Saturday, September 2, 2017
The Pleasant Street Bridge has gotten a facelift this year. It's an important and old span across the Charles River a few minutes walk from my house. Many cars and trucks depend on it each day. It got new sidewalks, new asphalt deck, new utility conduits and now, the old stones themselves are being repointed. A construction crew has created a temporary dam and is pumping the water away from one of the four arches so they can work beneath in the dank, cave-like space.
The wildlife has taken it all in stride. I've seen ducks perching on top of the spare iron scaffolding that awaits near the second arch. Ducks and geese avail themselves of the line of sandbags that secures the leading edge of the cofferdam.
All the cars that zoom or creep overhead will not notice any changes. They're glad that the crews are finished up top (save for the striping and maybe another bit of asphalt) and they can get on with their commutes.
The river is low so it is jam-packed with mallards and a few dependable herons and the occasional kingfisher. I predict the usual September spate of duck drawings as Autumn asserts itself; unless we get a hurricane that is. We're supposed to get the unimpressive remains of Hurricane Harvey tonight and tomorrow. I hope the pump keeps pumping so the workers can get back to work after Labor Day.
Friday, August 11, 2017
Saturday, August 5, 2017
ink, wash, charcoal
The grayscale watercolor above was painted in about 45 minutes about a month ago from the Pleasant Street bridge near my house. It's about 18 x 24 inches. The next morning I drew a similar image of a heron in my sketchbook. I just finished it a few days ago. A friend compared the colored image, a studio work, to Japanese lacquer art. I think she was responding to the detail, small scale and limited color. And the bird of course! This got me thinking of a Japanese artist I've taken a recent interest in: Shibata Zeshin (1. wikipedia 2. MFA Boston collections).
Shibata Zeshin made paintings, prints and lacquerware in 19th century Edo. He straddled the late-Edo and Meiji eras of Japanese history. His work is well-regarded, interesting and very well made. For some observers however, he is too modern and pandering to Western art or too conservative to cause a ripple in the very self-aware universe of Japanese art. I think that many artists and illustrators find themselves somewhere in a similar divided dilemma: paying homage to tradition and paying homage to the tradition of inventiveness. Such is the life of the artist. Best to let the work lead where it will and tune out the many voices that comment and critique.
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
The bird populations here seem to be nearly dependable now this late in the Summer. Still, I jump at the chance to draw these creatures which are in constant motion: soaring, stalking prey, or dabbling in the shallows.
It's all a calligraphy of Creation and I never tire of it. There were some sublime moments just this morning --but I haven't scanned those yet. Patience; these are from last week+.