When the clouds roll away on a coast spring day, everything gleams with fresh intensity.
I’m busting out the tubes.
My ticket is booked and paid for. I say these words to myself, (and to pretty much anyone else I can pin down) with emotions that streak from thrill to fear in seconds. This MS woman is going to Italy. The dogged determination and kindness of friends will drag my wobbly ass across the ocean to the country that has filled my mind and heart with wonder since my days at Cap College under the spell of the Goddess of Art History, my friend Josephine. So missed.
Julie: “Listen. You have to come. This might be the last time…. I mean… ah… erm… This will be an awesome trip and we will all be there to… uh… Well, you are coming. That’s that.”
I think of past large scale paintings I have done, and present intimate journal sketching I am doing. Ambitions at the mercy of body. I remember my New Year’s resolution – Fear out – Faith in. Holy Crap, it is working. Could I really do it?
I laugh….. I suspect she is a little wrong, though. I think this trip will be the first. If I can’t belly up to the big canvasses just yet, I have other dreams to pursue.
I have Carnets des Voyages to fill. 🙂
After Wayne Thiebaud: detail from Boston Cremes, 1962
In my naiveity, (perhaps with a smidge of an ego) I thought it would be fun and easy to forego the obvious choice of something seriously Renaissancey for my SBS assignment – ‘Copy an Artist that you Admire’. Well, I have been schooled. Wayne Thiebaud is a Master of thick acrylic paint and unlikely colour placement, and he molds beautiful delicious form with deft skill. Pop Art genius – I won’t make the mistake of underestimating his delightful simplicity again. I did, however, manage to sweat it out, and do a credible job while using the simplest of tools myself, my basic sketch kit. Nothing fancy at all – a Uniball black ink pen, my small Cotman travel watercolours, a couple of fineliners and pencil crayons, and some housepaint from a sample I have had hanging around on my desk for ages. That was to cover the orange blotchy mistake I made early in the sketch, and had no other way to disguise. Luckily the thick pages in my Kim Oka journal could take the abuse. Yep, I learned my lesson. And I’ll happily do this exercise again, because there is scads more to learn from a giant like Thiebaud. I am a baby when it comes to this kind of painting. And honestly, I kind of like that feeling of being in the shit and having to wallow my way out – it certainly keeps things interesting. So copy I will, and if it was good enough for the Renaissance greats… well then.
Ella is a Wild Dog in the Woods, or so it is reported to me – I wish I could see her leaping the logs and trails with grace and strength and exuberance. But this day, I’m glad I wasn’t there to see most of her disappear down a hole in a log – luckily no bear waiting for her at the bottom! There was some debris though, which must have tickled her ear causing an entire night of head shaking, ear flipping and scratching. Mournful brown eyes pleaded for help.
Still greatly bothered in the morning, there was nothing to do but take her to the Vet. Well, she wouldn’t stay still, so the Big Drugs had to come out. And what did they find for $300? A hair. And Poor Ella was a woozy, ill mess for the next day and a half. Perhaps she will re-think her Acting career.
I must say, she held still for a lovely long sketch.
And Sammie – I think he was just keeping her company as she slept it off. He’s good like that.
Days were long, and hot – sometimes too hot – but even with all the hours in a day to play it feels like it went so fast. The studio got cleaned (can you believe it??), a birthday came and went (delightful gifts of moths and wine and food with friends) and a new chair arrived so that more things could be done all in the same area (so many thanks, Marlene).
Still, some sketching got done in between lounging around in lawn chairs.
Now we are officially into Fall. This time, for me, is a time of cool, clear energy. A time to integrate changes and move forward. A time to flourish.
Now that the firewood is in…. 🙂
She got me drawing with ballpoint pens. Blobby, cheap, ubiquitous Bic pens. And I am telling you, as satisfying as it is to finish a page like this, the technique is Not easy. In theory, it is similar to the Tommy Kane crosshatch style, but I found that the meditative quality of time was much deeper. Maybe because the detail, the “hatchiness” was finer, took longer, made me able to enter that zone where you are sketching, but also hearing the birds, smelling the ocean, noting the sun passing and the light changing – in fact, this day on my back porch will live forever on this page.
Not a bad use of sitting on a butt all day, if you are MS heat-bagged anyway, hey? I love summer in the Creek.
Last June one of these beautiful friends landed on my shoulder.
It was a lovely surprise, but I didn’t think too much about it, I just thought it had been battered and tattered in the cool wind and rain. This spring, when I saw a fresh strong butterfly in the shrubs around the Arts Centre in Sechelt, I did a little digging
They are born with the tatters, they are native, and were possibly given the poetic name “Mourning Cloak” by Scandinavian or German settlers, though no explanation as to why. It doesn’t matter, I love the name. I also think it amusing that Nymphalis Antiopa is a brush-footed butterfly, called this due to their hairy front legs. 🙂
The actual title of this sketchbook page is “Magnolia Petals: After Tommy Kane – Genius of the Crosshatch”. He is a Master of the Uniball pen. Not only was his demo video highly informative, but it was very amusing to see him in a Tiara. Sorry, only those who take Sketchbook Skool get to see the whole thing, but the Lemon Test drawing which is the result is here. And his book, “An Excuse to Draw” is quite amazing. I read it cover to cover and still want to see more. Also, the book has a great introduction by Michelangelo, worth the price alone.
The Quest of the Artist is to find their own, unique style, and if they copy from the Masters (or whoever resonates with them) it is usually in the beginning of their personal search. I am no different, it took years of practice to load up my current bag of sketchy tricks. It might seem a bit like going backwards to copy a different style at this point, but really I find it a very interesting thing to do. No one ever knows everything, and if they do they are deadly boring. So, when I dive into a different style, I find it most useful to mimic it as closely as I can for the first few attempts. It is so hard to keep my own “hand” out of it, and I am not always successful, but the interesting part comes when I compare my crosshatched Magnolia petals to details from some of my other drawings.
I see that I have a scribbly, scratchy, smudgy style compared to Tommy Kane. I like this kind of mark making, I strive for the quickness of execution and casual accuracy that makes it a little intense. For the Tommy Kane exercise, I have to be more precise, deliberate, take my time and s l o w down. Not easy, and I suspected I would be irritated. I sat myself down in front of a few of my essential belongings, and I put in some hours. Five hours, including bathroom and food breaks. Most assuredly NOT my normal way, but as I get into it, it turns out to be quite relaxing. And I enjoy it. Time well spent in contemplation and I want to do more…
So, I seem to have added a new technique to my repertoire – Zen and the Art of Sketchbook Maintenance. Who knew? I wonder if I get a Tiara now, I’ll have to ask Tommy…