Pugs have such sad, world weary faces so this seemed like the perfect sketch to restart my blog after such long neglect. We are all sad and world weary at this point. It’s weird to have our normal lives suspended and be hunkered down at home. A good time to get back to art and stay in touch with friends and family. This is a charcoal sketch I drew from a decor magazine photo of the dog in an opulent setting. His expression caught my eye. I know pugs aren’t any sadder than other dogs, they just look like they are. He misses being able to slobber on his friends.
This guy–I think it’s a guy–is meant to hold sewing items. The felt shirt flips up for needles to be stored in a piece of flannel, there are little skeins of thread around the ankles, and his tote holds thimbles. The right tote is missing but maybe it had tiny scissors in it or a wee pin cushion. I love stuff like this, sweet and charming. Maybe these things were little projects for learning sewing and embroidery techniques or just useful if you didn’t want to lug your sewing basket with you. I used a micron pen and watercolor on pastel paper. Had a little trouble with the shadows but it was still fun to draw and paint. It was also fun searching for these online when I was trying to figure out what to call it. Sewing “caddy” brought up wooden holders and vintage “etuis” are beautiful little ornamental cases which I especially enjoyed perusing. “Needle holders” was the most commonly used for these but I liked the British version–“needle minders.” I squandered some serious time in the name of research. Just for you.
Such a delightful bird! Playful and bold. They seem to enjoy their birdness, you know? The way they dip and swoop as they fly. Anyway, I always felt it would be too hard to draw or paint birds since they are so precise–their markings and smooth feathers. But then I remembered that it doesn’t have to be perfect, just give it a try. I’m not illustrating a bird book. Don’t be afraid. All that stuff. This card was drawn with a micron pen and watercolor. Sam said if he had to pick a favorite non-human creature, it would be a chickadee. Good choice. Happy Birthday, Sam!
I like colorful paintings of food, flowers, and dishes strewn over a table top. Desserts I mean, not the paintings with whole fish on a plate or freshly hunted animals. I’m talking about like Maira Kalman does, and Wayne Thiebaud’s bakery items. Or this here. Today is Rich’s birthday but he said no cake since he’s trying to cut carbs. His splurge will be Italian bread with dinner since he enjoys that more than cake. I know, so weird. Although lots of people are bread lovers. Wish I didn’t like desserts so much. It’s my favorite food group. Sugar is so badass.
Russian icons are fascinating pieces of religious art and I thought it would be fun to paint one. I found a picture of a gorgeous one to try copying (see below.) If you aren’t familiar with these icons, they are painted faces and hands of the Mother and Child but then the surrounding areas are covered with silver or gold leaf or tin in three dimensional low relief. Originally I thought of using the wine cap foil as the surrounding metal, but that didn’t work out so I just used acrylic paints with shiny metallic gold paint for the surround. Painting is hard, sheesh. But I’m happy enough with this little painting and it’s tender message. I feel fortunate to have our family together for the holidays and hope all is well with you and yours. Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a new year filled with peace and joy.
Detail from Vladimir Mother of God, 1874 from the book Mary Images Of The Virgin In Art by Marion Wheeler
This is a little charcoal sketch I did for Sam’s birthday card. Had to come up with it quickly on THE day since I had forgotten about a card and realized I can’t do a homemade b-day card for his brother and not one for him–what kind of mom would I be? Yeah, lame. He and a good friend did 4 nights and 5 days on the Long Trail early this month. They are working on the whole thing about 50 miles at a time each September. Rich and I enjoy hearing about their venture, the beautiful scenery, the funny things people write in the log books at the shelters, their discussions about food and drink as the days go by and how sick they are of trail mix. “If you could have any beer right now, what would you pick?” And, “What meal would you kill for right now?” Stuff like that. Sam said one of the best things he did was pack a Snickers bar for each day. He said a cup of coffee, a cigarillo and a Snickers bar…doesn’t get much better than that. Hmm…I’m thinking Christmas shopping should be pretty easy this year.
While visiting my parents in VA last week, I went to the Textile Museum at GWU. They have some interesting pieces, old and new, in the collection. But I have to say, this hand knitted batman suit is my favorite. An artist named Mark Newport knitted it out of acrylic yarn–it is adult size and must have taken FOREVER to knit. Knitting is slow. I searched for him online and oh my gosh, he has made lots of super hero suits along with some made up ones — “Sweater Man” for example. All different colors and stripes. They are hilarious, sweet and quirky. He’s been exhibiting these for a while (he must knit 24/7!) and he likes them droopy on a hanger as if they were hanging in your closet for you to put on. Hmm…who shall I be today? Don’t you want to meet this guy? His view of the world must be colorful. I used a Pentel Energel pen (I like how it bleeds a little when wet) and watercolor pencils for my sketch.
This famous image from around 1650 is an oil painting long attributed to Rembrandt. Now they are thinking it may have been one of his students who actually painted it in his style. Either way–great helmet! We had a framed print of this in our dining room when I was a kid. A lot of people thought it looked like my dad and yes, there is a bit of resemblance. The steely gaze and shape of the face. I was a little bummed when I found out it had been sold in a yard sale many years ago. Not that I loved the picture, but mainly just because it had been a familiar fixture in our house growing up. But hey, no problem, I found a picture of it in a discarded art book so I pulled the page out and put it in an old gold frame. Anyway, I thought I would continue with my little project involving my versions of art masterpieces. I was trying to do a portrait of my dad and this doesn’t look like him but there’s perhaps a vague resemblance. Dad has pale blue eyes but also fair skin. And a much friendlier expression. But if he were a big headed, battle weary conquistador from the 16th century then this could be him. Oh, hey Dad, Happy Father’s Day! This is your card which I will get in the mail to you shortly.
I had this postcard (top) of Marc Chagall’s “Homage to Gogol”, which I used as an idea for a birthday card for Spencer. Chagall’s art has a strange, dreamlike quality to it, often with floating, sinuous figures. How did he come up with this stuff? Anyway, I thought I’d try my own version of it. He used gouache and pencil on paper. Mine is collage and watercolor, pencil and pen on paper. This was a fun little project and wacky enough to suit Spence. He says that’s just what he looks like walking to classes.
We are working on skeletons and draped figures in drawing class. Working from printed handouts of master works, using charcoal. Messy but satisfying. I especially like drawing with the kneaded eraser– creating highlights by removing charcoal. The creepy skeleton is copied from an 18th century engraving by Jan Wandelaar. Not sure who did the upper left draped figures (top photo), but I’ll find out. You should be having this much fun!