Friday, December 24, 2010

Nyckelharpa Angel

Ridiculously, I was hoping that this week's topic would be "angel", since it was Christmas Eve and all and I was working on an angel picture, but I'm going to post an angel anyway, since they seem to go with winter. You make snow angels, and you sing about angels in Christmas carols, and angels are much more on your mind than in the muggy summer days.

This is a nyckelharpa angel. A friend of mind commented on an earlier picture ("Fiddle with the Devil") that the fiddle is always associated with the devil, and was banned in the churches of many European countries, the nyckelharpa is often depicted with angels. There are tapestries in old churches showing angels playing nyckelharpa. Of course my friend is a nyckelharpa player rather than a fiddler, so he might be a bit biased.

So this is my nyckelharpa angel. It brings to mind more lines, my favorite lines from "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear"--about "the angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold", and :"the world in silent stillness lay, to hear the angels sing".....

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Illustration Friday: Mail this one requires some explanation. Well, maybe not "requires" but I'm going to give it anyway. For the topic of "mail," I thought of angels sending messages down to earth, only people have to be open to receiving them, and so I started sketching what that might look like. And once I started sketching (in pen, because that's what I do--I was in the back seat of the car driving to Kansas City to shop for a coat for my son, who was driving), I immediately thought of my all-time favorite poem, "God's Grandeur" by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and an image from the end about how the holy ghost is bent over the world with "warm breast, and ah! bright wings." So this is it. It's a doodle, done almost entirely in the car, and it is what it is.

Here's the whole poem:

THE WORLD is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fiddle with the Devil

Nothing like being on vacation, where you STILL wake up at 5:15 (what's with that anyway? I was up watching a movie until 11:45....), but because you don't have to go to go running in the dark in order to get to work on time, you can spend three hours making a picture, and making gingerbread. Pretty luxurious, if you ask me.

This is the opposite of yesterday's fiddle picture, where the music is wafting all the stress away. This is musician as absolutely possessed.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Fiddle Bliss

***************The joys of pen and ink, and washes, and toothbrush spatters.....Last night the choice was a) grade Huck Finn exams or b) drink a Free State Brewery copperhead ale and make a picture. No contest, really.

The title comes from the total stress I'm feeling in my life. It's wreaking havoc with my body and state of mind. All that's keeping me sane is exercising, making art, and playing music. All three of those melt stress away....

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Illustration Friday: Phenomenon

***************I am always loathe to make a new post after a post that I really really like, because anything else is always disappointing. But then I would never post again, and I can't have that.

So what these are is dream-sketches. Dreams are a phenomena that no one has ever been able to adequately explain. I'm taking them as mini-assignments. You have a dream, and the dream has images, but also has a feeling. So those primary images and that feeling is the starting place. How does one illustrate such a thing? Well. Here are three dreams from the past few weeks. I'm actually a little bit pleased with them, because they all capture the feeling I had in the dream. And the one about socializing under the stairs actually looks like the space under my stairs, even though I drew it at someone else's house. I guess I know what the space under my stairs looks like. It was in my dream!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Illustration Friday: Prehistoric

With the speed at which technology is changing, it makes the older people in our society seem prehistoric somehow. My grandmother and cell phones? Well....

Meeting Sketches

I'm so not a meeting person, yet alas, I have meetings I'm obligated to go to. Fortunately, no one seems to mind me drawing them. I'm discreet, I hope. I don't stare at their faces or anything, but I'm sure they know that I'm doing it. Occasionally someone will ask to look at one, but for the most part no one says anything. I wonder if they're humoring me like they might humor a child with no social skills....

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Piano Jan

So...I've been thinking about "savour" pictures all week, and haven't made the "big" one that I'm wanting to make, but here's a smaller one in the meantime. I've been missing the messiness of my regular pens, so made some spatters first, but then when the stupid pen starts dripping blobs of ink, I wonder what in the world I'm thinking..... I added some additional blogs in hopes of evening things out, but I don't think that worked particularly well. So it is what it is, something squarely in the middle between like and detest. Something to put in a drawer and not do anything with....

So the Illustration Friday idea is that musicians SAVOUR the music they make. Always.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Skewed Sketch #5

I really need to find time to start some new pictures. I really want to do the Illustration Friday topic, savour, but need to to start. Here's another "skewed" sketch I did in school while my students were working on projects. These are gratifying, but not the projects I WANT to be working on....

Friday, November 26, 2010

Looking GIrl

Another technical pen drawing, this time on textured paper for making acrylic paintings. What clean clean lines that makes (way better than the printer/copying paper I did my last drawing on).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Obscured #1

I have been thinking and thinking about how to sneak this picture in under the topic "sneaky," and it really was this Illustration Friday topic that got me thinking about making the picture in the first place, but this boy is definitely NOT sneaky. He may be obscured by some very strange plants (and they ARE real--I drew them from a photo in one of my perennials books), but he is very present in the world.

This is another exercise from Bert Dodson's book Keys to Imaginative Drawing, where you make some kind of drawing of plants (or, as he suggests, tangled clothesline) and then photocopy it several times and draw some people behind it. This is my first one. I spent several hours on it yesterday, but I'm very pleased how it turned out.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Skewed Sketch #4

I'm having a lot of fun with these. I can do them even though I feel like crap (sick for the first time in many years), and I can do them at school while my students are watching a movie, and I'm really really really liking the clean lines from the technical pens.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Skewed Sketches

So....I bought some technical pens, which I really can't afford, but damn, it's hard to resist art supplies. I also bought some arty kinds of books. This is an exercise from one of them--Keys to Imaginative Drawing by someone Dodson. I have his other book, Keys to Drawing, which I think is one of the best drawing books around.

The idea here is to push yourself away from absolute representational realism into more manipulation of images. For the exercise, you take a photo (or a real person) and do a blind contour drawing or very quick sketch, and then use those distortions as the outline and do as realistic rendering as possible from the photo or person, but the whole thing is skewed. I actually really really like these. I used my new technical pens.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Afterwards #2

The party is over, the dishes washed, and it will soon be time for bed. But a good time was had by all!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Illustration Friday: Afterward

No matter how good or bad an experience you have, there is always an afterward, a time when it is just you, with your head, your thoughts, your emotions, and you will either celebrate or mourn; in either case, it will be a kind of let-down, because it's just the rest of your life, and though it may not seem like it at the time, it's just as real as what you're missing.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Spent #2

Well...this one's not much better. The dog is better, though, and I think I'll go get some ink or other REAL art supplies out!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I know that this composition is pretty static, but this is how I feel after a spending and evening late into the night at dog-emergency-room. I don't believe in heroic (and expensive!) measures to save the lives of dogs, but my dog impaled himself in the abdomen on something while chasing a squirrel up an oak tree, and we had to do something.....

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vocabulary Words (& random doodles)

Another wonderful way to WASTE time! Actually, no, this is something I've been thinking about doing for many years....making pictures for sophomore vocabulary words. So one of them I made on a big index card at school with a ball point pen (while my sophomores were writing in their response journals) and the other, much less satisfactorily, digitally. The third image here is a doodle I made during Writer's Club (of which I am a sponsor) during a very animated discussion about the newest plot developments of the collaborative story the kids are working on (you can check it out at

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Dance weekend buttons

One nice thing about making things digitally, on the computer, is that the dog can't chew them up. He doesn't chew shoes, or socks, or gloves, or books, or musical instruments, but for some reason he likes watercolor paper, and no matter how well I feel I've put things away, he pulls out those pieces of paper and shreds them. Or at least partially shreds them. I have a lot of things now with corners missing. And I'm completely missing two pieces. I don't know where he's taken them, unless he's completely eaten them, leaving not even a scrap of paper.

But he can't do that with these.

I've made buttons for our local dance weekend for the past several years. Usually I do drawings, and then scan them and add the type. This time I did it all on the computer. It was actually really fun.

As I was looking for images of leaves on Google Images, I thought "This is really stupid--it's fall and there are a gazillion beautiful leaves out there." So I got some and scanned them. MUCH more satisfying.

The different colors are for different folks--all weekend people, part-time people, and then the band and board members.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Illustration Friday: Spooky

Aha! I got this one "done" (or sortof done anyway) this week too. I should have just waited to post this week's Illustration Friday picture.

This was from a sketch I did maybe six or seven years ago. I always meant to do something with it, but never have before.

I'm not exactly satisfied with this, and may try to again with a traditional medium.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Illustration Friday: Transportation

I know, I know, I'm a week late here, but that's just the way it's going. I actually started this last week, but then kept ditzing with it, and now, when I should be finishing up a picture for "spooky", have decided this is done, at least for now.

I see this topic more as "transported" than "transportation." People are transported by their music.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Here are some sketches from the past week or so. I'm not meeting my goal of a drawing every day, but it's sure better than nothing. I especially like the cedar tree. I normally don't have the patience for that kind of sitting and looking at details, but I'd taken my American Literature class out into the woods to write about nature (we'd been reading Walden), and they had all disappeared, and I was sitting on a rock for a good half hour, and so I actually took the time. I'm never disappointed when I do drawings like that, and really should do them more often.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Illustration Friday: Beneath

This topic makes me think of Edgar Allan Poe, who thought that beneath the face of the everyday lay the dark world of the human psyche, with all its fears and insanities. Not everything he wrote was twisted, with narrators on the verge of madness, but it was always close enough.

Just for the record, this is NOT the way I feel in my everyday life.

But here it is, for this week's topic.

Friday, September 24, 2010

New Sketchbook

I FINALLY finished the last page of my old sketchbook that I'd been carrying around for over a year. The cover was falling off, and the pages were pretty tattered.
It's so exciting to start a new sketchbook. It's the same kind as the old one, with thick smooth paper, but it's all possibility still. This is my first drawing in it! My goal is to draw in it every day.

I love how many people are so themselves--despite current trends. They may be perceived as old-fashioned, and perhaps they are, but they are not being concerned with that. They're just going about their lives, doing what they do, and being who they are. This character strikes me that way.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Illustration Friday: Acrobat

I had the idea, I found source photos, I made three sketches, and I was going to do this in pen and ink, but to play around with the composition, I scanned the three sketches, and moved them around, and then thought, what the heck--what can I do with this digitally. I think I'll still do an ink version, though, since I'm so in love with ink.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Immovable #2

Here's the other picture I started for Illustration Friday, whenever that was, for the topic "immovable". Couples are sometimes immovable in their interactions with each other.

This is another study in expressions. It's subtle, but I hope their set lips and rigid expressions show, at least a little bit.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

House Concert Sketches

Marvelous house concert--friend John Anderson from Australia sang all sorts of wonderful songs. He looked pretty funny with his head and face all shaved off though (notice the before and after pictures), and I discovered while making these sketches that I can't draw and listen to poetry at the same time. I could listen to songs, but when another friend read a couple poems, none of it registered, even though I was only making hatchings in a dark area and not really drawing properly. Interesting way the brain processes things.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wacky Sortof Self-Portrait

So....I'm doing some of the little exercises in this book I bought, to learn how to do the Corel Painter program. Actually, I have two books, one very formal and one very loose. I've learned a lot from both of them. It still seems like a waste of time, but alas, this is what I need to be doing. I need to be creating SOMETHING, and currently my art table is blocked off by huge stacks of boxes, which will hopefully be gone in a day or two.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Illustration Friday: Immovable

When I think immovable, truly immovable, I think of mountains, continents, even single boulders, but people too can be immovable. The force of a person's will is a mighty thing to behold.

I started a picture yesterday that I was really liking. This was the one I started while I was waiting for the ink wash to dry on the other one. I'm not sure I'd really call it done, but it's done in that I'm not going to do anything else to it, because I don't know what I can do to make it any better, so this is it.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Another "uncaged" joyous person

Here's the second picture that I started for the Illustration Friday topic "caged." I'm really enjoying these joyous pictures.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Illustration Friday: Caged

I was reading again, the poem "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou, looking for some inspiration, and there are indeed some great lines--like the free bird who "dares to claim the sky" while the caged bird "stalks/down his narrow cage" and "can seldom see through/his bars of rage." Powerful stuff. But I'm not interested in illustrating "bars of rage." I would like to think instead that the human spirit CANNOT be caged, and thus I've started three drawings of uncaged people, joyous people. Here's the first.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Illustration Friday: Artificial

So maybe this is cheating, just a little bit, because I don't happen to think there's anything artificial about playing cello. I'm much more interested in the real, the connection, the melody, the music....

But here's a story. I've known this girl since she was a baby, and one day when she was ten or eleven, it broke my heart to see her flash me the most artificial smile I'd ever seen on anyone. She'd been having a really bad day, and I didn't really expect much of a response from her, but it didn't seem like that kind of fake smile was something a child should be able to do.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Happy Sax

I'm going to stop apologizing for these images, and just say that they are what they are. I don't know how old the boy is here--thirteen, maybe. He's a senior in high school now, and doing band again after a year hiatus.

(This looks better if you click on it to make it larger).

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Memories in Ice

I know this is making my blog look uneven, to have both traditional and digital stuff, but alas, it's what I finished today, and if it's really really basic and crude, well, I'm slowly learning how to manipulate these things. When I started this last week, the stupid program kept crashing. I saved every couple minutes today, just to be safe, but it seems to have gotten over whatever it was that it was doing.

This was the month where everyone important in my life was gone--partner out of the country , boys at Cape Cod with their dad, and even my mom gone. The boys are back, but I still feel like this sometime, like I'm all alone in an empty house (the dog doesn't count), haunted by echoes of distant joy.

Art Date drawings

So cool to have a friend come over to make pictures together. We have completely different sensibilities, so worked on two very different sorts of things. I spent most of my time sketching out a picture I've been wanting to do for several weeks now, but never got around to starting, but then after I'd applied mask and an initial wash layer, I needed to wait for it all to dry, and made these two drawings in the meantime. I'm not very pleased with them, but am happy to have made SOMETHING. It's only when you're making stuff that you ever make GOOD stuff, and if you don't do the mediocre stuff, well then.... (or maybe that's just some kind of totally lame excuse.)