August came and went in a single minute it seems. It was even more busy because I was invited and participated in The Sketchpack Project 2014. My regular readers may remember The Sketchpack 2013 from last year. This project is organized and run by my good friend Di Metcalf of Artsource from Capetown, South Africa. Artsource sends out concertina sketchpacks, and participants make a sketch every day for the month of August. Completed sketchpacks go back to Capetown and take part in the exhibition.
These are my 31 (more or less) drawings drawn every day or nearly every day during August 2014. This year I couldn’t be bothered with having a single theme or a discipline to stick to it. So these are a stream of consciousness drawings, whatever happened in my life, that I drew. My friend tragically passed away – I drew his portrait. Charlie the dog came to visit – I drew Charlie. I worked on compositions for paintings and drew thumbnails. Went for walks and drew what I saw. Broke dishes and drew the shards. A fantastic practice – I highly recommend it to anyone.
See drawings here – http://alexzonisart.com/drawings
So many things were happening in the last weeks that I nearly forgot I had a few more sketches from Every Day in August project! These are from around my neighborhood – Edgewater.
The little red tractor-beachcomber is busy combing our beach every morning along with two others – one blue and one green. It makes a nice summery buzz-buzz-clankedy-clunk noise to wake up to.
Our beach looks just like Miami with these ultramarine umbrellas. We call this area Michigan Riviera in summer. You don’t want to know what I call it in winter.
In Chicago we only get two seasons – Winter and Construction. It is Construction now, I had a choice of three different backhoes within 2 blocks of my building.
And then the project came to an end. Here’s the whole concertina pack – 31 sketches – just before it got into the mail to go to Cape Town. I already heard from South Africa that it arrived (whew!) and is being installed in the exhibition.
The earlier sketches can be seen under these links:
Here are a few more sketches for the wonderful Sketchpack Project 2013 out of Capetown, South Africa. The first three are fun classic cars from a classic cars show we stumbled upon in Stockholm – an MG, a Ford, and a Buick. And a delightful garland of kids I caught walking down my street a few months back. I let myself use my Artistic License painting their clothes, and had to nearly completely invent the leading boy because he walked out of the frame while I fumbled with my camera :).
The earlier sketches can be seen under these links:
One of these days I will make a separate page for them.
Today my blog turns 4 years old! Who could have thought?! To celebrate this occasion we, the blog and I, got ourselves a present – a brand new URL.
Welcome to alexandrazonis.com!
And I also want to use this post to share 6 more sketches from Sketchpack project.
The next 6 sketches for the wonderful Sketchpack Project 2013 out of Capetown, South Africa. The first 6 can be seen here – Every Day in August.
We have a Facebook group for members of this project where we post our daily sketches and chat away about sketches and everything else. It is quite amazing to say this – but I seem to have a few new friends in Capetown and Johannesburg area. Some even invited me to visit – an amazing feat considering the distance – 8494 miles – and amount of jet fuel needed to get there from Chicago. But you never know… if there is a will – there is a way!
I was invited to participate in The Sketchpack Project 2013. My friend Di Metcalf from Cape Town, South Africa organized it. I got sent an accordion sketchpack and am doing a drawing a day, every day for the month of August. The sheets are really small – 4″x3.3″ (10 x 8 cm), so the sketches do not take a lot of time. I do them in the evenings, after I finish painting and teaching.
I decided to use this opportunity of daily sketching to try out ideas for future paintings. I have a list of ideas, let’s see how they look as images. When the month of August is over and the sketches are finished, the sketchpack will fly back to Cape Town and will participate in a show.
Above are six sketches from the first week. I will be adding more when I have time.
14th Annual Waterworks show opened yesterday in August House gallery in Chicago. The turn out was fantastic! People were standing shoulder to shoulder with barely any room to get to paintings. The weather seemed to be in line with the theme of the show as water was coming down from the sky with great enthusiasm.
I showed two of my watercolor portraits: Meyr and Odelia, and got great feedback on them from guests and participating artists. It feels very good, especially considering that overall level of work at the show was very high.
Israel for me starts with Meyer. His is the face I see first when I arrive. For several years now he meets me in Ben Gurion International and takes me home. Meyer is a taxi driver.
I bet you don’t have a private taxi driver, do you? Well, I don’t either, but my parents do. About 10 years ago my parents got into Meyer’s cab by chance, and they liked each other all the way around. And what’s not to like – Meyer has a sunny disposition, amazing energy, a wonderful warm manner and a dickens sense of humor. From that day on my parents rarely called a general taxi line, they call Meyer. And when the airport and the roads got rebuilt and became as complicated as Rubik’s Cube, it became too hard for them to drive to the airport. So Meyer comes and gets me instead. Every year I look forward to seeing him.
9″ x 11.5″ (22 x 29 cm) watercolor on paper
Several people wrote to me via comments here and email asking about the technique for background in this portrait. So I am adding this description. I used splattering technique, I read about it in a couple of watercolor books. I wanted to try it here because I wanted a sense of desert to connect Meyer to his country. Israel is 70% desert, and even though I took this reference in a lush and green little park where my parents live I thought that the connection was called for.
I started with overall light wash of Aureolin (PY40) covering the entire sheet, the face, shirt and BG. Then I put a wash of Yellow Ochre (PY43) covering the BG but also bleeding into skin and hair. I use Daniel Smith colors, and Daniel Smith Yellow Ochre is the most sumptuous Yellow Ochre I have seen. Then I developed the face and shirt almost to completion but not quite. I made a mask for the face and body from a piece of tracing paper and attached it loosely in 3 or 4 places with dots of masking fluid. Having placed the painting horizontally I covered the outer portions of my board with newspaper (you don’t have to do this, I am just anal-retentive like that.) Then the fun began.
I prepared five cups of concentrated paint making it a consistency of heavy cream. I used the same colors as I used in the painting for the skin and shirt in hope to unify the painting and achieve color harmony. I actually put a bit more thought into choosing my BG colors and they were all natural Earths – siennas, umbers and ferrites. I tested my toothbrush and colors on a scrap paper to figure out the size of my droplets and their trajectory. When I liked what I saw on a scrape paper I started on the actual painting. I splattered one color at a time and let colors dry for various times, a little or a lot, without much thought or plan. I wanted to achieve a controlled randomness (now that’s an oxymoron!) Then I checked the tone and decided it was too warm, so I added some Manganese Blue (PB15) splatter, also a natural mineral color and a color from his shirt, which was not in the prepared set of 5. Waited until everything was bone dry and lifted the mask.
I saw that some splatter got onto the face, so I lifted that and cleaned it up. In another small area my mask covered too much and there was a bald spot, so I added spots of needed colors with a brush imitating splatter.
Then I finished the face that needed more punch now that the BG got darker, painted flyaway hair and details on the glasses. Done.
I met Odelia in Israel, in Netanya. She served us coffee in our favorite coffee place Shvil HaHalav, the Milky Way. As soon as I saw her I knew I had to paint her – an amazing beauty that she was, exotic and mischievous.
Explaining this to her was a different matter. My Hebrew is very rudimental, and Odelia’s English was not at the level of discussing matters of art. But my mom came to the rescue. With her machine gun Hebrew, taking no prisoners attitude, and general charm – the outcome was guaranteed. I was so lucky to have such an interpreter and advocate of my art. And then I got lucky yet again – the blistering Mediterranean sun gave me a gorgeous play of light and shadow, an opportunity to try chiaroscuro in watercolor.
To say that painting this was difficult would be an understatement. It took nearly 5 weeks, but part of this time I spent in misery, away from my brushes, because I was stuck, didn’t know what to do, contemplated my lack of talent and considering taking on cross-stitching instead of painting. But I wanted to finish more than I wanted to feel sorry for myself, and so I did.
8.5″ x 11.5″ (21.5 x 30 cm) watercolor on paper
This is Russ. Russ is a massage therapist, and he is a magician. Russ works at the Space Time Tanks center with Eric, and I simply love him. One hour on his table can cause a person to have a different outlook – life is pretty good after all!
I am on the other side of the pond, visiting family in Israel. Everything is great here – sun and flowers and 70 degrees weather, but I haven’t mastered local hardware yet, and so my image is somewhat different from the real portrait. But I want to post it anyway, so you all know that I didn’t fall off the face of the Earth and am still painting and continuing with the Community Portrait series.
11″ x 8.5″ (28 x 22 cm) watercolor on paper