Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Upside Down

Another view looking into the canal.
Don't get too close to the edge. You may fall in.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Upside Down

We will be visiting the land of upside down.  Actually it's looking into the canal near where I live.   More upside down pastel images will be coming.  

Friday, December 26, 2008

Up Closer

This is a close to the shed as we will go this year.  There is no door knob.  The door is held shut with a knotted string.   


Betty Edwards writes in From Drawing on the Artist Within:
"...drawing and creativity are both replete with paradox...One always feels that the next drawing will reveal what one searches for, and the next, and the next. Another paradox is that by looking outward and seeing the world around you in the artist's mode of seeing, you gain insight into yourself. Conversely, by looking inward to find the artist within, you gain insight into the world outside yourself."

My dictionary defines the word paradox as "A seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true". It strikes me that a drawing or painting is a natural paradox.

From my notes written two years ago while reading Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: "The left brain side denies God and sees the contradictions that have no resolution. The right brain side desires God, and sees him as the only possibility acceptable and ignores the contradictions, or even accepts them as necessary!
When we stare at something for a long time, like a sign with the word STOP or some other word, eventually the word becomes strange. We see the letters and their shapes, and the word loses its meaning, and becomes a thing, no longer a sign pointing to something else. That strange phenomenom I can now explain as the R-mode taking over from the L-mode."

Whether the R-mode and L-mode exist or not doesn't matter so much, as being able to accept life with contradictions. Being an artist means living with and creating paradox.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

God and Beauty

The following poem is based upon a prayer of Rabi' a al-Adawiyya from The Beforelife, a book of poems by Franz Wright:

God, if I speak my love to you in fear of hell, incinerate me
in it;
if I speak my love to you in hope of heaven, close it
in my face.
But if I speak to you simply because you exist, cease
withholding from me your
neverending beauty.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Apropos to Andrew Wyeth, most of his work is not as tight as one might suppose. In fact, it's quite free. I used to think that all he did was paint blades of grass. His watercolors are a revelation.

"The drawing can never be the object, it can only suggest some comments about it. It must be a translation, just as the words you are reading have to be translated. The word 'bowl' only sets up the idea of a bowl. The drawing of the bowl is an illusion and remains drawn marks...If you strive for too perfect an edge, or too clinical an image with not a mark or area of shading out of place, one may find that although the image is complete, it does not look convincing." (from Pencil Drawing by Michael Woods)

Can't Shed the Shed

The last pastel, which I did last night, is the closer approach at left top.  The other pastel is from the night before.  I will be knocking at the door next.

I learned recently that  Andrew Wyeth's art is about particular places.  Even the people in his work have the qualities of the place they live in. Concentrating on places with deep meaning to him has given his art focus, direction, and emotional power.  Finding this focus is the most important thing that can happen to an artist.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Farm Shed

This small farm shed is close to the edge of Luce Road in Williamstown, MA. I have drawn and painted it many times. As you can see, it's in a splendid place. Tonight it's probably deep in snow.

"To see is to enhance your sense of wonder both for the singular pattern of your own experience, and for the meta-patterns that shape all experience. All this suggests a useful working approach to making art: notice objects you notice. (e.g. Read that sentence again.) Or put another way: make objects that talk--and then listen to them." From Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland.

I wonder why I like that farm shed so much.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Still on Sheep Hill

It was very still on Sheep Hill when I was there last week late in the afternoon. Above is a view looking down on the farm buildings at the lower right, which I did last night.  Below is tonight's pastel from a different angle nearby.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Still in Massachusetts

Last night this small pastel emerged. It's a detail of a farm shed in Williamstown. The image resembles the original, but like they say on E-Bay, the original is much nicer than the photo.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Views from Sheep Hill

This weekend I visited Sheep Hill in Williamstown, MA. where I took photographs. I worked up two pastels from the photos. See below. There is no way a photograph can capture the enormity of the landscape. An earlier drawing that I did on site is posted above. I used a larger 9x12 colourfix sheet for this pastel, which wasn't large enough. I felt as if I needed something 10 x 20 feet.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rembrandt Landscape Drawings

Last year when I was doing landscape drawings in pen and ink, I discovered the book Landscapes of Rembrandt: His Favorite Walks by Boudewijn Bakker. It's too expensive to buy, so I used interlibrary loans to borrow it for a couple weeks. The author and his colleagues traced where Rembrandt walked around Amsterdam on drawing expeditions and even where he sat down and drew. In some cases, a pupil's drawing exists, done alongside from a slightly different perspective, to compare with Rembrandt's drawing. What's interesting is that Rembrandt preferred the rundown cottages and romantic views, deliberately leaving out "contemporary" structures. Another writer, Gary Schwartz, I think, wrote that the weather was always fair when Rembrandt ventured out. His drawings seldom have any clouds. I suspect that he left them out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Next Day

This is the 5x7 landscape that I did last night. I have been working from digital photographs that I took a few weeks ago. I know that there are issues with working from photographs, but sometimes it can't be helped. I learned from the Morandi show at the Met that he used silk flowers for his still lifes, since they didn't wilt away, and I have read that Cezanne used fake fruit since they didn't rot. I use photographs since they make the clouds stand still.

Here's the landscape I created tonight:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Drawing Every Day

After reading the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards in December, 2006, I followed her urging to draw every day, to draw anything, but draw. She writes, "The more clearly you see, the better you will draw, and the more you will express yourself to yourself and to others." It was only later that I discovered that there's a draw/paint everyday movement visibly expressing itself on the Internet.

I started with pencil, moved to black chalk, then pen and ink, and finally started adding color with colored pencils, all over a span of a year and four months. Then I discovered pastels, which I have been using now for eight months.

This is what I did yesterday, a 5x7 landscape in Williamstown, MA:

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Painting and Prayer

How are painting and prayer related? St. Paul said "Pray always." Bob (and others) says "Paint always."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

First Entry

Frederick Franck wrote in Art as a Way: "...only if one sees one becomes harmless to all beings!"