randomness of everywhere

flower photo blog

You can aim the camera in some random direction and encounter some intriguing possibility for painting.  Or you could just aim your eyes or even your mind, your imagination, your memories, I suppose!

This photo sneaks in a view of my favorite still life cloth.

more moth – Mothra!

moth two thirds way

The drawing that I chronicle here continues to gain more stuff.  I say “more moth,” but it’s really more leaves — though aspects of the moth evolves as well.  I see the edges of the moth in relation to the leaves, and it’s necessary to get the leaves in there so that everything can be altered later as necessary.  You can’t know what you want to change until it’s there to see.

This 32 x 24 inch drawing is preparatory for a painting.  The painting is larger and includes another element not present in this study.  I have a second more careful preparatory drawing that’s in the works as well.  These are the rehearsals.

A polyphemus moth in real life is large, easily 4 inches across.  This moth, of course, is much larger — though not as large as Mothra.  And it won’t be transporting any Japanese girls anywhere.  Nor is it likely to fight Godzilla — or King Kong — or anybody else.  It’s a peaceful moth.  The leaves in the picture are metaphors, and I wish I could tell you what they stand for metaphorically — I really wish I could.  But I haven’t a clue.

Sometimes the artist is the last to know.  I just paint what I’m supposed to paint.  It was my idea.  But my own brain is very hush-hush and “need to know” about the topic.  The conscious me who writes this blog doesn’t possess a high enough security clearance to be granted access to the Top Secret information …. so there you go.

Once all the leaf stuff is in this version of the picture, I can start moving leaves around.  It is as self-help guru Brian Tracy wrote, “anything worth doing well is worth doing badly at first.”  Not that I judge my moth and its leaves as bad.  Quite the contrary, I like them.  But a rehearsal might go really well too.  It’s still a rehearsal.

I need my practice moths so that my more deliberate moth can sail through its pictorial night and accomplish its symbolical purposes.  And if I do it right, who knows?  My brain might even tell me what it all means.

the moth and the night

moth and night in the background (2)

I have been wondering about these leaves.  Clearly the scale of the leaves and the scale of the moth are at odds with each other.  But I felt from the outset that the leaves should be that way — that they should fracture the surface.  And my intuition told me it should be those leaves, too, because the color is right — even though the color is false because I artificially altered the colors of the photograph and now I don’t even remember what kinds of leaves they were.

But the clearest sign I have that the leaves are the right leaves is that parts of the most recent dream comes back while I draw.  I don’t recall the dream exactly, but moments of it come into thought where I seem to see the images in peripheral vision.  Then the memories scatter as dreams often do.

The dream tone is there.  The emotion functions like a rope that you can use to pull yourself back into the outer margins of the dream even though, of course, you’re wide awake.

So if these leaves can evoke the dream tone, then something about them must be right.  They don’t have any logic.  These leaves have nothing to do with this kind of moth — not in real life.  But in terms of some kind of symbolism their convergence makes sense.  I’m going to go with that.  A picture can have a logic all its own.

I want it to have logic.  I want it to cohere.  But it has to happen on its proper terms.  I don’t feel that I choose those conditions.  Somehow I found them and I just recorded them.

 

well distracted

100_9616 (3)

I’m drawing the moth today — preparations for a painting that’s in the works.  But my thoughts keep returning to this landscape painting above that I began perhaps two years ago and which I return to from time to time — and which I need to finish fairly soon.

It will have a lattice across the middle to represent the chain link fence. At long last it will have many other minor additions of dot or color.

moth drawing 1

Something about drawing the veins of the leaves reminds me of the small passages of the garden painting and of the ways that I seem to re-enter the garden whenever I work on it — as though the flowers were still there, as though the blueberries were still being prepared for planting, as though time were standing still back one morning years ago and the shaded leaves still bent under the weight of the dew.

One seems to have a sense of the future, but you can’t really know what the future will be.  The future one imagines is not the future that arrives.  And the past that you relive is not the same as the past that occurred.  The present — even the present shifts — even as you live inside it.

leaf patterns in the shade on a warm August day

august 4 drawing old town

I visited Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, today for some outdoor drawing in its beautiful historic neighborhood.  I was looking for crepe myrtles but didn’t find exactly the sort of tree I wanted, and so I settled instead for a drawing of a leafy shrub growing along the wall of someone’s town house.  I have a painting project that includes many leaves in a dense pattern so drawing studies of leaves is an always helpful exercise.

For this drawing I used oil pastel on an 18 x 24 inch notebook.  The ends of the metal easel are visible at the top and bottom of the photo.

I took a photograph of the plant and if anyone knows what it is, please leave the plant name in a comment.  I am notoriously ignorant about plants, much as I love drawing them.  But I do wish to learn their identities!

old town alex bush (2)

In making my drawing of leaves, I’m influenced by the way that Eugene Delacroix drew plants.  Below is a drawing of hollyhocks (rose trémière) that illustrates his characteristic short hand way of drawing the contours of the plant’s parts.

hollyhock by Delacroix
Delacroix, hollyhocks

 

With such a proliferation of leaves my drawing doesn’t deal with the whole plant in any way.  I chose instead to focus on particular branches.  During the course of drawing I got lost and forgot momentarily which branch I was drawing, which of itself provided some interesting information because it revealed how similar the different branches really are, right down to the shapes of individual leaves.  I noticed then for the first time that the ends of the branches sometimes terminate in very similar leaf patterns.

So, as always when drawing from life, you learn something new.

repetitions for a mythological garden

foliage study #4 (2)

Let it never be said that I lack a work ethic.  I have made several versions of the foliage imagery.  I enjoy going over it again and again.  It’s incredibly scribbly.  Many little bits of leaf, many pieces of light and shadow — and yet also many ways of thinking about the organization of the large forms.

I did this drawing using Stabilo CarbOthello pastel pencil.  Then put a bit of watercolor over that.

I have lost count how many variations this is.  I love this motif, but it’s just a part.  I need to figure out how it will relate to the other sections of the idea.  I haven’t even made the first compositional drawing yet.

It’s just one part of an idea.  Each time I draw, each time I write, I get a few more bits of the idea. It’s like lucid dreaming.

Collage La Nuit

Abstraction is not always as devoid of subject as it appears.  There might be something that looks like this.  Lots of other artists have made pictures this one resembles.  And it resembles other pictures I’ve made that are pictures of something.  So, by following a trail of clues, being a visual detective tracking down myself, I might in time figure out what I was up to. One might in time discover what the other artists were up to as well.  If I am on the same wavelength as others, what wave is it?

On the internet once I found a wonderful website set up by two photographers, husband and wife.  They took amazing, high resolution photographs of the oddest things — bricks, stones, grasses, tiles, old rusted metal surfaces — anything with texture.  Their photographs looked like the most ravishingly beautiful abstract pictures you’ve ever seen.   And they invited anyone to use their work for free. 

I downloaded lots of their pictures, like a miser at a flea market.  Each image seemed more beautiful than the last, and I sat before the monitor for a couple hours, watching each image load and then copying it to use later.  My printer could not do the proper homage to their stunning imagery.  But I printed out some of the pictures to make a collage.  My printer started running out of ink, but I continued printing, letting the vagaries of the machine add a further layer of chance to the mix.

I had cut up some paper bags and glued them together to make a large sheet.  Grocery store shopping bags are incredibly strong.  Then I glued the prints of the couples’ photographs together into the pattern suggested by the moment.  I added a few pieces of gold foil wrappers from Lindt chocolates à la Bonnard, and voilà!

[Top of the post:  Collage, La Nuit by Aletha Kuschan, a collage made of borrowed pictures and whimsy]