It appears that I will not have to buy pens again for some time.
Clement Gets Abstract, ink on paper, 2008 by Sarah Atlee. Some rights reserved.
In which I discover that cheap markers are just as useful as the expensive ones.
A poor carpenter blames his tools, right? I often draw with Prismacolor markers, known for their vast chromatic range and luscious blendability. And I’ve been known to paint with a W&N Series 7. But I also love tools and supplies I find for cheap or free. It’s all in how you use them.
In 2008, on a whim, I picked up a 36-pack of thin markers from the kids’ aisle at Hobby Lobby. They turned out to be some of the best pens I’ve ever used. These off-brand beauties had soft tips, a variety of colors (that tended toward the magenta end of the spectrum), and showed surprising versatility. Not long after I began using them, they dried out and began acting more like colored pencils. Suddenly I could layer, layer, layer. Just like using washes of acrylic paint.
Alas, Hobby Lobby changed their off-brand-brand of cheap markers (the newer ones have chiseled tips that don’t play well) and I haven’t found another set of these since then.
Clement Gets Abstract was created in July 2008 as part of a community journal project about Flat Stanley.
I Miss Oklahoma, ink on paper, 2009 by Sarah Atlee. Some rights reserved.
I’m learning in the Blog Triage course that ideas beget other ideas. How to keep track of them all?
Following is a cross-section of my own blog-writing process.
Ideas are slippery. Capture them.
If I get an idea for a post and I’m not at the computer, I write it down in in my Hiptser PDA. Then I say to myself, “Captured – huzzah!”
Since my Hipster is a series of to-do lists, incomplete tasks stay on top until done. Post ideas stay on top until I store them in the Blog directory on my flash drive, which I carry everywhere.
Ideas want to wander. Park them.
I save the file with the date in ISO 8601 format. Example: “20120501 flat stanley cheap markers.txt”
Because computer operating systems like to sort files alphabetically by default, this date format automatically keeps files in chronological order. Handy.
In a web browser window, I open all the web pages that relate to my post in separate tabs. Oh, how I love tabbed browsing! Each url gets copied and pasted at the bottom of my plain text document. This is just to park them until I turn them into links.
Maybe this won’t turn into a post today. I move the plain text document into a subfolder on my flash drive called “unpublished.” It’s a great place to go back and browse when I’m looking for new content for my blog.
Now, to the WordPress dashboard. I create a new post, put ONLY the title in, and save it as a draft. It is very important that I do not fiddle around with any of the shiny WordPress buttons at this time.
Ideas want to be polished.
Back in NoteTab, I finish composing my post.
Using the bits of html code that I know, I put all the link URLs into place.
I run through my preflight checklist, checking all links, spelling and grammar, and taste-testing for maximum zestiness.
I copy and paste the whole text into WordPress. I save the draft again (!) and preview it to check my links again (!).
Then, and only then, do I click “Publish.”
Last step: eat some chocolate and go to bed.
Are you having trouble deciding what to write, or how to write it?
Garage 283, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 inches, 2010 by Sarah Atlee.
Garage 283 is my entry for the invitational exhibit Heart and Soul of the Great Plains. The show opens November 6, 2010 in Lawton and Chickasha, OK. My painting will be in the group on display at Leslie Powell Foundation Gallery in Lawton.
This show is presented in conjunction with the Museum of the Great Plains and the Comanche National Museum. Contemporary art will be presented in the Leslie Powell Gallery, naturalistic art in the Museum of the Great Plains and Comanche art in the Comanche National Museum.
Special guests for opening night will be Buffalofitz, an acoustic band with a highly entertaining brand of music, humor and storytelling.
Since moving to Oklahoma in 2006, I’ve been enchanted with our particular landscape. Not in a romantic way; I’m piqued by the jumble of decaying billboards, squat beige warehouses, freeway overpasses, prairie, McMansions, and expansive sky. Upon being invitied to participate in this show, I decided to construct a visual quilt composed of abstract snippets of my semi-urban surroundings.
Photo collage for Garage 283, 2010 by Sarah Atlee
This became my reference tool for creating the painting.
Garage 283, detail (landscape view), 2010 by Sarah Atlee
After finishing this experimental piece (first in an open-ended series), I realize that the color palette is about five times brighter than I would have liked. Interestingly, as a beginning painter, I had to fight the urge to cover everything with white glazes. Now, I’m fighting to resist the siren song of Indian yellow, veridian, quinacradone violet, red oxide, and cobalt blue.
Garage 283, detail view, 2010 by Sarah Atlee
Self Portrait: Three Lucky Pennies, acrylic on canvas, 8 x 8 x 1.5 inches, 2010
Three Lucky Pennies will be in the annual Small Works show at JRB Art Gallery at the Elms in Oklahoma City (map link) for the month of November 2010. The opening reception is Friday, November 5th, 6-10 pm.
The Small Works show at JRB will feature 100 8×8-inch canvases by 100 artists, each piece priced at $180.00. Artists Skip Hill, Nick Wu, Carlos Tello and Sohail Sheheda will be featured in the gallery’s other spaces.
Here’s a look at how I created this piece.
The idea for this self portrait popped into my head a couple of weeks ago. I imagined a ratty, thrift-store leopard-print coat, but that item seems to be missing from my closet. I took reference photos of myself wearing this wonderful purple kimono that my Mom has had for years. I settled on the two best shots, and spliced them together in PhotoShop.
I always enjoy painting the edges of a canvas. Luckily, the canvases this gallery provides for the Small Works show have lovely 1.5″ edges. Using Adobe InDesign, I created a grid and placed my reference photo under it. This is a useful tool when working from a single reference.
I had to turn this painting around in just a couple of days, so I knew that a good underdrawing would be key. I couldn’t afford to take time working all the shadows out in paint alone. I often do underdrawings in graphite, and I prefer not to use spray fixative because it’s water-resistant and stinky. Here I’ve blended the shadows using my finger, from which a small amount of skin oil helps the graphite adhere to the canvas. When I put the first wash down, I do it gently, so as not to smear the drawing. One acrylic wash seals it.
Usually I put down a burnt sienna or pepto-bismol-pink wash for figure painting, but I pictured this piece with yellow undertones. The wash here is a mixture of Naples yellow and a cadmium-based pale pink.
When painting patterns, I prefer a loose interpretation to a slavish reproduction. I drew the pattern on the canvas in pencil, mostly not looking at what I was drawing. (I love drawing blind.) I went over the lines using Payne’s gray and a #1 liner brush.
I put in the big shadows with Payne’s gray (how I love thee), and began blocking in the skin tones with quinacradone violet, napthol red, titanium white, Indian yellow, Naples yellow, Pyrrole red, light umber, and burnt sienna. These days I’m using a lot of Golden Fluid Acrylics, recommended to me by professor Bob Dorsey for their high pigment concentration and versatility. He also recommends Windsor Newton Series 7 brushes, which are indeed “worth every penny.”
Here I’ve added washes of quinacradone violet and more Payne’s gray to the robe. Continuing to block in the skin tones. The background is tinanium white with just a drop of Payne’s gray to cool it off, and contrast with the warmth of the figure. I laid it on thick, allowing hints of the yellow underpainting to show through.
To finish, I overglazed the skin with more titanium white, napthol red tint, and Naples yellow, using some Golden glazing medium in yellow ochre and iridescent red. More glazes of quinacradone violet were added to the robe.
I can paint your portrait, too! Click here to view pricing and contact information.