Thursday, December 29, 2011

Illustration Friday: Messenger

I happen to think that musicians, especially folk musicians who have had no "classical" training, and who live very close to nature, and who play directly connected to the currents of the universe, channel messages from the gods. It's not in any specific combination of notes, or rhythms, or anything else that can be named, but it's there, deep in the music, and it can only be reached through it. Or by doing things like walking long distances in the woods, or floating all alone in the middle of a lake.

This was the last of the four African musicians that I started in February, and I just found it--the sketch and the splattered paper--waiting for all the ink hatching.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Illustration Friday: sink

Okay, I made this picture just for this topic. It was supposed to be someone sinking back into a swirl of negative thoughts, a miasma. I am totally swamped with end of the semester grading, and trying to sort out all the messes I've let accumulate all semester, and feel like it would be all too easy for me to succumb. My model actually looked desperate, like there was no helping him.

But somehow he turned out looking positive, like he's totally enlivened, invigorated, by tapping into all the wild craziness around him, so it's not fitting my idea of this topic at all. And now that I think about it, that's the way I probably am too. I may feel desperate, and all too susceptible to sinking into the morasse (however you spell that word), but it just won't happen. I put on the emotional brakes, and ignore it, and pay more attention to other things--like the web of tree branches against the gray sky outside my window.

This picture also reminds me of my very first picture for illustration Friday, that I posted in January of 2009, almost three years ago. I've really come a long way since then, and made a lot of pictures.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Hardingfele guy

I made this one months ago, and was never satisfied with it. I don't think I ever posted it, since it's bigger than my scanner. But it sat above my art table looking at me every time I came into the room, and I never knew exactly what to do about it, but today it occurred to me that some white pencil might relieve some of the dead space, and so about a minute and a half worth of white pencil drawing helped a lot. It doesn't look much like it here (using a camera with a flash isn't too cool), but I thought I should post this because I've started three other pictures that I'm very excited about, and look forward to finishing sometime in the next couple days....

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Same Guy, Different Instrument

I didn't realize this was the same guy, but it is.....

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Illustration Friday: Round

Our society values stick-thin people. Hardly anyone real is stick-thin. Most people are rounder, if not completely round. But roundness is no reason not to live one's life. Here is one such person, who played during dinner at a marvelous weekend event. No one there cared one way or the other about how thin or not a person was. People danced, made music, talked, and generally loved being alive.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Second new sketchbook this year!

Way cool--to start two new sketchbooks in one year. I'm not drawing in it everyday, but mostly every week, and it makes me really happy.

So here's another "skewed" sketch, but there's something wrong with his nose (beyond the inevitable "skewing"). Alas.

But I really like this new sketchbook. It's really really sturdy, and the paper is really thick and really smooth--both very important. I don't know why they sell all these sketchbooks with cheap or rough paper, because I don't like touching them, much less drawing on them. Smooth is where it's at.....

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Two in one day

I'm not entirely sure I like the direction these are going in, but it does seem to be what's happening these days. They're feeling too fussy, somehow. But all of the reference photos are my own--yeah!--so if I ever become famous I can legally sell these pieces (haha). I've been wanting to do that too (take my own reference photos, not sell my pieces--who'd want them anyway. I donated one to a silent auction, and it went for $10, and I was really bummed, because the person who got it probably never even did anything with it; I mean, who would, with something you bought for $10. It's better to just give drawings away to friends, who somehow, miraculously, still have them up on the wall 25 years later). There are so many interesting faces out there, and I'd like to draw them all. But they require some pretty particular kind of lighting (not that this one has it, but the last one did). So of course I should take my own reference photos.

Skewed Sketch--Fiddler

This doesn't capture it at all, but it's an attempt. I don't know where the days are going, that I'm not able to find time to do any art projects.....

Monday, October 31, 2011

Skewed Sketches--The Pope and his People

Two skewed sketches I made during a very contentious, all-day meeting. I also made a doodle that I spent all afternoon on, which I am sparing you from having to look at.

My son and I both thought this bottom picture was really scary. When he looked at it, he said, "Now, that is really creepy! It almost looks like the pope." Well, it WAS the pope, and I agree is really looks creepy. Halloween? Definitely! Except that that is his real face.

Rasta Flute Guy

Another picture. What to say? I have a lot of new portrait ideas brewing--got some great reference photos this past weekend, and can't wait to get started on them.

This one I did during an 8 hour car trip (it didn't take 8 hours). I had already sketched the guy, and put on the splatters a week (or more ago), but hadn't had time to do the actual drawing until then. The highway was bumpy, so none of my lines are straight, but that was just something I had to work with.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Fuel for the soul is a connection to the land, not minerals taken out of the land. This is a farmer. His very being is connected to the land, perhaps not as closely as the Native Americans before the whites came, but certainly so much so that he would be lost without it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Illustration Friday: Scattered

By the time you are the age of this woman, your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren are scattered far and wide. It has to be okay, though, because you raised them right, and they are doing exactly what they should be doing.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Skewed Sketch #17

See, I'm still doing these; I don't know exactly why, except they're kindof fun. I made this one at a most wonderful barn dance in an actual barn. It was the most magical night--beautiful October Indian summer weather, a bright moon, fabulous band, a gazillion people (lots of newcomers who were loving it), and a caller who called really fun dances. But my urge to draw became stronger than my urge to dance at some point, so I sat on the corner of the little wooden stage where I could watch the band up close, and made this from a little picture I had cut out and had stuck in my sketchbook.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Shirt Guy

The third of the three little portraits. Ugh. His face looks like a plastic mask. And I haven't done anything about the "Ferocious" topic for Illustration Friday.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Woman with Jacket

The second of the three little portraits I started the other day. It's a gorgeous afternoon, and I should be grading exams. Alas....

Friday, September 23, 2011

Coat and Hat Man

It so feels like fall, and fall is the time of opportunities. It's 72F in the afternoons, and 48F at night, perfect sleeping weather and perfect going outside weather. Yesterday after school, I swam laps, walked the dog in the woods, did some yoga, and started three little portraits. They all made me really happy, even though I don't think this turned out all that great. It was the PROCESS that made me happy.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Skewed Sketch #16--Mesmerizing

There are several things I consistently find mesmerizing. One is drawing, making cross-hatching, watching the patterns emerge, the black of the ink against the white of the paper, watching the images emerge and develop, as the thing I'm drawing comes to life.

Another is watching patterns in nature--water going down a stream, leaves in trees, the ripple of grasses when the wind is across them.

Another is watching children. I never tire of that, even though my own kids are grown now. Perhaps it's a good thing that I'm a teacher, although I don't really think of teenagers as children.

And then there's reading. I can't even contemplate how much of my life I've spent reading (a whole lot less now than I used to as a child, young adult, and not-so-young adult), but reading is the ultimate mesmerization, as it takes you out of your own life and into someone else's life.

It's only accidentally that I have a post for this week's topic, as I was just making another "skewed sketch" at school while my kids were doing their MAP tests (Measure of Academic Progress), and then I saw that this week's topic actually fit the picture I was making.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Skewed Sketch #15

I have a student teacher this semester. Currently she is teaching two of my six classes, and I have to be in the room while she is teaching, but I'm not supposed to be "interfering" in any way, so I sit at my desk in the back and do what? I'm supposed to be "observing" so I can give her feedback, but I've never been one to just sit and watch or sit and listen. I can't grade papers, because I can't do that when there's talk going on. That pretty much leaves drawing.

This is from a picture in the Lawrence Journal World.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Some sketches

I guess I haven't been TOTALLY lax, even though I haven't "finished" anything. I have been drawing in my sketchbook, and here's a selection from the past month.
Dante and Devereaux in 3rd period Advanced American Lit.
Kathy's mother during a Lawrence Barn Dance Association board meeting.
Professional development day
Another page from the professional development day
Sherman Alexie from a book jacket
Some bearded Jesuits, maybe....

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Old Woman with Cane

Here's the second of the "forced" portraits, that I'm making in hopes of getting back into the "inspiration loop." I really like the quote (Picasso??--that sounds about right) that Susan put in her comments on my last post: "Inspiration exists. It just has to find us working." It's SO true--I think of that for all the arts--visual arts, music, writing. I like this one a whole lot better than the last one, but it also is still just "showing up." I'm really trying to be there....

Monday, August 8, 2011

Irish Pub Guy's been really hard to get back into the swing of making things. It's the old you-have-to-actually BE there in order to have any kind of inspiration, and since I haven't "been there" I don't have any inspiration. So I started a couple of portraits, and this one really sucks, but I'm posting it anyway, just to prompt me to make one that doesn't suck.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Doodles while doing Swedish lessons

What does one do while listening (and responding) to language lessons? You can't just sit there, can you? Does anyone? It's like talking on the phone--you HAVE to doodle. So here are a few of the doodles (done on the computer) from the first four lessons.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sketches from Trip

But I guess I have made a few sketches in my sketchbook. Here's a selection of sketches from the two trips I took this summer, a total of four weeks gone. I guess they're uploading in reverse order (I never can remember what order I have to do that). But now I'm really ready to work on projects again. It's just so dang HOT that all of my energy and initiative is totally sapped, even though I'm inside in the air-conditioning. Or maybe that's the problem, because I CAN'T go outside without baking, I'm turning into a jellyfish. I need to go running, garden, swim laps, walk, and it's just unbearable (I'm not a summer person at all, even though I have summers off).


This seems like the last decent sketch I made, and it was well over a month ago, a month and a half ago, maybe more. That's what I get for going out of town for nearly four weeks, and getting out of the groove.....

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Shadow Fiddler

Oh, the joy of messy materials! I haven't used a crow pen in quite awhile (since I got my technical pens), and I must say that it is a joy. I had been frustrated by "blobbing", but decided that was caused by the ink getting too thick rather than the pen nibs themselves. But this was such a pleasure.

I started three fiddling pictures (the other two are handanger fiddle ones, whereas this is a "regular" or "flat" fiddle.

I'm not sure that I'm done with this. Already I can see some more things I'd like to do to it.... (but if I make any substantial changes, I'll change the image here.....)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Illustration Friday: Shadow

Hardingfele (or hardanger fiddle) music seems to me to come deep from the shadowy nights of Norwegian winters. Every summer I get to spend four days at the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America's workshops, listening to, dancing to, and playing this marvelous, haunting, meandering music, and I've finally gotten around to making a picture to try to capture some of that feeling. Here's a link to the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America website, if you're interested in checking it out: They have some good YouTube links.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Illustration Friday: Soaked

Okay--so I know this is from last week, but I started working on this last week, and it's honestly taken me this long. I did a lot of little sketches to develop the idea, and then got my son to model for me, then made some big sketches, and then cut them out and moved them around, and then transferred (roughly) it all to a big sheet of watercolor paper, and was all process from there. But this was way more planned and organized than most of my pieces are. I can see where I still could have used more planning, but alas, I am done now.

The topic was "soaked" and that's something you very much want to avoid when encountering skunks.

By the way, this is very large, perhaps 20" and 14 or 15". It looks better if you click on it to make it larger.....

Monday, May 23, 2011

End of Old Sketchbook/Start of New Sketchbook

It's always such an accomplishment to finish a sketchbook. My goal used to be to fill one up in a year, so that I could show it all to my friend Jan when she came to visit from Portland, but I started this one in October, and I'm done now, in May. That's only 7 months, and the funny thing is that I really really like a whole lot of what's in there, and even the stuff I'm not completely crazy about, I still like in a certain kind of way. There are no pages that I hate (not that I'd get rid of them, but it's nice to not even have them.)

So these are sketches from a neighborhood mediation meeting. It was an interesting meeting, and I filled up five pages in my sketchbook, and now I've started a new one.....and here's one picture from the new one (this is from a picture, not from life, though I do know the guy....)

The pictures above are actually in the reverse order they should be.....

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Fiddle Breeze

I have to say that working on pictures makes me really happy. It feels like meditation, pure and simple. When I'm making lines, I'm right there with each line. I'm not thinking about anything else, but the lines, and the values, and the movement. I don't think it gets much better than that.

This was about an inch too big for the scanner, so it cut off some of the top and bottom. Maybe I'll see if there's a bigger scanner at work.

Nope. Still too narrow. But looking at this again, I'm thinking it's too fussy, too many lines. I might need to simplify.....

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I really truly am going to start some "real" things soon, but these little portraits are at least keeping my hand moving in the meantime....

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Chinless Man

Another one.....


Not much to say. I decided that it was better to be making pictures that I wasn't all that excited about than making nothing at all. Someone reminded me a couple days ago that things that are worth doing are worth doing badly, which, actually, sounds pretty bad, but it gets me thinking about students and writing and how, as someone said (and I wish I remembered whom) that if young people knew what crap they were writing, they wouldn't write at all, but if you're ever going to get anywhere, you sure as hell better be doing it.

So while I may be lacking in inspiration and ideas, I am making a number of small portraitish drawings, and for the record, I took all the reference photos myself. One of my goals is to get all my reference material myself.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Suzy (Sort of)

Not really anything to say. Pretty simple and straight-forward. This is a lot smaller than what I've been working on....

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fire Dance

Faster this time. It comes back a lot faster the second time. I'm not sure that I should be spending my time on this (I have some pen and ink things I REALLY want to do, but keep getting diverted--by gardening projects, by work, by social obligations. Argh!