Monday, December 29, 2008

There is a famous quote from Picasso that goes something like this, "When I was young I could draw like Raphael but it has taken me a lifetime to draw like a child." That sounds good, everyone finds children's drawings very charming. But on reflection is drawing like a child a desirable thing? Is he referring to the innocence or the ignorance of the young artist? He seems to be favoring ignorance, rejecting the knowledge and skills of Raphael. But do children really draw that way? Ask any child about the scribble they drew and they will tell you exactly what it is. "It's daddy" or "It's a princess in a castle" or "It's Fido playing with a ball." I've never heard a child say "I don't know, I was just expressing my feelings." They are drawing with all the knowledge they have and rather than avoiding or shunning knowledge they gather it in at a rapid rate and apply it to their drawings. Before long the princess has a face with a nose and eyes, and Fido has four legs. Knowledge doesn't bind an artist, it frees him. By this line of reasoning Raphael drew the way a child draws. He used all his knowledge to express what he wanted to say. A child is satisfied to draw a line to indicate a nose but Raphael wanted to express the character and dimension of the nose he drew. As the things you want to express in your drawings become more sophisticated your knowledge must increase to convey those ideas. Perhaps Picasso just wanted to return to the innocence of childhood, but is that such an enviable thing? There is an interesting passage in the bible that addresses this, "When I was a child I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man I put away childish things." Let's try Picasso's quote another way. Imagine a poet who says "When I was young I could write like Keats, but it has taken me a lifetime to write like a child" or a musician who says "When I was young I could play like Heifetz, but it has taken me a lifetime to play like a child".....

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Jelly Donuts
8 x 10 Oil on Panel

I needed some new brushes and a few other supplies so I thought I give the old Santa Claus trick a try. I didn't want to give up Elizabeth's fresh baked cookies so I left a few donuts out in the studio for old St. Nick. I didn't really think it through very well. How was Santa going to fit through that 6" chimney pipe on my woodstove? "Well, why let a perfectly good donut go to waste" I thought the next morning. So I started to chomp away as I puttered around the studio. I opened a bag of handmade paints that one of my students had given me as a Christmas present. The alizarin crimson he made was a beautiful color and prepared perfectly. "That would be just right for the jelly in that donut" I said to myself. I reached in the bag and pulled out a few more tubes. Cadmium yellow light, ivory black, titanium white. Soon I was squeezing the paint on to my palette. These old brushes aren't that bad and that little canvas is ready to go. So I set to work."Why let a perfectly good still life go to waste" I thought. Oh, right, Santa. Well, I suppose next year I should go back to the traditional cookies and milk. A tall white column of milk, a few cookies, maybe something with a fruit filling and a dusting of sugar on top. Yeah, that would be great to paint.....

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Moonlight in Vermont
Oil on Linen
Image 24 x 24 - Framed 31 x 31

Every now and then the neighbor's sheep get out and come to our place. My dog is usually the first to know they have arrived and in her enthusiasm to greet them sends them running in every direction. One day I saw them first. I gave the dog a marrow bone to keep her busy, grabbed my sketch pad and slipped outside to do some drawing. I didn't want to scare them off so I stayed a little distance away and made a few scribbles. Gradually I got closer and closer and my drawings started to capture more of their character. Suddenly they noticed me but didn't run because I wasn't threatening. They knew they weren't supposed to be there and they looked, well, sheepish. The five of them huddled together and moved as one behind the trunk of a small apple tree hoping to hide. I continued to draw, this one grazing, that one staring straight at me, another in profile. I gathered quite a bit of information before they went off down the road looking for adventure. When I came back to the studio I looked around for my moonrise sketch. The sheep were just what I needed to bring the scene to life.....

The Painting of the Month is a special offer to my blog readers (click on the image for a larger view). This month Moonlight in Vermont, which retails for $4500, is being made available for $3200 (includes shipping, VT residents add 6% sales tax). To purchase this piece contact me at Payment is by check only please, no credit cards. If you prefer you may make 3 monthly payments. This offer is available for 30 days from the date of this post.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Elizabeth has written such a profoundly beautiful post on drawing that I can do no better than refer you to her blog
On the Easel.