Saturday, August 09, 2008

Local sketches

The Beamer, Flatrock
pen & ink & coloured pencil
copyright Jeanette Jobson

This has to be the worst summer in terms of weather this year. The rain and cool temperatures just won't go away. I took advantage of a reasonable day yesterday to do a little sketching locally. I haven't done a lot of on site sketching this year so it was good to get out and just get lost in drawing again.

My drawing drew lots of interest this time as at each place, tourists and locals kept coming up to me asking me what I was drawing. I don't usually mind people asking, but sometimes constant questions impede my progress or interrupt my ability to stay focused.

The first sketch is in Flatrock, overlooking the harbour. There is a long piece of land jutting out from the shore that is known as The Beamer. It is topped with many large boulders; left overs from a glacier that swept the area many thousands of years ago and gave the area its name.

pen & ink, sketchbook
copyright Jeanette Jobson

I drove down the coast a little further to reach Torbay and sketch the cliffs overlooking the harbour . The name Torbay comes from an area of the same name in Devon, England and was first mapped in Newfoundland in 1615 by John Mason. The word is the old Anglo-Saxon "Tor" which means a tower.

I'll continue to document local scenes over the summer and these couple of weeks off will provide some free time to access areas that I usually don't have time to visit.

Thursday, August 07, 2008


When I was a small child, my grandparents lived with our family. They had separate living quarters, a little like the original 'granny annex' but we came and went and shared a formal living room. In that room there were a number of antiques. Of course then I had no idea of their worth, except that a couple of pieces appealed to me and I was occasionally allowed to touch my favourite, the sculpture of a knight on horseback.

The commanding pieces in the room were two huge framed prints on either side of the fireplace of a curly haired child, called Cupid Awake and Cupid Asleep. These were prints of the photo taken in 1897 by Morris Burke Parkinson of Josephine Anderson. Josephine was the daughter of a friend of Parkinson, a single mother who worked and sometimes left her child in Parkinson's care. Josephine was four when the photos were taken and she continued to model for M.B.Parkinson for many years, some of the photos are in the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. The later prints of Josephine are also very sought after collectibles. Josephine died in the 1970s.

I spent hours staring at the face of the child in these portraits, the child that I was, thinking they really were a fairy of some kind. After my grand father died in the early 1960s, the pieces were sold by my grandmother, money was a factor I presume, and I didn't really think of them again for years until I was given a large Cupid Asleep print for which my sister found in Ottawa. I wanted the Cupid Awake to match it, but had trouble finding one in a similar size. Then a year or two later I was given a small pair for Christmas, which had been hunted down by a friend who is an antique dealer. I have the original larger Cupid Asleep and now the smaller pair which I framed and now keep as a reminder of those large portraits my grandmother had.

Looking at these photos now, I think how well they would look as drawings. The sepia tones and hand tinted pink cheeks, along with the dramatic lighting would make a lovely exercise in values. I may just try one and see what happens. Carbon pencil or charcoal perhaps...

The smaller pair are, I believe, some of the original prints, dated and signed with copyright while the larger print doesn't have any information on it. The colour in the larger print is a reddish brown while the smaller images are much truer to colour in terms of sepia and the pinked cheeks as well the image quality is much crisper.

Parkinson copyrighted his prints in 1897 and they were distributed by Taber-Prang Art Company of Springfield, Massachusetts. In 1908, The Ohio Art Company began selling metal picture frames in which the Cupid prints were displayed, some of them hand tinted. Sold at Kresge’s, Sears, and Woolworth’s, people bought the frames for the pictures. The Cupids were immensely popular and were seen in millions of homes across the country. In 1938, Ohio Art Company (makers of Etch a Sketch) bought the copyright from Taber-Prang after their bankruptcy. Originally sold for a nickel or dime, the Cupid photos now command high prices, as much as $450 a pair in larger sizes.

A hibiscus was on the Weekly Drawing Thread at WetCanvas and I found myself doing a few minutes of work on it at lunchtimes throughout the week. Flowers are not my forte and never will be, but I still like to test myself and push into the dark zone now and then. :)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Regatta

Before bed meltdown

Here is a recent photo of my 18 month old grand daughter having a little tantrum before bed one evening. I don't love the photo because she's obviously unhappy, but I do love it because it shows such natural expression. Can't we all identify with that total breakdown of frustration and anger that we'd sometimes like to express like this, but have to keep bottled up inside because we're adults?

Life's unfair my baby, but you get used to it.

To escape some of the madness that I call work, I'm taking a couple of weeks off. During that time I have some personal things to take care of and some art to catch up on. I hope to do a little travelling, even it is only exploring some of my surrounding areas. There are many places and sights that I pass by, some even on a daily basis, that I overlook. Details that they provide turn them into something extraordinary and turning those details into drawings or paintings make them unique not only to me but to others. I will still be posting when I can during this time. I haven't been posting as frequently as I have been and find that many bloggers aren't during the summer months. There are so many other things to catch up on during a short warm season.

Here, on the first Wednesday in August, the
Royal St. John's Regatta, the oldest organized sporting event in North America., is held and it is a municipal holiday. The holiday for the Regatta is also a floating holiday which is weather dependent. The wind plays a big role in this so the committee must decide early in the morning whether or not the forecast is suitable.

The purpose of the Regatta is competitive rowing in fixed seat shells. The shores of the lake on which it is held are also lined with concession stands and if the weather is good, you can find 50,000 attending.
This year weather has postponed it and it may not go ahead tomorrow either. This has been one of the worst summers on record. We had a slow start with a cold wet spring and early summer, then a blistering heat wave and now back to chilly temperatures and drizzly rain again.

I haven't attended the Regatta in years as I don't like being jostled in the crowds. The races can be interesting but more so the championship ones at the end of the day. So most of the time I take the holiday that goes along with the day and catch up on other things at home which I likely will be doing again this year.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

When I'm 84

line drawing, graphite 11 x 14
copyright Jeanette Jobson

It was my mother's birthday on July 31st, but we had a party on Sunday for her. I can see time's changes in her more and more and the years go by. She denies her age constantly and I'm sure she's fixed in her 50s or 60s and doesn't believe time has played this trick on her, making her 84.

My mother and I have a relationship that has never been an easy one, even now. I try to assist in her life when I can, but its hard to do when the other person is unwilling. There are a lot of issues, going back over many years and I choose not to dwell on them most of the time.

I had taken some photos at the party and found one that I thought I would draw. My mother hates photos of herself and would also dislike a drawing of herself as well, especially one that showed her age or characteristics that she denies.

I recall sketching a portrait of my father many years ago and he had a small moustache. I went to her house one day and saw the portrait tucked away and the moustache was missing. I asked her about it and she said she never liked that moustache so she erased it!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Summer sketching

The advantage of having people to stay is that you have a whole new cast of characters to put on paper. This past weekend was my mother's birthday party so people came and went for a few days, food was prepared and eaten, drinks were consumed, and I sat in my corner when I had a spare few moments and sketched.

I really try to be as unnoticeable as possible when sketching as I don't want the person to be aware of me drawing them and stiffen their position or get up and move! Most of the time I can get away with sketching people without them knowing. Sometimes people are aware and humour me by sitting there. Sometimes, especially in the case of my mother, she won't have any of it and doesn't want me to draw her. And sometimes I let her believe that I've stopped too then continue on once she's gone back to doing what she was before she noticed me.

I had hoped to make a start on a larger drawing this weekend, but it was impossible to find time to do anything significant so I stuck with some sketching. I've been a little lost in terms of inspiration for a few weeks. I think the summer tends to do that. There are so many other things to take your concentration away from art, it becomes difficult to find time or inclination to knuckle down and draw.

Because the summer is so short, I feel as if I'm wasting it if I've been inside all day drawing. Yes, I could go outside and draw, but I need to get away from home to do that as I get distracted by other things around the garden and barn, then drawing gets waylaid again.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Illustrated journals

There are lots of sunflowers blooming now and I took a bunch for my office and did a quick sketch of them at lunch the other day then filled in with some colour and information around the image.

I haven't done many detailed pages like this for quite awhile and I enjoyed producing the simple sketch, colour and words. There are endless talented artists whose sole work is producing interesting illustrated journals which are a treasure to look through. There is something appealing about illustrated journal pages. Its liking having an inside look into someone else's life in more detail - just my own in this case!