The best cure I can suggest for insomnia is to relax. That said, it didn’t work for me. But when you can’t sleep, sometimes you can decide to accept wakefulness gracefully if reluctantly. That’s what I did and it’s how I got these drawings. Because it was the middle of the night and I still held out hopes of returning to bed, I decided not to turn on any lights and consequently I couldn’t see very well. This still life was lit, nonetheless, by outdoor security lighting seeping into the room through a large window. But my page was very hard to see. So all my gestures were big ones.
I had to shade the contours heavily with the pen just inorder to see them. But I am pleased with the exaggerations that low light compelled me to observe.
This one I did without the benefit of a still life or light. I just sat in the dark and drew what I was trying to recall in my head without knowing exactly where the lines were falling. It was like dream drawing.
And still I could not sleep!
In this next one, I tried to remember a still life set up at my studio. My memory was vague. There were “two flowers” that I was struggling to place in my mind … the rest of the entire bouquet was a blank! Almost asleep?
Back to the dark still life by the window, I went and I drew just the crazy bouquet top dreamed into dizzy lines of velvet shadows.
As the old masters go, Vincent Van Gogh is actually one of the younger old masters. Some of the old dead guys have been living in the great hereafter much longer than him. He’s just a new kid on the block. And yet he has ties do the whole tradition in his painting. He’s also the Patron Saint of Self Taught Artists, so he’s a good go-to guy for learning in the visual arts.
I learn from the old guys by copying their pictures, and since I’ve been thinking about flower painting a lot lately. I decided I could benefit by a “refresher course.”
The Van Gogh painting that I copy above using the Blue Ball Point Pen was among those pictures Van Gogh made when he was in Paris in 1886.
When you write you create an alternate personality. What I write in my blog reflects my true ideas, and yet there is something a bit different about the “me” that writes and the me that does everything else I do. Reflecting upon the difference, I can’t help wonder what it would be like if the writer me participated more fully in the life of minute-to-minute me. Could a better integrated personality, a consolidation among the “me”s lead to the invention of an internal literary dialog? It could float in that air between my ears like a tv crawl, and along the back of my head prose observations pertaining to vegetables and floor cleaners might compete with philosophy of toothpaste and anticipated toilet paper purchases. Along the byways of the Safeways I could become a veritable grocery store Socrates!
Of course one detects a potential conflict here. There might already be more gravitas in the grocery store than a person requires. Don’t the tabloids at the check out, on display next to the varieties of gum and breath fresheners, offer really all the literary commentary that a shopper ever truly needs?
In pictures I often fancy that I am the things I draw. (Maybe I have a complex going here.) And while these musings persuaded me to leave my errand persona alone, I still don’t mind becoming various sets of lines and shapes. So on that note, let me just say that though I look nothing like her (sigh) I am — I really am — that girl pictured above.
I am her, and she is me. My blue ball point pen said so itself.
Last night I was drawing my small deep blue copy of the dark and moody Van Gogh still life of potatoes (above). And that is a great night meditation, let me tell you, those deep shadows and the humble potatoes, the basket-like-a-bird’s-nest. And then this morning the sun rises and I have new yellow still life objects just discovered at the second-hand store!
Day and night wonders.
My motto for all idle moments — if nothing else materializes, there is always fishing. Fishing with the blue ball point pen brings me wealth in blueness, each line a wave or a swish. The darkness a shadow that I made myself into which my thoughts can float. Each fish like a wish. Blue water, expansive sky, endless space, wonderful freedom, great breath of intoxicating air!
I get perhaps the greatest increase in drawing skill in the waiting room — during those odd occasions when I draw something to pass the time because I am planted somewhere with nothing to do. To avoid disturbing the other people who are waiting, I refrain from drawing them. Instead I draw from photos I carry with me, or sometimes I draw from memory. There is no pressure to have the drawing conform very much to anything and I let myself draw fast or slow, this element or that one, and I find that extremes of not caring often provide felicitous awakening of the senses, freeing the hand and the mind. I learn from these episodes more and more to just toss down the line.