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Back to basics

Painting this “fennel salad” yesterday made me realize how easy it is to lose some skills when they are not constantly excercised. Like our bodies, they become soft and flabby, sluggish and lazy and it takes work and discipline to get them back into shape. Such is the state of my current painting skills.

Painting done in watercolour on Fabriano artistico HP extra white, 30x23cm (11.8″x9″)

…fennel, pear and onions

fennel

Not actively painting or drawing for more of two months had a paralyzing impact on my creativity, self confience and hand-eye coordination. I could clearly feel en see it in this little painting above. My wrist feels stiff and my hand feels disconnected from my brain. Or maybe it is the opposite;  my hand being too connected to my brain, restricted by reason and not able to take  its free course. I clutch my paintbrush in an iron grip and lock my jaw in frowned concentration. I zoom in on details and am afraid of taking risks. I hesitate on choice of colour and paint hesitantly with  the tip instead of the stroking the whole brush.

Trying to do a waterscene painting, resulted in a complete catastrophe. It made me think of my professor years ago, who told me in first year graphichs, I couldn’t draw.  So, remembering his “cruel-to-be-kind” teaching, I took some cheap pilot black ink and drawing paper and my chair and took off to the river this morning. It was time to once again,  heed the professor’s words of years ago and get back to basics. Here is one of the drawings I did by the river this morning.

If  interested, the rest can be read and seen over at Watermarks.

…with sticks and stones…

rivermarks3-3-11-2009-3-54-12-pm

pilot black ink on drawing paper, with natural materials, found on the ground.

…drawing tools…

drawingtools1-3-11-2009-1-05-50-pm

25 responses

  1. sandy

    Oh -to be this “constricted and clumsy” and out of shape ?!? AHHHHH
    I have missed you and your fabulous splashy work!~!! I am glad you are back ‘exercising’ , and like riding a bike – you will be back on track and loving the freedom and unstoppable now!

    March 11, 2009 at 7:35 pm

  2. Ronell!! What a delight – have missed you so much and I love these tentative new strokes of pen/brush/stick/whatever. Enjoy getting back into it – I know exactly that feeling of clenched brush and jaw – it must be banished! So great to hear from you

    March 11, 2009 at 7:56 pm

  3. I’d be very happy with the fennel and onions myself, but I was immediately distracted when you noticed what has happened to my body over this long winter of no walking, no swimming, no exercise. Sigh :(

    Lovely to find you down by the river though. with your ink and your stick and your talent.

    March 11, 2009 at 8:29 pm

  4. Ronell – I love the way you handle watercolors, so juicy, but still the shapes are defined!

    March 11, 2009 at 9:13 pm

  5. sue

    Oh, so good to see you posting again, Ronell! These don’t reflect what you described at all–they’re lovely! I do know what you’re describing, though, as I’ve experienced it many a time myself. Welcome back!

    March 11, 2009 at 10:05 pm

  6. I´m so glad to see you here again, Ronell, I´ve missed you and your lovely paintings! I love this one, I can´t see any sign of your untrained hand here, but I guess those things work like when you have a bad hair day – YOU see it very well in the mirror, but everybody else thinks you just look like you always do. :)
    I love your drawing tools from the river drawings – isn´t it great what you can do with some simple tools and ink? Great the results, and very inspiring. I can´t wait til spring hits us up here in Stockholm!

    March 11, 2009 at 10:38 pm

  7. Bonny

    It’s so nice to see you back again, Ronell! Like other friends have said… you’ve been truly missed ;))

    I like your idea of using found twigs and aterials as your brushes. The resuls are so interesting and you wouldn’t have to be afraid of ‘losing’ your favourite brush, either.

    Thanks for your wishes for a speedy recovery. It will take time, but it IS only teporary! Yay!!!

    March 11, 2009 at 11:01 pm

  8. dinahmow

    Like all the other readers, I’m happy to see you back here again.
    And, yes, too long away from anything can make us sluggish; your exercises are working!

    March 11, 2009 at 11:01 pm

  9. So happy to see you back in the ‘studio’ and posting again! Love the piece you did. For someone that considers their effort a bit rusty, I’m impressed!

    I can empathize with what you said. I know when I have not painted or drawn for an extended period of time, there’s a little reluctant anticipation….kind of like the sensation of jumping into cold water…but once in…. it feels good!!!

    March 11, 2009 at 11:52 pm

  10. Yippee she is back! Can you tell you’ve been missed? Your work, that you think had a “paralyzing impact” is beautiful. The vegetable’s sing … the coloring is inspiring. Oh how nice to see your work again.

    March 12, 2009 at 2:51 am

  11. So nice to see you posting again Ronell, wonderfully loose and delicious!

    March 12, 2009 at 3:07 am

  12. Hi Ronnel, great to see you again. I have been quiet lately too. Lots of love and hope you are well.

    March 12, 2009 at 8:52 am

  13. lin

    WELCOME BACK, CARA!!! And to these eyes, you haven’t lost a bit of spontaneity or creativity or talent — it’s right where it’s always been — just itching to get out!! glorious work, Ronnell — keep it coming, please!! you’ve been sorely missed!

    March 12, 2009 at 2:04 pm

  14. Yeah!!!! Ronnell is back!!!
    Welcome– I’ve missed YOU! — guess you’ve noticed –we all have missed you!
    Your paintings are so much fun– I love seeing what you do and I love the shapes and colors and spatters in your “fennel, pear and onions”.
    the “down by the river” back to basics is so free and spontaneous — I love it, love it , love it!!!!!

    March 12, 2009 at 4:41 pm

  15. Hi Ronnell,
    Good to see you back! Hm, the nice thing about things forgotten is that they come back again quickly, and one has the chance to change a thing or two about them :)
    I like the fennel a lot, but the ink and stick sketches are fabulous – I’ve only done this once before, but, yes: what a great exercise, simplifying to help one focus – some of the linocutting I’ve done had a similar effect (if approached with a playful mind).

    March 12, 2009 at 10:47 pm

  16. Selamat pagi, Ronell. Great to have you back. I’ve missed your wonderful paintings. I will come back and visit often from beautiful Bali.

    March 13, 2009 at 2:11 am

  17. Ronell! Look at how many people have missed you, including me! So nice to have you back, we love everything you do. But painting, like riding a bike, will again come naturally! I am coming to Europe and Paris in May, I would love to see you!

    March 13, 2009 at 6:42 am

  18. Thanks to you all for visiting and your support, I appreciate it!

    Desiree…it would be GREAT to see you!
    Ronell

    March 13, 2009 at 7:21 am

  19. annie

    How wonderful to have you back, Ronell. I think we all know
    those feelings that plague us, but I agree with the rest that
    these pictures are lovely. And I love the one in ink. Like sumi-e…
    annie

    March 13, 2009 at 5:11 pm

  20. This sketch is fantastic! It seems to hold within an explosion of creativity bursting forth with brilliant light all around. Sometimes when work shows a little struggle in the birthing it only makes it more pleasurable to see. I learned that from a painting I did that when I looked at it I could only see the struggle. A viewer told me they loved it BECAUSE they could see the struggle which gave it much more drama and excitement than the ordinary pretty picture it might have been without the struggle. It’s good to have you back!

    March 14, 2009 at 5:29 am

  21. Ronell, it’s wonderful to see that you are making your beautiful art again. You don’t look the least bit out of shape to me.

    March 15, 2009 at 11:21 am

  22. Ronell, thank you so much for your thoughtful comment on my blog.- I don’t think that you lost much of your wonderful ability to paint- maybe you only f e e l so…the sketch is beautiful, like always.

    March 15, 2009 at 2:41 pm

  23. I know exactly what you mean by feeling stiff; I hadn’t skecthed for a whole week, and I already felt a difference!

    April 6, 2009 at 9:07 pm

  24. df

    such a nice painting! I love the fennel. Also the use of a warm color for the shadows, it’s a nice twist from the usual cool colored shadows. I think a break from painting is a good thing and allows us to refocus.

    April 6, 2009 at 10:27 pm

  25. Oh how I adore the raw emotion in this sketch of yours (sticks and stones). I feel the frustration coming through, but in the same time, I feel rock solid knowledge and skill beneath the superficial chaos.

    April 17, 2009 at 12:13 am

Tthank you for your visit and comment, II appreciate it!

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