100:365 Watched Pot

100:365 Watched Pot

Gracie and I waiting for the pot to boil so we can have “coffee.” Also known as half-and-half for Gracie, who is a cat and should not have coffee.

Although my mother would give me iced coffee as a treat sometimes in the summer, it was never a daily staple for me until I moved to Spain. With warm milk, coffee is delicious, and that’s how they served it during the morning merienda (snack time, for lack of a better translation). At first I would drink mostly milk, but slowly, drinking coffee became a ritual.

Now, I drink all kinds of coffee, and am even considering buying myself a little tinned-copper pot to make “Turkish” coffee. I put it in quotes because many Mediterranean countries title the sweet cardamom-infused mixture variously as their own.

Anyway, with Spring approaching Gracie and I are watching not only the pot for coffee, but the weather, plants, and animals with anticipation.

095:365 Memory of an African Violet

095:365 Memory of an African Violet

“Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depths of some devine despair
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
In looking on the happy autumn fields,
And thinking of the days that are no more.”
― Alfred Tennyson

Today nostalgia washes over me, both happiness and sadness. The double edged sword of being in the place one grew up is that there are so many people and places that one knows intimately. One knows how to get around but one also knows what has been around.

This is a memory of a drawing I used to do as a child. A one liner of muscle memory and imagination that nobody but me remembers. Today felt like that somehow.

090:365 White & Purple Crocus

090:365 White & Purple Crocus

When I was a kid, I loved oil pastels. I’d draw bright flowers, beautiful hillsides, and starry nights. There were drawings I’d do over and over, never exactly the same, but following the same formal constraints. Hill just so, sun or moon with these pastel-marks.

As a grown artist, I look back on those drawings with both fondness and chagrin.

Inspiration White & Purple Crocus

On the one hand, they were familiar forms that helped me perfect my technique. Drafts, as it were, that developed into skill with mark-making, composition, and iconography.

On the other, they like banal over-studied forms that stopped investigating new meaning.

We artists must constantly balance the need to investigate new horizons with the desire to connect with our audience. Many of the wild drawings I did in Madrid, which to me are emotional investigative storms on A3 paper, seem like decorative art to the viewer, while my repeated drawings of Gracie, with different techniques and stories, seem like developed work to the viewer.

It is necessary to repeat. It is necessary to connect. It is necessary to delve.

These necessities are why there are multiple strains of work that show up as I continue through this project.

None of this is really about the crocus drawing above. It represents another investigation into macro perspective beauty through the medium of paper and pastel instead of camera and pixels. It is not the end of developing technique.

One reason I like doing macro-photography is because it satisfies my need to delve and look at abstract form while still remaining approachable to the viewer, and it is fun to repeat the technique and change the angle to fit in with my body of work because it involves looking so close that there are always new things to see.

Spring flowers are so pretty. Took a bunch of photos today of what’s sprouting in the yard. Expect more flowers, banal though they may be.

089:365 Amaryllis Bud

089:365 Amaryllis Bud

This entry is being written a day late. This is the drawing that I meant to do yesterday but didn’t do until tonight.

In a private lesson, we’ve been looking at famous artists. We started with Van Gogh, whose sunflowers are bright and shiny, though they don’t bloom until Summer or Autumn. Then last week and this, we’ve been looking at Georgia O’Keeffe whose beautiful fields of varied color create abstracted floral forms. Her work is somewhat less approachable for Young Learners, but with the segue of looking first at Van Gogh’s recognizable, if distorted images, her work makes a good entry into looking at color blending, mixing, and theory.

Working with these drawings as well as reading through the collected letters I mentioned a day or two ago, I find inspiration in how O’Keeffe looked at the world. In photo, macro is one of my favorite ways of looking, and so perhaps now is time to explore the beauty of macro more extensively in these drawings.

Years ago, I made an attempt at drawing an amaryllis as it began growing, but the results were far from satisfactory. This more abstract version feels nicer, but because of my current focus on O’Keeffe’s work, it also feels somewhat derivative. Hopefully, derivative or not, you the viewer find some beauty in these marks on paper.

Inspiration Amaryllis Bud

089:365 Reaching for Light

089:365 Reaching for Light

Awhile ago, I bought a book about Georgia O’Keeffe. It is the catalog from a show that coincided with the publication of some of her letters.

I’m struck by how much I can identify with her thoughts, and how it helps me identify more deeply with the artwork that she created. She seems to have had as much desire and as much awkwardness putting things into words as I, though she had much more prowess with a brush.

She puts in tangents about making a dress or repairing her stockings. Skills that were once universal.

On the other hand, I make notes about these drawings as though they were my side work.

This drawing is based on the photo and the remembered observations of my hand as the sun set yesterday. In part it is blurred because I wanted it to be. Right now the works of my hands are unclear to me. There are splashes of generosity and goodness emanating both to and from my endeavors, but it is hard for me to discern where the present actions are going or if they are leading me in the right direction.

Where-ever you go, there you are. There are moments of beauty, and feelings of pain during any epoch of a life. It is a matter of finding purpose in each of them, growing, and learning. Even at some of the worst moments in the last epoch, there have been beautiful things to observe. The smell of eucalyptus, the crunch of cold snow.

May you [I? we?] find the grace to breathe in those moments and breathe out the pain and confusion. May each step lead to finding more beauty.