drawing for fun

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Made a little copy from an art book of a detail of a painting by Willem van Aelst.  Used Caran d’Ache neopastels.  It’s fun!

And these little fruits help me think about the ones I place in my own still life.

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Autumn Apples

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Three Apples, 11 x 14 inches, acrylic on canvas

 

I’m wondering what will happen if I just let the ideas appear, not judging or interfering in the perceptions. I think it would be delightful to be surprised by my own painting. Sometimes that happens. It is as though someone else painted the picture. If you know you’ve got a certain measure of skill, what if you just forget about all the “shoulds” that you ever heard, and instead use the skills you have (whatever they are) to respond to the motif, and let the chips fall where they may?

Then what happens? I am wondering what it’s like to do painting as a form of inquiry, as a way of asking lots of questions, following the thoughts with the colors of paint, and then be as surprised as the next person about the results.

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Well Red

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I have some plans for a largish painting that will feature an abundant amount of red.  I think about it often.  The studio is set up for other things at present, so I have to finish those first.  But for my “warm ups” I have begun doing small pictures that are very red.

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It’s fun.  It’s thrilling — to have a few bits of the much longed for experience.  I love playing around with colors.

The painting at the top measures 9 x 12 inches.  The lower on is 8 x 10.  Both are painted with acrylics.

drawing game

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Autumn is arriving — has arrived.  The effects of the changing light appear in the landscape bit by bit as the seasons change. I try to observe that change which is continual.  Looking at the outdoors one looks at Nature’s clock and the effects are similarly clock-slow. The length of days is gradually shorter.  The angle of light is more pronounced. The trees and plants respond and begin to let go of their summer fullness.

Nevertheless, for landscape drawing, incidental change occurs rapidly.  Light changes quickly and getting the features that you see means drawing quickly — which I enjoy.  I set up outdoors and make fast drawings of the little red house.

I throw myself into it. It is not so much drawing in the sense of creating an image as it is noticing lines, shapes, colors, positions and putting them down as fast as one can think.  The image arrives later by itself.  I play a game that’s like tennis with the scene in front of me.  It throws light at me and I bat at the sensation.  The percepts keep coming and I keep swinging — until some moment when the whole effect has obviously changed.  Then the game is over.  Possibly that’s it — or else you set up for another round.

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Methods

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In the past I have used oil pastel often as a sketching medium, as a way of trying out ideas before committing myself to painting.  But lately, particularly now that I’m using acrylic paint, I have been going straight to the painting to experiment with ideas directly there.  Consequently I’m using oil pastels much less.

They’re a beautiful medium so I don’t want to neglect them entirely.  I am enjoying the directness of just painting though.  I find that I can blast away more with paint.

The drawing above measures 18 x 24.

A Red Red Rose

a red red rose

I decided to embark upon a more visceral sort of painting so sometimes I take a small canvas and just paint.  I thought it would be fun simply to respond to what I see in as unmediated a fashion as I can manage.

So here’s one small painting made with that “get ready, get set, go!” spirit.   It measures 8 inches square.

Paper Horse

Paper Horse

Still life is a contemplative kind of painting.  When you think about it, what does a still life offer?  It’s simply a set of objects to gaze upon.  Sometimes the objects may have clear symbolic meanings, but often — perhaps most of the time — the objects are just themselves. They might not even be fully themselves, depending upon how they’ve been painted.  In the still lifes of my hero Matisse, sometimes the objects are caricatures of themselves, sometimes they are almost cartoon versions of things — bounded by heavy contour lines, generalized into broad colors.

To place overmuch attention to the acquisition of things is called “materialism,” in our culture (which has some uneasy feelings about its various economic successes).  And yet we live in a world of objects, and we build our human nests (after a fashion) and fill them with things we think we need or that we cherish. And so still life painting puts the focus squarely upon the things.  It offers up the quiet drama of things — or possibly a vision of sentimental attachments — or reflections of private life.

The paper horse was something I rediscovered while cleaning the attic, a relic of my daughter’s childhood when we routinely made things from paper.  I brought it down and it almost instantly landed on the still life table.  All the objects have some bit of sentimental energy in them (for me, possibly visible to the viewer too).  But the objects on the table also seem to insist upon their abstract presence.  They are simply and frankly things.  Bound to the table by gravity, visible by the light they reflect, they simply are.  So they hang there in space like planets revolving around a star or like the particles that physicists tell us make up the physical cosmos.

They have an abstract beingness.  They just are.  They are stuff.  And what do artists do?  They look at stuff and copy it into pictures.

Paper Horse measures 48 x 36 inches, is painted in acrylic paint on canvas.

 

the chaos behind things

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I drew and redrew the same image of flowers from a photograph.  None of them quite looked like the flowers.  But the image was mesmerizing and the chaos drawings that arose were … something … I don’t know what they were.

This is one of them above.

Now, oddly enough, it’s also one of many studies for a Flower Wall painting I made that was exhibited this summer.

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The passage down at the very bottom of the painting, to the left of the butterfly, is how it appeared in the painting itself.  I made lots of drawings of the image.  Not sure how many.  No doubt — some time or other — I’ll make others — or will draw something like it.

Here’s how Flower Wall looked in the exhibit. It measures 48 x 48 inches.

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And the theme of the butterfly crossed into the large Butterfly Emblem.  Not planned.  It’s just the way of butterflies — they flit from one place to another.

iterations

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Same song, different verse.  They are the same orange and lemon sitting on the same cloth, in the same relationships, portrayed a little differently from one painting to another.

The variations offer endless possibility.

I love painting the same things in slightly different ways.  It’s like jazz.  You learn the tune and then you discover something inside it that’s new each time.

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pictorial physics

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Turn the pear upright and it’s shaped like a pitcher.

I’m probably not alone in finding the shape appealing — merely as a shape.  Perhaps it’s the way it relates to gravity.  Pears and pitchers offer subliminal reminders of gravity.  Weighty things get pulled down toward the earth’s surface.

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Different objects manifest the same effects, participate in the same beauty.

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Shadows pull us down to earth too.  Shadows are wonderful.