Funny how I thought I didn’t do any decent drawings this week and yet there are a few. Sure, one is just a doodle from a restless moment (and there are a few more like it that I didn’t post), but I’m pleased to have accomplished even this much. Work has been wearing me thin, making it nearly impossible to do anything with the evening hours except stare in a glazed manner and be cranky. The weather’s been lovely though–a fluctuation between hints of autumn and lingering, languorous summer.
I liked this woman’s pose–one hand in her rumpled hair; the other dropped casually to her side, dangling a cigarette–and it offered the challenge of rendering her leather jacket. I did the pencil sketch fast, adding detail and shading, trying to keep it light, and then went for the watercolor. I took the color a little further than I meant to–I had planned only subtle washes and no background–but I still like the final effect. I went back touched up the drawing when it was dry to tighten it up a bit. I think next time, I want to try watercolor over charcoal.
Long ago, I wrote a story about a little girl named Molloy Warrick, aka Molly. My intent at the time was for it to be profusely illustrated, and so I did a number of studies. Today I made another one–watercolor this time–and in honor of revisiting this theme, I’ve opened a new page for Molly under the Projects tab. For now, there are just a few of the studies I’ve made.
Maybe I don’t know enough narcissists, but in my experience, people don’t like it very well when you draw them. Even before they see the results. Most people don’t even like to be looked at. One of the best times to draw then, I’ve discovered, is when you catch people asleep. I’ve made quite a few drawings of friends, family and random strangers fast asleep.
I was probably at my best with watercolor in 1983: I worked in it often, took a class, and it suited my mood, which was joy in beauty. I couldn’t let it escape. These days, I’m too tired. I still see the beauty, but I’m more likely to cry over it than grab the watercolor set. Back then, I was readily enraptured. I’d like to regain that skill level and that access to an active emotion toward the things that move me.
This is certainly an unusual sleeping position–half-fetal, half face-down–but it was real, and apparently comfortable enough for me to make these two studies. I did indulge in a bit of Mannerist exaggeration in the sweep and stretch of the leg, but I was so thrilled by the curves and shadows! And believe it or not, the model liked the drawing…without being a narcissist. A good model is so hard to find…
Again a stressful week limited the amount of useful real work I was able to do, but I did make a few things I liked. The first was a small marker drawing and the second was a watercolor based on a composition by Felice Casorati. I’ve been fascinated with foreheads recently, which is probably why this fellow’s is preposterously high; you know, the way kids draw the daisies bigger than the house because they really like flowers. (Obviously not a future architect.) I stumbled onto the Casorati image on Pinterest, but knew nothing of him prior. He painted in the early decades of the last century and has a lyrically simplified composition and figural style that was half abstraction and half della Francesca. He’s one I’ll be studying this week.
Got a little extra time with the holiday weekend, but my efforts seem lopsided. The first few days I did much stronger work, but as the days went on, I felt the burden of chores and Christmas requirements and getting ready for the week ahead…and the steam goes out of me. But I got a few things anyway. It’s all I can do with the choices I’ve made.
This lot includes French peasants…lunch crowd at One Oxford… dapper gentlemen…and studies from Olivier Vatine, Michael Mentler, Jean Cocteau and Francis Picabia. I especially liked combining the watercolor and pencil in the figure studies, and also attempting the clean line style of Cocteau and Picabia. Forever there’s the wish to do more… more and better. Even so, this is a good crop.
Quiet week. Because so many years went by when I scarcely drew at all, I am afraid if I stop for even a day, I won’t be back for a long time and all I’ve gained will be lost again, but I am desperate to have some time away. I feel burned out and half the time don’t enjoy what I am doing. Writers are notorious for saying you need to sit down with your blank page every day; you have to show up and do the work or you aren’t a real writer. Or artist. So maybe I’m not a real artist… I think I can live with that. Not be happy with myself, but I can live with it. I think I’m going to have to.
Reviewing another week of drawings…more pencil…Oh, how happy I am working with pencil!–though it doesn’t always scan well. It’s so nice to get the subtle effects, especially when highlighted with a wash of watercolor. And for bolder color, there was another round of the Francis Bacon fascination. I didn’t get much done during the week…who knows why…but the weekend felt productive. Let’s hope that’s momentum for the week ahead.
My recent rendering of a Rodin statue in pencil and watercolor was a throwback to a style I used back in 1983. I went to the Rodin Museum in Paris that year, and to the wonderful little Rodin collection in Philadelphia not long after. I even copied out extensive notes from the book Art by Auguste Rodin (1912); back then it was harder to track down used copies of books and I didn’t have a lot of money. Here was inspiration.
I can’t identify the statues in those earlier drawings, though I am fairly sure they are by Rodin. Last night I did another; maybe there will be more. It’s a quick, simple format, but allows for a good study of form–and I want every opportunity to get used to brush and paint again. Besides, I love Rodin’s twisting, sensual forms, the emotional intensity of his work. There’s no ambiguity. Feelings made physical, the spirit becomes visible, and we are given a glimpse of that light inside that makes it all move. It’s what I hope my own work will do. One day.
Man, a demanding day job makes it so hard to make progress, but I’m trusting in the process and plodding on. I’m really not satisfied with my work this week. I wanted to do more, but never seemed able to, though as I was trying to also make time for writing, I should have realized the drawing might lose for it.
The second and third images are figures from life, and the first and fourth are from photos. I did a bit more with pencil this week, which sadly doesn’t seem to scan well. All of the shoes and boots are my practice drawings toward an image idea I had related to one of my novels, Duckworth, the one I’m currently revising. And last of all is a pencil and watercolor sketch from a statue by Rodin called Eve After the Fall. I like it. I used to do these decades ago when I toyed with studying sculpture–what didn’t I want to study at one point or other?–and it’s very reassuring to see that I still can.