Category Archives: News
It’s been awhile since I had done any sketching at the American Museum of Natural History, which was surprisingly void of tourists today. I wasn’t terribly satisfied with any of these, but consciously chose the animal subject which gives me the most difficulty – antelope and gazelle (and whatever there genus or family or whatever the Linnaeusian term is).
This is about the twentieth or so study I have done of this 15th century French statue in the Medieval hall of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. No two drawing are ever the same, but I have it a good gauge of my drawing abilities. When I have been out of practice for awhile, I will do a sketch of this statue, and compare it my other studies.
I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art the other day to revisit some favorite paintings. One of them was this painting by Thomas Moran:
In the American Wing (glad to see at least some of the paintings are being hung correctly so that the overhead lights dont’ throw a glare on the painting) I realized that I was only spending about thirty seconds to a minute actually looking at the paintings. I have spent hours in front of paintings doing master copies, I can certainly spend a good twenty minutes in front a of a painting if I am sketching or taking notes about it; but I found it very difficult to just ‘look’.
I looked at my watch and told myself I would look at this painting for five minutes. The first two minutes were torture (and this is one of my favorite paintings!), and made me realize how we are conditioned to glance, to expect an image before us to change in some way (as in moving images); It is easy to become quite restless when they don’t.
However, after about two minutes the painting, or rather, how I was looking at it, began to change, and I noticed things about the color and composition I had not noticed in my sub-30 second looks at it.
It was almost as if the painting did became a moving image because different aspect of it ‘come to life’.
I mentioned this last year, but it bears repeating. When Christina Rossetti was 17 she posed as the Virgin Mary for her brother’s famous annunciation painting:
She was a quite a devout Anglican, which is why her brother chose her as the young Virgin Mary. Later she would write this beautiful carol:
In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.
2. Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain;
heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
3. Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
but his mother only, in her maiden bliss,
worshiped the beloved with a kiss.
4. What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him: give my heart.
The Neapolitan Creche at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Photos do not do it justice, but do give some sense of its beauty
I have been rather busy on other projects, and my drawing has been suffering. But I have managed to squeeze in quick sketches here and there – this was done between bites of a sandwich during my lunch ‘hour’ (more like 20 minutes!) .
The carving is above a doorway at Saint Barts’s church, on Park avenue and 51st.
I have recently been busy with my ‘day job’ and some other things (moving for example) and haven’t had time to paint. But I managed to squeeze in some drawing during my lunch hour (well half hour actually) and in bits and pieces. Drawing and painting are both physical and mental processes – and like any other physical process if you don’t do it, you get ‘out of shape’.
How many times have you skipped writing/painting/creating because you don’t have the ‘perfect’ tools, or waited for days for that ‘perfect’ brush to arrive? That didn’t stop the famed missionary and explorer Dr. Livingstone:
In 1871, David Livingstone spent five months stranded in a small village in the Congo called Nyangwe. He had run out of writing paper and had nearly run out of ink, so he improvised the materials for his diary by writing over an old copy of The Standard newspaper with ink made from the seeds of a local berry.
Oh, and he was also malnourished and suffering from the typical smörgåsbord of tropical diseases that European explorers picked up in Africa.
We all have ‘favorite’ tools to work with, favorite surfaces to work on and optimal conditions we like to work under. But the lack of those conditions should never be an excuse for not doing.
You can read the whole article and view the original pages and of the field diary here.
These are some quick sketches I did in front of the New York Public Library on 42nd and 5th. Each took about ten minutes.
As I always emphasize, you can always find time in most days for a little drawing. It doesn’t have to be a grand old building like the New York Public Library.. Durer, for example, found beauty in ordinary turf.
Being an artist can be likened to being a athlete or a ballet dancer. You stop practicing, you get ‘out of shape’. I have had a busy few weeks of non-art but necessary obligations, and found that “I’ll skip drawing today” turned into nearly a month. When I did pick up a pencil, I could tell my skills had already dulled a bit. That is why I always carry two sketchbooks- a larger sized one and a literally pocket sized one that can be carried anywhere. I stopped by Grace church today, enjoyed the silence and peace, and did a quick twelve minute sketch of the pulpit. I feel better.
There is always time to draw. If you hone your skills a bit every day, they will improve much faster than if you just draw once a week. As noted elsewhere, you can also draw ‘in your head’ and draw from memory later – this is a fun exercise for the mind and brain. So even if you forget your sketchbook, always find time to draw.
Further progress on some pleine aire paintings of Grace Church.
This took about two hours. The shadows change rapidly on all the intricate details so I had to work rather fast and decide on a fixed shadow area. However, the beauty of it often emerges as the light hits it at different angles.