Friday, April 22, 2011
Mary Lou, Annie (ML’s teenage daughter), and I took a drive to Akron to see the M. C. Escher exhibit. We’ve been looking forward to this for a while, and imagine our dismay when we got there and a man met us at the door to tell us the museum is closed on Mondays. Arragggghhhh!!! (I have plans to go back to the museum tomorrow, so maybe I can tell you about the exhibit in a later post.)
I thought about writing about our misadventures for the day because it all seemed really funny at the time, but less funny when I tried writing about it. There was the part where we drove the wrong way on a one-way street, for which ML claims we share 50/50 responsibility since she was driving and I was a faulty navigator. We also saw a water tower rising above the tree line through mist and rain which looked like a UFO coming in for a landing with a sign “Space Available” in the foreground. Maybe you just had to be there?
Anyway, since it was raining and cold and there wasn’t much else to do, we took the scenic route home, which led us past the polo fields, and that’s where we get to “bicycle” because I used to ride my bike to the polo field when I was a teenager, and it was especially fun for me to remember my 16-yr-old self with Annie in the car. I can’t imagine her riding her bike 20 miles round trip, up and down very steep hills, no matter how cute the guys were on the other end of the journey.
ML pointed out that I’ve always had a thing for men in tights. Yeah, Mikhail Baryshnikov set my heart aflutter at that age too. Maybe ML is right? I could write about the relative merits of uniforms and my interest in the corresponding sports, but seems like I got in enough trouble recently for talking about Harold’s swimsuit, even though nothing sexy happened in the Bahamas. Nothing sexy happened at the polo field either. I’m just saying that my teenaged self was so motivated by the sight of men in tights on ponies I rode my bike 20 difficult miles. Oh, and maybe the cucumber sandwiches too. They treated people very well at the polo field.
Cleveland isn't noted for snobby, highfaluting activities like polo. We’re better known for defunct steel mills and a burning river, but there’s a lot of money around here too. Of course I never had any of that money, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy some of its afterglow. I packed my best clothes and sunhat onto my bike and showed up with a bright smile and impeccable manners. I learned to pack an umbrella too. Not for potential rain. It was a modern parasol to protect my ever-so-white skin that was only protected at polo. Nobody there needed to know that everything about my presentation was a lie, and I was a poor kid raised in the wild woods. I learned to avoid conversations about attending public school and ate another cucumber sandwich while my favorite old guy explained the finer points of polo strategy, and the rich boys in tights smacked the ball around, or maybe each other, and my innocent lusts were satisfied.
When all was said and done, I changed back into my shorts and t-shirt, packed up the nice clothes, got back on my bike, and started riding home. A long, long ride home, which seemed to be entirely uphill.
Would it have been better to write about bicycling to church? I did that too. The door was never locked, and I used to play hymns on the piano. I liked to pray in the sanctuary by myself and see stained glass in the evening sun. Yeah, forgive us our sins for lusting after men in tights!
This is old art again. I’ve been in my archives searching for the muse of my younger self. This was a self portrait I did in college based on a photo my roommate took of me. I posted an illustration of a tricycle a couple weeks ago, and painting a bike seemed redundant. Besides, this picture reminds me of the false front I presented at the polo field. Or is it really a false front? Part of me is the girl in the picture… with skinned knees :)
Thursday, April 21, 2011
Eyeballs are called “balls” for a reason. They’re as round as a soccer ball. We just don’t see the whole ball because they’re sunk into our heads and partially covered with eyelids. Rules of perspective apply to everything, even eyeballs. As you can see in the ¾ view, the part of the iris which is closest to the viewer is wider than the part further away.
Rules of lighting apply to everything too. If you draw a white ball, it’s lighter close to the light source, and gets darker as it curves away from the light. Since an eyeball is a white ball, the same rules apply, even after you put the pupil and iris on it. When you draw eyelids, remember that they follow the curve of the eyeball too. They also cast a shadow on the eyeball. Since light comes from the top in most situations, that means the eye is usually darkest under the upper eyelid, but since the eyeball is curving under and away from the light, there will also be a lighter shadow near the bottom eyelid too.
Everyone knows that eyelashes are attached to the eye lids, but people often have a disconnect between what we know and how we think about things. Look in the mirror. Notice how far away your lower lashes actually are from your eyes. Notice that eyelashes can cause shadows too.
Paint/draw highlights last. Eyes are wet and glossy, and we can get distracted by the shine and forget all the basic rules above. If you get the structure of the eye right in the first place, the highlight(s) are just the extra detail that makes the eye come alive.
Some people view absolute realism as the holy grail in art, but these observations can apply to whatever style you want to work in. A darker line on the top of a cartoon eye suggests the longer lashes and the shadow of the eye lid. It works for everybody, even animals, in every style… except for my photographic model for this post.
Did you like my "lesson"? I'm never quite sure if people want this kind of post. If you do, I can do more of them. If not, I can go back to my usual ramblings. Or some combination of both.
M. C. Escher Exhibit at Akron Art Museum
As I said in the previous post, I went to the Escher exhibit last weekend. It was long-planned, plans thwarted, and finally, finally, I got to see it. Gotta say it was a bit anticlimactic. Most of the pieces were prints from wood cuts and lithographs, so there wasn't much difference in seeing them in person vs. seeing them printed in a book. Yes, they were somewhat crisper, but it wasn't like the first time I saw Van Gogh's paintings in person. Studying his work in art history class and out of books, I never understood why people liked Van Gogh so much until I saw his work up close and personal. The texture and color of his paint is vibrant and exciting. Escher's work is logical and disciplined. It kind of felt like looking at blueprints for a really cool project. In other words, the ideas are what excite me about Escher more than his techniques.
There were some original drawings in the exhibit. I wish there were more of them. The drawings were something that could've been pulled out of his sketchbook, but they gave me more of a sense of his thinking than the finished prints. There was also a foamcore model of one of his drawings with a peephole a few feet away to look through. If you just looked at the model, you could easily see how it just doesn't make sense. Columns that hold up nothing suddenly snap into position when viewed through the peephole.
I'm glad I finally got to see this exhibit. If you live anywhere within driving distance, I'd recommend it. It will be in Akron through the end of May.
Friday, April 15, 2011
This art is ancient history. I did it when I worked at a newspaper, fresh out of college. I try to post relevant things on this blog, but I felt a need to revisit this. I used to work in this style a lot. In some ways, it's similar to the butterfly tag I made in the last post, but the process of making was much different. The landscape background in the Frontier Days art is acrylics on tissue paper, messily glued to posterboard. The man is pen and ink on wet media acetate, with acrylic painted on the back. This technique is moot since computers. It’s much faster and easier to just “fill”, but I want to get back into my younger brain for a bit. I used to see things more graphically, and was often accused of black and white thinking. Lately it seems like I see too many shades of gray, not to mention shades of all those other colors.
I have to wonder what my pioneer ancestors were thinking when they started walking over mountains from Pennsylvania to Ohio, or for that matter when they got on a boat in Europe? Was life at home so bad, or was it the thrill of finding out what’s beyond the next tree? I also wonder how much of them is still alive in me. Is my current restlessness the same as they felt? Since I can’t take my car until the wheel bearings are fixed, maybe I should start walking?
“Frontier Days” is a local summer festival with carny rides and BBQ. It was a fun time when I was an unruly teenager, and is still fun for little kids and their families. The art was created for a special pull-out tabloid section with activities and local advertising.
I learned how to shoot with that Remington .22 rifle, and I’m an excellent shot. My pioneer ancestors passed down some useful talents. Don't mess with me when I'm cranky :)
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
In my dream, I was filling jars with things I want in my life. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and I briefly thought I should do something with the idea when I woke up, but you know how life is, first one thing, then another, and then the day is mostly shot, and I didn't do anything about it. So much for divine inspiration, but I had left a comment for Heike which led to a little back and forth email today, and voila, the desire to mimic her illustration came back to me.
My first daffodils are coming up, and I need some fresh life and fresh air in my home. I had other plans for this art, but butterflies on the mantle seem like as good a thing as any to do with them. Each tag has a different word for inspiration. Thanks for the motivation Heike!!!
Friday, April 8, 2011
Friday, April 1, 2011
The birthday party went great and the cake was a hit. Everyone laughed when my sister read this blog while we were sitting around after lunch. However, I had said the men wouldn't help, but as you can see, my brother Chris is in the kitchen scooping out seeds from a cantaloupe. Photographic evidence that men can and sometimes do help! He's even demonstrating composting, by putting the melon guts in the appropriate container.