Brown paper drawing (3)

I swim every morning. In a lap pool. Slow laps but at least everyday. Snippets of noisy conversations of teenage school girls bounce around the shower walls on weekdays and on weekends, it is the voices of mothers and their young ones. This morning this snippet rose above a cubicle:

Very young child: I am much taller than I was yesterday.
Busy Mother: No you’re not.
Very young child: Oh. But I am tall.
Busy Mother: Darling. You’re not that tall.

The confidence and self belief of the little one is admirable.

About the fern? It is intriguing the way new fern leaves form. They unfurl. Slowly but steadily upright then outwards. This time, there are a few little ‘unfurlings’ at the same time and huddled together, they look like a little secret society. If only one could hear…


Brown paper drawing (2)

This plant I bought on a whim from a nursery. I don’t know what it is but it kind of reminds me of the undergrowth of a forest. I like the thin wiry stems that look as if they are reaching high…for something. 

And the dried coral? It usually sits on a bookshelf in a clear plastic box with other sea objects. This piece came from what used to be Grandfather’s garden. 

Down the back of Grandfather’s garden was a raised pond. It had a glass panel at the front. As a child, I’d tap it as a way to call the gold fish. Standing up, I would see a partially covering the pond, a miniature mountain village. It was landscaped with bonsais and pagodas. Here and there were little bearded men – always old, always wise and always active – playing mahjong, talking or walking.

Also, there was a bridge and on the edge of the river, a man (also old) with a fishing rod and fish that had ‘just’ come from the river. I can still hear the river trickling into the pond.

None of this is in the garden now but it is clear in my mind’s eye – the sound, the feeling and the scenes.

Brown paper drawing (1)

I have a brown paper sketch book. Cheap, unremarkable quality and so far, half filled with goache, collage and ink and pen drawings. I can tell the last time I used it was about 6 months ago – quick 5 minute sketches of swimmers at a local pool in the summer. Time flies.

I like how the brown works as a mid-tone and how the white gel pen kind of shines off the paper. I can see little mini series coming up.

What brought me back to the brown paper was watching one of Koosje Koene’s  how-to draw videos posted on Tuesdays. Each video focusses on a specific technique, short, very clearly videoed and generously shared. 

I am always in constant amazement and appreciation at the wonderful things people and organisations (like galleries) share. Any blogs you find that make you go ‘I like that. I’m going to try it’?

Shadow play

From about 7 – 11 in the mornings, I get a strong display of shadows from the morning sun against one particular wall. Don’t be concerned, I don’t sit and stare at walls all morning! But when I draw back the blinds, the shadows are what I see first.

The thing I like about shadows is their clear form and as I have mentioned elsewhere on this blog, I particularly like the unexpected forms. The ones that make me go ‘wow, that’s an interesting shape.’

As is often the case, this drawing started with an observation which has then gone on to its own tangents of sorts.

A profusion of

This succulent in the real is pale greyish green with little red dashes around the edges. Nothing like this drawing? I know. I do draw by observation but find I wander off a bit especially when I start using watercolour or oil pastel as it is in this case. 

This succulent came from a drive-by garage sale. Well, an over-the-balcony sale. Brief as it is, I enjoy the random interaction, the ecclectic things people own and that the setting gives you the tiniest glimpse of someone’s space. 

The background was meant to be simple but a profusion of succulents of sorts just took over. 

I think we are about to have a nice weekend ahead of us. Wherever you may be, enjoy.

Beauty in the act of making

I have a small stack of paper mache cups – the size of Chinese tea cups. They sit in a wobbly stack against a pile of books. Even though they have been there for a year or two, they caught my eye one morning for no particular reason. They just did.

I would love to say they are finely crafted and of great beauty but that would be a huge exaggeration! However, they do take me back to an evening I made them with my 8 and 5 year old neices. We ripped up newspaper, made some paste and settled into forming shapes.

As is often the case when we are making something, there’s a bit of ‘I’m going to make this. I’m going to do mine like this. I’m going to…’

And then, a silence descends.

Hands busy, eyes focussed, minds taking flight. In our own worlds and yet together, in the act of making.

Oil pastel and colour pencil, 19 x 21cm 

The gifts that grow

Do you know Ellsworth Kelly’s drawings? His plant drawings look like they have been done with a near continuous line and with a sharp eye for simple form and negative and positive space. But what has intrigued me this week is a quote that has been attributed to Kelly.

Mental openness occurs when I am able to consider many different ways of being or thinking without feeling threatened, defensive or sarcastic. This is a state of non judgement. I am not afraid of my truth anymore and I will not omit pieces of me to make you feel comfortable. Besides we are all one. Only egos, fears, beliefs separate us. Ellsworth Kelly

I have not been able to find the context this was written or spoken in. I like the idea of mental openness and non judgement. I also like the idea of not being afraid of one’s truth. This does suggest having a view or particular understanding. But how does one at the same time have a strong view and be non judgemental? Maybe that is the challenge – to have a view but without imposing it on someone or hindering the way you understand or listen to someone.

Mmm…how do you understand Kelly’s lines?

About my watercolour drawing? It was inspired by a gift of six (6) cut cabbage flowers from a dear friend which after a week in a vase, were put into a pot to see if they would grow. After two (2) months, little green and mauve purple cabbage leaves are shooting out of the stalks. 

Little shoots and lines of thought eloquently expressed (like Kelly’s) are like gifts that grow. 

Observed but not quite

This is one of those drawings where I’m not quite sure where it’s headed as I’m going along. And here it is – layers of oil pastel and pencil, part observation, part made up. 

It is a small trinket box I found in an op shop one day. The intricacy, the red and carved-like rendering of the shapes made me wonder about its original design or at least the inspiration for it. A quick google tells me it is based on carved red laquerware that was predominant in 12th century China. 

The box I have is mass produced but it is kind of nice that the design has been inspired by the past.

Oil pastel and pencil, 19 x 21cm

A cutting from my neighbour

This cutting has lasted a while. It has come from a rambly type orchid that spills up and over a large pot. When in good conditions it brings strings of mini white orchids, apparently with a lovely perfume. Don’t think that will happen with this cutting.

Still, as a random thing to draw, I kind of like the way it breaks up a visual space. As I’ve used pencil and oil crayon, there are traces of where I’ve ‘moved’ the leaves. A thing I like about a drawing is being able to see the decisions – small or large – that have been made.

Maybe that’s the imperfectionist coming out in me.

Oil pastel and pencil, 19 x 21cm

Gingko leaves

I found these gingko leaves pressed flat between two art books – a belated gift from last Autumn. Their fan shapes are distinctive. And when put together, the spaces they make among them are just as interesting.

This piece has been inspired by the work of printmaker Jorg Schmeister. If you don’t know his work, do a pinterest or google search. It is worth your while. His images take you beyond the physical appearances.

Oil pastel and pencil, 19cm x 21cm