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The last week of the drawing class we took from Katie Gilmartin was devoted to portraits. First, another profile (my previous one, of Indigo, is a couple of posts back). I’ve drawn a lot of self-portraits over the years in a high school for the arts and then as an art major, but I’ve never drawn a profile, so I took a lot of pictures of myself in profile and drew this.

Like Katie, I find that I begin to fall in love with whatever I draw. Not the person, but the way they look. Drawing myself was healing that way. I snapped the photo, sighed at the incontrovertible evidence that I have a saggier neck than I might prefer, and then set to drawing, and soon that sag was less a violation of societal standards of beauty, and more a lovely curve with delicate shadows that I just had to capture in graphite.

Then, our assignment for the last week was a standard self-portrait.

I got to something like “finished” an hour before class and just could not bear to erase and re-draw my left (picture’s right) eye, even though it is too close in. But I may yet redraw it, and the nose, which is nicely done but a little narrower than in reality. Or just make another drawing.

We are doing portraits now in the drawing class we’re taking. I have drawn a lot of portraits in my life, but this is probably the best.

I’m resisting my self-protective habit of listing what doesn’t work well,and taking Katie’s advice to list what does: the ear, the eye, the shape of the shadows that define the cheek. And it looks like her.

Drawn with SketchbookX app

I love these cones, which often look like small, brittle roses. Yesterday I finally looked up what kind of tree they come from and learned that they are deodar cedars, native to the Mediterranean but frequently planted here in the San Francisco Bay area. The reason we find them shaped like this is that the cones shed from top to bottom. Someone named Don Latarski even made a time-lapse video of their decay.

The rose shape is what they look like midway through the process from tight cone to full dispersal.

I’ve had this one on a bookshelf in our living room for a few years, and made this drawing of it tonight with my cellphone app.

I followed my plan of drawing the same subject in a markedly different style tonight, difficult though that is, and it helped shake the doldrums I had last night. I’m going to try something even more uncharacteristic tomorrow. It will be interesting to see what happens if I keep mixing it up.

Day 96 of #100days of making art

Another in a series of “maps” modeled on those in The Penguin Atlas of the Ancient World and drawn over its text. This one is titled “Yet Perhaps.”

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Here on Day 70 of #100days of making art: the drawing in progress (above) and the model (below).

My wife got into the car on Sunday and passed me a handful of seed pods she had picked up on the sidewalk: different than the kind I drew in Sacramento over Thanksgiving, smaller and darker, though again I don’t know the species. “Here,” she said. “I know you like this kind of thing.” It’s so good to be known.

I put them in the well of the driver’s side door, and there they have been getting drier and rattling around. They’ve also given me an idea for the linocut workshop we’ll be taking from Katie Gilmartin at SOMArts in February. I want to have drawings ready when I go in, or I won’t get far on the print. I’m going to make a series (triptych, maybe) of these pods in various states, from fresh to freshly fallen to dried up. It’ll be a further exploration of something that’s interested me for a long time: the ambiguous nature of decay. “Decay” sounds like a judgment, as does “progress,” though one could use either word for what is happening. “Change” is a more neutral descriptor. That’s what fascinates me. Since they are growing more wrinkled and fragile, we would probably say that they are decaying, yet their beauty is not diminished. It is only different, and to some eyes, increased.

I don’t know how much they have really changed over the last five days. They might only rattle more now because they were damp when Joy picked them up, and now they’re dry. I have the impression that they’re more wizened and bent, but I can’t be certain because I didn’t look very closely at them on Sunday. I’ll know better when I go get some more and draw them at intervals.

For tonight, I just drew them as they are now, twice, quickly, in ink pen, as a first stage of getting to know them.

#100days

These are all over the yard at my relatives’ house. I knew as soon as I saw them that they would be today’s subject.

It’s a quick drawing because I am tired from every cell in my body’s being concentrated on digestion. I don’t set out to overeat at Thanksgiving, but I have to try a little of everything.

I’d like to draw these again, more slowly, and larger, in sepia conté crayon. Their beauty is something for which I am very thankful. I’ll bring them home.

#100days of art

“Or,” ink and colored pencil on a page of The Penguin Atlas of the Ancient World, 21 x 17 cm

More about this piece here.

#100days

Eh, I said in my last entry that I’d post a photo of my next piece about ancient and current empires when it was finished, but why wait? Here it is in progress. Source text: The Penguin Atlas of the Ancient World.

#100days

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