Monday, April 14, 2014

New Views

A re-post of a 5 X 7 painting from my old series of Maine landscapes & seascapes.
View from Mount Battie, looking out to Penobscot Bay. 

Time to take a pause. For awhile. Spring, a time for shifts in energy & activity! Re-birth!

Some excerpts from Ecclesiastes 3 come to mind:

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose...
...A time to plant and a time to harvest...
...A time to be silent & a time to speak...

I add:

A time to listen...A time to learn...
A time to experiment...And a time to explore the unfamiliar...

I still hope to leave comments on your wonderful blogs, my blog friends, because I love visiting them & getting to know you & seeing glimpses of your worlds & learning from you. And I thank those of you who leave me such wonderfully positive & warm comments. And those of you who visit but don't comment. And those of you who have become penpals because of our blogs.

For my local visitors, I'll be at Art in The Park again this year, Saturday, August 9th.  Happy Spring!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Season of Accounting

'Tis the Season of Accounting.
I have at least 7 different graph paper pads...

...& some notebooks quadrillé that range from dime store variety to fine imported products from 
Rock Paper Scissors, the paper shop in Wiscasset! 

They're not the reason it's easier for me to do accounts these days, but they make it more enjoyable! 
No computer spreadsheets: Paper & pens all the way!
Perhaps I'd rather be painting squares, or dancing a quadrille,
or playing the ball game of 4-Square or playing Hopscotch, 
as we did in childhood.
But, this time, I'm almost looking forward to working with those little number things!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Celebrating Arrival of Spring in Harvard Square: Photos

Harvard Square, Cambridge, facing Harvard University. 
A great place to celebrate a (FINALLY!) REAL spring day! 
Entering Harvard Yard from Mass. Ave.
Surprise! An artist who was also part performer
as he interacted with his passing audience.
He's a graduate student and 
he's going to paint various other Harvard views.
Signs of Spring on a New England college campus!
Who belongs to the little bike, I wonder? 
(Sharon, you probably have the story!)
Great public transportation in the whole Boston area.
Tiny transportation waiting for bigger subway transportation.
Transportation that is occupied displaying flowers.
All the flower shop doors are open! After months of gray:
Here is COLOR!!
 People are buying pussy willows like crazy!
More transportation that is taking a break with its rider. 
Benches are filled with folks reading...
 Everywhere people reading...
Aaaah, reading by sunlight with a cool breeze...
Maybe the readers bought books from one of the 7 or so book shops in the area.
 (There used to be many more. Then came the Internet...) 
One of the remaining bookstores is Schoenhofs Foreign Books. 
Founded in 1856, it's the largest foreign language bookstore in America.
Learning materials in over 700 languages & dialects & 
fiction & non-fiction & children's books in 50 languages. 
All over Cambridge you hear so many languages!
While I was browsing the French children's books 
the nice bookseller put French music on for me. 
Did you know that April 2 was International Children's Book Day?
Out of Town News is right in the heart of Harvard Square.  
It almost went out of business due to the advent of online periodicals, but
in 2009 a new owner saved it. And I am thrilled he did. 
 Folks on this fine day are reading in outdoor cafés...
And chatting.
 These guys are eating & chatting too. But not reading...
If you stop to carefully look, they are really pretty.
This sunny day reminds me that soon it will be summer hat season.
For an authentic Panama Hat go to the gorgeous Goorin Brothers Hat Shop,
a family business established in 1895. And they have a nice selection of 
pretty feathers for your cap (for a pretty price, though).
 Don't forget your sun hat when you are hanging out in the park at Harvard Square,
listening to music (& reading or chatting).
If you & your spirit have never done that, I highly recommend it!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Continuous Line Contour Drawing

I've always liked Nicolaides' technique of contour drawing in The Natural Way to Draw. Trains the eye, & the hand to work with the eye. The pure method asks that you don't take your eyes off the subject. (Definitely unsettling but good learning.)

I just got brave & tried a new version of contour drawing: Not (almost not, in my case) lifting the pen. You start in one spot & just keep drawing with a continuous (almost continuous, in my case) line. It's interesting to focus on one small part at a time of the whole view, & it does get you out of preconceived notions of what the things are & into observing their abstract lines & forms. It's a surprise to see that at the end, a whole composition has filled the page. It almost feels like it did it on its own.
(This scene is a view to the kitchen counter, drawn while I was listening to a TV show.)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Thoughts on Different Approaches to Drawing

An India ink sketch copied (not traced) from a quick life sketch.  The above is missing some of the of natural life force or fluidity that I see in my direct sketch below.  

It was another cold, gray day as I sketched from my car at a small public beach/boat landingNo boats yet, no beach combers or swimmers. But, there was a car with a running-revving engine (they were probably trying to keep warm). The sound, contradicted the serene scene before me, agitated me, so I left as fast as I could. The sketch was quicker than it might have been, but in the end, that proved to be fine because it forced a simple essence of what I had observed.  

I added slight color back home. Moleskine sketchbook, 71/4 X 71/2 is a great size, but doesn't like watercolor.

My old drawing teacher said that each section of a drawing should make an interesting abstract composition of its own. (I played with this in my last post.)
Cropping is an interesting process. It often changes my initial idea & eliminates the spirit with which I began. It's more mechanical than intuitive, but it can be, to my mind, a valid way to obtain an image. 
The film Tim's Vermeer got me thinking about mechanical tools in drawing as the film raises the question: Is the use of such tools cheating? The polar opposite of Tim Jenison's methodology might be Frederick Franck's The Zen of Seeing. I guess it comes down to the purpose of drawing. Both experiences involve a focused, meditative state. Both have the objective of recording what one sees, but accuracy is more important in the former, expression in the latter. Of course, one's approach to drawing, as with anything, depends on personality type as directed by one's brain. Lucky is the person who is in harmony with his or her own gifts from the brain.

A new phrase I keep seeing is "Drawing as Reportage". I think it's how Urban Sketchers define what they do. Tim's process as he copied a Vermeer painting, using a camera obscura & mirrors, while taking artistic talent & in Tim's case all around genius, made me think of my paint by numbers kit when I was a kid (I never got very far with them).  Franck's process, on the other hand is more about how he & uniquely he is experiencing the scene before him. His end drawings have neither the precision or polish of Vermeer's, but they are full of human spirit.
I think Rembrandt's drawings combine both stunning accuracy, beautiful marks, & tremendous human & spiritual expression. Also worth exploring: Leonardo's scientific approaches to drawing. Techniques in Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. My favorite drawing methods in Nicolaides' The Natural Way to Draw. Perhaps it is the most physical approach. 
Then there is tracing: I think one enters a different sort of artistic zone with tracing than with Nicolaides' contour & gesture observational drawing or with Franck's method. It is interesting to me that the development of the camera & computer hasn't wiped out the urge to draw directly on paper. Children seem to still love direct drawing & many adults continue to develop their practice.

Voilà: Some thoughts on Different Approaches to Drawing.
Welcoming your thoughts.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Winter Is Stuck

Above, about a square inch section from 
a colorful drawing from last fall (so so long ago...)

Some vivid ocean blues are returning on the sunny days, 
but grays still dominate on many. 
Dull golden & faded green plots of grass are starting to peek through old patches of snow...
There was so much movement & change in color & light before this intense winter gripped the landscape. 

Winter seems stuck, unable to yield to new birth. 
Rather than buds, I see broken limbs from yet another storm. Much of the state got more snow...
Everywhere people are saying,  "I'm tired of winter, 
 I'm ready for spring."

Thursday, March 20, 2014

From the Sketchbook: Dining Alone

Growing up, my understanding was that to dine alone was not socially acceptable. My mother, when my father would be away, would go out alone to the movies & to restaurants. I thought she was courageous. I tried it in my young adult years but was never comfortable with it. 

In our current café's it is most acceptable to be alone, but it seems one must have a newspaper, a book or a device. Society tells us we must be connected, even while eating.
Top sketch was made in a bakery café in Rockland where I was focusing on spatial perspective.The bottom one is from Wild Willy's restaurant in South Portland. I felt sad seeing this man who was actually eating alone without reading. Was I projecting my own feelings onto him? Was he a widower? Was I remembering that even though my mom went out alone, I sensed that she lonely without my father? I suspect that a lot of older people who are alone don't go out much into the world. Which can lead to isolation, which can lead to sadness. I wonder, dear friend, what your thoughts are.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Saint Patrick's Day

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
(the little rainbow is real, from my window prism) 
I've heard it's more of a holiday in America than in Ireland? 
I like the "May the...May you..." blessings that come from 
the Irish culture. Click on the image to read some.
 About that paintbox or palette: This is my latest. I bought it empty & filled it with my Winsor Newton paints from tubes. My limited palette is when I choose 3 to 6 of these colors. 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Conscious Mind: Busy

N'importe quelle saison, j'adore les couleurs claires, brillantes, éclatantes. 
(kocham kolory, for my Polish friends)

(Translation: No matter what the season I love bright colors...)
In my next life perhaps I'll be a quilter.

I'm learning to subdue & limit my landscape palettes in order to achieve harmony, but it's fun to break loose into free doodling, especially during a foreign language phone converstion which requires lots of my mental focus. "Sorry, I'm too busy to censor or dictate to you at the moment," says the conscious mind to the unconscious. "Yeehaw," shouts the unconscious.
carolg at Paris Breakfasts teaches her "Blob Method" of exploring paint in posts on her blog. She's tried so hard to get me to put my pen down. Petit à petit, I explore. I have a new Moleskine 81/4 X 5" watercolor book that I'm keeping downstairs with the paintbox & brush just for this purpose. I'm naming it Sans stylo: (Without pen). (or Bez pióra, I think that's correct, for my Polish friends.)

Speaking of bright & éclatante, that is the light of the sun today! Yeehaw!!

Friday, March 14, 2014

New Snow

Snow ALL day yesterday, which gave me permission to do lots of indoor filing & organizing (yes, I went away from the "art door", see previous post, thanks for sharing your experiences with that, really helpful.) 

The view out the window at 7AM this morning was startling. At first glance it seemed all white, but upon slower observation: so much color! Morning light & shadows change so quickly, I LOVE their drama. 

I've been avoiding observing the outdoors, kind of fighting with the reality of winter cold & dirty snow. But I'm accepting this March snow, even though it isn't considered "right". After all, Calendar Spring is supposed to arrive soon. There may be snow but still, the birds are singing.

Something new: Keeping a paintbox & sketchbook in the living room. Handy. You never know when you're hit with a flash, a sudden need to observe something. Have to act fast. Those of you with cameras know what that's like...

Something else: My new "Luma Bleed-Proof White Opaque Watercolor". Cool. Can even "erase" with it. Opaque watercolor (gouache) & oils or acrylics: A different energy than with watercolors. They're on my To Explore Further List.

Something else new: I have a new ritual, a "Word of the Day" that I sort of listen for as I wake. (I'm borrowing this from Library Jewel.) Today it was "Learn" because I need to study French & go to a class. But I'm adding in "New". March, is a great time for opening to the New. Sort of simple, but I like the way it helps me focus.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Stuck Door: Push Harder?

Just as with physical exercise, a gal can get out of shape when 
she doesn't work with her sketchbook every day.

When you feel like there's a stuck door between you 
& the form of expression you enjoy,
is it better to stay & keep pushing/practicing, 
(even though everything you do turns to a Major Nothing), 
or is it better to go away & do something else?

I think it depends,
but I'd love to learn your ideas & experience.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Boston, Cambridge & Robins

Back from the big city. And a flock of Robins is back from somewhere, outside the 2nd floor window! There must be 20 or so, flying from tree to tree & to the ground, & a group was sunning itself in my tree.
We took the train to Boston...and back...North Station.
A view from another window, our hotel at  Kendall Square & Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge. We were on the 21st floor, looking across the Charles River! Was it a bit of the luck of the Irish before the annual, Huge Saint Patrick's Day celebration that got us this room?
The Museum of Science: "Our Global Kitchen: Food, Nature, Culture." (& history, economics, ecology, anthropology, biology, geography...) Kids running around, me taking notes...
 Some beautiful displays including old fashioned large scale dioramas, plus models, films & interactive technology.
Besides Harvard Square with its international college population & foreign language book store, the MIT Museum was a high point with articifical intelligence (Robots!) & mobile machine sculptures by Arthur Ganson. (Click here for more.)

Maybe someday there will only be Robin Robots (created by brilliant minds at MIT), but for today, back here at home, I'm glad to see the old fashioned kind...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Veggies Ready to Deliver!

5" X 7"  Arches hot press paper
 Finished veggies, ready to deliver! Yay!

9 X 12" Arches hot press.
Prescription for a gray snowy day: Paint vegetables!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The End of the Alphabet!

I made it to Z. Yay & Youpi!! (see previous alphabet posts)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

More Joyful Vegetables

Above, 9 X 12, in process

Why Veggies?
1. Maine has wonderful sustainable-local-organic-farming-market activity. (News: Our new candidate for governor has pledged to focus on local farming in our state as well as tourism! Imagine, state government support for small farms, farmer's markets & local artisans & artists!) 
2. Veggies~so healthy to eat!

I still keep wanting my work to happen fast. If I rush, I'll miss the process of discovery & of making connections. And yet, I still have the tendency to want things to happen quickly.