Sunday, November 22, 2009

Just a pencil....

I took part in my first 'Sketch Crawl' at Portland's Central Library yesterday.....what fun! A few of my former students had told me about the group, and I was inspired by the genuinely beautiful sketches that they had produced as a result of joining other people for a day of sketching. I knew that I needed something to jump start my own drawing. Sometimes it takes being with other people and just the sharing of experiences to make things happen. Five people showed up, and after walking around and looking at the three floors of the magnificent interior, we all settled down on benches with different viewpoints and subjects to observe. We all had various tools, from the lowly pencil, to fine point ink pens, to watercolor brushes. Two hours later we reconvened for coffee at a nearby coffee house and looked at the results. Some went back to do more sketching, but Deb, my associate, and I had a client meeting to attend reluctantly left the group at that point. I can't wait to attend another session!

My subject turned out to be the grand floor and columns at the top of the second floor staircases... a bit more than I had time for! I decided to use just pencil since there was l lot of perspective and proportion to deal with, and I knew I might need to make numerous revisions as I went along. Recently I've been working mostly in ink, which I prefer for detail work and vignettes. I've also been drawing a lot of trees and natural landscapes. Architectural subjects present a whole new set of problems. The nuances of light and the many different angles of the ceiling planes that existed in the stairwell made the drawing very challenging but fun. I'd like to go back soon...on another rainy day....and draw some of the details of the light fixtures and balustrades, as well as some of the people.
When I got home and started looking through by sketchpad, I found another architectural sketch, also in pencil, that proved to be a real contrast to the one I had just finished.
Late in the Summer I had taken a hike down into the woods belonging to my neighbor. She has built a wonderful tiny cabin as a retreat for reading, writing or just plain daydreaming. It's only about 6 feet square, nestled next to a stream and surrounded by huge cedar and fir trees, with moss and lichen covering the roof and dripping from the tree branches. Inside there is a little wood stove, a small desk and chair and a sitting alcove under a large window that looks out to a stream and fern covered hillside. Antiques, old books and colorful pillows have been carefully arranged. I sat down that Summer day and sketched the cabin. It probably took just as long as sketching the mighty marble columns in the Library! I was outside, looking in, so nature's details were my main focus.
But the atmosphere, while not grand at all, had the same feeling of repose that a library can have....quiet, studious, surrounded by books and your thoughts. It gave the moment meaning. When I look at these two sketches I am reminded that we need to take the time to do simple a poem, sketch someone or something that you love, listen to music or the rain, plant a small garden. Create something beautiful and share it with someone. Find a new friend and learn something from them.
In Oregon, in sharp contrast to our bright and sunny Summers, it can often be rainy and dreary by late November when Thanksgiving arrives. I plan to do some sketching that day....after the dinner, when the family gathers around the fireplace. I'm not good at drawing people.......but that could change.