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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.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Angeles Forest Storm

Angeles Forest Storm work in progress Katherine Kean
oil 8 x 8 inches

This is the beginning of a little square painting. I started with a tonal underpainting, as I usually do, but rather than wait for it to dry, worked over it wet into wet. It doesn't need many changes, but I will add some glazes to make some areas richer in color and others more atmospheric.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Angeles Forest Wide Sketch

Angeles Forest Storm Wide Sketch Katherine Kean
graphite 5 1/2 x 11 inches

"Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature's darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature's sources never fail." - John Muir

Monday, September 15, 2014

Surface Tension

Raindrops and Twinkle Lights work in progress Katherine Kean
oil   18 x 24 inches
Are you tired of seeing this one yet? Here is a further stage of development with both the darkest and brightest of the raindrop pattern in evidence. It is shaping up to be a battle of foreground vs. background, and the foreground, the drops and splashes that adhere to the windshield surface, appears to be gaining the upper hand at the moment. I must admit that the raindrop highlights were more than a little fun to paint!

So, to sum up:





Monday, September 08, 2014

Angeles Forest Storm Sketch

Angeles Forest Storm Square Sketch Katherine Kean
graphite 6 x 6 inches

Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean." 
- John Muir quoted by Samuel Hall Young in Alaska Days with John Muir (1915) chapter 7