A Wee Cuppa

“Small Cup” © Katie Kath 2022. Do not reproduce without permission.

This little china cup, odd though it may be, embodies everything I associate with my Grandma. In fact, if I had to choose only one thing out of all of her many collections of objects (for she had many tchotchkes too numerous to recount here, from beer steins with painted faces lining the top of a china cabinet to a small collection of glass elephants, trunks rearing up at the ever-silent, antique cuckoo clock hanging in the hallway, its tiny bird patiently waiting to reanimate once again) I would choose this cup over anything else.

We didn’t get to visit that often since Grandma lived so far from us, so when we did it was all the more special, and I like to think she marked the occasion as well, letting me drink my morning milk from the china “milkman cup” as she called it.

I don’t know much about the cup, (or the whole set, for that matter, for I own it in its entirety now) other than that it was made in Japan, possibly in the 50’s or 60s, but it doesn’t matter that much to me whether it’s vintage or antique, worth a lot of money or chump change: the memories it holds would fill a hundred cups of its kind.

It also makes a pretty rad little still life.

A Bit of Opera

“Dreamland” – pastel on paper. Katie Kath 2022. Do not copy or reproduce without permission.

Tonight’s drawing of my snoozing son is inspired by a sweet aria entitled Evening Prayer from the opera, “Hansel and Gretel,” by Engelbert Humperdinck. (And no matter how beautiful the music is, I cannot for the life of me get over that name. What did his mother call him? Lil Dinkey? What did his friends call him? Bert? Did he have any friends named Ernie?)

I digress. To the point, it’s a wonderful lullaby and a dreamy tune, with lyrics which I will inscribe herein:

When at night I go to sleep, Fourteen angels watch do keep, Two my head are guarding, Two my feet are guiding, Two are on my right hand, Two are on my left hand, Two who warmly cover, Two who o’er me hover, Two to whom tis given to guide my steps to heaven.

Sleeping softly then it seems, Heaven enters in my dreams; Angels hover round me, Whisp’ring they have found me; Two are sweetly singing, Two are garlands bringing, Strewing me with roses, As my soul reposes. God will not forsake me when dawn at last will wake me.

Sticky August Sketching

“Bethany And Her Daughter” – graphite. @Katie Kath 2022.

I got a nice opportunity this morning to do some sketching from life when my friend Bethany and her daughter, N., came over to feed our chickens some leftovers. The girls (the chickens) know them by now and will stampede them as they walk through our backyard gate like ravenous, feathery, pint-sized heat-seeking missiles that haven’t eaten for weeks.

It’s always an interesting challenge when drawing from life in a setting that is absent from the comforts of air-conditioned interior spaces with convenient places on which to sit–the act of being outside in sticky humidity only August can achieve, balancing a sketchbook with no lap for aid while swatting away mosquitoes and sweating in places you never even knew you could sweat somehow drums the drawing experience into your brain, engraving it into your memory in the way photos cannot: because I drew this series of sketches, I can promise you I will remember this day specifically, how hot it was, and that fact that it rained the night before.

That’s the power of drawing, folks.

An Experiment in Engraving

And now for something completely different.

“Skull and Orange” – pencil on paper, © Katie Kath 2022.

I’ve recently been intrigued by dry point etching. Specifically, a linocut/etching mashup technique I recently stumbled upon while researching all things printmaking. I’m so intrigued, in fact, that I am going to give it a whirl. Here goes, folks.

Now: a word about this process. Up until now I have posted one completed drawing on the blog every other day or so, and it’s been very good for my artistic practice, to be sure. However, a technique like this will require more time, and more episodic postings because etching and linocut are both tedious and I only work for a few hours or less in the evening.

Honestly, embarking on something like this will also be good for me artistically, as it will get me used to breaking up my art-making process into bite-sized manageable chunks I can look forward to each night. This way, I can feel more confident about taking on bigger and bigger projects. EVERYONE WINS.

Ok, enough of that. Let’s talk process.

So, the first thing to do for an etching is to make a drawing of what the etching will look like. Then, when you are satisfied with your sketch, you place a piece of plexiglass, mylar, or other clear plastic that can be easily scratched into, on top of your drawing and begin the crosshatch your darks. (More on that later.)

So: here is the finished sketch I made of a little still-life I set up on my drafting table. If any of my former students are reading this blog, which I highly doubt they are, they would immediately recognize this skull and maybe even shudder a little at the memory of having to draw it a bazillion times.

But you know, this llama skull is cool. I bought it because it’s fun to draw, and I know I could draw it a bazillion times and probably not get too sick of it. Probably.

Drawing this skull last evening also told me that I definitely need to acquire more animal skulls. (I mean, can you have too many?? The answer is no.) One of my former professors had a cat skull and a horse skull, both of which I often looked upon with envy.

What kind of skull do YOU think should I get next?

Selfie in Sfumato

“Self Portrait” – conte crayon on toned paper. © Katie Kath 2022. Do not reproduce without permission.

No, I didn’t get contacts, I ditched those back in college. Drawing glasses can be a real pain and sometimes they just doesn’t look good in a drawing, so, there you have it: me, sans spectacles.

I wanted to make a drawing using a “sfumato” technique, mostly because a) I love how it sounds and b) I love how classical it always makes a drawing look, and I was in a classical sort of mood.

I actually just about gave up on this piece because I wasn’t sure if I liked the direction in which it was going (and am still not sure how I feel about the finished product) but I figured I got this far so I might as well finish the thing because any drawing is good practice.