The queen conch shell is essentially radial. It has these spokes that go outwards from its folding calcite structure. You could think of them as shapes somewhat like volcanic cones, and they sprout along the undulating surface of the shell, forming its outer layer. Inside, the shell rolls in upon itself creating inner chambers where the animal has lived during different phases of grow.
That’s the shell.
The background is a very dark blue cloth. It might be reminiscent of the sea, which is after all where the Queen Conch lives.
Above that imaginary horizon … I’m not quite sure what these other things are — triangle wedges. They are dynamic shapes. They echo the spikey-ness of the seashell. But beyond that, they (I refer to the negative shapes) have yet to be identified.
Often before I begin painting I will draw the motif, and sometimes I draw it with freedom and total abandon as in the drawing above. I love the scribbly effect available when drawing with crayons and oil pastel. And something of this quality I sought to incorporate into the final painting — because Nature has a lot of texture in her outdoors.
The view between the arching flower stems is what caught my attention, but afterwards I tried to put as much stuff of the chaos onto the page, knowing that parts of it would be out of proportion. I decided to tackle something that I figured would be impossible really to depict accurately, especially in the time I was allotting.
The dark light of an overcast spring day made the (ad)venture doable. So off and on I’ve been gazing at a jumble of things on the kitchen counter. (Remind me I need to clean that counter.) It would be an interesting motif to do at night too with the overhead yellow of interior light casting down on the objects in that way that Bonnard taught us to love.
I’d love to do the view from the arching flower stems again in the future. I’ll need more flowers. These have already surpassed their prime.
Sitting in front of Childe Hassam’s painting “Tanagra, the Builders” at the Museum of American Art, I made a drawing in oil pastel. It measures 12 x 16 inches. This is the largest drawing I’ve made there to date.
I’ve been studying the painting each time I visit the museum. And Childe Hassam is my new hero. The painting is huge. My drawing is a portion of it.
A small queen conch seashell, portrayed life size, sits on a still life table where the surrounding colors recall the sand, sea and ocean air. The elongated shell rests on its side. A great variety of colors mix to recreate some tropical weather far from the seashell’s sea depths home. A evocative, poetic image of island life that a seashell carries around by virtue of its stunning shape can deposit island longings into the mind of an artist stranded in the suburbs. And through a picture perhaps the island whimsy reaches even other farther shores.
The center of the shell is a rich and warm orange red, made more vivid by the contrast of nearby tones of pale and dark blue. Marks of the drawing are plainly visible and at the same time the illusion of the picture is strong in an impressionist way, most so when the oil pastel painting is viewed from a little distance.
Recollected Ocean is an oil pastel drawing on tan paper that measures 10 x 7 inches.
and conch seashells are complex in form. Drawing them offers a consistent and wonderful challenge. They have many irregular properties; for instance their shapes are complicated, no matter from what angle one looks. Turning the seashell round and drawing it from various aspects provides an artist with a delightful drawing challenge and offers the viewer an intriguing visual spectacle. Also their surfaces have varied textures — one side is polished and subtle in hues, the back is more chalky and rough. All the surfaces are covered with ridges and the spindle of the shell is circled by radiating points. Undulating like a pleasing mountainous landscape, the queen conch shell has patterns of variegated light and dark from its convex and concave surfaces. Certain shells are also amazing for their lovely pearlesque colors.
I love to place the shells into differently colored still life settings. In the picture Tropical Flower from the Sea a beautiful queen conch in profile is set upon a tabletop with a pale violet cloth and against a dark background where a deep red flower design abuts one curved edge of the shell. Shapes throughout the whole picture lock together like puzzle parts in a design with strong abstraction.
Tropical Flower from the Sea is an oil pastel painting on toned paper measuring 12 x 9 inches
Crayons are a medium that produce a particularly soft effect, accessible through a careful hatching technique. The fish can seem suspended in a truly restful moment of easy floating in this picture in part because of the silkiness of the crayon marks themselves. Parallel lines weave together like strands in a tapestry making gentle gradations of color, like undulations of wave that fuse contour and form. From this shimmering quality of light, the picture takes its name.
Shimmering Crowd Caran d’Ache Neocolors on Nideggen paper, 38 x 25.5 inches
something that I found at the thrift shop, is a favorite object for me. I have been drawing it today in watercolor and oil pastel, making drawings for a painting. Green Fish Vase (I should call it GFV for short) has a prominent place in a still life I’m developing. These drawings are for practice and joy.
Both drawings are totally sloppy. I have been throwing color at this thing aggressively. I am thinking about shapes and colors, and I’m very untidy about it.
Both drawings are a little vague on the right hand side because in the painting something else will be sitting in front of Green Fish Vase. So the contour I draw here won’t actually find its way into the painting. But I like knowing the object well. The drawings are not just about the view in the painting. They are about this wonderful, clunky, imaginative vase of green glass in the shape of a fish.
The second drawing completes the notebook of the post prior. It uses the last sheet of paper.
Looking for a notebook to draw in, I found this one whose contents I post below. I thought it would be fun to reproduce a notebook, at random, just as is. This notebook is 11 x 14 inches, Strathmore 400 series drawing paper, 24 sheets, medium texture, 80lb. The drawings are posted in the order in which they occur.
In almost all the drawings, I used the whole sheet.
Most of the drawings are made using oil pastel. One is colored pencil. The last drawing above, the sea shell, looks like it’s made using a special drawing pencil whose name escapes me.
Some of the drawings are studies for paintings. Some were made on the go, made while I was waiting for someone. Some are experiments, trying out an idea or a new motif (as with the transparent jar head).
I like to draw. I can guarantee you — regarding all these drawings — I was having fun.