Monday, March 31, 2008

Another Cloud Study

The sky was so beautiful today. It's really the only thing I want to paint right now. I need to remember to soften the edges. That triangle at the bottom of the sky is just wrong...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Forgetting where I put my glasses, and occasionally, my mind...

For National Poetry Month, which begins on April 1, I wanted to post a favorite poem and add a sketch to go with it. Since one's eyesight and memory seem to begin their decline around the same time, a drawing of my eyeglasses seemed appropriate to accompany this poem.

The optometrist has been suggesting for several years that I get bifocals. I've resisted for a variety of reason (vanity mostly) and instead, I have glasses for reading and glasses for distance. Most of the time I don't wear glasses, but I can often be found wandering up and down the stairs, cursing under my breath, looking for my reading glasses or for the pair I wear when watching TV. Someone has left them in the wrong place. Again. And sometimes, of course, I look for them when they are actually hanging around my neck.


The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

By Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate 2001-2003
From Sailing Alone Around the Room

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Stormy skies

The cloud formations have been dramatic lately.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Book Review: Mastering Composition

In last month’s watercolor class, my teacher focused on composition. She had planned to show a video by Ian Roberts, but the DVD player didn’t work. She talked about him so enthusiastically that I decided to purchase his new book, Mastering Composition.

I tend to skim through the many art books I buy, just stopping at the pages that interest me. But once I started reading this book, I read all the way through without putting it down. Robert's clear and concise explanations of design principles were excellent. There's a lot of information about the role of color in a composition and excellent color illustrations showing how small changes in color intensity affect a painting. I also liked the section titled "Learn from student work." The artist shows the original student work and then a photo of the painting after flaws have been adjusted.

In one chapter readers are encouraged to commit to a 4 x 5 pencil “composition a day” as a way to master the ability to think in terms of shapes and masses rather than subjects. (It's that "practice makes perfect" concept...)

The book also includes a DVD, although I could not get the sound to work on my Mac, despite setting my volume control to the highest level on my computer and on the DVD controls.

This is one of the best instructional art books I have encountered and I highly recommend it. I know it's going to become a much-used reference book in my household. You can "search" through the book on Amazon, if you're interested.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

It's a very green day in Oregon...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Saturday, March 15, 2008


I've had a very bad painting week and all my attempts ended up in the scrap box. I often deal with my discouragment about art by buying new tools or books. This week I did both. I really like my new Copic markers. They're expensive ($5 each), so I only bought the red and a few grays, but I like the way they blend, and the fact that ink can be purchased to refill them.

I'll tell you about the WONDERFUL book I bought - Mastering Composition by Ian Roberts in the coming days, so stop by again.

March Madness

There’s a famous saying that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I am one of those people. Despite knowing that spring storms are going to destroy anything I plant in March, I just can’t resist the lovely flowers which appear in stores this time of the year.
Emily Dickinson understood:
"A little Madness in the Spring
Is wholesome even for the King…"

(From the poem A little Madness in the Spring, by Emily Dickinson)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

EDM #40: Something with folds

Honestly, I can't paint believable folds unless the fabric has stripes...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Housecleaning...or not

When I was drinking my morning coffee I noticed there was a lot of dust under the settee in my living room. For a few minutes I considered cleaning house. But I decided I’d rather draw it than clean it. I enjoyed trying out different colors for the settee and throw. This corner of my living room is actually quite subdued and neutral.
Micron pigma with watercolor on Bristol.