Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Drawing from Memory

Youngest saw my "Keys to Drawing" book lying on a side table, and started reading and doing some of the exercises a few weeks ago. That was a surprise. He achieved right-brain shift on some of the first exercises, and was excited by that.

I've been looking at the book as a way to consider habits in my own drawing and sketching, to shake up my routines, and to get more of those valuable little tips that make the technical and mechanical side of drawing easier, so it can be the tool it's meant to be, and more of a pleasure, too.

Youngest got to the Pepper Challenge and needed some produce... I bought two peppers at the farmer's market this Saturday that would work.

The exercise was to look at a pepper and then walk away, wait a while and then draw it from memory. The last step is to draw the pepper again, this time from life. The instructions advise us to draw it at least life sized, and preferably larger than life size. While the book did not say to draw it from the exact same vantage point both times. we decided to set things up to do that, so we could consider the differences from memory vs. from life.

I was pretty sure I would not recall the shapes and relationships, but as we looked at the peppers I concentrated on a few critical points and proportions. That served me fairly well during the memory exercise, though shapes are oversimplified. I sense that I could get considerably better at this. Figures would be the subject worth the time (much more complex than peppers) - people don't stay still for prolonged studies in airports and restaurants...

This last drawing here is the one from life. Between 5 and 10 minutes, I think (we lost track of the time - stopped when Youngest was through). Pencil. More than 200% lifesize. I noticed when drawing from memory that I couldn't make myself draw them this large, though I intended to do so. I suspect I felt exposed for the details I would not recall, so I kept them smaller (just a little bit larger than lifesize).

Comparing all three of these images, I see that certain things strike me and I emphasize them. That's why a drawing is a record of someone's seeing. You see what matters to the viewer, where their eyes spend time, what they like, hate, wish...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Pirates or Ninjas

One of the first questions Daughter had to get settled with her assigned college room mate, when they connected on-line prior to moving in this year, was, "Pirates or Ninjas?" They both answer that question Pirates (so do I). Other friends of Daughters say Ninjas over Pirates.

Somehow this all came together in my head with Yin and Yang and I realized that I could produce an image of this question with cats, using the pirate patch for the little bit of Ninja, and the eye hole in the Ninja wrap for the little bit of Pirate...

So I made this and sent it to Daughter.

Pen and little Prismacolor on a white cicle of card stock (from that Swoozies present Summer sent me - thanks, again!)

So what's your answer?

Friday, August 27, 2010


This painting came to me while looking at the amazing wings of Cicadas (that middle "a" is pronounced long here in the Southeast). Actually I've been trying to do this image in some form for years now (without the insect - that seemed to be the unifying element, finally). It comes in part from looking at Paul Klee paintings of houses and roofs and lollipop tree shapes, and it comes from stacks and piles of houses in coastal villages in France and Italy (though these don't look very much like Southern Europe).

Anyway, this was fun to paint. My favorite thing might have been drawing the cars...

Watercolor on 140 lb. Arches hot press - 19 x 19 inches. Some green lightfast ink outlines.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Ugly" Tomato

My chief pleasure every week is the Saturday morning walk in our village of Hillsborough followed by the visit to the Eno River Farmers Market. I'm wearing the market's t-shirt right now. We know more and more of the farmers/vendors by name, like Marsha who sells cut flowers (we always get enough for our wall sconces and a large vase upstairs), and Rachel the fellow homeschooler who sells fresh eggs, jams, lemon curd, and the best meringues I know. We get butter beans, zephyr squash, fresh greens, eggs in mixed colored dozens, French bread or ice box rolls, Carolina Gold potatoes, cucumbers, blueberries and strawberries, when each is in season, origami dragons, caterpillars that turned into Painted Lady butterflies a few weeks later and which hung around our flower beds after release. We discuss how favorite vegetables or fruits are doing, and how many more weeks we might be able to get a particular thing before it's time in the seasonal round is done for another year and we have to wait for it to show up again.

But the best thing is being with my Dearest for the walking and talking, and then sharing all the colors and sounds of the market with her. There is almost always some kind of live music, and that adds to the festive atmosphere. It's a little country fair, with just the right amount of new and old each week. And that could be said of the conversation, as well, as we discuss the week past, and the weeks coming up.

Several weekends ago I bought my first big yellow-orange "ugly" tomato from Marsha, our cut-flower friend. Gladiolas, zinnias, hydrangea, celosia, Queen Anne's lace, rudbeckia, and a big fat irregular tomato. It made two killer sandwiches, but before I ate it I enshrined it in both my moleskine, with pen and ink, and attempted to capture it in watercolor in another sketch pad. Like all sketches, they pin down the memories for me, making them far easier to reach again later - but these recollections have taste and fragrance, too. It was a hot afternoon and looking at these images I can smell the tomato and feel the long slow moments and hear the silence in the house when I worked and reworked the watercolors until I wore the paper out in several places. I can feel the weight of the big beautiful thing in my hand.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sketching continues...

We have this amazing bean out on our deck. This is just the top 6 feet or so. It starts on the ground below the deck, and climbs about 10 feet up to the bottom of this sketch. It has, since this drawing, climbed higher, reached out five feet in all directions looking for something else to climb, succumbed to gravity and put down long tendrils that reach the deck rail and start back up again.

I understand where the Jack and the Beanstalk stories come from. This beast is almost as fast as kudzu.

When I sketched this, which took about 30 minutes, I noticed at completion that the long tendrils had changed shape and moved. I'm not sure I would have noticed that (how fast they grow and change) if I had not been so focused and had a plain and accurate measure of previous location.

Hyacinth bean - large moleskine - fine black marker. If plants were track stars, this would be a sprinter.