More from the pandemic diary canvas:This time the words came to me while I walked the labyrinth this morning:
“in the eye of the storm, in the mouth of the predator, with or without you, i dance”
I wish I had a very pale pink Sharpie to give her feet some color. But I don’t, and I am committed for the moment to using only what I’ve got in the studio, so she has little ghosty feet.
Fun fact: I found a mouse like this in my desk once. I scooped her out and put her in a bucket while I went out and bought a cage for her. She was my office-mate for three years. I called her The Poopsmith because of what she’d done in my desk.
This is from a canvas I’ve been working on – a sort of pandemic diary:
The words came to me while I was drawing:
i pray for enough light and courage to take one small step
After finding six moths in my studio in the other day (quelle horreur!), I took my wooliest sculpture down for an inspection. Didn’t find anything awful, but there’s a lot of interior real estate that I can’t really see. So I gave her another coat of acrylic and hung her back up.
The next night, I dreamed of finding a small blue beetle in an envelope in my mother’s attic. I took it downstairs to let it go in the backyard. Before I opened the back door, I peeked inside the envelope. The beetle had turned into a small dragonfly. Out in the yard, I held the envelope upside down and shook it. A large butterfly came out. It picked up a rubber ball that had been lying in the grass, and it flew away.
Because of that, and because my house reeks of polyurethane, I’ve been in the studio this weekend drawing bugs on scraps of canvas. None of them are bigger than six inches square. I’m using Sharpies, of course, but also various other kinds of permanent markers. And Wite-Out pens. Because apparently I am meant to be inhaling noxious fumes right now, one way or another.
A year ago I was having carpal tunnel issues and mostly doing blind contour drawings because it was easier on my hand. It was so much fun that I kept doing it. Now I’m constantly having to remind myself that I need to look at the surface I’m drawing on.
I haven’t seen any more moths since those six on Friday,which is both a relief and a mystery.
For anyone who’s ever been told that they’re crazy:
“Something is there, at least in a mathematical sense. Something not just small, but also unimaginably heavy.”
Someone posted a picture on Facebook recently of a pair of sneakers that had been made to look tie-dyed with Sharpies and rubbing alcohol. Well. You know I love me some Sharpies, especially on canvas. On my way to the studio, I picked up a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol at the drugstore.
I have been drawing a lot of bugs lately, so I drew a bug on this scrap of canvas with the Sharpies:
The red is actually a Bic permanent marker that I bought in British Columbia in May. I’m tempted to say that from now on I will always travel with a red marker, but it was actually a lot of fun to go on a quest for one and not know exactly what I would find. So maybe more shopping for art supplies in out-of-the-way places.
Here is what the drawing looked like after being sprayed with rubbing alcohol:
The lines at the bottom are acrylic paint, dried a long time ago, which is why the alcohol didn’t make them run.
Here is what it looked like after it dried:
I like the semi-predictability of the process, the sense of motion that the blurred ink gives the drawing, and the way the colors change. I’m think I’m going to be doing more of this.
(Don’t worry. I am working on another wire sculpture too.)
I finished that little comic I started working on in February, and re-drew all the panels on one of those printed canvases. Drawing on canvas with a fine-point Sharpie is a little like driving on a muddy road. The pen gets thrown around and makes a wobbly line.
Ray Bradbury said, “The important thing is to explode with a story, to emotionalize a story, not to think it… If you start thinking, the story’s gonna die on its feet. You either feel a story and you need to write it, or you’d better not write it.”
I gave a lot of thought to the structure of this thing, but the first thing I did was feel it explode in my heart. I don’t expect anyone else to feel it. I am not that good a storyteller. But I still feel it, and am glad to have written it.
What I feel:
dim fumbling fishy thoughts,
intermittent mind-blowing joy,
the itch of new feathers.
A while ago, I found an Instagram feed full of photographs of people in outrageous costumes holding taxidermied animals. Like this one:
When I don’t feel like doing my daily drawing, I bribe myself by using one of those photos as a model to draw from.
More recently, one of my artist friends has been playing with Yupo paper (which is not paper at all, but smooth plastic). Another has been doing blind contour drawing, where you don’t look at the paper or lift your pen while you draw.
All of that, plus my ongoing carpal tunnel issues, has resulted in my doing things like this:
I’m not particularly attached to these drawings, but it delights me to make them. There’s something magic about the process. It’s like being six years old again, but with less fear and loneliness.
I dream about someday facilitating collaborative art playgroups for grownups and sharing the fun I’ve been having with other people.
For the second week in a row, my Awesome Monday Plans got canceled because of snow.
I cried. I ate a frozen leftover cupcake.
And then I sat down at my desk and worked on a project that I started over the weekend. Prof Hebdo (aka Lynda Barry) posted this picture…
…with instructions to her students (for extra credit) to draw 8 of these creatures, then pick two at random. They fall in love. Pick another random creature. This one ruins their love. Make it into an 8 panel comic.
I’m not officially one of her students, but sometimes I do the extra credit assignments anyway. They are usually fun, and always worth doing. Yesterday I drew 15 creatures.
Everything I’ve been reading about comics says that if you want to do them you should get used to working fast. But I am not, as my therapist pointed out early in our relationship, “a fast and easy kinda gal” (that was at least 4 years ago, and we are still digging). Also, I seem to be having some sort of repetitive strain issue with my right hand. So I am working slowly, and that’s okay.
Today I drew 3 panels. As usual, I drew with a Sharpie pen because I hate eraser boogers and I hate the wispy tentative way that I draw when I’m using a pencil. I drew on index cards, because the big sheet of Bristol board intimidated me. Here is the first panel:
The Royal Whatever is about to fall in love with one of the Fishy Things. The Crab Thing in the lower left hand corner will ruin it, although it must be said that it is not really the Crab Thing’s fault. The Royal Whatever and the Fishy Thing were doomed before they ever laid eyes on one another.
I’m working on illustrating a dream on one of those canvas prints I make sometimes. The dream had a bird in it, so I am doing a lot of bird studies lately.
It turns out that regular posting of bits of my sketchbook does, in fact, interfere with my doing the work. So this won’t be a regular thing, but I’m really enjoying these birds and thought I’d share a few of them.
Drawing is not something I’ve done much since I was a kid, but recently it occurred to me that I have to do a graphic novel. The idea came to me during a long, stupid fight with my therapist (ostensibly about her wastebasket, but of course it was really about something else). A year later, things are very different in her office but the idea hasn’t gone away. It has made itself at home in my head and follows me around all day long begging for scraps. All-righty, then.
If I’m going to make a book full of comics, obviously I have to make drawing a habit. So I am drawing every day. Other than that, there is only one rule: no pencils and no erasers, just a blank notebook and a black Sharpie pen. Sometimes I draw for five minutes. Sometimes it takes almost an hour.
It is starting to be my favorite part of the day, which means I am starting to spend more time on it.
I’m going to try to share a 3×4-inch chunk of my sketchbook every week. I will stop if it gets in the way of my actually doing the work. Here is a piece of last night’s page:
I have a long list of things I need to get comfortable drawing, and a big library of reference photos. The list keeps getting longer, and the library keeps getting bigger. Every day I pick a different thing to draw. This will keep me busy for a long time. It would take a long time even if I abandoned the sculptures (which I will not). It is okay if the book doesn’t happen until I’m 70, or if it never happens at all. The process is taking me somewhere, and I trust that it is somewhere worth going.
Lynda Barry’s blog is enormously encouraging.