My Every Thought

I’ll just publish every single thing I draw.

My every visual thought. You’re wound up with suspense wondering what I draw first thing in the morning while I have my coffee, isn’t that right?

No? Not even a little tiny bit curious about the colored pencil doodles I make in blank pages of an old calendar? Goodness, I’m flabbergasted!

And yet you agree that we should fill up the internet with pictures. Turn drawings into electrons! Be always seeing, often thinking, and draw it all!

lines that remember

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If I had but known the memories brought back by incidental things like this drawing of my mother’s sofa, I would have drawn every item of my parents’ belongings.  When events are actually transpiring and you live inside the moment you never realize how quickly time passes and how changed the world will become.  These are morning thoughts remembered in the afternoon.

That sofa was the scene of so much talk and laughter.

Koi understanding and understanding Koi

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My desire to achieve a better understanding continues.  I am redrawing the koi, going one fish at a time, and I’ve decided to build a pond in this fashion, fish by fish.

You’d think that a “perfectionist” would finish each drawing but in seeking koi understanding I discover that parts of the image reel me in more than others. Who is doing the fishing here?

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My fishies mesmerize me.  I draw only so much of a fish and then I move on. I haven’t a clue what I’m after. I feel a tug on the line, pull, discover there’s a fish there, toss him into the bucket, and toss the line out again.  It’s like that.

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It’s kind of a wavey, ripplely, floaty blur.  I sit there fish-eyed.  The room’s the bucket. The room is full of fish.

fish face

I have no idea what I’m doing.  But something is happening.  And there’s an awful lot of fish around here.  As to the one that got away ….

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None of them gets away!  Indeed, some of them just get bigger and bigger!

My fishies mesmerize me.

the multitude

Whenever the pond is crowded exciting things happen in between the fish.  I wish I could capture the full impact of all that takes place, but there’s just so much going on.  That’s why I have to make so many drawings because the amount of information to learn is staggering.

In between just two fish the color changes will shift like magic in the water from one fish to the other, or the water and light will hide part of a fin and reveal part of a fin like an exotic aquatic fan carried by the kabuki fish-dancer, or the reflections or the shadows will float upon the water and be strung like jewels in a necklace —

— or, that little razor sharp line of light that circles all the floating dark patches — that light alone is worth two thousand drawings, if I had only the stamina to make them.

I will know them

I am making so many drawings of the koi.  Sometimes I wonder if it makes sense to draw the same motifs so many times, and yet I am always encountering some aspect of the image that is new.  And beyond the koi is the water.  Even as I find that I have learned much about the koi, I know so little about the water.  And it is always different, always moving and forming new shapes.

And what about the light?  The light is there also — pouring over the things, scooting round the surfaces, reflecting from points, being absorbed in shadows.

And what about myself?  What do I know about the gestures I make?  Why do I begin here and not there?  Why choose this color and not that one?

There’s just so much.  And considered that way, how could you possibly make too many drawings?

Dance of the Koi

The koi live in a pond and never go anywhere.  For “Saturday night out” the koi just swim around and visit all their usual friends.  Yet the permutations of koi patterning seem endless.  They are always arranging themselves into new and lively forms.

They are like a dance company that has a gazillion imaginative ideas.  Indeed, show me the choreographer who can match the impressive spectacles of the wonderful koi.

the lines that come from every direction

The koi impact the world in such beautiful ways.  Their whiskers arrive first and water slides past to meet with the often open koi mouth (they seem to be constantly hungry).  The sleek koi sides glide through the shifting planes of blue.  Oh, and the way that the water’s surface slaps the air, continually presenting new planar surfaces to the atmosphere (as the koi unsettle it, shifting position always with swift swimming).  It’s all so wonderful.

And my pencil tries to follow all these complicated agitations of water and watery beasts.

Thinking about flowers

flowers drawing colored pencils

flowers drawing pen

flowers drawing pencil

I started off my day with flowers.  Cup of hot tea, quiet studio, an hour or so to draw.  After having been busy with many non-art things lately, I thought it was time to just draw.  A still life that I set up months ago was hiding behind a pile of things.  I uncovered it and decided to draw it again.  Previous drawings were large.  These are small.  All on sheets 9 1/2 by 11 inches.

Sometimes it’s good to just draw.  Without goals, without preconceptions.  Just let the lines go where they will.  Fool around with different tools.  Let yourself watch lines forming and time passing.

Getting Squared Away

Squaring up: the technique of copying that uses a grid.  Comparing the squares of the source image to the drawing underway helps an artist draw the relationships between visual elements correctly.  It’s especially useful when an image needs to be enlarged. 

And that’s why I used it.  I was painting this bridge into a large portrait and needed to get the architectural structure right.  I made this little version from a photo, then enlarged this image by making a similar grid on the canvas I was painting.  So it had this very practical purpose.

Still I think the gridded drawing has a unique charm of its own.  It turns each square into an abstraction and heightens the abstraction of the image as a whole.  The order that it imposes is also comforting somehow.  Having these grid lines here, I feel confident that this little bridge isn’t going anywhere.  It’s locked down on the page. 

[Top of the post:  Little Bridge by Aletha Kuschan, colored pencils]

Colored Pencils (Shell fossil)

Colored pencils are something that you love for themselves.  Even before you draw.  They look so great sitting there colorfully arrayed, row upon row, in their neat little box. Traveling has awaked my appreciation of this studio in a box. 

Of course you have to think a little differently when you’re making your picture with these.  Everything becomes a line.  You cannot work the masses of an image with the big dollop of color.  Or, let’s say, you can dollop, but you’ll do it with lines.  You can scribble a mass, you can rub the color into a continuous tone, but you will have massed it particle by particle.

So, of course hatching is what you do.  I love hatching.  You can lay line beside line in a wonderfully monotonous way.  It’s hypnotic — like mowing the lawn or washing the dishes, except more colorful.

This subject lent itself to colored pencils as it seemed to have been composed of lines itself!  Lines of calcium threaded together, in three dimensional contours, that rolling in upon each other formed — poof! — a fossil shell.

The legislators of my state have managed our lovely Maryland so marvelously that they have hardly anything to do now, and so they’ve gone way beyond state flowers and state birds.  We’ve got a state fossil.  And it’s at the top of the post.

[Top of the post:  Maryland’s State Fossil: Ecphora gardnerae gardnerae by Aletha Kuschan]