Monday, August 29, 2011

More Lake Superior Rocks in Pen and Ink

Drawing these rocks at the cabin is addictive. Here are six more.
As I said in my last blog, the rocks on the beach at our cabin are lumpy and full of cracks and holes. But if you are looking for interesting shapes to draw this is the place to be.
When you tackle a subject like this it is easiest to do it when the light is intense and when the sun is not at its zenith. What you want are some clearly defined shadows. These were done between about 4:00 and 5:00 on a late July afternoon. Cloudy days when the light is flat will make these rocks more difficult to draw, too. Again, simplify.
The lake is shown in watercolor washes of blue. The bold one in the upper left corner is French Ultramarine blue from my old Windsor Newton traveling watercolor box. That box is too heavy to carry around compared to my smaller Schmincke boxes and I had not had it out to use for ages. Now that I have discovered it again I'm going to take the French Ultramarine pan out and stick it in the smaller box trading it for the Schmincke Ultramarine (UB) pan. I was surprised to see the difference in intensity between the colors. Other washes are cerulean and mixtures of UB and cerulean. The paper is Fabriano 90# cold press in another Roz Stendahl journal.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lake Superior Rocks in Pen and Ink

The geology of the north shore of Lake Superior has a variety of rock formations. As my wide-eyed four-year-old grandson said, "These rocks on our beach were once red hot lava!"

I always thought it was more fun to draw the rocks were the lava had cooled more slowly into "squarish" shapes. My sketchbooks are full of these more linear formations. If you are just starting to draw rocks, these simple shapes are the ones to start on. Our beach cooled more quickly so the basalt did not have the time to form into large crystal shapes. Instead it is lumpy and irregular and full of holes and cracks. Not as graphic looking but very interesting. the trick is to simplify.

Here are a few pen and ink drawings of our lumpy beach. The lake is indicated by watercolor washes in a variety of blues.

Monday, August 15, 2011

"Places Between, Spaces Within": New Art from Project Art for Nature

Left: Filtered Sunlight, Pastel, 10 x 8 inches, copyright 2011 Diane Wesman. Click on images to view enlargement.

For the past several years I have been a member of Project Art for Nature (PAN). I’m pleased to invite you to my latest show. Starting this Friday, August 19 Project Art for Nature’s Places Between, Spaces Within opens at the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wisconsin. New work by twenty-six Minnesota and Wisconsin artists will be on display. Most works will be available for purchase. (See second link for participating artists.)

PAN artists create and share artwork to encourage protection, restoration, re-connection and stewardship of natural communities of native plants and animals.

The show runs form August 19 to September 25, 2011 with an opening reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., August 25. There will also be a round table discussion with artists on September 25, 2 to 4 p.m.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hazy Sunshine on Lake Superior

Hazy Sunshine 5.75" x 7.5" Oil

Here is another look out onto the great inland sea that is Lake Superior. It was a cloudless afternoon at the cabin. The sky was faintly hazy and yet the lake sparkled like diamonds. A brilliant contrast to the purplish-brown rock. The small spruce tree hangs tight to this rocky, lichen covered outcropping above Lake Superior. It is battered by the elements but its roots go deep into the cracks in the basalt.

This painting is done on book board primed with three coats of vermilion colored clear acrylic gesso. It give me a nice toothy surface, a little rougher than regular gesso. I started using clear acrylic gesso as a ground for my pastel paintings and find it is also nice for oil.

I will be showing this painting along with several others at the Phipps Center for the Arts in Hudson, Wisconsin. The show will run August 19 to September 26. The opening reception is Friday evening, August 26 from 6:30 to 8:30. More details about the show next week.

Monday, July 25, 2011


Tool Shed at the Cabin Oil, 6" x 7.75"

This is a small study of the tool shed by our cabin. Though done in blues it still reads like a white tool shed in what you know are green woods. Funny how the values are more important than the local color. Proof the eye thinks values are more important.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Same View, Different Color

Lake Superior Sunset, Lavender, Pastel 4.25" x 4.25"

Here is another image in the "Twilight" series. The colors in my paintings often bear no resemblance to the local colors I see. However, this and last week's post really do represent the amazing light changes one can experience on Lake Superior's north shore. In both cases the colors are accurate. The light is really gorgeous there. It is a wonderful place to be and a real treat for a painter.

The fact that it is 66 degrees Fahrenheit in Grand Marais right now while we are sweltering in record humidity and temperatures in White Bear Lake makes the lure of the cabin a strong one.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Luminous Twilight Colors

Lake Superior Sunset, Peach Pastel, 4.25"x4.25"

This small painting was done looking west along the shore of Lake Superior to what is known as the Sawtooth Mountain Range.

I started this painting with a watercolor wash to lay in some complementary colors to the pastels used to render the final image. You can see the texture of of the cold pressed Arches watercolor paper. The texture worked out well to help me show both the small waves on the water and the rough rocks of the shoreline. I primarily used Rembrandt and Unison pastels and then put in some details with Carb-Othello pastel pencils.

Pastels work especially well to capture the luminous colors of the long twilight along the north shore of Lake Superior. We are located about forty miles from the Canadian border where in midsummer twilight lasts until after 10 PM on the summer solstice--noticeably longer than twilight in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Not quite the same as the "White Nights" of a Scandinavian summer, but almost.

As I sit here describing this painting, I realize the titles of this series should have been "twilight" not "sunset." Too late: the titles are posted on the gallery walls. If you want to see them in person go to Betsy Bowen's gallery in Grand Marais, Minnesota. The Summer Underground Show will be there until July 27.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Spruce Tree in Prismacolor

Light on Branches Covered With Lichen 10x7.5"

Here is another aging spruce tree near our cabin. Like so many trees on the north shore of Lake Superior, many of the inside branches are covered with lichen which gives them a sort of fairy-dusted look. The complexity of the tangled, needleless branches makes trees like this lots of fun to draw.

This drawing was done with a Prismacolor colored pencil, #931, Dark Purple, on Gutenberg paper. Again, it is from a Roz Stendahl journal.

I had prepared this page by smearing stamp pad ink along the edges and the gutter of the spread before I left home. When I got to this page in the journal it seemed natural to choose a purple pencil and work on the recto half of the spread. Here is an example of how doing something simple to a journal ahead of time gives you something to work with and just launches you off in a direction so you can get to drawing instead of dithering about what to do with a blank page.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Journal Sketch with Graphitint

Thermometer Tree -Graphitint #15

Another look at the "thermometer" tree by the cabin deck. This one was done with a Derwent Graphitint pencil #15, Cool Brown. I started with a sharp point and occasionally let the tip get worn down which worked well for shading on the very textured and soft Gutenberg paper. Although the Derwent Graphitints dissolve when wet (and this technique works well on the Gutenberg paper) I kept this sketch dry. Again, the sketch is in a lovely Roz Stendahl journal.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Spruce Tree in Graphite

Thermometer Tree 4.5 x 5.25"

This is a drawing of a tree by our cabin's lakeside door. You can step out onto the deck and get a bit closer to the Big Lake (aka Lake Superior). It holds an old thermometer that seems permanently stuck on 65 degrees. This graphite drawing was done in a sketchbook made by Roz Stendahl of 180 gm Gutenberg paper. The paper is a dream to draw on, it provides just enough tug on the pencil and is a soft tan that is expecially nice if you are sketching in bright light.