I should be doing laundry, paying attention to an upcoming exhibit, any number of other necessary things – but ultimately, this is the most necessary thing at the moment. To draw. Every drawing is one step closer to where I want to be, which is where I don’t have to erase holes through the page to get the mouth right. But the hair flames, the gown floats, the coat feels like velvet and satin, so I’m getting closer. I salute the actress, Allison Ocha Lawrence, who smiled the smile of confusion and arched her eyebrows with, “Oh, really?!” so well, who clenched her lovely fist with subtlety and conviction, who played the Beauty to the Beast without the happy ending. I can only imagine what life would be like with that glorious head of hair. And I salute the costume designer, and her vision, and I am so proud of her. SO proud.
One of the drawing schools in London (called London Drawing aptly enough) specializes in life drawing using actors and actresses in costume, live and in the theatre. This was the group who orchestrated the Tower Lock-In at the Tower of London, which I absolutely loved. I thought it would be fun to try that approach with the production of Othello that my daughter Corey Jay costumed at Pomona College. I saw the play last week and met the actors, now working from photos courtesy of Corey and the other cast members, my plan is to sketch the main characters. I wish I could have sketched “live” during rehearsal, I’ll have to figure out how to make that happen someday…
So here is Othello the Moor, as portrayed by Marshall Anderson. A bit of self-critique now, thinking out loud so to speak. Portraits… tricky. He is angry, hurt, frustrated, sad, confused. But he is inescapablly so very Large and In Charge that he leaves himself no options… nothing like some simple body language to catch in a few angles, but I’m liking it. Skin tones… pretty good, although amazing how many individual colors went into producing something akin to brown skin. Face… aargh. The actor is far more classically handsome than I was able to convey here – obviously, I opted for a deep shadow to make up for not being able to really puzzle out how to get the left side of his face properly, especially his eye. Plenty of room for progress here. Fur collar… really fun to see that silvery gray (presumably fox?) fur can be drawn effectively using pink and lavender. And the icing on the proverbial cake: talons on the epaulettes. If all else fails, simply squeeze the life out of your prey. The essence of a tragic character conveyed right there on his massive shoulders. Way to go, Corey Jay, Costume Designer! Up next: Desdemona
The smaller the flower, the more detail seems to be called for. These are such simple blossoms that they lend themselves well to abstracting and incorporating into patterns. The only real challenge here was that I haven’t quite managed the shape of this tiny clear glass vase (but I just read an article about how to better deal with symmetry in such attempts), and I didn’t have the exact shade of blue pencil I wanted… the perfect excuse for a trip to the art store.
Forget Me Nots do a little trick called “self seeding”, which means there are waves of blue all over the yard and garden until the foliage begins to get grungy, then I yank them all up. The miracle is that next year, there will be even more!
The main purpose for the trip of course was to marvel at Corey’s costuming of Othello. This was her Senior Thesis Project. The Moor was intimidating in his fur-collared cloak, featuring epaulettes of eagle claws and green leather scales, Desdemona was luminous in burgundy silk and velvet, Iago oozed just the right amount of slime in his Nazi Youth-colored military garb – breathtaking all the way around. Unfortunately, even the lovely costumes didn’t keep everyone from getting killed in the end – those tragedies always leave me wondering if we couldn’t just once have a Do Over for the plot of the final chapter. Hopefully I’ll be able to capture some more of the costumes and characters soon.
I had fun doing this piece to submit for the Fall Festival poster competition. I got to use some of the new techniques I experimented with over the last year on my travels, and it’s pretty far afield from my usual style(s). I didn’t make the final six, but if you go here you’ll see why – there are some incredible talents in this region! (And when you click the link, you’ll be able to vote for your favorite, which enters you to win a T-shirt with the winning art on it.) One of the most difficult parts of calling myself an Artist (note capital A) is that I have to risk rejection daily, hourly, weekly, constantly… if you don’t put yourself out there, you don’t grow, and, well – it’s been said before: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” My personal revision of that is , “What’s the worst that can happen? I can spend several hours or days enjoying the creative process, and I wind up adding another image to my body of work, another style to my repertoire.” It’s important to remember that it is your work being judged, not you, and it’s often rewarding to see who you are being compared to. My son just recommended a very short video to me, Ira Glass talking about the creative process – it’s well worth the two minutes.
Grape Hyacinth is another childhood favorite, like dandelions, only these are squeaky when you roll the little round blossoms between your fingers. And the resulting sticky stuff is purple! Oh, yes – and people seem to object more when you pick them, as opposed to dandelions, to which people mainly object if you get the sticky stuff on the upholstery… my friend Wendy says her mother called dandelions “the children’s flower” because no one cared if you picked them and pulled them apart!
It has been a dark spring, but finally we have had a few warmer days recently. But thus the dark background, which I quite like. Contrast is something I plan to experiment with more.
“Sentinel”, by Kerry McFall, mixed media
At Baskett Slough, about 10 miles west of Salem, there’s not much going on this time of year… at least not in the middle of the day. The geese were all evidently invited to lunch on the river, leaving the bare fields quiet and cold. But we provided a bit of excitement for this yellow-rumped warbler last Sunday, giving him the opportunity to remind us to stay on the path, and to show off his stunning new yellow plumage.
As with most portraits, I didn’t quite the mouth right… or in this case, beak.
I painted this from a sketch I made in one of my life drawing sessions at Battersea Art Centre in London. I donated it to a local fundraiser for Breast Cancer Awareness. I hope the nudity doesn’t offend anyone, but how can you be aware of your breasts if you don’t look at them? Now, go stand in front of your mirror and do your self check. Thanks.