Category Archives: Drawing

Recommence

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I find myself struggling with my art. I don’t know what to draw. Cats, of course, but I feel as if there should be more to it. Should I expand my subject matter? Create more complex compositions? Work larger? Draw in a series? Switch to acrylic? Build little theatrical scenes? Print and sew more fiber-related works? Work in a series? Develop a narrative? I want to do everything, and so, feeling overwhelmed, do very little.

 

Pencil drawing. Woman on Bench.

I made this drawing during a layover at Chicago’s O’Hare airport when I was traveling over the holiday.

The next two months will be consumed with creating costumes for a local high school production, and teaching adult art workshops. I look forward to do both of these things, but they also distract me from the work of my own art. At the same time, these experiences can also invigorate my personal practice. Maybe there something about the costuming that I want to incorporate into the personal lexicon of my art making? And, I always learn something new by teaching what I already know to others.

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? I’d like to hear how other creatives work through their less productive spells.

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So this happened…

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A couple of weeks ago, my laptop slid backwards off the edge of the sofa and landed with a dull thwack on the hardwood floor.drawing of a broken computer screen

The resulting damage was a small crack in the screen on the bottom right. I took it to the local fix-it place, and they told me said screen could be replaced for a price that, while less than the cost of new machine, was still enough to make me cringe.

What followed was two weeks of anguish while I tried to decide the best course forward by:

A. possibly going ahead with the costly repair on a computer that is already four years old.
B. looking for the equivalent of a used machine via Craig’s list and local garage sales.
C. considering a refurbished computer that would replace my beloved, now broken laptop, thus consuming hours of time online reading technical specifications.
D. ordering a new computer to replace the old with the new.
E. skipping a decision altogether, by continuing to  hook my laptop up to my 42″ TV, which was working perfectly well, despite the fact that the initial crack had formed tributaries and was now consuming over half the surface of the screen.

I finally, but not without tears and aggravation at my clumsiness, selected “D” and ordered a new computer, upon which I now submit my entry for InktoberBroken. 

On the rocks

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Continuing to straggle along on the Inktober days, but enjoying the process, nonetheless. This one just feels like a continuation of the last drawing, which was LOST Lost in thought? Lost on the trail? Alas, the daily prompt list has moved on, so here’s my interpretation of the theme ROCK.

Pen and ink drawing of man on a rock by a stream.

“What are men to rocks and mountains?” Jane Austen from Pride and Predjudice

 

Not All Who Wander

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It’s increasingly difficult to go completely off the radar since we (nearly) all carry a GPS around in our pockets or embedded in our dashboards. Yet, there are so many metaphorical ways to be lost for which there are no concrete satellite coordinates.
Ink drawing of face in rearview mirror.

My husband and I drive a lot, heading “down state,” as it’s called here. That’s where the larger cities are, and my family, as well. For the most part, we pass through unbelievably beautiful areas, but some highway driving is just tedious no matter what. Bad weather can add a level of stress. As the passenger, I read aloud books of mutual choosing to help us both pass the time, lost in characters and places, descriptions and events beyond the windows of our time machine. Our current car novel is American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. The main character in this mysterious, fascinating story starts off without a life purpose, just going with, what seems to be, the whims of fate, also lost in his own way, spending a lot of time on the road. I based my Inktober entry for LOST on car time, oblivious to one’s actual position on the globe, and the feeling of being transported.

Sad, but not hopeless

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On Sunday nights I used to help feed feral cats who lived in managed colonies not far from my neighborhood. There were four stops, and on any given night, I might see from 5 – 30 cats who came to the feeding areas for food. There were a few cats who would get close enough for a quick scruff, but the majority of them would hang back until the food was in a dish.

Ink drawing of feral cat waiting for food.

My Inktober interpretation for SAD is based on my experiences with the colony cats. I would worry on nights when I didn’t see a regular visitor, or if a cat was clearly in distress. But, at the very least, these cats were spayed or neutered, and got a meal once a day. Occasionally, there would be a sick or injured cat, who, if it could be safely trapped, received health care. When kittens did show up, they were carefully captured, and placed in forever homes.

I dedicate this drawing to all of those scrappy cats who survive in the streets, around dumpsters, drainages, and parking lots.

 

Waiting

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Still having fun with the Inktober drawings. Here’s my interpretation of Hungry. 

Pen and ink drawing of a man at a table.

No free breadsticks!

Man at a table

I started with a photo of my dad waiting at a table for a meal. I wanted to explore more mark-making and value range with my pens.

You can see what I chose to keep in the drawing compared to the photo, such as the position of the subject, and the overall composition.

However, I changed many of the details, like the location, and the place settings, in order to make the overall content of the image more interesting.

I like to work with photographs as reference, to understand proportions or to get an angle or pose, but not as a way to recreate exactly what’s in the picture.

I used similar techniques with the drawing for the prompt, Collect,  which you can see here.

I know I’m behind on the Inktober prompts, but keep checking in! I’ll catch up eventually. Happy drawing!

 

Dog Friends

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After my huge build up to summer sketching a few weeks ago, I have to admit that I have not been spending much time with my sketchbook!  I was, however, inspired by a recent visit with friends where I got to pet the bellies of these two. Meet Boudreaux the Dog and Jodie Foster. Both are rescue dogs of unknown origins. In fact, both of them have such quirky personalities, I wish they could tell the stories of how they came to live with their current people.

Watercolor painting of two cute dogs.

Boudreaux tends to walk a little sideways and has a large vocabulary, while Jodie silently contemplates the world, often from a distance.

If you’re wondering how dogs ended up on my cat blog, I’ll just say that I love all of the animals, I just happen to live with cats. But, I would, if it were even vaguely practical, have my own zoo.

You can follow Boudreaux the Dog on Instagram. He’s just that adorable! Also, any resemblance of Jodie Foster, a dog afraid of doorways, to Jodie Foster, the actress is purely coincidental.

Recording Summer

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I was an art teacher for 20 years, so I always considered summer as the time when I could “catch up” on my art making. I couldn’t wait for my schedule to be free so I could start drawing again. Now that I’m working full time as an artist, I draw with more frequency, but I’m still habituated to the arty pull of summer.

I like to record my travels as I am inspired by my surroundings. Sometimes these drawings are quick sketches, with impressions that are grabbed quickly to preserve a memory, color or thought.

Colosseum drawing, Ancona, and gelato

The Colosseum, the coastline of Ancona, and an empty gelato cup from a trip to Italy in 2011 demonstrate on-the-fly sketches I might collect.

Other times, I rework or create new drawings or paintings back in the studio after collecting sketches and photos. These entries are more complete impressions of my surroundings where I incorporate objects, scenes, and details to capture what has seeped in during my visit. Like with the quick sketches, colors, objects, and landmarks dominate the work resulting in a portrait of the place I visited.

St. Francis, Ganesh, and a wildfire

Top: My homage to Georgia O’Keefe after visiting her home and studio in Taos, New Mexico. Bottom: St. Francis and Ganesh were both images I encountered in the mountains of Santa Fe. I was there in 2013 while a large wildfire raged on the mountain.

I rarely leave the house without a means to record the world around me. I wrote a post about what to include in your portable studio, which you can see here.  I find that having a sketchbook is a great alternative to staring at your screen in the airport or on long car rides. The drawings don’t have to be perfect, just a sincere effort at recording your impressions. You don’t have to travel far to find something to put in your sketchbook, either.

Watercolor landscape sketch

The perfect spot to draw. This small beach is just down the street from my house.

After all, as an artist, it is your duty to find the beauty in the seemingly mundane things around you, to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. I’ve drawn things ranging from other travelers to my kitchen serving bowls. I even spent one summer drawing the salt shakers in restaurants in which I was dining. You’d be surprised at the variety!

I hope you are inspired in your own way to record a memory this summer. Happy art, everybody!