Week in Review

Fashion figure, graphite, watercolor, colored pencil, 2013



sketchbook page 2013-06-28

Girl in purple

In addition to getting a few thousand words this week toward my current writing project, I also had a variety of drawing and painting opportunities. To the usual fashion sources, I added a study of Braque, David Levine and Jamie Hewlett, some new to me, some less so. In the week ahead, I’d like to continue to paint when I can, but also return to pen and ink. I was looking through some ink drawings in an old sketchbook this morning and was struck by the pure, dense black of the ink. I want to play with that again.

Another incentive to more work was my greater participation in Adam Wiebner’s Twitter page @Draw2Live. Adam curates a collection of posted drawings by a variety of artists, which lately has been sparking some lively conversations. Talking about my work and interests with the others there on Twitter makes me feel engaged in a real community. The feedback is such a motivator! It’s been 4 months now since I decided to start drawing again and it has been every day since then, and every day I want to do it more and more. I’m very excited. I just wish there were more hours in the day…

Invisible Shifts, Big Horizons

“There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by. A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is the life of greed; it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet. Who would call a day spent reading a good day? But a life spent reading — that is a good life. A day that closely resembles every other day of the past ten or twenty years does not suggest itself as a good one. But who would not call Pasteur’s life a good one, or Thomas Mann’s?”–Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

All too true, I think. I get frustrated by the few pages of reading I squeeze into my bus ride, a taste when I want a gulp, when I want to read 52 books a year and will probably get under 20 at best. I write a few paragraphs, a few pages, edit a sentence or two, but it ain’t no novel. I draw day after day after day, but can’t see my improvements. Is nothing happening, does one really need to quit the day job and do the creative work 24/7, poverty be damned, or is my time scale is off? Here’s an example: Some time around 2006, I dropped my obsession with capturing likeness (nice when I could still get it), and began to focus on characteristic gesture and expression instead. I used to practice this in the interminable meetings we had at the job I worked back then.

Geoff1Kate1retreat 2007

After that job ended, so did the opportunity to find sustained poses, and between economic woes and a refocus on writing, I really didn’t do much drawing at all until this spring. But now look what’s happened.

Character sketches, pen, 2013

There’s something here. Not everything I want, but a piece of it. Yes, there’s the difference of working from a photo, but those meetings made passionate, 20-somethigns into veritable still life. No joke. So the change must have happened when I wasn’t looking, maybe even in unsuccessful sketches, then and now, that I grumbled over, dismissed and begrudged. The verdict? Trust the process, do the work, and every now and then, lift myself above the day-by-day routine to see where I am. Which is comparatively easy to say, forgetting the disappointment of coming short of the vision, except for this–

I may be closer to my Emerald City than I think.


Map Request


Friday night is the happiest time of the week. I get bouncy with it. Two luscious days just for me stretch out languidly before me. I can do so many things I want to do…draw, paint, write…But will I?

My weekend record is not so good.

I’ve had a tremendous amount of drive these last few days to get some drawing done, and sure enough, I have. But it’s a radically different energy involved in trying to squeeze a few sketches into a busy working day compared to waking up free on a Saturday morning with 48 hours entirely at my disposal. I’m not “on” the way I have to be at work, I’m not scanning the minutes for opportunity–it’s all opportunity. I have the drive alright, but how do I get it in gear when everything in me is on idle? Exhaustion is no excuse.

But… there is light. For months I’ve wanted to start developing sketches for a character of mine, and in these last weeks, I’ve finally been making small steps in that direction. I’ve wanted to work more in color and there has been a little more of that around here lately. Minute by stolen minute, I can feel the momentum building. It’s slow and halting and frustrating because I want to experience speed that is measured in G-forces when it comes to my making. It isn’t realistic but that’s the thrill I crave. The real question is:

If I can summon the energy to work hard enough to see the improvements I want, if the rocket fuel ignites, where do I plan to go with this thing?

I honestly don’t know. I have ideas–always, always, the words and the images–but I don’t know. Yet.