Archives for category: drawing

preliminary sketch To the right is the preliminary sketch for a portrait I’m working on of my daughter.  I’m satisfied with the results of the sketch.  I spent quite a few hours getting it right.  After I got the whole figure down onto canvas (the first hour or so) it looked like this:  first draft

The right eye was way off and the shape of her face was too round.  along with a number of other issues.  What comes next is going over the charcoal in a thin wash of burnt umber and then I’ll lay down the first layers of color.  However, from experience I know that everything and anything can go wrong from this point on.  The charcoal on canvas is the easy part since you can erase to your heart’s content.  Paint is another matter though.

Here is the photo I’m working from:

original photoSuch a pretty girl!  I hope I can do her justice…

Later that same day….  I’ve put the first layer of paint on and am feeling good about it.  I think I’ll stop here for the day.portrait in oil

The infrequency of my finn4studio visits is usually cause for a great deal of stress.  But I was reminded by a wiser, more experienced soul in this business that I should be spending this time working on marketing issues.  She suggested that I begin creating a portfolio to be mailed out to other galleries in Alaska.  I know that I need to get my work into places other than Fairbanks galleries.    Problem is, I don’t have any work to send them.  Nonetheless, getting those things together is probably wise.  Let’s see….  notes to self:

1.  Bio flyer with picture of me (Suzanne should take that one–I’m delegating.  I’ll have to write the bio, and that’s always a bit of a pain)

2. Brochure with photos of best (most Alaskan?) work

3.  Website with work only

4.  Have prints of my work made (?)  This one costs money, so I might have to put that one on hold.  But it sure seems like a no brainer to have some made.  I might not be able to send galleries new work but at least I can send them prints.

The big prelude to all of this is to organize all of the photos of my work and create 2 files, one for large photos and the other for small ones.  Also, a list of titles, dates, dimensions, and materials seems wise as well.  That’s a huge flipping job.  Humongous.   Ginormous.  I’ve been very disorganized…

Also, I should make a list of contests, group shows, and grants that come around yearly and make sure that I’m doing what I can for those venues.  For instance the AlaskaOne poster contest deadline is January 2nd.  I’ve forgotten about it every year due to the proximity of Christmas.  Let’s not have that happen again, hmmmm?

What am I leaving out?


Ok. So this is hilarious.  This comes from a new favorite blog, Craftastrophe (because handmade isn’t always pretty).  The title of the post is “Our Father Who Art in Heaven, What Up, Yo” and the post says “Because even thugs and homies have to repent their sins.”  See the little thug in the little point of the heart?  The rosarie hanging around his feet has a little plastic gun dangling from it.

bird bull

Still working small and quick and theiving from Picasso.  This one is from a 1941 pencil sketch.  I don’t know what I’m going to do with all of these.  If I’m going to sell them, I’ll have to matte and frame them which will be expensive.  I know there are artists who do “painting a day” exercises and then sell the results for el cheapo.  Maybe…

I say “Our Father” to my kids every night.  My favorite part of that prayer is “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.  I think I take solace in the the simple idea of the divine existing inside of, or even in close proximity to, this reality.  I sometimes have trouble believing in the idea, but the fact that the idea exists is nice.  My mother won’t let this comment slide without bringing up Swedenborg, and, indeed, that idea is at the heart of his theology.  My pal Joe Campbell liked to quote the gospel of Thomas on this one too, “the Kingdom of the Father is spread upon the earth, but men do not see it.”  I’m not sure why today’s entry is generating this stuff.  Maybe it’s just in the air in my studio.  It could be the fumes from the spray varnish.

For some reason, I keep returning to an interview I heard with the poet Patricia Smith recently on To The Best of Our Knowledge.  She spoke briefly about the idea that most people aren’t aware that they have a “second throat”.  I looked around for a quote and bumped into this:

Some time ago, poetry ceased to be something that I do
for fun and became the way I process my life. I would write
even if I had no books, if there were no audiences. I’d write
and read my poems to myself. When the world closes in,
poetry helps me find a safe place to breathe and be. I don’t
know if I could live without it. It’s my second throat, the
way I’m rooted in the world. This is who I am.

I’m going to hang onto that phrase, “second throat.”  It’s an odd phrase but very apt at describing the muscles I’m trying to excercise when I’m in my studio.  And painting and writing are not just what I do, but are, like Patricia says, the ways I’m rooted in the world.  I fear a world where I’m not connected by these things.  The divine is most present for me when I’m speaking with my second throat.  That first photo in this post is there to remind me that a sense of humor is woven very tightly into my throat, tied up in my roots.  What up, yo?

picassoA Saturday in the studio.  Unusual.  Not a day I normally have to paint.  This is the product of today’s endeavors.  I have a work table that I usually reserve for printmaking, but today I cleaned it off and made room for sketching and drawing.  Of course, I keep putting paint on top of my drawings, which makes them paintings I guess, but like I said, it’s important to keep the pressure off.  I’m using acid free book binding board to do this Picasso series and it’s great stuff.  It doesn’t buckle the way that normal cardstock or watercolor paper would.  once it dries, it lays down flat.  An admirable quality.

I have a show at the Well Street Art Company in January of 2010 and I thought some today about what might go into such a show.  The space is very large and open there with high ceilings, which has an impact on a number of elements…  scale, color… those kinds of things.  It’s now a little over a year away and I’m excited about having a new venue for my work.

I’ve managed to clean the studio pretty well and obviously, the drawings/paintings are helping me to think about possible new directions.  Though I have to say that I haven’t yet gotten around to that new playlist.  I’m still listening to my previous list only because I haven’t had the time to find new stuff.  The last 100 or so songs have been gifts from other people and I’m waiting on Katy’s mix that she promised me the night the Cubs lost their last game (not that I’m suggesting anything Katy…) and of course, Steve has some lovely new mixes up on Poplibrarian, but his latest theme is unrequited love and I don’t know if I want to wallow in that theme while I’m working.  It might add an unnecessary element of emo.  Sexy is always good however, and considering that I still owe Jill a Sexy CD, perhaps that’s the best plan.  Any way you slice it, novel sounds are needed.  The old sounds are haunted by ghosts and I scare pretty easy these days.

When in a slump, steal many and steal often.  I’ve been unable to start a painting in the last two weeks, so I decided to spend my time in the studio drawing and sketching.


The creative tanks are empty these days, drained by channels other than art.  But that’s the way it goes and I had to find a way to keep working even though I couldn’t start a big project…  I started a new sketch book, which is small and manageable and not meant for public consumption.

And this morning I sifted through Picasso paintings and drawings that struck me as interesting.  The three Picasso-esque paintings you see there are 9 x 12 and started out as pen and ink sketches.



But at some point, the color crept in.  So I guess I did three paintings today if you want to be technical about it, but mentally, I’m keeping the pressure off so that I don’t get freaked out again.  They’re just drawings.  I might even do one more before I leave today.

The important thing is to keep working.  Head down, nose to the grindstone.  Ignore the fact that there is no sunlight left.  Ignore the cold.  Only 37 days till it turns around.  Why is the Belly of the Whale always so dark?  If you could see your way out, then it wouldn’t be the Belly of the Whale, stupid.

Over the last 3 or 4 days I’ve been ruminating quite a bit on maps, keys, and blueprints.  Unmarked maps, blueprints for unknown objects, maps in foreign languages…  In my World Lit class we’ve talked about the role that maps play in the movies and in literature.  They often function as what Campbell calls “supernatural aid”.  Think about the Goonies and the role of the map the kids find in Mikey’s attic.  Mouth’s language skills are used for good (translating it) rather than for evil (like when he convinces the housekeeper that Mikey’s family engages in sexual torture).  The map is a crucial key to the adventure–without it, there is no adventure.  How many hero adventures rely, at crucial moments, on the availability of blueprints?  The hero has to find a way to navigate the unknown, the tricky territory of the realm of power in which she’s found herself.  In the Matrix, Neo cannot find the Architect (blueprints…) without first finding the Keymaker.  I should make a better list, but suffice it to say that these things have been on my mind.


I’ve got some maps–none of the streets are marked.  A couple of keys and no clue what they’re for.  A very old blueprint but no idea what the damn thing is that I’m building.

Map collage by Shannon Rankin

Map collage by Shannon Rankin

On Friday I followed a rabbit down a hole and now I’m in Wonderland and I just keep feeling smaller.  Where’s the pill that makes me grow taller?