Saturday, March 24, 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Hunnewell Pinetum

Early this morning (March 21, 2012), if you'd been walking around Lake Waban in Wellesley, you would have run into me sketching this marvelously pruned pine tree in the Hunnewell Pinetum. The sun had just topped the slope (to the left in my drawing) and I was down on the shadowed lake shore path. Occasionally walkers and joggers would come along. Dogs would lope along too, their collars jangling. But mostly what I heard were the birds: robins, mockingbirds, sparrows and mallards out on the water. In the distance, on the far Northwest end of the lake, a pair of swans were making a ruckus. A breeze picked up and I rolled my sleeves down and noticed the high clouds of fog retreating. Such a beautiful morning!

If you look carefully, you'll notice a bird at the very tip-top of the pine tree. What a fine observatory: "Port out, Starboard Home!" eeeeeeeeeeee!

I've included a few other drawings of the garden and a photomontage taken one rainy day last year. I wasn't dressed for the weather and  it was miserable. So I decided at the least to trespass a little :-( and take some quick photos of the Pinetum from places the public is not allowed to go.

Here's a link to a short history of the Hunnewell Pinetum (pdf file). There's also a Wikipedia entry.
If you're curious about it and want to sketch there sometime, let me know; I'd love to show it to you!

Pine Tree at the Hunnewell Pinetum, Wellesley, Massachusetts
colored pencil
© 2012 Rob Dunlavey

when? A cold day is all I remember!

drawn from Tupelo Point on the Wellesley College campus

also from Tupelo Point (using a gold colored pencil)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Up & Down

Here are two recent drawings of the Charles River. The top view looks downstream at a place near my home in South Natick. The other is from just below the dam.

Soon enough, the weather will warm up and we'll be off to the races: the trees will get their leaves and have a little fashion show and the orioles will set up housekeeping and construct their intricate and precarious nests.
Herons will fish below the dam again and maybe I'll have the privilege of drawing sleeping baby ducks in the shadowy and perfumed tangles on the river's fringes. And the winter that wasn't will become a memory.
I do think it was the serious lack of snow this winter that kept me away from my outdoor muse. Weird!

A view of the Charles River at the canoe launch at Elm Bank. A light breeze riffles the surface.
© 2012 Rob Dunlavey

A view of the dam and the fish ladder.  I rarely draw those houses. I should draw it all shouldn't I? I know that!
© 2012 Rob Dunlavey

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Circumstantial Evidence

colored pencil
© 2012 Rob Dunlavey
It's been a lackluster winter. Spring is officially a few weeks away and the birds are tuning up for the Concert de Printemps. We've had maybe, three snow "events". I don't think the word "storm" really applies here. But, last winter, I was out in all weather merrily sketching away. This winter, all I want to do is lurk in the greenhouses and draw plants.

All things have their season I guess. All enthusiasms have their predictable arcs: discovery, newness, imperative and  eventual ennui. And then it's time to be alert to new experiences and things that just feel right to do and follow. The creative life is full of these transitions. Maybe the result will be a renewed purpose and vigor for the old disciplines. Maybe it's a time to get back to some long neglected idea. Or maybe a new approach will engender something new altogether. I only know if I'm in it when I'm actually in it and the shore is receding and the boat is slapping the oncoming waves and the wind blows back my hair.

Tangent to this basic train of thought, I need to tell you about an excellent book I just finished: "Dante in Love" by A.N. Wilson (review by Tom Payne in The Telegraph). How does it relate to a drawing of a few cacti? If we are lucky, our creative lives are long and they will reflect and be evidence of where and how we have been, what we've been up to and what seemed to matter to us. And this means that our lives will be full of contradictions, things said in sharp clarion contrast and other moments of obfuscation and cluelessness. But my life, if lived well, however long or short, will include evidence of an engaged life like Dante's perhaps. How could it be otherwise?

It may be apocryphal, but Thoreau, on his deathbed was asked if he had "ended his quarrel with God". To this the philosopher answered that there had never been a quarrel at all. So be it!
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