Behind Blue Eyes

Much as I love “The Who,” the title has nothing to do with this post except for the fact that I began humming that tune as I began to draw and I figured someone else should get it stuck in their head tonight, too. You’re welcome.

I took up piano 4 1/2 years ago as an adult (the extremely brief time I tried to take piano when I was quite young doesn’t count because it lasted for about two seconds before I got very bored with some of the monotony involved and decided I wanted to draw stuff instead) and when I began taking lessons I could maybe tell you where middle C was and that was it. I started off playing what probably everyone starts off playing, which was “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and “Au Clair De La Luna.” Talk about swallow your pride.

I wish I could say now I can play Rachmaninoff, but that’s not the case. I can, however, definitely play more complex pieces these days and I love that the decision I made to learn to play piano is probably one of the better ones I’ve ever made.

Now, go forth and make some good decisions, folks. Good night.

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Friday Nite is Selfie Nite

Some days are just devoid of inspiration. You want nothing more in the evening than to just hit the sack. And there’s merit in this–I am in full support of sack-hitting: sleep is the Great Restorer.

But sometimes, like exercise, it’s when you don’t want to do a thing that you should do that very thing. Starting a visual journal blog is fun. Keeping it up regularly is a different story. It’s when you are about a week into a new workout that it begins to hurt and you can either give up because of it or push through in spite of it, and end up being glad you did in the end.

Needless to say, tonight was one of those nights, but I wanted to draw something. I said in a previous post that self portraits are generally my go-to when all else fails, so for lack of something better and more creative and certainly more exciting than my face, I stuck with the fall-back plan.

Hey, at least my face is always there and always free. You gotta pay a model.

Leave It To The Cat

Ok folks, it’s B I G sketchbook time!

I’ve been running around with these itty-bitties all over the place for sketch outings, and I need a CHANGE OF SCENERY. Now, for travel or schlepping around the city or suburbs, believe me, a smaller sketchbook is your best bet–And I’ve tried hauling the big mamas. Not worth the lug–so, I am definitely not knocking the pocket journal. In fact, far from it: a good mid-sizer is probably still my favorite go-to.

However, maybe it’s the summer evening light. Maybe it’s my eyes. Maybe I’m just so tired and I need the extra physical space to even be able to draw something intelligible. Whatever the reason, I got an itching for a larger format after doing several sketches in my Strathmore 400 series mid-size sketchbook. Love the toned paper, but not the limitations. It always tends to feel like I’m drawing in a letter-box film: you might be able to fit in more, but darned if you have a hard time drawing what’s even there in the first place since you have to make it so microscopic.

And lo, Jerry’s Artorama to the rescue. Thanks, Jer. You’re the best.

Hens n’ Gin

When all else fails, grab a G & T and draw your backyard chickens.

As I await my recently-ordered art supplies from Jerry’s, (which I am as stoked about as a kid waiting for her Christmas presents,) I wanted to do some sketches of our chickens to perhaps use as a reference later on.

I’m not sure which is more difficult to draw: moving toddlers or moving chickens. Probably the toddler, since a chicken’s basic body shape is largely straight-forward. Draw a fortune-cookie-esque blob and you’ve pretty much nailed a chicken.

Either way, I’m convinced there’s nothing like sitting out on a cool evening listening to the wind swirl around you and watching chickens’ feathers ruffle in the breeze. Time to turn on some Sarah Jarosz and watch for lightening bugs.

Beat the heat. Watch the trash truck.

An outdoorsy toddler trapped indoors is not a fun thing.

It’s a bit like having a small chimpanzee roaming your house for several hours: I turn my back, and before I can say “Davey Crockett’s coon hat,” my son will have spilled his milk, climbed up onto the step stool next to the sink, grabbed a dirty sponge and shoved it in his mouth, and found some kind of semi-dangerous item somewhere and turned it into a toy/weapon/cat-dog torturing device. All of this in a space of a minute or two. Before having my M. I had naively thought that any decent parent worth their salt could easily tame the wild 1-year-old, bending him to their will with a stern look and an engaging book that their child could quietly and obediently read in a corner (HA!) Little did I know of the destruction an even slightly-bored toddler could leave in his wake, and all in the name of exploration and curiosity.

Luckily, it was trash day.

M. loves to watch the trash truck make its rounds. When I hear it come around the corner of our street, I say “It’s the trash truck! Let’s go see the trash truck!” and he will tear down the hallway to the front window and stare, studying that trash truck, open-mouthed, like it’s the most amazing thing in the world. Then, he will wave to it with his chubby little hands as it goes back up the street, begging it to come back (and subsequently throwing a tantrum when it finally disappears around the corner).

Oh, the highlights of a toddler’s life!

Neon Hazy Days

I don’t think there are enough colors in the world to properly portray how oppressively hot it was today. Even an ocean of neon pigment would not be able to illustrate the fuggy, muggy, unseasonably sweltering haze that seems to have taken up a semi-permanent residence in our neighborhood. Not even a whiff of a breeze was in sight this morning as my son and I took our daily stroll around the block—the hills seemed that much hillier, and the shadeless patches that much more relentlessly fiery.

Neocolor crayons on Strathmore 400 series tinted

Unfortunately I believe the heat wave that is currently crossing the US is still marching steadily and very very slowly onward with not an immediate end in sight, at least according to my weather app (which doesn’t seem to be able to make up its mind about the weather anyways, so go figure).

For now, it looks like I will remain hunkered down in the glorious breeze of the AC until further notice.

Hot Hockney and the Degas Blues

Today was hot. Like, high-noon in August at a New Orleans Jambalaya fest hot. So, rather than traipse outside with a paintbox, a sweat towel, and a gallon of iced tea, I stayed in and went with the sketch default: self portraiture! as my late friend and mentor once said, ”If it’s good enough for David Hockney, its good enough for me.”

Speaking of late and great, you know who we don’t talk about enough? Edgar Degas. Yes, his pastel paintings are all over mugs, cards and other kitschy paraphernalia, and I think—very unfortunately—his work has generally become, for most people, a tired old LP on repeat because of its ubiquitousness. But oh my goodness, HIS DRAWINGS. I mean, this guy is a master. He knows line, he knows shape, he knows shadow. He knows what to show and what to hide. And most important, he knows the value in simplicity.

So here you have it. One simple selfie in charcoal, with hopefully, more to come.