Friday, April 25, 2008

The artist's trade

Kolinsky sable
Graphite & coloured pencil
copyright Jeanette Jobson

Vivien's keeping me busy lately! Another interesting little project has people drawing their painting brushes and the results are quite interesting.
Your task grasshopper, should you wish to take it, is to sketch your paintbrushes...
This brush, like many others, has a story to tell.

In 1980 I was 26 years old and building my art, living on a farm near Coombe St. Nicholas, Somerset, with two dogs and two very small children and mostly on my own, as my husband worked abroad in the oil industry 9 months out of 12.

In one of the closer towns to me, Chard, I used to shop for groceries and art supplies. The art store would take some of my work, mostly watercolours back then, on commission. I had a couple of paintings in the store, small life studies I believe. I would somewhat forget about what was hanging in the store and rotate them when asked if nothing sold.

I was contacted one day by the store owner who tracked me down at lunchtime in the pub to say that there was a gentleman from London who was interested in one of my paintings and wanted to meet me. I went back to the art store and had a long conversation with the man who wanted to buy the painting and asked if I was interested in accepting brushes in exchange for the work.

Being a young artist and parent with the usual lack of cash that accompanies that status, I hesitated. The pounds that the painting represented were already being spent in my head, but the man went out to his car and came back with a small case. Inside were an assortment of Kolinsky sable brushes. Part of this person's job was selling artist's brushes and he was offering me two of these sable brushes in exchange for my painting.

I couldn't resist the offer, realizing that the brushes were worth even more than the painting was worth and that they would last a long time, producing many more paintings, so I accepted and the deal was done. We celebrated in the pub with a drink while dressing the brushes in a glass of water on the bar.

The paint is gone from the handles on this and the other brush and the ferrule's shine is diminished considerably, but the hairs are still soft as silk and paint like a dream, holding water and pigment beautifully even after 30 years.


indiaartist said...

Love this story,love te sketch and amaze that the brushes are still soft!

Jeanette said...

Thanks Indiaartist. It was a good trip down memory lane to do this.

Rose Welty said...

Jeanette, they are beautiful - both the sketch and the story. You've given that brush the full amount of dignity in your sketch, it looks dignified, not just old.

And the story is wonderful...would love to hear more "Jeanette backstory" if you are up for it. :D

Robyn said...

I think he was the Brush Fairy, Jeanette. It was an artistic spell he wove for you. Magical story. I love your brush!

Laurel Neustadter said...

The story is wonderful, and the drawing is gorgeous. I love the soft, subtle tones you have achieved.

vivien said...

I agree with everyone - a totally gorgeous drawing and a lovely story to go with it :>)

I'll add a link :>)

I had no idea you'd lived in Somerset - a very English part of England! and lovely.

Jeanette said...

Thank you Rose. I have lots of stories and I'm sure I'll share them over time. I always say I could write a book :)

He definitely helped my art career Robyn!

Thanks Laurel. I'll try to get a better image of this drawing up as this is not detailed enough I think.

Thanks Vivien. It was great fun to do this. And yes, I lived in the UK for about 15 years from 1975, with a year in Ireland. (that's another story!) Both on the outskirts of London and in Somerset which I quite enjoyed.

Lindsay said...

What a wonderful story to go with the drawing of your beautiful brush. Funny how Vivien sparked an interesting project. At first I was thinking it was ho-hum. But the more I worked on it the more I loved the assignment.

Marsha Robinett said...

Jeanette, what a lovely story. Thanks for's a good reminder that value is not always measured in $$.

I enjoyed the "touch of color" on the handle...wonderful project.

Tracy Hall said...

What a terrific idea and a lovely story, Jeanette. I don't think I have any brushes with a good story, what a shame - now I want one!! Also a first rate drawing of the brush :)

Jeanette said...

Lindsay, you wouldn't think a brush could conjure up so many interesting versions would you?

Thank you Marsha. I'd forgotten about how I obtained that brush all those years ago. It was a treat to relive it.

Tracy, you have to join in! Story or not, I know you have brushes that you could turn into delightful images. Come on, let's peek into your stash...

Belinda Lindhardt said...

Wow what a fabulous story :)

laura said...

Beautiful drawing; I love the subtle touches of color. I can see why van der Weyden appeals to you!