Thursday, June 21, 2018

One Day at a Time

Martin, colored pencil, 8x10 inches

I just finished a new portrait in colored pencil, just in my sketchbook, for the online group, Julia Kay's Portrait Party.  This group has been very inspiring to me, and I've enjoyed being challenged to do my best work.  This is Martin Beek, whose paintings I have admired for quite a while. I have another started, but life has gotten in the way.

What a roller coaster of emotions the last year has brought, thanks to last year's cancer diagnosis.  For the past three months I have been on what I called my cancer vacation, since in March my CT scans showed that radiation had apparently shrunk my abdominal spots, and eliminated some gynecological ones.  So, no oncology treatment for a few months.  I got my cataracts fixed, and we went on two cruises. I've had two haircuts, which made me improbably happy.

Then, in May, some symptoms returned, and I had a biopsy which did not indicate cancer.  This week I had another CT scan, which came back looking OK, and still another biopsy, which did not come back looking OK.  For a day I felt confident, and now today, not so much again.

I am learning that this is what life with cancer is like.  Sometimes hopeful, and other times terrifying.  Sometimes both in the same day.

So, now I have another whole raft of medical appointments, and I do not know what the doctors will plan for me.  I'm not at all sure how many Monday evening figure drawing sessions I'll get to this summer, how many times I'll be able to visit up north, or if I'll be able to, as I hoped, write and lead a new cemetery tour featuring some fascinating local people.  In short, I cannot really make firm plans.

But I should be able to draw more.  I just need to keep focusing on what I can control, and take it one day at a time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

More Figures and Random Thoughts


Monday evening was the first regular paid session of Community Figure Drawing at Whitewater, and there were two models, Joseph, who is very experienced as a model, and his protege, a young woman named Sage.  For being her first time, she was also remarkably confident and composed.

The sessions last three hours, from 6:30 p.m. until 9:30, but I leave after two hours, just so I can get home at a reasonable time to relax before bed.  I also like to drive at least part way when there is still some light.  So, often I only get to draw a few minutes of the last long pose of the evening.
This is what I accomplished in the last fifteen minutes of the session.  It isn't very polished, but I like the immediacy of the lines.  This is Sage drawing Joseph, so involved in her drawing she barely moved at all.

Besides going to figure drawing, I went down to the gallery where I sell (or do not sell) my art.  I have a small bin with matted works on paper, where my prices are very, very reasonable.  Some have sold, but most have languished there a year or more.  So, I took them home, looked hard at them, removed them from their mats, and threw them away.  Why?  They clearly didn't appeal to anyone else, and they had an aura of failure.  Nobody loved them, so I found it hard to love them either.  I dug into my stash of unmatted pieces, and took the new pieces to the gallery where they will either sink or swim.  It's hard, sometimes, admitting that a piece of art you created out of thin air, that you liked well enough to send out into the world just isn't very appealing.  But just getting rid of them felt surprisingly good.  Like a purging and fresh start.

We'll see.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Figure Drawing UWW Summer 2018

One of my summer pleasures since about 2012 has been attending the Community Figure Drawing open studio at UW Whitewater on Monday evenings.  There is no instruction, just three hours with an undraped model for participants to draw or paint.  The fee is reasonable, and nobody minds if anyone comes late or leaves early.  I enjoy driving the back roads there and back, and treating myself to frozen custard on the way home. 

It's a joy.

Last summer, because of my cancer diagnosis, surgery, and chemo sessions, I did not attend figure drawing, and I felt the loss.  But this year I am pretty much back to my real life (with asides for CAT scans and check ups), and I have had cataract surgery so that I am no longer fearful about driving at night.  So anyway, I went back  to figure drawing Monday night.

I will admit that I was uncertain about whether I could still draw worth a darn, but just told myself that this activity is not a contest, and that the pleasure was in the process, not the results.  Sometimes I have to take my attitude aside and lecture it about these things. In the end it turned out OK, and I enjoyed getting back into drawing from direct observation, and a little larger than I do in my studio or journals.

These are some of my drawing from Monday evening.  I have a special fondness for the five minute poses, since they force me to really concentrate and go for large shapes instead of details.  The last one, the face, was done in fifteen minutes, because I needed to leave my 8:30 p.m.