Monday, March 31, 2014

First Day of Spring-- Really

Today felt like the first real day of spring, the day when socks feel so heavy and muffling and dreary and all the clothes I've been wearing day after day suddenly look ridiculously dark and heavy.  Of course I needed to venture out to the new trail because I know that in a matter of weeks this not-exactly-trail will be so overgrown and buggy and snakey that I will need a machete to hack my way through.  I want to map the places where I still get unsure, one of them right at the beginning when the trail leaves the flat clay deposit place and takes off into the dry grasses.  I missed the cutoff three times, and each time I thought I had gone too far.  Finally I went far enough and found it.  Here are two maps/sketches to help in identifying where the new trail starts:  On the left is the view down the cut off, two identical baby pine trees across from one another and a group of four young not-pine trees over to the right.  And on the right is a map of steps between landmarks so I will remember to go far enough -- around 350 steps from the clay place-- even though all the landmarks are overgrown.
 We didn't go any further than the beginning of the trail today, but went home our usual way on Charlie's Spring Trail.  But today I noticed that the chimney is just barely visible through the trees at one point.  At the top it's peeking through trees off in the distance.

At home, Jesse was enjoying the first really springy day, too.  He started out sitting on the picnis table bench watching the backyard and grooming his paws.
Then he slouched over on one elbow in his favorite leisure cat posture, still watching the backyard for territorial infringements such as Ghengis or wild turkeys.

Then we both went outside and I sat on the back steps while he sat on a paving stone.  Then he wandered over to the small deck and sauntered off down the stairs.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jacob, Lambies, Another Ramble

Late morning at Over Easy, Jacob at the table waiting for our order and taking closeups of things such as reflections of objects in the tea shot through a glass of water.  Beautiful pictures!
Later at a meeting, one of the cups on the table, the bird feeder outside the window.

Driving home from the meeting I discovered that the sheep have had lambies!--  about half a dozen tiny lambs, many hunkered down in the newly-green grass, their ears blowing in the wind.  Happily the mothers' wool has grown in and they look a lot more comfortable out in the windy cold.

Salaman, the watch donkey, came up to the fence to watch me watch the sheep.  She turned away after a few minutes and I drew her departure.  A big wooly sheep and two lambs are on the other page

And of course I can't let a sunny, if cold and windy, afternoon slip by without a foray into the woods.  I've never yet found the shelter from the chimney, and the chimney is very close to my house.  Since we came down from the shelter via the slope down to the trail that the chimney is on, it seems that I should be able to get up there from the chimney, right?  Not so.  I did mark on my map the exact location where I left the trail, in between the cut log and the rhododendron slick.  Keeping the chimney to my left, I skirted the brambles by going around the chimney to my right.  Then I knew I should veer back toward the chimney as I got up the slope and out of the brambles, but when I did that I think I veered too far left because the ridge that I finally got to looked nothing like the ridge that the shelter sits on.  Plus when I turned a bit more to the left, I ran into the Charlie's Spring trail.  I was happy to meet up with the trail, curious about how I went wrong yet again.  But then again, M has never walked to the shelter from the chimney either, so we didn't retrace our path the other day.

Next plan-- walk from the overlook and along the river as M and I did the other day.  Blaze a trail after leaving the gully.  Take really good and detailed notes.  Use a compass to stay southeast, as the map says I should go to reach the chimney.  Take photographs when I get the chimney in view.  Be very attentive of the path that I hack through the brambles as I descend the slope.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Eating with Phones

At Greenlife Cafe this evening while waiting with P for D and H to arrive, I did these fast fast drawings of cafe customers who were eating while doing things with their phones.
Every person in the cafe who was alone at a table was eating while looking at a phone, except for one guy who was reading a book and at the same time running his finger around on his plate and then licking it.  What conclusions can possibly be drawn?

Friday, March 28, 2014

Ta Dah!

 In spite of a looming sky and predicted rain, my friend-who-found-the-hut and I set out early this afternoon ready for whatever fell out of the sky and determined to persist until we found the hut.  We had talked beforehand when we had decided to put this walk off as it looked so dark and threatening, and I had asked her a few more questions to try and figure out why the hut kept eluding me and I kept landing on Tony's driveway.  Drawing 2017 is the map I sketched while we talked.  A few minutes later she called me back and said nothing was coming down, and we decided to just GO.
 We walked the by-now familiar trail leading to the river and along the south bak.  We passed some early toothwort leaves and the treacherous pile of logs that must be scrambled over in order to continue along the trail as it leaves the river.
 Since I want to be able to walk this trail by myself and not get so wretchedly lost I made copious maps and notes as we walked.  I realize these are as inscrutable as the glyphs on yesterday's little woodworm-eaten stick.
 As we came to the crucial ending of the trail, M. picked her way along, remembering clues from the only time she had ever walked this way.  She has a great memory, because in spite of seeing this trail only once before, she could tell from the kind of ground cover (crowfoot/ground cedar) when to start bearing east.   We found the spot and headed left up the bank of the gully.  After a few yards we crested a ridge, and there in front of us was:

The Shelter!  This drawing does not do it justice.  It's a primitive lean-to kind of thing, very sturdy with walls of branches packed with about 12 inches of dry leaves.  Its ridgepole is touching a tall, straight tree, and the pole slopes toward the ground in the back.  Large patches of bark (we could see a nearby dead tree that had a stripped trunk) covered sections of the hut.  Inside it smelled wonderful, like leaves and grass, not at all mouldy or sinister.  It was just big enough inside for a single person to stretch out in a sleeping bag.  The floor was made of compacted dry leaves.  The openings on either side of the tree trunk were barely big enough for a person to squeeze in, too small for a bear to enter.

Nearby were a fire pit with some charred wood and a sort of wood-drying rack shown here.  Sticks were leaning against each other along a post slanted against a tree.  It looked like a small hut, but we think from its location that it was a firewood supply.  There were absolutely no signs of anyone having been there recently except the charred wood.

We were convinced we had seen another hut through the woods a short distance away, so we walked over there after a while.  It turned out to be the branches of an enormous felled tree that were shaped like a teepee when viewed head on from the gully we had walked in.  On the right and bottom I sketched the walk that we made to get home, down the ridge, through some brambles, and alongside the chimney to the trail.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Subject Matter Doesn't Really Matter When It Comes to Drawing

I didn't get home tonight until a little after nine, and I had left home this morning at a little before 8.  It was a very long day, packed with interesting things, but drawing wasn't one of them.  This was a night when I would NOT have drawn if I had not been posting!  I had no ideas about what to draw.  So I started sketching an apple I was eating, at different stages.  That felt really quite good.  And then I spied a homely raw carrot left over from lunch.  I got so involved in drawing it, trying to use the fewest possible marks to render it.  I felt like I was enobling it or something, paying so much focused attention to this little scrubby thing.  I loved paring away everything except what felt essential.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Another Attempt to FInd the Elusive Hut, and Motorcycle Mannequins are Back!

Driving down Tunnel Road/ Hwy 70 this afternoon I spied the motorcycle mannequins for the first time this season, and they were  wearing pants this year!  Last year they were always just dressed super casually in long tee shirts with no pants that I could see.  I like to imagine the little old man who runs the shop dressing the mannequins before he puts them outside to browse among the motorcycles in his front lot.  It's still pretty cold for these girls, but they were standing in the chilly breeze looking stoic. 
Later a friend and I made another attempt to find the hut.  This time I chose to retrace the original directions, and we did great until the wretched path ended.  I've decided that's where I go wrong.  I think the path actually goes on a bit more, but since I'm expecting it to end, I see a trail end when it's really just a dense spot in a trail that continues a bit more.  My friend thought the path kept going but by them I was fixated on Going Due East and that's what we did.  We ended up in another wrong place, but we did find some very pretty scenery and an intriguing stick that has glyph -like marks etched on it by woodworms.  It looks like a primitive language.  At one point on the non-trail we looked across a very deep gully and through the woods on the other side I spied my CAR, so I know where we were relative to the lower down trail.  We came out of the woods on an old ivy-covered road bed that dumped us right behind Tony's tadpole ponds.  At the far side of the pond sits a cast concrete bench with lovely Etruscan-looking rams supporting the bench part.

Stay tuned.  I know I'm circling closer to the hut!  And thanks for all the encouraging comments last night and today!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

In Which I Give Up

It just hasn't felt right, drawing and not posting.  There has been a strange motivating factor when I know I am pledged to post, and these past few days without it have been sort of bleh in the drawing department.  So I'm back on the wagon, drawing and posting every day (except during vacations, when I will do catch-up posts).  Okay, so on Sunday I found a velvety deep caput mortuum lenten rose (helleborus) blooming shyly in the back patio garden.  A few minutes later I headed into the woods to see what other caputs were around.  Sure enough, just as Goethe said, this color signals the chopping off of the head of winter as it is the first color to appear in spring.  I found it on the wild roses on the tiniest sprigs of new leaves, just at the base of the leaflet where it quickly turns to green.  Of course the berry canes are full of it, and caput is the color of red maple blooms, one of the earliest trees to bloom here.

Yesterday morning it felt odd to have no real pressure to draw, but my breakfast looked very pretty, so I painted the bowl of yogurt, almonds, and blueberries and blackberries.  Then I got very busy working on some journals for a friend and to take to Barcelona, and I didn't do any drawings until the afternoon.  My friend Michelle had called about something and as an aside she mentioned that she and her husband Hal had been hiking on the Jones Mountain trail, but they had deviated from the actual trail and gone loping through the woods and scrubby underbrush when the trail they were on abruptly ended.  She said they had gone due east for a while and they had come to an old shelter or hut in the woods.  At the hut, she said, they continued east (they had a compass) and came upon the big chimney ruin on one of the trails we always walk on.  The chimney let them know where they actually were, and they easily got out of the woods on the trail after that.

It doesn't take much to get me excited about a grail quest, and finding a hut in the woods is exactly the kind of quest I salivate over.  P, who should know better after all these years, agreed to go with me, using my hastily sketched map that I had made while Michelle was explaining what they had done  (follow the trail till it runs out and then head east).  We did fine for the first hour and a half, even finding some of the elusive trout lilies that grow in secluded damp places in the woods  (2098).  But when the trail deviated from the river and then abruptly ended, we found ourselves hacking our way through brambles and vines and with no compass.  I downloaded a compass app and we soon had at least a compass, but by then we had swung a little off course, enough to push us into what seemed like an endless tromp due east with no hut in sight. 

Suddenly we saw what looked like a structure in the distance through the trees.  It didn't look like a hut though, and the closer we got to it the more it looked like a very large building.  We were thoroughly lost by now, but optimistic that at least we were near a building.  We talked about how much better this was than the time we got lost in the woods in Italy and it was getting dark and we were bleeding from brambles and a bit worried about cingale (wild pigs), and I had to climb a tree to see if I could see any way out, and happily I was able to see a familiar olive tree out in the middle of a field.  So WAY better than that time!  The building turned out to be the very large house of the man whose property abuts the college property.  He came outside to see what we were up to, and he told us to walk down his drive and we would be on a trail we knew well, which we did.  So we agreed to give up on the hut for the day, but when we passed the old chimney, I decided I  (P declined my invitation and went straight home) would have one tiny go at it from the east and simply walk (climb, claw, beat back bushes) due west and I would find the hut.  No such luck, as this map shows.

Today I had no interest in drawing until this afternoon when I set out in the rapidly falling snow for yet another assault on the hut!  This map shows the folly of it all.  I cannot find the thing.  The brambles were so fierce coming from the east and going up hill and to the west that I deviated and headed down a gully that had fewer rose bushes and that by my estimation would take me to one of the familiar trails, and it did.  I know I was close to it!  Michelle said she'll take me there, but I may try yet again going the long way around and being more vigilant about the due east business when the trail runs out!

On the right, three wobbly little pots that sit on a shelf in our kitchen.

And for those of you who might miss seeing Jesse,  here he is dozing in meatloaf position on the rug in my studio.  You can also see the rusty child form dressed in a Maya-modified dress in the background in front of the fireplace.  I'll be back tomorrow, promise.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Intermittent Posts Ahead

Yesterday I spent a lot of time making a book for a publication and sketching in-progress illustrations to go along with the directions that I have to write.

These are really rough and will be re-drawn by the illustrator (not me), and they asked me for only 3-5 sketches of the most tricky parts.  Hmmmm.  I need to try the directions and illustrations out next week when Maya comes over since the book is for children 9 -12, and she is 9.  I'll give her the written directions only at first and see which steps give her trouble in order to determine which are the most important illustrations.

As far as the title of this post, I am now 1/5 of the way to 10,000, and I'll have been at it for a year in the middle of June.  I thoroughly enjoy the drawing part and have learned so much about my drawing and this practice.  One conclusion I've reached, though, is that I am bordering on the obsessive when it comes to posting (P says way over the border--) every single day/night.  It probably gets a little tedious for you followers to have a daily thing flying at you, demanding your attention every morning.  My phone/email/texting/web addiction has gotten so much worse over this past year that I think I need to dial it back.  When I think about what place my stupid phone had in my life five years ago and the monster to which it has now grown,  I begin to understand its role in my managing to still create lots of stress for myself, even though I have no real responsibilities at all and could get away with lollygagging in a hammock reading novels all day every day and no one would even notice.

So for the next three months, until the middle of June, I will be drawing every day but posting only once a week, and maybe posting only selected drawings.  I'll be in Barcelona for half of April, so that would be a time-out for posting anyway.   In June I'll look at the whole year and decide if I want to go back to daily posts or stay with weekly ones.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Dogs and Shoes at Crit Group

 At my critique group this morning someone brought some unfinished papier mache sculptures, wonderfully odd dog figures that seemed to me to be the embodiment of a particular kind of energy.  I liked them just as they were, emerging, stripped of everything except the essential, the airy bones.  Someone else is learning how to design and make leather shoes, and she brought, along with the artwork she's working on, an unfinished pair of shoes (drawing 2073) to show us-- three layers of different kinds of leather, ready to be stretched around a last.   This is something I would like to learn how to do, I think.  

People in the group always have interesting shoes, so I drew some of them this morning.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Concert and a Herd of Lawn Cows

Jacob plays trombone in his high school symphonic band, and this afternoon the band went to adjudication at Brevard College, where they played before a panel of judges to get critique of their performance.  P and I drove down to watch and cheer J on.  In this drawing, J is the person in the middle, barely visible, with his mouthpiece pressed to his mouth.  They sounded strong and beautiful, we thought.

On the left, another of the trombonists. 
On the right are some wooden cow lawn sculptures that are arranged in front of a house near my friend Fran's.  They're two-dimensional and held up by sticks.  From the back you can see the sticks as they go up the entire height of the cows.  If these were my cow sculptures I would turn them so that I could see the front views from the house;  but these are all facing the street, sort of like Xmas decorations but with a bovine theme.

On the left are two more of the flat cows, and on the right is a fully-formed three-dimensional life-sized cow.  This one is a member of a small herd of four in the front yard of a house that we passed today down near Brevard.  These cows were made of resin, probably, and were smooth and glossy, painted realistically.  A little startling to pull up to the traffic light and see these large, still creatures a few feet away on a tiny lawn.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Pigs and Tadpoles

 This afternoon I picked up Maya from school to come spend the night.  We had a bunch of errands to do, one of which was to go to the grocery store to buy things for her lunch tomorrow.  We strolled through the aisles seeing nothing remarkable until we ended up in the bakery department.  The in-house cake decorator has fun with cake decorating.  Today's offerings included a group of cupcakes in lurid colors with creative use of Oreo cookies.  First we saw and stopped to draw a pink pink pink pig cupcake, which reminded us of the pink marzipan pig we made two springs ago for an edible book contest, and which still lives in a plastic container in my freezer.  There were also exceedingly bright sunflower cupcakes and what we decided were penguin cupcakes.  There were also a couple of elongated cupcakes shaped and sculpted to be dogs.  (The pig next to the dog is actually our marzipan pig, which we took out for a visit when we got to my house.  He gets sweaty and glistening in a few minutes out of the freezer, but otherwise looks pretty good for a two year old frozen animal.)

After admiring our pig and reshelving him in the morgue, we took off in search of tadpoles in the woods pond.  There were so many eggs, and we could see the little comma-shaped black tadpoles inside the clear bubble-like eggs.  We had brought a plastic container, and we scooped up a few clumps of eggs and tadpoles.  While we were sitting by the pond we spied an eft-like creature darting among the weeds and frog eggs.

After dinner we watched one of our all-time favorite movies-- Moonrise Kingdom.  Check it out!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

At Elana's

Our book club met at Elana's house this afternoon.  I was looking forward to drawing Elana's perfectly chosen and displayed things, but I was unable to stop drawing Elana herself.
Elana has a lovely expressive face.  It was tricky to make these drawings because of course she was moving most of the time and the angles kept changing.  I gave up on getting any likeness and went for expressions and mood.  Drawing 2050 is one of Elana's things, a ceramic bowl with a ring of faces.
And then, I, the total non-dog person, had an awwwww moment and drew sweet Oliver guarding his toy.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Thinking on Paper

Tonight my journal group met to talk about our various journal practices.  People have varying kinds of practices, ranging from those that are primarily concerned with sketching to remember things to those that are exploring different ways of rendering images to those that are a kind of visual note-taking to those that are preliminary to more finished art works.  Today my drawings fell into the category of visual note-taking.  I was working out an idea for a project that will be part of a book. 

The order is a little mixed up here, but they aren't in perfect order anyway.  There's an alternate process mixed in with my first idea.  I was building the project amd stopping briefly to make notes.

These sketches will also be useful as reference when I redraw them for the illustrator to use in making final illustrations to go with the directions.

And then a final drawing made at the journal group meeting.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Meeting Notes

Good meeting, good snacks, very nice to draw.  Good to be inside with friends on this bleak and icy day!