plans postponed

We’ve had a lot of rain.


I began a little still life from the objects stored on the shelf. They were not set up to be “the still life,” I just store them on the shelf. But each time I look at them, their arrangement beckons. The other day I started a drawing in low light. The photograph below shows the objects but not the lighting which is too slight for my photography.

shells on the shelf

I love being in a slightly darkened room, drawing things I like. But the rain has taken away so much sun that I cannot work on this any further today.

studio today

I even had a still life I was doing from life in sunny light and I haven’t worked on it in weeks. All the still life objects have a layer of dust on them. But as diligent as one would like to be, you cannot fight Nature.

She has set her heart on rain, so rain it will be. Perhaps I should start portraying landscapes of rain.

As for today, and its faintly realized still life, the other thing I like is the arrangement of things as they’re stumbled upon. To discover the composition while making it, while looking at it — while staring over a length of days of idle thought. I picked a sheet of Canson pastel paper. It is the size it is. I had no idea how much of the scene even to include, had no notion where the edges would be. I just began drawing that first sea shell that I particularly love and let the other things gather round it.  I didn’t even know where to place the sea shell on the sheet. I just began.

I don’t know what it will all look like when it’s finished. And of course I don’t know when it will stop raining, when the light will come back.  This is why it’s good to have many projects. Eventually one will come off.



art diary

I was away


from my blog for a long time, and now that I’ve returned to writing fairly regularly, I am sometimes at a loss as to what my blog is supposed to be. Whatever intentions I had in the past, those are loose threads now. So I’ve decided that the blog might as well serve as a diary. It can remind a future me what things I was working on, and in roughly what order. It’s worth doing as an experiment. As it is public, it’s a spectator diary. Or a virtual studio where visitors drop by from time to time.

The last life class met on Tuesday. The model adopted the same pose as the session previous, though I changed my position slightly. The model had the most extraordinary cheekbones. I tried to capture their elusive subtlety but never quite managed. I am pleased overall, but still one owes Nature her due. Human beings are by their Creator marvelously fashioned.

101_8743 I drew relatively small (9 x 12 and 14 x 17 inch notebooks) using oil pastel.  Made a few preliminary drawings in pencil and charcoal pencil to get acquainted with the pose and his features.


I have already posted the main drawing from the previous session, but here it is again.

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the window at twilight

I’m not sure where the idea came from.

101_8736 (3).jpgIt seemed just to have arrived. Maybe I was thinking about this picture more than I knew because there’s something about it that I like, that keeps pulling me back.

I decided to put the two drawings together.  That was the idea. Put the window with the twilight effect behind the flowers on the table. The decision definitely connects the picture further to Bonnard, and that’s what I want.

I couldn’t find the drawing of the window. I had it just the other day. It sat on top of the pile, but I rearranged things and now the pile is gone, and  I don’t know where it is. But I have been able to make a first sketch of the idea by retrieving the copy I posted on this blog.

I arranged them on the computer screen so I could see them both simultaneously rather like the way they’re displayed here.

Formerly the two things had nothing to do with each other. Now they feel intentionally connected. What luck that I even made the drawing of the window. It had been a whimsical gesture at the time. I had been working in the studio all afternoon. As I was finishing up, I noticed how the light inside the room contrasted with the cool evening light outside as twilight descended. It’s an effect that I always love to see.

I hesitated to draw the scene since it would dissolve so quickly.  I only made the drawing on a kind of dare to myself. What was there to lose? Isn’t that why you learn to draw? To tackle the dissolving, transitory motif, to see how much you can grab before it’s gone? Why not sometimes just swat at scenes, see what you get. So I picked up the nearest sheet and the most ready box of pastels and began drawing very fast. I didn’t even know how much of what I was looking at was “the motif.” There’s just me looking up, seeing colors and finding that I want to stop everything I’m doing to look at them.

After seeing that the window could be joined to the table top motif,  I began to see various ways I could figure out the rest of the painting, too. One idea seems to flow from the others. Why not take the scene apart thing by thing?


The bowl of apples, for instance — should it hold apples? If so, why three? Should they be arranged this way or some other way?  Why not begin some studies and figure it out? I can go through the whole picture this way, making inquiries of each thing.

The drawing of the compotier that I love also makes me believe it would be good to put different arrangements of fruit in the bowl. This drawing, below —


Meanwhile, why is the owl there? He has always struck me as being the feature that makes the picture look a bit clunky, but maybe he’s there for a reason? Making more drawings can help me sort out the questions. Can he be a more serious owl?

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I’m starting to feel pulled into this project again. That’s a good thing.

UPDATE:  Here’s another thought for this painting, a shell motif in the curtain.


Related posts here and here.  Also here.

UPDATE:  Just realizing now how different the relationship of the flowers to the window is in the new idea.  The scale is utterly different.  I like this relationship better than the one I began with — so use it going forward.  Let the composition at the top be the guide.

UPDATE:  Information on owls in art: