calligraphy, desert landscapes, odd animal portraits

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moth crochet

when I was a kid there was a corner store with a screen door that had been painted with an ad for orange juice. It was magical to me how you could see through the paint, but also see it as an image floating in space. It lead me to try painting on screen, and to copy a crochet moth with tinted acrylic medium on this 1/2″ hardware cloth.

Bighorn Sheep

Hmm. This is all I’ve done this month. in the realm of 2D art.

I have been doing a lot of physical work in the yard, uncovering an old flagstone path, rebuilding the grape arbor, cutting back the wild growth everywhere. I have been hiking about 3 miles every day or so, downtown and back, up to College or Telegraph Avenue, in search of pizza or gelato, and miscellaneous free items on the street. I found a circa 2013 gaming PC with Windows 10 that I named Curby–found it on the curb, had to buy a 19-pin monitor cable, transferring all my old photos and some music via thumb drives. Really fun to have a random project appear, just after I rearranged my office to take advantage of the summer sun.

Instagram Spring

I started an instagram page quite a while ago, following on my massive output of last summer. I have been remiss, neglected to share them here, until now. Oh deer. Never feer. They are not that square. Oh well, we shall see.

Birthday flowers

Art wandered the neighborhood today and brought me some flowers that fell into his vicinity.

Don’t know if I posted these critters or not. Sometimes I find things I have photographed twice, but I don’t want to go back and edit pages, so inconvenient and random for my fan(s) out there.

What the heck. Orange trees, undated, painted 20 years apart in the same sketchbook.

Roofing House rustic do-over

The jarring peachy yellow was so inappropriate for this redwood circle/compost heap environment. I had thought for months about how to fake a log-cabin effect, then found I had a can of Oxford Brown Acry-Shield exterior paint that was a perfect semi-gloss aged-wood color. I tried several greens that showed up too blue against the warm brown, until I hit upon a tube of Winsor Newton permanent sap green acrylic. I just used a couple of artists brushes, a 1-inch flat, and a #10 round for getting into the corners. I left the side facing the tracks in the original puke-y pink/yellow so as not to alert the neighbors, or be crashed into by the UPS van. I have since painted over the white poetry patches. Still debating what to paint the upper trim boards- green or brown . . . ?

Bonus points to Art for the ramp, help with the foundation, and relocating the extension ladders.

Eastlake Holstein

I found this OLD chair on the sidewalk, had to have it. It is the same era and style as the Eastlake hardware in the 1900 house I live in. I had to pull out about 200 tacks, stuffing, ragged fabric, 6 iron springs in a metal frame, to get down to the wood. There was a badly repaired crack which I couldn’t extract the nails from, so I glued and clamped it, and hope it holds. Thanks, Art, for cutting the thin plywood for the seat, snapped into place, and just the right amount of flex. This fake Holstein fabric probably cost as much as an actual cow skin, and the fringe . . . Crazy fun project. I am really satisfied and happy at how it turned out.

Safe Home

I have spent months dithering over the possibility of buying into a local community, a 2-floor, 2 bedroom townhouse to the northwest, where a couple of my friends live. There were yard parties to be had, and a view of Mt Tam from the little shed and an upper window. Things seemed so sketchy here in my tiny abode, and it really would have had many blessings and benefits, not the least of which was a place to put my massive work table and garden tools and westfalia and . . . suchlike. It was a goal, a hobby, to design and plan and discover and ponder, while my ankle healed. Seemed like a good idea to have a flight of stairs to climb on a regular basis. In the end, though, I felt a pressure to comply with too much, with other people’s goals and schedules and beliefs. I just couldn’t shake it loose, there were too many what ifs, and ultimately, my sense of home, privacy, autonomy, is here, right here, where I am now.

Patterns

I love to copy these little designs, I love how the brush and watercolor makes little shapes and variations in tone in my sketchbook. Also fun and pointless, painting the patterns on a paper towel while sitting by the wood stove in late autumn.

August 2021

While on a visit to Santa Rosa we are watching Downton Abbey, looking to get some fashion tips for the 1920’s-themed Cotati Accordion Festival at the end of next month. Leila sent me some flapper dresses to try- Mimi gave me some cowgirl threads for the stage. I’m walking now, stiffly, keeping a cane close by, visiting thrift shops and brewpubs, where folks are not keeping strictly to protocol. Hooray.

Art had the Jobbox moved out of the cabin into the woodshed, and it took him a week to insulate the music room and put up some pretty plywood panels. We plan to hang guitars and banjos and Ukuleles, and tuck accordions under a work bench. We found two bar stools on the street here that will help make the room more visitor-friendly. We head back tomorrow.

I’m back to trying portrait sketches after a hiatus. I took time off to rest my wrist and brain, intimidated by the difficulty of fitting faces to the templates I am learning. I did these two tiny toss-offs of Youtube presenters on a page of sloppy circle-dividing practice. I was pretty happy with them, so I tried another two, still quite small.

Women wearing makeup are easier to draw. Men are a little more challenging. Two issues present themselves, asymmetrical eyes, and too-long noses.

Already faster and more assured, I tried working in my big bound sketchbook from the cover image of a local paper- this guy with two black eyes. I need to go even darker, not be so timid with values.

The flatness of a projected image conveniently translates to pencil and paper, so I am shocked when I take a photo of a drawing and there is a further flattening. Like looking at a painting in a mirror reveals unseen distortions and imbalances. It is no small miracle, to think of it, of screens and lenses.

By the way, we just watched At Eternity’s Gate, really excellent movie about Van Gogh. I have always been a huge fan, since he knocked the wind out of me at the Chicago Art Museum. I did this little copy from an old datebook I have from the 1980’s where there is one of his paintings for each week. Not so much thinking of portraits here as just copying his brush work, but there it is.

mid summer 2021

I was watching a video about how trauma-triggering HURRYing is, and how calming it is to turn the dial down.  It has changed my studio practice. Today I am going to relax.

I am not fastidious, but I love organizing, and for years beat myself up for time spent arranging materials vs actually drawing and painting.  Looking back at my life I am astounded at how my younger self prepared the creative space for the person I am now.  Like a sorcerer’s apprentice, I set loose a flood of every sort of wonderful art supply I could wish for.  

Brushes, paints, pastels, pencils, drafting and calligraphy supplies, the Winsor-Newton tin and Kolinsky brushes I bought for college in 1984 . . . journals, sketchbooks, etc. in different formats. Slightly-used oddities passed on to me over the years—I learned early the difference between quality and crap, to my own creative detriment.

What took me longer to learn was that cheap materials can be used creatively, enjoyed with abandon. That is a breakthrough for me. The limiting fear of doing a good drawing on bad paper shut me down for years. Or-worse??-bad drawing on good paper!! Or, horrors, having someone see my mistakes and misuse–This is all gone now.

Last year as music gigs and jam parties evaporated overnight, my social life disappeared. Aside from a few gardening jobs, I spent hours a day watching artists’ videos, stacking up and sometimes taking classes online, puttering aimlessly with paints and brushes; but so much inspiring input was often overwhelming.

Suddenly I was incapacitated with “a bad sprain” and there was nowhere else to go. Scrounging through half-used sketchbooks for ideas and empty pages to fill, nibbling around the classes with no real plan, nuthin else to do but draw little toy animals from around my bed . . . now every day something appears on a page–even in this super-scrappy old sketchbook.

I put these guys up before when I hadn’t had x-rays and didn’t realize I was in for a long haul. I didn’t mention that they have a story. This little ptero was made of felt by a friend of mine- bass player in a band I played drums in. I am not pushing them, or hurrying them to tell me what that is. Maybe this is all I got.

As far as I know so far, a pterodactyl out cruising for a small animal to snack on snatched up a little critter who turns out to love flying, and is so adorable and fun and tells good jokes that it would be a waste to eat him or her, yeah. They fly over desert and forest and town and riverbed and become best friends, and have a wonderful life together.

It turns out that the little puppy snack is actually a red panda, the two of them grow old together, and seems they have a business as an Elvis impersonator in Las Vegas.