The favorite place is nice in real life, but it’s really marvelous in art — more particularly in the process of portrayal. As the picture of the favorite place unfolds and emerges, the sensation is different than being there walking and enjoying the open air. Imaginatively it’s keener than in life. Or, rather, the life experience that I find so arresting comes about from watching bits of pigment attach to paper. The smears, dabs, scratchings, the contours, hatchings and whatnot are all so lovely.
The materials are beautiful. The colors are beautiful. The experience is so immediate and so close at hand.
Above is a detail of a drawing. The whole drawing measures about 8 x 10 inches. I’m drawing with the marvelous Neocolor1 crayons. What wonderful tools these crayons are!
Here’s what I drew today. This scene drawn using neocolors measures about 34 by 30 inches. So these dream shrubs are, pictorially speaking, somewhat hand sized. They seem like you could reach for and grasp them.
Perhaps you can help me get my bearings. In this dream, where do you suppose I am? Because I’m not sure. It seems like a nice place though. It’s airy. The atmosphere is filled with light. Does it seem nice to you?
Without knowing anything about Buddhism and with no particular intention to learn about Buddhism (except indirectly) I have been reading and rereading Shunryu Suzuki’s little book “Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind.” I’m on my 4th reading, and truly I find new things inside his simple commentaries with each rereading.
I got the book with the intention of seeing how it might apply to art. The application to art turns out to be very direct and useful. So, one notion found in this philosophy is to become fully active and aware (as much as possible) in doing whatever you are doing in the moment you are doing it. In art this can include the desired elements of focusing on the drawing, but it can also incorporate incidental elements like opening and closing tubes of paint, cleaning brushes, or standing back to look at the painting or at the motif.
Whatever you are doing, be inside it. Notice that you are here now doing this. The idea of no gaining is to let go of results, which is not the same as not having a plan or abandoning a plan, or abandoning standards or any of those negations. You can still have a plan, have standards and ideals, and want to paint a nice picture. However, you make yourself aware how future oriented all those tasks are, and thus focus your attention upon what you are doing now — this line, this color, this impression, and so forth. In doing whatever you are doing now, you can let go of the gain. It’s not that the gain is bad or unimportant. It’s merely that the gain is somewhere that is not “now.”
So one is simply focused on now. It is more focus, not less focus. It is to become part of the line, the color, the materials, the thought process — only in its unfolding rather than in its abstract and hoped for future manifestation.
Or, that’s my understanding at least. My understanding right now. I might understand it differently at some future moment, who knows ….
I’ve been drawing the dog. I’ve been drawing lots of stuff. And I’m behind in my postings. But I’ve been having so much fun. Hope you’re doing the same. The drawing above is one of what I hope will be a series of Lucy drawings. My big painting has been on hold because of some household painting going on (painting the walls kind of painting rather than painting of pictures!). I’ve learned to use the spaces between spaces. Hence when I cannot do one kind of art, I do another kind.
Here’s some details.
Lucy’s face is wonderful to draw.
What I love about a motif like this one is the opportunities it offers for putting all kinds of color patches into the surroundings — even surprising colors like bright red or pale blue in small portions where the patches can enliven the whole color sensibility. There’s lots of chances to make little marks.
I work on the passages around the dog as much as I work on the dog — perhaps more so since there’s more not-dog here than dog.
The drawing is fairly largish — 24 x 18 inches drawn using Neopastel. It’s got a bit of tweaking still to go, but I have been photographing it regularly since the photographs help me see it better as a whole. Had to post it here because I’m so eager to share it!
Lucy and Zoomie photobomb the picture I’m trying to take of a 30 x 40 inch acrylic canvas I found in storage that I’m going to over-paint with landscape. It’s exactly the same size as the painting that has got me stuck — so I could use it to rehearse a second version.
It’s the wrong size to serve as a proper format for an idea that I have in the hopper. But I’m inclined to use it to rehearse the new idea anyway (rather than deepen my obsession with the troublesome existing painting). Changing formats is like changing media — it can shake things up in interesting ways.
It will be interesting sometime later on to recall that this picture was underneath whatever landscape I decide to paint here.
I have some pictures available in reproductions at Fine Art America. And the Fine Art America website has introduced a feature that makes it easier to imagine the image hanging in a room. With their new feature, you can get a sense of how the image size you’ve chosen might look in an actual room. All that’s left is to imagine how it will look in your room and in your life.
Some of the landscapes I’ve been painting are just scenes without any special significance. And this landscape began that way. However, as I keep tinkering with it, the scene begins to suggest something to me. I don’t know what it is. A memory? Some hidden meaning?
While I was tinkering, I made a drawing.
The little yellow tree used to take up more space, as in the drawing. But I decided to make it smaller. And somehow that works better. But I don’t know why. Not in terms of naturalism, but just as meaning. Or so it seems.
I made a little pen drawing for a new motif, but it wasn’t as helpful for thinking through the forms as the pen drawings have been for other subjects. So I began a one-to-one drawing in oil pastel to use as my rehearsal. It measures 24 x 36 inches.