1811

1811
Ink and watercolor crayon on hot pressed Fabriano
7 x 10 inches


Love this!

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1811 (paper test)

1811 (paper test)
Ink and watercolor pencil on cold pressed Strathmore Windpower 

6 x 9 inches

Over the past four years, I've been using Fabriano's 140 lbs cold pressed spiral bound Watercolor Studio for beginning watercolor students. It's a fine beginning paper, very workable and rightly priced. I couldn't find any in town for my current group so picked up some of the new Strathmore Windpower Watercolor paper.

I use the Strathmore Windpower drawing paper for drawing students and love its color, texture, weight and binding but have always steered way clear of any Strathmore watercolor paper. During some quiet time during the morning drawing class, I made a quick sketch of my current motif on the Windpower Watercolor paper and am happy to report that it's quite nice. Workable, easy to lift color, a few more sheets and slightly larger size than the Fabriano equivalent.

It's always fun to find a good, new product, especially when it's relatively environmentally sound.

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1811 study


1811 (study)
ink and graphite, 7 x 10 inches


It may as well be 1811. My cable went out on Wednesday in a storm and the provider who shall remain unnamed offered to reconnect on the 28th. My phone, internet and tv are all kaput and there are wires strung in trees and all over the next door neighbor's lawn.

After 4 - 6 hours on the phone and chat line with unnamed "service provider" I managed to get them to commit to come out for repairs on Monday. You would never know that I live in a major metropolitan area.

Anyway, I've been getting cosy with my local baristas and paying attention to how much I rely on this fragile connection. Also, what an addiction connection to the internet can be.

Tv? Who cares. Phone? Definitely need one of those and I've been paying through the nose for cell use.

I could not need to be connected more right now as I'm at the height of a busy work schedule. Oh, well. It's not the end of the world.

As for the drawing, I liked the naked ink but am working out with ink and graphite so added some value with that. Stay tuned for the next version.

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Tuscan Vestige, 1931


Tuscan Vestige, 1931
Watercolor on Fabriano cold pressed
7 x 10 inches


Another iteration in the development of this new series.

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1931

1931
Ink and watercolor pencil on hot pressed Lana
7 x 10 inches


Continuing with my medium experiments, I've mixed my Lamy ink with watercolor pencil to see how the bleed works. The binder in the watercolor pencil gives a particular resistance that's a little unpredictable. The stain from the bleeding ink has a mind of its own so is also unpredictable. Those qualities of the binder and bleeding, though, are what make this coloration workable.

While it was fun to copy oils with watercolor pencil, I am already longing for the sophisticated personality of my M. Graham and Daniel Smith tube paints.

Still, this little piece is so much like the crayon stuff I made as a child, I recognize familiar territory that's definitely worth pursuing.

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1931 study

1931 study
Ink and pencil
6 1/2 x 10 inches


Oh, hell. I miss making landscapes.

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August 6, 1945


DATE WITH HISTORY: Hiroshima - reel 1 & 2


A week or so ago, the Chicago Tribune named me as one of the Top 50 Folkies of the last 50 years. I'm not much for "best of" lists or flavor of the month clubs but it's an honor and I certainly appreciate the recognition.

The song that put me on that list is The 3 Dreams of J. Robert Oppenheimer. And it's just in time to mark the 6th of August, the day most folk djs play my Oppenheimer song. You can listen by clicking on the player under the title below.

The 3 Dreams of J. Robert Oppenheimer


Download your own copy at iTunes.
or buy the full CD — Souvenir.

I found the posted Pathé film which you may or may not be in the mood to watch. If you've never seen it, at least watch the set up. It's certainly worth remembering the citizens of Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, too.

DATE WITH HISTORY - Hiroshima - reel 3


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Tangier Oranges


after Matisse
Basket of Oranges
Watercolor pencil and graphite, 7 x 10 inches


Not wild about doing still life but this was a lark. In fact, this entire little episode of copying Matisse paintings with colored pencil has been loads of fun! The process acquaints me better with his marks and application of paint. Copying two dimension to two dimension is a breeze. Although I missed my guide mark on one side of the table here — which set up some problems in the cloth and table top, distortion and readjustment of composition to missteps fascinates me. Having a pre-set structure allows me to scribble to my heart's delight without worrying about creating the form in which I scribble.

This transition between series is sandbox time. No worries about shows or serious effort, audience or judgement. Just play. If nothing else, upping the play factor in making art — or in any creative work — is a positive all the way around.

No time limit on this transition either. That makes more space to relax for play.

The original Matisse:


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Surrender


Rest and Trust
"The creative process is a process of surrender, not control." —Julia Cameron
It's Sunday as I write this, the perfect day for rest. I spend most of my Sundays working, setting up for the week ahead. The truth is that I've been working too hard. The only solution to working too hard is to let some things go.

I am not letting go of writing these weekly Life Is The First Art posts but rather, letting them arise as time allows. My original intention was to write these posts twice a week. I adjusted that to once a week. Now I have to let them arise as they can.

I ask myself (or you might ask) Who cares? Well, I like to finish projects (or not abandon them) and to look relatively consistent to the outside world. But no one really cares! It's my project, I care about it and will now allow it to develop at its own pace.

So this will unfold but some plans, projects, ideas - well, they just don't work out. After college, I worked in a bookstore. The owner made several choice comments that have stuck with me. One was "There's no rule that says you have to finish a book. If you don't like it, stop reading it." What a concept! So it is with anything. Some little streams just dry right up.

I spell this out because most of us spend an awful amount of time burdened with a tremendous weight of responsibilities we're convinced are important, tasks that we take seriously, compulsions to meet expectations. Next time you're either strung out by too much responsibility or exhausted by the same, my suggestion is to ask yourself, really, how much does this really matter? Not in the overall scheme of things, forever, but right this minute?

The fact is that the ground of life is ever-shifting. Balance is key. What I need for my balance now is rest. I am beat. I am surrendering to rest.

The issue of allowing enough time for and giving myself permission to rest comes up a lot in my life. I think that one of the reasons I resist rest is because there is a part of me that fears my little world will fall apart if I relax. I think that mode of thinking is not uncommon. It's a matter of fear and security.
"Growth demands a temporary surrender of security." —Gail Sheehy
Rest is critical for growth. So, I'm surrendering to rest and also to trust because trust is critical for rest. What happens when I lay my head down and close my eyes? I trust that my little world will not fall apart as I'm sleeping. So, why should I worry while I'm awake?

I'm working on a post about Eric Sloane for Drawing America and came across this passage in his book, Eighty: An American Souvenir. It a good way to close with a giggle.
"An ancient graveyard in Martha's Vineyard has the remains of an artist, a lady who left a rich legacy of her thoughts and beliefs; the tombstone says simply
SHE DID WHAT SHE COULD." —Eric Sloane
Read other posts from Life is the First Art.
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Stuffed Squirrel

Ink and graphite, 7 x 10 inches

Ink and graphite worked well together on this sketch. I was busy with a class so didn't notice what pencil I picked up. It may have been a water soluble graphite.

Anyway, I bought this squirrel at a yard sale almost four years ago for 50¢. It was Tallulah's favorite kitten toy and has held up well under assault from sharp little teeth, the vacuum cleaner, various shoes and long stints in strong sun.

When it was first introduced, it was known as squirrel on a string. A teasing toy for the new kitten.


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