Today is February 27th, and this is the longest gap between posts that I can remember. So, I'll follow it up with the longest post ever (in three parts) to overcome my posting withdrawal (and hopefully yours).
Then again, you can skip to Parts II and III - they're shorter, and fun. Or you can just look at the pictures. There are three - two drawings and one photo - around and beyond all those darn words.
PART I. THE PLANKTON SWALLOWED THE WHALE.
Despite the gap in posting, I haven't stopped drawing and painting. And my hunger to do art still exists. In fact, I am famished. This time, though, the meal was me.
Raena said recently that she is following my advice of a long time ago: quantity, not quality. But that's not the whole of the advice, exactly. At least I don't think so.
I told her of an anecdote in a great book, "Art & Fear", by David Bayles and Ted Orland, about a ceramics teacher that divided his class into two groups. One group was to be graded on the quantity of their work, and the other on the quality. On the last day of class he would weigh all of the pots of the quantity group to determine the grade. The quality group would only have to produce "one pot - albeit a perfect one - to get an 'A'."
Who made the best pots? The quantity group. They were learning from their mistakes each time, whereas the quality group, as the authors described it, "had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay."
[If you're tingling with excitement right now because you love discussions like this, visit Katharine Cartwright's blog, who dishes this out virtually every day.]
So I, like Raena, have been following this example. I draw or paint in every spare moment. I have many things going. As Wil says, "when I'm sitting I'm drawing." But I don't believe that quality is ever far from any of our minds. I, for one, would like for each drawing or painting to be a masterpiece, but of course it won't be. And I'd like a nice easy upward linear transition to excellence, and it's not like that either.
I don't think the "quantity" potters would have learned from their mistakes if they were not also concerned with quality, do you?
I drew the above band in my new Moleskine at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival on a beautiful day a few weekends ago (my apologies to Diahn who's been weather-oppressed). I drew in pencil for a change. It was great fun. At one point a gentleman, who was videoing the event, panned his camera over my drawing. What a hoot!
Then came the painting. I worked in layers of light washes, building up the musicians, but the paper seemed to suck up each layer and seep the life right out of them. I even compared the book to my old Moleskine to see if the paper was the same. It was. I have no idea why the painting remained so light with successive washes. My color choices, perhaps. Maybe the colors were too diluted.
This was just a Moleskine page. One 3" x 5" page. But I was obsessed with getting it right. It was as though the plankton had swallowed the whale. I was going to finish.
Then I painted the vegetation in the sign behind them. Suddenly the color of the sign was so strong that it overpowered the musicians. So I had to dampen it back with a wet cotton ball and with some lifting with a brush, which, to my relief, worked. But then, of course, the page was insipid again.
This picture remained in its gangly adolescence during virtually the whole process. Finally when I began doing the boxes and shapes in the back, I was able to play a little with color and shapes - almost creating an abstract - and the little picture seemed to come together.
Then I went to scan it. And the scan changed the colors a bit (as they tend to do). And made the picture a bit more lively. The value contrasts were better. I liked the scan better than my art! And I began to think, I can change that, and I felt myself being sucked in once again. But then this post would never have been done, would it? So I'll probably try another time.
PART II. I AM A VULNERABLE GOD.
Sometimes art is frustrating, but that's okay. Because on the page, I am a god, though in an ancient Roman or Greek sense, I think - all-powerful, though vulnerable.
At the art festival, I drew this old guy in pencil. He was stretched out on the lawn in an odd position, reading the paper. He didn't look to comfortable to me, but eminently drawable. And he had a backpack at his feet, like a 20-year-old.
I painted him in drybrush. As I understand it, drybrush is done by thoroughly covering the brush with watercolor, and then squeezing the water out. This is my first attempt. It seems that with more pigment and less water, the colors are more vivid. Also it seems good for detail work. I think it would work well for details over watercolor washes as well.
Then I decided to paint a loose wash around him: the green grass below, and the blue sky above. Both washes came out fine, but I did not like the way I had shaped the curve of the sky above. I couldn't post that. But, of course, I am a god. So I made the sky into mountains. But the mountains also displeased me. I didn't want to post them. So I turned the mountains into a wall. And had to add a window. More delay, but that's okay. I am a god. On paper, anyway.
PART III. FRUSTRATION
If you are ever frustrated with your art this is what you can do: grab a square of toilet paper, and then draw on it - maybe the view from above of a person diving, or a fish, or something else suitable - and toss it in the toilet bowl just so, and then flush. This is - take my word for it - great fun.
Or you can just take a shadow shot, for Shadow Shot Sunday:
3 years ago