Saturday, January 13, 2007

Random acts of kindness

I'm always amazed when someone goes out of their way to do something nice for me. We have become so desensitized to other people these days, we try to shut ourselves off from the world and concentrate on ourselves.

I talked about Colorfix paper in a thread in an art forum and a friend who I have met through that forum is sending me a piece to try. I can't access this paper in Canada (that I know of) so would have to mailorder from the USA. But before investing dollars in the paper, I'd like to try a piece first. This random act of kindness is truly appreciated. She didn't have to go out of her way to do this for a virtual stranger, but she did and I will wait for it to arrive impatiently and plan what I will draw on it with coloured pencil.

Today is my youngest daughter's birthday. This sketch was done when she was about two from a tiny reference image. It was an image that was taken at a preschool group that she attended. They had a photographer, perhaps the school photographer on loan, and young madam obviously did NOT want to participate. This expression was the result. It speaks volumes.

Friday, January 12, 2007


I truly dislike winter.

I hate being cold. I hate low light levels. I hate snow. I hate seeming to live in constant artificial light both at work and at home. I dislike driving in snow and ice and having to scrape it off my car, both in the morning and sometimes when I come out from work again in the evening. I dislike wearing heavy winter coats and scarves and mittens and boots.

So I've immersed myself in summer, at least visually. This road goes off into the woods from the bottom of my driveway. It is a rough road leading far into the country, branching off to Three Island Pond, Moon Pond and Half Moon Pond as well as some country cabins. Its a walkable road, if you wear boots for wet spots, and driving is only for all terrain vehicles or snowmobiles in winter. But each summer as I come home, I face this view as the last thing I see before I turn into my driveway. It always pleases me. And on days like the one this image was taken, heat and the smell of kicked up dust as I walk invites me to go further.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


I've just finished booking a flight online. Its one of those experiences that makes me almost hold my breath until its completed. I never quite trust the electronic powers that make these things happen. I feel almost giddy with relief when they work and I get the result that I want.

Of course all that are available now are electronic tickets, though I do suppose they must have some of those multilayer, red-inked, smeary hard copy tickets left collecting dust in some drawer somewhere for those individuals who have not yet joined the world of the internet. I wonder how many departments you have to shuffle through to actually find someone who remembers how to process a real ticket? Its something I can tell my soon to be born grandchild. I remember when you used to get real ticket to get on the plane - along with pleasant attendants and food and drink for free.

Here is another sketch of Tripod, the cat who thinks he's a dog. His character is unique and I do wish I knew his background and why he talks so much. I think he has a story to tell. Coloured pencil in my Moleskine sketchbook.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


"These drawings were done for one reason only. To see before I die..."
Frederick Franck
If there is one thing that I could provide people from an artistic perspective, it would be the ability to see. Really see.

Many people start a drawing with an idea in their head that goes back to childhood, based on known shape, size and colour. The object that is in front of them is immaterial in how it presents itself. It can be foreshortened, the lighting can change its colour or set shadows, but the individual will see the object in their mind's eye in a particular way.

I wish I could explain what it is like to see. From my perspective it can be almost distracting as I see shapes and colours in everything around me. I am hosting a drawing class and trying to ensure that people really see what is before them and how to translate that onto paper. Proportion and measure, light and shade become keys to a secret world that few others can see into. Its like those moments as a child when you look into a Viewmaster and see the 3D scenes but can't describe them to others. You know the objects or people or views, but they are seen through new eyes.

It isn't until you draw an object or person that you really see them. You know intimately the details and shapes and colours. Showing how to see, really see what is before you is a wonderful ability and when I see the light bulb of recognition and knowledge come on, it fills me with pleasure. For the person who realizes what they can do and for me to have been a part of that process.

This drawing is one of those teaching tools, a quick sketch from class to guide people into how to line up major reference points for measurement.

Monday, January 08, 2007


"His fur is badly worn, there is a big bald spot on the back of his head, and his joints are very weak. Should I?...turning to go, I see how disappointed the bear is. 'Please,' he says, 'I won't be any trouble.'"
Jama Kim Rattingan

Sunday, January 07, 2007


I tackled this portrait using a pretty grainy image that was also very dark so most of the detail was in shadow. I didn't have any other images to assist me so its a bit like one of those moments of high stress where you shut your eyes, say a quick prayer to the gods of art and put down what you hope looks like the person. I'll find out tomorrow if I've offended someone or not...

There is something interesting about creating a portrait of an individual. You never really see the person until you have drawn them. The same is true for any object. We see a tree for instance and think tree, perhaps the species, and that's it. In the eyes of an artist we see a tree and think, trunk texture, sunlight reflecting on the right side, how the branches intertwine, the different colours of the leaves, where the skyholes are in the canopy, how the structure of the branches interact with the trunk, etc. etc.

The same happens with people. I see a person and study eye shape or colour; bone structure of the face, mouth, nose, hair. Some faces don't interest me to draw. There isn't enough shape there to hold my attention. Sure anyone can be drawn, but some faces are more interesting than others. Faces with character hold my interest or those in good contrasting light. But there isn't a person yet who I have not at least tried to draw.

I would like to try to draw a different person each day if I had time to do so, but I know it would be impossible for me to succeed due to time constraints, so I will just do them as I can and continue to be amazed by what I see and how it is interpreted.