Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I don't know any artists

Due to the explosion on Xanboni (couple hundred page loads a day), I decided to get serious about all these ridiculous blogs, and start looking for friends who blog that I can link to and comment on, maybe get a dialog going, and made some humbling discoveries.

First, I don't know any artists any more. Found a couple of old friends through Facebook, as well as a cousin, who has a wonderful website, (and whose art looks exactly like my mother's, interestingly). Found a few old acquaintances from Contemporary Art Workshop, mostly teaching at various universities, which I gather is the chief way that people have managed to continue an art career (something's got to foot the bill).

But for the most part, I don't know any artists, not to talk to on anything approaching a regular basis.

Second, I don't know how to talk about art anymore. I was never one to follow, much less participate in, still less understand, art world trends (partially a consequence of my personality, partially of living in Chicago), but I'm so far behind the curve at this point that when reading art blogs and commentary it might as well be in Mandarin for all I understand. Historical references tend to refer to "history" that has happened since I dropped off the map in the early 90s, so they're meaningless to me.

So, does this break the no-whining rule?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

No new nudes for another week, probably, because I had to get new glasses and they take two weeks. So right now I can see close or I can see far, but I can't see the middle, where the model is. In the meantime, here's some works from a former life.

Rivka at the Well
Pastel on woven d'Arches paper, appox 36" x 38"

Psyche (1)
1983 (?)
Pastel on d'Arches, 30 x 42

Psyche (2)
1983 (?)
Pastel on d'Arches, 30 x 42

Luberon, père et filles
Oil on stretched canvas, 40x60"
collection: University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Dept. of French

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Since I started drawing again, I've been deliberate in an attempt to not let myself care-- I use old paper, even old newsprint. I draw on both sides. I'm not allowing myself to get invested in this because I'm afraid of being hurt again at not being able to pursue it beyond the hobby level. I don't know how to break out of that mold, of the empty-nester trying to get her life back. I wish I could go back to my 25-year-old self and talk to the empty-nesters I knew then, the older women at ARC Gallery, and West Hubbard Group, and Artemisia (although there were fewer of them at Artemisia) and ask them to confirm these feelings-- whether I'm too old to do this again, and my distaste for playing the gallery game. That I just want to make art that I want to make, not trying to change the world, or invent a new paradigm, but just to draw.

Ann, this week, looking too thin. I told my husband she's the next best thing to a cadaver to draw. (Which is unfair- she has proper flesh on her bones, despite being too thin.) I studied back muscles in case she was the model and it seems to have paid off, with one of the best back studies I've done.

Couple of nice 5 minute ones, including one where I elected to not do the whole figure. The 10s alright, but I wasn't crazy about the poses; and a reasonably nice 25. I think it's time to do more on nice paper, after all, and put together a show.

Friday, October 23, 2009


New model last night, "Lucky," youthful middle aged with a soft, lovely body. Nice to draw flesh rather than bones, but she was a slow draw-- I could barely capture her at all on the 5 minutes poses, and the 10 and 15 were challenging, 25 a disaster (not even worth posting), but the hour was a winner, and felt like the right amount of time to give her.

Some models you struggle to stretch the time on a long pose, but oddly, I needed every minute for her.

This drawing combination standard #2 pencil, #2 graphite pencil, and #4B charcoal pencil, all with very sharp points.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Another day, another set of drawings going no where

Not that anyone gives a shit, and not that I have any plans for these, but here's today's set. I'm just breaking the no whining rule all over the place today.

Bigger paper. Was able to correct some poorly drawn heads, which is difficult.

25 minute pose

10 minute poses

5 minute pose

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Search for Schroedinger's Kid

Yes, like the rest of America, I became reluctantly aware of Falcon the Balloon Boy yesterday, although since we don't have cable I was able to stay out of the high drama. I mostly followed it via this thread on Metafilter. One of the major themes in the thread regarded the parents and their hobbies, especially the rock-star wannabe mom.

As one commenter put it,

"The problem is that they participate in the hobby in such a way that the purpose is to project their fantasy to us as a reality. They aren't simply playing guitar. They are showing us that they play guitar in a home studio to convince us that they are not merely hobbyist guitarists, but serious guitarists, the proof of which is the studio."

Where does one draw this line? I do this. I have this "fancy" studio, with easels and expensive paper, and for god's sake, I've started blogging the stuff. So is someone like me simply trying to convince the world, or herself, that she is a serious artist, and the proof is the studio and the blog?

It's a feedback loop. I am an artist because I have a studio because I am an artist ad infinitum.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Some days it's just not there

The model yesterday was the bodybuilder. "Toned" does not begin to describe this body. She makes me understand how little I understand how the muscles sit on the bones. With a fleshier body you can fudge it a little; the softness disguises the inadequacies of my anatomical understanding. With this model, there's nowhere to hide.

I had a lot of trouble with the short poses, usually my stronger drawings. But the five minute poses were close to embarrassing, and the 10s and 15s not there at all. These are the best of the lot.

It did make me think about what to do with the pear tree branches; and I'm thinking that to base the carving on the muscles of the arms and legs would be wonderful. Otherwise, still use the mosaic idea. I'll definitely need to strip the bark I think if I use this idea.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

They were right there all along

I found all my journals, exactly where I put them, on the closet shelf, exactly where I had looked a few months ago. Bizarre.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Not so feeble

After reading this earlier, I wonder why I bother. I've never understood the point behind deliberately bad painting. The detached cynicism of the "technique," if you can call it that, is distasteful in the extreme. The insider assumptions, the contempt for skill, the mistrust of depth are symptomatic of what is worst in our society.

On the other hand, here am I, wasting my sweetness in the desert air. On the gripping hand, am I just at the other end of the nothing-important-to-say spectrum? At any rate, I sure can draw. Here's yesterday's session. The model is N. Painfully beautiful face and a lovely body, but oddly shadowless; she evinces no personality and is extremely difficult to draw some days. I call her the Little Mermaid, because of her poses, especially her favorite, which emulates the Copenhagen statue.

One-hour pose

25-minute pose

10-minute pose

5-minute pose

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Secret Room

I have dreams about finding rooms that no one ever knew were there. Sometimes they are rooms in my house, or in an old house that no one goes into. It might be the house I live in now, or it might be one of my former homes.

And then sometimes I dream about the atelier that I forgot I had. When I first got out of college I dreamed the same hidden studios so often that now it feels utterly real to me. I know that there were no secret studios in a forgotten building but I had that dream so often that it feels like a memory.

Last night I dreamed that "the art school" (no idea which one) had let me use some rooms across the hall from the regular studios. It was wonderful having a studio around artists, and a beautiful studio; I have a vague feeling that I was supposed to downplay my tenancy, because I wasn't a student or somehow a "real" artist. There were other people in the dream, but they drifted through. I wasn't making art in the dream, but there was art all around, and I knew that now I would make some art.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why I'm not an artist

Well, healthcare, childcare. If I hadn't had to pay for those I wouldn't have had to develop a non-art career. Let's throw in no government support for college let alone grad school, meaning I couldn't get the advanced degree I needed to teach college, meaning I had to take jobs that didn't support artistic output.

I'm breaking my no-whiny-blogging rule here, but it's material. I have been trying for years to find a way to get back to making art and every time it's the same old song. I get going for a while and then the three other jobs I have to have to cover the health care and the kids' education get in the way. One of the people in the figures class asked me, what do you want to do with this? I don't know. I don't want to do the whole 'you-dint-go-to-AIC-so-why-am-I-talking-to-you' stuck up gallery bullshit. I don't have time, energy or ego to deal with the "art world."

I have just barely time to do the drawing, but no time to develop any kind of creative statement. I have to work the next three figure drawing sessions and all weekend. Unless I want to work at night, which was fine in my 20s when I had some moderate expectation of it being worthwhile to do so, and had the literal physical where withal to work a full time job AND spend hours making art, there is literally no time. I started a sculpture with the pear wood weeks ago, actually went out and bought the tools I need and have not had, since then, the 3 to 5 hour stretch of time that I really need to be anything other than a dabbler, a has-been, a wannabe, a fraud.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Back in class

Figures sessions don't meet in the summer, at least none that I can find (if anyone ever happens to every stumble on this, let me know where there are no-instructor figures sessions). So I'd been hoping to spend a couple of days each week in my studio here drawing friends and family. I thought people would be really into it, but I couldn't get anyone to come except my daughter and just two friends (see prior post). I love drawing the nude figure, but I wanted to work on draped/clothed as well. I'll have to do better at recruiting come winter when gardening slackens off.

Anyway, here are the drawings from the first figure session of the year. It was Hipster Girl (complete with fairy tattoo); I'm not that crazy about drawing her although she has an utterly fantastic body and a gift for finding shadows in a pose.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Kiki's tat

I drew the girl and the dog; tree is adapted from a stock photo image. Commissioned by Kristen, but then she didn't use it, so I thought I'd put it up here. Her idea was that this would go on her upper arm, with the tree branches blowing across her back.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I finally got some victims in my quest for clothed/draped figures. MH and IL sat for 2 hours, bless them (IL turns out to be quite good at this, but we made M cry). Two quick poses and one long. We had no clock, so the quick poses were a count to 1000 (I think about 8 minutes), a count to 500 (about 5 minutes), and draw til you're done (maybe 80 minutes, with two longish breaks). As always, quick studies are quite nice, but the long pose is too stiff, although I do seem to have achieved a nice sense of depth.

I've always prided myself on my ability to find the architecture under the flesh. I praise my Austrian figure and anatomy teachers. I think my anatomy course was really pretty much comparable to a medical student's, right down to the cadaver dissection. I always draw the human figure from the bones out, with the final step laying the light over the body like a garment. However, it's amazing how even well- fitting clothes change the way you perceive the bones. I had more trouble finding IL's hips through his jeans than in finding the structure in M's upper body through her fleshiness-- I can see the bones through the skin, no matter how much skin there is, than through the cloth, no matter how lightly laid (and thank you M for understanding my need to explore this-- you are beautiful!)

Monday, August 24, 2009


This painting of my mother has been sitting, in this state in my studio for several years. It is meant to be the companion of one I did of my father a few years earlier than that. It is both my bane and my inspiration. I feel like as long as she sits in my studio, a 4x5 foot presence that confronts me every time I walk by, I have to keep considering myself an artist. I have to believe that I will finish that painting, and even show it somewhere, sometime even though portraiture has never been my strong point. (I'll certainly never hang it; I haven't got a wall large enough.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

New skills

Been sketching for mosaic sculptures made with the pear tree logs, and also trying to figure out how to turn some of them into lincoln logs to make a bench (which could also be mosaiced). One of the logs turned out to have insect damage under the bark (maybe why the tree fell over) which is rather beautiful.

Woodworking or carving is a new skill, but I think we're am at right now is thinking of it more like a new surface for the line over line drawings, using dimension and mosaic rather than pastel and paint.

Anyway, from what I read on line about how to fit together logs lincoln-log style, I get to buy an axe. What's not to like.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


I've always been fascinated by edges-- the transition. From one thing to the next, from one moment to the following, from line to field. Lines create shape, and definition. They tell us the difference between the natural and the artificial. Our eyes are trained to follow; disruption of the line creates tension, interruption introduces conflict.

Here's a flickr set where lines are made by human, or nature, and sometimes intersect.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


An ongoing photo set, started after the cast for my broken ankle came off, late summer of 2008.

Monday, August 3, 2009

It's a start

Started a new blank book. Sketches of ideas for the logs from the pear tree, with carved and mosaic components. A very disappointing, in fact devastating discovery is that all of my art journals and sketchbooks from the late 70s through the early 90s (which is when I stopped keeping them) are missing. I have no idea where they are. Many tears. Figure drawing sessions start up again in a month, and I'll use the intervening Thursday evenings (which is class day) to do figure studies, clothed, of friends and family.

How late is too late?

Recent connections with old friends and lost family have shaken me up, so I'm turning this blog, started to track various sewing projects, into an art blog. We'll see where it goes; I'm decades out of the loop on art, not that I was ever IN the loop, which was part of the problem. I'm pretty good at keeping up with the blogging, maybe this will get me back in the game, at least virtually.