Today another one of Gracie, this time done in pencil. Gracie likes to hold hands. He’s the only cat I’ve ever known that will grab my hand, hold onto it, and not let go. Sometimes he even “kisses” it like a dog would. Cat’s tongues are a lot scratchier than dog’s though. Some mornings, he doesn’t want me to leave and will grab my hand every time I try to get out of bed. Other times he’s up already trying to get “coffee” from someone else.
To make the subject clearer than the photo, the background has been simplified and edited, and the sweatshirt textured a little more to look like a sweater so that it doesn’t blend in with the chair.
Although I’m pretty good at photo-realistic drawing, somehow portraits never turn out as lively as their subjects, or even as a photo of the subject (if I’m drawing from a photo). Perhaps it’s because wearing my costume hat for figure drawing, I try to document clothing and makeup details rather than trying to draw portraits. Anyway, all things considered, Gracie doesn’t look half bad in this drawing, a little stiffer, but pretty relaxed. I got the angle on his head a bit wrong. This is the first cat drawing that I’ve done in a long time that tried to literally depict rather than caricature, so I guess it makes me a little proud!
When I was small, maybe 7 or 8 years old, I remember my dad trying to teach me how to draw a box in perspective. He drew one box on top of another box, attached some lines and then erased others. Now, the idea of lines creating a recession of space makes perfect sense to me, but my 8 year old self thought it was magical.
When I lived in Madrid, one Sunday morning, during the free hours, I went and saw the last day of a retrospective on the work of Pablo Palazuelo. Looking at the way he layered lines to create superimposed imaginary spaces made me feel like I was small again. Here were paintings that created a sense of vertigo with their contrasting colors and broken cubes.
For a long time Abstract Art had no pull for me, but now, the contemplation of space and imagination opens whole new areas of thought. How do we see space? How can we imagine space on a plane? Is there more to space than what we see? How are space and time related?
Today I meant to draw my drawing when I first woke up, and then thought, no I better do some work. So I did some dishes, some laundry, tried to rid myself of a migraine, and suddenly the time left to do my drawing had disappeared. I wished that I could erase those moments of hesitation from the morning and just do the drawing then, but now it is now and I can’t.
Hope you enjoy my Time Machine!
A drawing of a place some of you will recognize, and some won’t. From memory. Cleaner than in reality, but also fuzzier. Memory can play tricks.
I used to try to draw the cars on the CTA from memory. Then I’d go back the next morning and notice I forgot a nut here, or a bolt there, but the proportions were right. After awhile, we visual artists have a sense of space, though we may be lazy about using it; defining it.
We aren’t unique though. People take all sorts of things that they know for granted. That the roads won’t move between tonight and tomorrow, and going to work will be the same. That their shoes will be where they left them.
Then there are more nebulous things that we can’t put down on paper in the form of drawings, maps, or things. Things like how we feel about ourselves and one another. Those change all the time, and though sometimes we remember what it was like to be 3 years old, or 8, or 20, we are not that person anymore, and we feel create in our heads a fuzzy, cleaned up image of how it was. Or perhaps a stylized dark image. Or whatever image we have of ourselves in the past and the future.
Making clear nebulous emotional and spiritual markers for ourselves is as important as knowing how to get to work, or where we left our shoes, or what our child hood home looks like. But setting boundaries is risky. What if someone else defines the boundary of a relationship differently? How do we negotiate the price of it? What if that negotiation leads to loss?
So it goes. Every shoe wears out, every road needs repair, every house needs maintenance. Life, love, and being are work. So be it.
The other project that I’ve been working on is helping my parents rehab their basement room. It has a fireplace, a nice window, and a very low ceiling. We are going to put linoleum down, we think, now that the icky carpet is gone and the floor has been cleaned. But in the meanwhile, I’ve put down some old rag rugs from the other house, and moved a table to work at into the basement.
This is a drawing of the table, With a doodle of the drawing sitting on the table:
Here is a photo of the table with the drawing of the table with the doodle of the table on it:
Having a space to work and be alone is not something I’ve had in a long time, and though this space isn’t actually my own, it is borrowed, it feels good. Unfinished floor, low ceiling, and needing a paint-job, are minor details.
The daylight filters in, and some of the plants from the garden have sneaked in through the gap between the outside cover and the light shaft. They survive despite the cold weather out there, maybe in part because of the air in the opening.
In this drawing, I loosely sketched, then wanted to play with using the oil pastels to create the feeling of the space. It is much easier to draw this small with pen o pencil, but I’m working towards a better figurative control in oil pastel since most of my work lately has been with abstraction.
Is the tiger, orange with black stripes, or black with orange stripes?
These bilaterally symmetrical forms play with the perception of figure and ground. Is it a single object drawn with extreme light? A series of clouds floating across the sky? Two kinds of blob-animals parading in opposite directions?
Life right now feels a little like this. I can see all the pieces, and how they fit, but am not certain which direction to move them, or what they mean.