I’ve been experimenting with drawing more cartoons. That process led me to a small drawing continuing with the theme of dreams that I began in my first cartoon. After having done a number of works that felt too controlled, I made a loose unplanned sketch that felt freer to me. Afterwards, I added colour to the line drawing with pigment markers and some water soluble crayons. I think I’ll work on this theme further. I hear my unfinished linocut on Leonard Cohen’s Sisters of Mercy calling me. Why have you left me and when will you return? I haven’t answered yet, but, meanwhile, here’s the 2 recent drawings.
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Recently, I decided I’d like to draw some cartoons. I’ve started with a dream I had several years ago that captivated me for its strangeness. I’ve done a lot of imagining and writing since then on the Care of Latent Kittens Course. Perhaps you’ll see some of that here. I keep going over the writing and thinking it’s either fine or it’s terrible!
However, I had fun with the naive look of the cartoon and have been working on several others. If any of them work out, I’ll also post them here. I did the drawing with Faber Castell Pitt markers. I like them because they’re waterproof and non-toxic, so I don’t pass out from the fumes while working. I also love the array of colours and sizes to choose from.
I returned to the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario) this week during my wanderings. I sat for a while near windows looking onto Dundas Street, the busy street the Gallery fronts onto. I liked the echoing patterns of the trees and frosted glass through the window.
Later I sat in the Grange and did another contour drawing–this time of an ornate chandelier. I paid close attention its contours and that of the adjacent woodwork without looking at the sketch book. Since then I am able to recall the scene in more detail than I normally would have. Freeing myself from having to make an exact replica is proving very helpful to me and allowing me to see more deeply.
Yesterday, on my wanderings around Toronto, I stopped into the AGO–the Art Gallery of Ontario. While there, I had lunch and afterwards did a few contour drawings, something I haven’t done in many years. Contour drawing is a type of drawing in which you don’t look at the paper, but at what you’re drawing. You look at the edges, both outside and within your subject and you let your pencil or pen follow the slow path of your eyes. Often, the lines on the paper seem strange and hard to define, but I find them more alive than some of the lines I make out of habit when looking at a page. I have returned to contour drawing as an exercise in being present and as a way to go beyond notions of worthy and unworthy artwork. Here’s a contour drawing of a chandelier and top of door frame.
When I left lunch, I walked into a gallery where a single small white feather was on the floor. I found this poignant in some way I can’t define. Here’s the photo I took plus a close up to show what the white speck is on the floor.
Later, I walked up through the city to the University of Toronto. I love the campus grounds with the old architecture and green spaces. There I came upon a lovely white magnolia tree.
Here’s what I originally wrote in this post:
Several years ago, I had a dream that made a great impression on me. In it, I was at a retreat in the countryside on a grassy lawn with a forest at its edge. There I heard about a course being offered called The Care of Latent Kittens. I planned to sign up for the course because I had always wanted to learn to work with animals.
A few months after the dream, I decided to write about this course and its mysterious animals. I wound up spending many months creating a story set in the future about an endangered species and efforts to save them and humanity from environmental catastrophe. Recently I looked at some of that writing again and decided to enlarge the work to include images. I’ll be printing the drawings and text soon, but also wanted to put the work out in digital form on the blog. This is the first chapter in a series I’ll be developing with some of the 14 scratchboard drawings I’ve made to go with the words. The drawings are not so much illustrations as attempts to reflect the atmosphere of the story.
However, I began further editing the writing yesterday (Feb. 25). During the process, I decided to remove all the writing that originally followed in this post while I work on it. So, here’s what’s left–a few of the drawings from the time of Latent Kittens.
I’ve been enjoying working on a series of scratchboard drawings to go with writing I did a few years ago. I hit upon scratchboard drawings because they can bear some resemblance to lino and woodcuts which I love but gave up making because of repetitive strain from carving. I made the three papier mache masks shown here in the 1990s. They’re the latest subjects of the drawings. When I’ve completed the project, I’ll show it to you.
A few years ago, I entered several notebooks and photographs in The Sketchbook Project. In 2012, I sent away for another moleskine book. I had previously written a poem that I thought would paradoxically work with the topic “Fill me with Stories.” I made a book using very simple line drawings and printing. I can’t recall why I didn’t send the book in. Instead, I kept it and found it again the other week while I was straightening out old sketchbooks and notebooks. Here it is.
The Emptiness We Require
We were empty of ourselves at first
part of sky and sea
feather, rock and sand.
We were sun and moon
lion and ant
wind and snow.
Then we learned our names
and felt alone.
Ocean no longer flowed in our veins
and we hunted the lion and elephant.
Now we are in need of stories
particularly those of love
that fill us with the emptiness we require
to encompass more
than we imagined our lives to be.
–Lily S. May