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:
I managed to finish this painting today and start work on a another piece in this series. You’ll see that one at a later date. For now, enjoy this kitty on the lawn/quilt painting, inspired by a photograph I took when I was 13.
My librarian mother recently noted that I draw and paint many stacks of books in my scenes. And this is very true. Reading is one of my life’s biggest obsessions after art… and maybe food. I really love food. Art can be an escape for me, and so can books… so why not bring the two together as much as possible and enjoy a double dose of what I love most?
While today’s piece of art does not contain any heaps of paperbacks, I’d like you to imagine reading there. I’ve drawn the same bench in a tangly shaded space and a sun-soaked desert space. If you choose to read in the jungle space be sure to take bug repellant and if you chose to read in the sun, remember sunscreen and shades! Nothing worse than being blinded by trying to read the glaring white page.
I am retreating this very moment to the yard on the right, complete with glowing paper lanterns that can sooth anyone after a long day. Now if only the yard on the left existed… sigh. That’s where I’d like to spend all my afternoons.
I began this lovely Tuesday morning with an activity I normally reserve for Saturdays: weeding! The front flower-bed… (er… cacti-bed) was overrun with all sorts of different weeds. I counted six or seven different types, although the only one that really matters to me is the one I call “evil spike”. Its little burrs break your skin through thick gardening gloves! So you can imagine how I felt when I knelt on a whole clump. They are NOT the soft sticky type of burrs I grew up with in Canada. Those you could get in your hair or on the back of your pants and walk around for days with them stuck there without knowing. Nope, you know instantly when you get these buggers stuck to you. yowch.
I’ve decided today I don’t like weeding tangly wild lawns. But I do like drawing tangly wild lawns. That is an activity far more suited to my temperament.
Side note: Tangly Wild Lawns would make a good band name no?