Archive for November 2021


November 28, 2021

I am emboldened by a very kind commenter (who is also a friend) saying that she has enjoyed pictures from my art classes! The one I am taking now is “Inventory Drawing” with the wonderful Peter Hristoff of SVA; in the class, we make many many very quick drawings, sometimes based on an image, often based upon a word.

And so above and below are some drawings from last week’s class. 

These are, admittedly, a bit strange. This is partly because I was super rushed getting ready for the class, and also low on paper. A “trick” that Peter has suggested for saving paper is to gesso over old drawings, or gesso newspaper, and use that as a drawing surface. (Gesso is a white primer for paper or canvas. I believe that many years ago it was made from rabbit skin, but now is made of acrylic.) If you believe in serendipity, as I do, this underlayer of the newspaper can not only add texture to a drawing, but unconscious meaning as well.

Serendipity played a big role in the drawings below, as in depriving me of paper, gesso, and time, it forced me to rub out a lot of my old figure drawings so that I could use their surfaces to draw on!  (These were mostly charcoal drawings done on gessoed newspaper.) 

The old drawings did not rub off all that well, and since I was out of gesso, I splashed on a little white gouache (like water color), some of which was mixed with old yellow-green acrylic. (The greenish color resulted from the fact that it was the only tube I had that was squeezable–the others dried up!)

In any case, this slapdash process gave me a host of surfaces, as well as a host of ghost images. Because the ghost images were so strong, I did the class with ink and brush instead of pencil or charcoal, since I knew the ink would give a stronger, if sloppier, line.

So, it was an interesting process! Here are a few. Note that the prompts primarily had to do with Provence, both with words from Provencal poets, and also images from photographs Peter provided from Provence.

I understand that they are not everyone’s cup of tea. I am very flexible in my appreciation! But again, what was interesting for me, is how serendipity, strange combination, can work. It shows I guess that nothing is truly lost—even what you rub away!

Anyway, have a good day!

(I am reposting one of the pics from yesterday’s post, just because I like it, and will likely post more tomorrow.)

Black Friday Dilemma

November 26, 2021

Caught in the vice of whether I give in to all the sales today, accepting that I will not choose to save the planet in the face of up to 50% off, or whether I will stick to vows not to spend money on things people don’t actually need, except for maybe children’s clothing (children grow! and the little outfits are so fun, and some of the specialty manufacturers actually sew the little togs in Brooklyn or Atlanta!)

It is nice to give presents. It is awful to realize at the last minute that you haven’t got new stuff to give.

If you are an older person, like me, you have sadly had deaths in your family and could not bear to throw away all that person’s stored stuff, and now have boxes and boxes all over the place and jammed drawers. So, you do know that over-acquisition is not only not great for the planet, but not really all that good for the soul. (As in, couldn’t you go through some of those boxes and find something that someone might like? This would not actually be “re-gifting” but passing something “treasured” on—)

Nice try.

The deluge of emails (if you are an online shopper) is overwhelming:  the sales are only for two days! The successor sales only a couple of days more! Companies need to ship early this year! 40% even on SALE STUFF! 40% MORE OFF! (YOU KNOW YOU ARE GOING TO BUY THE CRAP EVENTUALLY, WHY NOT WHEN IT’S ON SALE!!!!!)

Yes, but what about trees? Water that is not choked by plastic!

Above is a picture that I did not make with this subject in mind, but it seems to fit—a polar bear stuck on a ice cream truck.  (Perhaps he/she would rather be on an ice floe?  And hey! What about whale blubber!? Isn’t it supposed to taste sweet and nutty!? Okay, maybe not like butter pecan–)

Below is a pic from a recent class with Peter Hristoff. It does not exactly fit with this subject but I like it. 

Have a great weekend. 

Finding Narratives in Quick Drawing

November 23, 2021

Here are some more of my quick drawings from “Inventory Drawing” with the wonderful Turkish-American artist, Peter Hristoff, at SVA.  I am not sure why I am posting these–they are bare bones and unfinished. (Perhaps their best quality!) 

But one thing I love is how these quick drawings, not in the least orchestrated, nonetheless suggest narratives. They show me how the mind seeks a story.

Inventory Drawing is a class in which Hristoff gives prompts of a single word, and then moves on to two or three words at a time. The drawings in response to each prompt are done in about a minute, one after another after another. Sometimes two or three words are intentionally combined in a drawing; sometimes they are put together, in my case, simply because I am too rushed to turn the page.

So, the combinations are random, and yet sometimes show the blurry outlines of a tale (one that even its teller does not yet know!)

Of course, I am particularly interested in story; almost all the art I do is illustrational. But I don’t think I’m unique. It seems to me that the human mind, in its search for explanation and continuity, seeks out stories; they are part of how people make sense of the world. (Sadly, this may be why humans are so prone to conspiracy theories. And yet story is also a great way to illicit sympathy, especially for those who seem different. )

Anyway, here are some more of these funny quick drawings. Again, my thanks to Peter Hristoff for creating an atmosphere (even via zoom) which leaves a lot of room for exploration.

Have a good day. 

Ups and Downs–More Quick Draws!

November 21, 2021
ball and chain, pencil, firefly

Hello! I have been away for a while, strapped into a seat of life’s rollercoaster. Highs/lows; joys/sorrows. Time can hold it all in just one hand.

The ups and downs have made me very conscious of the importance of finding beauty in the specific moment (Beauty and, maybe also, calm.) I think of a twirling dancer, a whirling dervish, turning in circles, keeping an eye on a fixed point.  Only I am not actually advocating fixing on a fixed point, in the sense of a specific goal, so much as keeping an eye out for the ever-present (if sometimes dodging) good.

Sorry to be so cryptic! 

The pics above and below are from a new zoom drawing class with the wonderful Peter Hristoff, an American artist with roots in Turkey.  The class is called Inventory Drawing (offered at School of Visual Arts). In it, students try to make quick drawings to a series of prompts, sometimes offered sequentially, sometimes two or three or four or five at once (sort of like life).

Each drawing is allotted about one minute, although the pieces may become more complex in the course of a class, as, if you are like me, you will sometimes do a few on the same page just to save time. Sometimes, Peter also will ask the class to return to a prior drawing.  This type of prolonged quick drawing would honestly be impossible in the absence of Peter’s teaching. We are all buoyed up by Peter’s enthusiasm, artistic good sense, and kindness, which come across even via zoom.


So, here are a few samples.  What is probably most interesting to me is how each came about, that is—what the mind makes of these somewhat random prompts and quick drawing times.  I’m sorry I don’t remember all the specific prompts, but the one at the top was ball in chain, pencil, firefly.  (It seems to me a great allegory for writer’s block.) The one up above was lightbulb, which I kept fairly simple, perhaps because it was at the beginning of the class.

The one directly below started with underwear. The one below that started with fried egg.  The specific prompt below that one was two words— tower and fountain, and the last one, a very weird one, combined astack of pancakes with celebration and donkey and pin cushion and roller coaster, and pussy willow! 

To me, it is so interesting to see what the mind does when it doesn’t have time to think! (A common enough condition.) I hope these are of some interest to you too. I will likely post more tomorrow.

Have a good day! 

Started with prompt of underwear. Don’t know the rest!
Prompt started with fried egg, I think.
Prompt – tower, fountain.
Can’t remember prompt, but included key hole, stack of pancakes, celebration, chair, donkey, pin cushion, pussy willow, roller coaster–nothing I have drawn looks much like any of those!