Before and After

fish drawing in progress 2

koi detail the group

Sorting through the photo records of my pictures, I found these before and after details of one of the big koi drawings.  It’s nice to gaze backwards sometimes.  I feel like I did something.


A nice kind of rut to be in

two paintings side by side

I pulled a big old canvas out of the closet and set it on top of the bookshelves with the koi, putting it on my “to do” list to finish.  And standing back, it begins to look a lot like the koi theme in a different form.  I started the painting of the winter mountain before I began painting koi.  It’s based on a rather famous photograph (don’t tell anyone), and I have worried about the question of copy-right.  I’d love to compare it now with its original, but as so often happens, I don’t know where the source photo vanished to. 

How odd, though, to be indebted to an anonymous photographer for an image that so neatly anticipates my koi obsession.  But it doesn’t end there.

two pictures side by side 2

It imitates the forms of another picture, too — one “unrelated” to the koi.  In the collage of the child asleep in dreams, a stream defies gravity by rising up like a mountain — and of course, the mountain rises up like a mountain too.  These different forms sprawl in much the same ways.

Looking into one’s mind reveals weird metaphors.  Even in stealing, I only take my own obsessions back from the hands of others.  And somehow in my occasional housekeeping, I manage to unearth these things at apt moments when the mixed metaphors can meet each other in daylight.

I have a well etched fissure in my brain somewhere, drawn by neurons firing.  I’m guessing that under closer inspection, it probably looks a bit like one of these pictures!

My office is the floor

Working on the floor is fun

On her blog poet Gabrielle Bryden posted some photos of her office which has inspired me to post one of mine.  While it’s true that my “office” is really a studio with all the cumbersome stuff that artists need, I still enjoy fantasizing about being able to work from a very simple space.  I figure that if I were whittled down to the barest essentials, I could still manage fairly well if I simply had a floor.  Being a kid at heart, such an arrangement does not seem a sacrifice — more of an ambition as yet unreached.

A cup of coffee, a few pencils, a notebook, a floor, a planet with gravity and light — occasionally a chocolate yogurt — and I’m set!

Alas, all I really lack is a window view of kangaroos!

view out the window

However, at my DC studio I do have some very nice clouds.


flower sketch one

My days have been so hectic of late, but today was a welcome contrast.  What  a lovely, quiet day of hours spent idling and lolling about.  The autumn air was unseasonably warm.   Had coffee in the kitchen beside the golden light of our little lamp.  Lazy tropical thoughts in my head.  After a bit, I took my coffee to the big window.  Had my notebook in my lap.  View of the trees beside me, leaves of changing colors, kind breezes coming through the open window, comforting humidity.  I had a long talk on the phone with my mom, and while we talked I sketched some flowers in the notebook. 

I love my notebook!  Spent long, lazy minutes doodling with it in my lap, talking with my mom, traveling back through time. 

Getting ready for making a shift to still life.  Still life.  It’s been my all-purpose aspiration these days!  Stillness, sweetness, not having to rush about so much!  One of those things that art does (it serves many aims, comes in many guises) is render things still.  Someone has said that the defect of painting is that it’s flat and it doesn’t move.   And for me that’s all the charm!  Let motion pictures charm the hectic world.  I crave stillness!  I get all the dizzy motion I want looking at inanimate objects.  “Does an apple move?” Cezanne asked.  Well, it did for him as his nervous, searching lines attest.    The contours around flowers can be very hard to pin down.  One would think the bouquets are dancing a ballet.

flower sketch two

flower sketch three

I like to draw things over and over.  If I paint these flowers, I’ll have drawn them a dozen times in advance.  These are artificial flowers, of course.  But there’s ways of playing around with drawing  when working from life too —  and lots of artifice involved in making things that are “real.”  My fake flowers make such demands on me that I’m scared of real ones.  And if you’ve ever seen one of those time-lapsed pictures of flowers, you discover that flowers are actually very weird and scary — one is wise to think twice about being alone in a room with a vase of tulips!

flower sketch four

The last have-at-it today needed crayons (of course).  Rather unapologetically I did not “finish” my sketch!  And there’s a whole bunch more unfinished drawings coming right behind these!

flower sketch detail

Lastly, I must include a detail of my unfinished drawing.  On a lazy day, one simply cannot neglect enjoying the laissez-faire of scribbled lines.  All my leisure lies suspended in these lines:  heedless, lazy, indulgent, contented, grateful! — on a quiet Sunday.

Life in the Fast Lane

koi drawing fast fish group

Spent some time around the koi pond meditating on the agile delights of quickness.  Sometimes you’re just of a mind to play.  Today I drew fast swimmers.  The fast study is very different from other kinds of drawing.  Nicolaides called it gesture drawing when you seek out the essence of the thing from the inside out.  I’m not embarrassed to call it scribbling, though it’s scribbling of a high order.

Made a couple of these today, as well as rediscovered a couple that I’d made in notebooks as exploration for previous paintings.

koi drawing fast scribbly

The gesture of the lines can take on a life of their own.  It’s like listening to the syllables in a word.  The beauty of the activity is something that the artist should continually seek.  We are not just drawing things, we are drawing our thoughts, and discovering the forms and gestures of which thoughts are composed .  Along the way one discovers a world of inner hieroglyphs.

koi drawing fast big guy

My work began today with this drawing above — a study for the “Big Guy” of the koi pond featured in my previous post. 

koi drawing agenor study

Agenor surfaced, too, while I was turning the pages of the notebook.  He’s the star of my first big koi pond.

koi studio view

Here’s the view of the koi studio today with a few of the fish that jumped out of the pond.