Wednesday, March 2, 2011

What drawing means to me (03-02-11)

As I've slowly been organizing my new studio, I finally got to the boxes that had been packed up since September 2009, when we sold our house in SE Portland. Obviously, life went on without these things, and it was manageable. Yet, I've always disliked the thought that if you haven't worn an item of clothing for a year, you need to discard it. It's not that I am a collector, but I need the familiarity of objects I like to feel grounded.

So, I embarked on my box opening project with some anxiety. What if everything inside was now meaningless? What if the images, the art supplies, the small objects just turned out to be junk? More pointedly, if the things I once liked had become irrelevant, would I in turn feel irrelevant?

Opening box after box of art supplies, paints, markers, pencils, I found some treasures: the box of watercolors my grand-father sent me when I was 23, the metal tubes twisted and mangled, the paints hardened to chunks, and another box my mother sent me around the same time, still pristine, still unused, and still evoking the same feelings of wonder when I carefully open it.

I found my journals, the oldest one from when I was about 17 years old, full of goody-girly nonsense, and its existence brings out feelings of regrets over the solemn sacrificial burning at age 16, of two previous journals whose every page was filled with rage and anger, expressed in a rainbow of red, blue, or green fountain pen ink.

I found my sketchbooks, all of them, and placed them pell-mell on a bookcase shelf, and this is the first time I can see all of them side by side, and the real space they take. The first sketchbook I bought in 1997 was small and black, filled with timid and hesitant drawings of people, followed by an unimaginative series of more identical black sketchbooks.

My sketchbooks of choice now are my reliable hand-bound sketchbooks my dad buys in Budapest and sends in an occasional package, along with dark chocolate, sweet licorice or violet candy, and Speculoos cookies or spread from Belgium. (A side note here about the cover patterns: my dad clearly favors historical Hungarian motifs, while I prefer colorful images, like flowers or objects, but I can't complain since these are the best sketchbooks ever.)
My present sketchbook

I've been more impatient with drawing lately, ready to move on to another page, taking less time to work on individual pages. I also use less color, while I would actually prefer more color in my books. But in the case of fashion sketches, I find that a few lines say it all, the place has been visited, it's time to do something else, like another turning the page is getting easier.

Movie: "Carlos" (2010) (03-02-11)

We watched "Carlos," a three-part mini-series about terrorist Carlos The Jackal, a totally fascinating story that left me wondering why anyone would engage in terrorist activities.

When I watch a movie, the action is sometime too engrossing and I will put down my pen, and leave the page as is, or pick the pen up again later on, if I see a face or a detail that catches my attention. The pages below from my sketchbook reflect our watching the movie over three nights, as I stopped drawing after the end of each episode of the movie. As you can see, on each subsequent session, I try to fill the space on the page, and to add some new details to some of the previous sketches.

Part one: Basic structure; lay things on the page

Part two: Add details, filler images

Part three: Finish off, more filler and touch-ups

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Paper Fashions (03-01-11)

Shortly after I posted my fashion sketches Linda Daily, a fellow sketch artist, recommended I look up Isabelle de Borchgrave, an artist whose name I had never heard before.

Doing some research, I was intrigued to find out that:
1.) like me, she was born in Belgium
2.) she makes accurate-looking, full-size reproductions of historical costumes out of PAPER!

I located a book about her and made the trip all the way to Powell's in Beaverton. I spent one hour looking at every image, absolutely mesmerized by the colors, the shapes, the textures, and to think it was all made of paper... I drew some quick sketches of the dresses I liked best, just be able to take a little something of these fabulous fashions home with me...but my sketches don't do the work justice.

Paper shoes!
Beautiful 17th century clothing
The hair was made of twisted paper

First Tuesday at Walters Cultural Arts Center (03-01-11)

My Sketching class at the Walters Cultural Arts Center tonight happened to coincide with First Tuesday, and that meant the opening night for an art show. A perfect opportunity for the students in the class to look at original artwork and to practice sketching people in public. Baptism by fire...

A local high schooler was exhibiting her drawings. I drew her while she was talking to some people. She had the fragile grace of youth, not quite an adult yet, but not a child anymore.
Five musicians from the Hillsboro Symphony Orchestra were playing in the lobby; a couple of pieces were original enough to make me wish for Christopher were there to enjoy them.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Happy Hour at Miss Delta (02-28-11)

Gary had to help someone from Church move across the river to Vancouver, so I asked him to take me along part of the way and drop me off on Mississippi Ave in North Portland, to give me some time to walk around and take a look at the shops, something I never have the time to do when driving through the neighborhood.

It was raining, and it was a nice opportunity to take in the neighborhood sights at a slow pace, without any crowds. I spent a while at Paxton Gate, an unusual store selling taxidermy-related items elegantly displayed in 19th century-style cabinets.

By the time I made it down to Miss Delta, it was dark outside with my ride still busy helping with the move. I took a long time to make up my mind before finally ordering a Gumbo Mac, the perfect food for cold weather.
Inside Miss Delta
Big guy eating

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Party at the Art Museum (02-26-11)

My participation in a study of native French speakers at the Portland French Alliance won me two tickets to the Portland International Film Festival Wrap-up Party at the Art Museum last night. It took me a while to convince Moso to brave the frigid cold and go with me, but the minute I got there, I was bored out of my mind. The place was full of old people dressed in black sipping wine and looking smart. The music was okay, if one likes reggae or calypso (I prefer Techno), and Moso got to talk with the marimba player.
So I resorted to watching people for a while, then decided to do this sketch. It was a challenge because people were dancing or moving from table to table the entire time, and there was a need to keep everything is perspective (larger in close-up; smaller in background). I didn't have the time to work much on the band.
Moso and I drove by KBOO on E. Burnside afterward. It was well past midnight and excruciatingly cold outside. There was a lot of activity in the vicinity of the Jupiter Hotel and, totally baffling, we saw some young women, scantily dressed and probably drunk, walking barefoot on the iced-up sidewalks...