Jeanne Oliver – Cracks in the Road
Saturday is the first of two very critical days in the calendar week—two days of decompression. The rest of the week contorts and, yes, compresses us into any shape it pleases. Those five days demand, and we must obey. Those five days suck away our individuality and spirit, and superimpose their own on us so we conform to the ideal and are “part of the team”. But we take two days for ourselves (if we are a few of the truly fortunate ones), and define time by our own standards. We pursue our own goals in those 48 hours and gird ourselves for the next round of supplication.
I shared an office in the newborn days of my career with a man teetering on the brink of retirement. He would chain smoke cigarettes from the desk at the other end of the office, and every morning he would ask me, “What’s it all about, Nan?”
“It’s all about the money, Frank.”
“You got it kid, and don’t ever forget it.”
And so would begin another day of torture for my lungs, but a day that would shape my future. Turns out, a lot of it is about the money. Let’s be frank..pardon the…oh never mind. A lot of it really is about the money, but there’s a layer over the top of that. A much thicker and richer layer filled with the chaos of friends, relatives, neighbors, and other assorted entertainment that is REALLY what drives us. It’s the difference between working to live, and living to work.
The Harbor Market is one place where the chaos comes together to buy vegetables, and consider the possibility of soy soap and candles. These might not seem like the actions of the powerful magnates of the future, but really we all need our five servings of vegetables. So there they are contemplating the over-inflation of vegetable prices based on location, location, location. They find themselves doing the calculations of the time spent planting the seed, watering it, hand picking the pests off the organics, reaping the crop, and trucking it to the market, and wondering why it costs more than what you can buy at the local grocery. Well, genius, welcome to the world you’ve built with the other five days of your week—the world where money is the bottom line and none of it goes to the people doing production, but to the suits in the top floor offices. However, you can stand on this street every Saturday and consider a soy candle, so you shouldn’t begrudge another man his living. Welcome to the world. Enjoy your visit.
In the meantime, consider the importance of your family, and their everyday needs. Now consider the possibility that you might some day need to grow the vegetables that go on the table. Could you do it? There you will find the true value of your life. If you come up a bit short, at least you can be comforted by the thought that they share the same concerns, and are taking your well-being into account. They are aren’t they?
So Sandy (my new acquaintance from the market) looks at the drawing above, and tells me, “You’re making it look so much better than it is.”
In our conversation, she reveals that she’s been a resident of Kenosha since the 60s, and when she looks at that condo in the background, all she can see is the slums of tomorrow. I told her that I’d move to the area for a better quality of life, and she asks, “Is this really a better quality of life?”
She answered her own question in the next 10 minutes or so as she assumed the role of teacher to student, and filled me in on all the great opportunities for entertainment and culture within the city limits.
As she left to finish her bike ride she told me, “I hope to see your art on display some time.”
I chuckled at the thought, but said, “I hope so too.” Thinking that it would be an opportunity to draw my family and friends close to me, enjoy their company and share a day of comfort and the enjoyment of a soy candle, a loaf of crusty, rye sourdough bread and fresh kohlrabi. These are the small pleasures of life that facilitate decompression—embrace them.
Thanks for stopping by.
This evening I was planning on going to figure drawing, but when I got to the gallery there was a note saying it had been canceled. Luckily, I’d taken a little time on the train home to warm up a bit because those warm-ups turned out to be the sum total of all the figure drawing for the evening. Cookies crumble, you know.
The gentleman above was partially hidden from me by the railing. I was on the upper deck looking down on him. He was also very squirmy, and I’ll claim that as the reason I surrendered finishing the drawing.
I just loved her hat. I could never pull it off myself. You have to know your limits when it comes to hats. Certain hats require a certain attitude, and any attitude I might work up would undoubtedly fail me midway through the day, and the hat would sit there like a stolen object. Wouldn’t be able to take it off for the hat head, so I’d just have to wear the evidence of my once assertive, playful, dare I say “jaunty” attitude.
Ah yes, the shoe/foot drawing: Along with the hand self-portrait, it is a marvelous fall-back position when everyone around you knows you’re sketching and they are giving you the hairy eyeball in order to discourage becoming your model. You can only do so many partially obstructed portraits of squirmy people before you must settle on a subject that you can cast your eye upon without accusation. Unfortunately, a fellow passenger needed to get off the train, and he needed to get past me in order to do so. As a result, the pant leg was all ahoo, and nothing I could do would make it drape the same as it had been. Perhaps along with no two same snowflakes, there are no two same cloth drapes, perhaps not.
This hand had one of those marvelously ropy veins running across it, but you can’t tell from the sketch can you? Of course not, and I *ahem* meant for that to be the case. Yeah, that’s it. Despite my failure to depict the vein, I was rather pleased with the sleeve. Lemons, lemonade you know.
Thanks for stopping by!
The results of last night’s figure drawing session are below. There are elements of each that I’m please with, and elements I of each I don’t like. Ah well, it’s why we practice.
I arrived at the session late (because I wasn’t able to hop an early train out of the city), so this pose was already under way when I sat down. Normally, figure drawing sessions start with a couple of short (1 or 2 minute poses) so you can loosen up an toss lines down on the page to warm up a bit. I walked in on a 10 minute pose. You can see I was dissatisfied with the way the hand turned out. I started to rework it in the corner, but the timer went off.
A decision has been made—I’m going to own up to the flubs. When I started this pose, I’d determined I would jump in at the deep end (hands are always a challenge). This is as far as I got before it felt wrong, and I realized the scale was going to take me right off the edges of the page. One of the other artists in the group makes a ritual out of telling me I should work bigger (on bigger paper). This hand would have worked better on larger paper, and I might have persisted.
This is the same pose, and you can see which hand I started with (and didn’t finish in this one). I’m quite pleased with his left arm and his right leg here, but the right arm and left leg got a little wonky. The proportions of the torso aren’t too bad, but the actual shape is not quite right.
I’m going to start by posting the sketches from vacation in Conover, WI so they will appear at the top of the post. The sketches from open figure drawing are probably not suitable for work or for children, so don’t scroll to the end of the post if either applies.
In point of fact, I attended the figure drawing class on September 11th, and the Conover sketches were done on the 19th.
The Conover sketches were done in pencil, and the figure drawing sketches were done in charcoal.
From open figure drawing which is held on Tuesdays from 6-8:30 at Artworks in Kenosha, WI.
The benefit of posing the sketches electronically is that I can selectively edit out the miserable failures that did happen during the session. The hands behind the head sketch was a second attempt at one pose. The flippy-toe foot was a third doodle. His toe really did flip up like that, and I just had to have it on paper.
Best of the Evening, but NSFW/C
Ok, I wimped out. Feel free to click on the link above to see my best drawing of the evening. Let me say it again, IT IS NOT SUITABLE FOR WORK OR CHILDREN.
The 3rd drawing was certainly my best of the evening. I was tapped out after doing it, and the light was wishy washy for the last pose (this would be the reason for the amorphous blob reference), so I ended up sketching one of the other artists.
As promised, my unfinished watercolor from Door County. I just applied paint to the page without doing a base sketch, and I think it really shows. I’m pleased with what I dabbed on the page, however, and it brings the scene quite clearly back to mind.
While I was flipping the pages of the sketchbook, I ran across these taped-in figure drawings. I’d grabbed a small stack of copy paper and a charcoal one evening and went to town drawing from the tv. There was a whole lot of really awful stuff on the pages when I finished, but these were a few of the better bits. It was nice to be able to hack them out of the muck and get rid of the really bad stuff.