Monday, 28 May 2012

The magic of tools

One of the things that fascinate me the most about art making are the tools, not only in the sense of the way they look, smell and feel, or the marks they make, but also their history, where they come from, what meaning they hold. Two pencils have been sitting on my desk lately, begging to be used, and perhaps to be used together. The first is a beautiful Faber-Castell E-Motion. We gave it to our dad on his 80th birthday. He was going blind and had Parkinson. He never used it. The second is a Prismacolor Ebony, perhaps one of the darkest pencils you can find. I dreamt of buying that pencil for three years. I could not find them in the UK and had to wait until I could go back to the States. One of the most exciting things when I land in the US is going to Michaels, and I was very happy to see that they had the pencil I had been dreaming of for such a long time. A bit of sad history and a token of happy history were sitting side by side on my desk, and tonight I decided to see if they could blend together into... life. Into my life. So here's a self portrait, inspired by a self portrait photo I took while we were driving across New Mexico and Arizona. My hair was a mess from taking my hat on and off. The silly expression is that of total bliss.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

London Sketch Crawl

Yesterday, a gorgeous sunny and breezy day, I went to Let's Draw London!, a sketch crawl organised by Urban Sketchers London. I didn't count how many we were, but it was quite a big group. We met at Temple and wondered off with our sketchbooks to then meet again later and show each other our drawings.
Although I've always dreamt of being an artist, I didn't start doing any art until the end of 2008. These past four years have been an exciting, scary, frustrating and elating journey. I spent hours on flickr looking at other people's work, I bought tons of books and art supplies, I enjoyed working with collages, mixed media, biros, paint, canvas, found paper, anything with which I could create images. But drawing on location is a truly magical experience, and to become an Urban Sketchers correspondent one day would be a fantastic achievement. I realise how lucky I am that I have discovered a new passion that will keep me busy for the second (and third and fourth) part of my life.
This man was sleeping on a bench oblivious to all the sketchers gathered in Gough Square

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Janey and me

Sketching at animal parks is a lot of fun, not only because you can really observe the animals, but also because the animals are likely to observe you. They are used to people mimicking them and taking flash photography, but they are not so used to see a human scribbling on a piece of paper and watching them without direct eye contact. Meerkat sentries take a keen interest in your sketching and so do parrots, but obviously apes and monkeys even more so.
I had the opportunity to visit San Diego Zoo recently and I was sketching away while one of the orangutans came to the glass pane to show off to the audience. I thought it was very funny. She was showing her teeth to the ohhh and ahhh of an amused audience. So I started sketching her and she seemed to observe me with such an intensity, that I turned the sketch around to show her. She came closer to take a look and then seemed to ask me for my pen. I felt very sad that I could not hand her my pen through the glass and she looked sad too, but perhaps it's just the way orangutans look. I kept on showing her my pen moving on the paper making marks, and she kept on watching me and the drawing forming on the paper. Then she came up really close, two inches from my face and stared me right in the eye. It was not a threatening stare, and in fact it looked like she was entering my soul, exploring what was past my eyes, into my very being. I did the same to her, wondering what kind of magical bonding moment was happening between us. I was deeply touched.
Later I found out that her name is Janey and that she is an artist in her own right. She paints, draws and wears makeup. What a bizarre fantastic experience.