Thursday, December 31, 2009

Our Tilted World

I've been away from this blog for eighteen whole days since my last post, and it's felt like forever. As Ellen so elequently described my family's last few months in her kind note: "Sometimes it seems like the world has just tipped over and none of those close to us can get their footing." And it has been just like that.

Thankfully, though, those I love are coping with their losses, as hard as they are, and overcoming their illnesses and dealing with their medical conditions. They are resilient and strong and admirable. At their age, octogenarians, they should be relaxing and enjoying, but that is not the way it is, apparently, and some of their greatest challenges occur in those years.

I should have realized this, of course. That this is not the way it is. The world is, after all, tilted. To be precise, our Earth has a tilt of 22.4 degrees. Not a single globe on this earth is upright. A reminder for the new year, I think. Each year we want the next year to be perfect. But it never is, of course.

Why not? Because our world is tilted.

And I can live with that. I have to. In fact, I want to.

All in all, 2009 has been a good year. I started my blog in March 2009 and returned to art after a quarter of a century. I have made new friends online - wonderful friends - you have been so encouraging, and I am more grateful than I can say. I have learned much, and have so opened the floodgates of creativity that it is sometimes hard to think about anything else. The blog has fed the art, and the art has fed the blog. I began painting in watercolors, and learn more about the medium each day. And I so appreciate the warm wishes all of you sent my way when things grew a bit harder.

Today I am excited about 2010. So many possibilities. There are so many, I don't know which way to go! The world wobbles as it turns, don't you think? The drawing above is a fun development for me. I've been drawing with waterproof ink. Above, I tried using water soluble ink intentionally, first drawing with the pen and then using a brush to spread the ink. How can I use this?! I can't wait to explore.

I have a new, artist quality set of watercolors that I am just beginning to use. I will continue to sketch in public. I sketched the gentleman on the left through a window, although I colored it later with the new paints. After I sketched this man - I call him Boris - I handed the drawing to my 9-year-old nephew Jake. Jake walked straight to the window directly in front of Boris, looked down at the drawing, up at Boris, down at the drawing, and up at Boris again. Tell me, do you think the man noticed? What a hoot! Somehow there is always a surprise when I sketch in public.

I have been totally taken lately with the Helga paintings of Andrew Wyeth. His watercolors have depth, atmosphere, feeling. He uses a dry brush technique, which I would like to explore. I have spent hours staring at his sketches, studies and finished paintings in the book, Andrew Wyeth: The Helga Pictures, by John Wilmerding. You can almost see how he does it. Almost, but not quite. He uses pencil, and then paints, so I decided to do the drawing on the right at the same restaurant as Boris in pencil, rather than in pen, as a first attempt. I expect to do more of this.

I am glad that the world is tilted. So many facets, so many angles, so many possibilities! There is nothing dull about it! So much to think about, and so much to do!

Happy New Year! May you perch yourself on your tilted world and laugh at the joy of it in 2010!


  1. Your drawings are fantastic! I hope the new year brings you many happy hours exploring all the various creative possibilities and many more wonderful posts here like this one :-)

  2. Loved your musings and these paintings. Can't wait to see how you explore each of the techniques.

  3. HI Mark, The world is tilted on its rotational axis because it formed through the violent bombardment of asteroids and space debris. The human world is tilted by internal violence, apathy, and tragedy. "Imagine", as John Lennon once wrote, if.....
    And, thank you for sharing your life and drawings with all of us in 2009! Your work is inspirational. I'm also a fan of the Helga paintings and once read a biography of Wyeth where he described his working process as violence. I've spent much time over the years examining his watercolor paintings (the originals) and you can see the violent slashing with both ends of the brush on the paper. The passion is real, the anger is real, the beauty is real. Happy New Year!

  4. Ooops! I just called you "Mark" and I meant to say "Dan!"

  5. So glad to see you again - and your work, and more of your insights. Re these pages, your composition choices, and techniques keep getting stronger with each post... I find such details, like the reflections in the glass lantern on the table, and I sit in wonderment that you caught all that while drawing in public. Thank Jake for the first 2010 chuckle. and a really good job to you.

  6. I loved hearing what you've accomplished in 2009, in spite of your recent hardships. Here's to 2010!

  7. Good to see you posting again, Dan! And just look at alll the people you drew! That top picture is so bold with so many different positions! Just excellent! And it looks like you're loving those new paints! They look great, all painted with a lighter touch! Boris would have been delighted, I'm sure, by your drawing. One day I may be brave enough to draw in public. Maybe. I sure am glad that you do! Keep 'em coming!

    All of these are great, as is your story, as usual. Hope all is good at home.

    (Is Jake still drawing too?)

  8. Dan, I'm glad I stopped by and read this entry. Makes me inspired to face 2010 with a bit more energy and inspiration.

    I agree the Wyeth's Helga series really inspires. Looking forward to see how the inspiration further influences your work.

    Thanks again for the great entry and a happy, healthy and joyful 2010 to you and your family.

  9. Btw all these images rock! Boris, indeed!

  10. Dan- I think you an enormous talent and an ARTIST! Embrace that term young man- ARTIST- because you are. Your drawing, your writing, your spirit- all wonderful. All the best for the New Year!

  11. Hi Dan - great drawings and I'm fascinated by the possibilities you have already established for your work. I hope you have the best year imaginable. I think Jake will be in Boris' memory for some time to come - probably brightened his day immeasurably. Things like this are meant to happen. I look forward to what your artistic adventures bring to you (us). Thanks for sharing.

  12. Bubbles of strenght to you and all of yours to overcome difficulties in the new year.

  13. Sounds like you've accomplished a great deal in the last twelve months - and made some discoveries along the way. I'm sorry your year has ended with so many difficulties but I hope the New Year brings good things for you all. Thanks for sharing your reflections a- and the sketches. I like the one in pencil and watercolour particularly.

  14. Hi Dan, I'm so happy to hear and see from you again! I do wish you a Happy and more serene New Year and a Creative one too, as I can see you have already started brilliantly. I just love your sketches !

  15. LOL...Jake has made my day! I wonder what this guy could have been thinking about him!

    How do you feel about the pencil sketch one? Personally I love it. I think it is a huge success. And I think it takes you further from the cartoon look that you worried about previously. Definitely worth more exploration!

  16. Thanks so much for all of your comments and new years wishes.

    Kathy, as I said on your blog, you have rocked my world! I love the fact that you see violent slashings in Andrew Wyeth's original pictures. This is because I usually begin pictures with beautiful sedate washes, and then reach a point where instinct takes over and I attack my paintings. Sometimes that's even a good thing! Because of this no one truly knows that I can do a wash. ;)

    Thanks Phyllis for seeing improvement that sometimes is hard for me to see. As for the lantern, that's easy. I can keep drawing the inanimate objects long after the subject leaves.

    Ellen, thanks. I love the folk's positions in the first drawing too. It is from a photo I took, and I plan to do a painting from it someday. Jake is still painting - he just got a Koi watercolor set!

    Thank you Pam, I will try. I will also embrace the term "young man", and I'll call myself an artist as much as you like, as long as you keep calling me that! :)

    Raena, I am definitely going to do more pencil sketches, and agree it may be a start away from what some others call "cartoons". What a relief!

    Thanks all.