I enjoyed a long walk this morning and into the afternoon, camera, sketchbook and watercolors on hand. I packed a sweatshirt in case there was cloud cover or I had to sit for an extended period of time in the shade. I often listen to a book on tape while I walk but today I wanted no distractions. I was on an “art date” and mission for inspiration. I focused on shadows and alleys, piles of junk and animals. Sometimes I just look for mobile homes, or trucks or adobe architecture.
Here are two sketches for the “Portraits of Portales” series. I’ve added this series as a “gallery” on my website dodington.us but it will likely take me some time to scan in and upload all the paintings and sketches I have so far, so check back every few months.
If you recall, last week I decided to re-work a painting I made earlier this year. I tried to document the change so I could show you on the blog… but half-way through I became too immersed to take photographs. Oops. Hopefully you can still see how the old painting acted as a foundation for the new one:
While making a concerted effort last week to work more in my sketchbooks – they are invaluable tools for artists: they help one learn to see, think, play, practice and hone… I could go on but it could turn into an inarticulate ramble so I will move on to my point.
I discovered that I have been really wanting to make a “Portrait of Portales”. A collection of drawings or paintings that describe the personality and character of my town.
This is a project I sort-of began over a year ago with small, “en plein air” oil paintings done from my car, of scenes around town. Let me jog your memory with a photo-collage:
Grated, the above could really be paintings of anywhere in New Mexico, so common are the scenes of yellowed grasses, cows and crumbling adobe structures. Many of my new works will be specifically Portales, its stores, real estate, lawns, animals, abandoned buildings and neglected alleys. And as the title of this post suggests, they are being worked in my sketchbooks.
So now I’m back to venturing around town in my little mazda, and at the risk of looking like a creep-o or a cop on a stake-out, parking and sketching from the car. It really does make me feel like a cop… or okay, more like Stephanie Plum…
It is SO MUCH FUN and really IS showing me more about where I live. Nothing makes me appreciate a place more than painting it. Here are some examples of my work so far. I will share more detailed/close-up pictures of them in the future. For now you just get a taste:
Here is yesterday’s painting… would you believe that after more than two hours of playing tennis yesterday I was so wiped I didn’t feel like blogging? Well, that is what happened.
What have I been up to today? Crafting!!
It’s a lot of fun running an online craft shop and one of my favorite things to make are stitch markers. They are used to mark the placement of certain stitches or patterns within a knitting project. Knitting as a pastime has really picked up in recent years and there are knitters of every age and interest. Soooo, you can get quite creative with what you make into a “marker”…
For example, with Halloween coming up I’ve done a recent shop update with many scull-themed markers. Many of the beads used in my store are purchased from small shops around New Mexico from hispanic New Mexicans. It has made me very curious about all of the scull/skeleton imagery associated with their culture:
SUGAR SCULLS (and scull masks and skeleton imagery etc.) are symbols of Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrated these days on All Hallow’s Eve (Oct 31) and All Soul’s Eve (Nov 1). These traditions go back thousands of years and included dancing in honor of deceased relatives. Sugar Sculls with the name of the deceased on the forehead are eaten by a friend or relative of the deceased. These celebrations are exactly that; celebrations of death, not as a tragedy, but a re-birth. Living is but a dream and when we die we wake up… or something to that effect. (Information from: http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070911144931AAzPwvu)
So anyway, I spent some time making stitch markers today and taking pictures of the process to give you and idea of why I’m attracted to such a simple activity. All of the colors and the huge variety of different combinations you can make keep me interested while giving my mind and body a break from painting.
I thought I’d offer up some insect illustrations for your Monday viewing. It’s so interesting how making artwork, no matter the style or purpose, usually fills my head and heart with inspiration and a million other works I want to make.
As the spring arrives and I’m spending more and more time in my backyard garden, walking around town and making summer travel plans, the ideas are filling my sketchbooks and I sincerely hope I can make the time to bring them to life in the near future.
I hope everyone is enjoying a few signs of spring if it isn’t fully warm where you live yet. Perhaps I can post some more photos of my recent adventures in New Mexico for those of you who are still getting snow…