Thursday, 30 August 2012

EDM#40 Draw something with folds

I seem to always feel cold, since I was in my twenties, and I seem to always have an animal print blanket, whether in Italy, or here, or wherever I go. I can imagine myself with an animal print blanket in the Sahara (by the way, I could have done with one when I was there in November). Yesterday, I pulled it out for the first time since June. It's a sign that summer is coming to an end. Anyway, it does have a lot of folds. And so does my hand. My hands are very long and thin, they seem weak but they are not -  they are a good book to read my life.

EDM#32 Draw something metallic

It's the second time I draw these scissors. The first time was exactly a year ago, and I blogged about it here. What the EDM challenges have done for me is to remove the inertia, the indecision about what to draw. They have also given me a routine, a drawing a day, so that the fear of the blank page doesn't have the time to creep back in. I am very pleased with this, as I very much enjoy sketching once I've started. Art came late in my life, only a few years ago, and it has been difficult to carve a space for it, a space that doesn't hurt, I mean, that feels natural. I am finally getting there, and I'm happy.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

EDM#37 Draw some keys

These are my husband's keys. One of them is the key to our flat, the rest are keys to mysterious places. It makes me feel proud he has so many keys that give him access to whatever it is. There is something happy about keys, I think, the right to go into different places. That's why some people get given the key of a town, because, somehow, they've reached the heart of that town. Of course, it is easier to reach the heart of a small town than that of a big one. Does London have a key? And what is its heart? Smaller places seem to have much longer traditions, to be flowing through generations. I miss that sometimes, that sense of eternity that you cannot have so readily in a big city. I'd like to learn to have both, the big and the small, the legacy and the present daily reality, in harmony. A while ago, I was flying from Genoa to London, and in my imagination I was sewing all the clouds together into one big fluffy carpet. One day that harmony will be achieved. So far, its craving is the biggest motivator for my art.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

EDM#31 Draw something you collect

I collect cameras, especially old film cameras. I started doing photography pretty much in the digital era and had very little experience of film. Digital doesn't entirely satisfy me, there's always that eerie sense of being slightly manipulated or conned by gadgets and gimmicks, these AIs that are supposed to know what you want, who you are, what you want to photograph and how. I love the fact that old cameras, especially cheap compacts, do what they want, and that you, as a photographer, need to work around their quirks. I thought it would be fun to draw a couple of my old cameras with a silverpoint, to make them look even older, almost contemporary to Leonardo. I just stuck a silver wire (i.e. an ex earring) into a mechanical pencil, and voilà.

And here are some examples of my film photography, using a variety of cameras:

Monday, 27 August 2012

EDM#42 Draw something you are thankful for

I am thankful for our nights at home in front of the TV, always partly covered by hubby's feet. I am thankful for our harmony, for the dreams that we share, for my dreams that he accepts and encourages, for his dreams that are full of poetry. I am also thankful for my sense of humour and my eternal curiosity. I have a fun life, made of little things, big things, exciting things, frustrating things. I have a past and a future, where I spend most of my time. I have a present where I draw, doodle, photograph, write, in the here and now, for the here and now. In the present I always feel cold or hot, thirsty, strange, vulnerable. But when I do my art, I feel only the the fun of discovering how my eye & hand help each other see the world.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

5 edms in one big page

There were a few EDM challenges that I had left behind, so I thought of doing them all in one day, on one page, in less than one hour. Here are the stories: EDM#12. I didn't know how to do this because it's a contradiction, how can you draw what you ate for dinner? If you ate it, it's gone! So, I guess people sit in front of their hot, delicious dinner, and instead of eating it, they draw it. I couldn't get myself to do this, so I drew my dinner while it was still in the pot. What is it? My version of carnitas, peas and brown rice. EDM#19. I realised that I don't make that many things, apart from bound books. This is one of my few attempts at making a sculpture, it's a very scary red reptile with yellow dots and big eyes. EDM#27. Ah, this is interesting. This book is Ernest Hemingway's Across the River and into the Trees. Hemingway stayed in Venice for a few months in 1948, and fell in love with the18 year old Adriana Ivancich. The book is based on their relationship. Adriana was a friend of a friend of mine. Just like Hemingway, she also took her own life, much later, in 1983. Totally unrelated. Yet I find it quite an eerie coincidence. The book also mentions the island where I grew up in Venice, I think that's why my grandad bought it - this is the British first edition, 1950. If it was in good condition, with the original dust wrapper, it would be worth quite a bit. EDM#28. I had to draw my new washing machine. I resisted buying one for three years. The old one had all sorts of problems, including a broken leg, jumping about during the spin, and flooding the kitchen every now and then, but I just didn't want to spend money on a washing machine, it seemed such a boring thing to do. Anyway, here it is, a refurbished Zanussi that works properly. I don't need to guard it with a mop in my hand like I did with the old one. EDM#30. Before you marry a musician, you may be under the wrong impression that chairs are to be sat on. The truth is, they are the ideal place to keep CDs, DVDs and a surplus of fluffies (the ones that have been banned from the couch). If you ask the musician in question, he would say that this is a way to hide a very ugly armchair with a chintzy flowery cover. I still think it would be nice to sit on it, occasionally, but, hey, a husband is better than a chair.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

EDM #62 Draw a previous challenge... a different medium. So there you go, challenge #2 Draw a lamp.

This is a wall lamp in my caravan. I drew it on my ipod last week. I haven't done any drawings in the past couple of days, but I felt like posting something anyway. It's very grey and rainy outside today, feels like the end of summer. I love changes of seasons, and I've always liked Autumn, the first rains in Italy, and buying all the new school books. I didn't like studying, but I loved new books and new stationery. I liked, and still like, anything new, pristine, untouched. That's it for today, I'm warmly wrapped up in my memories.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Unfinished sketches

A little break from doing the EDM challenges. What better time to draw than when you are hanging around on a film set. And now that I found a decent stylus for my ipod, I don't even need to bother with bringing too many sketchbooks and art supplies. Problem is, as soon as you have reached a good point, you are called on set or to lunch or, as in this case, somebody takes your seat on the double decker bus. This is a building on the corner of Abbey Road. Unfinished. I have lots of unfinished sketches, from when I travel with hubby and other outings. But perhaps it's better to start and not finish than not to start in fear that you cannot finish. Something like that. It can apply to everything in life.
There are still tons of tourists crossing the wrong zebra crossing, signing their names on the walls and taking pictures of the studio and, as my 'part' was to be a tourist, I pretended to take a few pics myself. Except that I took them for real, you know, to get into character.

Apparently they repaint every month. What a strange place to work in.

Monday, 20 August 2012

EDMs#33 and 34 Draw an eye - Draw a fall leaf

This is my eye, or to be more exact, this is the mirror image of my right eye. My eyes fascinate me, they are BIG, a little droopy, with very droopy eyelashes, I can even see them when I am reading. But the most bizarre thing are all those meandering red capillaries. I have no idea how I got them. Were they always there? Did I cry too much at some point in the past? Or was it travelling through the desert without sunglasses that did it? Ophthalmologists are not concerned, and friends don't notice them. In fact, I am the only one who seems to see them. Anyway, they really are there, doing their thing, whatever that is. This drawing was done with two 4 colour ball point pens. The next one, the fall leaf, was done using the ink from 'empty' ink cartridges. I love experimenting with different tools, this way every sketch feels unique and a little adventure into a big world of possibilities.

It's summer, of course, so no real autumn leaves around, but this one, that I found near the gym, looks close enough. Perhaps it was brought down by that half hour storm yesterday and then dried out in the afternoon sun. Anyway, an August fall leaf, now become immortal, so to speak.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

3 EDMS in Kent

I went to my caravan (a mobile home that doesn't go anywhere) near Dover on Friday. It was so hot, like a proper summer. Beautiful. I went for a walk on the beach and stopped to do EDM # 36, Draw in public. Well, I wasn't really, as I was virtually the only person near the boats. Lots of people around, though, a few hundreds yards away, even some swimming. Later in the evening I cooked myself a nice meal that I ate outside in the grass and then tackled EDM # 17 Draw a musical instrument.

I got the caravan 10 years ago and I immediately decided it was the perfect place for my old guitar to retire. I bought it when I had first arrived in London almost 25 years ago. It's been through a lot of hardship and it's now kept together with black gaffer tape. It still sounds great though.

Saturday morning, I went back to the beach and chose to do EDM #29, Draw something architectural. I love the seafront houses in Deal, especially this blue one. A lot of these houses have flags, I've no idea why, perhaps to welcome ships and boats? An elderly man stopped to chat with me. He was an oil painter, said he envied me for being so quick, as he takes forever. He lives by the beach and can paint the cliffs looking out of his window.
I also did a lot of reading and sleeping and listening to music, possibly all at the same time. Solitude, sometimes, can be wonderful.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

EDM # 9 Organised chaos

Organised chaos is something that runs in the family from my mum's side, and it's been lovingly handed down through generations. I felt that the challenge of drawing any of my cluttered surfaces was not enough, so I chose an impossible tool to draw this EDM with: these supertiny pencils that belonged to my great great uncle. It was like trying to draw with my left hand or eat soup with chopsticks. A very humbling experience. If you need help decoding the drawing: it's my kitchen table, with Olympics newspapers (recognise the mobot?), a cd, hubby's phone, plectrums, keys and a few coins, Hello Kitty metal box + the cutlery basket - what? You don't have one? As all of our kitchen drawers ceased to work many years ago, we keep their content in a basket.
After the sad experience of drawing with the slippery micropencils, I looked at their box and found the magic word 'rechange'. Ah, I thought, they are refills for something, you weren't really expected to draw or write with them like that. So I went to one of my favourite sites for vintage pencils (the only one), brandame pencils, to search for clues. Eventually I wrote to the guy, Bob Truby, who revealed the mystery to me: these were refills for some kind of silver holder. I should have guessed that from the beginning! Anyway, has anybody got a spare silver holder I could have for my pencils? It needs to be very very small indeed.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

EDM#16 Draw your favorite tool


This is a page holder or book clamp, it keeps the book open at the page you want, and it has been a life/time saver during my 20 years + as a book translator. It has kept open more than 100 books for me. It hangs on the wall in my study when I am not working. It's made of brass or similar alloy and it's incredibly ornate, so I drew it with gold and bronze pencils. I don't remember where I bought it, but it has been a most faithful companion, so it must be my favourite tool.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

EDM#25 Draw a glass

For each Everyday Matters challenge, I like to add the challenge of using different art supplies, or combine them in different ways. To me the history of a tool is important. I am deeply animistic, I guess, and I believe history is embedded in the soul of an object. This glass is a tribute to myself and to my friend Diana. I wanted to draw a glass of water because I have been greatly inspired by the Olympics, and I am now on a path to become a gold medallist in Rio (on the astral plane, but still...). I chose soluble graphite and some funny soluble pencils called Grip Colour Magic: with water the blue pencil becomes green and the green pencil becomes blue (what's the point of that, I hear you saying). The brush I used was a birthday present from Diana, she made this brush herself when she was 15. There are so many magical stories in one glass of water.

Monday, 13 August 2012

EDM#24 Draw a piece of fruit


Ah, a refreshing pear in the summer heat, watching the end of the Olympics and dreaming of a super fit body and one of those six pack abs that those women runners sported with such nonchalance! Unfortunately, every time I pick up a pear a lot of annoying Italian references come to mind: 
1) Pinocchio who peels three pears and then, still hungry, eats the peeled skins. Reading Pinocchio was compulsory in school, and it's such a scary story, I still have nightmares about him burning his feet.
2) The Italian saying: "Al contadino non far sapere quant'è buono il formaggio con le pere" = "Don't let the farmer know how good it is to eat cheese and pears together", that my mum and grandma used to repeat at the end of every dinner. They were right, by the way, pears and cheese is a very good match.
3) And, the most highbrow of all, my grandad's favourite quote: "Pera colui che prima osò la mano
armata alzar su l’innocente agnella", from the Italian poet Parini. Of course the word "pera" here means "to perish" and not "pear", the translation being: "The first man who dared raise his armed hand against the innocent lamb should perish". Now, all of these disturbing memories should perish too, so that I can eat the other half of my pear in peace. Do you have that experience? When history stands in the way of spontaneous appreciation? Poor pear, sweet and innocent like Parini's lamb.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

EDM#22 Draw a piece of clothing

Now, this may seem like a very strange confession. In my life I've inherited clothes from my sister and from some of my closest friends, but I have never bought second-hand clothes. I have a knack for finding new clothes for very little money, they last me forever, so that's that. I never really put much thought into it. Until the other day. I decided that I wanted some more cheap clothes and bought a bundle of 12 tops on ebay for £12, including postage. Not bad. I washed them feeling really happy. But when I was ironing them, I realised they were USED. Used by whom, I started thinking. What was she going through when she was wearing them? Were they attached to happy or sad memories? And why were they so worn out? My clothes never get worn out (perhaps it's the amount of salt I eat that has turned me into stone). Who was this woman? Why did she sell her clothes? Perhaps she thought they were worn out too. And now what, I asked myself, should I welcome these 'strangers' in my life or bring them to a charity shop? I can wear them one time each, I guess, and see if they become mine or keep on staying hers. Or I can draw one of them and definitely make it mine. Here it is, it's quite cute, really.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

EDM#13 Draw your telephone

The only interesting thing about my cordless phone is where to find it. It is usually submerged under all sorts of stuff, in this case, hubby's handwritten jazz charts, junk mail, audio cassettes (yes we still have those), and a pile of Cd's. It is also flanked by a springy rabbit who says, 'BOING' when you press the button, a Route 66 shot glass that I don't recall buying, a candle, an old car stereo (you never know, might come in handy one day!?!), and a model Fender guitar. The two unidentifiable objects are a jack adaptor and, of course, a fake moustache. No, don't ask me, I have no idea.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

EDM #18 View from my Window

This is the view from my study. I wanted to contextualise it a bit, so I included in the frame my radiator and my dictionary trolley (what? You don't have one?) The fluffies on top of the dictionaries look very exhausted. Did they go out dancing last night, or are they working too hard? Ok, probably I'm the one who's working too hard.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

EDM#21 Draw something old, antique or vintage

If I were a collector, I would collect old View-Master reels. I used to have a View-Master as a kid and lately I decided that I really wanted one again, so I bought this one in bakelite from the late 1940s with amusing reels of Palm Springs, Killarney, Wild Africa and Animals. I wanted my drawing to look old as well, so I used dip pen, black and brown inks, charcoal and pastels.

Monday, 6 August 2012

EDM#6 Childhood toy

Baubau is as old as I am, we shared every moment of our lives for ten years, then he went to rest in a closet on top of a pile of towels. I found him three years ago and took him to London with me. He now sits on the couch with the rest of the fluffies. He had a tough childhood, he has no hair, has been mended thousands of times and his eyes are broken buttons. He also has a dot of gold paint on the top of his head. To cover some of the scars he wears a robe from one of my old dolls, gone awol long ago. This is not the first time I draw him, you can find a biro portrait of him here. He may be ugly to some, but to me he will always be my beautiful Baubau. To be more accurate, he was renamed so by hubby, his first name was Canovecchio. His real name, before I could name him myself, I never knew. It's funny how you never really know anybody, not even your childhood best friend.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

EDM#4 Draw your cup or mug


Meet Gromit II. Gromit I died in a crash landing from the kitchen counter. Gromit II is in reasonable good health, except for his dwindling eyesight, so every so often I have to redraw his pupils with a sharpie. He is also always very concerned, about what, I am not sure. Hubby uses this mug to bring me coffee in bed in the morning or in my study when I am working. When the coffee is too hot Gromit's nose turns bright red and both hubby and Gromit show extreme concern that I might burn myself. Careful, they say, it's hot.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

EDM#14 Draw what you see in the morning...

..when you wake up. Most people have a dinky bedside table where they keep a reading lamp and a book or two. I have a trunk! Some of the stuff on my trunk, from left to right: lamp, stereo, Bobby Womack CD, flashlight, alarm clock, creams and lip balms, earplugs, tissues, magic quartz reading set, roll of toilet paper, cinnamon candle, tens machine and an exercise book to improve eyesight (so it claims), plus my usual fluffy friends. The doll's name is Molly and she looks like me. Above the trunk there are three rows of shelves full of books. I wake up to a world of quantity, but it's also comforting, in its chaotic way.

Friday, 3 August 2012

EDMs in Venice

I've been trying to do an EDM challenge a day and felt that if I had left it for a few days, I would get out of the habit, so I tried my best to continue while visiting my family in Venice. At the airport I bought myself some children's markers and drew my foot using the markers as watercolours. The lady sitting next to me was very intrigued and we struck up a conversation. She was an artist who used mainly pastels. She looked in her seventies and has been travelling the world since her husband's death ten years ago. She's been everywhere, China, Vietnam, Africa. What an amazing person.

For my second challenge, I skipped ahead to # 265, draw your neighbor. Beach life in Venice has always included very vocal card players (my dad used to be one). They take their games very seriously indeed. A couple of huts down from ours there was this group of players. The lady on the right never plays, but watches the others for hours, quite funny really.

At the back of the first row of huts, and in front of the second row, there's a line of trees. Every single tree was bearing a sign, so my sister explained to me what had happened: people in the second row of huts physically and verbally attacked people from the other rows who were sitting under this line of trees, claiming that the shade was theirs. Eventually the beach management put a stop to the fighting by hanging a sign on each tree that reads, 'All the CAPLI customers can enjoy the shade of the trees'. Only in Italy!
EDM #26: Draw anything you like. Shell beaches are quite rare, I believe, and Venice used to be a fantastic shell beach. When I was a kid I could collect an amazing variety of shells. I would paint them with nail polish, so that they always looked shiny as if still wet from the sea. Now the variety is much less, but I sill like to walk along the shore and find small treasures. Drawing them, though, is a real challenge. I wish I had a magnifying glass to see all the details and all the ridges and crests. I found myself cursing Fibonacci, but just a little bit.