Thursday, May 11, 2017

La balaustra

I use to call this thing a "railing." One of my Italian correspondents referred to it as a "balustrade." I like the word balustrade. It reminds me, alliteratively of "ballet" and this matches the animated twists and angles of the old railing. It will have to replaced some day and the lines of the dance will be erased. I enjoy it every day.

05-08-17
ink wash, charcoal
02-19-15
charcoal

03-12-16
ink, charcoal
04-27-17
charcoal, ink
12-18-15
charcoal
12-04-16
charcoal, ink

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Grackles

I think that birds are very useful things and I use them liberally in my paintings as actors in my little pictorial dramas. They complain less than people do. So I draw birds. But to draw birds in "capital A" Art, one must draw them as they really are in Nature to become a natural bird drawer. So here is a sheet of quick sketches of grackles in a tree. The artist at work!
Grackles
charcoal
04-19-17
The grackle's tail has an interesting way of flattening out as it flies. The tail is long and straight and then it folds itself into a v-shaped fan at the tip. It's a bit sporty. Well, I'm impressed.

Black and White Birds
mixed media
04-23-17
detail
detail

Friday, April 14, 2017

Countdown to Spring

04-05-17 detail
Hooray! The geese are pairing up. They are camping out and picking out curtains for the babies' room. Soon, the park will be home to toddling goslings. Grackles rush back and forth across the river; how these mobs disappear as soon as they encounter tree branches intrigues me. These streamlined black birds are not silent as they fidget on their twiggy perches. And then they blast off again.

Robins of course rule the season at all levels of my interaction with them: in trees, up on wires and branches, and the fascinating chess game they play on the greening lawns. They chatter and sing from sunup to sundown.

The river roars past in a full Spring spate, fishermen tentatively test the quieter eddies for fishy nibbles. Some are rehearsing. Others are acting.

Two Canada Geese
04-10-2017
charcoal, ink
Canada Goose
04-12-2017
charcoal, ink
Grackles
04-14-2017
colored pencil, ink, charcoal

Saturday, April 1, 2017

March Birds

We say "Hello!" to April by looking back at a few birds seen in the past few weeks of March. Contrary to the folk adage, March is going out the way it came in: roaring like a snowy and sodden lion. The new season takes it all in stride: robins flit giddily and troops of grackles suddenly take over and move into places they haven't visited in months. Perhaps as Spring wanes and Summer settles in they won't need each other's noisy encouragement so much. But I welcome the advent of birdsong– even though it's accompanied by a lusty pelting of wet snow.

03-20-17-geese
ink
03-22-17-mallard
ink
03-21-17-eagle
ink wash, charcoal
03-24-17-grackles
ink wash, oil stick, charcoal
03-27-17-swans
ink, charcoal
03-30-17-goose-balustrade
ink, charcoal, crayon

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Claude Monet

I just read a fun book about Claude Monet. Ross King's "Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies" dives into Monet's personality and circle of friends in the period of the first World War and the painting for his grand decoration: the prodigious cycle of water lily paintings.

So, I've gotten Monet on the brain a little as I draw and dabble in the studio and elsewhere. Ross King's other art historical books are entertaining and I always recommend them. Even his short-ish biography of Machiavelli (not exactly an art historical figure) is fascinating reading. 
02-27-17-trees
chalk, colored pencil, charcoal
02-27-17a
crayon, ink
03-01-17-island
charcoal, ink
03-03-17-willow
inkm charcoal

Friday, February 24, 2017

Sings of Spring

The days are becoming longer and there is a certain quality in the air. It's an attribute that seems to herald the warmer weather of Spring. But for now we just have this "quality": some mist in the air catching the light, tree buds swell just a little more and catching the light in a different way.

And this morning, something very special: the furtive scamperings seen in broken sunlight and newly occupied shadows of a mammal on the island below the dam. I think it was a weasel; it seemed too small and fast to be a fisher cat. What on earth was this fellow doing on the tiny island surrounded by rushing water? I wonder. I saw this same phenomenon 1-2 years ago: a noticed change in the patterns and a suggestion of some contrary indicated motion. A scrambling and frantic wriggling, lithe and purposeful like a fish trying ascend the dam. You should have seen it. Here and gone.

02-24-17-island
ink, charcoal
02-23-17-reflections
charcoal
02-23-17-millstones
ink, charcoal
02-24-17-swans
ink, charcoal

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Big Birds

Despite the snow and ice (and my winter aches and pains), the birds are more getting active as the days grow longer. There is singing and territorial intrigues in the bushes and undergrowth. Hawks and falcons are lingering within striking distance of bird feeders. The swans ("Romeo and Juliet") hang around like nonplussed but obviously lustful teenagers. It would seem that winter weather is a passing thing and we shall not take it too seriously. And the earth spins on its tippy tilted axis and brings us all this entertainment. It's so simple. Yes it is.


A crow walking in the snow
02-15-17
charcoal, ink
A swan walking in the snow
02-16-17
charcoal
mallards seen from above
02-11-17
ink, charcoal
solo swan
02-08-17
charcoal
Swans and geese
02-08-17
charcoal

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Florida memories

As a major winter storm settles in here in Natick today, it's hard to imagine that I spent three days last week on the beach in St. Augustine, Florida.  I tried to do as little as possible but I did enjoy drawing the ocean and reading "SPQR" by Mary Beard. Both highly recommended activities. And bird watching, eating seafood, and playing house. And then, poof! We flew home. And today, I stare at snow and snow shovels!

Sunrise
02-02-17
chalk, charcoal
02-03-17
charcoal
02-03-17
charcoal
02-03-17
charcoal
02-03-17
charcoal

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Two Swans

A pair of swans have been loitering around the river the past few weeks. It's nice to see them. They are not the nicest neighbors but they are lovely to look at and in these winter days, they tend to mind their own business. I saw one this morning that attached itself to a small group of geese. All were tolerant. We can get along.

two swans
charcoal, ink, oil stick
01-15-17
two swans
charcoal, ink, oil stick
01-15-17
swan
oil stick
01-17-17
swans feeding
chalk, oil stick
01-17-17

Friday, January 13, 2017

Colder and Cold

The week started out very very cold. I drew quickly and the animals were coping as best they could. Then it rained and became less cold. The ice retreated a bit. A pair of swans poked around the dam and I spied an otter (I hadn't seen them in a while) sally forth from the ice into the water. Life goes on.

Elm Bank
charcoal
01-09-17
Female Mallard
charcoal
01-10-17
Two Swans
01-13-17
ink, charcoal, colored pencil
Looking Upriver
01-13-17
ink, charcoal, colored pencil

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Frozen

Driftwood
01-7-16
Mergansers
01-07-17

Ducks feeding
01-08-17
Ducks in the river
01-08-17

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