Posts Tagged ‘sketchbook’

Drawing Trees over the Holidays

November 22, 2016

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Get one form that looks like the tree, rather than little pickings at the branches. Give the tree its gesture. Some trees are heavy, ample and full. In a tree there is a spirit of life, a spirit of growth and a spirit of holding its head up.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

Now that the trees are casting their leaves up here in Missouri, I’m pulling out the pencils and sketchbook and trying to capture some of their movement, their essence.  Since I was a child, I stared at bare trees more than leafed-out ones, and I’m really not sure why.  I wasn’t drawing them as a child, and when I became an adult, I foolishly drew and painted trees for years out of my imagination rather than the way I do now–gazing at them, studying them, contemplating each one’s figure and portrait.

Andrew Wyeth for years has fascinated me with his tree studies in pencil and dry brush. More recently, I have purchased a book on Leonardo da Vinci’s tree studies. I could spend he rest of my life learning this craft, I believe.

Thanks for reading.

Working Sometimes from the Fact

November 17, 2016

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I can’t work completely out of my imagination. I must put my foot in a bit of truth; and then I can fly free.

Andrew Wyeth

It was 85 degrees in north Texas yesterday, November 16.  I have been impatiently waiting for fall weather and winter to follow.  One of the reasons is that I enjoy so much gazing at winter trees with their core anatomy on view.  Leaves, like clothing, conceal the tree’s essence, and I regret that living in the southwest, I see the bare trees for such a short span of the year.

I have posted the Andrew Wyeth quote because I feel those same sentiments.  Beginning last winter, I drew trees in pencil, rendering them as accurately as I could see them.  I know that Wyeth and Edward Hopper said that in later years they could work out of their imagination, no longer requiring the “fact” in front of their eyes for scrutiny.  I am not there yet; if I try and draw or paint something that I am not looking at, then it comes out looking like a cartoon or cheap illustration.

The tree above, I guess, is a hybrid.  I began drawing it from life Tuesday evening, as I awaited my artitistic friends for our weekly gathering at the cafe.  I didn’t get very far before they arrived.  So, I finished the drawing yesterday, using my imagination rather than a reference photo.  I’m satisfied with the result, and am now ready to move on to the next tree.  Unfortunately I spend my workdays indoors in an interior room without windows.  So I’ll have to wait . . .

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to understand.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

When the Imagination is Flat, Draw Anyway

January 22, 2016

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Books are for the scholar’s idle times. When he can read God directly, the hour is too precious to be wasted in other men’s transcripts of their readings. But when the intervals of darkness come, as come they must, — when the sun is hid, and the stars withdraw their shining, — we repair to the lamps which were kindled by their ray, to guide our steps to the East again, where the dawn is.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The American Scholar”

This advice from my beloved New England sage I have taken seriously throughout my adult life. As a schoolteacher, at least one idea begins percolating in my consciousness while getting ready to go to work every morning. That way, if the classroom dynamics are flat, I have something going on in my head worth exploring that makes the day better, anyway.

But this morning, of all rare times, nothing came. And as I moved through my classes, it never did come. Now that I am into my Friday night, with a welcoming weekend stretched out before me, I still have no idea to pursue. Following Emerson’s dictate, I now have a stack of quality books at my elbow. But before opening one of the volumes, I was struck by the thought: “Hey! You haven’t drawn or painted today! Do it.” But I didn’t feel like it. I did it anyway, and the drawing is posted above. Things are already looking up, and I am ready to read and relax into the rest of the night now. If nothing happens tonight, I’m confident that I’ll wake up with an Idea tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to learn.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

 

When the Day is Jammed . . .

January 21, 2016

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There are times like this day, when the public school schedule is so jammed with details, that one cannot find quality moments even to think, but just react. So . . . I decided to see what I could do during the mindless passing periods between classes (about seven minutes). Even when one has seven minutes here and seven minutes there, opportunities for sanctuary still present themselves. And so I retreat into the start of another drawing, with delight, knowing I could always finish the piece tonight in the studio, or tomorrow night, or . . .

Partial Tree Portrait

December 25, 2015

imageThe sketch hunter has delightful days of drifting about among people, in and out of the city going anywhere, everywhere, stopping as long as he likes–no need to reach any point, moving in any direction following the call of interests.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

While reading, I glanced up at the view out the window, found myself staring at a tree against the morning sky, and decided, “Well, why not?”  I never feel boredom when I stare into a network of tree branches, trying to discern their basic direction, and capturing it on a page with pencil.  The trees I draw from life are always much, much better than what I draw from out of my own imagination, because the trees are always doing much more than I perceive in my memory.  I don’t think I’ll ever tire of looking at them and trying to capture parts of them for the sake of future drawings and watercolors.

Thanks for looking . . .

A Sacred Space Where Word and Image Can Merge

July 30, 2015
Combined Text and Image in Drawing

Combined Text and Image in Drawing

And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Thanks to comments from my blogging friend Tony, and encouragement from Dinah Bowman, I’ve decided to explore further the possibility of sketchbook/journal art, allowing my thoughts to nestle alongside the images I attempt to draw and paint. For decades, this is how my mind has operated when imagination forms words and pictures. And yet, I can recall only Leonardo da Vinci among the artists who combined his sketchbook with his journals, the words meandering around and into his drawn images. For a number of years as an art teacher in public schools, I tried to establish this practice among my students, without success, as far as I could determine. A couple of years ago, a very gifted pair of twins in my A.P. Art History class daily sketched and wrote out their ideas in Moleskine journals, and seeing them do that inspired me to do it, from time to time, but not with consistency. Funny–I’ve had no problem maintaining journals and blogs without a break, but the sketchbook aspect just never seemed to stick with me. At any rate, I did buy a sketchbook a few weeks ago, when my last Moleskine journal was completely filled. And I have done more drawing in this sketchbook, though I frequently tear out the pages (hence the one posted above). I am determined to find my way in this endeavor.

My blogging friend Tony wrote, asking if I had the three pages presented in an earlier blog prepared for posting and reading. I did not. But a phone call to Dinah resulted in her sending me the images via email (she lives eight hours away, and now has my Laguna Madre portfolio for framing) and I am all-too-happy to post them this morning, Thank you for asking, Tony. These are for you. And Dinah, Tony and I both thank you for taking the time to photograph and send these.

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This is the very first watercolor I attempted while on the island in the Laguna Madre. Once completed, I disliked it, thinking it far too pale and devoid of contrast. Nevertheless, it was the first, and has been selected to be in my show this coming October. I like Dinah’s idea of adding my journal entry to the bottom. The plan is to float this watercolor sketch/journal entry in a frame, instead of cropping it with a mat as one would with a traditional watercolor.

This was watercolor number four, completed at the end of the first day of my island stay. Currently, the plan is to float this one in the frame as well, leaving the crimped edges with the staple holes showing (I had this one stretched over canvas stretchers while painting it).  When I stopped painting it (the evening had arrived and the light vanished) there was a considerable amount of negative area occupying the top half of the surface, and my idea was that it could nevertheless be cropped and matted, and presented as a vignette with a halo of light around the borders. Dinah suggested that I insert my journal entry onto this one as well–one of many reasons I am so glad for my obsessive/compulsive habit of keeping journals.

I have an interview later this morning with a free-lance journalist. He wants to write a column for the September issue of Arlington Today magazine about my Artist-in-Residence experience. This has been a gift that keeps on giving, and I am so thrilled at everyone who has reached out to me, allowing me to share this story. Daily, I am writing and revising my materials covering this Artist-in-Residency, hoping that a book could emerge. I have only published articles in magazines, but never wrote or illustrated an actual book. Now I am hoping I can carry out such a project, and as I proceed, I am looking for ways to combine my writing, drawing and painting into an acceptable art form. I thank you, my readers, for all your positive comments that encourage me to stay on this path.

Thanks always for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.