Sunday, December 31, 2006

"Best Of 2006"? Hardly.

Stewart Sternberg asked. And then PhotoFriday asked. But I'm the kind of person who finds it difficult to make a "best of" collection of what I think of as ephemeral moments in time.

Well, since they asked, I decided to try.

So, patient reader, please click the links below to see five images -- not always ones that were most resonant for me this year, or "best," but ones that seemed right for this small recap.

And I'm interested in learning what your favorite was, whether it's below or not. Feel free to comment with the link to your fave.








And, of course, there were always the silly moments. Seems to me that play skips down the road hand in hand with creativity.

Well, enough of this. I'm grateful to share your attention, your creativity, your community. And I look forward to opening the treasure chest of this new year with you.

"If This is You..."

Seen right after the Luca Cambiaso experience.

Went to see Luca Cambiaso's work

What a joy it was to look, really look at his calligraphic lines. Then, just as I was about to sketch, a young docent came by and said, "You can't use a pen in the gallery -- you have to use pencil." Mercifully, she had some. Cruelly, they were the stubby pencils you see people use to mark miniature golf scores.

I stood looking, and sketching, until sweat began to trickle down my back. Guess I'll have to get in better shape if I want to do this more often.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Friday, December 29, 2006

A small poem

Driving down CR-278

Nacreous sky, mother of pearl of the winter rain
layered, layering on specks of dust, on smoky ash
until pearls tumble unstrung, wobbling and wet-
kissing the incense of a brush-clearing, spattering
on an azure flash that keels past power-lines and over
the fence line, bluebird gone but I’m happy.

More faces

Random acts ≠ Goldsworthy

Left by an unknown hand, and found in the same flood-plain.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Fallen shards of sky

The "Why" Of Things

Back to work, and no good time during the day to sketch. So at home, later, I thought about what to practice with. The cats were scooting about, and every time one saw me gaze their way they'd pop over for a treat. Mur? Aw heck, let's let him be. Draw a cup? An egg?

No, I wanted to sketch a person. The only thing at hand was an old magazine, but it had a photo of Bishop T. D. Jakes (all rights are reserved for/by Adam Buchanan and The Atlantic March 2006 issue.)

Murry'd ask "What?" more than a couple of times as I wrestled with this reference material -- and so I learned that I grunt, mutter to myself, and make other subvocalizations when I'm not quite sure where things are going.

Was it different drawing from a photographic source? Sure -- and contrary to many things I've read lately, for me it was more difficult.

But as I play with these études the "why" of things, not the "how," remains the most interesting core question.

The practice:

The reference source:

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Trying new things

I've been working portrait approaches in my mind's eye to life-drawing-referral-guy, and decided to take one out for a walk at Another Of The Infinite Branches Of The Coffee Megapolis.

The colors look a bit weak, so please click for a larger view. It may be I haven't figured out how to best scan these yet.

Standing in the flood-plain

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Slant light and path

Mur eating Christmas dinner leftovers

He didn't look as tired as I drew here -- hard to catch his gaze flickering between the dinner and the DVD we were watching, even harder than catching his hand long enough to draw it.

And more about the relationship/conversation between photography and drawing/painting.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Peace on Earth / Art Car

"Would you draw me?"

A long post, not enough editing skill to make it much shorter. Please get a cup of something to sip, and I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed what unfolded.


It never happened before, but there's a first time for everything. The first time for this was Christmas Eve, yesterday.

I drove in from the suburbs to a lovely lunch at Madam Mam's with my friend Henry Friedman, talking about art and photography and all that good stuff. We went off to the Blanton in hopes of seeing the Luca Cambiaso exhibit (Lori's hope to do some master copy sketches, Henry's to see what the fuss was about) but the museum was closed.

So we drove to downtown Austin, to a store that sold lots of comfy shoes, Henry's shoes being not comfy and driving him to replacement. After carrying on in his mock-crotchety way at a store clerk who remembered him and gave him amusing grief back, Henry left, and I bought a lagniappe stocking-stuffer for my husband, Murry.

Since I'm acutely aware I need to sketch every day if I want to keep my promise about posting fresh sketches, I went to a fabulous local bookstore that was close to the comfy-shoe place, a bookstore where I knew I could get some coffee and sit and draw.

To that "daily sketch" end I've been thinking in a desultory way about taking a life-drawing class. I miss working large, miss having a steady pose to study, but didn't know any place that offered sessions with a model rather than a formal class.

After sketching who and what I could for a while, I began to run out of steam.

A man sitting nearby, who was drawing something himself, caught my eye, smiled and asked, "Would you draw me?"

Now, in all the time I've sketched people -- mostly times when I was an art student (500 drawings of people due in a sketchbook at the end of the course, among other "boot camp for artist" madness) but occasionally post-college -- no one's ever come up to me and asked me to draw them.

I tried to dissuade him, but he asked to see the other sketches I had at hand, and he thought they were good -- thought they looked like the people he saw around us.

He claimed to remember me -- said he'd cut hair at a place I went for a haircut years ago, and also recognized me from a movie I've been in.

And then he said, "You really should go to the life-drawing sessions they have at the Austin Visual Arts Association -- it's only $5, and their models are supposed to be very good."

Well, how could I not draw him after he gave an answer to my unspoken life-drawing question?

Here's what I sketched.

He was very taken with it, although the proportions are cattywampus.

When he mentioned to me that he liked figure drawing but usually didn't have the extra $5 for the session, I told him to email me next time he went and I'd go as well, cover the extra fiver for him.

He sort of blushed, and said he didn't have a computer. Hence my note on the sketch for where and when the life-drawing session meets.

When I told him I thought I could do a better drawing if I had a photo for visual reference, he let me take a picture of him. Here's the pic.

I'll post what I do with it in a follow-up soon.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Just before the rain

My usual haunts

Started the morning getting a cup of coffee at That Ubiquitous Coffee Place, filling the tank with gasoline for a drive to the country so I could wander around with my camera and eat good BBQ.

The hunters were out in abundance by the time I got to Cooper's.

Some of the things I saw that day:
An Eastern bluebird, the flash of azure diving towards my car then wheeling away
Long, golden, almost iridescent sunlight combing the dried roadside grasses
A ranch-house entry with at least seven fake Santas arranged as if they were waving to passers-by
A man clearing brush in front of a pre-fab warehouse, riding on a rust-patina'd small tractor
At Cooper's, a delicate elderly woman, silver-haired and pale-skinned, dressed neatly in shades of lavender and rose, looking a bit lost as she leaned back against a knotty-pine wall beneath the taxidermy deer heads

(To me, some things are simply for the seeing and recalling, not the catching.)

More wandering, and then the long drive back to town and a cup of hot tea at That Enormous Natural Foods Grocery Store.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Cabbage and fly

Need. Faster. Handsandeyes.

I sit, watching, waiting, looking for interesting faces, contrasting shapes.

I let my gaze float, striving for a peripheral find that won't attract attention to me. I hold my breath, hoping they'll hold still for just a moment lon--

Darn. They got up to leave.


I sit, watching, waiting...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

At Brushy Creek

Murry x 2, plus Sput and me

It was the kind of day -- meetings and office party things from early to late -- that made it very difficult to sit quietly and sketch strangers.

So once home, I grabbed a pad and pen and sketched the happenstance models at hand -- Sputnik and Murry and me. (Kizmet and Jocelyn Bell Burnell, our other two cats, were inconveniently out of the easy line of sight.)

And based on A Fave Reader's humble off-line request, I'm posting sketches and photos separately, to make it easier to comment on one or the other.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Sweet bittersweet, plus sketches

It's clear from the sketches that I'm not certain where I am before that first cup of coffee arrives.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


It was surprisingly hard to find sketch time Monday, but one of our cats, Sputnik, graciously held still last night just long enough for me to rough in her basic form and fuzzy toes.

If you haven't read the comments thread on the post below, it's worth a bit of time. I found everyone's thoughts on why photography seems to me more intrusive than sketching pretty interesting.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Two more people and a green car

That Cartier-Bresson quote -- “Photography is an immediate reaction, drawing is a meditation.” -- feels so true to me now.

Like my experiences with meditation, the focused work of drawing enables me to become more aware of my swirling cloud of inner chatter ("No, her nose doesn't really do that"), creaky joints, and a pile of other distractions. For some reason, there's much less inner noise-making when I'm catching a photo.

And another self-made puzzle: why does it seem less intrusive for me to sketch people rather than take a photo of them? Do you have any thoughts on that?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Tag, I'm It

Thanks to Emma, I've been tagged.

(It's a Four-Tag, so be four-warned.)

4 jobs I have had:
Pizza-maker in a chain pizza restaurant on Route 66
Direct marketing manager
Staff illustrator at a fundamentalist Christian publishing company
Art director, fluffing and ironing fancy baby apparel for a catalog photo shoot
Freelance fitness coach

4 movies I could watch over and over:
Secondhand Lions
The Princess Bride
Spirited Away
Anything by Buster Keaton

4 places I have lived (apart from where I am now):
Annandale, Virginia
Brooklyn, New York
Flagstaff, Arizona
Tempe, Arizona

4 TV shows I love:
Law and Order (the best soporific for work nights)
Blue Color Comedy Tour (sometimes, when I'm in a Nascar kinda mood)
Serenity (for the nerd-free, it's on the US Sci-Fi channel)
Nova (stars! nature! science!)

4 places I have been for a vacation:
Fort Davis, Texas
New York City
San Francisco, California
Scottsdale, Arizona

4 websites I visit daily:
My blog
Google News
My blog-buddies’ blogs
Google (for everything else)

4 favourite foods:
BBQ at Cooper’s in Llano, Texas
Migas with corn tortillas at IHOP (yes, they make good migas)
Dark dark dark chocolate of almost any kind
Spicy anything (darn, we only get four?)

4 places I would rather be:

Camping in the Davis Mountains
France, because I’ve never been and need to go
Wandering around northern California
Right here, outdoors, with a camera in hand

4 people I am tagging:
Andy Spiegel
Anita Nowacka


Broccoli in the cafeteria...

Broccoli frost-bitten in the field...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Separated by an 8 minute drive

Ah well. The hand is not faster than the eye, contrary to what stage magicians say. Thank goodness my metallic shaman's bag can catch the magic around me.

Blogger strips out a bit of color saturation in sampling down photos, but you can still enjoy lots of sparklies if you click on the field.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Momentary finds

Per Laura's request, I am now going to sketch and post daily (yikes!) I'm not always happy with my proportionate eye, but accuracy of proportion will likely improve with practice. I hope what I sketch and post is of interest -- knowing I've made the intention public will keep me practicing, so thanks in advance for your patience.

Even a utility pole wants to see things more clearly.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Drawing in airports

Queen Anne's Lace Bones

Another with fine details that need a click on the pic to enlarge.

Daucus carota, or Queen Anne's Lace, was something I found in fields when I was little and out wandering. Their winter-bare bones were shivering near train tracks on my recent travels.