blast from the past

early pastel from book

I’ve been away from wordpress because I’ve been busy housekeeping.  Housekeeping is a humongous big job when you don’t manage it well, and since I spent decades ignoring the task, it has come back to bite me big time.  But bit by bit, I bring the situation under control (thank you Marie Kondo).  During my excavations, I have found some rather amazing things — amazing to me, naturally, since these things of which I speak are emblematic in my life.

So, for instance, I found the drawing above.  It’s the earliest pastel drawing of mine that still exists.  Not much in itself, but it’s something I made when I was still a kid.  More significantly I realized that the drawing is actually a copy of another artists’ work and now I know who that artist was.  It was Leonard Richmond who was author of a little pamphlet called “Landscape Painting in Oils” published by Grosset & Dunlap who put out a series of how-to books on art.  Either I bought it or my father’s younger sister gave it to me (my Aunt Mary encouraged me to paint early on).  Now I discover that Grosset & Dunlap “is a United States publishing house founded in 1898. The company was purchased by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in 1982 and today is part of Penguin Random House through its subsidiary Penguin Group.”

Here’s the image I copied:

early pastel from book source Leonard Richmond

Until my house cleaning, I would never have identified Leonard Richmond as one of my teachers — but I suppose he was not only my teacher but perhaps my first teacher.  Thanks to the internet, I learn this about him:

“Leonard Richmond (AKA: Leonard “Slim” Richmond) was a British painter, graphic artist, illustrator, poster designer, educator, author, art critic and a Canadian war artist.

He was born in Somerset county (south west England). When not traveling, he lived most of his life in London, England and its environs.”

[source: http://rogallery.com/Richmond_Leonard/richmond-biography.html]

 

My guess, looking at more of his landscapes online, is that he liked the same artists that I like — Cezanne, Bonnard, Matisse, Corot, the Impressionists and similar painters.  Since he died in 1965, he was probably already deceased by the time I encountered his art.  The slim booklet is copyrighted 1962, but I wouldn’t have owned it then (I was only 7 years old).

So far as I know, I never actually read the book though it’s only 30 pages long including illustrations.  I just learned from the pictures.

It amazes me how well the pastel held up.  They were student grade pastels. The paper looks like newsprint but surely must be something else because though it’s yellowed, it’s not brittle.  And the texture of the pastel surface suggests that I used a spray fixative which evidently didn’t yellow excessively.  And the picture has been stored in an attic for decades so it’s amazing that it hasn’t been eaten by silverfish or completely disintegrated by heat and cold!  Who knew that student grade stuff could be so durable … all the same for future work I think I’ll stick to my richer professional grade artists’ materials ….

 

 

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the things you tell yourself

seashell drawings in the studio.jpg

Here’s some of the seashell drawings propped in the studio.  Those readers who followed my Big Tidy Campaign of 2017 as it was inspired by Marie Kondo’s delightful book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, are perhaps shaking your heads now wondering where I fell off the rails.

Well, the Big Tidy continues.  But sometimes the studio gets a bit cluttered.  Tis all part of the creative process.  (Or that’s what I tell myself. )

the Big Tidy Continues

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The household reorganization continues, and it brings many joys.  Marie Kondo in her book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” recommends that you begin the big toss by starting with the easy things — starting first with clothes.  I did that earlier this week, and it was marvelous to get rid of old items.  I’ve trimmed down to essentials.  Many things are going to the dumpster and many to the thrift store.

But I have also rediscovered many wonderful old things.  Kondo, who is a great appreciator of art, has directed her book toward the non-artist public so she doesn’t address the whole still life question.  Clearly artists face a more than ordinary temptation to hoard stuff.  So I take her basic principles and merely apply them to this other category of things.  But going through the clothes, a few things have now transferred from “clothes” to “still life cloth.”  Some of those transfers are quite just because these are things that truly do “spark joy.”  Now the future joy will no longer be in the wearing but in the spectacle of seeing the colors and patterns behind various still life objects.

Nonetheless, the clutter gradually and steadily recedes.  New spaces and opportunities appear.  These are joyful days.  I reencounter many memories.  I discover new possibilities.

I seem to discard things and get ideas in their stead.  I become rich in ideas.  And I love ideas!  So I am indeed quite rich now.  Isn’t it marvelous?

[At the top of the post, one of the early paintings I encountered again.  I also retrieved the mustard colored cloth (actually a satchel) that appears in it.  The cloth will be making new appearances in the days ahead.]

kismet

foliage study #3

I was at the U S Arboretum a few years ago when they were giving away old books.  Most of them treated obscure topics.  I found one book that I thought I could use for making sketches.  It sat in the back of my car for a long time.  When I cleaned my car, it migrated indoors.  It sat in one spot, then another.  After I started reading Marie Kondo’s book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” I figured it was destined for the trash pile. Something stayed my hand.  This morning it “struck joy,” to use Kondo’s phrase.  And I’m drawing one of the third or forth foliage studies I’ve made so far for a project that crept into my head last night.

This book feels kind of perfect for what I’m doing.  I have felt so excited that I wanted to write about it and I haven’t even finished the first drawing yet.  But it is so perfect.  We are definitely striking joy this morning.

The book is so perfect that even the panels in it, the lines drawn on every page are as though designed to help me figure my foliage studies out.  The text is minimal and offers simply some random extra texture on a related theme: flowering plants.

The Big Tidy Campaign of 2017 is on-going.  It will be a while before I complete my household transformations.  I continue with my regular work during interludes — and while my muscles rest from the exertions of much moving stuff about ….

three roses

rose 2a

I found three studies of roses in storage. We enter the time of roses.  Soon we’ll see them blooming everywhere along our walks.

And I have flower paintings awaiting me.  Finding these little studies whets my appetite for more flowers, for drawing flowers, for composing them in still lifes, for putting them into paintings.

I will have a window

studio view 3 big tidy window

Actually I will have two windows!  This one has stuff (not pictured) in front of it now.  But I will have a window that I can sit in front of — that I can look through — windows for dreaming — windows for drawing — windows for arranging the light in still life.

Ah!  I will have a room with a view.

the other side of the room

studio view 2 big tidy

This side of the room will stay the same — but it will be much less cluttered — except for the still life table — I love that clutter!!  There’s a book cabinet not pictured that has to be relocated.  It is ginormous.  Ai yi yi.  Will deal with that in time … all in good time.

Eventually I will have nails in the wall above to hold the still life drapery.  Goodness, this wall needs painting.  (Will think about that later too.)

You can see the little owl peeking out from under the table.  He’ll have a starring role in an upcoming picture.  So that’s some glad news.

I become the little choo choo that could, I’m “thinking I can” all along the way ….

staying motivated

studio view 1 big tidy

If you started reading a couple days ago you know that I’m reorganizing my studio.  More than that I’m reorganizing my whole house — perhaps my whole life.  I started reading Marie Kondo’s book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” because I knew I could use some help motivating myself to do this rather large and necessary task.  I have become a real self-help book aficionado.

We live in marvelous times.  No matter what the challenge, someone has probably written a book about doing it.

Live blogging the thoughts I have as I go through these changes helps me dream about where I want to be when the task is complete — not just where the stuff will be — where I want me to be.  Mentally, physically, spiritually.

I find ideas and dreams along the way.  Pictures that were behind other pictures in the stack see the light again. They suggest innovations.  It’s a wonderful, wonderful process, house-cleaning is.  But it’s a lot of work too and sometimes the destination seems so far off.  It’s important to stay motivated.  All this stuff pictured above has to be moved!

Along the way the rest of life needs attention.  Dishes must still be washed, dogs must be hugged, groceries purchased, lawns mowed ….

 

once I made the seashell large

seashell in progress

The drawing sheet was 18 x 24 inches large.  As you can see the shell took up much of that space, but the real shell is not — no queen conch could be — that large.  It would be a monster of a queen conch that was that large.

So what is the shell that’s larger than life size?  It’s like a dream of a seashell.

I had so much fun drawing this shell.  Seeing the photograph brings back the memory so vividly.  It was a blast.  I had to enlarge the thought while I was drawing and I loved it.  I had never drawn any of the shells large before.  I’ve never done it since.

But seeing this drawing now, I cannot wait to draw it large again.  For now, though, I have other tasks because I am reorganizing my life.  And I am tidying my home — just as Marie Kondo said I should.