My mojo has left me since October/November last year with absolutely just no desire to put pen to paper or a brush to the canvas. The intention was there, many a time, but the execution didn’t happen. It was that typical staring at a blank page, at a blank canvas and realizing that even the mind was blank. So what does that say about ignoring inspiration or mood and just get on with it, regarding art as a job that needs to be done. I don’t have the answer. I can only say that if it were my job and I worked for a boss, I would’ve probably been fired.
Rutabagas, turnips and beetroot.
sketches in watercolor and pen in Arches watercolorbook HP, 18x26cm
I even went to see a Picasso exhibit, trying to find the desire to paint, but to no avail. No desire. No wanting it. I had a faint glimpse of my old desire today when I picked up a rutabaga(swede) for dinner tonight. I looked at it and thought by myself that it was a vegetable I haven’t sketched yet and I wondered why… a trigger as simple as that. Not that I am now suddenly overcome with desire to splash the paints, not at all. On the contrary. I wonder what o do tomorrow. But I am grateful for at least having a sketch done today, before January runs out. Tomorrow’s day will have to see to itself.
“A favorite food,” says the list of the art group EDM for this month of May.. Only one favorite food? That is a huge punishment! I can draw a favorite food for a whole month and even beyond. How then to choose between all my wonderful favorite fruits, the colourful vegetables, the meat…(yes, you Greenies, I love my meat!) And then there are fish and shellfish and how about a slice of cake? Or a cookie. And dessert. I never skip dessert. I won’t even mention chocolate and that first cup of coffee in the morning. Only one favorite food?
However, I can sometimes play by the rules and this time seems appropriate enough to do so. So one favorite food it is. I confess my weakness for macarons. Those beautiful, sensual, romantic and utterly delicious delicacies our patisserie in Beaulieu so shamelessly flaunts in the display window. By just looking in my eyes, they know I am there for a box of macarons. Yellows and purples and pinks and reds which vary between red fruits and blueberry and strawberry and lemon and vanilla, chocolate, coffee, caramel and my big favorite, that green one, the pistache. I love them all. I leave the patisserie on an euphoric cloud and with my precious macarons gently tucked next to each other in a quaint box and artfully tied with a pink ribbon. All that is left now, is to nail this sketch, so I can retire with my box of macarons to my favorite chair in my favorite corner…..sigh. I rest my case.
watercolor and dip pen with Sennelier indigo ink in S&B alpha sketchbook, 22.9×15.2cm
I can totally understand why there are nutcases walking around hugging each tree they come across. sometimes I am one of them. Cause a tree is not just a tree. It is a friend, it stirs our emotion, it is a refuge, that safe place under/or in its branches where we hide from all that scorches us..the sun, the world. The olive tree is all of that for me. I do hug my olive trees and talk to them, touch them, stroke them, care for them, love them. They make me think of sunshine and heat. They makes me hear the cigales. They bring me the scent of lavender and wild herbs in the fields and I see colourful vegetables drizzled with the golden oil from its olives, glistening with crystals of fleur de sel. That is my olive tree.
watercolor and Prera pilot fountain pen in S&B epsilon sketchbook, 14×21.6 cm
I have been struggling with a fatigue for a few days…it may well be the change of seasons? Just the thought of going out sketching already tires me..so I have been mostly in front of my table, fiddling with small sketches, moistly fruits and veggies, which is usually a good idea when all else fails.
I’ve noticed that I have actually never done red peppers..which is surprising. Et voilà..some red peppers for today.
..red peppers in aquarelle on watercolor block, HP, 18cmx26cm..
à la prochaine!
In summer we don’t eat apples. We munch on peaches and nectarines. Except the horses. They have their apples throughout the year. An apple is one of the most delicious subjects to draw and paint. For the experts it is a challenge to capture its real beauty and succulent appearance and for the beginner it is easy enough to start off with and be inspired to keep going.
pen and aquarelle on watercolor block
..six apples close-up..
Just for some lazy fun, I splashed some greens for a sucrine salad…using blues and yellows, purple and payes gray for darker shadows. Salad is always difficult to draw and paint, so many lines and squigles…definitely not a favorute subkect of mine. The greens are a great challenge though!
pen and aquarelle on waterclor block
..sucrine salad close-up..
Without planning it, these experiments have turned into a series. As it is raining constantly outside, I have to dine my subjects inside. I started off with clementines(see post here) and today I grabbed the bunch of dried Espelette chillies hanging next to the stove.
…Espelette chillies in charcoal and sanguine, 50x 65cm…
The completed drawing. Using white conté stick, I added the last highlights/ details.
…Close- up 1…
Continuing my experimentation with large formats, different mediums and free strokes. Still sticking with charcoal, which is an unforgiving medium, but exactly that fact gives me the freedom to “play” freely. You can”t start over every time you make a mistake; so you are forced to work with the mistakes, which can either lead to great discoveries, or total mess ups – not to be seen as a bad thing. I also prefer working with the dark charcoal, and one can see in the images below the really dark black it gives. I don’t use fixatives.. I have the impression it doesn’t work in any case..
…radishes in charcoal, watercolor and watercolor pencils, 42x60cm..
I chose radishes, cut off most of the leaves to expose mostly the stems, thew them out on the table and chose a composition with only a few radishes.
..the start – in charcoal lines and watercolor washes, using lot of water and allowing it to run…
After finishing, I stood back and the watercolor looked too washed out against the dark charcoal, so I added watercolor pencil, washed it to blend and give darker color, and here and there I left some pencil marks to echo the charcoal lines.
…radishes – close up 1..
Far from being a perfect piece and it won’t end up in an exhibition, this was another good exercise in getting rid of “fear”.
….radishes – close up 2…
…radishes – close up 3…
Onto some some more work!!!
Thankfully there is always an end to yesterday. And to whining. Once I got tired of my own whining about this not working and that not good enough(see the previous post), I had the clarity to see that the only way to change what I don’t like in my art, is to work at it.
..Clementines in charcoal on paper, 43X60cm..
So here is what I went for:
- I worked only charcoal and white conté sticks.
- Large format. I will go bigger still, bit for the time being 43x60cm is plenty.
- I put the drawing on my easel and work with the whole arm and not the wrist, standing back often to get distance.
- No details.
- Large and free strokes.
- No erasing.
- No planning ahead, trusting impulse.
- Still worked from life..whatever is around, but no photos.
- No direct copying, put marks and lines as I felt and wanted, whether it is correct or not.
- Stopped early enough, while I still had the urge to continue.
I enjoyed this process todayeven though it still has my typical mark making, I feel happy about it. Will continue experimenting.
The paper is bending on the easel as I didn’t add a big enough support behind it, so the colour and focus are not perfect all over the paper.
Some close ups below to see the marks and smudges.
Close up 1
Some of the close-ups actuall make for nice pieces on their own..so the piece of work can be torn or cut into sections and reworked..maybe collaged as part of another work…?
Close up 2
Close up 3
Close up 4
Stay tuned for loads of work in the next few weeks..and if you feel like joining in..please do so.