coming soon the lion’s head

101_9040 (2)

I made a first drawing of the lion’s head. It’s a decoration on a vase in the picture. And the lion’s head has deep, echoing meanings for me.  I dreamt about a path guarded by lion statues once, eons ago.  And of course everyone’s favorite artist Johannes Vermeer has lion’s head finials in two of his paintings.

101_9038 (4)

The lion vase is one feature of the painting that I’m joyfully anticipating.  I will think my way through it many times, in various drawings. I merely whet my appetite here.

Below are some of Vermeer’s lions heads.

Vermeer_-_Girl_with_a_Red_Hat (4)
right side finial, Girl with the Red Hat

 

Vermeer_-_Girl_with_a_Red_Hat (3)
left side finial, Girl with the Red Hat

 

vermeer girl with a flute (2)
finial in Girl Holding a Flute

morning coffee drawing

101_9035 (2)

Today’s morning coffee drawing is a watercolor.  I don’t know whether I’ll work on it more today or not. I drank all the coffee, and I need to begin today’s session with the big painting for which this is another practice.

Before I began the watercolor, I drew the two things a little in a notebook where many of the ideas for the painting develop.

101_9036 (2)

I am redrawing the same features again and again.  It’s like music that I’m striving to learn.  The objects are the music.

In a careless drawing like the one above, you can really think aloud.  The contour of the green fish vase goes right through the frog tea pot.  And the tea pot’s spout was originally about a half inch to the left.  I simply put the lines down where they seem to go.  This drawing records random thoughts about lines and their positions and about passages of light and dark, though the tones don’t conform to the scene overall — that would mean too much drawing.  I’d run out of ink.  My wrist would be killing me!

I got the frog’s face in one of these studies.  I think this is the first time the frog’s face has materialized so clearly.  Hopefully everything will appear at last — in the painting for which these are the rehearsals.

collected scribbles

101_8975 (2)

Here’s the objects that sit on the semi-permanent still life table (this set up has stayed quite a while).  In the drawing below, they sit behind another temporary still life that I set up this week for a special purpose.

101_9007 (2)

I like drawing and redrawing these objects.  They form many a meditation on color and shape that I contemplate, pen in hand.  Here’s some earlier iterations.

101_8979 (2)

101_8980 (2)

I get to know these objects by drawing them over and over.  I will really know these objects well someday.

If you read this blog regularly you’ll recognize them from these drawings.

 

 

 

miscellaneous scribblings

101_9009 (2)

I discovered that the cloth I’m using in my still life in progress was turned wrong-side out when I originally set up the objects.  I just assumed that I had arranged it with the right side up.  So the colors are muted and I’ve decided to revert back to that original intention.  I made the discover while drawing from a photo I have of the original set up.  I was waiting in the car for my daughter and occupying the time with drawing when I looked closer at the picture and noticed the color differences.    I made note of it in my diary at the time and remind myself here too! Meanwhile, back in the studio …

101_9007 (2)

one still life is sitting in front of another, so I decided to draw them to pass the time and get warmed up for working.  I think it’s amusing trying to untangle the jumble of things available to look at in drawings like these.  If you care to join in, a photo of the jumble appears below:

101_9000 (3)

Also got to thinking about the eye on the fish vase.  It reminds me of a detail of a drawing that I made years ago (with some help from my daughter who was very young at the time).  I want to do more with this eye when I get to the big painting.  Not sure how that will go, but I note that it might prove interesting.

101_9010 (2)

It reminds me of this, and I see an opportunity.

fish eye

Birds & stuff — just because

bird sheet

I like to draw a lot. Sometimes these days I’m inclined to draw just to be drawing, choosing images somewhat randomly. I decided to draw a blue jay and made four versions of him together.  I think the face was already there.  Flowers came later, and some kind of fruit hidden among leaves. There’s still lots of white space left so other items many join the group.   We’ll see.

Why not?

odds & ends

Draw everything.

101_8807

You can’t of course. But why not just pretend that you can. There may not even be an everything to draw (philosophically speaking).  Who is to say how much stuff there is in even a corner of a still life. All that notwithstanding, when you tell yourself that maybe you’ll just sit down and draw everything now — you free yourself from the need to first draw this, and then draw that, and find the center of interest, and make sure to get the half-tones, and blah, blah, blah.

101_8802

This is a really neat still life. It’s a visual forest that a person’s eyes can wander around in for hours. It has twists and turns. It has passages of light and shade. It’s abundant in RED. There’s the black vase, too, with its patterns on the surface and its depths and reflections in the black — with the window reflection that takes you outside if you peer into it really deeply!

In the carnival glass compotier, as I was drawing, I saw a patch of white and wondered what it was. Looking closer I saw that it was the inverted, distorted reflection of the white creamer! In every centimeter there’s a wonder to behold. In such a visual jungle one cannot possibly draw everything and yet if you are, like me, too thrilled to choose, and must draw a bit of this and a bit of that, then you find splendors in every direction. Oh, to an ant it’s a palace of ineffable grandeur and beauty! (Well, that’s if ants’ sensibilities include enjoyment of the scenery.)

101_8809

I’ll tell you a secret, though I buy the best artist materials I can afford for the works that I plan for sale, I also adore working with very cheap and common things — expressly because they are ubiquitous in our society. I bought this notebook at RiteAid.  It’s cover caught my eye one day as I was leaving the pharmacy.

101_8811

You can see how it has the busy bright design that I like.  I’ve been drawing with Bic Cristal in this notebook this morning — that would be the world’s cheapest and absolutely most wonderful and expressive pen — ever!

My parents were survivors of the Great Depression and instilled in me (without their realizing) a great love for the common tools that are abundantly available. In regard to drawing, when I pick up simple dime store tools and draw, I feel like I’ll always be able to draw come what may. I sit here in the corner of a room like an oriental pasha with my wealth of colors and thrift store treasures, exploring the seemingly infinite reach of my territory!

101_8815 (2)

I have long admired the fishes on the Chinese tea pot and I decided to zero in on one of them at the risk of having the shape of the pot go somewhat crazy on me. If you care about the pot’s shape, you draw that first, but if you care about the fish — sooner or later you have to make a wild lunge for the fish, pen in hand.  If that puts the proportions out of whack, so be it.

101_8813

After several drawings, I decided to draw with watercolor. It is similarly scattershot. But the brightness of the whole I find satisfying.

101_8823 (2).jpg

I’ve have drawn all afternoon en plein indoors sitting beside my still life table.

One more.  This one in oil pastel.

101_8824

I drew this one very fast and began with the reflection of the window because it had been so beautiful, really pearlescent! But the light changed so fast and I wasn’t actually able to observe the effect that had brought me in. Still it’s interesting that the whole drawing began with that reflection, like the axis of a wheel.

late night sea shells

Sea shells on the shelf, say that several

101_8791 (2)

times quickly. When I finished drawing my late night owl of the previous post, I turned my attention to the sea shells with the ceramic bird. I have an oil pastel that I work on when the light is right, and this pen drawing, made from a different angle, in different light keeps me thinking about the forms.

 

learning the owl

In idle moments I play in earnest.

101_8795

I get better acquainted with the subjects of my paintings. You cannot know an owl too well.  And the vase with the songbird design on it needs understanding too.  These late night drawings keep me musing over the topic of my picture. I drew them from this set up seen below, seen here in daylight.

owl (2)

They are parts of this painting that exists as yet only in sketches and in thought.

101_8736 (3)

the map is not the territory

If I redraw the vase enough times

101_8776 (2)

I’ll get some sort of map of it inside my head. The map is not the territory, but a drawing is not quite a map either.

It is not the thing, but it contains ideas about the thing. The thing is sitting over there on the still life table.  And these, on the contrary, were some of my thoughts in linear blue scribbles.

And it’s not just the vase, but the songbird on the vase (who is companion to the owl). So, it’s complicated.

drawing the model in life class

Little drawing in a notebook 101_8599 (2)

— near the end of the session I made some small sketches. The one above is about 4 inches in height.  I had drawn the head in pastel, larger than life size, on a standard sheet of Canson paper. I had been looking at the pose for most of the three hour session and I could no longer see my drawing.  The drawing was right there. My eyes were working fine.  Glasses, clean. But my brain was “give out” as my relatives used to say so I made some sketches to address the questions that lingered.

I was sitting in front of other artists. To avoid blocking their view I was sitting on the floor and the model on the stand was slightly above me so I saw her head slightly at an angle, slightly foreshortened.

I made the first of the sketches in my pocket calendar. This drawing is about three inches high.

101_8596 (2)

This smallest of the drawings felt most connected to my large drawing.  It’s rainy today so I’ve just photographed the pastel on the easel in the present light, such as it is. At least the easel communicates some of the scale of the drawing.

101_8603

I see now that I forgot to take the manufacturer’s sticker off the sheet of paper!

My other little sketches are less structured, yet each one seems to get some little bit of information. After a while I was tired but it was still pleasant to think with the pen.

101_8593 (2)

Even an inaccurate drawing communicates a bit of mood sometimes.  Ideas sneak in.

101_8598 (2)

The proper structure of the underside of her jaw was a big question. The other special challenge was getting the left side of her face since in the course of posing it would wax and wane as the model shifted slightly.  She was an amazingly disciplined model. No one can sit perfectly still.  Her left eye wasn’t even visible most of the pose but it appears in my large drawing so perhaps it was visible at the beginning.  I’m not sure …

(Some of the other drawings from the life class are here. And the first ideas for the series, here.)