Thursday, December 31, 2009

Zig Zag

How many variations can an artist find while sketching from the same seat? I don't really know, however I'm starting to find some answers. This morning I went vertical and began to sketch by centering the handle of my funky coffee mug at the bottom of the paper. One line leads to another and, lo and behold, a subtle zig-zag emerges! It may not be as profound as Prometheus bringing us fire stolen from Zeus, but I'm seeing something new just the same. The more I observe, the better I see as I continue to draw. And there's no risk of being bound to my chair and having my liver eaten daily by an eagle.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sometimes the Pen Has Its Own Agenda

I usually begin the morning with a journal entry and a sketch, somewhat like Julia Cameron's suggested morning pages from her book, The Artist's Way. I haven't actually read the book even though it's sitting on my shelf, but I have often listened to the tapes while working in my studio. As with the pages, I've found that the morning is the best time for grounding exercises. They set the tone for the day. All mine happen early including the sketch, which is why a coffee or tea cup has been ubiquitous in my drawings. The cup becomes a familiar starting point and from there anything can happen. I might draw just the cup or sometimes the pen has its own agenda.   

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Triton Museum Drawing Exhibition 12/11-3/4/09-2nd Place Award!

Last night was the opening reception for the Triton Museum's annual drawing and printmaking exhibition. I'm impressed that the rain did little to keep the crowds away from an uplifting visit to the art show. The museum staff hosts quite a reception so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised. However, I was indeed surprised to see a second place award posted next to my charcoal drawing. It's both unexpected and gratifying to receive added encouragement for my creativity. The drawing is a study for a painting of a migrant field-laborer harvesting cauliflower. It has been on deck patiently waiting to be made into a painting. Maybe this is a sign to move it up in the lineup.    

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Uni-ball Vision Micro... the sketching and writing pen I've been using since way back in the late 20th century. When I first gave it a tryout I was regularly using watercolor in my sketches. So I chose this pen for its waterproof ink. Unlike pens designed solely for sketching this one also works well for writing run-on sentences in my journals. I've gone through heaps of them. I'm unaware if it's a popular item and sometimes wonder if the company will ever discontinue this model, but so far there's always a box of them in the shop when needed. However, If that day comes when they are retired, I'll discover a new pen of choice... and cross-hatch that bridge when I come to it.   

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Jam Reversal

The text on the bottom of my favorite coffee mug reads: "The Jam Reversal." I have no idea what that means. I do know the cup was designed by Toshihiro Aoki on June 27, 2001. That's about when I bought it at a shop on Clement Street. Blue dots sit on a red field wrapping around the sides. Lately this familiar vessel has been finding its way into my morning sketches. Familiar things make for great starting points. 

Friday, November 27, 2009

Quince, Coffee and a Bronze Bird

More random stuff on the tall kitchen table by the window looking out over the Pacific Ocean. 

Monday, November 23, 2009

Art Over the Fireplace

Is there a more honored space for art in a home than over the fireplace? I don't think so. I see the hearth as the symbolic center of the house. Television may be the modern day hearth-fire, but the true hearth and the art that hangs above it represent something deeper. The fireplace symbolizes kinship, family and a place to gather. The artwork has the opportunity to take us deeper and reflect the taste and sentiment of the family itself.  With that in my mind, I'm grateful to have paintings hanging in this esteemed spot. What's hanging above your mantle?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Daily Sketch

Everyday make a sketch. That's the discipline. It doesn't have to be executed with the intent of creating a pen and ink masterpiece. In fact, that's not the point at all. The idea is to get lost in the observation of something or anything. The less I think about it the better. Just trust and draw. Maybe it's the same view everyday for a week. Perhaps it becomes something more ambitious. Or maybe it's just a scribble that tells me all I need to know about what I saw. It doesn't matter. What matters is everyday make a sketch.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Triton Museum Drawing Exhibition 12/11-3/4/09

Triton Museum of Art
I'm super grateful to be accepted into the Triton Museum's Statewide Drawing and Print Exhibition. It will be the second time I've been able to participate in one of their art shows. That last was a couple of years ago and I was surprised to receive a bronze award for one of my grape harvest paintings. It's a tremendous venue and a great organization. The reception is Friday, December 11 from 7 PM to 9 PM.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Art of Labor and the Dance of Labor

Agricultural labor is certainly backbreaking work and remains a politically embattled subject. It's also something that everyone is involved in on some level since we all eat. In California one would have to be quite insulated to be unaware of the sources of their food. A short drive in any direction eventually features the colorful dots of migrant laborers amidst green fields of one crop or another. I took a closer look and spent some time observing the workers. What I found and what appeals to me, underneath the ruffling blanket of politics, is the timeless beauty and clear purpose found in the act of harvesting. Difficult as it may be to stoop for hours in the midday sun, the field-laborer is connected to the earth in an artful and unique way. It may be a stretch to call it a dance of labor but that's truly how I see it.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Box of Kelp

Mounds of knotted seaweed and kelp appear on Ocean Beach and have always caused me to stop and stare and wonder and muse at the complex entanglements of amber-green cord. A Gordian knot from the Pacific sits at my feet and I'm hypnotized by the possibility of unraveling its mystery.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Detail: Box of Cloth Painting

This is a photo taken with my iphone. It's a detail from yet another painting of a box of cloth. Someone somewhere said if you took all the painted drapery out of the Louvre there would be little artwork left. I think this might be true of most museums that feature old master paintings including the Palace of Legion of Honor just up the hill from here. There's a lot to do in San Francisco but sometimes I'll choose to walk through the galleries there just to study the many ways drapery has been rendered over the centuries. It must relate to my fascination with mazes and labyrinths as a child. I'm sure this is one of several ways I continue to pursue that early interest.  And so I paint boxes of cloth and kelp sometimes. It's like a moving meditation for me.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Daily Sketch

The more good habits I engage the less time I have for bad habits. One of my good habits is daily sketching. It's a personal commitment to make at least one sketch every day.  Something, anything. Somewhere, anywhere. Observation and meditation blend to create visual memories of a moment, place or thought.  Like a journal entry, it's the best way I've found to let go and truly see what is front of me or discover what's been wanting to fall out of my head and on to paper.  

Friday, October 30, 2009

Box of Cloth (unfinished)

Painting from home can be quite peaceful, especially when I'm lost in the puzzling folds of crumpled cloth in a crate. I believe this piece is starting to come to life.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Box of Cloth

When I was a kid I would draw mazes and labyrinths. I would get lost in it. Now I see it as a form of meditation. My childhood fascination has evolved somewhat and taken shape in the form of cloth and kelp. The process of drawing and painting these is so satisfying that I imagine if I did nothing else I'd be truly content. Apparently I won't allow myself that yet, but this week I'm excited to be painting two boxes of cloth. At the Legion of Honor there are several paintings that I study just for the drapery.  I imagine the artist having the same fascination as I do. A timeless connection perhaps. 

Friday, October 16, 2009