Friday, April 13, 2018

The Mouton Studies

Mouton came to me during a time of intense bad-luck stress. 
The bad-luck stress left, but Mouton decided to stay. 
He is a "Sigikid" and comes from Germany.
Recently I did a quick sketch of him in my daily journal.
He liked it. "Do more, Rita, do more!" 
"Andrew Wyeth did many studies of his favorite models, Rita. 
So please, study ME!"
He often sits next to my pen cup. He knows how to get
my attention. (He's onto my fountain pen obsession.)
 He did not realize how how much work went into me trying to illustrate, 
verses my private sketching! 
After all these years of loving & sharing picture books with children,
I know even more what tremendous work goes into 
creating animated, consistent images!

Picture book authors & illustrators are Mouton's & my heroes!

(Mouton's favorite picture book at the moment is 
I Lost My Bear by Jules Feiffer.)
He may still prefer it when I sketch him loosely in my sketchbooks, 
but he's glad I challenged myself to try something new.

Mouton's been speaking to me in French lately.
(We like listening to a French radio show while we work.)
Even though his name has French origins, 
he pronounces it MOO' tawn. Accent on the MOO.
(Il aime faire le clown-pronounced "clune.")
Now, take a break from modeling, dear Mouton.
Repose-toi bien.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Dreaming of Provence on a Snowy Day

View from my studio window

While it was snowing all day, a friend came over
and we shared stories of travel in Provence.
My past travel, her upcoming trip.
St. Rémy de Provence, a view par la fenêtre du Musée Estrine.
That was the trip on which I didn't bring my camera, 
but I did fill 2 sketch journals. 
A little drawing, 4 X 6" made this morning 
from the initial sketch.

Blogger La Table de Nana has been posting photos
of her last trip to Provence. She loves it there,
but then again, she finds & shows beauty wherever she is. 
Click here to visit her exquisite blog.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Art Learning Journal: Studying Masters

More notes from my Art Learning Journal.

From the book, Matisse in the Studio:
A catalogue of an MFA, Boston show that I missed.

There is a great value in sketching works of art,
using books or visiting museums.
I notice so many aspects 
that I miss when I look without drawing.

We public art teachers were guided to teach in the 80's-90's 
by always starting with a lesson on a famous artist, 
 & analysis of reproductions of his/her work. 
Followed by hands on art.

And we made field trips to our art museum,
where students made visual notes, 
went on searches, & answered specific questions.

The book, Teaching Drawing From Art
has many rationals for teaching drawing to young people,
& for integrating fine art into lessons.
It tells us that students need to learn 
by their own experimentation,
& by studying great & varied sources of fine art.

When I taught this way, I gave room for individual invention within a style or medium. 
It wasn't just copying, oh no. 
But do I think ALL lessons should be started with fine art? NO!
An invented scene, after I took visual notes from Matisse's paintings.

If you Google: "Matisse/ Interiors in Nice/ Images"
you'll find an amazing assortment of his paintings, 
in which he integrated objects from his extensive collections
 into complex scenes.

And oh! Note his use of color!

He was a "modernist" which meant he avoided 
the "conventions of modeling, perspective & recession".
(Though I think they are somewhat present.) 
He uses a "shifting space with push & pull 
between the elements".
He thought of his own studio as a theater.

Me, I'm also captivated by the scenes that 
were outside of Matisse's windows. 
And outside windows in my own life. 
(This scene, March 5, 2015. It's similiar to today's view!)

Next for the Art Learning Journal: 
Cartooning: Philosophy & Practice by Ivan Bruneti. 

Friday, March 2, 2018

Discovering Popcorn

I tried to eat popcorn (again), but it still makes me sick.
So I drew popcorn instead. 
First, observational studies for accuracy, with lots of erasing.
(not shown here.)
Then, loose sketches. Interpretations.
Feeling the Popcornness. 
Delighting in the gesture, form, contours, miracles & science
of popcorn.
All the while, related thoughts popped onto my paper: 
Discoveries & connections, while spending a slow,
lengthy time with these 3 guys.
Turkey Tail Fungus:
Years ago, an assignment in undergradutate drawing class:
To magnify an object, to try to reproduce it
as precisely as possible. 
I remember spending hours on it.
I also made a magnified study in charcoal
of a broken peanut shell.
I can't find the drawing, 
but I loved getting to know that shell, 
with its repetitive pattern of miniature rectalinear shapes,
& the surprise discovery of skeletal fibers.

The fast sketch, my favorite mode, benefits well
from going back to slower forms of drawing.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Weekly Joy

Saturday morning Happy ritual: The Indoor Farmers' Market.
Weekly joy. 
With fewer tourists & crowds,
I'm bolder about sketching.
After: Another ritual: Library Date with my sweetheart.
We sit next to each other at a big wooden table. 
On a high shelf behind us: A soapstone statue.
I wrote: "Young Buddha is content, and so am I."
Sweetheart reads newspapers, and I... & take notes from my current book.
This time it was Liz Steel's 5-Minute Sketching: Architecture.
I love her books, her blog, her site, her videos.
 And she gives online lessons. 
Click Here.

Do you have a daily/weekly/monthly ritual that brings you Joy?

Monday, February 12, 2018

Paper Dolls Made Themselves

Drawing/Playing without observation & references. 

Paper Dolls Working Out!
I'm fascinated by the different dance & Zumba moves
in classes at the local gym!

These girls seemed to create themselves 
while I was chatting with my knitter friend.
She knit (ed?), I doodled. 
Who is this little person? YOU tell me!

PS. I am still replying to comments. See last post...

Monday, February 5, 2018

Sketching: From Observation. From Imagination

 Drawing with the group at a local "Antique Mall."
Because we are an official group, we get to go to
many fascinating places! 
(one of us always gets permission beforehand.)

My visual challenges were about  proportion, perspective, & relationships between objects.
Some others in the group focused on individual object studies. 
I'd like to do that too, studies with more depth & detail,
but for now I'm attracted to the interplays. 
There were many "nooks" with displays by individual vendors.
With so many objects to view in any given spot, 
the items were intriguing for themselves
(an antiquer or cultural historian would have a blast!)
 as well as for their
 lines, forms, angles, placements.  
Recently I've started to practice a new type of drawing:
From Imagination! 
A new Journaling group at a local library, 
based on cartoonist Lynda Barry's teachings in her book, Syllabus
is opening new channels in my brain.
Above, The beginnings of a "Self Portrait."

In my usual way, I take notes from the book. 
But I sprinkle these with my own memory/imagination
 drawings & writing. Syllabus is really a workbook. 

I was taught at a (too young) age to draw ONLY from observation. 
I don't know if drawing from imagination was ever a strength anyway, 
but what there was got squashed. 
Barry deals with the fear adults have of drawing from memory. 
She aims to "bring drawing back into people's lives"
(from their childhoods as most kids love to draw & then stop),
instead of "to teach drawing" to adults.

Stay tuned: Sketchbook Wandering: The Cartoon!

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Sketch Group at the Home Garden Boutique

A cold winter's day at a local home garden shop. 
The proprietor of Brambles welcomed 7 of us sketchers,
& even lent us stools. (I ended up buying mine!)
Brambles is one of 
the most artistic and nourishing to the senses shops 
I've ever been in! 
The owner, so friendly, so happy, and no wonder! 
She is surrounded, 
all day long, by gorgeous colors, scents, 
handmade objects that she herself has selected, 
plants that she has grown, 
and by cheerful customers and visiting friends!
Aaah, can you smell the flowers?
This in mid January! Note the contrast!
Outdoors, let it snow (and be monochromatic!)
Brambles will infuse you with happiness 
during any season!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Sketching in Line

 Sketching while waiting in line at the grocery store.
You whip out your small (inconspicuous) 4 X 6 book,
your pen, & in seconds you go from being bored
to being interested, sometimes even disappointed
that the line has moved along!
 You have your book handy. You reach for it fast.
A friend says,
"Rita, you have the fastest sketchbook in the West!"
Quick unfinished sketches are fine. Spontaneous!
(I added a bit of color at home, 
from color notes I'd made.)
My small Art Learning Book now doubles for a 
On-the-Scene sketch book, 
because I carry it with me at all times.
(on the right: notes about Richard Diebenkorn's drawings.)
We are a One-Car-Wash Town. My car stayed dirty
because I avoided the long lines.
Now, my car is clean because: I Sketch!

PS New feature: I have added responses to the notes
on the previous post. A new part of blogging for me.
Will continue to do so...

Monday, January 22, 2018

Elephant Wandering

I was immediately attracted to a golden elephant statue, 
in the midst of many lovely tea cups, pots, & decorative objects at our local Tea Room 
when I went sketching with the Group. 

The above sketch no longer exists because I was overly critical of it. 
I went home, painted it over with gold acrylic paint, & then ~ tore it up. 
Note to self: Don't be so quick to reject the results of my sketching.

(A friend had taken the photo before I destroyed the picture.)
2nd version, sketch from the sketch,
it doesn't have the spontaneity of the first. IMHO. 
In one of the many books these days about sketching, 
I am reminded that I do this for the love of the process, 
more than for the result. 
However, the results are part of the process.
More Elephant explorations in my 7 1/2 by 11" book 
(that does not have watercolor pages.) 
Ganesh, the Hindu Remover of Obstacles. I need this.  
The Smithsonian Elephant, my friend from chilhood. 
Elephants at the Washington Zoo, we also go way back.

I don't think I'll ever go to Africa or Asia,
but I would like to visit some elephants.
Did you know there are some amazing online videos?

Have you seen real elephants? Do you believe in Ganesh?

PS. Have you read the beautiful & sensitive story,
 The One and Only Ivan?
It is for young readers, but it is for everyone.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Nourishing the Body and Soul in Winter

 Montessori education tells us to surround ourselves with all things beautiful, 
taking care with selecting our environment.
Since my move to the new studio (dining room), 
and since my increased museum attendance, 
I "curate" my shelves, making order, selecting, arranging, re-arranging.
(The book, top right, The Secret Lives of Color
Box of cards by a company called Retrospect.)

 Top, from the local Bright Bird Studio. Below, a shrine box by 
local artist Micaela Grasse. (I placed the little sign inside the window that says, "Good Health".) 
 Watercolor painting on my wall by local artist Ben Hall.
I love that it's a local scene, & love its abstract quality!
 Twinkle lights were up in November. 
They and Bright Birds, shiny baubles, cheer me. 
Colorful woven bowl by a local artist, 
& original illustrations by artist Melissa Sweet 
(also local though nationally known.)
   On a recent cold, gloomy, gray day I bought a sampler of glitter, 
to spark my spirit,
at the art shop on Main St. 
It worked, & I've used it on my latest coptic book 
which I stitched while sharing tea with a visiting friend.
She knit & I stitched in my sunny warm dining room.
And we chatted while the cold winds blew.

 Feeding my body (organic wild blueberries & organic rice cereal
feeding my soul, with color & art tools.

Since January 1, I read & copy passages from the book, Simple Abundance, into my morning diary, 
using the French translation. The author is all about
gratitude, appreciating life, inner happiness...
 The Library Sketchers group, which I have turned over to the group to lead now, 
still nourishes my love of drawing, 
& feeds me with inspiration & comaraderie. 
Artist Leslie gave us a presentation on paint brushes. 
She generously brought gazillions, & let us experiment with them!  
(the other page: sketching without my glasses 
at my local hair salon, looking into a big mirror.) 
 Leslie's brushes! Talk about abundance!
 Saturday morning, my body & soul get nourished at our indoor Farmer's Market. All local vendors & it has a European feel! This time of year, New Beat Farm had carrots, beets, rutabegas, and cabbage. I sketched, 
then bought a bunch of organic carrots, later made a vegetable soup.

My friend has a lemonade stand, adding hot chocolate & cider at this time of year! 
More to show in another post, but, in short, 
to be at her stand for me is like being in the film, Pollyanna, so much good feeling, color & prettiness!

Many older folks go to Florida in winter, but I love finding
sparkle, light, & color right here. All the more intense, perhaps, against the backdrop of neutral winter grays, umbers, siennas, and muted dark greens of the out of doors. 

Question: What do you surround yourself with?