more work on the arbor

arbor left side 2

I’m working on the left side of a landscape that I posted previously in its first swipe.  It’s kind of the “messy middle” of the process.  I put down ideas.  They’re kind of raw.  It takes a while for things to gel.  But it’s just direct painting.  And I don’t expect anything to materialize right at once.

Here’s the preliminary drawing

Here’s the first swipe

Dark Trees Dreamings

Arching branches and dark shadows on the ground and in the air, veiled skeins of amorphous shade.  The geometry of the topography of trees mapped out in sentinel positions, each one staking a meaning.  So many meanings planted, growing in a mind’s forest around which a wanderer in wakeful dreaming pleasantness muses upon so admirable a stand of trees significant, though of what am not quite sure.

Covering space

I appreciate the colored papers after having made this largish drawing en plein air on white paper.  There’s so much white to cover up, and so much green out there to look at, so much light and shade contrasting, and such swiftly changing patterns of light and dark.  It took a while to settle into my drawing.  I began as though I had five hundred years of leisure, meticulously observing every hair’s nuance of line and color in dainty little lines that were swallowed up by the large page.  And seeing that my drawing didn’t remind me very much of the what I was looking at, and watching the shadows move, I decided I had better step it up!

So I let go of some residual timidity and started drawing faster and more evocatively.  I have to say, though, there’s reason for doing the 500-year drawing method.  If you can let go of the idea that the drawing needs to look like the subject, and instead let the drawing become a record of your feelings merely, the experience and possibly even the drawing that it leads to is worth doing.

grateful wanderer through the big outdoors

Finally!  I began my much longed for return to drawing en plein air.  I spent much of the late winter doing landscape indoors from photos and have longed to encounter Mother Nature again face to face.  Mother Nature can be very capricious when she spies an artist drawing in the landscape, but she was so kind to me today!

Nonetheless, it wasn’t slugging about with a backpack over hills and dales — not for me.  No, it was more like a delightfully pensive walk with a few tools round the sparsely visited park.  And the one above I did while sitting in my car having lunch.

Life Landscape

The drawing one makes from life is often sloppy.  Well, sometimes life can be sloppy.  Nature is often sloppy with leaves and branches going this way and that way.  I can’t recall where I was or when I drew this, but I can see that I was in a hurry.  Yet I was able to grab a lot of specific impressions of the place and its colors.  Something of the mood, too, of the bare trees — and perhaps a cold day — comes across in the form of a bracing sense of air — and ambiguous contrasts of solitude and almost frantic energy.

One of the wonderful things about working outdoors is the sense of connectedness you get to the moment, the specific time of day, the temperature of the air, the sense of the air around you and the emotions inside you.

Feeling Arboreal (finding the inner tree)

If anyone recognizes what this is:  congratulations!  You might have a fine career ahead of you in psychology!

I made this drawing to obsessively reinterate an idea I’ve been working on — relative to a large mural sized painting whose subject I’m frankly at a loss to explain.  However, I’ve been around the art block enough times now to trust my instincts and to believe that a picture, whose meaning is baffling even to me, its author, may well hold ideas that can matter to the larger audience of my fellow human beings, 3 billion or so of my closest friends. (You gotta think big.)

It’s a tree.  I don’t know why I feel compelled to portray it this way, rather than to make it more conventionally tree-like.  But there it is.  And let me tell you, your subconscious mind is a fabulous, truly wonderful and remarkable thing!  I have stalled on this idea for well over a year, working on other things, and forgeting about this picture. 

However, last night as I was driving, I turned a corner and saw a large tractor trailer stopped at a light perpendicular to me at a street onto which I was making a right turn.  In the general darkness, as I turned, I noted the enormous shadow of a tree cast onto the side of the trailer.  Imagine that huge flat surface being like a canvas, here was the image I’ve wanted to portray in ridiculously large scale, here it was on the side of this truck as on a great, crazy moving canvas!  Sometimes you feel as though the great loving God and nature and your own mind are all meeting at the same intersection.   It’s a great shot in the arm, let me tell you!

Comments, explanations, psycho-analysis are all welcome.

[Top of the post:  the author’s small compositional drawing for a very large enigmatic painting.  By Aletha Kuschan]

Not seeing the tree for the branches

     Through different subjects and media, through thick and thin,  I find that much of what has continually interested me is perception.  Perception is a tricky thing.  I first realized this when I was young girl in high school.  I was sitting in front of a sugar maple happily drawing its linear forms, which reached out toward me like welcoming arms. I found that maple to be so very beautiful and complicated to draw.

Struggling with it, however, I couldn’t comprehend one particularly murky passage and paused totally stuck, in head-scratching confusion. Then I realized that I was not drawing “what I saw” — not a bit — for right smack in front of me was a limb, looming into the foreground, practically tickling my nose, that had been until that moment completely invisible. It actually obscured parts of the area I was struggling to see.  No wonder I couldn’t see those other details! I thought with Mr. Magoo-like clarity.

For many people life’s problems consist in not seeing “the forest for the trees.”  In my case, I was stumped by not seeing the tree for the branches. 

            I had looked at, had seen, had attended to those things that I insisted to myself were there.  Well, sometimes what you see is what you get! I insisted upon my reality to such a degree, wishing to see what I thought I saw so much — that I managed not to see what was right there in fact.  Ah, a moment of disclosure I shall never forget.  It’s like a story with a moral.  Only true.


 [Top of the post:  my drawing of crepe myrtles blooming.  Aletha Kuschan]