"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind". - Henry James

Friday, August 27, 2010

Michael J. Dugan 1958-2010

For some reason September feels like the beginning of the year for me.  It probably goes back to childhood and school starting in September and all the new TV shows starting in September too.  Silly, I know.  But as the Wonder Bread commercials used to tell us, "These are our formative years."

So with the ever-so-slight feel of autumn in the air and September almost here, I've been reflecting on the past year and it was a tough one for sure.  Jack's brother, Michael, came east from Montana last summer to live with us while undergoing treatment for a recurrence of melanoma.  Unfortunately, what had worked previously did not this time around.  He underwent some really wretched treatments in an attempt to address some of his symptoms and at least try to keep the cancer at bay.  Nothing really worked and Michael died in July.

It was a long year for him and for the rest of the family too.  Next weekend Jack and his other brothers, Peter and Jim, are taking Michael's ashes back to Montana to scatter among some of Michael's favorite places.  

One year ends and another begins.  I feel like this is a new year and yet another chance to do some of the things I really want to do, like more art!  So here's to doing more art everyday!  Yay!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lab 10: At the Coffee Shop - Second Attempt

I took myself off to Starbuck's yesterday to draw unsuspecting patrons.  I'm more please with these drawings than with the ones I tried on Saturday.  I followed the directions in Drawing Lab:  Lab 10 At the Coffee Shop - start with a blind contour (look at the subject and not at your paper).  Then go back and add some details - fabric folds and buttons and features and such.

The hazard, of course, is that you can start a drawing and your subject disappears!  This wasn't such a bad start, but it's all I got.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Drawing Lab 10 At the Coffee Shop

I completely forgot the instructions Carla Sonheim gave for Drawing Lab 10 At the Coffee Shop!  I was sort of nervous drawing in public.  I don't know why because no one ever notices, let alone looks at or comments on my work.

Next time I go out to a coffee shop to draw, I'm going to try to follow the instructions from Drawing Lab.  I think if I start with blind contour to get the basic shapes down and then go back and add details and features and such, I might be happier with the results.

I bought some PanPastels that I'm dying to try out too.  Maybe I can combine a trip to draw at the coffee shop with a tryout of the new materials.

Drawing Lab 9 Wrong-handed Portrait

I've only had a chance to do one of the these "Wrong-handed Portraits", but it was great fun!  Since I am right handed, I used my left hand for this drawing.  This is my husband "watching" television.  I'm going to try a few more as soon as I have willing models.  I liked using my non-dominant hand to draw.  It did feel awkward, but I like the more naive line.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Drawing Lab 8 Imaginary Animals

Well, it has happened.  I did a Drawing Lab that I didn't like.  But it is a good thing I think.  I found out a lot about myself and what and how I like to draw, what is enjoyable to me.  That's good.  It helps me to find what I want to spend my energy on.

I have found that I like to draw from life, animals, people, places, etc. that are in front of me.  I have always known that I don't much enjoy drawing from photographs, except the Monkey Business Lab - that was fun and I was pleased with the results.  My work from photographs usually looks sort of static and dead to me.  I think it is my lack of engagement with the subject that shows through.  Same thing for working from stuffed and mounted specimens.  They're dead and they look it in my drawings.

I also don't like working solely from my imagination (as these results illustrate...cringe).  I like to have a subject in front of me.  I think these are important things to know about one's self.

And that's not to say I don't enjoy what others do from photographs and their imaginations!  Some people do wonderful things.  I just don't seem to be able to work that way.  Good to know.

The next section in Drawing Lab looks more to my taste.  Drawing people!  Yay!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Drawing Lab 5: Part II Drawing at the New England Aquarium

On Sunday my husband and my daughter and son and I visited the New England Aquarium in Boston.  It was a gorgeous day and we got an early start.  I had the foresight (for once in my life) to order our tickets online the day before and we avoided the long line that had formed by the time we got there.  It was a little past opening time, but not much.  We live about and hour and a half away and I was glad we got there fairly early in the day (which you really want to do at the Aquarium, especially on a Sunday).  

I had my sketchbook, Michael had his video camera, Jack had his still photography camera (for lack of a better term), and Kerry had her natural curiosity and deep love of animals.  Right away Michael and I became entranced by the penguins.  It was feeding time and they are such endearing creatures anyway, we spent a goodly amount of time watching and drawing and filming.

The exhibits around the outer edges were fairly crowed even early on, but we managed to visit our favorites - the jellyfish, the anemones, Stellwagen Bank, the electric eel, and the trout and salmon.
The big tank in the center is always good value.  Sharks, turtles, rays, giant angel fish, moray eels, huge groupers, and the occasional scuba diver.  What's not to love?
Oh and outside there are Fur Seals!  They look a lot like California Sea Lions to me.  Very dog-like.  There are the adorable Harbor Seals out front too.  

I can only take about an hour or two of being jostled by crowds, so we headed out to lunch at about noontime.  Lots of choices on the waterfront, but we ended up at Legal Sea Foods (with a twinge of guilt after having spent all that time with fish and all...).  But it's right there by the Aquarium and we were quite hungry by then.  Excellent lunch of crab, lobster, haddock, chowder.  All good.

Our waiter told us that there was an Italian Festival going on in the North End and we were tempted.  It's a short walk from the Aquarium across Christopher Columbus Park, but we opted to walk in the other direction along the waterfront past all the pricey hotels and condos and multi-million dollar yachts toward the Children's Museum and visit the recycling shop we all had fond memories of from their childhood visits.  

I must say I was a little disappointed.  Our memories are of a spacious room filled with bins and barrels of the neatest stuff - big foam cubes, plastic tubes, foam shapes, glossy paper, foil paper, plastic shapes, things like that.  I wonder if the decrease in manufacturing in the United States and the increase in recycling would explain the very much downsized recycling shop.  The young woman working there was very cordial though and we did manage to fill a small bag with goodies.  

The rest of the Children's Museum looks amazing.  Both my kids said they would have loved some of the newer stuff that's there now.  There's the neatest climbing apparatus, all tunnels and ropes and platforms, as you enter on the main floor.  We got a glimpse of the Bubble Room (!) too.  We didn't see the Japanese House that was always a favorite on our visits.  I imagine it is still there.  

I think my next drawing foray will be to the Stone Zoo in Stoneham.  I love drawing flamingos, well, all birds really.