Sunday, November 29, 2009

Creativity by Jake

My heart has many chambers - many more than a doctor could find. And three of those chambers are reserved: for my nieces, Emma and Ashley, and for my nephew, Jake - Jacob Kent.

Today is Jacob's post.

Jacob, though he is only nine-years-old has tried his hand at watercolors. He drew an ornamental plate of his grandmother's that you can see to the right. He did, I believe, a wonderful job. But I am only the uncle - what do I know?

I sat next to him sketching and painting the same thing. It was my version of the plate - not a perfect representation of what I saw, because, as we know, art is not photography. And thank goodness for that.

So Jake drew, and his was not perfect either. He found that his leaves and vegetables crowded a bit towards the top. Sound familiar? This left him with a choice.

He could:
(a) Give up;
(b) Add more leaves and vegetables (which is what I would have done); or
(c) he could be more creative than that.

And as I looked on in amazement, Jake did what is so natural for kids his age - so nonchalantly natural - he chose "c", and was creative.

"I think I'll add a cat," he said, and he did. Not only did he add the cat, but he allowed the tail to fly beyond the outline of the plate, which in itself was enough for me to raise my mental grade for Jake to an A plus (not that I was grading him), and to lower mine to a C.

Then Jake thought for a moment.

"What color should I paint the cat?" he asked me.

Well, being the artist that I am - acutely observant, and fully aware of the sights of nature - I naturally thought of browns and blacks. But instead I asked him, "What color do you want to make it?"

Jake thought for a moment. "Blue," he said. "I'll paint it blue."

I have a lot to learn from Jake about creativity.

Before I came to his town this weekend, Jake did some works in watercolor pencil, a medium I know many of you use. He did a Thanksgiving Turkey:

And especially in preparation for this blog post, he sketched the world:

So this is Jake's Post. Please feel free to leave your comments for Jacob. I am sure he will appreciate it.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Things and Stuff and Shadows

The Miami Book Fair International: I don't know if you have anything like this near you, but if you do, and you don't go, you are cheating yourself. If you are a reader, of course, you will be close to heaven - guaranteed.

But you don't have to be a reader to enjoy the fair.

Authors speak about their books, and they write about things that interest them. So if you are interested in things, the book fair is for you.

Then there are many, many booths where you can buy books for cheap! Cheap, of course, is good. And books can be about all kinds of stuff. So if you are interested in stuff, then the book fair is for you too.

And then there are the people - everywhere the people - fun to watch, fun to draw, and the fair food and the bands. What more can I say?

It seems like I've been sketching in public forever but in fact this is the first year that I even thought to sketch at the fair. I drew the panel of authors above in my Moleskine in the morning. It was my first drawing of the day. [Since the blog does not show two-page spreads well, double-click on the image to see it clearly.]

I drew the authors as each of them spoke in turn. They spoke in this order (from left to right, 1, 2, 4, 3). My hand was kind of tight on number 1, but by the time I got to 3 and 4 I was cookin'! It may just be me, but I think the drawing reflects this.

For those Everyday Matters folks that sketch in church (at their blog here) and claim to hear the sermon: I listened to each of the panelists. I laughed at their jokes in the right places, and I heard what they said. But now I can't remember a darned thing. I suspect it was because I was so busy drawing that my brain can't quite split in two like that to retain the information. It might just be my brain - all the filing cabinets may be full. Or the difference may be this: you never expect to have to (or sometimes even want to) remember a sermon afterwards, right? Or at least I don't.

There is more about the book fair - another sketch and a tale of loneliness, that will be the subject of a third fair post. That tale is the story that I spoke about in my last post. So for Martine, who said, "What about telling us more... soon?", and all of the others waiting for a story, patience .. patience. (Man, I hope it's good!)

In the meantime, though, here is my entry for Shadow Shot Sunday. It's a little early I know, but the blog is from Down Under. For Australia, this Sunday probably happened last Tuesday anyway. Besides, I will be visiting with family over the next two days and won't have time to post this weekend.

Hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Many Books, No Story

I went the Miami Book Fair this weekend, as I do every year. The two men in the above sketch are both authors. The ladies are fairgoers. (These two page Moleskine spreads don't display well on the blog, so feel free to double-click to see the image clearly.)

I have some other drawings that more accurately portray the event, that are more complex than random figures and will take some time to color. And this week, I don't have time.

Tonight I added words to the two Moleskine pages. I think my grade school writing teacher is rolling over in her grave. Or making a lipless frown. Or raising a bony arm and shaking a bony finger and rasping, "I told you so."

I could have taken more time on lettering, but as I said, I don't have any. It's been a crazy week.

And that's why, though I have at least one Book Fair story to tell (I think), I'm afraid the story will have to wait. But stories are worth waiting for, right?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Betwixt and Between, But Who Cares? I Won!

I am betwixt and between - I have half-finished drawings and unfinished paintings. I have a new set of paints that I haven't touched yet because, you see, transitions are hard. I'm thinking about trying all kinds of things - new techniques, new colored ink, using pencil with my watercolor sketches, and I'm trying to sort it all out. I am squirming, vaguely dissatisfied, and anxious to try more.

The result is that I have nothing to post.


And then comes Alex and presents me with the Over the Top Award! Thank you, Alex!

It's funny, you know. We develop friendships online. How does that happen? Sometimes I think you get to get past the body and dig straight to the soul and - pop! - there you are.

Cyberspace, ticket to the soul? Hmmmm.

Alex is a wonderful artist - so talented. The latest post on his blog, rainbowbox, is amazing, and his best yet! You have got to see it here!

But I have to work for this award, you see. The rules are: I need to pass this award on to five people, post on their blog to let them know I left this award, and then I need to answer a list of questions in ONE word.

Truth be told, I think Alex is trying to limit me to one word.

Only today, Alex, only today.

So here goes:

1. Where is your cell phone?… Roaming
2. Your hair?… Combing
3. Your mother?… Sunrise
4. Your father?… Twilight
5. Your favorite food?… Burrito
6. Your dream last night?… Hazy
7. Your favorite drink?… Nectar
8. Your dream/goal?… CREATE!
9. What room are you in?… Office
10. Your hobby?… create..
11. Your fear?… Loss
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years?… Painting
13. Where were you last night?… Abuelo's
14. Something that you aren’t?… Green
15. Muffins?… Puffins.
16. Wish list item?… Lottery
17. Where did you grow up?… Sunshine
18. Last thing you did?… Digest.
19. What are you wearing?… Down.
20. Your TV?… Barren
21. Your Pets?… Mosquitos
22. Friends?… Mosquitos
23. Your life?… Interesting
24. Your mood?… Interested
25. Missing Someone?… Firstborn
26. Vehicle?… Writing
27. Something you're not wearing?… Shoes
28. Your favorite store?… Pearls
29. Your favorite colour?… Blue
30. When was the last time you laughed?… Tonight
31. Last time you cried?… Today
32. Your best friend?… Wife
33. One place that I go to over and over?… Einstein's
34. Facebook?… Occasionally
35. Favorite place to eat?… Q'Doba

It was very difficult to narrow this list to five.
And [drumroll please] I present the five awards to:

1. Casey Toussaint of rue Manuel bis - I just love the loose and splashy style of her watercolor and ink sketches.

2. Katherine Cartwright of Katherine A. Cartwright Studio - She is my guru for art philosophy. Ohmmmm.

3. Myrna Wacknov of Creativity Journey - She is the boldest, most experimental artist I have encountered. She will try anything, and succeed!

4. Wil of Carving Paper - He sketches all over his wonderful city (Toronto) and produces wonderful watercolor and ink/pencil sketches.

5. Paul Heaston at three letter word for art - He is a phenomenal talent. I am in awe of his consistently wonderful drawings.

Honorable Mentions - (that means you get nothing..), but only because you were chosen first by someone else!

Oh shoot - I was going to choose Ellen of She's An Artist, She Don't Look Back but Raena beat me to it! Ellen is very talented, creates beautiful art and is a lover of language. Her creative blog bonds art with the music of Bob Dylan. (And I have a feeling that she doesn't realize just how good she is!)

And, of course, I would have chosen Raena too of Raena's Sketch Journal because, well, who wouldn't? But Alex chose her first!

And, dear reader, I would have chosen you too if I could! I am so enormously impressed by all of you EDMer's! Keep drawing!

Thanks again Alex. It was fun!

Monday, November 9, 2009

I Have Nothing to Hide

Humming to myself and strolling among the blogs, I found the post of a frustrated art teacher, Suzanne Cabrera, of an open [sketch]book.

Why was she frustrated? She tried to show her students how to draw the interior of a restaurant and they couldn't do it. What she wanted was to have them look at the interior as a whole and simply draw the main parts of all they see without regard to person or object. What her students were doing instead was concentrating on drawing a single individual, and all of his or her details. They would get so involved in that, that they would not draw the scene. You can see her post here.

Wow, I thought, maybe I'm doing that!

So within a day or two, I found myself at Einstein Bagels. And I told myself as I drew, you are drawing the interior - you are drawing the interior - and found that I swept far more into my drawing than usual, and the above scene is the result.

It's amazing that how you think about a thing so influences the result. When a weightlifter feels strong that day he can lift the pounds; if he thinks he is weak, he can't. It's that simple.

The Jim Roan quote: "You can't change your destination overnight, but you can change your direction overnight." It was that thought that created this blog and artistic voyage. A profound idea, and it still guides me today.

So that is all.
That is the end of this post.

You're still here.

You noticed the paper bag. You are wondering why that guy has a paper bag on his head.


Well, okay. I have nothing to hide.

Sitting in that very spot was a young woman. The body was drawn quite well, and the face was not bad, really, but was, well, a little off. Passable, but off.

She was an integral part of the scene when it was painted, and it all looked pretty good. And I should have scanned the picture then. But I did not.

I wanted to fix her. I wanted her to be perfect. So I began making changes. Soon she looked like a battered spouse. She wouldn't go in public like that - she'd put on some foundation or something! So I played some more and then she had a five o'clock shadow.

Poor woman.

What could I do?

I stared at her for a little while, and then decided to give her a sex change operation. I drew a beard, and managed to draw the body you see here.

Then I showed it to a few people and their reaction was visceral - they hated him. Despised him.

They loathed him.

It wasn't that he looked bad; he looked okay. Only a bit out of place. The phrase "So Easy a Caveman Can Do It" comes to mind.

Hence the paper bag over the head. I cut a paper bag and pasted it over his head (cutting the eye holes, of course, so he can see). My first collage. And I must admit that he looks much better like that.

See? I have nothing to hide. I've told you everything. And if someday this guy removes the bag, then he will have nothing to hide either!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Shoots and Ladders

I just love the way the shadow cascades beneath this ladder, and I thought it would be wonderful to paint someday, so I snapped this shot with my cell phone.

But it just so happens that Tracy has a blog called "Hey Harriet" that invites folks to submit their shadow shots. And although I am no photographer, I am not a poet either and that didn't stop me in my last post. So I shoots that ladder for Shadow Shot Sunday, and submits it for all to see!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sometimes You Just Want to Draw

Think watercolor, or
Ink and Watercolor.
Plans. Colors. Techniques.
Thinking. Creating. Calculating.
Glazes. Hazes. Transparency.
Loose hues. Tight mixes.
Rope that muse!
Hold tight - (s)he might get away!

Or sometimes you just want to draw.
Sometimes you want to attack the paper.
Sometimes you want to smuuuuuudge.
Sometimes you want to scrub, scrub, scrub.
Sometimes you just want to rub that paper.
Sometimes you want to dirty that hand.

Sometimes you want to grab the rough.
Grab the dusty conte' pencil.
Sometimes you want to do what you will.
Sometimes you just want to black, grey and white.
Sometimes you want to turn off the light.
To be color-blind and that's all right.

And I felt like that the other day.