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Category: Arts and Aesthetics

All things creative. All things beautiful, profound, and moving.

Icon in pencil

I’m pretty excited about taking that icon-painting workshop this summer. I’ve been looking at more icons in the last month or two than I’ve ever gazed upon in my whole life, marveling at how they can be so beautiful and so ugly at the same time. I’ve been doing a little reading, too. But not so much that I’ll go into the class thinking I Know A Lot of Stuff when I actually don’t. I’ve also avoided trying to paint an icon before learning how. But I ran into this beauty the other day and had to study it in…

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When you don’t know what to do next, stop.

This is a lesson I’m trying to learn. So far, without much success. I’m not talking about a life lesson. In life, it’s often “When you don’t know what to do next, fake it till you make it.” Works surprisingly well, that. Maybe not in nuclear physics or brain surgery. But in plenty of other things. Still, when I read that “STOP” advice in a how-to-do-art book, I laughed and knew it was aimed right at me. In art, my pattern when something’s not right and I don’t quite understand what to do about it is to try to fix…

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Bernie’s tree

Acrylic on board, 9×12″. Well, not really Bernie’s tree. I was trying to figure out how Bernie Fuchs did that amazing thing with light through tree branches. I didn’t quite figure it out — but I was pleased to get closer than I expected. I like that blazing sunset, too, even though it lost something in the scan. Here’s the illustration I was working from, in the children’s book Ride Like the Wind, which Fuchs wrote, as well as illustrated. I wasn’t trying to copy the tree. I was trying to copy the technique as near as I could (while…

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And sometimes you do art just to test your new pencil sharpener

Very small colored pencil drawing on Stonehenge paper. Playing with defining the central subject almost entirely in terms of negative space. This required sharp-sharp-sharp pencil points, but colored pencils and pencil sharpeners tend not to get along. The last sharpener broke their soft little points and in revenge they destroyed its motor. So far so good on the new one, though. The text I input later on computer. I think I’ll go back and add some random paw prints around the lightest area. A puppy is also in the works. These could be illustrations. If I had something I wanted…

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Hortense the Censor

In her books and classes on rediscovering creativity, Julia Cameron (of The Artists Way fame) asks students to envision their “inner censor.” Our inner censor is the nasty voice in our heads that tells us, “You’re no good,” “You might start that but you’ll never finish it,” “Everybody will laugh at you,” “You’re lazy,” “You should just stick to the way things are now,” “You don’t have any talent,” “You’ll embarrass yourself,” “You should give up now because you’re going to fail, anyway.” And on and on. Last week I started following another of Cameron’s 12-week programs, but without much…

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You want to see talent?

You guys have made some very kind comments about my artwork. I’m grateful. I thrive with your support. And I wish you all as much good and as much support for your own creative spirits as you’ve given me and mine. But when it comes to talk of art talent, I take all praise with a large shaker of salt. Let me show you why. These are a few of the works of Bernie Fuchs — to my mind, the greatest illustrator of the twentieth century (a time that produced great illustration on a large scale). This was a man…

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Funny thing about expectations

I never could draw. I took illustration classes for a while. Long, long time ago. Among students who hoped to become professional illustrators and other students who had no hope, I was in between. Some things I could do well. I always had a decent sense of color and design. But drawing? Meh. I’d observe the elegance of line, the flair, the ease, the confidence and powers of observation of the best students in the class and want to curl up in a little ball. Oddly, there was one type of sketching at which I excelled. In figure drawing class,…

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