I’m convinced that my theory is like Einstein’s Theory of Relativity: not necessarily provable enough to be a law, yet it’s still so undeniably true that it should be a law anyway.
September is the month when the crazies emerge.
I don’t know why this is, but I can prove it’s true because when I sat down to sketch justsome of the weirdness I’ve come across over the last two days, I was flipping through my sketchbook and saw I had recorded the same kinds of weirdness on the exact same dates last year.
Coincidence? Certainement pas.
I don’t know what it is about September that makes The Strange happen.
Is it the barometric pressure? An astrological alignment? Or has it something to do with the atmospheric change in the Southeast when the seasons change from sweltering August to still-sweltering September?
Does the annual arrival of the much-anticipated PSL strike such a desperate yearn for cooler temperatures that the hoards of pumpkin-spice-addicts become completely unhinged when the realization hits that NC’s September weather will NEVER deliver on the Insta-cozy, cottage-core vibe they were hoping would suddenly imbue their souls after their first sip?? Does this unhinged-ness then propel itself into the atmosphere, coating everything it touches like so many motes of pollen?
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.
I had a realization yesterday afternoon that just about shook me to the core.
I was toying around again with the idea of going back to a personal project I had shelved more than a year ago, (more on that to come), and had even hauled out my watercolors to start painting, when a distinctly and increasingly uncomfortable feeling began creeping up my spine. As I watched the painted sections dry, a sudden awareness came into focus like a developing polaroid: I no longer like to work in watercolor the way I have been. The worst part? I can’t remember a recent time when I did.
For an artist whose current career has been built on a certain medium, this is akin to waking up one morning and suddenly realizing that you have been in a souring relationship for many years and despite your numerous, desperate attempts to save it, it has, in fact, gone permanently south.
And, like many relationships that fall apart, there have been obvious (ignored) signs along the way. So many signs that you feel like a total idiot for not recognizing them in the first place. (Or, perhaps, it was the refusal to recognize them).
I’m not saying it’s time to chuck, along with my brushes, every single tube of Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton out the window, but this is a sure sign I need to step back, scrub out my old painting palette, reevaluate, and ask myself some questions. Maybe I need to expand my current color palette? Maybe I need to try some dyes? Maybe I need to take a seriously long break from watercolor altogether.
The long and short of it is, the current situation of this “relationship” needs to drastically change. I don’t know what it will look like in the end, but for now, there’s a road ahead of me and I have to travel it.
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.
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.
Happy Saturday! I know it has been several days since I have posted, but hopefully the wait will have been worth it since I had to spend some time filming and troubleshooting a: (drum-roll please…) time-lapse video for the first timeever!
That’s right, folks. Today you get to see one of my drawings come to life before your very eyes–several hours worth of work blitzing by in a matter of seconds for your viewing pleasure! (And maybe for your inspiration as well.)
As you can see in the video, this piece is a bit larger and more involved than most of the work I have been posting here of late, so it was filmed over two days. Unfortunately, on the second day my filming angle got a bit off-kilter, but you get the bonus of seeing my wonderful mother-in-law drop in to chat with me about family resemblance and the dog chase our cat out of the frame (Ah, family life!)
As a double bonus you get to hear my lilting voice describe a few of the techniques I’m using so any viewer can take those little nuggets of knowledge and apply them to their own pastel adventures, too.
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.
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?