Abundant bright air

Drawings are vicarious experiences of nature. There’s the nature out there. Also there’s the nature in here. Nature from the inside is sometimes a landscape. And one of the landscapes that I particularly enjoy is the one that is spacious.

This one is doubly spacious because the water mirrors the sky so you get some sky twice. And actual sky and water are pretty similar anyway.

Oh, and then there’s the blue. Blue is the best.


spider web drawing

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Crayon lines form a landscape of assembled scribbles, like a drawing made of brightly colored spider web threads.

When I was engaged in the thick of my Big Tidy Campaign of 2017, having read Maria Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I found things that had disappeared into life’s alluvia.  I found, for instance, the photographic inspiration for this fanciful landscape at around the same time as I found the drawing itself, which I had started as only a vague sketch. Having the two things converge in time once more seemed like a token from the universe that maybe I should continue drawing — and so I did. 

It was a great confluential good fortune, actually, because I had really loved the idea but I don’t recall now what event interrupted my work, causing the drawing to languish.  With photo and drawing reunited, I could take up the theme once more.  Indeed, I found the photo first and remembering the drawing thought to myself to have a new whack at it.  But then soon after I also found the drawing.  It measures 24 x 36 on beautifully woven, straw colored Nideggen paper.

I love the devil-may-care approach afforded by crayon drawing.  It’s scattershot, a roll of the dice.

I love the dynamism of scribbled lines applied to a peaceful foggy clouds covering rolling serene blue mountains.

Here’s some wispy, spider-webby details ….

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and another

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lilacs, lemons, chrysanthemums & carnation

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I was already someone who sought to find the motif through several variations of a subject.  Another bouquet is accompanied by four lemons.  (Other pictures had two lemons.)  The yellow lemons offer a visual foil to the violet lilacs.

This bouquet has other flowers besides lilacs — chrysanthemums (symbolic of long life) with also a single carnation, and possibly also a tea rose. The whole bouquet sits once again on the pale blue cloth now in front of the white wall.

I was learning from looking at Van Gogh’s paintings so the blue cloth has swirls of brushstrokes in waves creating shadows.  All the forms are delineated, as in a drawing that has been colored.

Part way there

two shells

Part of this picture I love.  The central shell has a nice presence.  The smaller shell needs adjustment.  But it’s been a good painting day.

I need to wipe out the smaller shell and redraw it.  But it’s been a good painting day nonetheless.

a joyful blue — another seashell

second seashell ap 11

I’ve been in full seashell mode lately.

I like to do the same motif many times.  This is the same seashell of the same set up that I posted previously, but it’s painted on Arches oil paper — a very different surface than the earlier one which is painted on canvas panel.  And it’s larger, a 12 x 16 inch sheet, compared to the earlier one of 9 x 12 inches.  Consequently the shell is a little bigger, though still not life size.

I should do it life size too.

That would be such a different way to experience it, a more tactile way.  I can do one life size using the 12 x 16 inch paper because the shell measures about 8 x 8 1/2 in its length and height.

I left the decorations of the cloth out — for now — possibly forever. The cloth is covered with a bunches-of-wild-roses pattern.  Though I love highly decorated cloths for still life, it’s also nice to do this motif in a plainer way that is more directly evocative of sky and sea.

I painted the picture late at night and left its right side in a peculiar state of incompleteness.  Intriguing these passages of thoughts that trail away.  It looks a little abrupt.

Each iteration of the painting reveals new things about the subject.

Each individual conch shell rewards sustained contemplation.  Hopefully the paintings will also capture some of the object’s inherent magic.

Koi Silk


Kois are wonderful animals.

bright fishes

They are lively, gregarious fish.  They are beautiful, graceful and swift swimmers. I often seek a parallel expression when I’m drawing and painting the koi.  I want the drawing to represent the qualities of the fish themselves.  The drawing should be direct and swift-seeming. Sometimes that directness is best achieved through the most obvious means.  Sometimes I draw the fish quickly and boldly so that the gestures of drawing can echo the movements of the swimmers and the water that flows around them. Hatch marks (parallel lines used to create passages of color and tone in drawing) help to further convey a sense of things moving, and calligraphic gestures of line also evoke motion and urgency. This drawing is one where the sense of swift movement — even more than of form — becomes the subject of the picture.  One partly submerged fish is so blurred that his forms are broken into a broad abstract shape and the blur takes on a loveliness of its own. Some pictures of animals focus on their anatomy, but in my koi pictures I have sought the relationship between the fish and the water and the ways that they fuse visually.

Koi Silk is painted using oil pastel on Nideggen paper and measures 38 x 25.5 inches.

Koi …. continued

lastest version of large koi drawing

My large drawing of koi continues. 

Deep blue/green paper.  Smudgy crayons.  Bright colors.  Memories of water.  Static photo.  Interpretation.  Hallucination.  Sore arm muscles.  Contemplation.  And Michel Petrucciani playing on the stereo for good luck.

The supplies in the foreground belong to the artist who shares the studio with me.

This sheet measures 45 x 60 inches.  (114 x 152 cm)

Art is all about mystery

Why are you attracted to one object and not another?  One sight catches your attention, and something else passes by you as though it were invisible.  I have never known why I paint and draw water.  I love the color blue.  Blue has its own built in mysteries, quite apart from what it attaches to.  It is the color of the sky, and it pulls us into a sky hidden inside the heart.  Blue is an expansive color. It stretches away and above us.  And it’s altruistic.  People who like blue want things to be clear and straightforward.

But the pond has a particular meaning for me.  I have been drawn pondside at meditative moments in life.  Once I took an unscheduled, unannounced long drive in the morning (this was many, many years ago).  No one in the household was awake yet.  No one knew I had left, and naturally therefore they could have had no idea where I went.  But then I did not have a planned destination.  I just decided to go for a drive in the country,though the roads of the place were not well known to me.  Mine was random wandering launched by mere whim.

At a certain juncture I decided to stop.  A branch of a local river was supposed to be nearby so I decided to park the car and walk to what I thought would be a creek or stream.  I didn’t know my location when I descended down a dirt road through pine woods early that morning.  At the end of the walk, I didn’t find a creek.  Instead I found a pond (fed by the creek?) that was absolutely isolated and still.  It lay upon the ground like an enormous mirror aimed at the sky.  I walked right to its nearest edge and looked down and realized that I could not locate the water’s surface.  All I could see were the seemingly endless depths of the morning sky reflected back at me.

In retrospect it seems almost as though I was magnetically drawn to this water as by a mysterious fate just so that I could see magnificient liquid light.  I have drawn and dreamed about ponds in the intervening years.  I don’t know what they mean, but they are reservoirs of more than just water.  They are filled with resonant, echoing thoughts.  They are mirrors reflecting the depths in life above and below.  And of these depths — whether of love or friendship, a desire for purpose or direction — the edge of the surface is similarly hard to locate.  It could be measured in a few breaths or in distances of long years.