Monday, October 20, 2014

Showing Metal


Coastal Pine Katherine Kean
3 x 3 inches silverpoint
Coastal Pine Katherine Kean
3 x 3 inches silverpoint, aged one month
I have been wanting to try drawing with silverpoint for ages. An artist friend suggested it to me years ago. I have a light touch, which serves me well in watercolor and oils, but for which I must compensate by using very soft pencils. With metalpoint drawings it doesn't matter so much how hard one bears down - the mark will be about the same. 

I decided to try it out with a tiny drawing of very familiar subject matter.

All the marks one makes in silverpoint are indelible. There is no erasing. Metalpoint drawings are ethereal at first and darken with age as they oxidize. You can see a slight difference in the early drawing above, compared to the same drawing photographed again about a month later.

A quality I like about metalpoint is that one piece of metal lasts a long time and I don't find myself taking trip after trip to the sharpener. Without a stylus, metal to work with can be found in the silverware drawer or coin pocket. I also like that the finished surface has a silvery sheen when the light hits it. Silverpoint is difficult to photograph - the scans here are blurry from the light bouncing around, and the drawings look better in person, which I think is true for much, if not all artwork.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Small Bird in an Olive Tree

Small Bird in Olive Tree wip Katherine Kean
oil on linen 8 x 8 inches
"A forest bird never wants a cage." Henrik Ibsen

Here is the first day of work on a small bird resting in an olive tree painting. Every part wants refining and loosening up at the same time. As a busy piece I am glad to have all the main elements: leaves, twigs, bird, laid out. Now comes the hard part, and the fun.

Monday, October 06, 2014

A Bird in the Brush

Sparrow Sketch Katherine Kean
graphite 8 x 8 inches
I like to use drawings as a way of exploring ideas for paintings. In the sketch above I'm interested in the way the bird just about disappears into the busyness of all the leaves and branches.

"The Sparrow shown near a window, perched on a ledge, flying in a window, flying outside a window or perched on a branch outside a window, represents the soul of a recently deceased loved one." The Hidden Symbolism of Birds in Western Painting

I'm interested too in symbolism in art, and birds are loaded with cultural and personal meanings. To some, birds represents souls, to some, freedom. To others, birds might bring good or bad luck.

The sparrows I'm drawing like to perch outside my window where a tall cactus grows. When the cactus fruit is ripe the birds appear at dusk in droves, day after day, until nothing remains of the fruits but hollowed out shells. It's plenty of fun to see.