Tuesday, 6 January 2015

BASIC BLACK: 41/4 X 6 (Part One)

I was examining one of my bookcases, looking for I have no idea what, and thinking of the stories behind each and every item stored there, when I came across a small sketchbook. Only 41/4 X 6 inches I took it out of the bookcase, and began to thumb through the sketches. Memories came tumbling back to me. I remembered making each and every sketch though, in some instances, they were made many years ago. Few of the sketches were what you might call works of art, but each was made with purpose representing a thought, an idea, a possibility for a future painting or print.
I recall that few actually became paintings, or prints, but more importantly the idea was still there and would remain a possibility as long as the sketchbook existed, and more importantly, as long as I was around to remember.

Once upon a time I operated a studio-gallery named, as the label on the front cover of my sketchbook indicates, WHISPERING WINGS STUDIO. Good times, as I remember.

1. Although this was the first sketch it was not the first sketch, as it seems that I cut out, or tore out, several pages. Now, this is a no-no, removing pages possibly because I thought them to be bad. I later adopted the policy that a sketch, is a sketch, is a sketch, and there is no such thing as a bad sketch. It's simply an idea. In future sketch books I retained every mark noting to self that it was a bad sketch, but that it was useful in any event, a record of a moment.
I remember making this sketch. I was exhibiting at a festival and having set up was sitting resting and noticed swallows flying above one of the colourful exhibition tents. Thinking it a possible idea for a painting I made a quick pencil sketch. As it turned out I later decided that it wasn't that great an idea and it remained a thought in my sketchbook.

2. Probably made in the spring of 1987 while hiking at Tiny Marsh. It wasn't unusual to put up a few Mallards. I'd stand and watch the Mallards explode into the air, then make a small sketch with the idea that perhaps it would make a nice etching and  then continue my hike. 

3. Come spring we would be visited by Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. One couldn't help but think that here was a painting, or a possible print and at the first opportunity I'd grab the sketchbook and make a small study as a reminder. I actually made many small paintings, and a few etchings, which I hand coloured of hummingbirds, and travelled several time to the Southwest U.S.A to study them. Amazing creatures.

4. I once frequented an area named Tiny Marsh to view waterfowl and to do research for paintings and prints. It was a great place to view many waterfowl species including Wood Ducks. 
Tiny Marsh, which is located near to Elmvale, Ontario, was at one time operated as a nature centre and waterfowl refuge by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.  Several years ago the Ministry shut down the nature centre allowing a local Friends group to operate educational programmes. It remains as one of the best birding areas in Ontario.

5. An idea for a painting.

6. From time to time, late in the afternoon, I'd come across a Horned Owl. This small sketch was translated into a larger drawing, but never made it to its intended form, that of an etching. Quite often something is lost in the interpretation.

7. I remember making this sketch. It had something to do with coyotes. In the summer, usually at the time of the full moon in July, with the pups out of the den, the coyotes would roam the resort's golf course and you'd hear them yipping and howling. Another idea that got no further than the idea stage.

8. The ice along the shore of Awenda Provincial Park would sometime pile up and early ducks would be seen far out on the Bay. This sketch was inspiration for a series of paintings involving geometric shapes combined with realism. I believe that I sold a couple of paintings in the series and still have one or two in a folder somewheres in the basement.

9. A combination of things while on a visit with friends at Kingsville, Ontario. Kingsville is situated on the shore of Lake Erie. The lake is subject to high winds and storms and due to it vein a relatively shallow lake the waves can be tremendous. On this occasion the waves and a small flock of Bufflehead Ducks resulted in a sketch that ultimately yielded a painting that sold at an exhibition in Ottawa the following year.

10. I love walking in the woods in the fall shuffling through the dead leaves, twigs, and seeds of all sorts.  This little drybrush watercolour study was inspiration for a large painting titled, Forest Floor. The painting was all drybrush, a full sheet transparent watercolour, that took almost two years to complete. It was one of those paintings that you could only work on for a day, or two, then you'd have to put it away for a few days while you got caught up on other work.

11. We were hiking along the shore at Awenda Provincial Park one spring day  when I observed a couple of Chickadees exploring a birch stump possibly looking for a nesting cavity. A quick sketch captured an idea for a possible painting.

12. When we lived at Horseshoe Valley we always carved a pumpkin and set it out on Halloween hoping to attract Trick & Treating youngsters. Occasionally we were successful. Afterwards we'd set the carved pumpkin in the fallen leaves outside the kitchen winter where it would become food for various creatures. Curious Chickadees on their way to and from our feeder would land on the pumpkin.  I thought that this was a good idea for a painting and made a quick sketch. I did make a painting, which I must have sold as I now have no record of its whereabouts.

13. At one time I used to carry a sketchbook just about everywhere in case something caught my attention. On this occasion I was sitting in the customer waiting room at a local car dealership waiting for my vehicle to be serviced. To pass the time I made a small sketch of the scene across the highway. A record of time spent.

I'm still in the act of scanning this sketchbook, and will post more sketches once finished. I do realize that the sketches are not what you'd call works of art, but if you'll bear with me and observe the dates on some of the sketches, you'll observe that with time they become a bit better. Sketching is important not only for jotting down and recording an idea, but it teaches you to see, and to simplify.

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