Friday, January 18, 2013

A Professional Artist Reflection

*Our professional evaluator uses our tool to explore her own process as a botanical artist.  
Name: Cynthia Gehrie  
Date: January 16, 2013
Which Studio Habit(s) did you use?
Observe, develop craft, envision

I Used: What materials did you use?
I used black walnut ink that I make from black walnut husks from the trees on the farm.  I also used a French ink paper that was developed for calligraphy.  To make the marks I used several Speedball nibs that allow me to use a dip ink process to make very fine lines and larger darker lines.  I used natural materials that I collected on my daily walk in the Shell Ridge preserve in Walnut Creek, CA while visiting my brother and his family.  I gathered containers to bring water into the studio area and small jars to rinse the ink out of nibs and for clear water to change the quality of marks in parts of the drawing. I used soft pastels to add a slight amount of color to parts of the feather and pinecone.  This dry media was necessary to keep from moving the ink, which is lightfast but not waterproof.

I Did: What was your process? What steps did you take to create your work?
I set up a drawing area by opening my easel to be flat and placing a drawing board to make a tabletop.  I set out the nibs and practiced with each, noting the mark I could make with each one, and making a small drawing to show the quality of line for each.  This helped me select specific nibs for each drawing.  I studied each object before drawing it, looking at its proportions, visualizing how to make the marks that represent visual elements in the natural materials, and how to use other materials such as water and pastel to create effects.  These were solutions I came up with in response to questions like, How do I make the downy part of the feather fluffy?  How do I see, understand and represent the pattern in the pinecone?  How do I use the ink to get contrast from light to dark?  I needed to develop a strategy to solve the problems that different elements in the natural materials represented. 

I Felt: What feelings did you have?
I chose subjects to represent elements in the natural materials that were challenging for me.  I really did not know whether I would be able to do these drawings in a successful way.  Could I figure out and represent the pattern and variation in the complex pinecone that used a spiral, but not exactly or uniformly?  How could I use the variations in form to make the spiral more interesting and dynamic?  Could I make the close lines of the feather close enough and the down look really fluffy?  I realized that I could use water to soften the small marks of the down.  Selecting the finest crow quill nib helped me to draw the lines.  Would I be able to separate out the overlapping oak leaves so that they were distinct, yet a complex unity on the twig?  I had doubt.  I began to generate possibilities, and test them to see how to do them.  I began to gain confidence that I had an approach that might work.  I dove in and began the basic sketch in pencil, then turned to the pen.  The great thing about the ink I make is that it is more forgiving than most ink.  It can be lifted with water if I do so quickly when I realize a mark is wrong.  This helps me be more confident because every mark is not permanent.  I can take more risks.  I can change my mind. 

See Yourself Thinking: Map yourself doing this activity. What are you doing? Step outside of your body (focus on a specific part or see yourself from the other side of the classroom). Use schema to illustrate what is going on and add words and thought bubbles as needed.

Critical Thinking related to Studio Thinking based on Area of Study: (prompt to be developed by teacher)

Because I am developing a line of artisan black walnut drawing ink for sale on the internet, I wanted to use different drawings that represent different challenges to understand my product as an art material.  I also wanted examples of work made with the ink for my web site.