"Blue" Gouache on board © Joanna Zeller Quentin 2009.

Friday, July 16, 2010

"... a rose by any other name..."

"Only the Lonely" done- 12 minutes before the"official" deadline.  It has gone off into the wide netherworld of cyberspace in little electronic swirls and whispers, and will hopefully coalesce in the designated email inbox as a fully realized, fully articulated sweeping ode to a magnificent equine in shades of burnished grey, evocative of isolation, fragmented beauty, windswept barren plains, the essential duality of light and dark, day and night, good and evil.  Or maybe it will just look like a picture of a horse.

My bestest best friend in the whole wide world complemented me on my names today. "You always have the most clever, intelligent names..." which is high praise, coming from her.  And it is true, I spend a great deal of time thinking about what I'm going to call a picture.  If I can't come up with the perfect name for it - before a single line has been drawn - it doesn't happen.  There have been a few exceptions to this rule, and almost all of them are half finished train wrecks of ink and paint.  They lack that last little bit, the "je ne sais quoi" if you will, and I have to think it's because of the name.

A name gives purpose, direction, attitude.  My degree is in fine art, but my field of study for 4 years was Illustration, or "the visual representation of a thought, emotion, idea" etc.  The naming of a piece, therefore, captures the mindset I want to be in while working on it, dreaming about it, scribbling it out.  Hopefully, sometimes some of that makes its way into the actual art as well, but that might just be wishful thinking.  And it's fun, too.  "Office Romance" presents not only the real life love affair of husband and wife cattle ranchers, but also presents what for many of us would be an ideal working environment -  on the back of a horse with your sweetheart, breathing in fresh air and sunshine, roaming across the open country.  "Red" is not only done almost entirely in a red color palette, but also reflects the common barn name of many chestnut racehorses, including Man o' War and Secretariat.  "Lope" shows a cantering, or "loping" horse, but was done as a fundraiser for LOPE (Lone Star Outreach to Place Ex Racehorses @ www.lopetx.org).  And I must mention here that "Only the Lonely" was actually suggested as a name for another piece by my mother, but I immediately grafted it onto the then unformed drawing which was simply hanging out there waiting for the perfect name.  So, thanks Mom!

And finally, here is the newest entry in the stable.  Graphite, conte crayon (and eventually india ink) on clayboard.  My reference photo is of two sweet, gentle Belgian mares nonchalantly lounging about in their field, but a slight breeze just barely lifted tendrils of mane up at the right moment when I took the shot, and I took the idea and ran with it.  Here is the beginning of "Tempest".  (And I apologize for possibly the worst photo of artwork ever taken!)

"Tempest" WIP  
©Joanna Zeller Quentin 2010.  All Rights Reserved.  www.MoosePantsStudio.com

"Only the Lonely"
© Joanna Zeller Quentin 2010.  All Rights Reserved.  www.MoosePantsStudio.com

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Kid in a candy store

DH and I went to the art store yesterday.  Well, technically, we went to Michaels (I "kneaded" a "knew" eraser) but we were still able to wander the approximately 3 aisles full of goodies with our eyes alight and arms full of totally unnecessary stuff.  We have art supplies.  Between the two of us, we could probably open a decently stocked little art shop ourselves.  Airbrushes, inks, oils, acrylics, gouache, boards, canvas, pencils, pastels (a huge set of Rembrandt pastels, which was possibly the saddest thing in my art arsenal because they are so pretty - and were so expensive- and I can't do a decent pastel to save my life), brushes, tape, clamps... you get the idea.  When you spend four years at a fine arts college and then move onto your new studio, you just don't throw stuff out.  (This is probably why there just isn't enough room in our studio.  EVER.)

So we didn't really need anything.  I got my eraser, DH picked up a new set of pencils and some watercolor paper (I'm still awaiting my super expensive and hopefully totally awesome Hahnemuhle block to arrive from Germany any day now), we resisted the urge to buy the dog a beanie hat- if you knew our dog, you'd agree he could totally pull it off- and at the last minute, I ran back down the aisle and grabbed the coolest little set of calligraphy nibs.  They were so shiny - and reasonably priced- and I just couldn't resist.

I love pen and ink.  I love etchings.  I LOVE scratchboard.  It is entirely possible that in a previous life I was an engraver or a woodblock printer or did illuminated manuscripts or something like that.  Possibly religious iconography... but that's another story.  But pen and ink and scratchboard are for me labors of love.  The repetitive scratch, scratch, scratch of tiny lines, over and over again, is soothing to me, zen-like and restful.  The rasp of an ink pen being dragged across paper, the careful dipping into a bottle of ink, the rapid scribble and unpredictability of just how the ink will come out of the nib is challenging to me - and dare I say? - fun.  There's not a huge market for scratchboards or pen and ink drawings, so I don't do these things as much as I would like to, or probably as much as I should.  They are good things to do for art's sake- nothing more.

Anyway, so I managed to squeeze in an hour of trying out my new nibs tonight- something I've been looking forward to since Friday.  Here's the result....

Nothing major, just playing around with sizes and pressure.  Some of them worked better than others, and one of them didn't work at all, but I'm pretty sure it was user error.  There were also some random ink splatters, but I'm going to chalk that up to a happy accident and not just an accident.  (It's also been forever since I rattled out anything but some form of equine, so it was nice to "spread my wings" and dash off a heron.  Made me think of FL and the Gulf Coast, and then made me sad.)  But it made me remember how nice it is just to do something for myself.  Not every piece of artwork has to be a masterpiece, and that's a trap I've fallen into lately.

Speaking of masterpiece (j/k... couldn't resist) "Only the Lonely" is sooooo close to being finished.  After scrubbing out and redoing the nose and part of the face, I think I've finally got it where and how I want it now.  So now it's just a matter of... what?  "Finishing it"... whatever the heck that means.  Tweaking it and teasing little bits of detail out, pumping up darks and drawing out highlights.  Refining and refining and refining some more.  I'm looking forward to seeing what it looks like when it is done, with almost inordinate delight.  Here it is as it stands now...

I'll post the finished product.  For now, washing out pen nibs and headed down with some graphite.  Overall, a very satisfying Sunday evening.
©Joanna Zeller Qunetin 2010.  All Rights Reserved.  www.MoosePantsStudio.com