Posts Tagged ‘charcoal’

Enthusiasm Lurks in the Night Shadows

October 29, 2014
Ten-Minute Charcoal Erasure at Trinity Arts Guild

Ten-Minute Charcoal Erasure at Trinity Arts Guild

Nothing great was every achieved without enthusiasm.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dare to strike out and find new ground.

Mr. Keating (played by Robin Williams) in “Dead Poets Society”

I am trembling as I write this.  Tonight I did my volunteer “gallery sitting” at the Trinity Arts Guild gallery at the Bedford Boys Ranch, as is my custom on most Wednesday nights.  It’s always quiet here, and I hate it when I spend the entire time grading papers.  Tonight I brought some still life objects from my man cave and some charcoal drawing supplies.  I spent nearly ninety minutes working on stuff for my A. P. Art History class tomorrow.  But all the while, I had this itch that would not go away.  I kept thinking about my afternoon experience of doing charcoal erasure for the first time in my life, and remembered my workshop participants over this past weekend discussing how their art always turned a corner when they got out of their comfort zone.  So, pushing my textbook and laptop aside, I trained a spotlight on this old lantern, sat down with charcoals and paper, and began.  After ten minutes I just had to stop.  The experience was too wonderful to describe. Like this afternoon, I covered my subject area with smears of rich charcoal, then got out a kneaded eraser and began drawing the highlights of the lantern, beginning at the top and stopping before I finished the globe.  As I continually watched with amazement the lighted surfaces of the lantern emerging from the darkness beneath my fingers, I just couldn’t bear the excitement.  This was truly a different, breath-taking experience in my solitary studio.  I decided to go ahead and post a snapshot of my setting before packing my materials and heading back to the house.  I still have school work to do, and wonder right now if I will “do the right thing” as pertains to my job, or indulge a little more in these studio experiences.  I have missed them so.

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.

Living in the Shadow

October 29, 2014
First Charcoal Attempt at Still Life Since High School

First Charcoal Attempt at Still Life Since High School

Between the idea

And the reality

Between the motion

And the act

Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom

 

Between the conception

And the creation

Between the emotion

And the response

Falls the Shadow

Life is very long

T. S. Eliot, “The Hollow Men”

Shortly after I rose from bed this morning, I checked my phone for emails and found my “artist daily” message (http://www.artistdaily.com/) discussing the possibilities of erasure drawings with charcoal.  I had read in the past about Willem de Kooning’s erasure drawings, but I had never tried that technique for myself.  Thinking over my recent desire to create a large watercolor still life composition emphasizing a dimly-lit interior replete with shadows, I decided immediately that I needed to give this a try.  I have found it very difficult to paint dark compositions in watercolor, the paper surface is so bright, and I am a stickler for working in the transparent medium of watercolor.  I knew I needed to find my way to the shadows.  T. S. Eliot’s words were stirring in my imagination.

Coming home from school, I entered my newly-reconstituted garage/mancave, put on a VHS tape of Willem de Kooning, and set to work with charcoals, a kneaded eraser and an old flat brush formerly used in oil painting.  With these three tools in hand, I sketched quickly, first covering the paper surface with a dark layer of charcoal, then using the eraser and brush to highlight and mid-tone the objects.  I felt an unusual delight as I watched the shapes emerge from the gloomy atmosphere, and felt a connection with greatness, knowing de Kooning had been trained in these kinds of drawing techniques while a young art student in Holland.

No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone.  His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists.  You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead.  I mean this as a principle of aesthetic, not merely historical, criticism.

T. S. Eliot, “Tradition adn the Individual Talent”

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.

Peeling Back the Layers of the Watercolor Still Life

January 1, 2013
Watercolor Still Life in the Man Cave

Watercolor Still Life in the Man Cave

Ernest Hemingway could not write about Michigan until he was in Paris, and could not write about Paris until he had returned to the United States.  On this first day of the New Year, I am returning to my ninth grade in House Springs Missouri, at Northwest High School.  In Proustlike fashion, this still life with the kerosene lantern is transporting me back to my Art I class, period 1, when we walked into class and saw a collection of at least fifteen objects assembled in the middle of the classroom, and the table arranged in a circle about the perimeter.  Each of us was given a full-size sheet of newsprint paper (perhaps 18 x 24″), a charcoal pencil, a blending stump and a kneaded eraser.

Immediately, a girl protested: “Mr. Scucchi, I cannot fit all that on this paper!” Coolly, the teacher replied: “Did you ever draw a house?”  Discussion over.  Time to draw.

At college there was an ancient Greek vase on the table in the seminar room where our class in Greek was held.  Fresh from Michigan, I had never seen anything before with lines so simple and yet so beautiful, and I marveled at it day after day.  In those hours of a student’s trancelike wonder there was born the resolve, unconscious at first, to go to Greece. 

The Art I students would sit before this giant still life for three weeks, fifteen instructional periods.  And in those periods, I became lost in wonder at the kerosene lantern, the focal point (for me) to this immense pile of objects that included a jug, a Ruffino wine bottle with straw bottom, corn scoop, football helmet, antique water pump, bricks and drapery.

With charcoal pencil and blending stump, I became absorbed with the textures of the kerosene lantern, the complications of a smoky globe with highlights and scratches and thin wires wound about it, the rusted and pitted armature catching highlights and absorbing shadows, the thinness of the bail that arced above the lantern, and the issues of rendering this delicate piece of iron with charcoal as it presented itself as a string of highlights, mid-tones and shadows.  I realize now that, as a ninth-grader, I was not as dull as I and my peers had regarded me.  It is a certainty that I was not academically astute or interested, but during those days I realized that I was visually alert and interested in these objects.

No Ideas but in Things.