Thursday, April 10, 2014

Drawing From Life

Ballpoint Pen on Paper, 8.5x5.5"

The title of this post has a double meaning. This was drawn as it occurred. It is not photo derived. So it is drawn from life. It is also part of my life's experience. So it is drawn from life. My life. This my mother getting a haircut.

The beauty parlor is a good subject for art. Such places deal in fantasy. There are the images of young, impossibly flawless, Photo Shopped woman plastered up everywhere. Then the real people walk in the door and are confronted by those images. The contrast presented by my 99 year old mother and those false images is flabbergasting!

I remember seeing a show years ago with women who were competing to be Mrs. America. All were married and had children and were very youthful looking (of course). They had to be paraded around in swimsuits. In essence, it was a meat rack thinly veiled in the superficiality by a well paid public relations firm. When I think of all the courageous women who would not have met the narrowly shallow ideal represented on that show, it makes me want to scream!

I thought, "Why can't my elderly mother be Mrs. America?" She was married to my dad for 63 years. When she married my dad he had the clothes he stood in and little more. She raised 4 children all of whom have been self-sufficient. All of us have maintained our marriages for long terms. She has been a wonderful grandmother and now great grandmother. So I nominate my mother to be Mrs. America.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Drawing on Unexpected Changes

Waiting and Dozing and Moving and Dozing
Ball Point Pen on Paper, 8.5x5.5"

I was drawing this woman at the eye doctor before the dilation solution in my eyes took effect. She was as antsy. She coped by alternately dozing and shifting the position of her right arm. Between snatches of near sleep she would alternately clasp her left hand or prop her head against her fist. I had already drawn her hand in one position when she moved into her other position. So I drew it again. That's why she has three arms.

How else does one draw and acknowledge such changes and the passage of time? Picasso's cubism provided a means for doing that. He really did acknowledge the passage of time by representing people and things from many points of view. It was a new metaphor for representation. Since the Renaissance the metaphor was that an image was to be a window looking out onto another world at a single, still moment in time. With Picasso, image became a flat object with snatches of the subject represented all at the same time. He was very influential.

The practitioners of Futurism took Picasso's cue and ran with it. His multiple, simultaneous mode of representing the world suited their glorifications of the machine age, speed, and violence. They reveled in the continuous motion and energy of the modern industrial age. 

They had a dark side. They were part of a nihilist fringe who longed for a "cleansing" war. (That ethos was present all over Europe and in the United States.) They were irredeemable misogynists. Some were Fascists. 

Well they got their war. Most were killed during World War One.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Good Drawing Time

Waiting at the Dentist
Ballpoint Pen on Paper 5.5x4.5"

This man was a very good model even if he didn't know it. And he wasn't even absorbed by a cell phone! The fact that I could catch his hands says something about his stillness. He did move around a little but seemed to come back to this position. It was just enough time before he had to get up and go into the dentist's chair. 

I have a dentist who is always late. Something always delays him. I have resolved to wait only 15 minutes for him in future. The only thing that would cause me to wait longer is some good drawing time like I had with this man.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Waiting Room

Waiting for the Birth
Ball Point Pen on Paper, 5x4.5"

My first grandchild was born last November. (Grand he is!) While we were waiting for his arrival, other people were waiting for arrivals of their own. Since I draw while I wait, I drew this young man as he waited for his new family member to arrive. 

People who play with their cell phones are such good models. They are so absorbed by the activity their positions do not vary much. Then, if they do get up, I can work on the context. 

I found this arrangement of furniture in front and the furniture in back to be, spatially, very interesting. I find situation in which the viewer has to climb over obstacle to find the center of attention to be particularly appealing. It's such an interesting technical problem to me as an artist. It may mean more than that but I'm going to leave that to you, dear reader, to figure out.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Ball Point Pen on Paper, 8.5x5.5"

This is a profile portrait of a friend of ours. Of the portrait views, the profile seems to me to be the least difficult. This was done while sitting at the counter in the kitchen during conversation. I really like to draw when the sitter isn't actually sitting. I think it produces a more naturalistic result. I guess it's the speed factor again. Working fast helps keep the inner critic quiet. Working fast means there is no time to heed the critic. Getting everything down is all that's possible.

I have been told that drawing people without their knowing is a bit of risk-taking. Yes, I could make a mess of it, but so what? I just move on to the next drawing. I have an infinite number of drawings in me. Let them pour forth. My satisfaction with the result is of no consequence. The activity is all that matters.

I started doing ball point pen drawings to show my students that an eraser is an inessential artifact when drawing. I think it's an obstacle to drawing as it encourages the notion that mistakes are to be addressed immediately. Rather, it is best to make corrections on the fly. Using an eraser only interrupts the rhythm of drawing.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Allure of Pattern

Asian Screen
Ball Point Pen on Paper, 8.5x5.5"

I am a sucker for pattern and color. Since color is not an issue for drawing, pattern becomes the important additional element. Pattern seems to enliven the drawing. It renders a drawing more believable. If I can draw the pattern as it appears to undulate across the fabric, it helps give the fabric its form. It doesn't matter what the pattern is. It could be stripes, or flowers, or plaid. Each provides the same believability.

In this case a white kimono with Japanese calligraphy is the fabric providing the central pattern. It's loose gestural quality is contrasted by the rigid geometry of the screen. The painting on the wall behind her on the left finishes the geometry with a linear perspective. The space seems complete. 

In my previous post, I said that invented spaces seem unsatisfying their contrivance. This observed space makes the contrivance of the invented space more apparent. This has some alteration of my view, but as a directly observed setting, this is so much better to me.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Waiting and Hiding

Reading While Waiting
Ball Point Pen on Paper, 6.5x5"

It seems that waiting is such large part of of our lives. At least it has been for me. Waiting for family to come home. Waiting at the orthodontist for the kids. waiting for my usually late hubby. Or waiting for my usually late younger son, waiting for a response to e-mail, text, or voice message. Oy! waiting, waiting, waiting! I have almost screamed from excessive waiting.

Since I have made it a habit to take my sketch book with me pretty much wherever I go, waiting has been transformed into a time to draw. I keep my skills sharp and even come up with some nice pieces. Waiting has become more than just tolerable. This drawing was done while waiting for the eye doctor with my mother. While she was seen to I did my drawings in the waiting area. 

This man was coping with waiting by reading the newspaper. I think having a newspaper up in front one is also a good way to hide. Just prop the paper up in front of you and it's your own little world. My drawing or someone else's playing with a smart phone is not much different. Each activity isolates the users from each other. But the paper is a real physical barrier screening one from view thereby making the isolation more complete. 

I think the themes of waiting and self-isolation in a contemporary context are interesting to explore. I don't know what will come of it but maybe something good.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Long Hiatus

Ball Point Pen on Paper, 8.5x5"

It has been since last June that I last posted on this blog. I have been posting work to my painting blog for most of that time. I just decided to do more drawings and I also went through my sketch book and found all kinds of drawings to post.

Also, since I became a Grandma, I am in thrall to my adorable grandson. He has taken much of my creative attention. I have been sewing baby clothes for him. He doesn't need much now so I am making larger sizes for him. Besides, I just can't help myself.

Sometimes it's good to go back to basics. Drawing is foundational to an observational artist. When I draw all I need to worry about besides a certain stylistic naturalism is value range (light to dark). When I paint I have to keep track of hue, color temperature (cool, warm), in addition to value range. That's a lot more to juggle. Without the complications of color I can concern myself  with just structure. The structure of this is merely the structure that communicates a particular female form. I would rather that it had included an indication of context but the time allotted and the circumstances of the drawing environment precluded any of the surroundings. 

I have often invented a context in previous works but they don't seem satisfying.  The contrivance seems to be too obvious. So viewer, take them for what they are. Fast studies. Having limited time is beneficial as it encourages a swift execution which forces one to just observe and draw. With no time for the inner critic to interfere with the process, the drawing can just happen.

More to come.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Early Spring Foliage
Ball Point Pen on Paper, 8.5x5.5"

I did this earlier this spring. The trees and shrubs leafed out later than in recent years and this reflects that transitional period between the barrenness of winter and the emerging foliage of spring. That's a school building in the back ground. Sometimes I think the built environment can be a little ominous when mixed with vegetation no matter how planned the plantings are. 
There are two office building that I used to pass when I taught evening classes. On the way home, in the dark, were these two very white buildings with very black, rigidly spaced square windows. From my direction of travel, I could glimpse them through the trees. Everything would be dark while the buildings were brilliantly lighted and eerily white through the silhouette of trees.

Some how the buildings in the back ground in this little drawing reminds me of that. I think it's the fact that the building are so monolithic looking with few windows. And then, there's the empty bench. I guess with a little imagination I can make anything spooky. Go figure.

Monday, June 3, 2013

On the Theme of Waiting 3

Waiting with Coffee
Ball Point Pen on Paper, 8.5x5.5"

This man got up to leave before I could develop this drawing any further. I liked the large coffee and his hat on the table in front of him. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

On the Theme of Waiting 2

Ball Point Pen on Paper, 8.5x5.5"
This drawing was done right after the previous subject left to get his car. This woman is older, my age. She's a geeza. (Geezer is the masculine form.) We geeza's are not as attached to cell phones. That is, if we are attached at all. I recently got an iPhone and I understand the attraction. I could get addicted really fast. 
My younger son is constantly checking his phone. It can be very annoying if I am trying to talk to him. I think the instant gratification of checking the internet and receiving hockey scores, etc., is the rub. I just haven't gotten there yet. I play only one game and have few apps. But, I do text.

This lady is reading a real book not an electronic device. I prefer books too but I'm having difficulty with font sizes lately. That's the real advantage of reading on a reader; changing font size. If not for that it would be a book for me too. There's something about holding something more weighty and substantial and turning real pages. I am sooo twentieth century!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

On the Theme of Waiting

Cell Phone Addict
Ball Point Pen on Paper, 8.5x5.5"

I do a lot of drawings done while I am waiting. This was at done while I was waiting for my car to be serviced. There was a whole room full of people ripe for surreptitious drawing. Cell phone addicts are really good models. They are so in thrall to their smart phones, they are nearly motionless. This guy was modeled unknowingly until he was told his car was ready. 
More to come. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Waiting at the Eye Doctor
Ball Point Pen on paper, 8.5x5.5"

I took my mother to the eye doctor today. It took the entire morning. We hustled to get there on time. Then, we had to wait a half hour for the doctor. My mother is 98 years old and she is very hip. She knows what's going on in the world. She has well informed opinions. She lives independently in a retirement community, takes her medications on her own, balances her check book herself, pays her rent, and sees to all her own affairs. She has few cognitive deficits. Her marbles are a little chipped and worn but she has them all.

So this doctor rolls in calling her "sweetie", and "dear" and "honey" in a sing-song kindergarten teacher's voice. This is the first time she has ever seen him and he is treating her in a very condescending fashion. My mother is NOT his "sweetie" or "dear" or "honey". She is an adult.
I wanted to smack him for his incredibly rude behavior! To walk in and treat her like a five year old is insulting. She is to be treated in as courteous a manner as anyone else. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Out of Town

Ball Point Pen on paper, 8.5x5.5"

I was out of town for the last two days and had no time for drawing. Here is a make-up stored in another sketch book.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Daily Drawing: Drawing 2 of 2

Seated Model #2
Ball Point Pen on Paper, 8.5x5"

A second drawing of the same model from the previous post. Enough said.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Daily Drawing

Seated Model
Ball Point Pen on Paper, 8.5x5"

This is the first of two drawings. Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Daily Drawing

In the Comfy Chair
Ball Point Pen on Paper, 8.5x5"

Went to see Picasso yesterday. Traffic was terrible both ways. The exhibition was very crowded. Had to take a nap when I got home and then met my son and new daughter for a birthday dinner. Not a moment for drawing. So here is an older drawing to make up for it: a beautiful model in a chair donated to our art department by a friend of mine.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Daily Drawing

Lunch at the Airport
Ball Point Pen on Paper, 8.5x5"

Eating bad food at the airport is as much fun as waiting for a flight or flying and now it costs $50 to check a bag to and fro. Flying has become a test of character. Airplanes are flying sardine cans. We need high speed rail.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Daily Drawing

Ball Point Pen on Paper, 8.5x4.5"

I saw this kid at Costco having lunch with his family.  He bounced around a lot. I could only catch him in the brief moments when he was relatively still.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Daily Drawing

Fans at the Hockey Game
Ball Point Pen on Paper, 5.5x8"

Done at a hockey game attended with my husband. He's a rabid fan. I'm not. I find the audience very interesting subject to draw. I am too tired right now to write anymore.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Daily Drawing

Finn Juhl Chair
Ball Point Pen on Paper. 8x5.5"

I have opted to contribute to a drawing-a-day group on FaceBook. This is day one and my first contribution. This is a chair from my dining room set. I inherited the set from my mother-in-law. it is a licensed design from a great Danish modern designer from the late 40s. The designer is Finn Juhl. The set was made around 1960.

It's a deceivingly simple looking chair but, as I started to draw I realized that it is not that simple. There is hardly a straight line on it. Every element has a curve in it. I think it is a very beautiful, well proportioned chair. It's also one of the most comfortable chairs to sit in.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Portrait of Tom
Graphite in Paper, 8x5"

This is Tom, a former student of mine who models for my life drawing class now. It is nearly midterm. I have recently presented to my class the anatomy of the head and shoulders. So this what I drew while they drew. I have to stay out of their hair somehow. 

Most beginning figure drawers are terrified of hands, feet, and facial features. The only way to get over that is to draw hands, feet, and facial features early on. In knowing that practice is the route to skill, not having unrealistic expectations also makes the process less daunting. Practice for excellence, not perfection. Whatever the hell is perfection, anyway?

I always have the feeling that I am flying by the seat of my pants when I teach this course. It seems much more fluid in terms of levels of skill. I have to be prepared to revise my plans depending on skill levels and degree of progress. I find my figure students are much more skilled and, gratefully, much more dedicated than my basic drawing students. I think that is as it should be. Figure drawers/painters are usually more practiced and, as a natural consequence of that, more dedicated to developing their abilities. If someone has worked enough to have a certain degree of skill, it is evidence of an equal degree of dedication and work. Repetition is the key to learning. If a student does not have the determination to learn from a lot of failure, that student gives up in frustration. 

What I consider my favorite work is no more than 10% of my production. Another 20% might be acceptable for show. That means the remaining 70% is tucked away or culled in my annual clean out of work. (I have only so much space to store my stuff.) Some work is saved because it has a certain resonance for me in that it has a certain importance for my future work. It may never be shown but I save it as a document of my process.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Seemed Like Forever

Waiting in the ER
Ball Point Pen on Paper, 5.5x8"

Late last year I had to take my mother to the emergency room. She has a history of gastric problems and it was suspected that she may have had an intestinal blockage. It turned out that she didn't but it seemed to take forever to come to that conclusion and deal with her problems. 

My mother's patience for waiting was stretched to it's limits. My mother is close to 98 years old. She says that, at her age, she doesn't have time to waste waiting around. She wanted to get dressed an go home without the doctor's release. This, after waiting for nearly two hours and with a resolution imminent. I told her she would have to call a cab because I was not going to take her home without having what was needed to be done, done. Besides, if I had taken her home, she would have been back in the ER that night with me sitting up with her. Then she'd tell me she was worried that I was not getting any sleep. Go figure!

If you have been following my blogs, you know I always have my sketch book with me for those times when I have to wait. It helps pass the time. In instances like these it also helps with managing my anxiety levels. So here is my mother on an uncomfortable ER gurney trying to doze through the interminable wait.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Class Resumes

Drawing Studio
Ball Point Pen on Paper, 8.5x5"

Class begins again on Monday. I am teaching Basic Drawing and Life Drawing once again. This drawing was done a couple of semesters ago. It is a technique called continuous line. You put your drawing tool down and don't pick it up until you finish the drawing. 

This could have gone on longer to establish a full value drawing by going back over areas and massing the line for a full value range. That would add more information like shadows or the degree of darkness of blue jeans of the dark color of the drawing board, the variation of value on the floor, etc. It's really the preferred way to work. It allows building the whole drawing at once.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Just Draw

Oblivious Texting
Ballpoint Pen on Paper8.5x5.5"

This drawing was done in the same airport waiting area as the previous drawing. My subject was busily texting on her phone just a few feet from me as I drew. She had no idea I was focusing on her. I find that most people are totally oblivious to what I am doing. I don't take any special measures to keep it from them. I just draw. Once in a while I will have someone right next to me peek over my shoulder to watch me draw and then make a comment when I am done. But that's rare. Most times my subjects and I go in our separate ways with no one knowing the wiser.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Airport Conversation
Ball Point Pen on Paper, 8.5x5.5"

This was done last spring while waiting in the airport for a flight on the way home from Florida. A lot of times I choose people deep in conversation or texting to draw. They stay still for longer periods of time. I managed to catch her and her surroundings. 

I do some of my best work in such public places when my subjects are completely unaware of my scrutiny. Airports and restaurants are the best. People are too preoccupied to notice my sketching.  

The next post will be a someone too busy texting to know I've drawn her.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Toys: New Accessory


iPad Drawing, Size Variable

I just bought a new stylus for my iPad. It's a precision stylus that gives the exactness of a real pen. It's just to difficult to get a mark in exactly the right place with my finger or with a rubber tipped stylus.

I also bought another drawing/painting app. I looked up what app David Hockney uses and it's Brushes. I like it best so far.

This is my husband working on a crossword puzzle. It's not a likeness but with new tool I figure I can't have everything just right the first time it's used.

I'm also posting this from my iPad for the first time. I'm checking it out for my trip to Utah. I plan on posting daily if I can get a wireless connection. I am also curious as to how how the formatting will work out. I am fussy as to how I want my blog to look. I am not proficient with HTML coding so I have accepted some of the idiosyncrasies. I am at home so I can check this post to see how it looks and alter it if necessary.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Busy Girl
Ball Point Pen on Paper, 5.5x5.5"

While in Florida last March we went on a sunset water tour of the marshes. This little girl was on the boat with us. She was very busy interacting with family. Naturally little bundles of energy like this don't stay still for long but long enough for these two portrait sketches.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Annual Eye Exam

Waiting at the Eye Doctor
Ball Point Pen on Paper, 8.5x5.5"

This was done while waiting for my eyes to dilate during my annual visit to the eye doctor. After the drops for dilation take effect, he checks a freckle behind my left retina and then I'm done for a year. It's extra dark sunglasses for the trip home. Drawing is my best activity for waiting.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Life Class

Ball Point Pen on Paper, 8x5.5"

This was done a few weeks ago. The model we had scheduled for my life drawing class did not arrive so we went out into the lunchroom to draw whoever was hanging out between classes. This young lady was busy texting. 

 The text mavens are all very good to draw. They are so intent on what they are doing they remain very still. It's almost a trance state. I don't really know how healthy all this digital activity is for them, but it's good for me as an artist.