Friday, November 10, 2017

Being Graphic

Below are three drawings from the past week that only share one trait: they have a more "graphic" quality than drawings that are descriptive. Graphic work is often characterized by contrast, rhythmic mark-making or tight cropping of the subject. I'm sure we could come up with more signifiers. I tend to be more graphic when I draw from Nature. It's more interesting to me. Also, I'm usually working on black and white or very limited color. If I were working in full color, some other approach would emerge. So, maybe I should do that… work in full color.
Pine Tree
11-05-2017
charcoal
Great Blue Heron
11-09-2017
paint stick, ink
Foam
11-07-2017
ink, charcoal

Friday, November 3, 2017

Stalker

I've been stalking this fellow this past week. He's very reliable. The water is high so he tucks himself in the eddies near the base of the dam and catches a few fish. The last fish he carries to a quieter pool to digest peacefully. This is where I found him today. Soon, he'd had enough of me and wheeled over the bridge and alighted on the driftwood tree downstream of the bridge.
We'll see how long he lasts. He's young so we'll see.

11-03-2017
11-02-2017
10-30-2017
10-30-2017
11-01-2-017
11-03-2017

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Bridge

Here are a few of the 25-30 drawings of the Pleasant Street Bridge I've made this year. In random order:
10-28-2017
05-03-2017
01-06-2017
06-06-2017
10-21-2017
05-11-2017
04-26-2017

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Stop!

Duck
ink, charcoal
10-18-2017

Knowing when to stop is probably the most important skill that an artist possesses. Sometimes I have it but most often I'm skidding around unaware and I keep adding things to the drawing.

As soon as I added the little marks on the left side of the duck I regretted what I had done. It was too much. I think without them you could still tell that it was a duck, swimming away on a foggy morning. You can see that right?

But I drew those cute little marks to indicate the feathers --just a little naïve calligraphic noise. Just having fun --but they are unnecessary.
But, this is a drawing and it is all about searching, the struggle, showing the scars, etc.

Today, I drew a goose. No struggle here.

Goose
ink, charcoal
10/19/2017



Friday, October 13, 2017

Inktober

Some of my playful colleagues might be dismayed but I don't get into the whole "Inktober" thing where, in October, artists make ink drawings and proudly and copiously post their tagged work on the net. For me, Inktober isn't a month. It's been 24/7/365 since my teens I guess. Just another day in the salt mines. I'm sure many of my colleagues would agree.

Rocks
10-13-17
ink
Pine trees
10-11-17
ink
Heron
10-09-17
ink
The Island
10-12-17
ink, chalk
… And a few pieces in my studio style…

10-06-17
ink, watercolor
10-13-17
ink, colored pencil, paint
09-08-17
paint, ink, chalk

Friday, September 29, 2017

Noise & Intelligence

I open my eyes and the world comes into focus, reliably. Seems like a miracle when you consider how this happens in the interplay of biology and the world. It appears to be necessary to my survival (or at least my genes) for the world to be intelligible. I look at noise and find patterns, stories and intelligence.

Drawings and paintings are able to move over and between the divide between abstraction and recognizable things. I like the ambiguity of this process. I become curious when I realize that I've been looking directly at a thing, like a heron in the river or my glasses and not actually "seen" it.

Perhaps, noise is what we see …before we see.

There's a book I read back in the 1980s titled "Seeing Is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees: A Life of Contemporary Artist Robert Irwin" by Lawrence Weschler. Recommended.

starlings feeding on elderberries
ink
09-09-17
mallards & reflections
ink, charcoal
09-13-17
Mallards and reflections
charcoal, ink
09-22-17
Mallard on top of the dam
ink, charcoal
09-25-17

Friday, September 8, 2017

Private Moments

Mallard
ink, oil stick
09-03-17
Mallard
charcoal, rain
09-03-17
Mallard and foam
ink, oil stick
09-03-17
Mallard on top of dam
ink, charcoal, acrylic
09-05-17

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Facelift

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.

08-30-17-iron02
ink, charcoal

08-27-17-bridgework
ink, charcoal

08-28-17-river
ink, charcoal, pencil

Friday, August 11, 2017

Ducky

Have a good weekend. I'll be hanging with the ducks probably.
:)
08-11-17
ink

08-09-17
oil stick, ink
08-09-17
crayon, ink, charcoal, oil stick
08-09-17
oil stick, charcoal, ink

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Shibata Zeshin

07-08-17
ink, wash, charcoal
detail
08-01-17d
ink, watercolor
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

Calligraphy of Creation

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+.

The Willow Tree
ink, paints stick, charcoal
07-23-17
Geese
ink, vine charcoal
07-23-17
Swifts
ink, charcoal
07-23-17

Swifts
ink, charcoal
07-30-17

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Great Blue Heron

He's baaaaack…
07-14-17
charcoal
07-16-17
ink, colored pencil
07-14-17
charcoal
07-13-17
ink
07-08-17
ink, charcoal, paint stick
detail
07-08-17
ink

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