I have two of these yogurt containers full of pencils, pens, charcoal, conte, markers, blending sticks – you name it, I got it. I bought most of them in the quest for a tool that would give me some vaguely imagined yet completely elusive – no surprise there – quality to my drawings. The problem was that I never stayed with any one tool long enough to understand or master it. So my intention for this year is not to buy a single new tool and do more practicing and playing with what I have. Also to double check my spelling – “yogurht” – ugh!
I looked it up. Apparently, crying can make you feel cold. Or at least, there are people out there who say that they feel cold after crying, and who’ve posted on different sites asking why that is. I didn’t find any answers – at least none based on research (I didn’t look very hard either). Maybe the young man is one of those people. He certainly kept repeating his warning – and the little girl kept wailing. I wonder if his words will stay with her whenever she cries.
The other day I saw an older man on the streetcar with pale age spots on his face. He seemed to be a regular kind of guy, looking intently out the window so that he didn’t miss his stop. When I got home, I did a quick sketch and then finished the portrait by digitally colouring it. I couldn’t remember his eyes or his mouth, or really anything about him except that he was balding and had age spots. And maybe a nose that was a little bulbous at the end. I was working quickly and intuitively.
It was a surprise to see what came out – something more sinister than what I thought I saw on the streetcar. Or maybe just more damaged. Makes me wonder where images come from. Did my subconscious sense something that wasn’t visible to the eye? Or was it my mood at the time that I worked on this (not that I remember anything unusual about it), or something in my environment – some stress, some news item – that influenced how the portrait turned out? I don’t have answers, but since I do portraits from impressions or from my imagination (as opposed to using sitters), I might start paying a bit more attention to this.
I’m struggling with self-portraits. The root of the problem seems to be that I don’t actually ‘see’ myself – the curve of my eyebrow looks nondescript, my mouth is generic, my eyes seem to shape-shift. Careful pencil drawings haven’t given me results that ring true so I decided to try making loose, quick ink sketches. I thought this might help me find a more intuitive way of seeing and allow me to capture some inkling of myself. The results:
Maybe in some future years, after I’ve put in more hours, dug deeper, learned to see better, this approach will work, but for now, it still doesn’t bring me any closer to making a self-portrait. And there might be another lesson here, one that has more to do with not always being in the background and half-hidden. Maybe in order to see myself, I have to want to be seen!
My daughter was looking at daily sketches I’d done over the past few months and said, “You see the world in a dark way.”
“Really?” I asked. Her observation came as a surprise.
I saw the worn clothes and bundled possessions of the woman in this sketch. But what I was most struck by was her pleasure. She was lost in the moment with her ice cream, her eyes half closed. It seemed she was letting the world disappear for a while, allowing her surroundings – a deserted strip of storefronts by the transit terminal – to soften and fade. What I saw was her pleasure, what I imagined was her as a child, what I felt was a little hope. Because she was having a moment of grace in what was obviously a difficult time in her life.