The Year of the Rooster

Happy Lunar New Year! When this website told me that the 2016 (the Year of the Monkey) was going to be the "wizard of the impossible" last year, little did I know how true that would turn out to be. I don't remember a year when every piece of conventional wisdom was turned on its head. This year, I am ready for the Rooster when it says "I am alert/ ready to take action" because that's exactly how I feel. "Never give up or in," the Rooster says.  If these first few days of the new administration are anything to go by, we have a long, hard road ahead of us in the next four years, and I, for one, am taking the Rooster's advice.

Chinatown Volleyball

During the summer and fall, the park downstairs from my house hosts a lot of volleyball games and tournaments. The teams are made up of local middle and high schoolers, and are co ed. They'll spend the whole day playing and cheering each other on, practicing their digging and their setting on the sidewalks of the park. I thought I would play around with watercolors, but after a few disasters, I packed up my bag and came home. I pulled it out a few weeks later and, thinking back to that day, added in the black ink to define the court and the trees, and the buildings from across the street. Finally, I made a few (tiny) volleyball players and collaged them in. Another good reminder that just because it didn't work out on location doesn't mean you can't salvage it at home!

Charlotte Brontë

I read my first Victorian novel at the tender age of 14. It was Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre and I was an immediate fan. I admired the titular character's independent cast of mind, even as she grew up under the thumb of cruel guardians, teachers, and punishing circumstances. The author's biography was another reason to love her. As an adolescent in the hinterlands myself, with mainly books and my imagination (and, ok, TV) to amuse me, I felt a kinship with Charlotte and her siblings. Tampa may not have been Haworth Parsonage exactly, but my 14 year old self wanted to believe we were kindred spirits. Back then, books had such a hold on my imagination, they were more real than my waking life; their characters and their creators walked the school halls with me, whispering commentary in my ear as I made my way to class or tried to concentrate on a lecture. I'm happy to say that even now, Jane Eyre still satisfies. I read it every couple of years, and I'm always impressed with Jane's insistence that she live her life according to her own ideas, and no one else's. So here's a portrait of one of my favorite writers, with the bleak and beautiful Yorkshire moors of her home. Couldn't you just see her sitting at the back of the classroom, whispering ironies in my ear?

Dalvero Life Drawing Weekend

This past weekend, I attended a life drawing class at the Dalvero Academy. Life drawing is always a jolt to the system, but this weekend, we had the chance to work with three fantastic, very different models with different ways of moving, different energy, and different graphics. And, as always, Ronnie and Margaret kept us off-balance, forcing us to abandon our comfort zones to push into new territory.

One of my favorite exercises is to make some super fast thumbnails. It forces you to come up with designs on the fly, with the understanding that you want to make each one different from the last, and different from what you usually do.

While I'm drawing, I'm usually annoyed that I never get to "finish" the drawing. It's only looking at it later that it's as finished as it needs to be. It's a good lesson in trusting your instincts.

Here's another where I was bummed to not get to "finish," but now, I like that I chose to spend my short time on this piece to emphasize how Samir's hips sat on the model stand, and how he tucked one foot under the other. I (now) like the way the rest of him is only a hazy outline.

Erica treated us to some fashionable dresses and fashionable poses.

Edwin brought his guitar and gave us a beautiful performance. Why is he playing the guitar naked? Shhhhhh, don't question it.

I could've gotten up and gone around to the other side, but sometimes it's fun to see what you can make of the back view.

New Beginnings

January is always a mixed bag. On one hand, I'm optimistic about all that I want to make happen in the new year. On the other, sometimes it feels like a lot of pressure! So today, I'm sharing a watercolor of Janus, Roman god of beginnings. Usually, he's interpreted as a man with two heads, one looking into the future and one into the past, but I made him into a lady, with some mixed feelings.

I'm not usually a resolution-maker, but this year, I'm taking a page out Samuel Beckett's Worstward Ho!: fail again. Fail better.


Happy Holidays

This year, I went a little cosmic with my holiday card. These are two experiments that didn't make the cut since I went a slightly different direction, but I thought I would share them here. 

Like a lot of people, I've been saddened by the violence I've seen on the news lately in the US and abroad, and by the extreme political rhetoric it's prompted. So I wanted my card to be a reminder that the universe is a big place, and we're just a tiny piece of it. We're all from different places, and believe different things, but we're all made up of star stuff, here for a short time. As Neil DeGrasse Tyson so eloquently says: 

“Recognize that the very molecules that make up your body, the atoms that construct the molecules, are traceable to the crucibles that were once the centers of high mass stars that exploded their chemically rich guts into the galaxy, enriching pristine gas clouds with the chemistry of life. So that we are all connected to each other biologically, to the earth chemically and to the rest of the universe atomically. That’s kinda cool! That makes me smile and I actually feel quite large at the end of that. It’s not that we are better than the universe, we are part of the universe. We are in the universe and the universe is in us.”

We're all connected. Peace on Earth, good will towards men.

Journey of Transformation

I'm very proud to announce that my work is going to be in a show with that of other artists of the Dalvero Academy opening this Saturday November 21st at Mystic Seaport Museum. We spent a good portion of 2014 chasing the Charles W. Morgan on her historic 38th Voyage, and reportaging as much as we could of her stops at different ports of call along the coast of New England. I'm sharing here a study I made in preparation for the piece that is in the show, "Sea Change." The show, Journey of Transformation, will be on view through the winter, and into the spring of 2016. I do hope some of you get a chance to get up there to see it! You can see more sneak peaks and some thumbnails at the website for the show, and more of my work, and that of my fellow Dalverans on the school's instagram feed.

Sycorax

Today's drawing is of the island from Shakespeare's play, The Tempest. I made the island into Caliban's mother, Sycorax, who is never actually seen in the play. It's the island that succors Caliban, that endures Prospero's colonization, and survives to see him leave her shores. Good riddance, I hear her say!

Happy birthday, Herman Melville!

I was all set to do a post with some people drawings, but then my friend Carly Larsson reminded me that it was Herman Melville's birthday with her drawing of the Seaman's Bethel in New Bedford. I read Moby Dick earlier this year, and since then, my regard for Herman Melville is through the roof. Not just for his brilliance in examining America through the lens of whaling (although, yes!), but for the absolute unique quirkiness of the book and the voice that animates it: thoughtful, philosophical, tender-hearted. I mean, it is really one of a kind, and if it didn't exist, I don't know how one could even imagine it. (If you want to find out more, but maybe don't want to read 700+ pages, check out the Studio 360 show on it.) So, here's to unusual personalities that make astounding art! I've drawn him with the ocean on his mind, dreaming of whales. Happy birthday, Herman Melville!

The Corwith Cramer

A few weeks ago, Brooklyn Bridge Park's Pier 5 had a visit from the Sea Education Association's (SEA) ship, the Corwith Cramer, from Woods Hole, MA. SEA is an educational institution that takes undergraduates to sea for a semester to study and explore the ocean alongside professional researchers. What an opportunity! The ship was only in Brooklyn for the day, so I made sure not to miss it. I took the afternoon to get down there to make a few drawings!

Macy's Flower Show

Here's a drawing I did when I went to see Macy's Flower Show with Siyeon on Monday. I was so excited to finally see some flowers. It's *almost* like spring is really here! Almost.

After I got home, I organized my thoughts a bit more and did one with perhaps less detail, but more coherence.

And here's the thumbnail I created way back before I went. In my head, it was more about giant flowers, and less about all the black makeup kiosks and shiny surfaces. Such is life.

Not Spring Yet

This week, the temperatures actually breached the 50 degree mark in New York. We haven't had the weather that Boston has had, but we've had a lot of cold, cold days here. So perhaps I was overly optimistic when I headed out to Central Park. I was hoping for something—anything—in bloom, but of course, the park was all bare branches and snow still melting everywhere. Sigh. So here's Bethesda Fountain in the middle of Central Park, bare branches and all.

A Memory from Mystic

I've been going through some old drawings I made at Mystic Seaport from the past year plus, when the Charles W. Morgan finally made it into the water. If you're just tuning in, the Charles W. Morgan is the last wooden whaling ship in existence. IN EXISTENCE!! My fellow Dalverans and I had a show at Mystic Seaport a couple of years ago of our reportage of the restoration of the Morgan. In late 2013,  the restoration was completed, and after years of seeing her in drydock, she was (gently!) lowered into the water. So here she is in September 2013, ready for her 38th Voyage!

 

And here's the little thumbnail. As always, truer to my intention and the feeling I was after.

If you want to see more of the Morgan, I have blog posts here and here, and a whole section of my website devoted to her here.

Valentine's Day Foxes

I thought I would post some red foxes for Valentine's Day because, like swans and turtle doves, red foxes mate for life. Plus they're just so cute! I'm also considering a portrait of Schopenhauer and his poodles (mentioned in this article) for Singles Appreciation Day!