Snow is slowly printing out a Christmas-card wonderland in the front yard, while a hopeful cardinal sings from the rat’s nest of our dead trumpet vine. Even this early in the season, even with snow falling around it, the thing with feathers is over-amped on sex-hormones and natural antifreeze.
I sometimes turn to old sketches when running low on ideas and paw randomly through my flat files and sketchbooks for inspiration. Random is helpful. Without prior intention I might grab an old study of a tiger heron and merge it with a newer one of Panama vegetation, or take a sketch of a striped owl and juvenile (used as the basis of a field guide plate for Trinidad and Tobago) and graft it onto a liana from the Amazon. Which turned into a new piece with a funny backstory (and video) of its own. Randomness occasionally sets off an incandescent burst of creativity (which gives off a warmer glow than the energy-saver type, to extend and beat to death the lightbulb-blinking-on-over-the-head metaphor). Try it yourself. Spread out your sketches like Scrabble pieces on a board and move them around. See what comes to mind.
Sketch-scavenging is a swell snow day activity. The air outside is white, like a blank canvas. Inside it’s warm, with a cat on my lap and an accumulation of random drawings piling up front of me. There’s a 50% chance of incandescence (either it happens or it doesn’t). If all goes well, I can hope for a 100% chance of paint. And maybe hot cocoa.
13 thoughts on “From a pile of old drawings”
How lovely! Thanks for sharing.
Love it, love it.. do you take the old drawings and design a colour scheme around them or does memory play a part? Great stuff.
Alan- basically, I think about the color scheme after the values are in place. Memory helps, but if the drawing’s really old, I have to rely on imagination. The outcome could be good or bad, depending (like, on how imaginative I am). Thanks for the question!
This is an astonishing style of sketches!,it remembers me, my style of paint with the only difference that i go directly to realize the final work with an oil paintings normally.Fantastic, i love this style and manner of work!.
Thanks, Marc! I like your approach, too. I like to think of this method as a recycling program:-)
It reminds me of Beethoven walking through the woods and sketching some of the bird sounds to incorporate in the Pastoral Symphony.
My favorite symphony, of course. Nice to imagine Ludwig strolling the Black Forest with a sketchbook, jotting down bird songs.Thanks for the lovely mental picture!
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Thank you so much!! 🙂
One beautiful painting!
Debby: I have looked a half-dozen times at these owls and can’t get over your strangely effective use of light and shadow. The big dark limb rounding overhead gives the sensation of looking up so well. Also, though I’m no birder, the attitude of the owls looks so right. I like both versions and am glad you didn’t erase the first one. Funny, that “hank” ( “hank of moss”). I’d forgotten the word. Makes me realize that my English is going.
Thanks, 100swallows, I’m glad to hear from you. The second version might get painted sometime, just to see if it works, but I’m afraid the “hank of moss” might not happen again. That’s the problem with relying too much on happy accidents. Thanks for writing!
Intriguingly beautiful work…thank you for sharing them.
My husband and I have begun a new Spiritual Healing business called Owl Wisdom Medicine focusing on energy healings, Shamanic practices and intuitive readings…we both have Owl as totem animal and see them quite often in the wild…a gift for sure. We are blessed with the assistance of the owl energy and it’s characteristics in our work. Check us out on FB. So happy to have come across your page. You have amazing talent. Namaste! Lisa