Friday, January 29, 2010

All hail the right brain!

I must say I'm feeling in a bit of a right-brain mode today. When I try to think of how to construct sentences and paragraphs to make this post make sense it's just not working - I am seeing a web of thoughts, experiences and ideas. It's easier to put something like that on paper (I've heard it called a 'mind map') than in typeface, but let's see what we can do...

Why right brain? I've been thinking about it because I recently found out that there is an HBO movie coming out about Temple Grandin.

I've admired her for a long time - I knew her as an animal science guru before I even knew about her autism. Since we don't have HBO I won't get to see the film right away (I'm sure we can get it online someday) so instead I watched 'The woman who thinks like a cow' on YouTube.

It got me thinking about brains and patterns of thinking... and as someone who self-identifies with right brain thinking...

Here's me and my husband....

(YouTube link - click this if you cannot
assemble furniture with your significant other):

... I see similarities with Dr. Grandin's thought patterns, but in other ways they are very, very different. So that got me thinking of other big divisions... and ultimately back to Carl Jung/Isabel Briggs Myers (another favorite pondering topic for me) and the differences between sensory and intuitive input... that's key, Dr. Grandin is sensory in the extreme, I am intuitive (but more in the middle of the spectrum).

I certainly realize that these are all names and 'tags' that don't correlate directly to neuroscience - there is no question that the right and left brain have different functions - and even though it's not quite that simple, for me it is one tool to help in understanding how others think.

I'm not going anywhere specific with this - just letting all these concepts float around in my head. I'm always fascinated by how others perceive the world.. I 'get' the concept that 'there is no truth, only perception', at least as far as what most of us experience as humans in developed countries most of the time.

This ties in to Buddhism as well...
srsly, it does.
But don't worry,
I'm not going there right now :D

It ties into the book I'm reading now 'In Defense of Food' too...
though that link is a bit more obscure.
I'll refrain from getting into that now as well ;).

The trip to Alamosa was fabulous this past weekend - meeting with other artists, basking in our squirrel-chasing, right brained tendencies (incidentally Rodman does tricks and commented that artists are 'so easy'... I wonder why that is? And further, I wonder who isn't easy to fool with tricks... Engineers is my bet).

And if you haven't seen this, you should: An Engineer's Guide to Cats

At the Alamosa show I got to finally meet Charles Ewing - scratchboard artist and inventor of the porcelain clay surface that is now used by Ampersand for all scratchbord and claybord products. He's an awesome guy and his studio was amazing! Open space, windows and light, dogs and a cat wandering around, art EVERYWHERE. It was inspiring!

I have a bit more about the show on my newsletter (as well as the missing 100 Dogs sketch #4 *mysterious grin*) - if you haven't signed up for the newsletter and wish to you can sign up on the right sidebar --> ---> --->

I publish it once a month and although there is some overlap with the blog, I can't do the exact same thing twice, so they end up being reasonably different. If you want to look at previous issues you can find them here!

And at the show I started a new whiteboard - here's the current status:

I'm calling her 'Little Abbie' (See Peggy, I promised you kittehs!). This is at the VERY early stages. It's funny that the underpainting is always pretty (a little impressionistic, but pretty) and once I start scratching it looks terrible for while, but then in the end it all comes together and I get that realism and depth, with still a bit of cartoonism (that is my subconscious style). I'll be sure to post this one here on the blog when it's done!

And I think that's most of the flurry in my brain... for now! I promise I'll be a bit more coherent in the next post (whoever voted for 'more right/left brain' and more 'personal anecdotes', well you can blame them for this post :D).

~ Pam ~

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Alamosa bound!

It's an exciting evening for me - tomorrow morning the hubby and dog and myself pile into the car and drive 5 1/2 hours through the mountains to Alamosa, CO.

This is my first mention of it on the blog - but two of my pieces have been accepted to the Adam State College Invitational Scratchboard Art Show in Alamosa, Colorado. The show officially opened Jan 19th, but the official Opening Reception is tomorrow, January 22nd. I'm very excited as this is the first time for me having my art shown in a gallery, but also I will get to meet some people I've known for more than a year and yet have not met in-person. Here's a brief moment for me to put out a plug for - a great online artist community of which I can say at least the Scratchboard art segment are a great bunch of folks! Many of the artists showing in Alamosa did a show last year in Indianapolis, and I am proud to number among them in this show (and so lucky that it's close enough I can actually attend!).

So here's a peek at the pieces I have in the show, in case you aren't close enough to stop by:

"Ben" 11 x14" Scratchboard and Ink

Detail shot:

Some of my blog followers may remember this one from the initial sketch here, or the sneak peek here. This was a beautiful boxer I met at the Basalt Sunday Market last year. It's one of the first coloured scratchboards I have done and presented a few challenges that were a definite learning experience. I am glad that I was able to represent this beautiful dog, and the pose and lighting were an artist's dream to work with. I love working from my own reference photos when I can catch the exact image I want - perhaps that is why I take 30-40 photos for every one that I choose to use for a scratchboard. :D

"Ben" 16 x20" Scratchboard

Detail shot:

This was (is) my beautiful Belgian horse. This is my largest scratchboard yet, and even so it is not as large as real-life, in reality if he stuck his muzzle in my armpit I could just barely reach his poll (the tip-top of his head). He is a wonderful horse - when my veterinary career advanced I had to move across the country we had to sell Ben, but he went to a wonderful farm where he could be around other horses and finally decided that with a friend the harness wasn't so scary.

I hope you like these pieces, and if you happen to be in southern Colorado please stop by - the show is at the Cloyd Snook Gallery and runs from Jan 19th to Feb 19th, 2010. You can find a little more information here.

I'll put out a new Newsletter with photos from the show after the fact, and the first glimpse of my newest whiteboard, so if you haven't signed up for the Newsletter yet consider doing so (link in the upper right!).

Good night, wish me luck on the snowy mountain roads tomorrow!

~ Pam

Friday, January 8, 2010

You want to use *this* Pillow?

So one of the things most voted for was more works-in-progress! Here ya go!

This is from a photo out of the reference library on WetCanvas, I loved the expression and was excited about the challenge of doing the pillow/blanket.

As always it started with a sketch...

And the sketch was transferred to the board with graphite (I still prefer using a graphite stick directly to the back of my sketch for transferring rather than transfer or graphite paper, it just works best for me).

Stage 1 (underpainting):
This one is a whiteboard so rather than get right into the scratching it starts with a painting in ink. The biggest thing I learned about whiteboard underpaintings is to go much darker than I think - remember, from here on it's going to be taking ink off and re-applying it, but more always goes than what gets put back!

Stage 2 (first scratching):
I always feel like 'why did I bother putting this ink on' and from a distance it looks like I'm scratching it all off, but if you look at the close-up shots of the final piece you will see the incredible amount of depth and colour variation this technique gives - it means many more hours of work on the image, but the end result is well worth it!

I couldn't resist working on those limpid eyes...

You can see how pale this is now - it leaves the deepest colours still dark but more ink will be needed on the mid-tones.

Stage 3 (re-inking):
Here comes that depth - the goal in this stage is to use colours with values slightly different (ie lighter or darker) than the background. If I use the same colour I will actually cancel out any scratches I've made, but if my ink is a little bit lighter I will dampen the contrast to get a more natural look and I can use subsequent layers of ink and scratching to get the feeling of a thick, deep coat.

And you can spot the oopsie... on the left side of the nose (our right) there's a dark little spot - that is actually a small ding to the clay. It might have happened when the clay was wet after a wash of ink as it is very sensitive during that time. Here I've inked it and will use layers of ink and scratching to try to cover that defect. Yes, this made me very sad and I blame the fat cat for it.

Stage 4+ (more scratching):
There are actually multiple stages in here of scratching areas, re-inking to keep my values where I want them, scratching more for texture, and so on. You can see that my extensive medical attention to the nose blemish was successful!

This is also where I went to town on the pillow - I wanted it to look like flannel (what could be more cozy than a labrador on a flannel pillow?). I have fibreglass brushes in two sizes that help me achieve the soft, knobbly look here.

After this there are more hours of tweaking - inking, letting it dry, rescratching, re-inking. There is usually a point where either I've reached a deadline or the painting just says 'stop'. That is when I know I'm done and we're ready for framing. My absolute favorite bit which I save for last is the whiskers! That and a signature and....

..the finished product!

'You want to use *this* pillow?'
6x6 Whiteboard/Ink (c) Pam Boutilier

Detail shots (larger than life-size):

This one is available for sale ($250.00, includes basic frame matted to 12x12"). It is not yet uploaded to the website (quick note, the website is currently under construction getting a bit of an update) but if you are interested just email me at!

As always - if you're interested in a commissioned pet portrait send me an email or give me a call (I have a brochure in PDF form for anyone who wants more detail on ordering a commission).

And as always, thank you for stopping by and peeking at my blog!!

(PS - so does this one qualify as dog #8 in the 100 dogs challenge?)

Monday, January 4, 2010

100 Dogs Challenge - #6 (and #7)

This is a quick ink sketch/painting I did this evening. It's in my wee sketchbook which is not at all the appropriate paper for ink washes, but I felt like just doing something 'quick and dirty' (the scratchboard is not being my friend tonight).

Next time I get the urge I promise I'll go dig out my watercolour paper :)
(And I'll actually work on getting accurate colours instead of having fun with ink mixing)

'Roughly Buffy' 5x7"

And sick of the brush I kept doodling with a ballpoint pen and lo, sketch #7 happened:

'Gromit' 5x7"

Remember one of the stipulations of the 100 dog challenge is that I post 'em all - even the rough ones!!

~ Pam

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Goodbye old friend

We said goodbye to our old boy, Laurich, tonight. He was 14 and had a good, long life. He was to the point recently that he could barely get up at times and couldn't go outside to pee and poo on his own. It was a hard decision - but it was the right one.

Here's to an old friend - may his legs be ever strong and his tummy ever full!

~ Pam