tattered images from memory

memory drawing of view from Sousa Bridge july 31 (2)

In other news, my daughter and I took a trip into town for coffee and contemplation on a beautifully mild and cloudy last day of July.  Driving back across the Sousa Bridge on our return, I was noticing the tree line and the big grey clouds  and wondering how much of the aspect I could retain in memory.

It turns out that the answer to my mental question is “not very much”!  I would love to draw the view from life (which I’ve seen more times than I can number), but I’m always in my car.  This is the first time I’ve ever even tried to draw it.

Call this the dream version.  But it’s a fun drawing to make.  I should draw from memory more often.



hibiscus 1 (4)

Art for me is juggling.  I am focused.  I have a project and I work on it steadily.  It’s a big project so it requires my steady attention.  And yet other things pop up too.  I go drawing some days on Capitol Hill taking my pastel easel to search for flowers.  I use oil pastels in the sun and they become the best medium ever for that sort of moment.

I have to draw en plein air sometimes now because it’s summer and people have planted amazing flowers in their small city yards that come right up to the sidewalk.  There’s so many flowers.  They won’t be there long.  The growing season passes so quickly.  So I go out sometimes and interrupt my project to do drawings like this one.

I am out in the sun myself like a cicada.


in between times

rock creek park scene

Courses in life seldom run straight.  Like a river or creek they bend against time.  I work steadily toward my “big painting” project and yet it seems to be standing still at present.  In between times I am also beginning to draw landscapes outdoors in oil pastel.  I made this drawing quickly.

Might be going out again today.  These drawings — at present — aren’t ones that I set out to make — not yet — not so far.  They are instead things that I do while I’m waiting around for someone else.  So sometimes when I am on someone else’s schedule, I still draw.  I am finding more and more that bits of time gathered here and there are useful for seeing.  I probably never would have made this drawing had I not found myself momentarily at loose ends.

And you never know where these things lead.

hanging out with Paul Cezanne

after Cezanne 2

I went visiting yesterday to see my old friend Cezanne at the National Gallery of Art where an exhibit of his portraits is on display through July 1st.  I took my Caran d’Ache neopastels and made a couple drawings in front of portraits of his wife Hortense.

What an education!  How I could stand there all day and gaze at the delicate colors of his paintings.  Or, how I aspire to standing all day admiring his art.  Standing with the box of pastels tucked under my drawing tablet makes one a bit weary, but I must build up my stamina because the pictures are absolutely glorious.

Below is the wikipedia reproduction of one of the paintings I saw yesterday.


after Rodin in smooth lines

after Rodin crouching figure Hirshhorn garden

My meetup group visited the Hirshhorn Museum recently.  Outdoors in the sculpture garden I made drawings after Rodin.  The Hirshhorn is home to some brilliant works of art, but the pressure on modern museums to try to produce something uncanny is great.  Consequently there’s always some head-scratching exhibit dominating the place.  Currently at the Hirshhorn it’s not one exhibit, but nearly the entire building that’s dedicated to head-scratching.  And there wasn’t much to look at that holds any purely visual interest.  Purely — visual — interest — you know, the sort of thing that your eyes just want to linger over because the sensation of looking is so mesmerizing.

It’s strange.  I wonder sometimes if the people who have trained themselves in modernity-in-quotes have forgotten how to see?  Rodin is right there in the garden.  He produced sculptures of great visual beauty that are full of emotion also.  They’re even provocative — and are thus so in a genuinely enduring fashion.  But the managers of the Hirshhorn’s hapless collection cannot seem to make the connection.

Ah well!

Rodin had more in the way of ideas and imagery than I knew what to do with.  But I spent my bit of time gazing at the face of his crouching woman and made my drawing above.

in praise of chocolate

chocolate plant Botanic gardens mar 18 18

When I was recently visiting the Botanic Gardens with my drawing group and I suddenly realized that I was standing beside a venerable, magnificent, and wonderful-marvelous chocolate plant (Theobroma cacao) — well — I had to draw it.

You don’t consume as much chocolate as I do and just walk blithely by such a significant, such an important — nay! ESSENTIAL plant without paying your respects.

How I wish I’d had time to draw it in more detail — because — chocolate!

Gad About


When I’m not at the easel, I sometimes still encounter art.  I was walking in the city and stopped inside St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington DC where I encountered these beautiful angels.  This was my first visit to the famous cathedral with its beautiful mosaics.  Here’s another view.