This morning I draped my favorite cloth — the one with the pattern of big roses — over a chair and began drawing in a 9 x 12 notebook with a Uniball pen.
The drawing featured above was actually from my second cup of coffee. For the first cup I made a smaller drawing of the same drapery.
Some mornings you have to wake up gradually.
Renoir painted a vase of roses, which I know only from a book. His “Roses mousseuses” of 1890 (now in the Musee d’Orsay, Paris) has enchanted me from the first day I encountered it. I know it must be a thousand-fold more lovely seen in real life. I copy Renoir’s flowers every once in a while to reexperience their magic, to feel the full force of the enchantment.
This copy appears in a small Moleskin notebook, done with Uniball Signo gel pen.
I have a notebook that I’m filling up with pen drawings. Usually I crop drawings to eliminate the extraneous edges, but when you’re dealing with a notebook, to crop the picture is to ignore the notebook itself, and that I think eliminates a significant part of the charm. An artist’s drawing notebook, like other books, participates in a mystique of opening and closing. You enter another world, as it may be, in opening a book. Closing it, you leave. A book is rather like a door that way.
I like the area of space in the unused page, the way that previous drawings bleed through and appear like ghosts. They blur the edges of separation between the pictorial things and remind the observer that everything exhibited is ultimately just lines of ink on a sheet of paper.
I have several vases in the notebook now. Each drawing is a little world. And the notebook, therefore, is what? Door to a miniature alternate flower universe.
If you can imagine it, you can draw it. Took me many years to realize this fundamental fact about drawing. Much of the work of becoming an artist is caught up in learning how to “imagine it,” — in even recognizing what “imagining it” means.
I was looking at these flowers when I drew them, but the whole act of looking involves an imaginative gesture too. The image of “what you think you see” as it organizes itself in your mind.
First I examined my thoughts. Am I worried about something? No, I feel content. I feel cheerful. I am just awake.
At two a.m. you should not be overly picky. Why draw the Spanish guitarist again? Because she is there. I can lift her up, place her on the table, insert a toothpick under each eye-lid (like a Warner Brothers cartoon character) and begin to draw. I even decided, what the heck, go for broke, so I drew the edges of various indecipherable things that happen to be around the figurine even though they will only confuse the sense of where she is and what she is. It was two a.m. and I wanted my page filled with lines.
Were that they might be sheep and I could count them and fall … a … sleep ………..
I painted her too.
I was supposed to paint today, but I never got the lid off the paint tubes. Instead I just had to draw. I am drawing the stuff that I am going to paint — that I have already started painting. But before I even did that, I took my walk. Did my “walk” drawings.
Have a little notebook to carry. Now just for the record, these were not made with the favorite pen. It’s a very nice pen that I used, but was not the favorite. The favorite pen stays behind when I walk.
Made a couple little “detail” scribble thingys.
One of these, surely, ought to be turned into a postage stamp. Is about the right size. Wouldn’t you want to put this on your envelop?
Then back at the ranch, I drew some more. My flowers are so patient.
They’re also very cheerful. Or maybe it was me that was cheerful.
Got the vase to stand for one alone, too.
After that, the grand finale … for today anyway.
Ever since that four o’clock in the morning drawing made in the gloom, I’ve discovered that certain kinds of drawing I do better when I don’t think about it at all. Certainly it’s most easily accomplished — this not thinking about the drawing — when you cannot see. Hmmm. Since I cannot always be rising at 4 am (too much work) I have decided that I must find other ways to not-think. Happily, I’m very near-sighted. Thus, taking off the glasses is one way of not thinking because I cannot see.
I’m also contemplating making a regular search for other kinds of wonderfully moody glooms! Perhaps sitting in the closet with the lights out? Sounds strange, I know, but you must “suffer” for art (Van Gogh said so).
Being silly for art — when it works — is okay too.
I love my compotier so much, I draw it first thing I wake up, even if I wake up at 4 in the morning. It appears in the corner of a pen drawing I made this morning and described in an earlier post, but I give it a spotlight of its own because it’s my wonderful compotier — dreamed and imagined!
Sometimes when a person has that first recognition of wanting to be an artist, usually sometime in youth, sometimes he (or she) begins to experiment with drawing, and if drawing comes readily that young artist will draw all the time. Anything, anytime, anywhere. I was not like that. Drawing came with such difficulty. I was constantly frustrated. My ability appeared to wax and wane without a hint of causality. I sometimes drew with enjoyment, but I was often disappointed too. And silly girl that I was, in my disappointment I was lackadaisical regarding the remedy to the problem. Drawing!
Not anymore. Now no matter what, I just plow on. If I cannot figure out how to do something, I am absolutely relentless about pursuing an answer. And I cultivate whimsy, that very thing that might have helped my youthful frustrations. I pursue difficult subjects, but I have fun too. Sometimes I just move the pen.
I wish I had learned to do this sooner — and so now I relentlessly pursue whimsy. Making up for lost time ….
I like to think about stuff before I do it. I was the child always asking “are we there yet?” I am the one who cannot wait and must imagine it if I cannot just have it out-right right now.
Over morning tea I was thinking ahead that way. Traveling into the future with a pen and some wishful thinking.