Saturday, January 7, 2017

Drawing Pain

I've spent too many days laid up lately with that persistent old wound so have not been able to pay much attention to the blog or produce anything new. So, here are two quick cartoons depicting some of my discomforts as I faced life as a paraplegic early in the healing process. The one on the left has been posted here in the past (Nov 2012) but I'm reusing it in this weeks post  to maintain my presence. The piece below is new here but explores many of the same issues.

The subject is pain, both physical and psychic and the losses that dogged my days and nights in the first few years of my injury and now occasionally rise in the dark to remind me of another life.

As noted here in the past, I often resort to this quick "Cartoon" mode when depicting my emotional states or working to capture an instant in time. Since visual art is language as valid as music or dance it's appropriate that images speak for themselves rather than our searching for slippery lines of explanation.

"No one is without difficulties ... and every person knows best where their own shoe pinches."   Abigail Adams

"Whatever is contained must be released."   Helene Aylon

"The challenged life may be the best therapist."  Gail Sheehy

Friday, December 30, 2016

Local Color!

As you know my primary focus is drawing but i do sometimes paint. I pulled this from an old file folder - two examples of my early ventures into observational painting, a series depicting some of the old homes in our area.  It's funny,  when I think of my work in general, I usually think of a light touch, subtle color, fine gradations, etc, much like  the one below. But when I pulled this red brick from a dusty portfolio, it's strength surprised me! All that color and action - repeated rectangles and writhing branches!

This piece below, much more the kind of stuff I would usually have claimed as mine, was my first successful attempt in that painting series. It hangs fairly quietly framed on my bedroom wall.

If you are familiar with my work, I'm sure you can see why I chose these subjects in the first place. Yes, I like old architecture (our own home was built circa 1840) and I particularly enjoy drawing gnarly old trees so the combination was just my cup of tea! I suppose, with all the emphasis on the tree, I could have treated the tree alone but I do love the interaction between nature's work and man's - look at the wonderful contrast between tree and house in color, shape, texture. Then, with the addition of those subtle repetitions of branch shapes as shadows on the facade! Who could ask for more?

"Bloom where you are planted."   Latin Proverb

"Those who will not start, will never finish."   Jack Adams

"Painting is easy,  getting it right is the hard bit."   Danny Byrne

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Drawing the Ordinary

I know I've shown gloves here in the past, but a good idea is still good the second time around. At the same time, perhaps we can answer a question.

For me any drawing is fun, but some times it's ordinary things that are the most fun to draw. Now that we have winter weather, something to work with on dreary days is really welcome. I have a small basket full of well worn gloves that I've collected for just such days, in a variety to give myself a challenge - and really, that's the fun of it!

 The pair left below and the similar pair on dark paper are sets of men's ordinary  leather gloves that have been used and mis-used over the course of a few years. I think the most damage was from getting them soaked while shoveling that slushy stuff we all hate!

The top left,  done with Prismacolor pencil, is a lonely single. I was just about to call it a welder's glove - my father had once been a welder in WWII's Boston Navy Yard - but something said "No!"  Welder's gloves have long, deep cuffs to protect arms and wrists from fiery sparks. This one is heavy and stiff with short fingers and a coarse raw finish - something meant for very rough duty - perhaps to protect hands from particular sharp blows. Do you know what they are? Any Ideas? Leave a comment here or on my Facebook page.

"I choose a subject but the subject chooses me."   Frank Webb

"The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work"   Richard Bach

"Choose a job you love, and you'll never have to work a day in your life."   Confucius

"I don't know the question, but sex is definitely the answer."   Woody Allen

Friday, December 9, 2016

Pots: Past & Present

Here is a quick post,  just trying to get one in this week!

A few pages back in a past post,  I showed you a couple drawings quite similar to this one below, except that those were highly realistic with strong color and form. (Check last year's "Old Jug and Jar) This mixed media piece is much softer with the image more a part of the support's surface, barely breaking free of the background. Still, you can see my appreciation of 3D forms as I rendered the soft reflections on the solid surface of that old stoneware bottle and the more distinct reflections in that little glass jar.  Notice how those high-lights contribute to the essential emphasis on 3D form.

That interest in form was also present more than fifty years ago when I produced this stoneware covered jar in my Bridgewater, Ma dairy-barn  studio. You can see those same reflections there on the glazed surface that help you understand the form.  Just as I then - years ago - held the clay form in my hands as it spun on the potters wheel, today I feel the form rise from the penciled surface as I observe and draw.

Whether human figure, ripe fruit, clay pot or ancient tree - I find that an awareness of form is almost always present in my work. That's a good thing - I like it!

"Form is expressed in the light tones by dark accents, in the dark tones by light accents."
 Harvey Dunn

"What tis a sketch but a moment's passion, searching for the truth"   Stephen Aitken

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


I recently posted this "Blast-from-the past" on my Facebook page and thought "Daillies" Blog followers might like to see it as well.  It's a 40 year old image from a series of finely hatched ink drawings of fantasy "Bombers" - this one approximately 22 x 26" on Arches Cover Weight paper. the image was  forwarded to me by a long-time friend and collector who was responsible for my participation in a wonderful 4 person exhibit at the iconic Washington DC  Franz Bader gallery.

At that time I was using the KohiNoor RapidOGraph, a finicky technical pen with a  needle-like nib, a forerunner of the ubiquitous fine-line pens found in so many art and office supply stores today.  Like today's fine-liners it came in a variety of line widths but unlike those it was a real pain to use and to keep in working order.  It needed constant refilling as you worked and those nibs were always clogging!

The one below right, is another drawing from the "Bomber" series that appeared in that DC Franz Bader show.  The  22 x 30" original is now in a Colorado  collection.

Here left, is a part of a different drawing - less than 1/4 of the  original.  Below that is an original size detail to give you a real sense of the hatching technique I used. It is on the same handmade Arches Cover Weight,  a wonderful surface which works beautifully with ink!

Even though these are 30 to 50 hour drawings done with a temperamental pen, I loved the time spent building tone, texture and form. I enjoyed the repetitive strokes, making marks add up to strong subject matter, images consistent with my oft-stated goal of work interesting from across the room and just as interesting up close.

Form is an extension of content.  (Anonymous)

Style is as much the soul as is the flesh of a work.   (Gustave Flaubert)

There is no such a thing as fantasy unrelated to reality.  (Maurice Sendak)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fantasy - Ink and Pencil

A few weeks ago I showed a couple of "fantasy" drawings done in Prismacolor Pencil. I described them as having been "done in an off-hand way", starting out fast and loose then tightened up and refined. A problem I had in posting them was the pencil color didn't show well on the blog, so in order to use the image I had to enhance them with PhotoShop. I decided to try a different approach this time. I tried working over the initial pencil with ink. The piece above is the result. It certainly does reproduce well and the total effect is quite different than pencil alone. Not that it is necessarily better but it's much crisper, more precise - so conveys a visual message completely at odds with that of the pencil alone. No need for enhancement here! 

In the end it's actually more compatible with some of the cartoon-like work I've posted here in the past,  except in those the ink was put down first then color pencil added as if it were a coloring-book image.

Here's a drawing never posted here before, part of a old series reflecting on my (new then) experience as a paraplegic. Among my many physical losses paralyzed legs are the most evident. Once past the trauma of that fact, early on I found myself looking with true interest at the way people moved.  I'd watch people walking, amazed at the complexity of body movements, the shifts of balance that kept them upright, like the precise placement of a foot in turning.  It was not hard to be jealous of the easy movements done with so little thought as they walked, ran, or as above - danced. Oh, I loved to dance! (I'm sure you can see my "envious eye" at work a bit in this one.)

"All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself."   Chuck Close

"Art is not about thinking something up.  It is getting something down."   Julia Cameron

"An idea is born when mind and eye see together."   Ratindra Das

Thursday, November 12, 2015

November Trees

I never thought I'd be out drawing trees this late in the year. Tho' cold and wet today. the weather lately has been gorgeous - warm enough that the joggers and walkers have been lightly clad in sleeveless shirts and shorts! (Not that I'd venture out that way. I'm cool even in hot weather so wear at least a sweatshirt when out.)

Here, I continue my "catalog" of trees in a 200 year old area cemetery.  Just a couple of days ago these two were full of yellow leaves, alive in bright sunlight, loosing them over the course of just two cool and breezy days.

Both drawings are in Prismacolor Pencil - the first laid out in ocher then finished with pure black - but just the simplest black in the broken maple below.

I added a background "frame" in the drawing on the left because I felt it needed some stabilization.  Tho' an interesting tree to draw, the imbalance really bothered me.  The background box nails it in place and helps "finish" the drawing.

"One must always draw, draw with the eyes when one cannot draw with a pencil."   Balthus

"The moment you know you know, you know."  David Bowie

Friday, November 6, 2015

TV Sketches

It's been quite a while since I last posted any of the quick sketches I do while watching TV. The morning talk shows, 
c-span congressional committee coverage and late night celebrity interviews are all good places to find interesting faces. 

I pulled these three thumb-nails from a single sketchbook page showing the simple approach that works so well for me. It is very different from having a person pose in front of you in that these people are always moving, gesturing and turning side to side as they converse. I find that quitting any particular view as soon a person changes position or the camera finds another face, then returning to continue a minute later works well. When you do, you then start others that can be picked up, back and forth, in opportune moments. You have to work very quickly in a concentrated way, often so quickly that you can't actually follow the conversation!

Another, and even faster way to approach the problem, is to use soft pencil to catch the darks, the shadows, in as simple a fashion as you can. Forget nuance - pay no attention to detail! It's wonderful how well a few simple marks can capture characteristic expressions or personalities. To me, it's even more amazing that you often get a real sense of three-dimensional form this way. It's great practice!

And, if TV isn't your thing, there's always the cat!  Have fun!

"The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend."
Henri Bergson

"The freer the form, the more concentration you require."
Tom Hudson  

Friday, October 30, 2015

More Fantasy

Two more Fantasy drawings  in the same spirit as those of two weeks ago. There's a great deal of fun in starting the drawings in an off-hand way, not worrying at all about proportion, meaning or craft - then working to integrate the awkward images into a cohesive whole.

The upper piece is completely new, created this week while the lower work is older. The originals were both lighter and more delicate than they are here. In order to have them show up well in the blog, I had to enhance the color a bit using PhotoShop.

"So quick bright things come to confusion."  William Shakespeare

"Dreams, if they are any good, are always a little bit crazy."  Ray Charles

"Seek art and abstraction in nature by dreaming in the presence of it. " Paul Gauguin

Friday, October 23, 2015

Century Trees

Tho' working out in the sun would have been brutal,  even on very hot days this summer I was able to sit in the shade with welcome breezes while drawing great old trees and trying to catch the pattern of cast shadows and filtered light on the ground. 

Driving down a different cemetery lane yesterday I found this massive old maple already loosing it's leaves. Tomorrow they will blanket the ground between two hundred year old stones. Those gorgeously hot summer days are gone so I'll now have to bundle up but you know I will be visiting this old beauty again!

"Death, like birth is a secret of nature."  Marcus Aurelius

"Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree." Emily Bronte

"I have learned that what I have not drawn, I have never really seen."  Frederick Franck