Monday, November 30, 2009

Semi-Abstract Sunset

Sunsets were one of my favorite subjects when my main artistic pursuit was photography. When I took up painting five years ago, the first painting was that of a sunset. So I keep returning to sunsets from time to time and each time provides a new learning of some sort.
I started Sunset Encore with a very thin coat of acrylic colors applied on the canvas with a very wet sponge. The effect was almost of watercolor on paper and I could have stopped right there. The rest of the painting was then built up in layers of thin paint. Other than the coastline, there is no attempt to create any objective representation in this painting. The coastline anchors the sky and sea so that not much else is required to give a sense of depth.

Sunset Encore, Acrylic on canvas, 36"x24", Not for sale

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Horse Heads

original charcoal sketch by american artist atul pande
original charcoal sketch by american artist atul pande
Every time I look at horses, in addition to their grace and sense of controlled power, I am struck by the beauty of their faces. There is something about the sculpted solidity of the bones in the horses' head that begs to be drawn or painted.

Horse Head and Horses were both drawn rapidly with Conte crayon charcoal sticks with digital photographs used as a reference. As I get better, I am planning to do a series of large line drawings of horse heads, so this is good practice for now.

Horse Head, Conte crayon on paper, 11"x14", Not for sale

Horses, Conte crayon on paper, 11"x14", Not for sale

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Odd Composition?

original charcoal sketch by american artist atul pande
For some reason asymmetric composition draws viewer interest a lot longer than complete evenness. Design elements with odd-number components suggest more movement and engage the viewer. Even or symmetric numbered elements are perceived as static and quickly quench interest.

There is no handy explanation for this phenomenon. Perhaps it has something to do with how the brain processes visual stimuli and its relevance for human survival. Movement in the visual field may indicate a potential prey or predator and thus holds interest a lot longer than static symmetry that quickly fades into the background and is of no interest.

Anyhow, Three Peppers uses the odd-number composition. In addition, the peppers are all different sizes too. In my opinion, this strengthens the composition even further.

Three Peppers, Charcoal on paper, 4"x6", Not for sale

Friday, November 27, 2009

Inexpensive Experimentation

charcoal sketch of a bird by american artist atul pande
Though I had read about the merits of adopting regular and frequent sketching as an essential component of perfecting technique, it is only after I started drawing that the full potential of this inexpensive activity began to dawn on me. Not only do sketches compel close observation but they also allow compositional designs to be tried out before committing paint to ground. In the absence of a formal education in fine art, it has taken me years to arrive at this obvious conclusion!

Waiting for Spring is a charcoal sketch that I did from a digital photograph. I was satisfied with the form and placement of the bird. Upon reflection I realized that the blank space in front of the bird allows the eye to easily travel out of the scene. It would have been easy to use another branch coming off of the bottom one to re-direct the eye back to the center of interest.

Waiting for Spring, Charcoal on paper, 4"x6", Not for sale

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Three Pears -- Hardly Original!

charcoal sketch of three pears by american artist atul pane
Pears have been drawn and painted in numerous different ways. The most frequent composition I found is three pieces of fruit arranged in a row. Years ago I recall seeing a large painting with a row of pears (maybe as many as 8-9) receding into the distance. Set against a light background with the faintest of shadows, the pears created a feeling of infinite depth.

Three Pears was quickly sketched from a digital photograph using the fewest marks possible. I subtracted some of the highlights with an eraser. The charcoal marks were left unblended to convey a sense of energy and movement.

Three Pears, Charcoal on paper, 4"x6", Not for sale

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Avocado Halves

Sketching from photographs is often most convenient for me because of my business travel schedule. I can use pictures from the web (free rights$ of use, of course) or magazines. And I can carry my own digital pictures as source material. The problem is that photographs often fail to fully convey the depth and shadows which are essential to defining three-dimensional objects.

Avocado Halves is a small charcoal sketch done from a royalty-free image from
Public Domain Image. The photograph is sharp and clear, but it is difficult to get a read of the light and shadows. So I just invented the tiniest bit of shadowing at the bottom so as to anchor the object. Otherwise the avocado would seem to float in space!

Avocado Halves, Charcoal on paper, 4"x6", Not for sale

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Another step forward

original graphite sketch of pet dog by American artist atul pande
Drawing, sketching or painting images of household pets is probably one of the obvious pursuits for a beginning artist. I started with landscapes and for several years have done nothing else until trying still life painting and sketching. Each step is a definite confidence builder and I intend to continue down this path for the foreseeable future.

Mr. Cooper is my first attempt to draw an animal -- excluding, of course, the second grade art lessons! Technique leaves much to be desired here, but the likeness is close as you may be able to tell from the photograph. Cooper is my daughter's chihuahua-terrier mix and has no trouble posing for portraits!

Mr. Cooper, Graphite on paper, 4"x6", Not for sale

Monday, November 23, 2009

Foray into charcoal sketching

original charcoal sketch on paper by American artist Atul Pande
In the absence of long enough blocks of time to paint, I am finding sketching to be a handy tool to exercise some discipline. So far I had only used pencil or ink, mainly because of familiarity with the tools. Charcoal had always seemed far too messy to be able to carry around and use during the pauses of everyday life.

Recently I found charcoal pencils at the local art store and these appear to be a perfect solution for my needs. The idea for this first attempt at sketching with charcoal was provided by a mundane aspect of every home -- some arrangement of knick knacks that could serve as a stimulus for still life work. The varying sizes of the three vases offered design elements without any contrivance.

Three Vases is a simple little sketch that took me one step closer to overcoming my fear of drawing. A charcoal pencil and a kneadable eraser are a small price to pay for that important step.

Three Vases, Charcoal on paper, 4"x6", Not for sale