Squirrel at the Window (les écureuils)

Yesterday while I was at my computer busy composing blog entries, a squirrel came to the window — the window right beside my desk — and stretched himself out on the ledge for a little siesta.  I dropped everything (part of my new plan to be spontaneous) and I drew two views of his face before he scampered away.

He sat barely inches from me!  Nothing separating us but some dirty glass (add to the “to do” list to clean the windows).  Obviously the presence of that glass provided security that he trusted though he still gave me some nervous looks.

Right there!  On the ledge outside my window.   I still marvel at the good fortune!  If he’d had a notebook and a blue ball point pen, he could have drawn me too!  He was that close.  And we scruntized each other very intensely.  He was so cute.

And I’m sure he thought the same thing about me too …

Making the Blue Ball Point Pen famous, one artist at a time

Fellow blogger friend Bénédicte of Carnet de Dessins has been inspired by my recent postings to begin drawing with the famous blue ball point pen!  She’s posted two drawings she made using the fabulous pen.

Perhaps I can persuade others to try drawing with a blue ball point pen, and I would recommend doing a test drawing something like the one above as a way of getting started — just to get the feel of the tool.  [FYI:  Shhh, we call it a “test” drawing so that other people who are wondering what we’re doing can get a satisfactory answer:  “Oh, I’m just testing out this new pen.”  While actually we’re really having a lot of fun.  However “mum’s the word.”]

I drew the fake rocks above using a Bic Cristal ball point pen, one of the world’s cheapest pens.  The “fake rocks” are kind of an ordinary, average sort of manufactured product too — rather like the pen.  To be more specific, I drew a foot mat that I’d purchased at Lowes’ and I didn’t even draw it from life, but instead from a photograph since the real mat is outside on the front porch where all the hungry mosquitoes like to hang out.

If you want to test your pen by drawing fake rocks and don’t have a doormat from Lowes — or do have a doormat but have the same mosquito problem that we’ve got, well feel free to use mine.  I give my photo to the world for the sake of art!

Also, as a full disclosure, I also use other brands of blue ball point pen.  I’m experimenting with blue Uni-ball roller pens, Bic “bold writing” Velocity pens, Bic’s “for Her” pens, and Pilot Bottle 2 Pens (made from recycled materials, save-the-planet while you write).  In addition I bought some  Sarasa “zebra” pens displayed at the check out counter at Staples and Pentel RSVP RT pens that were also sold individually at the front of the store.  I looked for as many varieties of blue ball point pens as I could find in the interest of getting slightly different shades of blue color as well as different qualities and textures of ink.

As to my motif, it’s too complicated to get into here but the fake rocks actually relate to imagery I’ve used in some of my paintings.  Nothing is too slight for art if it matters to someone in their heart of hearts.

And while you’re looking for your heart’s delight, give the pens a try.  You never know.

Thoughts in the Wild

When I was a youth and didn’t know anything, I had (as far as I can tell) the closest thing I’ll ever get to an experience of natural cognition.  My ideas, perceptions, experiences were wild and untamed.  I saw stuff and my reaction was composed all of “ooh” and “ahhhh.”  My feelings were strong and optimistic.  I faced a visually intriguing world and thoroughly enjoyed looking at it.  Were I in search of raw natural vision, I can think of no better access to it than what I felt back then.  Adolescence is a great invention that way.

Unfortunately, the period when I had that direct access to Integer Nature was the time when I was least prepared to do anything about it.   I didn’t know how to draw.  I made brave efforts using instincts that I still cherish (cherish your instincts always).  I tried to capture the wild thoughts of my experience using my bare hands, a ploy that took me on many a Wild Goose Chase during which, as often as not, the goose got away.

Those visions came from I know not where.  They slipped out of the forest and afterwards escaped back into the forest of thought as suddenly and as mysteriously as they had first appeared.

In contrast now I have all these tools.  I am like the hunter who has three kinds of firearms, a state of the art bow and arrow, a laser-accurate sighting scope, the best camouflage clothing that money can buy,  bird calls, electronic animal calls, a GPS … I got all this stuff.

And I stand here sometimes and wonder, “Where are all the animals?”

Later in the artistic life, you don’t draw the wild.  You draw at the zoo, and the wild animals are in cages.  Of course, I’m speaking metaphorically.  So you spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to let the animals out of the cages — and equally much how to find that habitat where they all used to live — and you want to take your fancy tools — the contour lines, the hatching and cross-hatching, the smooth tonal washes, the textured brush-strokes or the finely managed continuous tones, the color mixing, the knowledge of the medium — all that stuff and use it on these wild thoughts.

And the mixing of the raw and the refined — well, it’s difficult.  As difficult as it was trying to catch those wild things when you were wild too.  Tis merely a different kind of chase.

What barriers stand between me and my wild, native thoughts?  That takes a bit of pondering in itself.  Perhaps one reason that I meditate so often on “beginnings” is that my youth marks that time when my thoughts seem to have been most free — most untamed — and yet they were raw and unfiltered precisely because I didn’t know anything.