Drawing with colour…

…and pastel…

I have a number of “projects” that I’m working on, or planned, for the next few months. Right now, while I’m gearing up for the other things I am doing, I’m focusing on drawing with pastels. I also have a small air-dry clay sculpture on the go, but I have ordered a back-iron, a contraption that will help me to make sculptures without having them collapse from the weight.

In my last blog post I included an earlier version of this drawing, not realizing that it wasn’t complete.

I Really Love Your Outfit is a 22 x 30 inch drawing I started working on while seeing outfits from the Met Gala appear on social media. I always find the disconnect between environmental degradation and the “follies” of star culture to be jarring. To the left of this figure is Comox Lake, the local source of water for the communities in the watershed, which has been damaged by logging, especially around Comox Lake but also around the whole watershed. For several years, water advisories were necessary because of increased silt levels in the water supply.

Final Sunset, another 22 x 30 piece, is inspired by my sense of present and impending cataclysm, both political and environmental.

I find it impossible to draw anything that does not include some sort of comment on how humans inhabit a dying planet. I am astounded by and curious about my own willingness to continue to turn over my van’s engine, to turn up the heat in my apartment, to run water from a tap. My own contradictions bother me and I try to turn my face away from the contradictions of others, at least until I can get my own under control.

This past winter I did a sketch in my drawing class which I called The Man Who Reached Into Himself. I decided that I wanted to try to turn the drawing into a small sculpture; unfortunately I didn’t plan well enough, and the weight of the air-dry clay on the armature has caused knee-collapse. I’ve got a back-iron on the way, and although I still plan to finish this one, I will make another one using the back-iron, which will provide stability to the armature while I am working on the piece, and until the clay dries.

Another mistake I made while creating the armature was starting with one of the hands. I really wanted the hand to be large, I wanted it to look a certain way, and was impatient to get the first hand made. I wouldn’t advise this as a good strategy (driven, as it is, by impatience); much better to get the torso and legs created and then add the hands, feet, and head afterwards, but there it is. That’s what I did and the whole process made me feel unbalanced as I made this piece in an unbalanced way. I do, however, like the hands, and am looking forward to finishing this piece.

This is a 20 minute sketch from a drawing class.

The 20-minute sketch turned into The Man Who Reached Into Himself. I prefer the original sketch to the one I ended up with after I took it home and kept adding colour, but this is the sketch I used to develop the sculpture.

Christmas “break”

I realize that I’ve been silent for the past month, and that is because I didn’t really have much that is shareable. I’ve finished my courses for the fall semester, and am moving into Christmas break. Here are a few images of what I’ve been working on.

This is my 21st century representation of Euterpe, the Greek muse of lyric poetry and song. Traditionally, representations of Euterpe have been of a wistful-faced female carrying a harp, a lute, or an aulos, her long hair falling over her shoulders or tied up around her head and held by a wreath. She looks vulnerable, as if herself waiting for inspiration. I wanted to make a muse that is more “practical” looking, more chthonic than ethereal. Originally I was going to have this non-binary figure playing a bass guitar, but the guitar evolved into a bicycle, meant to represent the urgency I feel that we (dwellers on the earth) must change our actions, change our minds, change how we experience the world and act within it.
But we shoot the messenger, don’t we? I was aware, am aware, that this figure is quite repulsive. They are made from a wire armature covered with tissue paper taken from old dress patterns, and then covered with photocopied sheet music from a book of music by Chopin, papier mached around the figure. I have used yellow because yellow is both an attractive and repulsive colour; I believe that for the most part people want to engage in “right action”, and/or they want to stop engaging in actions that continue to harm the earth. At the same time, we want to continue to do the things that we have come to love; we are attracted by calls to action (we love the earth), and we are repulsed by those calls to action because if we heed them we will need to stop doing many of the things we love.
Although I have largely left behind the work I was doing on the Apocalypse Theatre for the past few months, I realized upon making this figure of Euterpe that I need to return to the theatre and the Cassandra Players. There is so much more to do, and I think now that I have a slightly better idea about how to “plan”, I can return and make a better plan and will have a sense of where I need to go and how to get there with this project, which has been sleeping.

Here are a few photographs I took with my cell phone camera. I seem to be attracted to photographing these monochromatic scenes, where grey disappears into grey. I love this type of weather, this type of light.

Sometimes I can’t help myself from taking more photographs of these entities that live on the shelves and window sills around me. As the light behind them changes, so they change too.

Book binding and poetry

Finally, I’m teaching myself some basic bookbinding techniques, including Japanese bookbinding. I have a basic plan to make a small book with two of my own poems in it, and I’m thinking of making the pages out of watercolour paper and then typing the poems and printing them out on high quality computer paper; I’ll attach the poems to the watercolour paper and draw/paint small watercolour illustrations around the poems, and bind it all together with a Japanese binding technique.

Here is a link to one of the videos I’ve watched. I think this technique looks repeatable, and I plan to use it for this first small book. I haven’t yet decided on a cover.