Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Thinking in Cicadas

I didn't want to go to class last night, I had been feeling under the weather. But it was the last one and I forced myself along.
After a few minutes of drawing, I felt quite well again.  Below is the result, a cicada from above and beneath on toned paper. When I first started the drawing I gave up as I thought it was too small. As always, my teacher encouraged me to keep going. It is simple advice and it is always correct.

This detailed work is like deep thought. I examined the cicada in every detail from every angle. I noticed the tiny ridges and markings, marveling at the precise detail nature had given the insect despite its diminutive size. It's wings, after years of lifelessness, still maintained a luster and color that would rival a stained glass window.
As my teacher observed, the patterns of its body and head are reminiscent of an Egyptian tomb, the colors reminded me also of those rich hues that Klimt used.  Unfortunately I don't think I did them justice here.

When taking a break, I thought about Frida Kahlo after the accident that was to change her life forever. Art must have been a tremendous release to someone like herself, in pain and confined. I am still amazed that more of us don't do it. There are of course other ways to feel that release and drawing or painting are only two of them. 

My teacher was Peter Loewer.  Illustrator, artist, writer, natural historian, teacher.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Color on a Monday

This little picture doesn't do the pansies in our garden justice. It's the time of year when they seem to be happiest. I experimented with watercolors here for the first time in about twenty years.

I had a box as a teenager that my parents bought me. Opening a little box of paint that is all yours feels very good. I didn't think I liked watercolors, the examples I had seen of them were rather twee and traditional.

Look at the work of Dez'Mon Omega for some remarkable examples of watercolors.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

About a Bone

This bone has been my companion for a couple of weeks. I borrowed it from my teacher who generously lets us take home objects to work on from his wonderful collection. As beautiful and intriguing as all his objects were, there was something about this bone I took to immediately. Origins are unknown. The yellowy white color of it was pleasing as well as the shape that reminded me of a spaceship.

When I was younger my parents took me to, I think, the home of Graham Sutherland in Pembrokeshire. I remember finding his collection of 'objets trouve' fascinating and started my own.  Those items are long gone, sadly. However this class is inspiring me to start this collection again. When I looked at the bone, the memories of that trip became vivid.

Back to the bone. I few weeks ago I did my first rendering of it with a bamboo reed pen and in the last class, after my drawings of the leaves, I did this sketch. It took less than half an hour, and I surprised myself with assured I felt when doing it. I felt I knew where the shading should be, how to blend the colors - as if I was channeling someone else. It was an intense and fleeting experience that I hope I have again.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014


It is interesting how the mind's eye betrays. Ideas that I am so sure of, in execution disappoint. The automatic reaction is frustration. Except the more I do and the less I think, the more I  am discovering.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Truth! Beauty!

When I left my class last night, I looked up at the sky in the creeping dusk and saw a moon of tempera set in a sky of Indian ink, clouds seemed to be sketched across it. Turning to the retreating sun, it lit the clouds like Turner. I drove with the windows down, smelling the greenery as I went through the River Arts District and felt much like George Emerson in 'A Room with a View' ready to shout out my creed of 'Truth! Beauty'.

Friday, 9 May 2014

An Experiment in Video

I am doing a MOOC on Andy Warhol and this video was the result of an image I created for the first assignment. I've been trying to experiment more with video ever since the {Re}Happening and discovering the work of Ryan Trecartin.
casta diva from LizW on Vimeo.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Drawing Beyond the Past

Dogged - I submit to the page,
My first resistance deflated.
Keep going, fill the space.
God, but you need stamina!
To not remember 
What it was like to be young 
And no good.
Is it OK?
It doesn't matter, keep going.
Now there are shells 
Like planets or mischievous thoughts.
No revelation, I had forgotten to defy the end.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Thank you Mr. Klee

Last week, drawing seemed impossible, like pulling ugly rotten wisdom teeth from a stubborn mouth. This week, I used a bamboo reed pen for the first time and everything seemed to open up. Below is the picture I worked on in class - a bleached piece of bone and sea anemones.

We had begun the lesson with slides of drawings, mostly by Paul Klee. Our teacher used these to encourage us to be ambitious and fantastical. I tend to find the more freedom I am given, the more paralyzed I feel - too many decisions to make. However, drawing has been intimidating to me for so long that this permission for free reign was the spark I had needed.