Wednesday, July 30

July '08 Art Blogs About How to Renew Your Interest in Art

Today is July 31, and the last day of the month. (Not sure why the date is showing July 30.)

New Section in the Right Column

If you hadn't noticed, we've added new section, Links We Hope You Like, Too. We think these sites are informative, helpful, entertaining, artful, cool, I just like them, all of the above, whatever. Check them out!

Also, today is the last day to vote in this week's poll. Orbisplanis will post results on August 1 along with next week's poll. If you have a burning question you'd like us to poll our viewers, just leave a comment.

Share Orbisplanis ( with your baby boomer or retiree friends and family. You can contribute to the blog forum by leaving comments; then read what others are saying about getting started in art in retirement in your leisure time.

Monthly Review

On the last day of every month Orbisplanis will provide a brief summary of the month's blogs. That way, if you missed any, or if you just want to read them again and relive the memory, you'll be able to find them more easily. Here we go:

  • First Day of New Blog -had to start somewhere, so this was the debut of Orbisplanis; Here's an excerpt: "Why are you doing this? I think there are others of you who, like me, would love to discuss how to get their art "out there," but what do I know--we'll see? The goal of this blog is to discuss how to make that happen, particularly for anyone who likes/loves painting or art and is now retired."

  • Day 2 of New Art Blog - Orbisplanis - I hadn't gotten into the headline thing yet, so just went with Day 2; received first visitor(!); discussed the book, The Long Tail, which I have since learned was authored by Chris Anderson; and how I re-ignited my art with pencil sketching .

  • Welcome Back to Orbisplanis Online Art Blog - still not much of a headline writer, and you can see I was still getting my bearings with the blog; discussed perspective, shadow. and light; and began to encourage people to start drawing.

  • I'm Back - ouch! I had forgotten that headline; more on importance of encouragement and why retirement is freedom; how much I like line drawing and one of my favorite artists, Norman Baxter, and his book, A Line on Texas.

  • Keep On -well, give me "E" for effort with this headline; more encouragement for art lovers and would-be artists; discussed my admiration for art markers way back in the 1970s and the book, Drawing With Markers.

  • Time for Art -I think the headlines were improving--this about taking time for your art; dicussion of (The New) Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain-by Betty Edwards, about why people think they can't draw; started NEW SECTION, In the Studio, where everyday I tell briefly what I'm working on in my "studio," such as it is.

  • Staying Busy - this headline was descriptive and applauded those retirees who are staying busy, and why it's a good thing; more discussion on Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain--about the shift from L mode to R mode, and how learning to see leads to learning to draw.

  • Everyday's A New Day - and you can use it to re-start your art engine, for example, with a sketchpad; getting started by figuring out what kind of art you want to do--the "what"-drawing, painting, etc., and the "which"-medium, that is, pencil, pastel, etc.

  • Leisure Time in Retirement - you won't be disappointed if you use your leisure time for your art; followed up on the "what" and "which" with Reasons to Begin Drawing and equally good Reasons to Begin Painting.

  • The Fun Part - talked about putting some fun in your life with your artwork; let the fun begin with drawing and/or painting; started My 'Drawing' Drawer series on the art supplies and materials in my top drawer; about graphite (lead) pencils, their hardness rating (2H, etc.); same for charcoal pencils.

  • Everything to Gain - I'm liking the headlines now; this one about everything to gain by starting a new path with your art; more on art supplies and materials--this on how drawing materials are relatively inexpensive, then discussed merits of compressed charcoal and colored pencils.

  • Announcing a New Weekly Poll - added a new feature, a weekly poll to get input from viewers on their interests; continued My 'Drawing' Drawer series with discussion of Rollerball pens (pen & ink) and why I like them.

  • Join In - Take the Orbisplanis Poll - OK, I was trying to promote the poll; talked about easy living in the summertime and extra hours of daylight for more art time; more on art supplies, materials--discussed my art markers, the use of colors, and how to look for a "deal."

  • Peace of Mind - about how creating art can give Baby Boomers and retirees peace of mind; an interesting blog (I think) about Conte crayons used for drawing and sketching.

  • Leisure Time - guess my headline writing was running low by now as this one was similar to an earlier one (I knew I'd seen it somewhere); finished up My 'Drawing' Drawer series on art supplies, material and discussed the other stuff you need, erasers, sharpeners, etc.

  • July Monthly Review - and that brings us full circle; hope you find the Monthly Review useful; we'll do it again on August 31.

In the Studio

I'm in that funky time when you want to get going on the next project, but not a clue, yet, as to what it will be. In an earlier blog, I said it usually doesn't take me too long to find a subject. I'll thumb through some my "idea literature" and see what pops up. I'll let you know soon.

If you like reading this blog, please leave a comment, and feel free to link this site to others who may have an interest.


Tuesday, July 29

Drawing & Sketching Art Supplies-Erasers, Sandpaper, Sharpeners

New Section in the Right Column

If you hadn't noticed, look in the right column for the new section called, Links We Hope You Like, Too. These are sites that, in my opinion, are either informative, helpful, entertaining, artful, cool, I just like them, whatever. Check it out.

Take the Orbisplanis Weekly Art Poll!

Only two days left. The deadline for this week's poll is end of day on July 31, and will post results on August 1. If you have a burning question you'd like us to poll our viewers, just leave a comment.

Please share Orbisplanis blog ( with your baby boomer or retiree friends and family. You can contribute to the blog forum by leaving comments; then read what others are saying about getting started in art in retirement in your leisure time.

A Lot of Drawing Materials to Choose from in Your Leisure Time

Whatever it takes, overcome your leisure time inertia and draw! Last blog, I recapped some of what I think are the most popular materials for drawing, and the ones I've been blogging about for more than a week now: graphite ('lead') pencils, charcoal pencils, compressed charcoal, colored pencils, rollerball pens (pen & ink), and art markers. At least these are my most popular drawing materials, and the ones I keep on hand. There are others, of course, that will attract their own fans, dip-pens (and ink) or watercolor pencils, for example. Then there's the mixed media that I haven't gotten into yet, and will save for future blogs. This is where you combine two or more mediums in one piece, for example, rollerball (pen & ink) and watercolor, or acrylic, or be creative and use something else, that's what art's about. If any of these other materials sound interesting to you --go for it.

Other Stuff

You're probably thinking there can't be room for anything else in my 'drawing' drawer, but there is. I call it 'other stuff.' This is kind of like the stuff you keep in your junk drawer (the one we all have and rarely clean out) except this stuff is used for drawing. What am I talking about?

  • Erasers - yes, we all make mistakes, at least I do, so you will need some of these. "They" will tell you the only kind to have and use are kneadable erasers. Supposedly they're the best kind because they do the best job at lifting debris off the surface and are self-cleaning. Well, you do have to knead them (like dough I guess) to get to a clean spot. I will tell you, after a while they turn from the original white or light grey to smudgy black if you are erasing graphite or charcoal. I'm a little skeptical of just how long they stay self-cleaning, so I have a couple of other regular erasers. One is art gum. I think it works pretty well. It's thumb size and has the word 'magic' on it--don't know about that--but it works. The other is black with just the word 'black' on it, and it stays black no matter what you're erasing.

  • Sharpeners - not much to discuss here. You draw with pencils, at some point (ha) they get dull and need sharpening. I have a couple of the little plastic ones you turn to sharpen.

  • X-Acto knife - this, BTW, is a brand name of Elmer Products, but 0f course, everyone calls them an X-Acto and wouldn't know exactly what you meant if you were to call it a utility knife or scalpel. Used for cutting and scraping, duh.

  • Sandpaper - I have a small pad that's about 1 x 4 in/2.5 x 10.2 cm that's handy; another way to sharpen pencils, charcoal, or pastels

So that's my list of materials. I didn't get everything at one time, and you won't need to either. They sort of built up over four or five months time as I explored different things to draw with. What you want to do is pick one and go with it.

In the Studio

I am happy to tell you I finished my acrylic painting of the Grand Canyon scene and am very happy with it. I worked up the several greens needed for the pinion pines. I have several acrylic greens and used those for the different shades for highlights and shadows. The greens I used: viridian hue, olive green, and green gold. For some shades I mixed in (separately) cadmium yellow light,unbleached titanium, and titanium white. I'll post it on the Orbisplanis Online Art Gallery in the next few days, so check over there if you'd like to see how it turned out. Back to my "studio," such as it is, to contemplate my next project.

If you like reading this blog, please leave a comment, and feel free to link this site to others who may have an interest.


Monday, July 28

Drawing with Conte Crayons

Take the Orbisplanis Weekly Art Poll!

The deadline for this week's poll is end of day on July 31, and will post results on August 1. If you have a burning question you'd like us to poll our viewers, just leave a comment.

It's All in Your Mind

It doesn't matter how you take or make time for art, what you want to do is put it on your list of important things--to do this month, this week--how about today? I hope you feel strongly enough about it that you will take some action and enhance your life. As we baby boomers have all been made well aware, retirement is coming at us like a bullet train. We're being bombarded from all corners about what in the world are we going to do to get through rest of our long lives? I know "they" are working their hardest to sell us peace of mind (if not an annnuity!). Let me tell you, you yourself can gain peace of mind by spending a little time on your art.

Let me recap for a moment, so we can get our blog bearings so to speak. The last several blogs have been about various materials/tools I have on hand, the ones I first used to re-start my interest in art by drawing. (If you've missed any episodes, just scroll down or look in the Previous Art Posts drop-down box in the right column.) I let you know my 'drawing' drawer contains graphite pencils, charcoal pencils, compressed charcoal, colored pencils, rollerball/roller ball pens, and art markers. I told you a little bit the tools I started with in hopes that maybe you'll think something like, "if this guy, who hasn't done a lick of artwork in 30 some years can pick it back up, maybe so can I." That's one of the goals with this blog. There's still a few more blogs to go on the subject, so bear with me.

Another Drawing Medium - Conte Crayon

Depending on which book, website, blog, etc., you look in, there are as many ways of categorizing what constitutes 'drawing,' and what's considered 'painting,' and which tool is used for drawing and which tool is used for painting--well, you get the picture. There is no hard and fast rule about how things are categorized, so don't believe any 'expert' who tells you there is. I made an executive decision, and decided to include Conte crayons here. They have been used mostly as drawing tools for just about ever, so they belong here. Just so you know, this is where many 'experts' draw the line (ha, no pun intended) on where 'drawing' ends and 'painting' begins--with pastels.

If you have a background in art either by your career or you studied/majored in art, you already know, but for the rest of us, here's a brief history. For you purists, sorry I don't know how to make the diacritical accent mark over the letter "e" in Conte, but it's supposed to be there. According to Wikipedia, they are made of graphite or charcoal mixed in a binder. They were invented in France by Nicolas-Jacques Conte in 1795 (like I said, just about forever). They mostly come in black, white, shades of grey and brown, and 'sanguine' (reddish brown to me, but you have to call it 'sanguine' to be correct). They're a little bit like a hard pastel (my opinion), but they have enough firmness and a slight waxy feel, so I can see why they're called crayons. If you read up on art and artists, you're always reading about so-and-so who did a study in Conte crayon before they started on their masterpiece oil painting. You always see Conte spelled with a capital "C" (I know, and the accent mark) and spoken of as Conte crayons, never just Conte. Seems a company called Conte A Paris may have the registered trademark, and that's the brand you always see in the art supply stores. So, now you know (and maybe more than you wanted to know) Conte crayons are used for drawing. And I say, if they were good enough for the Impressionists, who am I to question?

In the Studio
I did a quick drawing in my sketchpad using Conte crayon and compressed charcoal so you can see how it turns out, and posted it at the top of the blog. Because of that, I haven't finished my acrylic painting yet. I've been thinking about how to mix the greens to get the right color. Not sure yet, but I will tell you what worked and what didn't as soon I can get to my "studio," such as it is, and start painting.

If you like reading this blog, PLEASE leave a comment, and feel free to link this site to others who may have an interest.


Sunday, July 27

Art Markers

Artists Have Opinions, Too

Orbisplanis has added a new feature, the Weekly Orbisplanis Poll. The results won't be (art) world changing, but it might be interesting, so please take a moment to vote. The deadline for this week's poll is end of day on July 31, and will post results on August 1. If you have a burning question you'd like us to poll our viewers, just leave a comment.

...And The Living is Easy

It's high summer (in the northern hemisphere anyway), so I hope you're finding time to invest in your artwork and yourself. With August almost underway, now is a good time to beat the heat and stay inside your studio if you reside in one of the warmer locales. There's a bright spot with every season, and for summer, these long days provide more daylight allowing us to just keep drawing or painting away before losing our light. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Yet More Drawing Materials

Continuing to comment on the contents of my 'drawing' drawer: the purpose of which is (in case you've been wondering) to show you how easy it is to get started again with relatively few materials. You may even have some of these on hand already.


In an earlier blog I confessed to how much Iliked drawing with markers in the 1970s. Back then, they were relatively awkward, at least the brand I had. Some had tips that were made of a thick piece of felt sliced off at an angle fastened onto a little glass bottle, and if you didn't keep the cap securely on that felt, they dried out in no time. Others were a little more user friendly and were more like pens with a finer point. In all I think there were about 30 colors. but it may have been more. State of the art back then, but seems primitive now.

Like most of the other materials I've told you about, today's markers come in all shapes and sizes and all colors and price ranges. The ones I have are just like pens. They have a relatively fine point, which is good for detail, and the tip is just long enough so you can turn it on its side and make a broader mark if needed. Not sure what the tips are made of made--it's somewhat flexible, which makes them very easy to control.

Let me just say, these were very, very reasonably priced (more of my bargain hunting). What you want to do is look for your materials at places and at times where you may not expect to find them, you can pick up some great deals. I got these last year during back-to-school specials. I'm proud to say I have 36 of these (the same number as my colored pencils) in all the colors you'll need to get started.

Sorry to report, I don't know the actual names of the colors since the packaging only consisted of a plastic pouch (guess you get what you pay for). But--there are at least six shades of blue, ditto for green, and a range of yellows, oranges, browns, and purples as well as reds from burgandy to pink. There's also a nice warm grey and even several shades suitable for all colors of flesh tones. This was the bargain of the year.

In a flashback to the '70s, I still have to keep the caps on so they don't dry out. Like the colored pencils, I don't use these often enough, but maybe I will soon. I included a drawing done with these markers at the top of the blog for your viewing pleasure.

In the Studio

Glad to be in my "studio," such as it is during very warm afternoons. I am nearing completion on the 'Grand Canyon' acrylic I've been giving you updates on. I finished painting all the rock formations pretty much to my liking, although I will put some finishing touches on those. The last thing to do is to paint a few of the pinion pines that grow from some of the outcroppings. I hope I can get the correct green for those.

If you like reading this blog, please leave a comment, and feel free to link this site to others who may have an interest.


Friday, July 25

Pen & Ink Drawing, Rollerball Pens

We have a new feature on Orbisplanis! A poll to get your opinion on all things art. It'll be fun and informative. Once a week, we'll pose a question and ask for your response. Then we'll tally up the results and post them.
Make Orbisplanis one of your Favorites, and please invite your peers, friends, and family to participate in the blog by taking the poll or leaving us a comment. Send them the link to Orbisplanis (forward our URL- ). Thanks to the viewers who have sent the comments.
FYI- depending on your browser, you may or may not be able to peruse previous blogs by just scrolling down, down. If that's the case, you can view those blogs by clicking on the Previous Art Posts box in the right-hand column. A drop-down box will get you to previous posts.

More Drawing Materials

You may be wondering by now just how big the drawer is that I've been referring to in the last few blogs. It's the top drawer, and it's just your average size plastic bin drawer. It is very full, but I can find what I need with minimal rummaging. (We'll save the discussion on housekeeping for a future blog.)

So what else is in there?
  • Rollerball or Roller Ball Pens for pen & ink drawings (no consensus,I guess, on correct naming) -In the blog on July 16, I told you about my admiration for line drawings since the 1970s. Line drawings are rendered using only lines. All forms, along with light, shadow, perspective etc. are expressed only with lines. The can be hatched, cross-hatched, circles, squares, dots, or whatever, but only lines. No tone. In the ensuing 30+ years, I'm happy to report that advances in science for this medium are nothing less than profound (my opinion). Pen technology is a wonderful thing. I have two different brands both black ink. One package says, "quick drying, fade resistant, conforms to ASTM D-4236," (which I looked up and is an art safety standard, how nice). The other brand is a little more upscale; its package says, "advanced liquid ink system writes longer, pigmented ink is fade-proof & waterproof, 0.7 mm Fine Point." I estimate that what cost approximately US$20+ for a pen-and-ink drawing tool in the 1970s, you can today get a reasonably good quality Rollerball/Roller Ball pen for US$.33 (that's 33 cents!). Mind you, these are in no way the professional ones from your art supply store. And you can render something similar on your computer with graphic software and print it out (digital art will make a good topic someday). But 33 cents people-come on! And they last a long time, too. There's no excuse not to pick up a pack of these and start drawing. You can't beat it.

Just writing about this has renewed my interest in line drawings with Rollerball/Roller Ball pens. Last year I did relatively few line drawings because, as I began to explore all kinds of art that were available, I moved on to other mediums and got interested in color. I've included one of my line drawings at the top of this blog for your viewing pleasure. It's a drawing of a cathedral, which I referenced from a photo in a brochure.

In the Studio

The acrylic of a view of the Grand Canyon I've been talking about is moving right along. I finished painting most of the foreground. Next I will work on the shadows in the foreground rock formations, which are a key ingrediant of the piece. I'll keep you updated on progress.

If you like reading this blog, PLEASE leave a comment, and feel free to link this site to others who may have an interest.


Thursday, July 24

Drawing with Compressed Charcoal, Colored Pencils

Nothing to lose and everything to gain, as the old saying goes. That certainly rings true with your renewed interest in art where you can test your skills and/or learn new ones. Think about it, you've got the time, and something has piqued your interest. Maybe you ran across one of your earlier drawings or maybe you visited a museum or gallery recently. Whatever it was, you connected the dots and have decided to pursue a new path or visit an old favorite. You have everything to gain.

Some more viewers to Orbisplanis--thanks for spreading the word and sending the link to others

More on Materials

Last blog I touched on 'lead' (actually they're graphite) drawing pencils and charcoal pencils, maybe more than you cared to know about their nomenclature, but information is power, right? Before continuing, let me add a couple of points.

Many of the materials you need to start drawing are some of the most, if not the most, economical compared to those of other mediums. I mentioned a few blogs ago that I am cheap (about some things anyway), although I prefer to think of it as searching for the best bargains and feeling superior to those who pay full retail when they don't have to. We all have more time now to shop around, so why not take advantage? Still, you should be able to find different levels of quality ranging from the inexpensive student variety to professional or near professional, whatever suits your wallet. Hey, it's your money.

Oh, I found an additional 'lead' pencil in the drawer that rolled to the back. It's call Extra Black, but with no H or B designation on it. I guess I'll have to try it to solve the mystery.

Moving on. My drawing materials somehow all fit in the top drawer. What else is in there?

  • Compressed Charcoal - I think that's what they call this. This is not the long, skinny sticks that look like twigs and almost crumble when you pick one up. These are neatly cut oblong 'sticks' about three in. long x 1/2 in wide (that's 7.6 x 1.3 cm).These came shrink-wrapped in a set of three, but I'm sure you can buy them by the case if need be. They fit nicely between thumb and fingers and give you a sense of drawing big. When you pick one up, you want to turn it on its side and make a big swath on paper. Powerful. Charcoal can be messy, so if you're not one to get your hands or clothes dirty, this may not be the one for you.

  • Colored pencils - These are like the kind you had in elementary school to draw maps but may (or may not) be better quality. These are used, of course, like graphite pencils, but you get to color with them. For many, that's the ticket. I have seen some work done using colored pencils that you'd swear was a photograph, and I am in awe. I hate to admit it, but I have not done one drawing yet using colored pencils. When I was stocking up last year, these must have been on sale, and I grabbed them (see above discussion on my bargain hunting). But someday I will. I think it's a pretty complete set, too, I just counted 36--didn't know it was that many. That includes what you'd expect (the reds, blues, yellows, etc.), but also some I wasn't expecting (terra cotta, salmon, ochre). I definitely will have to try these.

I'll cover yet more materials in the next blog.

In the Studio

Well, it is past time to get back to my "studio," such as it is. I meant to show you one of my drawings done in charcoal in my last blog, but forgot, so included it at the top of this one for your viewing pleasure.

My acrylic is coming along. I've got everything painted in except the foreground, which in this view isn't that close (it's the Grand Canyou after all). I'll let you know.

If you like reading this blog, PLEASE leave a comment, and feel free to link this site to others who may have an interest.


Wednesday, July 23

Drawing with Graphite Pencils, Charcoal Pencils

Need some fun in your life? Can we agree on that? Since you're viewing this, you are on the right track. Fun, as in I can't wait to get to it. How many of us retirees felt that way about our old day jobs? Show of hands, please--hmm, not that many. Too bad. The remedy is to re-start your art, and you can really have some fun.

Please share the fun by sending a link (forward our URL- ) to your friends/family who may be interested.

Let the Fun Begin

Last blog I gave you some of what I think are pretty good reasons to start drawing or painting. This was to help you get the old juices flowing again if nothing else. There are plenty of other reasons to start, so feel free to add your own. I started with reasons to begin drawing and painting because we have to start somewhere, right? Maybe someday we can explore other worthy artforms, but since I personally don't know that much about sculpting , for example, we'll just stick to drawing and painting for now.

Here, along with my running commentary, are some of the materials/media commonly used for drawing. This is intended to help you figure out your starting point--what you want to try first and in which medium.

I'm looking in my drawer of drawing materials, which I started stocking last summer. Some were gifts from family and friends. No brand names. Let's see:
  • Set of soft lead pencils for drawing - packaged in their own tin, no less. As it turns out, they're not actually lead-as in the element lead-but are a mixture of graphite and carbon. My set includes an HB, 2B 4B, 6B, 7B, and 8B. What does this mean? I thought I knew, but just to be sure I did some Google research. H stands for hard lead (naturally) and B for soft lead (not a clue, may something to do with Pb being the symbol for lead?) Believe it or not, there are whole websites devoted to this and so, so much more on pencils. Still couldn't find what B stands. Here's the way it works: hardness of lead is measured on a scale from 0 to 9, the higher the number the harder (or softer) the lead. HB is in the middle range. It was confusing to me, but maybe this visual will help: 9B 8B 7B 6B 5B 4B 3B 2B 1B HB 1H 2H 3H 4H 5H 6H 7H 8H 9H Here, 9B is the softest and 9H is the hardest. So in my set, the HB is the hardest and 8B is the softest. Got it? F for Firm was also mentioned (don't ask). Several people said you should use this number for sketching, that number for general drawing (whatever that is), and this number for technical drafting. I say, you experiment and decide which is best for your own subject and purpose.
  • Four charcoal pencils - not in tin, although I suppose they could be. I'm guessing they follow the same numbering scheme as the lead ones because mine are labeled 2B medium, 4B soft, and 6B extra soft. I can't tell much if any difference between the medium and the extra soft--probably so you'll buy as many as they sell, caveat emptor! Oh yes, and the one with the oxymoron name of Charcoal White, to be used for drawing highlights, I suppose.

It's time to get back to my "studio," such as it is, so will continue discussion on materials in the next blog.

In the Studio

My acrylic painting is coming along nicely. I sketched the major forms on the canvas first and painted in the sky on the first pass. I'm beginning work on the canyon walls, etc., and will keep you informed.

If you like reading this blog, PLEASE leave a comment. Cheers!

Tuesday, July 22

Reasons to Begin Drawing, Reasons to Begin Painting

The headline of this blog about sums it up. Isn't leisure time (and lots of it) the big payoff for all those years of hard labor? I think it is. And you've made the wise decision to devote a chunk of your leisure time to creating your artwork. You will not be disappointed, I assure you. (Some new viewers have found their way to Orbisplanis, so welcome.)

What and Which

Last blog left you with a little homework to do if you have not yet decided on what art activity you want to pursue or in which medium. I felt a little guilty after publishing the blog. I try to gear the content to a level in between a novice and someone with some experience, and I will tell you, that covers a whole lot of territory. If you're already an artist by trade, well, I hope you'll find encouragement and camaraderie. The goal is to be informative but neither overwhelm nor completely bore either end of the spectrum. Hey, but that's my problem, right? If you have an opinion on this, please leave a comment and let me know.

So anyway, I'm feeling somewhat guilty that I haven't provided enough direction for the novice to make an informed decision. Therefore, to assuage my guilt (and make me feel better), here are some things to consider about the what side of your decision.

Reasons to Begin Drawing
  • You can learn how - think positively; I covered this in a previous blog about Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (scroll down)
  • If you mastered handwriting, you can draw
  • It's easy to start - just put pencil to paper or similar and go (duh)
  • People have been doing it for eons - think primitive cave drawings
  • If you ever had any art instruction, it probably started with drawing
  • Many materials available (more on this later)
  • You can use your drawing skills in other artful endeavors, such as painting
  • You'll be amazed at your progress and will impress family and friends alike
  • You will feel good about yourself

Reasons to Begin Painting

  • You can transfer your drawing skills to painting
  • The whole world is your canvas, so to speak
  • Lots of people have painted through the ages - art museums are full
  • Many different styles of painting to learn about
  • Prevalent use of color
  • Many materials and media to explore (more on this later)
  • You'll be amazed at your progress and will impress family and friends alike
  • You will feel good about yourself

Next blog, I'll discuss some of the materials and media available (the which).

In the Studio

Back in my "studio," such as it is, but glad to be here. I mentioned I'd figured out my next piece--a slice of a view from the rim of the Grand Canyon--taken from a personal photo, in acrylic on canvas. It's a good photo, if I do say so. I got a pretty good start on it; the palette I'm using so far is cobalt blue and greyish blue mixed for distance, and mixtures of cadmium yellow light, cadmium orange, alizarin crimson, red oxide for earth tones and, of course, titanium white. I'll give you updates on the progress.

If you like reading this blog, PLEASE leave a comment, and feel free to link this site to others who may have an interest.


Monday, July 21

Renew Your Art Skills-How to Start

Nothing new there (ha), except you should treat it as an opportunity to re-start your artistic engine. Maybe pull out that sketchpad that's buried in the drawer there with your old art supplies. If you haven't seen it in a while, it's time to get it out, dust it off, and use it. Look around indoors or outside and find something you'd like to draw or paint. You'll be surprised to hear yourself say, "Oh yeah, I can do this." It can make your day. Remember, you have the time for art now. Don't forget to put Orbisplanis on your Favorites list or to subscribe if you don't want to miss a beat.

First Things First

I just mentioned retrieving your sketchpad. This assumes you already have at least a few supplies, or at least some paper, lying around waiting to fulfill their purpose in life. However, many of you may find yourself in the same boat I was. It had been a long, long time since I had thought about doing any artwork. It's amazing how much transpires in one's life in thirty years--births, graduations, marriages, other stuff, moves from city to city and from house to house, careers and career changes, you name it. As you know, life has a way of happening to us when we least expect it. And even if we are expecting it, it hardly ever follows our script.

I digress. Point is, you may have cranked up your art engine only to find you're not geared up for the trip. That's where I was last year. Here's what I did to get the old art ball rolling.

What you want to do FIRST is figure out where your starting point is. By that I mean, what do you want to try first and in what medium? If you haven't figured this out yet, whoa, you need to back it up. It doesn't really matter in what direction you start out, the main thing is that you are starting. That old proverb--a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step--is right on.

You can, of course, do anything you please, and we all know that doesn't happen very often, so take advantage. Do you want to draw, paint, collage, what? And in what medium-for example, graphite, colored pencils, pastels, watercolor, which? You certainly don't need any kind of rigid plan, for goodness sake, you're retired. However, I recommend you pick a 'what' and a 'which' and go with that for a while. You're just getting your feet wet, and there's no reason to go 'hog-wild.'

If you're a regular viewer of Orbisplanis, you know what I did first was to start drawing (the what) using soft- and hard-lead pencils and rollerball pens for line drawings (the which). So, if you haven't figured out your 'what' and 'which' yet, go noodle on it, then come back and see me.

In the Studio

I left off telling you I was in between projects, that time when you're looking for the next inspirational thing. It can be kind of like having writer's block if you're not careful. Fortunately, the light bulb came on, and I'm on my way again. Someone in the family came across a neat photo that was taken at the Grand Canyon (for our potential global viewers, that's in the US state of Arizona) about twenty years ago. I'll use it as a reference for an acrylic painting. I'll keep you updated on my progress.

If you like reading this blog, PLEASE leave a comment, and feel free to link this site to others who may have an interest.


Friday, July 18

From Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain-Drawing Exercise

We had several new viewers to Orbisplanis yesterday. Thanks for taking time to stop by, I appreciate it. So, I will press on. If you're reading this, I'll bet you are not one of those who has any trouble finding activities to fill up your day. That's great-high-five! Your to-do list is as long as your arm. Pretty sure that's the way it's meant to be--time now to do what you want and when. For others of you, perhaps newly retired, who find themselves without a clear direction, here's a gentle nudge. (As for me, it wasn't so gentle; I was told by several "well-wishers" after I retired, "you need to keep yourself busy!") You've come this far, and now's the time when you can take it to the next level. Let your creativity flow. Get with the program, be it art or whatever else is out there for you. Start today. OK!

Seeing is Believing

Last blog left us (breathless I'm sure) with the left brain overpowering the hapless right brain. What to do? Betty Edwards, in her book, (The New) Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, explains what happens. I'm only giving a brief description, of course. She says when you are drawing a picture, you and your brain will experience a shift from L mode to R mode (if you're "doing it right"-my words). When that happens, you may not even be aware of it, which means, bingo!, you're spot on.

Only then, she says, and I quote, "...causes you to see in the special way an artist sees." Can you dig it? My take on this is that you learn to see rather than learn to draw. I read that and kind of/sort of understood it, but Betty really gets her points across in the exercises she provides. The one I like best, she calls the Upside-down Drawing. She takes you through step by step, but basically you turn a drawing, photo or some such (she uses a drawing byPicasso) upside-down and draw it. By doing this, she says, and I'm paraphrasing, you will draw what you actually see rather than what your logical L brain thinks you should see. Sounds simple. There is a whole lot more in the book: helpful exercises, tips, examples , discussions on perspective, light, shadow, color, etc.

You can stay busy with this for quite a while.

In the Studio

Does this sound familiar? You've finished your last painting or whatever, and you're ready for the next creative challenge, right? You're in between doing the actual work, which is, as we all know, the best time. You're looking for that next inspiration. Well, I'm there in my "studio," such as it is. For this, I don't have the solution yet, but maybe we can all figure it out. I'll varnish a few acrylics and oils (if they're dry yet) that I've been putting off while by brain spins around in L or R mode, whichever, until the light bulb turns on. It doesn't usually take very long.

If you like reading this blog, PLEASE leave a comment, and feel free to link this site to others who may have an interest.


Thursday, July 17

Left Brain/Right Brain Artists

Today's Image
Acrylic on Canvas
Byrne Smith Copyright 2008

I appreciate your continued viewership, if that's the right word, so I will press on. If you have an opinion or suggestions about what you'd like this blog to cover, please let me know by leaving a comment. I say that at the end of every blog, but since I'm not sure everyone makes it to the end of every blog, I wanted to say it up front. And feel free to add Orbisplanis it to your list of favorite sites.

Don't forget, take time for your art!

Left Brain/Right Brain

In my last blog I said I may talking about using the left side of your brain. Oops! What I meant to say was using the right side of your brain. If you become a regular viewer, and I hope you do, you will find that whenever I say left, I really mean right. And vice versa. I thought it was because I am left-handed (I'll do a blog on being left-handed one day) or an "art thing," but my sister has it, too, so maybe it's a family affliction. It will drive your friends and family crazy because they're never sure which one you mean. Eventually, however, they do learn never to ask you for directions to anywhere or for instructions involving left/right. If you have this affliction, I sympathize.

Anyhoo, I've mentioned on several occasions how helpful my son has been in providing information that helped renew my interest and skills in art. Last year he sent me a book that he said was very useful on understanding drawing as well as renewing your skills.

This one will get you going for sure. It's called (The New) Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. It's an update of the original. It's by Betty Edwards. She's evidently well known in art education circles, and at the time the book was published, was a professor at California State U-Long Beach.

For those of you who think you can't draw, this is the book for you! Not only does it explain why people think they can't draw or can't learn to draw, it shows you how to overcome your "handicap." There's a whole chapter on the difference between the left brain and the right brain and explains why people think they can't draw. She says the dominant left brain, which we use to count, mark time, plan, verbalize-basically to get us through the day-"takes over" and inhibits the right brain, where we "art." Hmm, so that's the problem.

Hey, it's getting late and I have an out of town guest to pick up at the airport, so I will talk about this more in the next blog. Betty shows us how anyone can draw.

In the "Studio"

I decided to add this section, which I'm calling In the Studio. by that I mean, in my "studio," such as it is. Why? Well, Orbisplanis talks mostly about how you can reinvigorate your interest in art. In the Studio is where I will let you know about things I'm currently working on. For instance, that gesso-ed over acrylic painting I've been working the last couple of days, and truth be told, was getting a little tired of, well, I finally finished it and included it at the top of blog if you're interested to see how it turned out (but I still reserve the right to re-work it again :-).

If you like reading this blog, PLEASE leave a comment, and feel free to link this site to others who may have an interest.


Wednesday, July 16

Drawing with (Art) Markers by Richard Welling

Will you look at that? Yet more visitors to the site, so I will press on. I titled today's blog Keep On for a couple of reasons. One is to remind anyone who's retired (or thinking about it) that retirement is really a beginning, and depending on how you handle it, it may be a new beginning for you. The other reason is to remind you, which I plan to do often, that you now have the time to do your art, so keep on it.

Avocational Reading

In the last few blogs, I said how I got re-interested in drawing again after all those years (and years) by starting with pencil and then line drawings. You may start to notice a thread: as I got re-acquainted with drawing, I started looking for more and more information. I began to look online, in books, art supply stores, you name it. When I wasn't drawing or "living it up" in retirement, I spent time looking for more information. I hate to call it research because that term has a lot of baggage for me and reminds me of term papers, so I'll refer to it as avocational reading or something. I did a lot of that, and still do, weekly if not daily. I highly recommend it. If nothing else, it gives you something to do, right? (You might even learn something.)

Anyway, I mentioned the architectural textbook lent to me by my son, which I used as a tool to exercise my creaky art skills. Another book I found was up, up on a bookshelf way, way back in the recesses of an upstairs closet. I forgot I had it. I used to love this book. Still do.

Drawing with Whatever

It's called Drawing With Markers by Richard Welling. Yes, I know. It sounds like something you'd show to your kindergartner, but it's not that at all. What it is, is a book for artists or would-be artists that I feel sure was state-of-the art information when it was published in 1974. Back then I really liked the artwork rendered by architects and graphic artists who used markers. This was way before personal computers and graphic software, mind you. Heck, the inside flap on the bookcover even says, and I quote, "shows the reader how he too can learn to use this medium to expand the scope of his own artistic possibilities." What more could one hope for?

So anyway, back in '74 I stocked up on a whole lot of marker colors, got the right kind of paper, and a carousel to hold the markers. I was all set. I think I ended up with about 15 or 20 decent drawings. I did find one that survived tucked away in a bin, but it doesn't look so good anymore. But, I did use the information in that book. The chapters on types of line, line and tone, color, landscapes, etc. were useful and are as relevant today as they were then. Even then I guess art was my "hobby."

So there. Look in your closets, attics, and basements. You may find something you can use that won't cost you anything but time.

Next Up

I need to get back to my "studio," such as it is. I added more highlights to the water of my acrylic painting (the one I had gesso-ed over). It looks better, but still not quite right, so I'll work on it some more.

This is kind of interesting. I'm finding the topic about which I think I'll be blogging about next may or may not be the one I end up talking about. I thought today's blog was going to be about using the left side of your brain, but it turned out to be about something else. Maybe I'll get to brains in the next blog or not. I guess that's what makes blogging interesting. Please return for the next installment and we can all be surprised.

If you like reading this blog, PLEASE leave a comment, and feel free to link this site to others who may have an interest.

Tuesday, July 15

A Favorite Artist-Norman Baxter, A Line on Texas

Hey--a few more visitors found their way to OrbisPlanis yesterday, so I will press on! 

One of my favorite artists is Norman Baxter. He was a professional artist and famous for his line drawings and watercolors, but I liked his line drawings the best. I don't know if he's still living. I Googled his name but couldn't find out. He was known for illustrating the covers of the Yellow Pages phone directories (in certain parts of the US) beginning in the early 1980s (after Karl Hoefle). The covers were intricately detailed line drawings, usually of city skylines, that included a few almost hidden whimsical items that were fun to search for. It was kind of like the recent Where's Waldo illustrations. So I was inspired by Norman Baxter during my roller-ball phase. I have two original signed drawings of his as well as a framed print, and an autographed copy of A Line on Texas, a book with a collection of his drawings.

Line drawing is similar but different from pencil drawing. It's similar in that you use your skills of composition and perspective, but way different because any shading or surface tone is achieved by lines (only), be they parallel, cross-hatch, or whatever. It's an intriguing art form, to me anyway, so I included one of my line drawings above for your viewing pleasure.

If you like reading this blog, please leave a comment, and feel free to link this site to others who may have an interest. .

Monday, July 14

Getting Started with Pencil Sketches

Since there were several new visitors to the blog over the weekend, I will take that as a sign there is interest out there, so I will press on. Don't forget, you're retired now and have time to do this. Isn't it great!?

When I left off Friday I was going to put gesso over four acrylic paintings I decided weren't worth keeping, a task which I completed. I feel that I have in some small way failed those canvases not to mention the time and materials expended; however, I got over it pretty quickly and assume it goes with the territory (of creating art).

By the way, I wasn't sure if gesso were a trademarked name or not and should be capitalized. With all the new tech terms around, what did I know? Turns out gesso is not trademarked and is the Italian word for board chalk from the Greek word for gypsum - thanks Wikipedia. There's just a whole lot more about gesso on Wikipedia if you're into chemistry.


I mentioned receiving a set of good hard- and soft-lead pencils, which was the excuse I used to start drawing again. I don't know if any of you ever experienced anything like this, but it was such a pleasure to start doing something again that you really liked doing but haven't done in a really long time. I had forgotten a lot of the basics, but like riding a bicycle, it comes back to you pretty quickly. I spent several weeks reacquainting myself with the techniques of line drawing, shading, cross-hatch and the use of perspective in drawing.

One of the things I did to was to borrow one of my son's architectural textbooks from his college days. This one was called Architectural Drawing, A Visual Compendium of Types and Methods. Don't let the academic sounding title put you off, and I'm sure there are a lot of other similar books on the subject, but this one worked for me. Really, it helped. Of course, there's a lot of information in there that only applies to those who plan a career as an architect, such as the chapter on Conventional Orthoganal Terminology (ugh). But I found a lot of great and useful information in two chapters in particular-one on Representational Sketching and the other on Light, Shade, and Shadow.

For example, the chapter on sketching provided a method for sighting using length-width-height to help you transfer what you're observing to your sketchpad (or canvas or whatever) so that it's in the correct proportion. The chapter on light, etc. was a great review on light source, surface shade, and shadow and how to figure out how and where a shadow falls, for example. Yes, yes, the book is overkill for the casual artist, but the info is pretty basic stuff for drawing most subjects be it the still-life you're staging on your kitchen counter or that landscape you're planning to paint.

The point is to start somewhere, do something to jump start your "yen" to draw! You don't have to use an architectural textbook to help you get started. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of other sources available to you (think internet). In my case, I used something close at hand that helped me to get going.

For your viewing pleasure, I added another sample of one of my beginning pencil sketches at the top of the blog. Similar to my previous drawing, this one, too, was taken from one of the set of books on cooking (this one from the cooking of the British Isles).

Tomorrow, Tomorrow

I'll go on some more tomorrow about how I restarted my penchant for drawing and discuss yet another source that helped me in renewing my art skills. Right now it's already afternoon, so I need to get back to my "studio," such as it is.

I'll try not to jump around too much with my subject matter, but blog it pretty much as it happened chronologically speaking; however, now and then I may drop in something about what I'm currently doing. I mentioned Friday I may re-work one of my acrylic paintings (one of the ones I gesso-ed over), and I did - hint, I've recently gotten interested in the Impressionists.

If you like reading this blog, PLEASE leave a comment, and feel free to link this site to others who may have an interest.


Friday, July 11

A New Art Blog and The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

I'm Back Again for Day 2

I received one visitor (thank you!) and no comments from Day1, but I will press on to Day 2 and beyond because I think there is interest from artists and would-be artists at the point in their lives when they can devote time to their art, craft, avocation, or whatever. A few years ago there was a book that was popular with business-marketing types called The Long Tail. I don't remember the author, but you can Google it if interested. Its premise is that there are many, many niche markets in the world for products or services for which, at first glance, you would think there is little interest. However, the book showed how there is a market for everything, and even though the market may be too small for a company to pursue, it's large enough for an individual or small business to pursue. As a somewhat extreme example, what about velvet paintings of aircraft carriers (I can see eyes rolling)? According to the premise of the book, there are probably several thousand collectors of this type of art around the world, believe it or not. Out of a world population of 6+billion people, I personally believe it, as we all know there is no accounting for taste. If you by any chance happen to create this type of art, maybe one of the readers of this blog can help you find a way to exhibit or sell to your specialty market, who knows?

I digress. I left off yesterday saying I would tell you what happened next in my renewed interest in art. As I said, I retired last year, and not too long after that, I must have mentioned to my son something like, "hmm, you know, maybe I'll have some time to draw now," or some such remark. My son, who is out of college and grown, has, since he was very young, had a talent for drawing. He used to draw cartoons on sheets of notepads, then animate them by flipping the pages, you know what I mean? As he got older, he graduated to drawing pretty good likenesses of the Incredible Hulk (tm) and Transformers (tm) and others of that ilk.


Anyhoo, for Father's Day 2007, he sent me a set of 6 soft and hard lead pencils, a sharpener, a kneadable eraser, and a drawing pad. So I started pencil sketching.

Above is one of my first pencil sketches in thirty five years, which I uploaded for your viewing enjoyment. As a reference I used the cover of one of a set of old cookbooks we still have--this one on Italian cooking. So that is how I re-ignited my interest in art, and the rest as they say...

Please Come Back Monday for the Next Installment of New Art Blog - Orbisplanis

As it will be the weekend in the US and many parts of the world, on Monday I'll talk some more about my re-ignition. Yes, even us Retirees who do acrylic and oil paintings take weekends.

Right now I've got to get back to my "studio," such as it is, as the day is half over already. As I mentioned yesterday I was putting a second coat of varnish on an oil painting finished in April. I think it was dry and, although no one left a comment, I think it was OK to varnish. It looks pretty good, actually better than before the varnish. Today I'm going to finish gesso-ing over (if that's the art term) several acrylic paintings on canvas panels because after looking at these paintings for several weeks, I don't think they're up to par, whatever that is. Anyway, I want to "be green" and reuse them; I'm also cheap. I may also go back to an acrylic painting that I'm re-working if time permits.

If you think you'd like to read a blog like this, PLEASE leave a comment and feel free to link this site to others who may have an interest,

See you Monday!

Thursday, July 10

A New Art Blog on How to Renew Your Art Skills


Hi-if you've found this blog and are still reading, THANK YOU! I have just re-done my blog on Google blogspot. My first experience at blogging originally started as a way to show (or was it to show off?) some of the art that I and my son had created. Well, that really wasn't working, as in no visitors except from family members (who said things like, "You need to keep busy," and then after looking at the site would say, "isn't that nice, he's found something to do.") so I decided what I really needed to do was change the focus of the blog. So I did.


I think there are others of you who, like me, would love to discuss how to get their art "out there, " but what do I know--we'll see? The goal of this blog is to discuss how to make that happen, particularly for anyone who likes/loves painting or art and is now retired. I would also like to have your input, experience, tips-and-tricks, how you did it, what works/doesn't work etc. This applies not only on how to get your artwork exhibited either online or traditionally, but also your knowledge on creating oil paintings, acrylic paintings, and pastels (for example--how quickly acrylic paint dries is driving you crazy, but if you use retarding fluid, it makes the acrylic paint lift off the canvas, and that drives you even more crazy).


I retired a little over a year ago. I really don't like the word retire. What I did do was to quit my day job, but not life. It was exhilarating to finally have time to do whatever I wanted. Very interesting. After all those years of working, what was that? I had forgotten after thirty-five years of working for someone, a mortgage, and rearing kids, etc., how much I liked to draw and paint. Wow, it was a whole new world! I think I even heard the song A Whole New World from the movie Aladdin begin to play in the background...


Anyway, what did I do? Please check back tomorrow and Iwill tell you what happened next. Right now I need to get back to my "studio" (such as it is, but that's a discussion for another day and blog) so I can put a second coat of varnish on an oil painting I finished in April that is finally dry--I hope--anyone have any advice? I've already spent way too much time today re-doing this blog!


If you think you'd like to read and contribute to a blog like this one, please leave a comment and please link this site to others who may have an interest.

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 9

Zia No.3

Acrylic on Canvas Panel
12 in X 12 in
30.5 cm X 30.5 cm
Copyright 2008


Acrylic on Canvas Panel
18 in X 24 in
45.7 cm X 61 cm
Copyright 2008

Motel Cactus

Acrylic on Canvas
16 in X 20 in
40.6 cm X 50.8 cm
Copyright 2008

Southwest Autumn

Oil on Canvas Panel
12 in X 12 in
30.5 cm x 30.5 cm

Vineyard House

Acrylic on Panel Board
16 in X 20 in
40.6 cm X 50.8 cm
Copyright 2008