When we were in Newfoundland we hiked in Terra Nova National Park by the ocean. One afternoon and the following day, we went to Buckley Cove. I carried a sketch book and pens with me during our trip and sat on a rock to draw part of the cove. When faced with such beauty, I found myself recording feeling and the movement of the rocks, trees and water rather than looking for exact representation. In this way, I was able to be with the place and feel the land and ocean. I began by quickly drawing the sweeping line of the cove and continued from there. That way I was not overwhelmed into inaction by the strength of the scene. Here’s a photo of the cove and the line drawing I did.
And, here’s a scene I found touching this week while walking down an alley back in Toronto. It seemed to me that whoever planted these flowers in the midst of concrete did an act of love.
I’ve continued doing line drawings. I find the practice helps me focus–literally and figuratively. Last week, I began paying attention to a carving we’ve had for years. The plaque has been done very skillfully and with great care extending even to its back that is covered in soft chisel marks. We found it at a yard sale and loved it, buying it for only a few dollars. The carver hasn’t put their name on the work and I have no idea where the piece came from. The wood is very hard. If anyone seeing this has an idea where the carving may have been made, please let me know.
As I drew the sculpture, I discovered how tricky it was for me to see, with some accuracy, what was going on. With felt pens you don’t have the luxury of painting over anything you consider an error like you do with acrylics or oils. Each time I learned more as I made my next error.
Here’s the carving:
Here’s part of my first drawing:
That led me to a quick thumbnail-like sketch:
In these next two, I laid out general shapes in grey pen as guides and worked over them in black.
I even tried a gesture-like pencil drawing to see the shapes:
I don’t think I’m finished with this series. I have a lot to learn from studying this carving about being present and not allowing imperfection to kill my love of seeing and being with this wonderful sculpture.
I haven’t done line drawing in a while and thought it would be helpful to begin again. It’s a way of grounding myself in the present and seeing what’s in front of me. Here’s several drawings I’ve done this week with black pigment markers. I found them calming to do.
This first one is in my work room: easel with recent crayon work and woodcuts of one of my favourite artists–Munakata Shiko*–on the wall behind. Plus another favourite woodcut by Naoko Matsubara. The drawing is practically an abstract.
Here’s one of a papier maché mask I made a few years ago, on a shelf in the work room as it awaits a place on a wall.
This is the view from one of my windows–a view I usually find disheartening because of all the ungraceful buildings. I was surprised to find that in drawing the scene I felt different about it. It lost its sense of ugliness for me. The lines and shapes held my interest and became a contrast between the curves of the trees and straight lines of the buildings that went beyond judgement. I suspect there’s a wider life lesson in this, although I haven’t fully formulated it yet.
Again, here’s some of the things on my work table.
And here’s part of a Bread and Puppet poster hanging in my work room. On the poster is a photograph of two of the enormous masks that Bread and Puppet has made, resting in their barn/museum in Vermont that we visited around 20 years ago.
*Here’s a video of Munakata’s work
I’m also at artsofmay.etsy.com
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.
To see works in my etsy shop, go to: artsofmay.etsy.com.
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