Sunday, May 24, 2009

Starting Your Journey or...Playing With Pencils

Our earliest Art experiences likely began with available household drawing tools... pencil to crayons and then to tempera or poster paints in our primary education. Usually , primary school experience is rich in opportunities to express ourselves with paint. However by senior grades (in Canada at least)...these opportunities begin to dry up, due in my opinion to inadequate teacher interest and training. The curriculum focus tends to be directed towards accommodating and achieving literacy and the aptitudes in the sciences.The system totally ignores any attention to integrating the Arts into this curriculum package to prepare students to make choices and course selection decisions in highschool that might lead to developing skills and interest in pursuing career opportunities for post secondary education...and life.

It is highly likely that your last art activity involved pencil exploration, so in my opinion it seems a good place to begin your new independent study program. This path also involves minimal costs to begin...requiring only a small number of pencils of varying lead thicknesses, a sketchbook and a variety of erasers.A purchase involving acquiring HB, 2B and 4B drawing pencils ...a 8x10 inch sketchbook....a soft white and a kneadable eraser will provide all the kit you will require to begin.

"First you have to think a think. Then put a line around it."
-Arthur Lismer
A Fool in Paradise
By Doris McCarthy

All that to BEGIN ! My advice is to just begin...not being concerned by the quality of what you produce...or about what you choose to sketch. Sketch whatever interests you around lunch...while waiting for transportation. Just keep making as many quick sketches as you can DAILY! I really mean PLAY with the pencils!!! At the end of a week's your favourite sketch and have another try at it using your first sketch as your "model."Refine it... do a few versions of it ,until you get a feel for the object. Work loosely...and lightly! Try not to treat your grip on the pencil in the same manner that you might sign your name. Drawing IS NOT a writing task!

Set up still life activities which retain their position and therefore allow you to revisit your subject from the same perspective.Work with geometric shapes such as a box...a ball...a can or cylinder. Make a still life incorporating these shapes so that they overlap each other. Try sketching this setup using different vantage points.You can add a lamp to provide stronger lighting effects and shadows to create more interest and drama.

After a week or two, you are probably at a point where you could profit from reading a book which offers drawing instruction... there are a great many reasonably priced books to choose from in good book or art stores. Choose one that you can follow which offers clear and graphic support. Most of these offer exercises that you can complete at the end of one chapter.

Drawing is the underpinning and foundation for all great art and design. Without good draughtsmanship no painting can succeed.The last stage is to search for a local artist, group or school where you can begin a more intensive exploration of the drawing process in your own journey.

Sketch away!...Have fun!...and spend time ..... LOOKING EQUALLY between the subject and the sketch itself. Explore with line freely...and with imagination! Take risks!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Living in Today

Living in "Today"...means exactly that to me. Too many of my artist friends retreat to the past...choosing to substitute reminiscing for actively pursuing new experiences...and embracing change in their lives. They cut themselves off from the world they actively and productively created and choose "play" versus the challenge and risking that comes from continuing to dream...and to discover "Who"... they might become.

I recently spent a weekend in February at a winter gathering of longtime painting friends with my mentor...Poul Thrane...who introduced me to outdoor painting...long before the coined phrase "plein air painter" became a credential for "high" art.Poul is now 84 years young...paints with the same vigour and fire as he did when we first start painting together thirty years ago. However today...he paints from the warmth and comfort of his van...but still...his studio is the outdoors.Nothing has faded...or heightened for that matter in his ouevre. It is simply...eloquently...constantly...

uniquely...Poul Thrane! He continues to teach by example...generously critiquing and guiding

his friends to encourage their own journeys of creative discovery....still enjoined with them in the creative dance of Living!

It is his indomitable spirit...his "joie-de-vivre"...and his dedication to his Art which allows "Me"

to journey in parallel with a distance physically...yet "easel --to-easel" spiritually.

I conduct my own journey on my own terms...but I have gleaned basic tenets from his journey

that enrich my own. I have sold countless paintings in my lifetime...but those monetary "dividends"will never approach the value of the friendship of mentors like Poul. My daughter Allison's highschool art teacher,Berkley Breene...her mentor and my friend passed away two years ago ...succumbing (in body)to cancer.His funeral was a civic celebration rather than a mournful, tragic dirge. I will borrow his very last mouthful of words to his family at his passing to end this post. It reflects both his... and my own "take" on living in "Today."

"I am blessed."

Much Peace...Stay tuned!