I was thinking that it’s about time I did some of the koi in watercolor. This subject that’s about the water ought to be represented in a more watery way. Well, I had been house cleaning — a task that’s closely allied to archaeology — and I found that I already had made at least one version of the koi in watercolor.
I’ll be darned. What a neat idea. I’m glad I already thought of it!
(Reason number 126 why house cleaning is sometimes a good thing.)
A picture should enjoy an aspect of ambiguity, just like persons. It needs some enigma. A friend once told me “a little mystery helps.” And it does.
I’m not sure where the path is leading here, whether into the meadow or up into the sky.
In late spring and early summer the hill in the background is filled with azaleas and later with rhododendrons along its meadering paths. I love to take walks there. I try to carve out a few days each year to see the hill of flowers.
At other times, I walk far across the park to see the hill from a distance. That’s the view I drew here when I climbed the hill with my crayon.
It makes a huge difference whether the picture is horizontal or vertical! What a difference there is between the solitary tree trunk standing in the leaf litter of autumn verses a whole gathering of trees massed like sentinels! Even in a sketch. Even as just scratches on the page!
What counts is what remains behind. Sometimes artists — especially when they are new — are over-scrupulous in comparing what they make with its model. Even Matisse acknowledged that art is a truth that’s parallel to nature. You make your drawing as faithfully as you can. You really let yourself be in touch with the reality that you think and see and feel.
Afterwards, and of course there is afterwards, you have the drawing itself. It’s its own little world. You should not care too much whether it is the exact replica of Nature as you saw her. What is it in itself? In itself is all that the spectator will afterwards know. In itself is really what counts. You were making a drawing. You are not placing a landscape of dirt and trees and bugs and animals on the floor for your spectator to inspect. You are giving them an image — a visual idea on a sheet of paper. All that they can inspect are its lines and shapes and colors and forms.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. I love Nature. But Nature and Art are not the same thing. They are sisters, perhaps. But each is her own person.
I did the drawing above one day. I don’t now know where I was or what I looked at.
Sometimes I take my trusty Caran d’ache water soluable crayons out on the road, and I confront Nature face to face. (She has such a pretty face.) I have a few places that have become favorite haunts, and I revisit them and produce different versions of the same motif. The wonderful thing about drawing is its spontaneity. The world’s oldest medium is highly portable. To draw all you really need is a stick and a page.
Well, my sticks are elegant modern inventions, and while they’re not super expensive, they are pricey enough to brag about, and certainly worth rooting around in the grass to find the ones that one has accidentally dropped.
Recently I wrote about the idea I had for a picture called Spottie Leaping Through the Forest, based upon our former dog Spot who now chases squirrels in God’s big back yard. Well, in this drawing I was toying with the idea of combining Spottie with the elegant figure of Botticelli’s famous painting who unfurls the cloth to present Venus at her advent. In my version, she lets loose the horrible hound!