The Artist’s Way
“The Artist’s Way” Coloured pencils October 2018
The artist’s way is a journey where sometimes one feels certain about the path ahead only to become thoroughly lost at the next turn.
When I visited rue Quincampoix that night in October 2016 I was in familiar territory and was delighted to see it illuminated so vibrantly. I took photos and walked in a happy daze. Continuing home (so I thought) I turned up one street, thinking it was another, and led myself into an unfamiliar area. Alone. At night. Lost in Paris. After some hasty and intimate time spent with my map, I righted my wrong and got home.
Similarly I went into my most recent exhibition full of certainty. But over the two weeks in the public gaze I lost my bearings. Certainty dissolved into a state of trepidation as I experienced the full spectrum of reactions; from praise, through indifference to actual hostility. (Only one person was truly hostile.)
To be lost, found, and lost again in an endless cycle throughout a life, questioning one’s art and one’s very existence, is the artist’s way.
In the end the thing that you feel is your undoing is also your way back to sanity – art.
Another drawing from the same photo-shoot is “Guiding Lights”, drawn in 2016.
The drawing below shows the way I drew this street back in 2012.
“Conversations at Dusk” 2012
“Boulevard” 19.5 x 25.5 cm. Coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle smooth.
Bright lights and shadowy figures marching across the boulevard merge to create a lively kaleidoscope at Place Blanche. This is the final drawing (I mean it this time) for the “Remember Paris” exhibition opening in five weeks’ time.
To view the catalogue of 30 drawings for the exhibition, click here.
Non, je ne regrette rien
happy with undercoat beginning…
This morning I photographed my first layer of a big drawing (380 x 505 mm) after a week of laying on the under-colour in Sennelier oil pastels.
A couple of hours later… Uh oh – I’m not feeling the love.
And…that’s it. No regrets.
A few hours later: In hindsight, every work which is labour intensive needs to be believed in. It is a huge effort but it will be worth it. In this case, I didn’t have quite enough belief (or enthusiasm) in the piece for all the effort I knew I was going to have to put into it. That’s probably the primary reason I let it go.
PS: Another reason for dumping the picture above was that it was too similar to “Rhapsody in Gold” drawn in 2017.
“Rhapsody in Gold”
pastels and pencils
240 x 255 mm. May 2018
Have you ever waited at traffic signals after dark and observed how surrounding colours change depending on whether the signal is red or green? In “Wait” the colours of île de la Cité are also made bright by a boat’s high beam illuminating the arches under Pont d’Arcole. (We can’t see the boat but we know it is there.)
Here is a deep dark “Walk” (partner of “Wait”). Notice how light from the signal casts a different glow on the sky in each of the two drawings.
A much lower key “Walk” than “Wait” as the green walking man gives off lower light than the red standing man.
In recent posts I have been showing the oil pastel under-painting (before coloured pencil is layered on top). In comparing the under-painting stages of these two drawings (drawn several months apart) I see that this primary stage is now richer and more consolidated than it was in mid 2017. It is fascinating to chart the evolution of a new idea.
oil pastel undercoat of “Wait” (May 2018)
oil pastel undercoat of “Walk” (August 2017)
Next time you are sitting in your car waiting for the lights to change, or standing at a pedestrian crossing after dark, observe the colours as the lights go through their paces. (Trust me, it is more entertaining than merely being impatient.)
oil pastels and coloured pencils. 240 x 350 mm.
“We weren’t in love oh no far from it” (Bob Seger sings in “Night Moves“). Nor am I in love with Moulin Rouge but I certainly am captivated by her lit-up sails and their effect on Place Blanche. “I used her, she used me but neither one cared/we were getting our share“. She gives me art, I give her publicity (not that she needs any from me)!!
“Night Moves” is a partner to “Irresistible Blanche”. They are the same size and will hang side by side when exhibited in September.
For those of you interested in my technique using oil pastels as undercoat to coloured pencils, below is the drawing when the oil pastel/undercoat stage was completed. At this point I was ready to begin layering coloured pencils on top. You can read about this technique in my post Brush and Pencil or in the April 2018 issue of Ann Kullberg’s Color – https://annkullberg.com/collections/color-magazine-all-issues
You could say the cake was the oil pastel and the icing the coloured pencils. Cake + icing = delicious!
coloured pencils and oil pastels. 235 x 350 mm.
Place Blanche bursts into technicolor life as dusk deepens into evening.
As I have mentioned in past posts, Place Blanche is decrepit during the day. (Perhaps it was always so, even in the late 19th century.) Iconic Moulin Rouge in daylight hours is clothed in a dreary red – a courtesan well past her prime.
However, linger until the sun goes down. Eventually the windmill’s blades start to turn. All the lights pop on and the area becomes a roaring kaleidoscope of colour. At dusk Place Blanche is transformed into an artist’s fantasy.
Surely this can’t be real?!
“Irresistible Blanche” on the easel.
Rhapsody in Gold
“Rhapsody in Gold”
Coloured pencils and oil pastels. 330 x 390 mm
On 22 October 2016 I wrote in my journal, “Sigh! I sure am feeling lazy. I don’t really want to go anywhere”. However I forced myself out of my little apartment on rue de Poitou and set off for an evening’s photography walk.
Next morning’s journal entry reads, “I finished yesterday’s entry by saying I didn’t want to go out. I was downhearted. I’d had enough of Paris and felt homesick. Blah blah blah – negative thoughts. However, the light changed, I got good photos. On the way home I got even more good photos.”
One of the photos during this walk became my source for “Rhapsody in Gold”. The view is of Ile de la Cité; la Conciergerie, a dome of the Palais de Justice, a spire of Sainte-Chapelle – and beams of light emanating from the Eiffel Tower. In the foreground, the Seine reflects street lamps and traffic lights.
The moral of the story is, sometimes when you don’t feel like going out, it is good to force yourself. You might just find treasure – in this case – pure gold.