Linda Halcomb's Blog

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February 28, 2010 February 28, 2010

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I have been tied up for a couple of days. Three sick dogs and a husband only a week after surgery, three tours in three galleries at the IMA, but who’s complaining?  Dogs are pretty well recovered, Ken is progressing well and I had interested, interesting people on my tours so life is good. The down period has given me time to plan my next painting – in my head anyway. Are you like me? I wish I did as much painting on paper as I do in my head!

I decided to flex my watercolor muscles by using the knowledge I’ve gain through my colored pencil portraits to paint my first ever watercolor portrait. I decided to use the face of a little girl that moved me when I saw it in National Geographic – I know I shouldn’t be working from NG photos but I wanted to focus my time on painting. This was intended to be an exercise not a painting for sale – and like I said her face spoke to me. I completed the painting today. I used layers of lots of different colors to get the modeling and the skin tones. I wound up cropping the painting since I really did a sloppy job on the bottom part of her torso and the background but I was pretty happy with my first watercolor face. I have done graphite and colored pencil portraits and it was really difficult giving up the control I feel with pencils.  Here she is.

The Waif


February 24, 2010 February 25, 2010

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Ken was ready to leave the house today so we ran several errands. It is always good, after several days stuck indoors, to “blow the stick off” as my charming husband says.

Last night I took some time to play with my Sketch and Wash pencils again. A little sketch book is definitely not sturdy enough to do this properly but I am learning. I have heard of but had never tried the grisaille technique and I thought the pencils might provide a good tool for this. I did two small heads by drawing the face with the Sketch & Wash pencil, using clear water to create gray washes and then applying color with colored pencils.

The Wanderer

I am not sure if I like the technique and I really do not like these pencils based on my experiences to date but I am going to keep experiementing and to be fair to use different/better paper next time. I just have to decide what that is.

The Merchant


February 23, 2010 February 24, 2010

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It is Tuesday and that means drawing with Irina. She had another assemblage of unusual, fun and quirky artifacts.

Drawing for Painters Set Up 02232010

The cow is all skewed and twisted. It is in reality a candlestick. It has on boots and the head comes out the side, the udder is off center and the tail comes out another side. We had lots of extra students yesterday since some of Irina’s watercolor students were completing snow-related make-up sessions. The items were fairly small and Irina had cloth draped around them. I did not see much of the detail until I walked up really close to take my photos. Anyway here is my drawing. I am not inspired to paint it (I think I am feeling a need for color) but I had tremendous fun and a challenging time drawing it.

Drawing for Painters Sketch 02232010


February 22, 2010 February 23, 2010

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This has been a wonderful day to paint. I was able to focus on and finish Raggedy Ann and I am really pleased with the way she turned out. Raggedy AnnI tried to make her look like a doll that a little girl had played with – a little faded and stained. She’s lost her pinafore. My husband kept saying something was not quite right. After much debate and discussion we looked at an actual doll and there WAS a problem. Raggedy Ann has a big, ear-to-ear smile and my Raggedy just had a small grin. I made her smile bigger and every thing fell into place. Isn’t she a cutie?


February 21, 2010 February 22, 2010

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A new painting! I am so happy. Yesterday I stayed home with two healthy dogs, a dog recovering from a respiratory infection, a dog that is on strict bed rest for a slipped disc and a husband recuperating from surgery. Now the great thing is that I spent the day painting rather than baking cookies. I did another light filled abstract using acrylics and a full sheet of Yupo. I enjoy the pastel lightness of this painting and have titled it White Light. I also was able to transfer my Raggedy Ann drawing to my watercolor paper and intend to paint the red-head today.  I am a bit intimidated and hesitant to start but, as they say, I will start by getting the white off the paper.

White Light 20" X 28" Acrylic on Yupo


February 19, 2010 February 21, 2010

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My husband’s surgery is over and he is slowly coming back to normal. I spent Friday in my studio framing some of my recent watercolors and while I was tidying up I stumbled across an interesting phenomena. Recently I have been practicing Sumi-e and I made some practice paintings of bamboo. I found one of my exercises and thought “Why didn’t I like that? It is not that bad.” Then I realized I was looking at the reverse side of the paper. The Sketch Paper I was using allows the ink to bleed through and it had edited the painting enough that it looks much better. Hummm… is there a learning here? Edit, edit, edit! Keep it simple!

Bamboo - Reverse side


February 17 & 18, 2010 February 19, 2010

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As part of my last shipment from Cheap Joe’s I bought a couple of Sketch & Wash pencils. I bought them because I thought I heard someone say they used them to sketch their drawings on paper before starting a watercolor painting. I thought the lead was light and just dissolved and disappeared as you painted. Well OBVIOUSLY NOT! On Wednesday I tried my first work with these pencils and I now know that they are used to make a painting that looks like a drawing made from ink washes. And that is fine. Here is my first attempt.

Drawing #1 using Sketch & Wash Pencils

I tried doing a second drawing yesterday while I was at the surgery center with my husband and I learned something about where my head is right now. In the past I have focused my drawing and paintings on animals, nature, landscapes, flowers but virtually never on faces, figures or portraits. Yesterday I drew the face of a beautiful young woman and I tore it up and threw it out. Not because the technical content wasn’t good but because it looked sterile to me – nothing behind the face. When I look at the drawing I did on Tuesday, I see a man satisfied with where he is at. He has had a hard life but he values where he has been, he has had some success and he is planning for tomorrow. He has experience, confidence and history. This drawing was inspired by the eyes of an Auschwitz survivor I saw in a photograph in Smithsonian. I see a facial feature that speaks to me and I use it to start a drawing but the drawing becomes mine as I add features and expression. I need to think more about this and how to act on it. This was a revelation for me. All I know is you can expect to see more faces in the future.


February 16, 2010 February 17, 2010

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Set Up #1

Set Up #2

Drawing class yesterday and Irina overwhelmed us with possibilities. We had four different set ups and they all had elements that were interesting. The combinations could even be thought provoking. We could combine, delete, edit, add to in any way to make a good composition. Irina brought Raggedy Ann because she used it Monday evening to do a watercolor for her Intermediate Watercolor class.

Irina's Raggedy Ann

So of course most of us worked with Raggedy Ann! But most of us took quite a while to sketch because there were so many items that could be combined…doll, book, eyeglasses…infinite combinations and possibilities by using your imagination.

Set Up #3

The fourth set up even brought in Georgia O’Keefe like possibilities for us O’Keefe lovers…

Set Up #4

So we sketched thumbnail size drawings as we considered the potential for different options. Some students never moved beyond the thumbnail stage since we had so much to work with. Here are a few of my thumbnails so you can see how my thinking developed.

Thumbnails #1

Thumbnails #2

Maybe not very exciting but the activity was fun. Finally I went with the lovely little Raggedy Ann because this is so far from the type of subject I normally work with. I intend to paint from this drawing and maybe I will be lucky enough to get a painting full of life and fun that I can give to my great grand-daughter. Wish me luck!

Linda's Drawing of Raggedy Ann


February 14, 2010 February 14, 2010

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Happy Valentine’s Day to all! No big plans – just the Olympics and maybe a quick dinner out.

I have been diligently working on Sumi-e painting strokes for three days and I have been struggling. Yesterday I finally completed two paintings of Bamboo and they were quite awful. Technique, composition, it all sucked! But one foot in front of the other…

Bamboo #1

I got up early this morning and started again. I doggedly practiced the basic strokes again and again and eventually I finished two paintings that I am willing to share. The first I completed in ink and the second I painted in watercolor with my Sumi-e brushes. Yesterday I remembered that one of the criticisms I have heard is that American artists put too much in their Asian ink paintings. That we lose awareness of space in our work. Yesterday I loaded one of my paintings with bamboo leaves. Today I tried to stay really focused on simplicity and capturing the essence and structure of the bamboo.

Bamboo #2

I feel like this practice has been very beneficial – I have learned an entirely new way to hold the brush – and I am going to continue to work my way through the books I have. I have also found the video instruction on Youtube to be valuable.  But I need to go back to drawing and painting. I want to get moving on my Dance painting but other things, like doing tax returns and preparing for my husband’s surgery next week, slow me down a bit. As Nike says I will just do it!

PS I knew I wanted to spend some time learning Sumi-e this year and I love the ink paintings in the Asian Galleries at the Indianapolis Museum of Art so I asked my husband for a jade “chop” for Christmas. We got it from the National Geographic catalog and you can see it in Bamboo #2. It represents as closely as possible our last name in Chinese.


February 11 and 12, 2010 February 12, 2010

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I feel almost embarassed to tell what I have accomplished after two days of on and off work. I want to learn Sumi-e painting. Why?  To improve my skill and creativity with a brush. To improve my watercolor paintings. So I bought a couple of books and  watched a few videos on Youtube and started work. Well that is when the rubber meets the road. This is tough! I have spent two days practicing strokes, working with different brushes and trying different papers.

Fall #1

Fall #2

One of my books suggested practicing by writing the Chinese symbols for “Fall”. This uses the majority of the strokes. Well I am ready to show two very imperfect attempts…

I admire so much anyone who has mastered this art. It is very exacting and requires patience, internal quiet and a steady hand.

I intend to practice more strokes today and to try my hand at bamboo next. I practice on newsprint which has proven to be very effective as a paper to practice on. These two images are painted on Sumi-e Sketch Paper. They are 4″ X 4″ and 5″ X 5″.

Helpful hints anyone?