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

Friday, October 16, 2015

Old Jug & Jar: Spacial Perception

This week we have two Prismacolor Pencil interpretations of a nice old stone-ware jug (actually a bottle) and a small glass jar.  The three dimensional forms you see here are the result of careful observation and accurate renditions of shape, color, shade, shadow and reflection. In the first version on the right we see these three objects straight-on at eye level with no sense of form derived from linear perspective. If this were a line drawing it would essentially consist of flat shapes outlined. 

(Tho' not the essential point of this post, a hint of depth is seeing shapes overlapping.)    

In this second drawing we perceive form because of the same accurate representation as above but with the addition of linear perspective. We are looking from a slightly higher viewpoint so can see the oval shapes in the openings of the jar and in the shoulder and base lines of the bottle. While we can see the complete top edge of the jar, our eyes follow the jug's shoulder line as it disappears around the "corner" on the right side and we complete the oval in our mind as it passes behind and reappears running toward us on the left. We understand this as an indication of 3D form.

Our experience with this world says that light on one side of an object usually produces a shadow side, a curved object's shading progresses from light to dark and a highlight is the reflection of a light-source. Our hands confirm that perception of form when we reach out and hold an object. When the right marks are presented on a flat surface in an appropriate way, we believe!

"What we call art would seem to be specialist artifacts for enhancing human perception."  Marshal McLuhan

"In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present."   Sir Francis Bacon

Thursday, October 8, 2015


Early in my teaching career I was the art teacher in a couple of elementary schools dealing with children from kindergarten to middle school. I'd often admire the the kids' simple drawings and wonder if I would be able to produce something as charming without actually copying. At the time I was not drawing "seriously" so let the idea go and forgot about it until recently. 

Now I draw almost every day and sometimes think about those young children's drawings and try to  use those memories to prompt my imagination.  I loosen up and start drawing without any real direction. I'll start with just a few marks, shapes or more likely a simple idea like "Home" or "Dance" and let the piece grow as I go along. Unlike the the ink "doodles" I wrote about a few weeks ago, I don't refine the work but try to maintain that childish quality until I've filled the paper. 

With the current popular interest in "Outsider Art" I see some producing purposefully naive work, trying to look as if they were unschooled. I'd rather use what I learn from kids to produce something sophisticated but with the simple power of a child's work. We'll continue this discussion next week.

A note here: I had to enhance these two drawings using Photoshop because the originals were too light and delicate to show up well here in Blogger. Sorry 'bout that!

"Fantasy is one of life's brighter porcelains."   Pat Conroy

"Follow your inner moonlight; don't hide the madness."   Allen Ginsberg

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Shameless Self-Promotion!

These are a couple of self portraits done with graphite pencil on Strathmore 400 series drawing paper several years ago, - in 2002  I think. No photographs involved - just me and a large floor-to-ceiling mirror. Each image is approximately 9 inches high, cropped here to cut some blank paper. There were two light sources: natural light from a window on my left and a simple old fashioned floor lamp on the right. Each drawing was one sitting within a couple of days of each other. I don't recall how long they took but I'd guess at least a couple of hours.  I was able to work with no interruptions, a condition I find essential for most of my work. There was a third version, actually the first one done, that barely resembled me but looked more like my younger brother. Not a bad thing, you understand, just not quite right.

Now that I'm looking at them all, each drawing seems a bit more honest than the previous one.
I aged at least a year in each. (Just remember, they are here in reverse chronological order) I hadn't intended to show this last one, but so that you can see the progression, the improved observation and understand the value of repeated effort. here it is. So, as I usually say, Just Do IT- but do it again and again! 

Damn! You know, I'll never learn! Why didn't I just say, here are three nice self-portraits done over a period of time, several years for instance, and I could have walked away a hero, a god! Imagine that, I could have been ... an Art God! *

"The self portrait is a thankful thing, the model gets tired  exactly when the artist does." Aapo Pukk

"Everything I paint is aself portrait, whatever the subject. Jamie Wyeth

* Comments?