Agecroft Hall / sketch and photos

Parts of the house are 500 years old.

Parts of the house are 500 years old.

It’s an English Tudor Manor house, bought in 1925 by a Richmonder, Thomas Williams Jr., disassembled in Lancashire England and shipped to Richmond VA, and reassembled here. Some of it is modern construction materials, but I can’t tell where the old part ends and the modern part joins to it.

This sketch is the side view, seen from across the sunken garden. I have to redraw this, and make some corrections before I can transfer it to canvas.

The shady side of the house has the most ornamental woodwork.

The shady side of the house has the most ornamental woodwork.

This photo shows what they call Wattle and Daub.

This photo shows what they call Wattle and Daub.

There’s a bit of glare on the plexiglass display here, but you can see what was inside the walls in the old country.

They made a weaving of sticks and then filled it in with a combination of mud, manure, clay and straw. to build walls. The dark parts of the wall seen in the photo above are Oak beams and Oak decorative pieces in a more smooth looking modern stucco type wall.

It’s so beautiful there. It’s great to take the tour and see the inside of the house, but they don’t allow photography inside. I plan to do a couple paintings at Agecroft Hall as soon as the weather cools down a little.



the real Lotus flower / charcoal

real lotus

This morning I went back to the white Lotus I was trying to draw for 2 days and started again. That’s it in the center here. It closed up a little since yesterday, except one petal is drooping. It’s cloudy today,but it was sunny yesterday.

I watched Marco Polo on Netflix and saw a lot of Lotuses and Lotus imagery. It didn’t look like the one I was drawing. Then today, a lady from India stopped to talk to me. She told me where the Lotuses from her country are. They’re not on the path, so I overlooked them. They’re pink on the edges, very delicate pink lines going into  white with the lower petals a little greenish. She told me the petals are perfect architecture. I agreed and thanked her for the info. This is the Lotus people know and love.

She told me they don’t last long, but there are a lot of buds. The giant leaves look the same. The 2 flowers on the outside here are the pink Lotuses. The one on the left is all the way open and the one on the right is closer to traditional Lotuses that you see in art.

I still need more practice drawing Lotuses before I paint one. One nice thing about drawing in plein air is that people tell me things about the subject.

Lotus Flower 2nd try / charcoal

What a difference a day makes!

What a difference a day makes!

It was much easier to draw the Lotus this morning than it was yesterday afternoon because I was standing in the shade! Now I know I have to do this painting in the morning.

The flower is tilted away from me in the morning. Also, it’s wide open today. I think it will look better this size on the canvas. ( close to life size)

A lady told me she heard they only bloom for one day. I guess they change so fast, one day they’re opening, the next day they’re in full bloom, and if I go back tomorrow the petals might be drooping.

You should see how the leaves blow around in the wind. They’re moving models! They wave like flags, even folding in half and unfolding again and again.  In the short time I was there doing this sketch the flower moved a lot too.

I can use this sketch for my painting but I’ll make some changes.

Lotus Flower / charcoal

lotus charcoal

This summer I want to do a painting of the Lotus flowers at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. This is my first sketch.

The Lotuses are surrounded by tiny Lily Pads and huge Lotus leaves on a background of blue violet water. I got the sketch in less than an hour, so it will be easy subject matter. This will be fun, but I’ll have to stand in the sun like when I painted the Pitcher Plants.

Richmond skyline / charcoal sketch

My pretty city as seen from Legend Brewing Co.

My pretty city as seen from Legend Brewing Co.

Legend put out a call to artists for their participation in James River Days, scheduled for this summer. The city has a lot of events planned along the river. This art show isn’t until Aug. at Artworks, but I need to get started. We’ve had a lot of rainy dreary weather lately, which isn’t good news for your plein air artist. It seems like we only see the sun twice a week and not for long.  This weather pattern can’t last much longer.

I’m excited for the chance to draw at Legend! It’s a great view of the city, and it’s friendly and safe. They have a good reputation for their craft beers too.

My plan is to transfer this sketch onto three 12 x 12 canvases and paint a triptych. I’ll have to draw it again with charcoal on the canvases and make more corrections before I start on the underpainting.  You can see the smeary places where I made corrections and the charcoal didn’t erase very well. And I taped four pieces of paper together to get the drawing up to 36″. I tried twice to get a start on the sketch and didn’t get anything I could work with until the 3rd try. Then I used the width of the Federal Reserve building (the tallest one) as a unit of measure to check the scale as I went along from West to East adding the buildings. It might not be exactly accurate, but it’s not too far off. The temptation when I’m trying to draw buildings is that they keep getting bigger as I go along. That tells me my drawing is out of control, stop and check the proportions again. So, sometimes I check the proportions by measuring with a pencil held out at arm’s length, and sometimes I just eyeball the scale.

It’s going to be a challenge to paint this.

open studio figure drawing workshop @ J Sargeant Reynolds

I got this far with it in 20 minutes.

I got this far with it in 20 minutes.

When I picked up their flyer, one thing made me like them before I met them. The flyer says, ” Participants are free to work on whatever they like during the sessions, allowing total artistic freedom.”  I said YES! I LIKE THAT SPIRIT!!

I always took charcoal and paper to figure drawing in the past, but sometimes you read where oil paint is forbidden because of the toxic fumes, which makes me laugh, because I like the smell of oil paint and Maroger Medium.  Anyway, charcoal is easier to work with, but if there’s restrictions, I’m not interested in going.

Now that I’m looking at this drawing, I can see places that don’t look right, but it’s just practice. Sometimes you get a sketch you can use later. Sometimes you can’t get the good view of the model or the good lighting. Sometimes the model can’t stand still. This time the model was good and seemed graceful. It wasn’t too hot in there, and not too crowded, so I could move around. I’ll try to keep with this group, but it only meets once a month.

Now, the next step, if you want to get serious about drawing, is to check if you have the anatomy and proportions correct. You need to open up the old human anatomy for the artist book and look at the pictures. Lay a piece of tracing paper over your figure drawing and draw in the bones and muscles on the tracing paper, according to how they look in the anatomy book. Then, label your tracing paper with the names of the bones and muscles, so you can remember them. That was our homework at YAA.  I don’t want to do it, but that’s how we learned. It was difficult and Tom Wise kept us at it every week for 3 years. And yet, no matter how much you practice, there’s always room for improvement. This is my best sketch out of 7 or 8 I did today.

The Dark Horse Unfettered / charcoal and chalk

I set him free with the magic of art.

I set him free with the magic of art.

It’s funny the things you learn when doing art. Shelby showed my photos of this horse to a friend of hers who knows horses. That lady said this horse is being trained for Dressage. It’s a practice not used much these days because it hurts the horse. The head is seen as most beautiful at a certain angle. It causes the horse to be tense and other skeletal parts get misaligned. So now the standards are for the more natural position on the head. She also said this model is out of proportion.

I’m planning on trying another color theory experiment for my next painting using this horse as a subject.

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