Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wamboldtopia Sketch Crawl

Today the journal group that I'm in had its first sketch crawl.  We had heard about a private garden called Wamboldtopia ( near BookWorks ( that had been under growth and change for ten years, the masterwork of Damaris and Ricki Pierce.  The day was sunny and warm, and the garden is actually located near a fairly busy section of town;  but as soon as we passed under the stone archway entrance, we felt like we were in a cool, shady, hidden part of Italy, Bomarzo with its ancient sculpture garden, or an undeveloped and rarely -visited section of a forgotten hill town.

I like to notice what my eye is drawn to, and I kept finding myself parked in front of the several old-tombstone-like skull pieces that were made by Damaris and embedded in stone columns or walls made by Ricki. 

For my final drawing I did the tower (which is really a clever disguise of a chain-link fence at the property line-- pieces of insulation foam wrapped in hardware cloth covered with stucco with a real bell included and the fence top made to look like the top of a stone wall) and a poppy seed head, which reminded me of the skull pieces;  so I concocted my own poppy-head skull exploding its seeds. 

While at the garden I did pen sketches only and made color notes.  Later this evening I painted with watercolor and gouache and incorporated a few rubber stamps that I had on hand from another project.  The paper in this sketchbook is handmade from willow bast and abaca.

Friday, May 20, 2011

How to be a Slowpoke in a Museum

It's been a while since I've updated this blog, but my excuse is that I've been traveling and don't have a smart phone, etc. etc.  The journal pages above are from a day that I spent at the Museum of Modern Art with my son, visiting the spectacular German Expressionists show that is currently there.  What I love about taking my journal to a museum is that it slows me way down and lets me enter into relationship with a few pieces of work in a way I would not be able to do otherwise.  In this piece I wasn't going for careful drawing;  I wanted, rather, to find the general feeling of the two shows we saw that day (as well as the lovely but ridiculously expensive snack we had in the cafe).  On the left, Belgium artist Francis Alys,  and on the right, the snack and the German Expressionists.

Below are two pages that I did on another day while walking around the garment district in New York on a sketch crawl with some friends.  We were encountering rejection everywhere we went:  one store manager told us that if we drew in his place he would get in trouble with OSHA;  another place told us we could draw but we would have to pay.  We settled on drawing from the windows at a couple of  places.  Then we found a great manequin shop whose manager not only allowed us to draw but consented to sell me a lovely manequin hand, which shall be featured in my next Piece Works blog update (

On another day I went to the Brooklyn Museum with my sketch-crawling friends and visited the African section, one of my favorites.
I greatly enjoy standing for a long time drawing the African nkisi (power figures) whenever I can.  In these drawings I wasn't thinking about outcome, but just losing myself in the details, puzzling out how things fitted together, studying the forms.  Drawing is the best way I've found to do these things.  I have very tolerant and patient friends and family, but if I'm the only one in the group who is drawing, I just arrange to meet up with the others later.  The greatest fun is when others in the group are also drawing, but being the only one drawing doesn't need to be an impediment to taking your time to really, really see the pieces you love.