It’s amusing and instructive to see what kinds of searches people are performing that lead them to one’s blog. One of my recent search list items included “naked women on boats.” So, I can only surmise that the visitor was somewhat disappointed with my blog.
If he ever stumbles back this way, however, may I recommend Bill Jones’s On Painting. Now then, Bill does a lot of women, and one’ll find plenty of nudity. (Bill would love this last sentence.) However, he’s less reliable as a source of maritime art, but perhaps viewers are willing to overlook a little fault of that sort. As for me, I once did a brief little gig with boats, however mine lacked naked women.
Though it’s a little off topic, if I were lost at sea on a boat, and if I were naked, I would try to put some clothes on — if at all possible — while seeking rescue because being ever so slightly past middle-age-ish, being naked on a boat might discourage the Coast Guard from doing the rescue!
Well, anyway, others searched for sea shells and elephant drawings. I’m guessing they were more satisfied with the results. And somebody wanted to find Pierre Bonnard, so they probably were gladened to locate another fan of the great French painter. Bonnard is such a fine, great painter. And he even painted naked women, and he also painted boats. But never, to my knowledge, together. Alas, for art!
When you’re busy raising hamsters, you’ve much less time for drawing fish. Alas. So, to while away the time not spent watching baby hamsters squirm, when I am not busy cooing — and saying “oh, look! how cute!” — I do this. Today’s copy after an old master is from Rubens’s famous painting of his second wife Helena.
Yep. Left hand again. If I keep this up, I’ll be afraid to draw with my right hand again!
Hamster No 1, Boy
Hamster No 2, Boy
Hamster No 3, Boy
Hamster No 4, Girl
Hamster No 5, Boy
Hamster No 6, Girl
Hamster No 7, Boy
Hamster No 8, Boy
Hamster No 9, Boy
We took all the babies out of the nest, briefly, for this photo-op during which session we identified the girls from the boys. This vital information we need for future reference! We want to make certain that we exit the hamster business as quickly as we entered it.
Readers will be happy to learn that both mother and babies are doing great!
Last couple days I’ve sent myself back to school, making drawings after various old masters (mostly Ingres, as in this case). I suppose this might be viewed as the “artist’s vacation.” A few days spent leisurely drawing, a change of pace, a change of media, a change of subject matter. As with some of the other drawings I’ve posted lately, this drawing is one I did with my left hand. Using my left hand slows me down. I cannot possibly draw fast, and I feel as if I notice more. Whether I actually do or not, I can’t judge. But even the sensation that time is passing more slowly is delightful.
Of course, one copies an old master to learn. So this “slowing down” is also time spent with the artist being studied. Looking so intently at Ingres’s painting (as reproduced in a book), I find myself marvelling at the extraordinary richness of Ingres’s world. The way he sees even just the woman’s hair, for instance, is just amazing. He has turned her curls into the most intriguing structures which he reproduces with a great and loving sensitivity.
In making a copy, you experience the painting you study so much more deeply. And it is as though the master tells you, “oh, look at this!” and “what about that!” and thus you have a silent conversation in the pure language of images.
Okay, I suppose it’s possible to do a kind of quick drawing with one’s left hand (talking to right-handed artists here). And I did do this next drawing in a fairly short time, in a sketchy way (though most my left hand drawings look a little sketchy no matter how carefully I make them).
I made this first left hand drawing of the Ingres woman in a rather quick, summary way. It’s a “getting acquainted” kind of sketch. Then I did the longer drawing at the top of the post.
The two drawings have a slightly different character and mood. And thus one can make many versions of a single subject, even when copying.
This is the babies’ first picture! They have fur now! Their eyes are still shut, but they wiggle around constantly — guided by smell. They squeak. Indeed, their squeaking kept waking me up last night because they complain more loudly than ever. There is lots of juggling for their mama’s attention!
We don’t pick them up yet. Mama hamster is very protective. So for now we just peek. Our hamster surprised us with these babies as I first mentioned in this post here.
As previous posts explain, I have been doing left-handed drawings after Ingres. It’s become an unofficial Ingres Day around here. And it’s not even his birthday. (That’s August 29th.) This drawing is taken from a very un-Ingreist portrait, the Young Man with an Earring, 1804 of the Musee Ingres, Montauban. The young man looks rough and rude, and Ingres’s treatment is dark and smudgy, not the superlinearity that we customarily expect.
And my version is … well … my version. Some details below.
I can’t help it. I love close-ups.
The shading all runs the “other” direction because this is my left-hand’s shading.
My daughter asked me today if I could have a meeting of my favorite artists in heaven, who would I invite?
Hmm. Had to think a moment. Ingres, of course. Rubens, Durer (my candidates for three of the greatest draughtsmen of history). Would have to include Degas. I cut my teeth on Degas, and he’s a great admirer of Ingres and even met Ingres. Since I invited Rubens, how can I not invite Rembrandt? Duh. And I thought I should invite Hokusai, too (the old man mad about drawing) even if he’d have the most difficult time conversing with the others, being Japanese. Van Gogh. And last but not least, Winslow Homer.
Homer made lots of drawings, but is not known very much for “finished drawings,” having given up anything remotely like that when he stopped being an illustrator. But I’ll take even a scribble by Homer any day.
I figured that English, French and Latin connections would be enough to allow most everyone to talk to most everyone else (with others doing a bit of translation). And Hokusai, all he’d have to do is start drawing and everyone would stop talking and just do some jaw dropping and watch, before picking up their own drawing tools.
With this lovely question for inspiration, I have been drawing today with my left hand again, which I do for amusement and freedom. Decided to make some drawings after our heavenly hero Ingres, taking images from my copy of the book Ingres by George Vigne. (And no, I didn’t pay the price they’re asking for the book now.) My copy is made from the Head of Boileau, 1827 (Musee Ingres, Montauban). You can see Boileau in the completed Apotheosis of Homer here (he appears in the lower right corner of this detail).
So, we won’t all be playing harps, I think, when the role is called up yonder. Some of us, I wager, will be drawing!
I was telling a friend of mine last week, as we strolled through the National Gallery of Art, how much I missed my old friend Titian. His painting Venus Blindfolding Cupid has been taken off regular view ever since somebody decided that it’s not a real Titian. The theme is ironic. Love, blind. Well, I’d say that some of the Italian curators are have a little vision problem too. It’s such an incredibly beautiful painting. Interesting to compare with its counterpart in Italy. (The image exists in a different version across the pond, probably one reason that the authenticity of the NGA picture is doubted.)
Alas. Well, thinking about it got me in motion. I went digging around looking for a reproduction of the image so I could look at it. And I made the quick drawing above. Became quite captivated by the face — which is more ordered than the face of the Italian picture. Quite possibly the NGA version might be painted by another artist — I’m not saying it’s not. But it’s such a beautiful painting. Can’t it be enjoyed simply for what it is? For its own loveliness?
My kid wanted a drawing lesson today so I suggested she do what the old masters did when they were pups: copy. Asked what she wanted to copy, she said she wanted to draw “an old renaissance picture with people in fancy clothes.” So I gave her a catalog from the Met, and she ended up choosing Ingres’s fabulous portrait of the Princesse de Broglie.
She had some questions afterwards about aspects of her drawing so to answer them I made a super-fast “copy” of my own, the above. I’m glad I can teach my kid to draw because drawing becomes one more tool a person uses for thinking about things. Whether one becomes an artist or not is irrelevant. When you know how to draw, you see things in a new way. Moreover, drawing is a useful skill. You can design all manner of things once you know how to imitate the image you hold in your mind.
Only once did a teacher show me something in art by making a drawing of it herself. That was my high school art teacher Karol Thompson. In college and ever after, every question one asked was answered with talk.
I have the utmost respect for anyone who will answer a question by picking up the pencil and “telling” in lines and shades. My daughter’s question was very focused and my answer — my loopy answer — was equally quick and free. And that’s the way I like it.
I observed a scrupulous realism and yet my drawing has turned out rather vague! Well, my subject was a little vague too as it happens. I decided to draw the lush deciduous trees outside my window which I view at eye level (being on the 7th floor). I followed the lines that caught my fancy as I saw them, but folliage does have a tendency to wiggle this way and that as does my attention span. And lacking the context of buildings or other more solid objects to anchor the subject and make it more intelligible, I got this nice grouping of scribbles. But I don’t knock them. You’d be surprised how effective such experiences are for creating memories. I’ll probably recollect the quiet morning of this drawing nostalgically someday. Scribbling is almost olfactory in its ability to seize memories.
I rather like them. I might call it a self-portrait since it registers the inner me rather keenly. This is what it looks like: the interior thought-world of someone who is perpetually in search of her car keys. At least my inner thougths are nicely colored.
Drew this little sketch using my left hand. Someday I’m going to assemble a whole blog devoted to nothing but my left-handed drawings.