Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Recent Drawings

The Pleasant Street Bridge
sketchbook spread in brown pencil
26 Sept. 2011
The view above was drawn at a time of day when I'm usually home making dinner. Instead of coffee, I had a bottle of beer while I feverishly scribbled. By the end of the session I could hardly see my paper and the streetlights had come on. Deadlines are very useful. Do they help you?
A view of the dam through a fence
colored pencil
25 Sept. 2011
Water milfoil harvesting machine, Lake Waban
colored pencil
22 Sept. 2011
This machine is driven around the shallow places at Lake Waban where the water milfoil, an invasive weed is abundant. It's a scourge everywhere in New England and many ponds and lakes are defenseless against this slimy uninvited party guest. Wellesley College, which has deep pockets and an awareness of the milfoil's threat has invested in this harvester. It's interesting to watch it cruise back and forth in the morning fog like some gentle dinosaur scooping up the weeds.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Sparrow

sketchbook spread: a drawing of a dead bird.
Sept. 23, 2011 colored pencil
© 2011 Rob Dunlavey

On my walk home from the river yesterday, I found a dead sparrow on the side of the road. It had probably flown into the windshield of a passing car. Poor thing.

The sketchbook page had a few quick drawings of a heron I had drawn earlier. I'm working on a children's book that features a sparrow as one of the characters. You can find a few sketches of this character on my other illustration blog.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Birthday Flower

a water lily for SO, Elm Bank
September 15, 2011
Other drawings done on Sept. 15ths past:

a view from above the South Natick dam, 2010

pretty leaves 2009

Birthday card front 2008

Birthday card inside spread


Friday, September 9, 2011

La Demi-Saison

Willow Tree and birds
colored pencil
© 2011 Rob Dunlavey
Here we are: It's September. La rentrée. Hurricane Season. Not quite summer but not yet Autumn. Still Baseball Season but not October and the post-season. Anything can happen; I'm a Red Sox fan, believe me, I know!

Days of rain and general busyness kept me from the river for a few days and I was feeling anxious and wondered if I was losing my enthusiasm for drawing at the dam. Perhaps I too was in my own demi-saison. A petit "writer's block" even perhaps?

This line of thought could go in many potent or pessimistic directions; all without clear conclusions. Instead, I'll tell you about this willow tree: it's in decline. I was down here a few weeks ago and heard a loud "crack!" as a branch as large as the one pictured here let go and fell only to get snagged in the tree. Last winter, another larger limb broke. The tree sheds twigs all the time. So, this willow is in decline. It's in that demi-saison filled with letting go and sacrifice. Yielding to termites, ants and gravity. But the birds love it. A few missing branches make for better flight approaches and exits. It's the local hangout. I even saw a gray squirrel investigating the hole where that branch broke off. There could be something tasty in there or maybe it will make a snug winter home.

Life burrows into the corners of these in-between seasons of life. It's all preparation and letting go. Anticipation and acceptance. As the weather clarifies its intentions, there will be more room on the coat racks. For now I'll try to enjoy the variety. Salut!

en fançais (par Google)
Ici, nous sommes: C'est Septembre. La rentrée. Saison des ouragans. Pas tout à fait l'étémais pas encore l'automne. Saison de baseball, mais pas encore Octobre et la post-saison. Tout peut arriver, je suis un fan des Red Sox, croyez-moi, je sais!

Jours de pluie et busyness générale m'a empêché de la rivière pendant quelques jours et je me sentais anxieuse et je me demandais si je devais perdre mon enthousiasme pour le dessin à la digue. Peut-être moi aussi j'ai été dans ma propre demi-saison. Un petit "bloc de l'écrivain», même peut-être?

Cette ligne de pensée pourrait aller dans plusieurs directions puissants ou pessimiste, le tout sans tirer des conclusions claires. Au lieu de cela, je vais vous parler de ce saule: il est en déclin. J'ai été ici-bas il ya quelques semaines et entendu un fort «crack!" comme une branche aussi importante que celui représenté ici lâcher prise et est tombé seulement pour obtenir accroché dans l'arbre. L'hiver dernier, une autre grande jambe cassé. L'arbre perd brindilles tout le temps. Donc, ce saule est en déclin. C'est dans cette demi-saisonremplie de lâcher prise et de sacrifice. Cédant aux termites, les fourmis et la gravité. Mais les oiseaux adorent. Un peu de branches manquants font pour des approches de vol de mieux et de sorties. C'est le repaire locale. J'ai même vu un écureuil gris enquête du trou où cette branche s'est cassée. Il pourrait y avoir quelque chose de savoureux là ou peut-être cela fera une maison d'hiver douillet.

Vie des terriers dans les coins de ces entre-deux saisons de la vie. C'est toute la préparation et de laisser-aller. Anticipation et l'acceptation. Comme le temps clarifie ses intentions, il n'y aura plus de place sur le porte-manteaux. Pour l'instant je vais essayer deprofiter de la variété. Salut!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Up & Down

Looking upstream

The view downstream
These two drawings were made a few days apart from about the same location on the stone retaining wall. I probably used the same pencil even. I think they are both post-Hurricane Irene; there's a lot of water being carried by the river.

Is my life this way? There are times when it's carrying a lot of emotion and tumult, the entertaining of other people's demands.  And then there are other moments (only moments!) where I seem suddenly afloat in a shallow river, caught with my centerboard half-up or down. It seems so.

When the water level goes down will the ducks return for more lazy afternoons of dabbling? But already I see flocks of ducks in unpredictable and larger increments passing overhead. They are busy too vibrating with the imperative call to… what? Move. Move!

All this, as if, time didn't exist (which makes me remember a New Yorker article I just read about the philosopher Derek Parfit). It's all about the big issues of Life… and they didn't seem so big after all.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Did I just see that?

The park above the dam
© 2011 Rob Dunlavey
While drawing this view of the dam and the bridge I saw, I think, something quite extraordinary. Or not!

The water above the dam was as smooth as a mirror in the early morning sunlight. I was laboring to draw the reflections of the trees. I don't like to do this. Anyway, I see some ripples in the water near the retaining wall to my right. Soon I see the source of the disturbance: a muskrat has begun cruising along the edge looking for whatever it is muskrats focus on. I remain still and soon the muskrat has swum in front of me and along the wall and into the vegetation you see in this drawing. It's very busy but after a while it swims out into the still water just above the dam.

Five days ago, Hurricane Irene dumped a lot of rain in New England and the river is high. I lost sight of the muskrat as it swam above the dam. Just then, I see a friend and get distracted greeting him and chatting. But this is just chit-chat; only 2-3 minutes have elapsed when I see a large shape on a rock in the distance that is just below the bridge's arch in the upper left corner of the drawing. I thought it might be the heron but then it slides into the water and disappears. It sure looked like a muskrat…

Well…?  Did it swim over the top of the dam, through the boiling hydraulic, past the island and up to that convenient rock?

No way!  But… I wonder.
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