08 January 2013

From Life

I feel like I do too much drawing and painting from photos and not from life. I do make sure to make my paintings from photos I have taken myself, when at all possible, because the discrimination of the artist's eye is just as present when deciding what to photograph as it is when deciding what to include or exclude when drawing or painting, and I think it shows when an artist is painting from someone else's view of the world. (Although I have found reference photos from online for objects to which I have no direct access, when I am making a painting that requires research!)

So today, which was a variable weather day--chilly and cloudy, with the sun only peeping--I was tempted, when I decided to paint a clump of narcissus (narcissi?) from my garden, to take a photograph of them and then go into the nice warm house to draw them. But instead, since the sun had come out and warmed things up a bit, I found a nice big plastic bag to sit on (it rained last night), and went out into my yard to draw them in situ. (Also, I remembered Nina Johansson's stories from Stockholm about frozen ink, fingerless gloves, and sitting in the car in the rain for hours to capture a cityscape, and felt ashamed of my California wimpiness!)

This activity, of course, resulted in lots of curious attention from the stray cats who call my yard their home. If only they would sit still long enough for me to draw them! but they are young and energetic and in constant motion--like a statue for just enough time to make a few lines on the page, and then bolting off across the yard, or flopping down to roll on their backs in the dirt, or butting into my paintbrush hand at some crucial moment. It's hard enough to capture them on film. I tried for a few spontaneous drawings and gave up, afterwards turning my attention to a couple of blessedly stationary lemons hanging just above my head where I was sitting to draw the paperwhites.

I owe today's efforts to the "Journaling Lifestyle" chapter of Cathy Johnson's book, Artist's Journal Workshop, which reminded me to find time, make time, develop a habit, work anywhere, work fast, and use your journal as a learning tool. Thanks for the inspiration.

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