I was looking at the large pine behind my house that had broken in a wind storm last fall. It was still standing, but there was no green left, so it was basically dead. I thought of how at the end of each year there are stories of the people we had lost that year and I felt that this tree should have been on that list. I decided that I must memorialize it. It was about 35 degrees and overcast, and there was still an inch of snow on the ground. I put on thick boots and thin gloves and started to draw. I guess I really got into it. I didn’t feel cold at all, but the pens weren’t cooperating. One went dry and the other wasn’t much better. I just kept drawing, though, darkening this and filling in that. I thought I should stop several times, but then I would find another part of the picture to work on. When I finally decided to stop I figured it had been about a half hour, but I had actually been there for well over an hour. When I put the pen away and took a step my leg reacted like it was frozen in place and I almost lost my balance but recovered and stumbled for a few steps with my joints buzzing. I realized that I had, except for my head and hand, been standing perfectly still for a long time.
Sunday afternoon was much like the day before, so I returned to the tree, this time with better pens. This time I drew it from a different angle. It seemed slightly warmer than the day before, but I only lasted 50 minutes this time and my hands were damn cold by then.
I stillI have a lot of art supplies that don’t get used enough. Lately I am always working on a scratchboard leaving no time for anything else, but the other day I did find the time to take out some pastels. I had no idea in mind. I just started playing, drawing random shapes, switching up colors, enjoying a little bit of freedom. I like how it ended up but I couldn’t decide which way was up. Then I had the idea to put the four options together, so I wouldn’t have to choose, and I ended up with this abstract masterpiece. I still don't know which way is up, though.
The last Sunday in September was a lovely, sunny day. While doing my time manning the GALA Gallery in Winchendon I sketched some of the other artists as they sat outside enjoying the sun.
Last Thursday the thermometer approached 80. Fearing it may be the last good summer day, I headed out with sketchbook in hand to one of my favorite places, the Thousand Acre Brook. I ended up at the spot I’ve drawn many times, the falls below the Boy Scout Bridge. Along the way I crossed to the other side of the brook looking for a rock cliff I thought I had glimpsed through the trees on a previous walk. I didn’t find any cliff, but I did find a group of large boulders that was interesting enough to draw. I did a pen and ink sketch and then decided to add some color with the watercolor markers I had used up at Millen Pond. From there I went down to the falls and did a sketch of the river.
On Tuesday it was back to Rockport, bringing in a piece for the next show. I left very early in the morning to avoid the worst traffic and to ensure I got a parking spot near the gallery. I therefore had a couple of hours to kill before the gallery opened. It was a beautiful sunny morning. I went out onto one of the piers, took a seat looking out toward the water and sketched the boats in the harbor. There was a man there doing a painting, so when I finished that I did a quick sketch of him.
I have a drawing problem and being at a beautiful place like Millen Pond only makes it worse. I see a canoe on the water or the sunlight on the far shore and I instinctively reach for my pen and pad. Perhaps that’s how I compensate for the shortness of our stay, by trying, perhaps, to take some of the beauty back home with me. Anyway, we had great weather all week and I had plenty of time to draw and paint. As usual, I brought a variety of different media with me and found time to give them all a try.
The red canoe is with a water soluble marker.
The orange canoe was with Inktense pencils. I’m always fascinated by the trees on the far slope and how you can pick out the individual crowns as they march up the hill.
This is a sketch of the inside of the cabin with a dip pen.
On Friday afternoon I toured the lake in my kayak with my sketch pad and artist pen. It was tough drawing in a moving boat, but I was able to get these cottages and a passing loon.
I did complete one painting and started another while I was there. The first painting was a view from our dock that I first sketched with the water soluble markers.
The two ancient pines on the far shore are still there and are still a beloved subject for my pen and camera. Here are some of the sketches I did of them during the week. I had a couple of days left after completing the first painting so I decided to start on another featuring the pines, but, as you can see, I didn’t get far.
On Tuesday this week I travelled to Rockport, MA to deliver my picture for the upcoming show. I was lucky enough to find a parking spot downtown but I had trouble with the new-fangled parking kiosk and only paid for one hour. After I dropped off the picture I had only 45 minutes left. I decided to sketch the famous building in Rockport Harbor that is a popular subject for artists. I believe it is called Motif #1. I was able to knock this off, buy some candy, and get back to the car just as the ticket expired.
It is hard to believe that 8 months have gone by since I last posted anything here. In that time I have been very busy finishing the last piece for my show at the Copley Society of Art as well as earning money to pay the bills, plus we added a new granddaughter to our family. I have continued to attend the Amherst life drawing sessions almost every week, but other than that I have rarely had the opportunity to take out the sketchpad, and when I did the results were not very impressive.
But, last week I got a chance to leave the other stuff behind and finally get out the pad for some quality sketching time when we vacationed at Sagamore Beach. It was our first Cape Cod vacation in 10 years. The weather was great and I had the chance to hang out with our family, including granddaughters Lucy and Margaux. I did one oil painting, which still needs a lot of work, and a bit of sketching. Here are some of my favorites (clockwise from top left; Lucy; our cottage; the beach looking south; and, the beach looking north):
For obvious reasons I don’t do a lot of drawing outdoors in winter or at night, and I had every reason to stay indoors on Thanksgiving evening. It was about 7 degrees out and there was a half foot of snow covering everything. But there was a full moon too, and I was entranced by the tree shadows and the patches of moonlight that undulated across the snow beneath the woods behind my house.
By now I have a good idea of what scenes would make a good scratchboard drawing. Every now and then I’ll catch a glimpse of an image that I know is just right, and this was one of those times. It would have been nice if I could have quickly run out there and taken a photograph, but I don’t have the equipment or the skill for that. The scene was too good to pass up, so, I put on as many layers as I could, got out my warmest hat and gloves and took my folding chair out to the edge of the woods, and drew as quickly as I could.
November is the time to start panicking about creating the annual Christmas card. I’ve been stuck on the idea of a mouse-based picture this year, in honor of the many small furry friends who visited our house this past year. Here are some of the sketches I’ve made as I’ve been playing with the idea, arranged roughly in chronological order.
Some of the best work I've done isn't hanging on a wall; it's sitting in a box in my closet that's full of my old sketch books. I fill up one or two books each year. Some of the sketches end up as a basis of a more formal work, but most don't. They’re more important to me as a pictorial diary and also as on-going training; learning to really see and to understand shape, light and color.
This blog is to share my sketches as well as my sketching experiences.