The everyday art and inspiration of artist Jennifer Georgeadis.

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April 1, 2017

At the end of a day spent doing negative painting (which I’ll share later), I thought I’d try a fast portrait from a movie still. Although the end result wasn’t much of a true likeness of the gentleman I was sketching, I still think the rendering turned out pretty well:

©2017 Jennifer Georgeadis. 19cm x 20cm, digital charcoal

January 11, 2017

For years I've been trying to refine my field sketching skills. Anyone who's followed my blog for a while will know that I keep coming back to that topic. One of the most difficult aspects of field sketching is being able to quickly and accurately describe what you're looking at, especially when the key elements before you may be elusive and fleeting, such as a certain quality of light or shadow, drifting clouds, animals, or groups of people. Developing fast sketching techniques can also be helpful when you're travelling with others who may not be as interested as you are in twenty minute stops to sketch a scene!

Over this past summer I returned to practising speed sketching faces in charcoal pencil. I kept the portraits small, usually 8/10 cm square, which allowed me room to create enough detail to be descriptive without getting too fussy. In the beginning I used TV as reference, mostly for convenience, and because the images could be paused for extra time to work while I improved on my speed. At first rendering a quick, decent likeness took way longer than I would have liked, often six or seven minutes.

I was happy with the line work and shading, but it needed to be much faster if I wanted to sketch in real time. I kept practising for speed, but I admit I was seduced by the tools – a medium charcoal stick, a graphite crayon and a large blending stick – which made some terrific lines and shadows and were great fun to use. The portraits became much more refined, though not any quicker to execute.

Gradually the process became faster as I became more accustomed to quickly measuring the distance of facial features, the angle of the head, and light and shadow.

©2017 Jennifer Georgeadis.

Not all of the sketches were successful, especially when I thought too much about fine rendering and not enough about basic shapes and light. The advantage of increasing the speed of my sketching is that if I'm doing it right, there isn't time to think too much! My plan is to take this practice out into the field (where there's no pause button!) and continue to develop my skills in real time.

November 27, 2016

For many years I've wanted to take a pottery class and learn to throw pots on a wheel. I've had a very small amount of experience with hand-building vessels from back in junior high, but I've never worked on a pottery wheel before. I had the opportunity to take a pottery class at the arts centre nearby, and we started working on the wheel during our very first class – exciting and a bit frightening! The whole class (myself included) had our share of small disasters, but for the most part, we ended up laughing despite it all.

The first three vessels I threw had walls that were too thick, but I managed to take advantage of that and make the surface a bit more interesting when I got to the carving part. I carved a foot (base) on each vessel then flipped them over to carve out different edges and textures for each one. This process is done on the wheel, and feels to me a bit like what turning a piece of wood might be like. I really enjoyed this part of the process. Here are the vessels after carving was complete:

The glazing process was an adventure. Although we had a sample board to refer to when it came to choosing and mixing glazes. It seems there's only so much control you have in how a glazed piece of pottery will turn out. For those who need total control, the glazing process might be frustrating, but many in our class were happily surprised to see what the finished product was, even if it wasn't what they'd planned. Our instructor suggested that for pieces with a lot of texture a celadon glaze might be a good choice. My Stanley Cup-esque piece ;) seemed ideal to try this glaze, and I'm happy with the result. Because it's a simple glaze, it brings out the texture and fine particles in the clay.

For the other two pieces I used two glazes, opal blue and celadon, dipped one after the other. The resulting mix had some very interesting sedimentary characteristics which I love!

©2016 Jennifer Georgeadis.

Halfway through the course I realized that I was making a technical mistake. For right-handed people like me, the majority of work on the vessel is done on the right side, or at the 3-o'clock position (for lefties it's at 9-o'clock). I'd been working on the wrong side, so I had to re-learn that element. I've been practising, and so far my vessels are starting to have the right thickness and shape. I'm planning to take another course in January to continue developing my skills, so there will be more pottery posts to come!

April 8, 2016

Recently, I watched an excellent video talking about how important repetition is in sketching portraits. One of the elements that are so vital in successful sketching is the position and general structure of the skull. Ideally, this should be one of the first steps I consider before moving on to detail, but often I skip it. Here, I’ve done a page of skull positions for practice. As always, returning to basics is always good practice!

©2016 Jennifer Georgeadis. 16cm x 19.5cm, digital conté

April 6, 2016

I had a little more success with my second attempt (still love what ends up happening in the 5-second sketch, though!):

©2016 Jennifer Georgeadis. 16cm x 19.5cm, digital conté

April 4, 2016

I thought that since I so enjoyed Jake Parker’s 8-minute sketch challenge, I might be able to apply the same idea to my recent portrait practice. As with the last sketch challenge, the idea is to draw the same subject in shorter and shorter periods of time - spend 4 minutes on the first sketch (#1), 2 minutes on the next, then 1 minute, 30 seconds, 15 seconds and 5 seconds on the next 4 sketches. The first sketch was okay, but as you can see, by the last sketch you can barely tell the subject is meant to be human! This was good practice (and a bit of a laugh), and I intend to keep at it and see how much I can improve my speed.

©2016 Jennifer Georgeadis. 16cm x 19.5cm, digital conté

April 1, 2016

Getting any good work out today was a bit of a grind. Maybe I’ve gotten too used to painting baseboards and walls! It took several tries, but these are two sketches I’m happy with:

©2016 Jennifer Georgeadis. 16cm x 19.5cm, digital ink

March 28, 2016

Some warm-up ink sketches from yesterday:

©2016 Jennifer Georgeadis. 14cm x 10cm, ink on sketchbook paper

March 23, 2016

My attempts at this kind of portrait sketching have been rather hit-and-miss. Here, the sketch on the left took several tries to get a decent likeness, while the one on the right took only a few minutes:

©2016 Jennifer Georgeadis. 18cm x 12cm, digital ink

March 18, 2016

A few more sketch selections from today:

©2016 Jennifer Georgeadis. 18cm x 19.5cm, digital ink

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© 2011-2017 Jennifer Georgeadis.