cool water on a hot day

It’s hot outside!  How nice to dive into the koi pond, deep into that cool blue pool.

A blue pencil taken up in hand, examined, applied to the page — its blue alone is something to cool you off.  Gazing upon the blue colors, even far from water, even without swimming, the blue that can as easily be a sky as a pond — that blue will take you wherever you need to go.  It is worth the journey.  The journey into blue.

Orange fish make themselves the opposite of this blue and dash it up with their contrariness.  Some thoughts come like splashing — they just arrive boldly.   There they are.  Like fish who came from unknown depths — for just this moment now — to come into a present into which they belong.

When life is right and things are good.  And when there’s a pond of blue on a hot day …

Koi Hatchings

I don’t know if I ever posted a version of this picture before.  I had finished all but the top right-hand corner before I set it aside.  Only recently did I rediscover and finish it.  This drawing measures 18 x 24 inches so the gesture of the marks falls in between the small and the huge koi drawings.

I fell in love with hatching a long time ago.  Not only is hatching a beautiful way to make gradations of light and dark, but it is physically and mentally assorbing to do.  Perhaps it holds the same hypnotic charm as knitting.  You can carry a drawing like this around and do this “knitting” wherever you happen to be since so much of its character resides in the repetition of the little hatch marks.

I used to have qualms about colored pencils.  Colored pencils were supposedly an inferior medium, not suited to serious art.  But my child-like nature (I love all art toys) along with the natural seductiveness of the medium itself lured me.  It helped that I needed a safe medium to use when my daughter was a crawler.

My love affair with colored pencils began during my daughter’s infancy, but years of using the pencils has confirmed in me a sense that they are as “serious” as you want them to be.  Pshaw!  Or as frivolous!

Earlier this week I made a copy after Cezanne’s “Still Life with Apples and Peaches” in ball point pen that is similarly filled with hatchings.  The technique common to both drawings makes these sister drawings even though the subjects are quite different.

In each instance the technique means that you have to create a surface that has its own raison d’etre.  The blues of this passage of interwoven pencil lines, and the texture of the pen marks each have to make sense on their own — apart from what they portray.

Blue in blue

There’s a traditional kind of drawing called “trois couleurs” where you use three colors of reddish, white and brown chalks to simulate skin tones and create dimensional figures.  I’ve been so enthrall to my blue ball point pen lately that I began wondering what it would be like to do “trois coleurs en bleu” using different kinds of pens.  So I bought several different brands of pens and have begun trying them out in different ways.

Naturally I have to do some koi using these blue pens.  These are test koi.  They’re floating in a pocket notebook and the darks hatched around them give me much practice making parallel lines.

It’s rather therapeutic and calming, let me assure you.


Something prompted me to draw the koi in pastel, a material that I haven’t used in a long time.  And I am making the drawings on a smoother paper than one typically uses for pastel.  And it happens that the fine Sennelier pastels I’m using are very crumbly.

It changes my relationship to my intentions to be using materials that impose so many demands of their own.  You think this, it does that.  I thought to place a color “here” and watched as the crayon crumbled under the pressure of my gesture.  Everything has become subject in an unknown degree to whimsical accidents such as a cake of pigment that breaks along an unseen mineral edge in response to pesky laws of physics.

It is abstract art.

I had decided to use pastels today for the sake of the unpredictable.  I decided to amuse myself with drawing, to have fewer specific expectations.  I am sent back in time, back to when I was short on experience and tall on desire.  So I’m drawing, and I’m just watching what happens.

I’ve sent myself back to school.

the fish need to be hatched

When I draw my koi, I must “hatch” them, drawing the dense parallel lines that go this way and that.  I love hatching the fish.  The colors get woven, one color layer atop the next.  The effects are mutable, changing before your eyes.

To hatch the colors means being ready for surprise.  You never quite know what the color effects will be.  And yet it’s thrilling seeing the color changes happen as you watch, and the not-knowing gives you joy.

Yielding to the Right

After yesterday’s plunge into the right side of my brain (discussed in the previous post), I decided to fully embrace my right hemisphere.  I unabashedly begin from left to right.

But I put my koi into little squares for the sake of my rational left hemisphere.  Don’t want it sitting there with nothing to do.