We dropped by the Torpedo Factory in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, earlier today to watch Teresa Oaxaca demonstrate her manner of drawing with charcoal. While she drew I made a few sketches of her set up. I learned afterwards that she had made the doll I drew herself (there were two dolls in her set up): she had sculpted the doll’s face herself.
I have a still life that I set up so that I could better study the color blue. It’s been sitting there for a while, and last night for the first time I decided to begin drawing from it. The pastel above is the first attempt. Objects in this drawing are a little larger than life size. While I was working I got confused about the sizes of some of the objects relative to each other so I used passages of color to think myself through the drawing questions. Because I’m still sorting through the drawing questions, I have not really begun using it to study blue in earnest. But the color questions as well as the drawing questions are ones that I begin thinking about with this first drawing. It’s like reading through a new piece of music. On the first read, you don’t worry about every note; instead you just want to get through it from beginning to end and hear how it sounds.
This morning while I was waiting somewhere I drew the still life from memory. I was so proud of myself, supposing that I had remembered all the still life items. It was only after I got home and compared the memory drawing with last night’s pastel drawing that I discovered I had forgotten the dome-shaped dark blue bottle. How on earth did I forget it? It’s a favorite, beloved object, one that I’ve portrayed many times. But today in my mind as I sketched, it disappeared down the rabbit hole.
The violet colored pastel paper complicates the whole business of “studying blue,” but even when doing this as an exercise I find I want to add on other elements. And I am “studying blue” as another way of thinking about my koi paintings. And thus still life painting can sometimes help solve visual questions that pertain to other genres.