The kid and I were up late into the night drawing cats.  I drew one — assuming that a fake cat counts as drawing a cat.  And the kid drew bunches!

Hey.  Don’t anybody tell the hamsters about this.  (It’s kind of a sensitive topic for them.)

Thinking about Renoir

I was thinking about Renoir after reading a Facebook page discussion of one of the artist’s paintings in a Washington museum.  Decided to think with the pencil.


After I took these photos, while looking at the Renoir picture some more, I decided I had further thoughts about it, so I did some reworking.

And up close …

My version’s different from the old guy’s, as versions always are, but I hope I captured some of his bright optimism concerning young women, youth and beginnings in life.

Return of the Dundee Jar

My little white jar of Dundee Marmelade has returned.  Don’t know why I love it so.  Love is just that way.  Fickle, you know.  When I cast about for something to draw, sooner or later my eyes land upon the little jar, and I feel it beckoning.  Smooth and white like porceline, heavy with marmelade, subtle in its whites that softly reflect every adjacent object in muted tones, I just cannot resist.  And the name “Dundee” printed so magestically, confidently.  It was the constant object of my admiration today.

The ways of drawing cylinders is something that every art student encounters eventually.  Some rules of perspective provide a recipe for a cylinder that will always receed properly, whose top will form just the right oblique oval to tell how a little jar stands with respect to God and gravity, that will make it seem as properly symmetrical as in truth it is. 

But do the eyes see this symmetry?  Or, at least can we question whether we see it all the time in its rationality?  We have two eyes, and each one sees something slightly different, and between the two of them a highly inquisitive and perceptive viewer can detect the deflections of thought between right and left and this way and that.  Perhaps unconsciously we note the discrepencies between our two eyes and catch glimpses of the irregular cylinder presented in stereo to competing optic nerves?

I like to think that my cylinders are not incorrect, just lovingly observed twice.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this jar, but these drawings are like casting actors for roles.  These are the auditions.

And finally, below, we see the jar as it is — in itself — not in character but in ordinary life.

More of Blanca the Famous Hamster

Of course she needs no introduction, Blanca the world famous hamster, celebrated subject of story, verse and art as you can see here, here, here and here. (Sorry that’s all the links my browser can handle.  You’ll have to find the rest yourself.)

Here she appears in her little exercise ball by means of which she stays so fit and trim.  My kid drew Blanca in the ball — actually this is a detail from a larger scene.

Shifting Gears

Been casting about for subject matter.  Or, it’s more than that.  I’ve been planning to do drawings of flowers or perhaps “still life” generally, but I’m trying to figure out not just what to draw, but how to think about it.  So, I whipped out some art books to look at the old guys.  Edouard Manet drew a bunch of flower still lifes near the end of his life.  They are small, painted like mirages with no “technique” just pure thought.  And I made a couple quick sketches of two of them as someone taking notes to herself, remembering something.

I like to think about things before I do them, and I like to consult with the old masters whose paintings I love.  These are my drawing-thoughts with morning coffee.

De bon courage

Well, I suppose you cannot counsel others to be resolute and then bum out yourself.  On this second day of my resolution to post a drawing a day, I’m posting self-portraits because that’s the last thing I drew.  However, I do so with a certain reluctance.  Although I once was so brave as to paint a self-portrait in front of an audience as a painting demonstration (gotta admit that takes guts), I have nonetheless never gotten used to the idea of displaying my own interpretations of my own appearance.  Suffice it to say, herein we see all the defects of my technique since in real life I am astonishingly beautiful. 

Okay.  So the point of self-portraiture is multifold.  For me it’s arisen as a natural consequence of being sensitive and impecunious (definitely an unfortunate combination).  I love drawing people, but I am sometimes shy about asking people to pose.  Koi are so much more diffident than human beings.  They don’t care what you do as long as you seem like you’re going to feed them soon.  Having numerous friends and relatives, I muse to myself that it might be wiser to hold onto these relationships than to risk jeopardizing them by bugging people to sit still while I scrunitize them.  And as to strangers or the hired model, well that’s where the impecuniousness becomes a serious distraction.

Thus I draw the only willing model I have, myself.  And if the drawings keep turning out as these have, that model might become unavailable soon, too.

I think the one at the top of the post turned out so-so, but the moral of these last two is this:  artists, never pick up the pen after eleven pm.

New Year’s Resolutions

Lots of people are doing drawing-a-day posts (or painting a day), and I think I’ll make an earnest effort to do likewise.  Bill Jones of the blog On Painting commented recently (apropos a post I did about journal writing) saying, “You should add a sketch of some kind to every [journal] entry to see how your drawing changes over the years,” and indeed keeping some kind of daily log of drawings or artworks will reveal things that escape one’s casual notice.  It’s like watching the hands of a clock move.

Some people don’t like New Year’s resolutions, I realize.  But personally I think they’re a good idea.  If you can’t come up with anything else to change or try or do, one can always resolve to become more resolute!  (And with more resolve, you can make a “real” resolution next year!)