There’s one other window that I want to have a look at before I begin working on the BIG painting. It happens that the Library of Congress has some windows that are rather like the one in Bonnard’s painting of the dining room at the Villa Castellamare.
I would go there right now with my camera, but Mother Nature doesn’t want to do anything these last several days but rain. Rain, rain, rain all the time. Of course she’s got to stop raining eventually. And when she does I’m off to the Library of Congress for more window shopping. In the interim, I’ve found this picture at the Library of Congress website.
As you can see it’s got the balestrade just like Bonnard’s window (top of the post). Naturally, you will not be seeing the United States Capitol in my painting. I’ll be finding a landscape to view from this window if I decide to use it.
My teacher Monsieur Bonnard has just whispered something in my ear. He says that while he used to love to take photographs himself, that if I want to have a better contact with my motif, I should take a little notebook and a stubby pencil and make some DRAWINGS while I stand in front of the actual window. “Take your photographs, bien sûr, but makes the little Croquis too.”
So, anyway, either I photograph — AND DRAW — another window soon, or start building my Ark. If it’s the latter, I need to get some doggie sailing outfits for Lucy and Zoomie!
Idle moment waiting in the car in the rain. I drew a little tree sketch in my pocket notebook. It was something to do. I like trees, love observing them in all kinds of weather. Drawing the tree was helping to keep me awake. It can be difficult staying alert during long periods of rain. Letting my eyes wander among the beautiful shapes made by the boughs of the tree was a pleasant venture.
It relates to other projects — even to other kinds of trees. I have a painting currently on hold that the little sketch helps me think about. I do paintings in waves of activity. Usually I start something, take it along a certain degree, then I put it aside. For me the interlude of separation appears to be a necessary part of the process of completing the picture. I used to chide myself for not finishing things. I didn’t realize that I needed the passage of respite from the image. I finish the pictures, but it takes longer than I had supposed. Now that I know this, I have a whole different relationship to the task.
A couple days ago after having dropped my daughter off at school, I thought it was high time I began my foray into spontaneous drawing. There’s a mill along the path of my usual commute so I decided I’d stop there. It was pouring rain and “weather” was another of those categories of things I’ve been telling myself that I should take more notice of as regards my drawing ambitions. Thus spontaneously I decided to circumvent my plans and drop by the mill for a bit of sketching by the river. All I had was a little notebook I carry in my purse and assorted pens, but it was to be a “what the heck” adventure in seeing.
I listened to the radio. I drew. I commented to myself that these were not especially interesting little sketches, nothing much to look at, that I was going to have to learn a graphic vocabulary, sort of like what Van Gogh learned and used, if I were ever to get serious about landscape drawing. However, those thoughts didn’t bother me any. The whole purpose of what I was doing was to “see” more than to get results.
I made a few of these things. After a bit, I decided “okay, enough, it’s time to go.” Turned the key on the car. Nothing happened. Tried it several times more. Nadda. The very rain that had prompted me to change plans was now putting a big crimp in my new reality: I’m stranded, it’s pouring, and I haven’t even had breakfast yet. (Note: never do the spontaneity thing on an empty stomach.)
Well, fast forward. I made a phone call. Got rescued. We bought jumper cables and drove back to my car. I leaped out of my husband’s truck and on a lark put the key in the ignition, turned it and — voila! — it started! Has been running just fine since. Go figure.
Back nestled in the dry warmth of home, I made a little sketch in oil pastel based upon the line drawings from the site. I’m wondering whether it was quite worth the trouble, making these drawings, buying jumper cables, going without breakfast, for these little impressions. But Van Gogh says “you have to suffer for art.” On a suffering scale, I must admit (very gladly) that these inconveniences and automotive mysteries do not rank high. So, I won’t complain.
But I have a new rule: no spontaneity until after breakfast.