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.


Here’s Looking At You

Is there a better subject from which to practice monotypes than film noir movie scenes?

Nope, I’m not sure there is.

Among the many things I love in life–including chocolate, fresh bread, a good Gin and Tonic, and cute, chonky little baby thighs–is a classic old film noir (or really any old classic film, for that matter).

A couple of years ago (was it really that long ago?? Alas, I think it was!) I re-watched “Casablanca” for about the umpteenth time. Let me tell you, Bogey never gets old, and neither do his movies. Although he might have smoked like a chimney and drank like a fish and probably had about a million personal issues, he sure could make a movie.

And so, my latest print is inspired from such a movie–in fact, I had such fun that I might make this into a print series. HOW RAD would that be? I could watch my way into a monoprint series!

I think I feel a “Maltese Falcon” viewing coming on…

Here’s looking at you, kid.

Sunny Days in Monoprint

Tonight I got the Akua ink out and tried something completely new to me–monoprinting! (I have the ink because I usually use it for wood block printing.)

“How hard can it be?” I said to myself.

Answer: very hard.

Now, maybe it’s because it’s so late at night (for me, anyway) or that I am on a time crunch to get some kind of small sketch done–regardless of what it is or how it turns out–in a timely manner about every other day, but I’ve always found subtractive art processes to very difficult. I am very much an additive art gal, and thinking backwards ESPECIALLY after a long day kind of hurts my brain. So please cut this gal some slack.

For those unfamiliar with the monoprinting technique, What you basically have is a plate of clear glass or plastic over white paper that you coat with dark ink and then ERASE in varying degrees with a Q tip and/or rag to bring out your white tones. Blacks can always be made blacker, but whites really can’t be made whiter after pulling a print. The “mono” in monoprint means “one,” which means you get only one print, as opposed to a linoleum or wood block, which can yield as many prints as you can stand to do.

I wonder what the gal in my picture is thinking. Any ideas?

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.

Blue Girl Waiting

I used to be vehement (adamant?) about drawing from life in the sketchbook. While it is true I still hold the sentiment that one of the best forms of artistic discovery does lie in drawing from observation, (and ya just CAN’T draw a bicycle or horses correctly from memory) I’ve since modified this belief for several reasons. Principally, since becoming a mom my time has become a series of slots throughout the day, most of which are taken up by caring for my toddler, M. The rest of the slots are generally allotted for chores (no longer having ANY clean underwear, for example) or appointments. This leaves just a very small slot for me in the evenings to draw, so I need to figure out what to sketch, and fast.

Sometimes the opportunity presents itself for drawing from observation, other times I utilize reference photos I take myself, and sometimes–like today– I’ll just dream up something. The mental image usually comes to me at some point throughout the day, making itself clearer as the day progresses, only to be completely sharpened once I put it to paper.

I mentioned I’ve been on an “old masters” kick recently (Maybe not the old old masters…more like the 19th century-masters? The Impressionistic masters?) and because of this I’ve rediscovered the luscious, page-scratchingly tasty wonders of compressed and vine charcoal. In fact, I think I’m falling in love!

Sorry, watercolors, we might need to take a little break. It’s not you, it’s me. Promise.

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!

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.