Yay! Go Us!
We celebrated in the best possible way: with a walk down to the river to feed the ducks...and the geese....and a huge flock of aggressive seagulls. Let's just say there was some screaming involved on my part. And a lot of hysterical laughter on Charley's. We met some squirrels on the way, and we fed them too. There was screaming involved there as well. It seemed that Mr. Squirrel was less than satisfied with my offering of one measly cracker.
Here's a peek at what I worked on yesterday:This work-in-progress is my latest illustration for Marcus and Petunia. One of the things I enjoy about illustration is that it's such a fast way of working. It's a very nice complement to my slow, slow "fine art" process.
When Charley and I decided to plan a big, formal wedding in only three months, we found that we were (blissfully!) limited in many ways. We had no time to hem 'n haw about color schemes and interviewing different vendors and all that jazz. Decisions were made lickety-split. Dress? I'll take that one off the mannequin. Flowers? Surprise me. Limo? Let's just hop in the back of my mom's car. If there's one thing I love best about limitations (besides finding ways to sneak around them...or push my way through them) it's that they promote decisiveness. The same can be said for illustration. One is working with a pre-existing story so that many elements are already established, and decisions can be made BAM, BAM, BAM!
Lately I've been feeling a bit rusty when it comes to my basic observational drawing skills. It's especially apparent when I'm teaching my intro. drawing and watercolor classes. Sometimes, particularly in adult ed., it's helpful to give demonstrations. It helps the students see that art-making is not some sort of wizardry. But it's also problematic. For me, drawing and painting are very personal, quiet, focused practices–a kind of brain yoga. But when I'm demonstrating a technique, I'm trying to simultaneously draw, explain what I'm doing, and think about what the students need to see and hear. I'm in teacher mode, which means that my mind is completely occupied with my students' needs. The resulting drawing or painting is usually a little bit embarrassing. I always feel a little ego pang when I give a demo. I wonder if the students see the lack of quality in my example, and that worries me a little. Will they think that I'm a hack? Ultimately though, giving demos is about taking one for the team. As long as it helps the students dig deeper into their work, what does it matter if they do think that I'm a hack?
That being said, lately I've had a hankering for some completely self-absorbed, straight observational drawing. So yesterday I went to one of the open figure-drawing sessions at the New Art Center. As a faculty member I got to draw for free! Oh, it was so blissful. Our model was particularly good, and he had an interesting life story. For those two hours, I got to be a student again–drawing to make my own discoveries. Later, when I got back to my studio, I spread all of my gesture drawings out on my studio floor in a kind of naked-guy carpet. It was lovely to bask for a while in the smudgy charcoal and the searching, searching, searching of all my black marks.