The notebook is the place where you can work in the utmost privacy. The pages close, and the drawing escapes the light and hides behind perhaps a hundred veils. While you’re making the drawing, you have a little studio that sits in your lap. You can try out ideas, and no one needs to know. Or you have the option of not trying out ideas. Not trying can be a very fine way to spend time. You can draw the way the fish swim. And they do not try to swim so much as they just swim. Of course the fish know more about swimming than an artist usually knows about drawing. And the fish after a lifetime of swimming swim as effortlessly as upon the first fishy day. But trying to draw and not trying are very complicated manuevers that alter one into the other willy nilly. It’s hard work not controlling the not controlling.
In any case, it can all transpire in the deepest privacy: underneath the hundred veils hiding the depths of the water of the pond of the notebook of imagination held in the common backpack — there with the pencils of various sorts and all the other stuff you cart from place to place, a vagabond of longings.
I’m searching for, listening for, music to play for the koi. A little something they can dance to. I heard Maurice Ravel’s “Jeu d’eau” on radio station WBJC yesterday, played by Pascal Roge. You can hear Martha Argerich playing it HERE. It’s the kind of music that’ll make a splash with the koi.
The koi have a musical nature, a topic that I’ve written about before.
After news reports of the kidnapping of an Australian poem, held for an enormous ransom (the story broke at poet Gabrielle Bryden’s blog), my koi are refusing to come to the surface of the pond. Moreover, they are refusing to be painted. Efforts to paint them, thus far, produce only pale grisaille images of very ephemeral koi. These “ghost” kois have hidden themselves behind the veil of anti-art out of fear that they might also be kidnapped and held for ransom.
Well, that — and the spreading rumor that I was going to begin a series of Blue Heron paintings ….
However do these rumors get started ???
I’m having Darjeeling. I just looked at Twining’s website, and I’ve got to get me one of those little purple tins. I didn’t know they sold the tea in tins. Those would make nice still life boxes. I note that some of my other favorite Twinings teas come in little tins, though not Oolong — my all time favorite. I don’t care so much for Earl Grey, but that butter yellow tin looks wonderful. English breakfast comes in a suitably dark green tin.
Anyway, it’s tea time around the koi pond. Time to reflect, sip and drift upon the aroma of Nature’s most lovely beverage. Ever.
I accidentally bought more white paint than I need. And now I’ve decided that my mistake was a boon. I’m adding lots of white to all the colors in the underpainting and producing a kind of multicolored grisaille when I do a lay-in on the koi paintings. The lighter colors are kind of pretty in their own right: I’m wondering if sometime I should do a few “grisaille” koi paintings. But for now these tints form the substrate for a full colored painting that will go on top.
The grisaille is exceedingly useful. First off, it is very forgiving. Let’s say that a koi has to be nudged over a little from this spot to that one. Because the principle colors of these pictures — blue and orange — are optically opposite, over-painting between the colors gets tricky. But a grisaille takes the edge off painting with opposites. If the paints are still wet when I make the changes, then the areas where they unavoidably mix just turn to nice shades of pale grey. And once it’s all dried, ’tis an easy matter to paint over a pale orange with a full blue, or paint a full orange over a pale blue, and not have the oppositions of color impose their tyrannies.
Of course, if you like the tyranny, there’s always still the option of letting blue and orange go to war — later on — if that’s what rocks your mind. Either way, the delicacy of the initial pale colors lets all kinds of possibilities erupt — anything from the most delicate diplomacy to full-scale color war. Meanwhile, the koi seem to enjoy this adventure in paleness. They like it so much that they’re thinking of turning themselves into metaphors.
Above is one of the little scribbly drawings I make to put myself in koi painting mood.
Some of my past koi paintings and drawing are assembled HERE. Some of these works have also prompted my discovery of whimsical and philosophical ideas, some of those are available HERE.
The beginning of learning is wanting. Learning begins with wanting. When I first wanted to paint I was a child and I wanted something from art that a child craves. Desire was composed of bright pretty colors, realism, things that looked bold and compelling.
I’m back again. There I am, hiding behind the blue compotier, visitor to my still life set up — the one that I leave around all the time even when I’m not painting. You get a different point of view when you wander around the still life and simply enjoy the things. And they look so strange and different when you examine them up close and from the odd angles.
There’s the creamer — on the other side of the compotier. Crystaline blue rim of the compotier completely fuzzed out by the camera becomes layers and veils of airy blueness. And beyond that rim of blue, ah! the bright territory of green folds that stretches ahead in the strolling landscape/still life lane ahead.
Out beyond the creamer, past the garden of flowers on the black background, past the odd ovaline fruitish-looking thingies and the tendrily lines, you can see the path to the salt cylinder with the famous “When it Rains it Pours” yellow girl bandishing her violet-colored umbrella. Believe it or not I even found a koi pond near by. It sits atop that decorated green box just ahead.
These guys were sure surprised to see me. They don’t get lots of traffic at the tiny little koi pond in colored pencil lines inside the swirly golden frame.
Actually, I’m not doing anything remotely like still life painting these days. It’s all koi all the time. Big fellas, in comparison with which these are just little guppies.