Tag Archives: illustration

The Artful Dodger

There is no place like home. My home at this moment is no place to work on art projects right now. It is the art project.  The yellow bathroom is still yellow. I’ve got the paint for it and hope I can start the transformation tomorrow. The person I would hire to do the job – and he is such an expert he would be finished in an hour or so – is taking some time off because his father just passed away. So I keep thinking I will just open the can of paint and begin.

The most daunting part of any project is the beginning. The act of opening up the can of paint, ripping open the box of window blinds, or taking the electric saw out of the shed feels like slogging through deep mud. Suddenly all the other undone or unfinished projects silently scream for attention. I still haven’t finished mending the shelf in the kitchen. I haven’t painted over the daubs of putty I put on the siding months ago. I haven’t replaced the cracked board on the deck.

At the same time I think of other projects waiting for me. My art projects. They are in careful packets or thick files, or even stacked in my art room under the boxed ceiling fan. I continue to take photos of careful compositions that would translate into artwork eventually. My files have become volumes on the computer’s photo organizer.

Art is not difficult for me. It excites me. Sometimes there is nothing I would rather do in the world than draw or paint a picture. Some pictures take many hours, some don’t take long at all. I do not stop until I know that it is done. I can’t explain how I know a picture is done. I just know when it is. Sometimes I have to do pictures over and over again because they aren’t what I saw in the beginning, in my mind. Art is visual for me and so the picture comes to mind and then I create it. Although my art is often very tactile, even using my hands to push the paint around on the canvas, I use many techniques and resources to produce the picture that I visualized.

At this moment in time my artful pursuits have taken on a larger canvas – the house(s). I’ve reached back in time on the arts and crafts home to try to visualize what the house looked like in 1910. My smaller canvasses sit quietly on their easel. It isn’t that I couldn’t reach the paint wherever it is. I could do it. It wouldn’t be that difficult. But the larger project has taken me out for a while. I feel guilty though. I feel as if I’m betraying my little pastels and colored pencils.

I wonder if I’m delaying the great projects for the good ones. I read a book long ago about the “urgent” and the “important”. There is a fine distinction because in the midst of busy-ness making a clear decision between what is truly important within all the terribly urgent – makes all the difference.

Goya’s Cats: a Sketchbook Project 2011

"The sleep of Reason creates monsters&quo...
Image via Wikipedia

So two months ago I signed up to do a Sketchbook Project. I didn’t start it until nine days ago and it has to be postmarked and in the mail by January 15th. I work well with deadlines. Yikes!

It is finished.

What is the Sketchbook Project 2011? It is a group project (put on by Art House Co-op) whereby artists all over the world sign up and receive a tiny sketchbook in which to draw, paste, paint, sketch, etc. anything according to the assigned topic. Then the sketchbook is mailed back (on time or else it doesn’t get in!) and then put on tour across the US. Each individual sketchbook is assigned a bar code on its back. That bar code will allow anyone to look up the sketchbook online and look at it, if the tour doesn’t come to your city. Cool, huh?

So I signed up. The topic I chose is Nightmares.

I had lots of ideas in the beginning. My ideas didn’t make any sense when I worked them out.  So I was stumped for a while.

Until I came across something in a murder mystery I was reading at that time. It is the title of one of Goya‘s paintings: The Dream of Reason Produces Monsters.

I wanted to practice drawing cats and kittens for another project so I blended the two and came up with Goya’s Cats. It starts out with Goya writing: “There is but one nightmare that haunts the creative spirit, the nightmare of imminent failure.”

I’ve got two more pictures to go before I’m finished with what amounts to a picture book dummy. There aren’t any finished paintings or drawings, more like really rough sketches. Because the paper is like newsprint. But mainly because I’m scrambling to make the deadline.

So I picture Goya, surrounded by his cats (I don’t actually know if he had cats but float along with me here). Next picture is the same only this time Goya has his head on his desk as if he has given up. The next few pictures are all of his paintings and sketches with cats here and there. The ending shows Goya watching one of his cats sleep and wondering what cats dream about.

Who doesn’t wonder what cats dream about? So Goya wondered, would they dream of things they eat? Perhaps things they would like to eat? Then he comes up with a wild thought that maybe “The Dream of Cats produces Mice”. This leads him to a brilliant idea for another painting, which he accomplishes. It becomes, of  course, his most famous painting.

All because of the cats. Which is all fictional. But you knew that.

my barcode number is 46027