drawing with friends

Rodin at NGA (2)

Today at the National Gallery of Art, drawing with my friend, I made this drawing after a Rodin marble sculpture.  Drawing faces helps get me ready for an upcoming project and it offers also a pleasant form of separation from my current painting. After drawing faces I come back to the frog teapot and other objects with a fresh eye.

I took a picture of the sculpture with my low resolution dumb phone.

The gallery’s superior photo and some information about the sculpture is available at the link:


I find myself thinking about all sorts of things while I draw.  Because the marble sculpture had such broadly generalized forms and smooth transitions, I found myself having to deal with line in as precise a way as I could manage.

But I found a small, very amorphous sculpture of a head in one of the display cases, a small unfinished study by Degas.  Drawing it, I thought about using an amorphous approach with the clay pencils.  I imagined that I was working with clay myself, that the patches of dark were slabs of clay.  And I saw the masses of darkness as inchoate shapes that suggest the emergent form rather than as specific features.

The picture at NGA’s website shows the object in more definition than I could actually see while looking at it through the display case, no doubt a characteristic of the particular lighting.

amorphous face at NGA Degas question (3)

I try to give myself as much freedom as possible in these drawings.  You can feel a little inhibited when you’re drawing in a public place, but I tell myself that I can do whatever I want while I’m drawing — that I can ask any questions I please, use whatever method, that I can finish a drawing or not.  Drawing this particular object was a really pleasant experience.  It seems to me that Degas was telling himself that he could do whatever he pleases as well.

Information about the object is available at the link below:



my old haunt

rodin after NGA sculpture feb 18

Been busy this week cleaning and organizing my studio — and getting ready for an even bigger cleaning event — the BIG SPRING CLEAN!  So not so much painting in the last few days.

However I did go to the National Gallery of Art yesterday for a few hours and while I was there I made this drawing after a Rodin sculpture.

Spent some time looking at still lifes too in anticipation of my switch from landscape to still life which is coming, coming — soon!  Every time I am out where cut flowers are for sale I am thinking also about still life.  Soon, soon!

Here’s what I was looking at:


A student in the school of life

If you were ever rejected from an art school you are certainly welcome here.  I was rejected from an art school too, from a very good art school and from an inferior one as well.  And, well, I just became my own art school. 

So far it’s working out just fine.

[above, copy after a Pierre Bonnard still life]

A niche in life

The old masters are so much more complex than any of my ways of understanding them, as I discover when I go back and revisit drawings I made. 

“But you cannot let yourself be sad — even — in noting the distance between oneself and them,” I tell myself.

You have to be the artist you are.

[Above, my copy after a Velasquez lady.]