Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Keith reading at the laundry 
ikebana arrangement 
I have been drawing sketches daily for over a year now. I began after my male figure drawing group had been on break for a few weeks last year. We left the Warehouse gallery space and were between venues when I decided I wasn't drawing often enough and I needed to do something to keep my skills sharp. I started drawing little things around the house like NYC artist Danny Gregory recommended to us in his books years ago. First with just sepia-black ink then sometime last year I added watercolors to the daily sketching. I make my own sketchbooks. The size at first was small. I began using little 5.5" by 4.25" books I call "pocket books" because they used to fit in my jeans hip pocket. Initially the drawings only took about 10 to 15 minutes. Sometimes if I chose a complex subject it could take me twice as long but it always seems worth the effort to draw something every day. Drawing this way began just for myself only because I wanted the practice. I feel like drawing is a meditation technique I am lucky to know how to do and not using it daily is a waste. I soon realized that I need affirmation and showing my work always makes me fell better about myself and my work. It also elicits complements and everyone likes those. I am lucky to live with Keith who is a floral designer and a great gardener which means we have flowers around the house and yard nearly all year long. I love flowers and really enjoy the challenge of drawing them. Still life seems to be my most comfortable form of daily sketch for me at this point. I have been thinking that my membership in some of the Urban Sketchers groups is a bit odd. My work tends to be still life not urban life. I don't do much with cityscapes or buildings and I don't hang out in public places very often since I live in what is almost a suburb which doesn't have a Starbucks or a nice cafe with interesting people to draw. I do draw metro riders bumps and jarring lines included free of charge by the erratic drivers of the trains. I sometimes sketch visitors to galleries but people are always moving in the city and it's hard to get good representations of them unless you can get them to sit or stand still. I don't get to ride metro everyday or visit museums and galleries or cafes regularly.  So flowers, fruit, bottles and stuff around the house are still and don't change quickly and make good study subjects for a simple morning meditation with pen and ink or a pencil usually colored with my watercolors.
This year I enlarged my sketchbook to 8.5" by 5.5" and it takes a little longer to draw and paint in a bigger sketch allowing more room to make detail. I even made myself a special project book, a huge book to use out at the Chesapeake bay retreat thinking about how much time I would have there without the computer nor television to distract me. That book is a 10" by 13" and required bigger brushes and more time to finish even simple sketches. Size matters and I got a recommendation from Janis Goodman that I should draw my plants really big, like on the wall big. She didn't know that I live in a shared one bedroom apartment and have no room to create such drawings or paintings and even if I did where would I put them? How would I afford frames to protect them or show them? Big has many draw backs but I gather it also adds importance to the finished product if it is big. I enjoy small things and ever since I left collage I realized I was going to have to work smaller than I did back at Pratt Institute in the 1970's.
Showing work on Facebook and has been a lot of fun and I have received many clicks on the "like" thumb or the "favorite" star from all sorts of friends family and even strangers. I want to share my sketches and I am thinking I ought to do something like my partner Keith is doing. He has decided to show his flower arrangements daily on his own website.  for an entire year. I am wondering if I shouldn't do the same here on my orange blog. Daily sketches of my drawing books posted here  instead of the postings on Facebook where I am always distracted by other interesting posts. On I often get side tracked and many times inspired by looking at my contacts photographs from around the world.
Drawing daily doesn't mean I am going to post every day. I find the routine is kind of hard to keep up while traveling. I can draw but having access to post them and time to edit the photos of them is often impossible when I am out of town. So I am going to allow myself the luxury of posting daily sketches as soon as I can not every single day of the year. I will start with today's sketch of the arrangement Keith did yesterday. It is fun to see the sketch and the photos of the sketch subject side by side. I often find that looking at the finished painting next to the subject in a photo of the two together gives me tips on ways that I could improve the painting and drawing. In today's sketch I see the begonia leaves are much too light a green so I went back later and added more. Your comments are welcome here just like on the other venues where my drawings appear but I want you to know that I have to approve them to avoid spamers from sending ridiculous messages via my comments section.

Metro riders bouncy and moving 

metro riders 

National Gallery of Art waiting for a lecture by David McCullough

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