Shifting Gears

Just a reminder that I’m using this blog much less now (doing a few reblogs and redirects from time to time) and am shifting my attention to a new blog Trace Elements. Come see what’s going on at the new blog, which you can find HERE.

Internet travel

I have never yet been to England.  Perhaps someday I’ll go.  Until then I have to be satisfied with the England of my thoughts.  And my thoughts have been amplified by seeing England in photographs.  And recently an acquaintance I’ve never met, another artist, posted photographs from his en plein air group.  So I decided to join the group vicariously.

It’s better to do landscape directly from nature, though the old masters usually made their landscapes in their studios.  Degas claimed to believe that landscape painting out of doors was a vice.  Of course he had a remarkable visual memory and could make his landscapes par coeur like those great Japanese and Chinese painters of old.

Well, I don’t mind using a photo now and then.  If God hadn’t meant for us to use photography, He wouldn’t have nudged our species to invent the camera.

Draw any way you can.  Just draw.

Featured Link at Aletha’s One-Stop-Shop for art fun

I try to run a full service blog, and whenever I learn about a good art website I link it here.  Consequently if you ever want to go art surfing on a rainy day, remember my sidebar.  Recently I went through all the links to check their status and I eliminated ones that had expired.  I also rearranged things a bit to make them more organized.  But everyone likes different things, so you have to explore on your own to find whatever suits you.  However, I can assure you — whoever you are — that there’s something here for you because I’ve assembled quite a variety of sites over time.

From time to time, I’d like to feature certain ones that I think are especially noteworthy.  Today’s candidate is the Rembrandt van Rijn: life, paintings, etchings, drawings and self-portraits site.  It has good reproductions of the major paintings and also an excellent selection of drawings and etchings of good quality and resolution. 

I’m always encouraging people to copy old master pictures for the sake of all that you can learn.  Thanks to the good quality of these images at this Rembrandt website, you can observe the varied techniques Rembrandt used, Rembrandt that always intrepid 17th century art explorer.  Copying drawings in imitation of his specific techniques and materials is one thing to try, or copy images translating them to other media (like maybe into blue ball point pen — just sayin’) or find your own motif and work directly from life in emulation of the ways that Rembrandt teaches through his imagery — these are all possibilities.  And no doubt you’ll think up other possibilities of your own. 

But here’s a great site for study and for pure enjoyment.

Squirrel at the Window (les écureuils)

Yesterday while I was at my computer busy composing blog entries, a squirrel came to the window — the window right beside my desk — and stretched himself out on the ledge for a little siesta.  I dropped everything (part of my new plan to be spontaneous) and I drew two views of his face before he scampered away.

He sat barely inches from me!  Nothing separating us but some dirty glass (add to the “to do” list to clean the windows).  Obviously the presence of that glass provided security that he trusted though he still gave me some nervous looks.

Right there!  On the ledge outside my window.   I still marvel at the good fortune!  If he’d had a notebook and a blue ball point pen, he could have drawn me too!  He was that close.  And we scruntized each other very intensely.  He was so cute.

And I’m sure he thought the same thing about me too …

the news at noon

Been pondering a mixed collection of incoming news events, including such topics as “how to write” and finding the “keys” to things (such as drawing).  The latter is particularly poignant for me, being someone who (as regular readers know) frequently loses my keys and must continually be arranging search parties to find them.  (No refreshments are served at these parties unfortunately.)

In other news, stringing ink lines around the imagined contours of household objects has continued to be my daily (and often nightly) preoccupation and holds the key (see above)  to some future ambition.  These humbler forms of drawing are “journeywork” for the great things I shall do someday.  (This is a developing story.) They prepare the foundation for some unknown motif that I will make, something that I cannot even envision at present because it’s so far ahead on the arc of the circular space-time that composes my life (hat tip to poet Paul Squires).

Breaking News:  While I was washing the dishes last night I dropped a large plate after the coating of soapy water caused the plate’s surface to slip from my hand, falling back into the sink below where other dishes were stacked.  Fortunately, no dishes were broken.  And no still life objects were present at the time of the accident.

Okay, I guess it’s not breaking news after all.

In other news, the mowers are cutting the grass on the pathway to the inner landscape.  Try to stay out of their way while drawing with the blue ball point pen since the imaginary grounds keepers have trouble enough in their tasks when the conscious Self comes bumbling into the Subconscious properties.  Visiting is still being permitted while the grounds-work takes place, the workers merely ask that you not tread too often away from the marked paths ….

my most definitive Gabrielle

I was drawing blogosphere Australian poet friend Gabrielle Bryden during her rainy days away from her blog, and this drawing was the culmination of several I made which, if you are my devoted reader, you have already encountered in the previous two posts!

Of the several this one, I think, most resembles the source photo (found here).  And I like it because it’s more realistic.  But I also like it because … because … well, just because.

Why ask why.

All the drawings were made in a small Moleskin notebook using my beloved blue ball point pens.

variations on a Gabrielle theme

I drew blogosphere friend Gabrielle Bryden during her rainy day sabbatical in far away Australia.  While her blog was quiet, I made some little portrait drawings based upon a youthful photo she posted.

Though they were all drawn using the same photo, each one is a little bit different from the others.   These differences that occur, these variations, are what I call “invention.”  Obviously there’s an element of error involved in the variations since if I was just drawing the image directly, every version would look just like the others, and all the versions would be copies of the photo!

Sometimes those kinds of differences trouble artists who are chasing a realistic effect, and they used to bother me too!  But I came to realize that if the drawing is good then the differences from the source don’t matter.  Moreover, all these changes lead to different ways of seeing and understanding the image.

So though there’s one photo I don’t have only one Gabrielle, I have several!  And each is a bit different from the others.

while it has been raining in Australia

While it has been raining in Australia, I have been drawing blogosphere friend Gabrielle Bryden using a photograph taken of her in her youth — her previous youth … she is still very youthful!

While it was raining somewhere far away, I was here in Washington DC’s famous blazing summer heat, and I decided to make one of those drawings you save for a rainy day — only it was raining somewhere very far away.

Here is the youthful Gabe of the mellow “relax” tee shirt whose face I used for this drawing.


My fear of spiders dates from the earliest years of my life.  I’ve written before about an episode in my past where my efforts to confront this fear paid off, during that phase of my life during a summer long ago when my nightly habit was to finish the chores early so that I could spend an hour watching the porch spider build her web.

Years prior to that time, during an autumn interlude, I confronted this fear a different way:  I made spider drawings which culminated in a spider etching.  In my youth just looking at photographs of spiders was enough to move the dial of my internal fear meter.  Yet for some unknown reason a hidden prompting from life led me into drawing spiders.  I don’t recall consciously making a decision to face my fear.  It was more like an unconscious decision shaped my choice, and I got a book, picked out the creepiest examples of spiderdom, and began drawing.  I sought to express the fullness of the creepiness to the best of my ability.  I wanted the perfect image of arachnophobia.

Looking back upon it now, I wonder if it set the stage for later spidery encounters in a continuum of gradual rapproachment between me and the spider kingdom.

Mystery to Oneself

Can anyone tell what it is?  Or am I the only one who knows?  This drawing looks very strange to me.  I know — of course I know — what I drew.  And I see the original in it.  But it was very confusing to sort out, and I’m not sure if others see it or if it looks sort of abstract and scribbly.

When I was doing the actual drawing I had considered making a photo of the thing in medias res since I became quite convinced of that theory about visual perception being strongly right-brain hemispheric because about half-way through this drawing it barely had a right side.  Almost the entire drawing was on the left.  I had put just enough of a “right” for there to be a left, and meanwhile the left side of the drawing was elaborately worked out.

I think it still has more left than right.  It’s a complicated image, and that seemed to fuel the sidedness even more.  I am a mystery to myself.

So I ask you, world, how did I do?