Between jury duty and poison ivy it’s been a really tough week to get things done. Too many distractions. I didn’t have to actually go in and serve on a jury but I had to call every night and see if I was needed for the next day. Monday and Tuesday no one was called in and on Wednesday they only wanted numbers 1-60. I was number 72 and therefore didn’t have to go in. All in all it was only a minor distraction compared to the poison ivy.

This is the same poison ivy I mentioned in my Bryant Park blog and it was mostly on my lower leg. By the time I went to Bryant Park I had already had the poison ivy for a week and I was expecting it to go away soon enough. But soon enough turned out not to be soon enough. The poison ivy turned out to be at its worst on the Monday and Tuesday after my Bryant Park Sunday. It was crazy itchy. I was using all sorts of anti-itch cream which calmed it down for the most part but there were times it felt like little insects on fire were crawling on my legs. At one point on Tuesday I went to the store to get more anti-itch cream and on the drive home I had to grit my teeth because the irritation was so bad. Going out and walking seemed to really irritate it the most. By Wednesday it had calmed down and by Thursday it didn’t itch at all. The skin is still healing though. The whole time I had the poison ivy I managed never to scratch it. Scratching makes it worse so at least I didn’t do that.

"Judge Too Much"

“Judge Too Much”

Trying to get any art done that week was a tough chore. I did do some things though. The first thing I was glad to get started was the coloring on my “Organics: The Ghost of Fifth Street” story. I was having trouble figuring out how I wanted to color it and the sheer number of pages I needed to do was daunting. It really had me stuck. The I applied the “Keep it simple stupid” approach and got things going. I abandoned the idea that it had to be in some sort of style and decided to do it as basic cut color. Style really doesn’t matter as much as getting the basics right. I can always add style later if I lay the groundwork now.

I went back to Coloring 101. I opened the first page in Photoshop, set up the document properly, and then started coloring the backgrounds of each panel. That is generally how you figure out the color in any work of art. First the background and then the foreground. First you have to establish the color of the world around a person and then the color of the person. And be sure to have a good palette of neutral colors. Those are the key to getting things right. You need browns both warm and cool plus some various greys for the brighter foreground colors to play off of. I find things go much smoother and faster if I figure out my background and neutrals first. And they did. I managed to get a page or so done a day in my off moments. Since I was keeping it simple it helped relax me.

The other two things I managed to get done that week were two ink pieces. One came out okay and the other was a failure. They both came from a box I have that holds some of my current work that has yet to be completed. When I can’t think of anything I want to do I open the box and see what’s there. I picked a piece that need to be inked with a lot of straight edge work. Often I find that can be dull and I don’t want to do it but sometimes I like to do it because it’s all I con concentrate on. I found a drawing called “Judge Too Much” that needed some inking.

Using a straight/curved edge and a pen can be tedious because it has to be done carefully and there is not a lot of room for variation. It’s all drawn with the same line. I moved pretty quickly on it and as I was getting it done I wasn’t too fond of the way it was coming out. It was looking a bit bare. I don’t think I ever really finished the drawing on this one and maybe was going to draw a bit more on it rather than go to inks. Either way I decide to add a whole lot of black shapes to the drawing as I now inked it. That took a bit more time. I had to figure out which shapes would be blackened and which would stay white. I liked it in the end but it was touch and go for a while.

"Beat Holder"

“Beat Holder”

The second piece was called “Beat Holder” and was another drawing that needed to be inked with a pen and an edge but I didn’t feel like doing that again. Instead I decided to try a bit of an experiment. I would use my broken brush dry brush/wet brush technique. That’s where I use one of my old brushes that no longer comes to a point and use it to dab on ink in a flurry of little marks. I’m never making a line or just one mark but multiple ink marks. I like this technique but it works best on large images. This piece had lots of small shapes in it so I wasn’t sure how well it would come out. Turns out not so well.

I tried my best but I could get the big bends of space like I could in a larger image. I couldn’t get a shape to bend into darkness because there was not enough space. The shapes kinda look pasted on in a shallow space. That was not what I was looking for. Turns out I didn’t like the drawing very much either. I think I picked it because I was going to abandon it anyway. It’s listless and awkward. Working on it in ink brought that out more than it changed it. After a while I stopped trying to fix it because it was impossible to fix. Sometimes art is like that. You have to know when to abandon certain pieces because they’re fundamentally flawed. But at least I got passed the distractions and got something done.