Monday, May 24, 2010

Staying focused

So many delicious and disastrous distractions in life!  Amidst the swirl, I observed this turtle the other morning. This was just above the dam where that heron was hunting a few days before. I watched it for ten or fifteen minutes as I drew these yellow flag irises. Finally, it wriggled down into the slime and was gone from my sight.

It takes some doing but sometimes the ONLY way to get one foot to follow the other (and to not be stuck) is to draw what is exactly in front of you. In the process, you leave the labyrinth of the mind and its imaginings which get replaced by sensory input from the world. It's a vital fact of my artistic life that I am constantly searching for a growing edge while at the same time, I'm cultivating and enlarging the ground I've already claimed. It's good to take notes of things that are stimulating and beautiful.

Below is a view of nearby Lake Waban I did in my sketchbook a week or two ago. It's another early morning haunt: I walk Ellen to the school bus then head the other way toward Wellesley College and the lake. It takes about 15-20 minutes and then, presto! There's this beautiful lake with a walking path that goes around and a great place to get a cup of coffee about halfway around.

Lake Waban

farm animals

a view of the South Natick Dam

another view of Lake Waban: anchored sailboats and a fisherman's bobber stuck in a tree.

I need to get to work now. Enough of this "tripping through reality" as captured in my sketchbook!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Heron

The old Pleasant St. bridge over the Charles River in South Natick, Massachusetts.
My kids catch the school bus pretty early. My youngest is ready and waiting by 7:00 a.m. and I have the privilege to walk her down to her bus stop. After saying our "good bye's" yesterday morning, I kept going to a local café. I had my sketchbook and pencils, two books ("Nana" by Zola and "Breakfast With Socrates" by Robert Rowland Smith) and some correspondence I needed to work on. The weather was overcast and a barely perceptible mist (or was it drizzle?) was in the air. But on the way I detoured to a small park overlooking a small dam on the nearby Charles River.
Here's a picture of it on a sunny morning. It's lovely and the noise of the steady stream of suburban commuters is drowned out by the rush of the Charles River over the dam. It's a popular place for people to lunch or have their coffee. Fathers and children fish there. Wedding photos get taken and pensive romantics hang out alongside professionals getting a quick, sunny break from their office routines. But not yesterday.

The only one working was a Great Blue Heron fishing for his breakfast below the dam. I drew his portrait. He would stand there on his spindly legs and do slow avian tai chi as he looked for something slippery and silvery to stab and gulp down. Every now and then, he'd balance on one leg and start to stretch and rotate the other (no doubt, those years of ballet training had given each of his muscles a mind of their own). I think it was just a technique for finding reliable footing, Braille-like in his slow progress across the face of the dam and the eddies where the fish were hiding.

I used a conté pencil for this drawing. I liked how the droplets of mist made the chalk more intense and how I could smudge it with that little bit of water. When I was done, I washed my fingers off in a puddle and went to get my coffee.

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