August 2006 Archives

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Tomatoes. Local ones. I was tempted to paint with their juice - but I'd rather eat them, instead.

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Dried Queen Anne's lace on top of a bedroom bureau.

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What started as a drawing of a sleeping child became an aerial landscape as I worked, tonight, remembering the weight of the covers, the edge between water and land, sleep and thought, child and blanket.

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End of the evening, end of the weekend, and really the end of summer vacation, as the students come back to school tomorrow. I didn't realize I had this feeling of things receding, edging out of view, until I finished my drawing tonight. Now I am noticing that quiet moment at the very end of summer, when one wave has withdrawn for a moment and the next one is about to come sweeping in. After a pause, and a glass of iced coffee, the tumbling rush of fall activity is something to turn and face with excitement.

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Hot nights return, and I'm thinking about line. Even thinking about cross-hatching or a wash of shadow makes me hotter. The edge of the coffee table is horizon enough.

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"I know what you can draw - I picked it for you."

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This is the view across Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield from a chair in my dentist's office waiting room. We had our appointments today.

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No ripe figs yet, but we have enough green ones this year that I hope we can beat the squirrels to some of them. Most people who grow figs in this part of the world take special pains to protect the tree in the winter, either digging it up and moving it to a protected spot, or half-burying it with earth or mulch. We do neither, but the tree is close enough to the house that most years it does not lose too many branches to the frost and snow. I love the large irregular shape of the leaves - feels tropical in our little city garden.

Behind the tree is our ivy-covered garage. Then it got too dark to draw.

I've collected 25 drawings from last year, along with the corresponding blog entries, and have published a small softcover book of them. It costs $19.95, and is available for purchase online - as of today! The drawings are reproduced at actual size, so that reading the entries can be as close as possible to the experience of browsing through a series of sketchbooks.

Self-publishing is very different from working with an editor and a publishing house, but it has the advantage of being rapid. I am using the print-on-demand service available at www.lulu.com, and the process has been straightforward enough that I'll probably do it again with a selection of this year's drawings in early 2007. Meanwhile, if you'd like to see what my drawings were like last year, and if you'd like an object to hold in your hand, please click on the link in the sidebar and buy my new book! (If you just like my words, and would like to read more of them, you could buy the children's book I wrote: Think Cool Thoughts, as well. Linda Bronson did the illustrations for that one.)

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More with pen and ink, this time with some layers of wash added. I forget how much I enjoy working without color until I do it again for a while.

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Almost home. We've stopped for the night at my husband's sister's house, after eleven-and-a-half hours in the car. (Bad traffic in New York state.)

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We managed one extra day with family before heading back towards Pittsburgh. The morning was rainy and cold, but it cleared later, and the cousins always have great fun with each other - inside or out. Late in the afternoon, I went out on the porch and drew this cedar, twisted by years of wind blowing in off the bay. Tomorrow we are on the road for the day, and then we'll be home and gearing up for the school year ahead.

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Sat on the beach and looked across the channel at low tide today, while the children ran and splashed and dug in the sand and carried buckets of water up from the ocean's edge to fill the castle's moat.

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Nearly high tide, right before supper tonight. I sat on a rock and listened to the water splashing as it hit the shore. Tomorrow is our last full day here. (You can see where the gouache and brushed ink seeped through the binding from the night painting of a few days ago.)

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I decided to draw this model galleon from almost head on, so I could imagine what it felt like to see something like this coming at you under full sail. Ink and gouache.

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Trying to work more loosely today - the fact the the watercolor crayons began melting, crumbling, and breaking in the sun helped me stay away from close attachment to line. When the crayons became completely unworkable, I switched to gouache and waterbrush. A lovely warm day though, and enough breeze to keep me happy.

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"I should recommend . . . keeping . . . a small memorandum-book in the breast-pocket, with its well-cut sheathed pencil, ready for notes on passing opportunities: but never being without this." John Ruskin, The Elements of Drawing, 1857

I was fortunate to be able to spend my morning having coffee and recording video with a group of artists in Cambridge, listening to and documenting their thoughts on a conceptual project. (Sara had a beautiful Coptic-bound book, so I took a snapshot of that as well...) Afterwards, I walked and talked with my sister, from Central Square to the Fogg Gallery at Harvard, where there was a show of artist's sketchbooks I had been longing to see. Inspiring to look at so many different kinds of sketchbook and so many different drawing processes.

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Drawing and painting after dark. I can see the shoreline, and the lights far across the bay. I know where colors are in my tiny palette, but I can't judge mixes. So I let go of specific visual details and try to convey shape, edge, and feeling. I mark the page with my fountain pen first, and then ignore it... using ink, gouache, and then paint marker.

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Another good drying day.

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Looking down from an upstairs window, I saw this kayak launched from the rocks for a trip around the point to the cove where the rest of the family was swimming. High tide and a good day for jumping off the dock. Or so I heard.

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The air is cooler today, the sea wilder. September is coming, but in the meantime we have sun on the waves and cloud beyond cloud right to the horizon. I feel the past folded into the present, here and now embracing here and then, that magic sense of the generations before me sharing this view.

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Late afternoon on the porch, I sat looking at the light and shadows coming though the railing and reflecting in a water glass.

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The kayak was pulled up in the shade. I used pen and ink and then brush pen and then waterbrush. Useful to know for the future that the waterbrush can pick up a soft gray wash from the tip of the brush pen, so I don't have to choose the darkest black for all shadows.

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View across Ipswich Bay on a clear morning. I noticed this particular hillside because new contact lenses have brought distant views into focus for me. I'm fascinated by the way details now resolve. (The downside of these lenses: I need reading glasses for laptop and newspapers... rites of passage.)

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First day of vacation. Drawing seaweed, breathing salt air, watching the way a small boat swings on its mooring. Tomorrow I will look for seaglass.

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Highway view on Interstate 80, a few miles west of Loganton, Pennsylvania, where we stopped for a meal at the Twilight Diner. Something for everyone's taste: a perfect diner breakfast or lunch.

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The sky kept changing as the wind blew, and the light faded away. I drew this from the porch, happy that the heat wave seems to have passed on. Found the old Bill Staines song running through my head, the one about singing out loud on the telephone wire...

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My mother gave me this tiny 19th-century photograph. The brass-colored frame is bent, the woman slightly more serious than I've drawn her. We don't know anything else.

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Two small bottles. The green one used to hold capers. I think the clear bottle once held ouzo, but that was a long time ago.

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Big thanks to Socal Mom who live-blogged our session, "Is your blog a gallery or a canvas?" and has posted her transcript online. A wiki with other blog coverage of the conference is also filling out, and I gather that podcasts will be released over the course of this coming fall.

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We walked to the market this evening to enjoy the air conditioning and to eat a light supper in the cafe after our shopping. My daughter's dinner consisted of strawberries, followed by a coconut popsicle.

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Home again, and trying to think myself cool by looking at trees outside.

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I told my sister that I was going for a short walk to make my drawing on my last day in San Francisco, but I didn't get any further than her top step. Partway through the sketch, a man with a cane and a broad-brimmed hat walked up the staircase of this house across the way. He was dressed in brown, with a messenger bag slung over one shoulder, and looked as if he belonged to this place.

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