featured work: Celestial Koi

celestial koi 54 x 40 smaller

I like to work large, and this pastel called “Celestial Koi” is large.  The seam that’s visible in the photograph is there because I put two sheets of pastel paper together to create the picture.  Overall it measures 54 x 40 inches. Because I used sanded paper I couldn’t use a single sheet — unless I had applied a sanded ground to watercolor paper myself.  This drawing is made on UArt paper — which is wonderful.  It looks just like sandpaper — it basically is just like sandpaper, but is a form of sandpaper made to the exacting conservation standards required for an artists’ material.

So the visible seam is a fundamental part of the picture, part of its form.

Anyway, one of the joys of presenting artwork at the Fine Arts America site is that they offer reproductions at fairly large sizes.  This image can be purchased as large as “48 x 35.8.”  So it’s not as large as the original, but it’s still pretty large.

The original pastel on the easel appears below.  Some of the interior objects, the bookcases and whatnot, give a hint at the scale.  I had just gotten the UArt paper and I was going crazy drawing kois.

studio 4 (2)

Some background: like many visitors to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, I have long admired the many banners hanging from the building that advertise visiting exhibitions.  And like many visitors I have wondered what happens to the banner when the exhibit concludes?  They are of course too large to hang inside someone’s home — but some of the banners could be cut down in interesting ways and adapted for interior decoration ….

nga banner

Seeing those banners instilled a longing in me to create large versions of some of my pictures for not only do I enjoy making large pictures, I also particularly like making large drawings.  A large drawing is one that you can get inside of — all the whimsy and freedom of a drawing can be there — only LARGE. Thus one of the hopes I have for my Fine Art America site is that it can feature more and more large drawings, some that are in small drawings blown up and others that are real-live large drawings.  We’ll see what happens with that.  I’ll keep you posted.

I imagine the Celestial Koi in a room with a lot of yellow.  It could make a wonderful contrast in an airy, buttery, yellow colored room.  I found this room on the internet.  (I like to search for images of beautiful rooms on the internet!)

This is someone’s gorgeous room.  But if you take down those prints — lovely as they are — and replace them with my large blue koi pastel — wouldn’t that be wonderful?!

Just like that!  Kois over here, imagine them over there. Or in any similarly airy, gracious room in need of a large company of fish ….

Here’s a link to “Celestial Koi” —



in the open

sideyard in capitol hill (3)

I have an idea for a project.  On one of my walks I saw a garden that reminded me of my idea, so when I could, I visited the place and made this quick sketch using oil pastel.

Actually it looks nothing like my idea, but ideas are like that — they tend to occur in your head and sometimes bear only fleeting resemblances to particular things that recall them to memory.  So this drawing doesn’t look like my idea though it does bear a sketchy resemblance to the actual place I visited.

Nonetheless I trust the drawing to connect me to my idea in ways I cannot fathom. While your hand records the forms, that invisible link etches deeper into the silent mind.

I have decided to go out into the field as often as my schedule permits to make drawings that relate to ideas, ones that have been rattling around in my head.  Drawing is a form of research. Even when the drawing doesn’t look like the idea there will be some kinship, some je ne sais quoi that connects to the hidden motives that had called me to the place.  If I draw the locale more times, the connection might grow clearer.  It was pleasant being there — having to think on my feet, experiencing all the sensations of the motif — not just its look, but the air, the sounds, the breeze, the pull of gravity, the fatigue of standing and passage of time in the changing of the light.

So these are episodes of brainstorming.  I make the drawing to call back to the idea, and perhaps it will call me again in echo.