first rehearsals

cartoon for painting

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 kitchen chaos

 

kitchen drawingThe 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.

drawing at the Museum of American Art

after thayer

I had about 15 minutes and then I had to leave.  So I did my drawing after Abbott Thayer’s painting in warp speed.

It’s a huge painting.  Mine’s a small drawing.

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Abbot Thayer’s “My Children (Mary, Gerald, and Gladys Thayer) 1897

 

my new hero Childe Hassam

hassam whole copy

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.

Tanagra Am Art Childe Hassam

I’ve made a little sketch of it too, once before.

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Recollected Ocean

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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.

Tropical Flower from the Sea

Conch seashells are beautiful

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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

Shimmering Crowd

Each substance has its own peculiar beauties.

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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

green fish vase

The green fish vase,

fish vase wc (2)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.

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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.

UPDATE:

I’m beginning an oil study today, June 25.

 

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random notebook

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.

1

2

3

4a

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

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.

 

odds & ends

Draw everything.

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You can’t of course. But why not just pretend that you can. There may not even be an everything to draw (philosophically speaking).  Who is to say how much stuff there is in even a corner of a still life. All that notwithstanding, when you tell yourself that maybe you’ll just sit down and draw everything now — you free yourself from the need to first draw this, and then draw that, and find the center of interest, and make sure to get the half-tones, and blah, blah, blah.

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This is a really neat still life. It’s a visual forest that a person’s eyes can wander around in for hours. It has twists and turns. It has passages of light and shade. It’s abundant in RED. There’s the black vase, too, with its patterns on the surface and its depths and reflections in the black — with the window reflection that takes you outside if you peer into it really deeply!

In the carnival glass compotier, as I was drawing, I saw a patch of white and wondered what it was. Looking closer I saw that it was the inverted, distorted reflection of the white creamer! In every centimeter there’s a wonder to behold. In such a visual jungle one cannot possibly draw everything and yet if you are, like me, too thrilled to choose, and must draw a bit of this and a bit of that, then you find splendors in every direction. Oh, to an ant it’s a palace of ineffable grandeur and beauty! (Well, that’s if ants’ sensibilities include enjoyment of the scenery.)

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I’ll tell you a secret, though I buy the best artist materials I can afford for the works that I plan for sale, I also adore working with very cheap and common things — expressly because they are ubiquitous in our society. I bought this notebook at RiteAid.  It’s cover caught my eye one day as I was leaving the pharmacy.

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You can see how it has the busy bright design that I like.  I’ve been drawing with Bic Cristal in this notebook this morning — that would be the world’s cheapest and absolutely most wonderful and expressive pen — ever!

My parents were survivors of the Great Depression and instilled in me (without their realizing) a great love for the common tools that are abundantly available. In regard to drawing, when I pick up simple dime store tools and draw, I feel like I’ll always be able to draw come what may. I sit here in the corner of a room like an oriental pasha with my wealth of colors and thrift store treasures, exploring the seemingly infinite reach of my territory!

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I have long admired the fishes on the Chinese tea pot and I decided to zero in on one of them at the risk of having the shape of the pot go somewhat crazy on me. If you care about the pot’s shape, you draw that first, but if you care about the fish — sooner or later you have to make a wild lunge for the fish, pen in hand.  If that puts the proportions out of whack, so be it.

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After several drawings, I decided to draw with watercolor. It is similarly scattershot. But the brightness of the whole I find satisfying.

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I’ve have drawn all afternoon en plein indoors sitting beside my still life table.

One more.  This one in oil pastel.

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I drew this one very fast and began with the reflection of the window because it had been so beautiful, really pearlescent! But the light changed so fast and I wasn’t actually able to observe the effect that had brought me in. Still it’s interesting that the whole drawing began with that reflection, like the axis of a wheel.