Tag Archives: sketching

Why Does the Birdie Show Up?

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They bring me joy. They are all done in a notebook, simply for my pleasure. So why?

In part because I so strongly believe we need to do things just for us, things that bring us joy.

The birds that visit my bird feeders outside my studio window bring me great, great joy.

My Papa gave me a “Birds of North America” book because I kept calling him to ask what this bird and that bird was. My Papa always knows, just by my description. I love this about him. He’s such a committed nature lover.

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One day, I just started to draw a chickadee from the book, then another, and so on. Here’s the thing: I don’t particularly like “realistic” art. I’m of that school that thinks I’d simply take a picture if I wanted to view or paint realism. For me, the joy of painting come from the creativity involved in being “painterly.” Painterly is a term I learned in college that means what it sounds like: that the brushwork and paint take importance over the subject. That a painting show you it is, indeed, a painting. It’s the color pushing into color, the movement of the paint. The way something made me feel versus a rendering of the visual information before you.

These birds have become simple meditations.  And they let me keep up on my skill to represent reality. It is true, you do need to know the rules to break them. Art is such a delicious exercise in breaking the rules, when done properly. But mostly, it’s a meditation. I don’t have to be creative, I don’t have to think; the information is already there. I can have a seat and simply draw.

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When I paint, my soul goes into the work. I paint standing up because I like the energy it brings to my work. I like the physicality of my work. But sometimes it’s nice to just relax, have a seat and just make little birdies. Let my body, mind and soul relax without thoughts of selling; just something for me. I think we all need a notebook that is just for us, just a guilty little pleasure to stoke the bigger works, just a place all your own.

The by-product of drawing or painting anything is it makes me appreciate the subject more. So my birdies are even more special to me.

 

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The feeders outside my studio sometimes get more visitors than just birds…

Florence, Day 17: Awaiting My Sweetie

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Art, food, wine, coffee, museums, history … fKeep it coming, Florence! I’m loving it!

I’m a bit baffled that it has already been 17 days. Time does indeed fly. My husband is en route to join me as I type this, and I am truly excited about that.

Being in the moment is the only cure for time flying. You really only have right now. Right now, I’m sitting in my freshly cleaned (if a bit wilted) apartment, with a pleasant warm breeze floating in as day turns to night. I can see a magnificent sky as the sun contemplates setting. I’m enjoying a glass of Chianti and dark chocolate, thinking about making that Caprese salad I’m going to enjoy in a bit, with basil I’ve been growing on my windowsill. I had hopes of cooking while I was here, but why? The food out there is too good and easy to come by, so rarely do I eat at home.

Tomorrow night I will take my love to either the Piazza Michelangelo or Fiesole to watch this grand display and let someone else prepare the food. Tonight, however, I will rest up; before you know it, I will be a “tour guide” sharing “my” city with my sweetie.

But it is not my city. I’m just an admirer here, a passerby, like so many who come here to Florence to study, to visit and to let the extreme grandeur of its past wash over our present in hopes of making a better tomorrow. That is why we come, to brush elbows with a truly epic time in history when some of the world’s all0time greatest minds were here in this, not-so-big Tuscan town. In the span of just over 200 years, this city, truly — without putting them on this pedestal I warn of — was home to genius. Dante, Galileo, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Giotto, Donatello and Botticelli to name just a few. Poets, writers, painters, sculptors and all artists have been drawn here ever since. So does the city rub off on you? Of course. But still, it is a pilgrimage. You have to remember, everywhere you go, there you are.

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To the far left, that tiny figure sitting along the wall — that’s me, working!

So today, there I was. I’m still more a studio painter than a plein air one. There is nothing like being outside, but it is more difficult — to get comfortable, to have what you need, to work with ease. Francesca is a great teacher and she pushes me.

Today we went to the Arno to paint the river and the Ponte Vecchio. We alternated between the view along the edge of the river and the comfort of the park nearby.

I don’t, I feel, do my best work in plein air. It’s ideas, feelings; I’m planting the seeds of that will sprout later in my studio. But it was lovely, a “romanticized” thing to do, to sit along the River Arno and create.

I’m working differently here; the architecture of a city and the smaller sizes require more detail, more study. It is, after all, the Florentine way. Francesca, though, is all about the feeling and less concerned about detail, a perfect way to wrap up my Florence study.

Tomorrow I am off from “school” to pick up my hubby at the airport and settle him in. I will take a few more breaks from blogging as well. For everything there is a season.

As I sit here reflecting, I wonder, what were the trips that changed or most influenced you? I know there are many stories out there because places are like people — they affect you!

The sky tonight from my apartment!

The sky tonight from my apartment!