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.
Sometimes I make the seashells smaller than life size as here. The very small picture also has its own quality. Small things, ones that you can hold in your hand, seem precious. Sometimes a picture invites you to come closer.
When I visited the Joachim Wtewael exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, I admired the magnificent seashells in his painting of Andromeda. Those are life size. Andromeda puts her foot on one queen conch shell that is life size. But those very same shells appear in his microscopically small paintings too. Those are mind-boggling. I will never be traveling down that path. But it’s fun to see.
The drawing sheet was 18 x 24 inches large. As you can see the shell took up much of that space, but the real shell is not — no queen conch could be — that large. It would be a monster of a queen conch that was that large.
So what is the shell that’s larger than life size? It’s like a dream of a seashell.
I had so much fun drawing this shell. Seeing the photograph brings back the memory so vividly. It was a blast. I had to enlarge the thought while I was drawing and I loved it. I had never drawn any of the shells large before. I’ve never done it since.
But seeing this drawing now, I cannot wait to draw it large again. For now, though, I have other tasks because I am reorganizing my life. And I am tidying my home — just as Marie Kondo said I should.