My next door neighbors are very cute kids. They asked to see my art studio this morning (which is a mess). The middle son asked to borrow my hot glue gun and a little while later came over to show me what he had made! I offered him some paint but he said he liked it as it was–natural. I am happy that maybe I inspired him with my crazy skulls and stuff made out of wood to make something of his own. Made my day!
I love picking up rusty junk, odd pieces of wood and other detritus. While waiting for the paint to dry on the next painting, I started playing around with some objects.
It’s not glued down yet. Here’s another version. I think I like the one with the skull better.
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
This Sleeping Shojo was drawn with a Sheaffer Viewpoint calligraphy fountain pen with a 1.0 nib. Good for a loose and bold drawing I think.
Shojos are sea spirits with a red face and hair, who often wear skirts made of green seaweed. They love to brew and drink sake. If a good person drinks this sake, it will be delicious and healing; but if a bad person drinks it, it will be poison and kill them unless they repent at once. It seems Santa is not the only one keeping track of your naughty or niceness!
The fox mask netsuke was drawn, in contrast, with a .3 nib. Here the details are easy to produce, but solid darks not so much.
You many remember that Kitsune the fox is a shape-shifting troublemaker that likes to disguise himself as a nun. This mask definitely seems to take the frightening side of Kitsune seriously.
With my quill pen I drew Oni Nenbutsu, a demon in the guise of a Buddhist monk. These Onis have horns and fangs, and often wear tiger skins as they wander the country banging the gong on their chest and begging for money. My advice: be generous.
Another Oni, done with brush and ink.
You can see my other netsuke drawings here.
I was on the east side yesterday, and having a membership to the Metropolitan Museum (a yearly Christmas and birthday gift), I stopped in for the Members Preview of the new Egyptian exhibit.
The museum was really crowded! Lots of groups…not just children, but adult groups.
The Egypt exhibit itself was very crowded at the start, but the crowds tapered off as I moved along. It’s huge! Lots of great and interesting pieces.
I decided to focus my camera on hands.
The guards weren’t sure if photography was allowed, but everyone seemed to be doing it, so they said OK.
I did get a chance to do some sketches, too, near the end when there were less people looking, so I wasn’t blocking the view (or being blocked).
a mummy mask
two views of a mourning figure
a repaired statue head
a crocodile god
and a bovine diety…lost the horns somewhere, though
On Wednesday, I joined the NYC weekday urban sketchers in lower Manhattan for a few hours drawing the “Real World” sculptures of Tom Otterness in the playground in Rockefeller Park. It’s an amiable group, and I hope to join them again.
Otterness has his own unique vision of the world, and his animals definitely have personality. They are also joined, surrounded and covered by little creatures, a challenge to draw so that they “read” as separate beings.
I spent the most time working in pencil on the apes. Each sculpture has so much going on; I only managed to capture a small piece of it.
The children played all around us, and included Otterness in their fun. Some of the pieces incorporate water…a necessity for enjoying the playground on a very hot day.
It was mostly shaded, though, with a view of the river and a breeze, so not too unbearable for the sketchers either. I also did a quick drawing of the New Jersey skyline…can you see the sailboat? Lots of building going on over there.
You can read more about Tom Otterness here.
Enjoy the last gasp of summer…back on Tuesday for Draw-a-Bird Day.
After I posted drawings of a Japanese mask and netsuke a few weeks ago, A-wing and A-way asked me if there were any Tengu masks in the book. There were a few netsuke, but no masks, so I looked some up online to draw. The samurai mask above was one of my favorites…quite imposing on top of the armor too.
Looks a bit like angry birds, no?
Tengu is an interesting character, and there seem to be many different sides to his mythology. He is a shape-shifting trickster mountain god, and always has a bird-like aspect: wings, talons, hatching from giant eggs. In fact, Tengu hatching from an egg is the most common form of his representation in netsukes.
Karasu tengu, “crow tengu”, is the one with the beak. He seems to be the more malicious cousin, a herald of disaster and war. Konona tengu, the mountain monk, has a human face with a long nose. He is a skilled warrior, and is more often helpful to humans.
Because of the cross-fertilization between the culture, religion, and mythology of Japan with both China and India, many think Tengu is derived from Garuda, the bird-like mount of Lord Vishnu. There is certainly a resemblance.
You can read A-wing and A-way’s post on birds in Japanese culture here.
And you can see my other drawings of Japanese masks and netsuke here.
I recently took two books about ghosts and spirits in Japanese Art out of the library. Besides learning a bit about the origins and history of these beings, there was a lot of great art. I decided to draw some of it with my brown pencil set on brown paper, experimenting with rendering both darks and lights on a neutral ground. Above is a mask of Hannya, used in Noh theater to represent the ghost or soul of a woman seeking revenge out of jealousy, or one who has an obsession she can’t escape. The masks are meant to convey conflicting emotions: both hate and suffering. And the darker the mask, the more evil the spirit.
I was also really taken with all the netsukes in both books. Above is Gama-Sennin, one of the immortal mountain gods, who is always accompanied by a toad. He can change himself into a toad too!
Perhaps sketching St. Patrick’s Cathedral is not ideal for someone who does not regularly draw architecture.
I first tried the towers, but there is so much similar detail that I would get confused after looking up and start drawing the wrong part for the place I was in my drawing…so I moved on to the rose windows. Better, but still. I ended up with the frustrated scribble at the top, which actually shows a much better feel for the building I think.
I drew a tour guide (many many tourists with or without guides but all seemingly with cameras), and a tree.
But time to go to what I do have a lot of experience with…sculpture.
I was there in my first meeting with the NYC Urban Sketchers. Their chosen subject for August 1 was St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We were positioned in front of a sculpture of the god Atlas. So I turned my attention to him.
I’d like to go back and do him again from multiple views. There’s a lot going on here. That thing between his legs is supposed to be water, I think, although my drawings make it look quite erotic.
Here’s a photo of a front of the entire sculpture. I was not going to stand in the middle of the crowded sidewalk and draw that view, but the sides and back have plenty to offer.
I was so absorbed in Atlas, that all of a sudden the Cathedral was pealing the noon bell. I looked around, and all the other sketchers had disappeared, so I didn’t have a chance to really talk much to any of them…
I used both marker and pencil for these sketches.
My daughter and I went to see Kehinde Wiley’s show at the Brooklyn Museum in May.
When he was a newly minted MFA, working for The Studio Museum in Harlem, he conducted an after-school bookmaking workshop for students and their parents/caregivers at my daughter’s elementary school. We enjoyed it, and remembered him, and when a positive review of his paintings appeared in the newspaper a few years later, we were pleasantly surprised.
Wiley is known for his huge paintings that riff on the work of European Old masters by placing African-Americans in street clothes in a similar setting. There were plenty of these in the show, and they are impressive.
But the first paintings we encountered were small luminous reflections on Icons–work we hadn’t seen before.
The artist also works in stained glass and sculpture, continuing the theme of commenting on the classical canon of Art History while using contemporary people of color as models.
One criticism leveled at Kehinde Wiley in reviews of his show at the Brooklyn Museum was that he uses assistants to paint his backgrounds. Considering the fact that the “classic” painters he’s riffing on in his work did then same thing, and then just the sheer size of many of the paintings…well, I disagree. It’s only recently in history that the cult of the individual artist as a god-like figure has appeared. The identity of much of the world’s most beautiful and moving artistic creations is either unknown, or known to be collaborative in origin, even when attributed to a single artist.
The other criticism I’ve heard frequently is that Wiley keeps repeating himself. Yes and no. I was surprised by much of what I saw, at both the variety and the visible changes. The work is continuous, but also evolving.
And if you’ve stayed with me this long, you may want to know: yes, I did save the book from that workshop.
Here are some of the references for Kehinde Wiley’s work pictured above: