Archive for the ‘charcoal’ Category

Drawing from the Shadows

October 8, 2015
Charcoal Drawing from the Shadows

Charcoal Drawing from the Shadows

Good morning! One of my blogging friends posted, asking if I had ever drawn something, beginning with the shadows. It prompted me to remember something I tried only once about a year ago. Below I have posted the link to the blog entry I did back then.

So, why did I not repeat this effort? A worthy question. Simply, I forgot! I suppose life happened and I re-entered a crazy, convoluted world that combined high school and university teaching, along with art festivals and business in general. I just simply did not go back and repeat a successful charcoal attempt of covering the paper with a shade, and then using an eraser to draw the highlights. I recall that the last thing I did was take a stick of vine charcoal and draw a few dark details.

I am certain that I have this drawing lying flat in a darkened closet somewhere, waiting for a mat and frame. I never sprayed it with any kind of fixative, fearing it would stain the paper. I suppose it is time to find it and frame it. I did like the result then, and, looking at the photo, still like the overall appearance of the composition.

My thanks to your inquiry!

Ringing the Bell for Recess!

March 4, 2015
A Cozy Night in the Studio

A Cozy Night in the Studio

As I ponder’d in silence,

Returning upon my poems, considering, lingering long,

A Phantom rose before me with distrustful aspect,

Terrible in beauty, age, and power,

The genius of poets of old lands, 

As to me directing like flame its eyes,

With finger pointing to many immortal songs,

And menacing voice, What singest thou? it said,

Know’st thou not there is but one theme for ever-enduring bards? . . .

Walt Whitman, “As I Ponder’d in Silence”

At 8:50 this evening, the joyful message arrived: “Due to inclement weather, classes tomorrow are cancelled!” I felt like an elementary student when the recess bell rings. Two days ago, I scratched out some time to play with and blog my “Harold and the Purple Crayon” watercolor sketch, and just ached to return to the studio yesterday, but too much school stuff intervened, and next thing I knew, the hour was late and I had to retire to bed. Today was a grueling A. P. Art History stretch of classes. But now, I’m free again, a sailor on a 24-hour pass! A student sprinting toward the swing set!

For a few days, I’ve wanted to begin a series of charcoal sketches of a bust I own of Democritus. He sits peering at me through the darkness, just outside the pallor of my desk lamp late nights and pre-dawn mornings. And as I study, I’m always conscious of his presocratic contribution toward the discussion of what lies at the core of Being. The Greek word archē is difficult to translate with facility. We use it to form words like archaeology, architect, archbishop, etc. It refers to the chief, the source, the head, the first. The presocratic thinkers debated among themselves as to what it was that lay at the headwaters of all that Is.

The Whitman poem has haunted me recently, because he felt the chill from the witnesses of antiquity looking over his shoulder when he struggled to give birth to something sublime through his verses. I also feel that shudder when I’m thinking in solitude, writing in my journal, reading pensively, or leaning over a drafting table trying to carve onto the surface of paper some kind of image in the name of Art.

As temperatures outside slide into the 20’s and snow fills the black night sky, I’m delighed to be inside with coffee, my books and art supplies, the sounds of Mozart’s String Quartets coming from my turntable, and a heart filled with gratitude.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to remember.

I journal whenI feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Form over Composition, Stupid!

November 8, 2014
Sketching in the Man Cave

Sketching in the Man Cave

Getting Used to Charcoal Materials

Getting Used to Charcoal Materials

You must be able to copy nature before you have the right to translate it in your own language.

Antoine Bourdelle

The above quote was from the sculptor Antoine Bourdelle who had been trained by Auguste Rodin. He was passing that advice on to the young Joseph Campbell, and today I spent quite a lot of time reading Joseph Campbell material.  The quote above I take to heart, because I recognize the necessity of developing a skill set for copying objects as they appear to us.  On that note, I confess that I still do not draw enough, and I’ve been bothered by that fact enough over the past several weeks to correct some bad habits.

In the Man Cave, I’ve been assembling a still life for my next serious full-size watercolor.  Today I sat down to the drafting table and attempt to sketch the composition with vine charcoal, and did not like the results.  About an hour after I had given up on the task, it occurred to me that I was trying to sketch the entire composition, not the individual objects.  I felt stupid. In my A.P. Art History classes, I try to get my students to focus on the individual forms that create an oveall composition rather than try to comprehend the entire work from the initial sighting.  And here I was today, trying to study the entire subject instead of focusing on small areas.  I went back into the Cave later this afternoon and tried a fresh start, beginning with just the coffee can, and then trying out the coffee pot:

Simplifying my Study

Simplifying my Study

Now I’m feeling better about the direction I’m taking.  I’ll get to the overall composition when I’m ready, and make some decisions on how I want this watercolor to emerge.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.