A year or so ago, I forget when it was, I decided to do the seashells larger than life. It was a distinct departure for me because previously I had always portrayed them apparent size or life size. But I had some pastels I wanted to experiment with and a yen to work large and the seashells were all sitting right in front of me so the synergy all lead toward a large seashell.
Those experimental drawings I made are sitting where I can see them and have been prompting me to have a new whack at the motif. Hence the drawing above. Looking at the set up that inspired the first large seashell, you can tell that I was seeing the seashells from above them. Given a certain artistic ambiguity that particular fact doesn’t completely register in the drawing itself.
However for the drawing I began last week, the shell sits on a shelf at eye level and fits into the representational scheme of “things seen on a ledge.” It also takes up much more of the paper than the first one did. The first large seashell drawing I made was on an 18 x 24 inch sheet. This drawing measures 19.5 x 25.5 inches. The seashell itself is about ten inches long. So the drawing portrays it about twice life size. This latest drawing is the start; it will be interesting to see where it leads.
Here’s an in situ view of the shell in progress.
It’s a rainy dark day today so I won’t be working on this seashell. It’s my natural light shell and sits recessed on the shelf so that it’s dark even in daylight. But I have a nighttime seashell that I work on too. Ironically the nighttime seashell is brighter than the daytime seashell because I draw in it artificial light.
Actually I draw in the dark a lot. I love drawing in low light. But when I began doing en plein air drawing again, the first shock was seeing how bright the sticks look in the sunlight! I usually never see them that bright when I’m working.
People have often commented on the bright colors in my artwork (I love color) but would be surprised to know how often I work in low light conditions where the actual colors aren’t fully visible. Nevertheless, I know what I’m doing (I think) because the pictures come out with a balanced effect. But I don’t always see what I’m doing.
It seems like a very natural way to work, in my view, because color changes all the time anyway. All the time, all day long, as the light changes, so does color. Therefore you might as well just chase color in the wild — in its natural habitat — and get used to it. The chase is where you feel the adventure!