a pain. But I will say that they do give a very interesting-looking line effect that cannot be replicated by any drawing tool.

Get Your Friends To Sit For You

And I don’t mean babysitting!

“Connie Seated” – charcoal on Strathmore paper. ©Katie Kath 2022. Do not use without permission.

Many people erroneously think they would make terrible models.

“Oh, I couldn’t,” they say, and list off a myriad of excuses, “I’m not attractive enough. I’m too tall/short/old/petite, I don’t like my face/arms/flab/wrinkles/scars”…you name it.

But I’m convinced something magical happens when a person is drawn.

One of my college professors once told me about a figure drawing session in which the model, after taking a look at all of the artist’s studies of her, said, “Wow, is that me? I didn’t know I looked that good!” To which, everyone responded emphatically, “UM, YES! You do look that good!”

And guess what? The model was a regular person. not a swimsuit model, not a runway model, not a Maybelline model, not super young, not super fit, just….an average person with an average life.

We artists see the beautiful in the average. So go ahead, artists: talk your friends into sitting for you in a drawing session. They may be pleasantly surprised.

A Monday Monotype With Food For Thought

“Yia-Yia’s Cat” – Dark field monotype print. © Katie Kath. Do not reproduce without permission.

I know I do a lot of pieces in black-and-white.

Sometimes I even say to myself, “Seriously? Another black-and-white drawing?”

“Yes. Got a problem?”

There is something I really love about black-and-white. No matter how many color pieces I do, black-and-white is like that one boyfriend who you just keep going back to, not because he’s a sleazy hunk and a cheap date, but rather because he’s a romantic. He’s the boy next door who maybe everyone else failed to notice but you–and every time you come back, golly he just gets cuter.

In fact, a former professor was once singing the praises about the virtues of black-and-white art-making, saying that, “It’s really all you need. All of the visual information you ever need is there.”

I remembered this phrase, interestingly, on the heels of browsing one of my favorite textbooks by Martin Salisbury, where he states (and I paraphrase): “The important thing (about drawing) is whether or not the approach serves the drawing’s purpose.”

So. Let a drawing serve it’s purpose. i.e.: Show only what needs to be shown. Get rid of the weeds. Don’t overly complicate a piece if it shouldn’t be complicated, WHICH INCLUDES not adding color if it isn’t necessary.

I love black-and-white. So there!