Traditional art

Zen of Crosshatch

I’ve been doing this lately. A lot. I used to crosshatch all the time in the old days, when I had nothing but time on my hands. Not so much anymore. It’s hard to get enough hours in the day to fill a piece of paper with crosshatching.

But since I have an excuse (that would be The Sketchbook Project) I’m not only making the time, but remembering how much fun it is to make lines over and over and over…. No, really, it is fun. It completely numbs the mind from worrying about how the drawing is turning out and allows the hand to just go on without direction. I can actually read my accounting textbooks while crosshatching—I just have to look down now and then to make sure I’m still on the paper.

Of course, in spite of all this zen I need to send this book off in about a week, and I’ve still got the covers to do. So maybe it’s time for concentration!


Does Subject Matter?

Over at RedBubble and Zazzle, I’ve been seeing a lot of holiday-themed art. It’s one of those things I’ve never seemed to manage over the years: drawing something for a holiday and selling it. I mean, I do the Christmas cards, of course; but even those usually don’t get done until just before the 25th. If you want to get started selling holiday stuff, you need to have it done a few months before.

I guess I don’t think much about selling art. The stuff I make is stuff that I think is cool, like snake skins or skulls or dead animals. I draw it for the sake of drawing. Not surprisingly, nobody wants to buy it. I guess it doesn’t matter (except for that nagging feeling that I’m wasting my time) but I have to wonder: is it so hard to draw things that other people would buy? I don’t really have a thing about being true to myself as far as art subjects go, and I certainly don’t want to get into drawing the same things over and over again. So why not draw cats or wolves or beautiful mountain landscapes? Or Christmas scenes? Is it just lack of motivation? And why?

bird skull

At least it was fun to draw!

The Joys of Plein-Air

This is the kind of weather that makes me want to be outside. And what better activity to engage in than plein-air sketching, right? Spending a day in the great outdoors, drawing whatever I see, enjoying the balmy air, hearing the birds sing…trying to make the rock I’m sitting on a little softer, shooing away the killer bees, worrying about the possibilities of rabid bobcats and coyotes, checking for approaching rattlesnakes every five minutes or so….

All right, so I’m one of those artists who’s more comfortable in the climate controlled and nicely padded studio. The great outdoors is a fine place, but there are a lot of distractions for the natural worrier. Still, it’s good to try new things, so I did make an attempt, not too long ago, to draw Golden Gate Mountain. It was within walking distance and easy to find an out-of-the-way place to sit. A sketch was about as far as I could go, given my pokiness in drawing, and even that took a couple of days. Trying to figure out lighting and clouds was just about impossible—by the time I’d make up my mind about something, it would change. But it was fun to see every rock and bush (’cause, yeah, I was using binoculars) instead of squinting at a photograph and wondering what all the blobs were. Did it make a better sketch? Haven’t decided yet.

golden gate mountain

Ideas, Ideas…

Over the last year, I’ve been rolling this idea around in my head of a series of drawings about the life of St. Christopher. I’m really not a religious person and I’ve never done much religious art (except one commission from a friend), so it seems weird to me that a) I’d get an idea like this and b) it would actually stay in my head for a year. It was a comment from a former co-worker about getting a tattoo that started it all—he mentioned something about St. Christopher having a dog’s head, which I’d never heard of. It led me to this story on Wikipedia, which got the idea slowly churning. I mean, there’s something compelling about the story of a seven-and-a-half-foot-tall man with a dog’s head going around looking for someone to serve who’s more bad-ass than he is. And, of course, the only more bad-ass guy he can find is God. Something in that makes me want to draw it. I don’t know what.

But just because I want to draw it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. On the other hand, just because it’s not a good idea doesn’t mean I shouldn’t draw it. So there I am, stuck. Well, not really, since I already started it. But it’s hard to decide if I should spend real time at it, or just give it the few minutes I give all my other “is this really worth it” ideas. Which is to say, all of them.

Maybe I’ve already spent more time on it than it deserves.


The Art of Internal Editing

For NaNoWriMo you’re supposed to write 2,000 words a day. I wonder if it counts if you keep rewriting the same 2,000 word section. Damn internal editors!

These editors work away at artists, too. When I was in high school I used to draw during lunch and my friends were always amused at how often I would draw a line and erase it, draw another line and erase it. Sometimes I’d do nothing but draw the same line over and over for the whole period. That line had to be perfect, dammit, or there was just no way to go on!

Then one of my friends challenged me to start drawing with a ball-point pen. No more erasing! It was paralyzing. My pen hovered over the paper, twitching, because I knew whatever happened, it was permanent. But it was silly to just sit there, so eventually I made a mark. And, of course, it was all wrong. So I made more marks to try to fix it and then I was drawing—well, making a mess that I called a drawing…of a bush…possibly a rock…. At any rate, it started a period were I worked in nothing but ball-point, which graduated to dip-pen and then to technical pens. And I left the eraser at home.

ball-point shack

Working lunch

Things Done While Waiting…

Page from my sketchbook

A page from my sketchbook, done while sitting in a waiting room. Well, I guess it was several waiting rooms over the course of a few months, but this was how I passed the time. Waiting rooms are the best places to do mindless things that serve no real purpose other than…well…being mindless. You don’t want to get lost in doing anything important because invariably someone will call your name and A) you don’t hear it and you miss your appointment, or B) it takes you 15 minutes to get all your stuff put away…and you miss your appointment. Doing something mindless lets part of your brain keep track of what’s going on while not totally wasting the time—because at the end of it all you have a page full of little ink lines which is proof that you did something, even if it was just moving your hand in tiny fractional amounts every second. Which, I suppose, could count for a lot of people as time wasted…doing something mindless.

City Streets Again

Side Street: Looking down from the window of an office building near downtown Detroit.

Here’s another painting done from the Great Detroit Photo Shoot With Mom. Now that I’ve found all those pictures again I’m itching to try new things. Really, though, I need to get other, more mundane things done, like updating the Etsy shop and thinking about Christmas. Yes, Christmas. Do I send out cards to business contacts this year? And which contacts? And shouldn’t I start thinking about actually making a Christmas card for said contacts if I decide to send cards to them? Decisions, decisions….