Thursday, August 28, 2014

sketching on the water

From a watery perspective, sketching is a challenge and a lot of fun. I especially enjoy tackling complicated shapes and working to understand them with my drawing.

It feels like rubbing velvet with the nap to see a drawing come together. I feel content. And maybe full of static electricity!

Life is very good.

Christopher Cross "Sailing."

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

not Perry Mason

 Courtroom dramas are nothing at all like "Perry Mason" television shows. The action is much slower and doesn't tie up neatly at the end of an hour. There are no surprises. Hamilton Burger doesn't object or get befuddled.

Actual courtroom dramas are slow. Each bit of evidence is explored and layered in testimony and exhibits. The pace is like watching paint dry. Oil paint. The kind that takes months.

Court time provided me with several days of sketching opportunities.

Besides the sketches, I took notes of what the judge and attorneys said at various points. It is now an illustrated record of an unpleasant experience.

A record with my own commentary and observations.
After all is said and done, I think I might enjoy sketching from "Perry Mason" videos. It would be much cheaper!

"Perry Mason." Full episodes are available on YouTube!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

home through Kansas

On our way home, we took the non-interstate highways and byways through Kansas. I saw things I never knew about, things I marveled at, things that made me smile. The Flint Hills area was beautiful! I'm so glad that the settlers could not till its rocky soil and left us with a perfect example of how the prairies looked before human interference.

Sadly, the air conditioning in our motorhome gave up and we endured many days of +90 degrees with 90% humidity. Our trip west was marked by days of driving that started before sunrise, long afternoon breaks with the coach parked in the shade of a tree or two, and long drives after sunset.

Even with that discomfort, I am love seeing our country. Oh beautiful, indeed!

Ray Charles sings "America, the Beautiful."

Saturday, June 21, 2014

inspiration: St Louis Zoo and Art Museum

I am just back from a road trip to St Louis, MO, where my family had a beautiful reunion. I got to see my father and all of my siblings and their kids, plus a lot of family. 

One special treat while in St Louis was going to Forest Park, the site of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition and centennial celebration, but more commonly known as the 1904 World's Fair. You can read more about the fair here.

As we walked around the zoo and the art museum, I kept humming to myself the song, "Meet Me In St Louis." Appropriate, since my grandfather's name was Louis and he went by "Louie" and it was this grandfather's children and family that gathered... 55 participants!

I loved the zoo (and not just because admission was free!). Their gorilla habitat was wonderful and I spent a lot of time observing these majestic animals and sketching them. It was tough to sketch them, though, because every time one of them got close to the observation window, he would sit down with his back to us people. It struck me as an act of utter contempt. Wow. 

The art museum was grand all together, but especially grand in its huge entrance hall.

I especially enjoyed this Monet painting.

And this Modigliani.
St Louis is a special town and I look forward to going there again. Maybe next time, it won't be 92 degrees with 90% humidity. That was a little hard to take. The best part of the trip was seeing my father again. I am not sure that he knew me, but I knew him, held his hand, talked to him and loved the chance to see him again.

Love you, Dad.

"Meet Me in St Louis." Maybe you will hum the theme song, too.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

working a design while on anchor, Oak Harbor

When we are anchored, I try to find landscape scenes that interest me. At Oak Harbor, Whidbey Island, I heard an eagle and while I watched him hunt, I noticed these evergreen trees on the spit.

From the sketch, I created these two Notan paintings with watercolor. I like both of these design plans and may work up some larger paintings from them. 

I can sense the rhythm of the water from these paintings. It's sometimes the only music necessary.

Monday, May 26, 2014

museum inspriration: Bainbridge Island Museum of Art and La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum

9" x 9" watercolor and ink
This week, at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, I saw sculpture by David Eisenhour that blew my socks off! His bronze and stone sea forms were staged in groups and some alone in such a way that I wanted to respond to them. I had to respond. I looked at them, again and again, circled them to see all sides, and wandered around the exhibit many times. In my sketchbook, I listed some sea forms that I wanted to explore myself. And soon! The BIMA is only one year old and if you haven't made a stop there yet, it's worth every moment. Admission is free. Truly great work there!

But, before I could respond to the Eisenhour sea forms, we were cruising the Sound and then tying up at the public dock in La Conner, where I toured the La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum. This is a favorite stop for me, not because I am a quilter, but because I love the variety and imagination of art quilts. And, though I do not sew, I have gone into many quilt shops to fondle the "fat quarters" just for the joy of color and texture.

What a treat it was to discover fiber artist Marianne Burr and her work on the third floor of the museum! The work is as colorful and delightful as she is. All of her work is done on silk which she has handpainted and then stitched. It's really a painting that has been stitched to wool batting and then backed/framed with more fabric. It's enough to make me want to sew.

In the meantime, though, time to reflect and respond and you see some of that in the sketch above. Sea forms, glorious color and whimsey, and "stitches" of ink marks.

Variations on a Shaker Melody, Aaron Copland.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

museum inspiration: Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA

Jen Elek and Jeremy Bert at The Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA

Sometimes, when walking through an art museum exhibit (or gallery exhibition), I feel a buzz of energy that makes my hair stand on end. It is not only a function of the artwork I view, but where I am in my head, what I have been doing with my own artwork, and my openness to looking at something new. That buzz can be the start of a cascade of changes that results in new art ideas and practices.

Earlier this month, I felt a buzz when at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA.

Even the exterior of this museum is exciting, with the enormous metal cone venting the "hot shop" where furnaces keep about 1000 pounds of glass 2400 degrees Fahrenheit!

Even better, inside the hot shop you can watch artists make their glass creations live, or you can stream it. It reminds me of some of my early Catholic lessons on hell and damnation.

Lenny Kravitz "Whole Lotta Love."

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

something right, something wrong

Drawing with a pen is a commitment. No taking it back, just keep on going.

Staedtler Pigment Liner pen on smooth paper in a Robert Bateman sketchbook.

When I first started to play jazz, after years of studying and playing a classical piano repertoire, I floundered. I kept thinking that there were "right" notes and "wrong" notes and it was my job to play the right ones. One of the intriguing aspects of jazz is the function of a "wrong" note to lead back to a "right" note in the ears of the listeners, even if the "right" note is not played.

These figure drawings are like jazz. A little something right, a little something wrong, and I trust your eyes to lead you in the best direction.

Ella Fitzgerald sings "Desafinado." Something slightly out of tune, on purpose, with this song!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

drawing and bravura, a musical connection

I am back at figure drawing and the joy of the contour. 

No sketchy marks of approximation in this drawing. Just a bold line moving across the page, describing the model. When I wasn't satisfied with the drawing on the left, I started again to the right and addressed those aspects that did not satisfy me in the first. I held the same mindset with the second drawing: let a single line carry the form to completion.

With that thought, the word "bravura" came into my mind and was back in my own 40 year piano playing experience base.

Of course, when learning a new piece of music, there's a time for figuring out the notes and stopping at mistakes and correcting them (the "sketchy marks"), but sometimes a bravura play through is what's needed. Needed because it gives the sense of the bigger picture, the scope of the work, the whole.
Ever since I started art making in 2005, I have considered how art and music are alike. And I've hoped to find connection points between my art making and piano playing so that one could inform the other. With this experience in figure drawing, I have found a connection point. 

When I was learning this piece of music, even a rough play through was exciting! Gershwin Prelude No. 1 B flat major.