Art for me is juggling. I am focused. I have a project and I work on it steadily. It’s a big project so it requires my steady attention. And yet other things pop up too. I go drawing some days on Capitol Hill taking my pastel easel to search for flowers. I use oil pastels in the sun and they become the best medium ever for that sort of moment.
I have to draw en plein air sometimes now because it’s summer and people have planted amazing flowers in their small city yards that come right up to the sidewalk. There’s so many flowers. They won’t be there long. The growing season passes so quickly. So I go out sometimes and interrupt my project to do drawings like this one.
I am out in the sun myself like a cicada.
Been drawing! En plein air, I drew these two lilies. There were three, but I ran out of time (parking regulations), the sun shifted finding me straight in the path of its hot rays, and the mosquito invasion began to wear upon my patience. But I like what I managed to depict in just under 2 hours.
It would have been fun to have taken a photo of the set up. I could have shown my flowers right next to their models because indeed they were “right there.” But I am getting the hang of going out to paint and still learning what equipment I want. I forgot my camera. Need to form a habit of including it among the gear.
Here’s a close up of the main flower —
My daughter and I set out for Capitol Hill yesterday in the late afternoon, she to walk and me to draw. Someone has a beautiful garden right off East Capitol Street, full of zinnias. I had noticed the flowers on a previous walk. So I tossed the old aluminum easel into the back of the pickup, assembled some oil pastels and off we went.
The mosquitoes didn’t start biting until really near twilight so I wasn’t munched too much. However I was concentrating so much on my drawing — how hard do YOU concentrate on your tasks? — that the whole bottom of my right leg was soaking wet before I realized that the gardener’s sprinkler was reaching my location. Is that concentration or what? Maybe it’s possible to concentrate a bit too much. A little less concentration and I might have avoided the soaking …
That discovery seemed like a good cue to switch motifs.
I drew the yellow ones until the mosquitoes started dining. Then it was clearly time to quit. We took a bit of a walk afterwards for exercise, my daughter and I, and I staked out some more locations to draw.
Capitol Hill residents are assiduous gardeners. There’s many lovely places to choose from — almost too many — it makes the choices harder.
These are drawings I may use in something or other, but I make them just to be outdoors drawing. I have been buying flowers for still life. And I have some lovely fake ones that I use also. Sometimes I take a flower from a photograph or an old master image. It’s fun to mix it up.
If I decide to do dog portraits, Capitol Hill residents are prosperous in that department too. While I was drawing, every manner of canine imaginable was being walked in a kind of impromptu, nightly, canine parade. That would be fun — not sure the owners would have the patience to wait for a full portrait though …
Flowers, on the other hand, are very patient.
I have an idea for a project. On one of my walks I saw a garden that reminded me of my idea, so when I could, I visited the place and made this quick sketch using oil pastel.
Actually it looks nothing like my idea, but ideas are like that — they tend to occur in your head and sometimes bear only fleeting resemblances to particular things that recall them to memory. So this drawing doesn’t look like my idea though it does bear a sketchy resemblance to the actual place I visited.
Nonetheless I trust the drawing to connect me to my idea in ways I cannot fathom. While your hand records the forms, that invisible link etches deeper into the silent mind.
I have decided to go out into the field as often as my schedule permits to make drawings that relate to ideas, ones that have been rattling around in my head. Drawing is a form of research. Even when the drawing doesn’t look like the idea there will be some kinship, some je ne sais quoi that connects to the hidden motives that had called me to the place. If I draw the locale more times, the connection might grow clearer. It was pleasant being there — having to think on my feet, experiencing all the sensations of the motif — not just its look, but the air, the sounds, the breeze, the pull of gravity, the fatigue of standing and passage of time in the changing of the light.
So these are episodes of brainstorming. I make the drawing to call back to the idea, and perhaps it will call me again in echo.
We took a walk, a companion and I, through part of Capitol Hill in Washington on route to one of our favorite eateries because you must eat and you must get exercise. Spring’s first flowers and lovely city architecture are fine things to behold along the way. (Ah, there’s the house with the cobalt blue shutters!) And then too it’s beneficial to do a little marketing.
I used today’s journey to leave some of my cards along our path. Some of the cards are expressly designed to direct people HERE to this blog. And if you’re finding this post now because you got one of those cards, I welcome you! I hope that you’ll find ideas and pictures that bring you joy.
It’s really important for artists to share art. I’m marketing beauty. While I offer my paintings for sale, I’m also marketing beauty itself. Part of my aim is to persuade whoever will listen that we are surrounded by beauty. The sky alone has tons of beauty in it. Don’t even get me started talking about the earth. Beauty is everywhere.
I am continually searching for beauty in my art — in shapes, lines, textures, colors, and in patterns of darkness and light. I look for it in ideas, too, but that gets a little tricky. I don’t know how to define what beauty is. I do recognize it when I see it. And I see it often. And I’m always striving to imitate its appearances in pictures.
So welcome visitor. Welcome long time reader. Welcome silent guest. Welcome to whoever you are.