Autumn is arriving — has arrived. The effects of the changing light appear in the landscape bit by bit as the seasons change. I try to observe that change which is continual. Looking at the outdoors one looks at Nature’s clock and the effects are similarly clock-slow. The length of days is gradually shorter. The angle of light is more pronounced. The trees and plants respond and begin to let go of their summer fullness.
Nevertheless, for landscape drawing, incidental change occurs rapidly. Light changes quickly and getting the features that you see means drawing quickly — which I enjoy. I set up outdoors and make fast drawings of the little red house.
I throw myself into it. It is not so much drawing in the sense of creating an image as it is noticing lines, shapes, colors, positions and putting them down as fast as one can think. The image arrives later by itself. I play a game that’s like tennis with the scene in front of me. It throws light at me and I bat at the sensation. The percepts keep coming and I keep swinging — until some moment when the whole effect has obviously changed. Then the game is over. Possibly that’s it — or else you set up for another round.
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!
On the weekend past I took a long walk. It was mild when we started out, but it got hot quickly as the sun rose higher. Finally we had to rest under some trees to catch our breath in the heat. I looked in the leaves of grass around me while I rested. I saw a humongous ant, one of those big monster-like ants, a muscle ant. It was gradually heading in my direction patiently traveling on flattened leaves under the grass canopy.
As ants are wont to do it took a meandering path. I was prepared at any moment to get out of its way as it came closer to me. But with much watching it never did get close enough for me to need to move. It seemed as though it would, but then for some cause it turned back upon its path and went back toward the direction from which it had first appeared.
I think I am somewhat ant-like in my travels with my art. I have several projects going at once. I try to be more focused but it never works. Instead I juggle many things. It is part of my ant-nature. That’s just the way it is. Thus I pulled out this drawing above, something I found in the pile, only a sketch when I found it, and began reworking it. It’s a study for a painting. I need to resume that painting too. I have a pile of things to finish.
I travel a meandering path, but somehow things get done.
The craggy, complex surfaces of the seashell are so mesmerizing and beautiful. It’s like a landscape of beautiful mountains. I never tire of drawing the seashells, studying their intricate forms. Master artists the little fellows who build these shell homes.
I decided to turn one of the seashell, ginger jar and honey pot drawings into a painting. And the first elements of the painting are blocked in.
But I have been unsure about aspects of the seashell, and since any excuse will do, I made the drawing at the top of the post as a study. It’s on Canson pastel paper, 16 x 12 inches and is drawn using Neopastels.
The drawing that forms the basis for the new painting is this one:
But I’ve also started drawing another version on the same size sheet (24 x 18 inches) in which the objects slightly smaller.
I work on the second version sometimes late at night. It gradually comes along. But though I felt this desire to do the second version, I knew I still wanted the objects to follow the size of the first drawing. So there are many versions. There’s also the drawing inside my brain, the one that is the neurological composite of the variations!
Another earlier version —
The pictures multiply ….
I am working on a third version of the seashell, ginger jar and honey pot picture. This one’s on 24 x 18 inch Strathmore pastel paper. I have been striving to get the relationships of the objects more accurate in this version. The objects are also slightly smaller than they are in the first version I made of this same size.
I think I like the larger objects better, and it’s probably the version I’ll use when I do the painting. But the relationships in this one are more careful. And it’s still in the works, of course ….
It’s hard for me to break out of a motif. I fall in love with the objects. Like Miles, I fall in love too easily ….
History of the motif below:
Version one: 24 x 18 Neopastel on Strathmore Pastel paper; version two: 16 x 12 Sennelier on Arches Oil paper.
Sometimes for fun, or just to get started for the day, I’ll do quick drawings in Neopastel. This time it was apples. To add to the fun — and for my own perceptual interest — I also drew without my glasses. I have fairly profound myopia. It’s interesting to observe the much more generalized forms of things as they appear in my uncorrected vision. Color looks a bit different too. Not that it changes hue or anything. It’s just that it gets similarly clumped into masses, ones that are a bit different from what I see when the acuity is there.
This second one I did very quickly, without glasses. I had to get up for something going on in another room of the house. When I returned the light was completely changed. Sometimes it changes very quickly. So it’s en plein indoor drawing — one deals with all the fluctuations.
And then there was one!
Seashell, ginger jar and honey pot on a blue cloth: my sort of art heaven. I had to do another version of the motif because that seems to be who I am. Edgar Degas hypnotized me when he said “il faut refaire la même chose dix fois, cent fois.” [You must redo the same thing ten times, a hundred times.] Now I’m like a Degas Robot who redraws stuff ….
Well, there’s worse things that could happen to an artist. The earlier one which I repost further below was drawn using Neopastels on an 24 x 18 inch page of Strathmore pastel paper. The one above was made on a 16 x 12 inch sheet of Arches Oil Paper using Sennelier oil pastels. It’s very gooey. Particularly as the sticks of oil pastel are old. Lots of impasto in it, as you can see in the detail here:
And here’s the larger antecedent picture —
[The little square in the top middle of the uppermost image is the shadow from the easel hinge. Oopsie! Gotta rephotograph that one sometime or other …]
I get my ideas from the still life table. Here’s one of my favorite things to do — pull out favorite objects, set them on the table, start drawing.
Usually I draw the same motif over and over. I am loving this motif so much I think it’s destiny that I draw it again. But I am trying to train myself to reshape the set up regularly and do faster drawings of different arrangements for the sake of the variety.
The above is 24 x 18 inches on Strathmore 400 series pastel paper using Caran d’Ache Neopastels. Seashell, ginger jar and honey pot, with a bit of blue compotier peeking in from the left.
I have this little 14 x 11 inch still life that I pulled out of the stack. I’ve already altered it a little to conform to the new drawings that I’ve been making of the motif. Like The Big Painting, I am painting this from drawings. The objects are set up in a still life right here in the studio, but the light has been variable — plus I cannot commit to being in the studio at the right times since The Big Painting is the priority.
But it’s nice to have something else toward which I can turn my thoughts. So here’s the side project. Small, fun, no worries.
Here’s some of the studies so far — all the studies except one are made using Neopastels on various pastel papers:
This one needs some adjustment to the size of the compotier bowl, just visible, that hangs above the frog’s head. Yes, again, frogs!
I love dealing with the edges around things and the spaces between things. I like the “things that are not things” in a picture.
The above drawing proves that I can draw a motif that has no frog in it . See, no frog.
This pastel above (traditional dry pastel) is from an earlier suite of drawings. I found it among some dry pastels and was surprised to encounter my current subject.
And here’s yet another recent drawing that I started and haven’t as yet finished. Then again, does it really need to be finished? I mean, hey, the frog is there …
In other news, my daughter and I took a trip into town for coffee and contemplation on a beautifully mild and cloudy last day of July. Driving back across the Sousa Bridge on our return, I was noticing the tree line and the big grey clouds and wondering how much of the aspect I could retain in memory.
It turns out that the answer to my mental question is “not very much”! I would love to draw the view from life (which I’ve seen more times than I can number), but I’m always in my car. This is the first time I’ve ever even tried to draw it.
Call this the dream version. But it’s a fun drawing to make. I should draw from memory more often.