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!

 

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Gewgaws

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Random objects usually go on a shelf  in my studio where they pile up as remembrances of people, places, or events. I used one such corner as inspiration for Day 3 of Inktober.

Ink drawing of still life objects

Day 3: Collect

Still life items.

The treasures on this shelf in my studio were given to me by friends, relatives, and former students. 

The oldest item on the shelf is the cloth clown that I got at an art fair 20 years ago! The waving red cat, the blue sparkle cat, the giant black bird, and the can of soup all came from students. Every object here has a story that helps construct my memories.

A trinket from the fair. A little souvenir. Small gifts from friends. Do you have a collection of such things?

Challenge Accepted

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Last year, I participated in Drawlloween, a challenge for artists to post a work every day for the month of October based on Halloween themed prompts. Despite my most sincere efforts, I can not draw anything that looks really scary, but, I proceeded anyway, rendering my subjects in watercolor and pen. You can look back on my interpretations starting with Drawlloween with Cats, where I present the first four drawings I completed, including Return from the Dead, Mansions and Manors, Spider Day, and Better Homes & Goblins.

Drawing of a cat running

Day 1: Fast

I contemplated joining in the spooky fun again this year, but, instead, opted to do Inktober, which follows a similar format by providing daily drawing prompts. Inktober is decidedly non-seasonal, and the only rule, really, is that the drawing must be executed in ink. I find the discipline of using pens quite appealing, and I admire artists who do fine inking work. My favorite of all time is Edward Gorey, but a recent find is the illustrator Franco Matticcio. Both of these artists employ fine, directional marks, layering, and a variety of patterns and textures to create contrast and build form. Their drawings are also whimsical, and they both draw cats, among other things.

Drawing of barking collies.

Day 2: Noisy

Across the board, interpretations of these prompts varies wildly, with incredible artists submitting their works. It is SO inspiring and fun to see what other people draw. You can see what other artists are doing by searching #inktober and #drawlloween on any social media site!

Already a couple of days behind the Inktober schedule, posts will arrive as I complete more drawings.

 

Make It Funky Now

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Maybe you’re familiar with the Cha Cha Slide, that ubiquitous dance number played at exactly every wedding I’ve been to since 2000.

Cats dancing to the #chachaslide

I tend to appreciate a line dance with directions, not because I’m not an able dancer without the prescribed steps, but because, suddenly, SO MANY other people are out on the dance floor. It’s like being  in a music video with your auntie, or a flash mob with the bride’s little cousin. So, thanks, friends and relatives who have this song played at their wedding receptions, because, I’m certain I wouldn’t experience the Cha Cha Slide for any other reason. Party on, cats!

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!

I’m Hearing Voices

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Heee-hoo. Heeee-hooo. That’s the sound of chickadees in my neighborhood repeatedly calling to one another from the treetops. They’ve been so insistent (heeee-hoo) that I decided that they must be trying to tell me something.

Pencil drawing of chickadees

Pertinent chickadees. Pencil drawing from my sketchbook.

I recently posted about looking for inspiration in color palettes of artworks. After I wrote that, I went shopping and had a lot of fun choosing fabrics to use as future book cloth. Even so,  I was still a little “meh” about any real direction. I didn’t want to just fall back on the same cats for imagery.

(I know! I can’t believe I said that. I love cats, but it can’t be all cats all of the time, can it?)

That’s where the chickadees come in. But how to print them? The lamp in my Thermofax machine burned out and, despite calling every rare bulb dealer in the US, I’ve yet to find a replacement. That means no easy way to screen print. (If anyone knows where I might find a replacement lamp for a 3M Secretary with 15 amps, let me know!)

Chickadee drawings, fabric, printed fabric

Upper Left: Fabric for soon-to-be books; Upper Right: The inked version of the drawing above; Lower: Birds printed on fabric using ink jet printer

As a possible alternative, I tried my ink jet printer to print the chickadees on the fabric. This isn’t exactly a new idea for me, I kind of re-remembered it as something I tried once and liked. I’m satisfied with how the birds appear on the cloth, but I’m not certain about how archival this method is, or how durable it will be as a book cover.

Ultimately, I want more complex patterns. And I’m not sure if I would print the whole book cloth cover, or perhaps cut out individual birds and sew them to different cloth, or both. Or, something else entirely.

Heee-hoo. I’m waiting for the chickadees to give me a sign.