Summer

How are you? How the time (another 2 weeks) has passed.

With summer just around the corner, I thought I’d bring out the brightest colours in the pencil box.

I notice, on my walks, that on overcast days, the grass and the garden beds take on a luminous glow. It’s as if the muted light of a grey sky allows for the gardens to deepen their hues. On these greyer days, the colours seem to call out to my visual field (or maybe my eye goes looking for them instinctively). They take on a new saturation that feels unusual and familiar at the same time (were the colours always this glowing?). Maybe this is one of the consolations of the grey day — the recession of light allows for colours to reveal a new kind of splendour.

Until next time, wishing you warmth and sunshine.

Flower bed

Hiya. How the time flies. Nearly two weeks have passed in a blink without a post; time to redress that.

I am doing well. How are you? We’re in the full flush of Spring, here. It’s a joy to see all the colours coming back again — everywhere I look, now, there are buds on the bushes, flowering trees in full bloom, fields of dandelions, and flocks of crumb-eating park pigeons and their iridescent head-feathers. After the long and arduous winter, the sight of pigeons and dandelions has been an uplift.

So today’s sketch is just a few Spring thoughts, in picture form, of a small garden enjoying the day. I don’t know what compels me to draw gardens the way I do. The drawings are intuitive and child-like in some ways, and I enjoy their simplicity. Something about picturing the process of coming into bloom feels good and hopeful. Creating these blooms on the page means the garden within is always alive. For the past year, I’ve found myself in the process of being “grounded,” not only by the quarantining we have all entered, but by life events and uncertainties which have compelled me to see things from a new view — not a rarefied bird’s-eye view that looks down at my life from a level of abstraction, but very much an earth- and worm-level view that dwells among the roots and soil and mushrooms. The view of mud and murkiness from which living, in part, draws its force (as I have come to understand it). Psychologist James Hillman writes about the process of “growing down” into the world — taking on roots, commitments, responsibilities, a life — as an alternative to our usual metaphor of “growing up.” I like to think these drawings signal a sense of rootedness and generativity, even in a simple way.

What do the things and images you make teach you / show you? And do we grow down, or do we grow up?

Until next time, may you have a beautiful weekend and bask in the sun.

Night Garden

While rifling through heaps of paper, looking for a long-lost set of notes (which I never did find in the end), I rediscovered my Artagain pad of Strathmore drawing paper in coal black. I had been looking for it for months and was excited to find it.

I had to try my new pencils on the pad right away, and had in mind to create another little garden — the kind I never seem to tire of drawing these days — but something glowing, alive, and luminous. I gathered the pencils that ‘glowed’ the most, assembled some of my favourite greens, and took to the drawing board. My favourite way to work entails no pre-penciling, but letting the stalks and blooms grow onto the page as they come, one after another, with a sense of commingling colour in fun ways. This sometimes results in forms that look more like fried eggs than flowers (bottom right), but that is ok. Just looking at this garden fills me with a sense of tenderness.

I hope you enjoy this night-time scene and its small, moon-lit world.

Happy Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year is upon us! This is the year of the Ox — a symbol in the lunar calendar associated with strength, diligence, hard work, and reliability (no plow skills needed). Oxen energies are expressed each time we plan a course of action; apply consistent effort, whatever our pace; and evince a little bit of “stubbornness” (let us say, perseverance) in adhering to a vision or idea. This is, in other words, the year for planting our feet on long-harbored dreams and making them come into fruition — the year that expended elbow grease will be likely to pay off (one hopes!). As per the lunar zodiac, this year also appears to favour restoration, replenishment, and recovery in their various senses, but will also be a time to carry the responsibilities that accompany the rewards. I like to treat the zodiac not as a firm set of predictions, but as an open-ended starting point for orienting action and energy (I read the I Ching in a similar way).

So. In that spirit, I wish you Oxen energies as you continue, this year, to bring into being the things in your heart!

Ok. Art-wise, my heart has been a flowery place. I recently did a simple still life drawing. More imagined flowers, in pencils, drawn in January. I see them as clowny and happy and pretty.

I treated myself to a new set of pencils in January, and I enjoy them: the scratchy texture isn’t 100% coverage on the page, but penciled space holds movement and line in a way that makes me feel like I show up in the picture. And in comparison to the fluidity and flow of paint, pencils require a little bit of elbow grease — a little push, from the inside out, to make things happen. I recently finished another picture that involved penciling the surface of an 11 x 14″ page — and I did feel like a little ox, bearing the colours across the paper, slowly over several days, until the whole thing was covered. Pencils, simply, are good for my soul.

Ok. Wishing you the creative mirth of flowers, and auspicious beginnings! 🐂 🌸