A year since I tripped and broke my ankle . . . 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I had to get a new phone, and I bought a used iPhone 6 because of memories I have of the big billboards all over San Francisco when it came out touting the excellence of the camera. I had set up the old iphone as a dedicated camera in the Roofing Haus, but the update on my laptop means it is suddenly no longer compatible. This makes for some new and complicated photo-sharing shenanigans vis-a-vis what I thought would make things easier, still have to figure out the wifi and cloud situation.
There are drawings I don’t have photos of, photos on my two phones that aren’t on my laptop that I guess I have to email to myself–things disappear into the cloud–it’s so confusing. I draw and paint something nearly every day, I don’t know where all the photos are.
Here is a recent batch that came through. The standing cat was from a video of feral kittens being fed by a spoon to get them used to humans. I get a lot of ideas from videos or stills I find online. I am taking classes on Domestika, and screenshot pages from videos of my teachers’ sketchbooks.
We are booked for the Cotati Accordion Festival September 26. The theme is roaring back to the 20’s, so I am planning to put together a flapper look. I am walking everywhere now, may be able to dance a bit, zydeco for sure, polka, maybe. I used the BIG sketchbook Leila and Sara gave me for Christmas 2009 to draw these flapper girls, from an unattributed photo on reddit.
I continue to glean random images from old scrap and image files, using various sketchbooks and materials in multiple ways. One thing that stays steady is my increasingly relaxed brushwork, to the extent that I am doing more freehand waterbrush-and-ink drawing, rarely penciling in a preliminary drawing.
On the other hand, I spent about four days completing this color pencil copy of a mysterious photograph I had stapled into a landscape format bound book years ago, from a fashion/food/flower art show??
And at random- this big sloppy painting of a cute jacket I saw in a movie; a copy of a Picasso that I did last October for one of my Domestika classes, just before wet weather drove me out of the Roofing House for the winter; waterbrush and ink on mustard paper of someone else’s sketch of a William de Morgan tile.
I keep my old iPhone 4 in the Roofing House as a handy little snap-camera to document my daily sketching, and can easily download images to my laptop there.
I have tasked myself with filling my partial sketchbooks. The challenge increased when I was given two small spiral books with tinted paper in olive and mustard. I shouldn’t randomly start a new sketchbook with so many undone, but the colored backgrounds are too tempting.
Haven’t been to the desert in such a long time, I decided to copy a postcard from Mojave National Preserve using caran d’ache watercolor pencils and white Posca pen on mustard sketch paper. I used a waterbrush with a water-black ink mix, pulling dark blue shadow lines from inside the tangles of rocks, cholla, junipers and sage. The photograph loses some of the subtlety of the yucca leaves and shadows.
In mid-June I sketched little copies of 2 paintings by Andie Thrams, using watercolor, white gouache, and color pencil on olive paper. These shots from my bed in morning light, with the refurbished-iPhone 6 camera.