birds, sketchbook

The Cardinals Call

Present with a pair of Cardinals reveals the possibility of a serene existence. A mistake to focus on the male. It is the unit. Their vocabulary of calls and songs swell the space around me. I’m trapped in a narrow footpath by overgrown bushes. Male and female a complimentary palette fly through and across the footpath. One after the other. The other then leads again.

Relaxed, alert. Male and female. Cardinals offer opportunity for deep study aside from the color red.

Home. I think about that walk last month. Barber shops closed. I take a pair of shears and clippers to my head. Not exactly a Cardinal’s crest but groomed.

What is my song? “Chunky monkey for dinner again? I admit to the premeditated crime.” Those aren’t the lyrics or the title. There is a song. One I forgot was mine when I realized I could no longer sing.

Journaling nearly everything I know and can associate with Cardinals

The pair of Cardinals continue their dance thriving in and out of the dense bushes. Their songs live independent of their surroundings. Nothing will contain their calls. Why do I allow anything to contain mine?

We have a song. Inside or outside. The old world or this new one. I will remember my song.

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birds, sketchbook, studies, Uncategorized

Nuthatch Troubles

Hyperactive popping. Tiny clinging birds hanging upside down over a tree hollow. They can’t, won’t sit still. The White-breasted Nuthatch is a fun bird to watch, challenging to draw well.

The pair of birds were one of my first sightings since I decided to level up my bird nerd status. This deep dive into bird watching inspired by the hidden footpaths of our little neighborhood sanctuary, Radburn park.

Field journal entries are now a diary of lamentations, hidden joys, accompanied by notes

Radburn Park is still accessible but plans have been turned on their head. Leaving our homes freely and frequently in Northern New Jersey has been discouraged. I won’t be taking the short walk to our park several times every week.

The Sunday stroll is now more golden. I look for ways to extend them throughout the week. Reading birding guides and visiting bird nerd websites like that of Cornell’s orinthology project. I sharpen my pen and ink work sketching landscapes, houses and stone bridges like the one found in the park.

Some of the many sketches to capture the Nuthatch’s energy and mapping feather patterns
The White-breasted Nuthatch’s favorite way to hang out is upside-down

And I obsess over a little bird that won’t sit still for a second. Frustrates my drawing hand with a nape and crown that blend into one narrow shape. I suffer over these sketches and couldn’t be happier.

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sketchbook

365 More Drawings to Go! Day 1 of 366 Project: Rubens

Day one of my 366 drawing project. I draw every day but I rarely post. This is as much about getting over myself, blogging and posting my drawings.

This is my little, A6, version of Rubens Woman with Milk Churn on Her Head. A study he did in black chalk with red highlights. This sketch in my 2020 Hobonichi planner was drawn with fountain pen over watercolor pencil.

Yes, I ate fancy on New Year’s Day. Mother in law generously made steak and shrimp. I baked a glorious bread round for the family dinner.

Happy New Year! 365 drawings to go!

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sketchbook, studies

Best Foot Forward

Some find hands and faces challenging. For me, it’s feet and knees (I know I think it’s weird). Earlier last summer when I decided to begin practicing art full-time again I began a brand new sketchbook with feet. Especially when it’s a study or subject I’m not in love with I like to try new or less often used tools. Somehow the discomfort of using new, less practiced tools offsets obstacles in our approach to a problematic subject There’s a reset of perceptual wiring. We can just let go and draw.

Recent studies George Bridgeman’s breakdowns of the forms in the foot

Recently I went back to that same sketchbook months after the first set of studies. I decided on simpler sketches based off of George Bridgeman’s breakdown of the forms of the foot. After years and years, I still find feet to be funny looking hooves that wiggle.

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Uncategorized

Making a Big Splash on a Rainy Day

Last week on a dark and rainy morning I took a small dish of leftover water I had soaked the tip of a lovely Prussian blue crayon. I opened my sketchbook to a blank spread, held the dish of bright blue water above it and let it spill out across the two pages. I set it aside to dry while I moved on to other tasks.

In the afternoon I went back and stared at the arrangement of stains. The day needed some fun color. After doodling away a Koi out of the bottom larger stain I brought out a handful of companions to swim along.

I like creating sketchbook prompts like this to store away for a later time. I ended up giving in to impatience and playing with this spread on the same day but I try to set random backgrounds for myself in my sketchbook then forget about them. It’s a good way to break up a rut, create a creative challenge and have some impulsive fun.

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la figura humana

Wet Gestures with Watercolor Crayons

1-minute gesture Yellow ochre and sepia watercolor crayon on manilla paper

I think I was introduced to watercolor crayons through Daniela Brambilla’s fantastic book Human Figure Drawing: Drawing Gestures, Postures and Movements. Influenced in large part by Kimon Nicolaides she encourages jumping into a wide range of materials when drawing. The watercolor crayon is a favorite of her’s as she recommends wetting a blunt tip and keeping a well sharpened one nearby, switching between the two.

I got carried away during this warmup of short poses removing the wrappers off of my crayons and letting one sit in water as I drew with the other. The result was messy, slippery and pretty liberating.

Especially for warming up I like going to less used, unexpected and chaotic media when drawing quick gestures. My attitude and approach to these studies are in line with Nicolaides, Brambilla and Patricia Hannaway. Draw big, loose and through the figure focusing on what is happening in front of my eyes ignoring any and all specific contours.

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