With company over last weekend and this week shaping up to be very full as well–we have a toddler starting a Mommy and Me gymnastics class and a husband who has started school again–I haven’t found the energy to post something lately.
So: for now, here is a quick sketch of M., happily stacking plastic rings after dinner this evening.
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:
Whenat 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.
There is something about pastel to which I keep getting drawn. (Yes, yes, very punny.)
Maybe it’s because it is a drawing implement that you actually PAINT with, (and that is, in fact, its proper term–if you use pastel, you say that you “paint” with it, as opposed to drawing with it.) yet there is not water or brush involved.
It’s like the best of both worlds, sans drying time and plus portability.
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.
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.
Aside from the fact that the above sentence sounds like either a bad book title or something a hillbilly might tell his doctor when asked what is ailing him, we do, in fact, have a whole family of possums lurking in our crawlspace.
We first caught a possum on a Ring camera we have outside, and after several nights we noticed one possum became two, then four, then six, and then one large one started carrying some nesting material back and forth with its tail. Obviously, this posse of possums found a great piece of real estate and they were MOVIN’ IN.
We will probably end up calling someone to relocate them, but in the meantime we had a fun date hanging out back in the cooling breeze of a summer sunset, waiting to see if any of our new possum friends decided to poke its head around the corner and greet us.
It can be very hard sometimes to limit myself to just a few implements, and there is something to be said for “kitchen sink drawings,” however, it is often best to just grab a couple of markers or a pen or a pencil or whatever is in front of you and go to it, especially when time is of the essence.
For example: this drawing was done in about 10 minutes flat, as my friend sat on the couch and tried to distract my toddler while he was angrily flinging books in my face, slapping my knees with toys, and getting increasingly more agitated at my lack of attention.
Needless to say, I drew FAST.
And honestly? I think this is one of my better drawings. So: once again, less is more, and I’m back to trying to heed the advice of Martin Salisbury of letting the “approach serve the drawing’s purpose” and no more.
Often, the most bland photographs make for the best drawings. (Likewise, the best photographs make the worst drawings. No one looks good in a drawing when they are smiling. EVER. And I stand by that!)
Take this one, for example.
As I said in a prior post, it is best to draw from life–especially if you aren’t very familiar with drawing the human figure–but this is not always possible once you step outside of art school. People generally have very little time or patience to sit for long periods of time like a paid model is willing to do.
This picture was just a snap shot, one of those you take with your phone that you’ll likely completely forget about soon afterwards. However, it stood out to me in a way that all of the other smiling family portraits did not. The composition of the figures, the positioning of the limbs and fabric (ok, I added the stripes. Artistic license.) and the contemplative look on both girls’ faces screamed to be turned into a drawing.
You know how at some fine dining establishments they often have those dishes that are supposedly served “two ways?”
Well, here is my friend, Lora, who now appears on tonight’s blog in two ways!
The below image is a pencil sketch I made in order to create a trace monotype print (like the image from the last post), only this time I used standard Kozo paper (a good idea–the Strathmore was really too thick for it, and I knew that at the time, but I figured what the heck, why not give it a try?) and burnt sienna Akua ink to give the finished product a warmer tone.
I drew the sketch during lunch–dodging M’s spaghetti-flinging and meeting his rowdy, medieval tavern-esque demands for more milk–in the hopes that it would save me time on the printmaking end, which it did. Huzzah! This also means an earlier bedtime for me, DOUBLE-HUZZAH!
Many people erroneously think they would make terrible models.
“Oh, I couldn’t,” they say, and list off a myriad of excuses, “I’m not attractive enough. I’m too tall/short/old/petite, I don’t like my face/arms/flab/wrinkles/scars”…you name it.
But I’m convinced something magical happens when a person is drawn.
One of my college professors once told me about a figure drawing session in which the model, after taking a look at all of the artist’s studies of her, said, “Wow, is that me? I didn’t know I looked that good!” To which, everyone responded emphatically, “UM, YES! You do look that good!”
And guess what? The model was a regular person. not a swimsuit model, not a runway model, not a Maybelline model, not super young, not super fit, just….an average person with an average life.
We artists see the beautiful in the average. So go ahead, artists: talk your friends into sitting for you in a drawing session. They may be pleasantly surprised.