Trending Articles

Friends of SOAR

For great posts about the business of art, check out The Artsy Shark HERE!
ArtistsBillofRights.org reviews competitions and appeals seeking creative content, listing those that respect your copyrights and highlighting those that don't. Art Matters! publishes calls to artists, and not all of them may be compliant with ABoR's standards. Visit their site to learn more.
We support the Embedded Metadata Manifesto.  Metadata is information such as copyright notice and contact info you can embed in your images to protect your intellectual property, save time when uploading to social sites and promote your art. Click to visit the site and learn more.

The tip of the iceberg

Skye, Chris Baker, gouache, detail.

About 200 hundred pages into the Kilmartin translation of Swann’s Way—I came back to this passage after finding a similar observation in the second book—Proust talks about how his fiction is non-intellectual, and that his lack of ideas originally persuaded him that he couldn’t be a writer.  A La Recherche du Temps Perdu shows how his pursuit of love and friendship and social status kept him from discovering his vocation, though ironically the story of his immersion in the illusions of society becomes the actual content of the novel he was unable to write because he was living the events of the book. He had to get lost to find himself.

Here is the passage that says so much, for me, about visual art and the lack of intellectual content or meaning in the paintings I love most (it’s appropriate that visual art was one of the primary inspirations for Proust’s novel and for his style of writing):

Then, quite independently of these literary preoccupations and in no way connected with them, suddenly a roof, a gleam of sunlight on a stone, the smell of a path would make me stop still, to enjoy the pleasure that each of them gave me, and also because they appeared to be concealing, beyond what my eyes could see, something which they invited me to come and take but which despite all my efforts I never managed to discover. Since I felt that this something was to be found in them, I would stand there motionless, looking, breathing, endeavoring to penetrate with my mind beyond the thing seen or smelt . . . It was certainly not impressions of this kind that could restore the hope I had lost of succeeding one day in becoming an author and poet, for each of them was associated with some material object devoid of intellectual value and suggested no abstract truth.

He ignores these intimations for years because they offer him no ideas. He spends years believing he had no talent, no creative virtues, as a result of this lack of intellectual originality. By the end of the novel, the elimination of ideas in favor of the raw phenomena of life, the matrix of felt experience, becomes his sextant, enabling him to bring to life a complex and beautifully superficial world, saturated with a reality to which its inhabitants remain deaf and blind, except in brief, revelatory moments—and those simple moments are what his art is dedicated to triggering, the opening up of a world, intensely familiar but also fresh, surprising, and new. In other words, alive. And through all of it runs the Platonic suggestion that these glimpses are also glimpses of something incorruptible and timeless, hints that the material world is merely the tip of an iceberg invisible to conscious thought.

Draw or Sketch? What is the Difference?

Sketch Or Drawing: Just A Cup

To Draw, To Sketch, Drawing, Sketching, A Drawing, A Sketch.

I’ve been thinking about the difference between the act of drawing and sketching.  And, I’ve been considering the finished products: a sketch and a drawing.

Defining the Difference Between Sketch & Draw.

Truthfully, I find it a struggle to come up with an easy way to describe the difference between the two that fits all cases.  Or even most cases.  Even still, a definition that might give me a “litmus” type test for what is a drawing and what is a sketch.

Drawing Or Sketch Broken Seashell with Knotted Napkin

Shades of Gray.

You see, I tend to find myself thinking of exceptions.  That is, I think the terms shades of gray.  This is not a particularly helpful approach, however, when one wants to define something.

Drawing Or Sketch: A Page From My Sketchbook

 

An Analogy.

But, I did think of analogy that may shed some light.  Perhaps sketching is like writing short notes.  Taking the analogy further, perhaps a finished drawing is more like a novel or a biography.  It was the notes that you did during the research process that enabled you to write the novel or biography.  Therefore, the act of drawing is like more in-depth drafts and finished writings of poetry, novels, biographies and so forth.  Whereas, sketches are a type of research for that in-depth study or finished piece of art.

Time.

Another difference one might consider is time needed to produce the work.  Sketches may be thought of as faster types of drawings.  One works in haste to capture the essentials of the subject in a few minutes.  On the other hand,  a drawing might be a slower, more deliberate type of drawing.  It might take hours, days or weeks to complete.

To Draw – Umbrella Term?

To my mind, I see the verb “to draw” as the umbrella term because it means to pull a mark across the surface.  The result then is a drawing.  To sketch, and the resultant sketch, would be  a subset or specific type of drawing.  Again, a faster, less developed type of a drawing.   So, when a person draws to create a detailed, more finished work, then it would not be a sketch; instead a drawing.

Vague and Convoluted.

Do you see how easy it is to get vague and convoluted when considering the differences?   

I think there is certainly a difference between the types of drawings.  But, perhaps, types of drawings can be considered on a sketching/drawing continuum, with quick sketch at one end and finished drawing on the other end.

Clarity of Meaning.

So, why all this struggle to define?  Clarity in communication might be one desired result.  When I say “I draw out my design before I paint it“, I do mean a more deliberate preparatory drawing.  A fair amount of thought and consideration has gone into the composition before I paint it.

Drawing Or Sketch? Concept Drawing Tea For Two With Milk

On the other hand, sometimes I sketch rather than draw before paintings.  That is, I note on the surface the boundaries or critical lines of the subject in a more simple manner.  I leave the painting part of the process to develop the composition and design.

Ask The Artists or Draftsperson.

I do have one more thought.  In some ways, it seems to me more appropriate for the artist to determine if their own work is a sketch or a drawing.  Because the amount and type of work would be relative to the artist’s needs.  That is, can you tell by a finished sketch or drawing the amount of work done beforehand?  Maybe the answer is we think so, but may easily be deceived!

Sketch or Drawing Blind Contour Drawing: Santa Cat

Still Thinking.

Incidentally,  I still haven’t solved my own problem of writing about sketches or drawings.   If I use only the words “sketch” or “draw” based on the work, then the writing becomes too stilted.  That is to say, the same word gets used too often.  So, how to solve this problem?  I am not sure yet.

In the meantime, perhaps I’ll go work on a sketch or drawing.

Articles That Shed Light On The Subject.

Here is a list of four articles about the difference between drawing and sketching.  You might find them helpful.

http://www.differencebetween.net/miscellaneous/the-difference-between-sketch-and-drawing/

http://www.differencebetween.info/difference-between-drawing-and-sketching. Note, this particular link has a nice table that highlights the difference between the words draw and sketch.

https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-a-sketch-and-drawing

 

The post Draw or Sketch? What is the Difference? appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.

Dutch diversity

Jasper Beckx’s portrait of Don Miguel de Castro, a Congolese ambassador to the Netherlands, from 1643.Credit…Statens Museum for Kunst

From Black in Rembrandt’s Time, at the Rembrandt Museum in Amsterdam (closed at the moment in the European shutdown.) From the museum’s website: “For years I’ve been looking for portraits of black people like me. Surely there had to be more than the stereotypical images of servants, enslaved people or caricatures? I found the alternative in Rembrandt’s time: a gallery of portraits of black people who are depicted with respect and dignity.” – Stephanie Archangel, Guest Curator

 

 

 

The life you save may be Bill’s

The Song of the Lark, Jules Adolphe Breton, Art Institute of Chicago

Bill Murray tells the story of how he stumbled onto this painting and how it saved his life, more or less, at an especially discouraging moment in his early career. Or at least it showed him how he had nothing to be discouraged about. I love how Breton manages to illuminate the figure with the cool, blue light of the dawn in the west rather than the direct and warm light of the sunrise in the east. It somehow conveys the clemency of the young woman’s experience hearing the bird to inaugurate a day of work. And, who knows, maybe we need to say a few words of gratitude to this painting for Ghostbusters, Lost in Translation, and Rushmore, not to mention a couple of the best moments in Tootsie. 

The Kramer

JERRY: I have to go meet Nina. Want to come up to her loft, check out her paintings?

GEORGE: I don’t get art.

JERRY: There’s nothing to get.

GEORGE: Well, it always has to be explained to me, and then I have to have

someone explain the explanation.

JERRY: She does a lot of abstract stuff. In fact she’s painting Kramer right now.

GEORGE: What for?

JERRY: She sees something in him.

GEORGE: So do I, but I wouldn’t hang it on a wall.

In “The Letter,” the 37th episode of Seinfield, Jerry’s girlfriend, played by Catherine Keener, is painting a portrait of Kramer, which inspires this conversation. Did anyone have to explain visual art before 1850 or so? Did explanations become more important than the creative work itself at some point mid-20th century? Jerry is right: there’s plenty happening in a great painting, but there’s nothing to get in the greatest of them, at least in the sense of an explanation.

All about the grind

“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes every day at 9 a.m. sharp.” 

That quote has been attributed mostly to Faulkner but also to a number of other writers. It summarizes pretty much what it requires to be professional at anything: habitual hard work. I like the quote because that’s exactly the time I usually sit down at the easel, and it’s when I have the most energy and am also the most critical of what I’ve already done, partly because the sun rises and shines through a window behind me, often striking the canvas directly. There’s no escape from that intensity of sunlight: God’s flashlight, as Larry Miller put it in a slightly different context, though the feeling is the same. Despair and shame at everything so manifestly wrong that felt so right at the time. So 9:05 is when inspiration really strikes. It’s when you ignore everything going on inside you–the sudden urge to remodel the basement, the desire to shovel snow, the ease with which you can now contemplate the emotional safety of bank robbery compared with the struggle of painting–and you pick up the brush.  Or the old shirt you use to wipe away a few square inches of still-tacky paint that represent five hours of sub-par effort–and you make merely acceptable whatever looked perfect yesterday and then, around 11 a.m, you actually start spreading paint on canvas in places you haven’t yet defiled. Around 3 p.m. you think, “Damn, I’m good.” Until inspiration strikes again at 9 a.m.

Hope of Stones


Paris, New York, San Francisco…and Southern Oregon! A dream lineup for a poetry book tour, and Im so grateful for the friends in each place who helped make this happen.

Hope of Stones is ready to greet the world, and you can pre-order it via my wonderful publisher, Press 53

Im going to let the dear poets who wrote praise for the book speak for me on this blog. Continued gratitude to them for the beautiful words!

+++

Anna Elkins’ Hope of Stones is a magnificent (I do not use the word lightly) collection—a beautiful, moving, and thought-provoking book of poems. The writing is striking in its control of tone and its precision, unfolding layer after layer of resonance and implication. Three characters: the nun, the architect, the poet who triangulates the relationship. Three different times in history, three different significant endeavors: the architect’s Paris below ground that reflects and supports the Paris above; the visionary nun’s passionate immersion in the inner mansions of God’s Castle; the poet’s engagement in the sensuous spirituality of her research. Give this book to everyone you love. No book of poems I’ve read in a long time more deserves serious, joyful attention and a wide readership. 
—Jim Peterson, author of Speech Minus Applause

This gorgeous book of contemplative poems refuses to accept an easy division between work and prayer. Here, hope is not a thing with feathers. Hope is a paradox, a thing with both heft and light. It is weightless with history, ruin, and body. It is heavy with abyss, nothingness, and caves. Bone and stone point beyond themselves towards the absence of building things up and the presence of emptying things out. Language is both meaningful and errant or even wayward: “earth / is an anagram for heart.” A nun prays “none” against “none.” A whole is reminiscent of a hole. This is a poet’s clearing, housed in eventual collapse. The one who works and the one who prays cross paths, eventually, head to head, skull to skull, in the undertaking of the poet, who excavates a kind of fast, and a kind of pilgrimage, as a way of seeking the first lost garden fruit–the castle cathedral, the ever-never-catacombs–unpicked, undisturbed, and undreamed. 
Gina Franco, author of The Accidental

In Hope of Stones, Anna Elkins creates a multi-various and many-voiced world—set both in the present and in two different pasts, and narrated by three different characters—the Nun, the Architect, and the Poet. This fantastic book reminds me of A. Van Jordan’s M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, another hybrid collection that brings strong individual poems together into a cohesive narrative. Whereas Jordan’s mode is often cinematic, Elkins works as a portrait painter. Through osmosis, the scholar-poet becomesthe architect and the nun, allowing this intertwined history to work also as an extended metaphor on creativity and desire: “One stair at a time / one corridor after another & a final glimpse / up a shaft to see the pinhole light of sky shining / though a manhole cover….”
Sebastian Matthews, author of Beginner’s Guide to a Head-on Collision

Hope of Stones is an elegant collection. Its formally accomplished poems, distinct voices, and visual design invite us to see the page as a temporal-geographical region. The architect, Charles-Axel Guillaumot, speaks from the lower left margin where he focuses on materiality, catacombs and the undergirding of Paris as he tries to save the city from collapse; the nun, Teresa of Avila, speaks from the upper right margin, where she shares her architectural vision of the spirit. And the poet, who is either in Oregon or traveling, occupies the center of the page where she brings her own dailiness—fires in summer, plums ripening—into conversations with these historic figures. The poet descends literally beneath Paris in her quest for the architect and ascends into the ethereal and sometimes levitational world of the nun. Like Dante, Elkins takes us on a journey. Hope of Stones traverses countries, continents, and historical periods until finally time and space collapse into a kaleidoscope of spirit.
Tami Haaland, author of What Does Not Return

April in Paris, Anyone?

Come with us!
Deep Travel is heading to Paris in April! We have two spots left on the trip, which runs from April 4-10. For six splendid days, our small group will be exploring the City of Light’s boulevards, bridges, bistros, galleries, patisseries, and parks. 

We’ve named this trip “The Artist’s Life,” and that’s exactly what you’ll get to explore. To enrich our travels, we’ll hold daily “happy hour” art sessions blending art, writing, and conversation. 

We’ll be staying in the marvelous Marais neighborhood—my favorite—in walking distance of the Seine, Notre Dame, the Louvre, Luxembourg Gardens, and countless eateries. 

A few extra perks: a luncheon cruise along the Seine, a dinner and literary salon in a private home on the city’s oldest park, and a walking around our Marais neighborhood with author and Paris podcaster, Oliver Gee

I’ve been delighted to help organize Deep Travel trips since 2014. We’ve gone to Morocco, Mexico, Spain, and Nepal, and this will be our first Deep Travel workshop in Paris. 

For more info, visit the Deep Travel website.  And for even more photos and fun, check out the Facebook page

Come play with us!

Curry popcorn, no less

Sans bananafish, J.D. Salinger with his sister, Doris

Some flava in ya ear (if you read this aloud.) I mean, seriously, a lot of flava. J.D. Salinger’s recipe for popcorn (I hope the measure for the popcorn itself represents the amount of unpopped kernels). This was a small contribution to the exhibit of personal items from his archives at the New York Public Library. The salutary effect of the exhibit was to bring into relief how happy, if not blissful, Salinger’s life was in Cornish. He liked him some Hitchcock. He loved spending time with his grandkids. He read books about spies and kept the Associated Press Stylebook on a shelf in his bedroom. He could write letters like nobody’s business. And, OK, he was a little weird, but the weirdness was at the heart of how great he was, and, besides, aren’t we all, a little? It was cool to learn that had a Chevy Blazer, from way back close to when GM started to market them, to haul the firewood he cut.

For 1/2 cup of popcorn:
6 tsps sea salt
2 tsps paprika
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp celery powder
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp curry
1/2 tsp dill powder

On Being The Artist’s Model

Being An Artist's Model: John Stermer drawing Peggy At Five detail

Recent Self Portrait.

I rarely draw or paint my self portrait.  Perhaps this is because I’m not that great of a model!  That is, I wiggle too much.

During this past month’s “Strada Easel Challenge”*, I did a self portrait as part of my daily “drawing from life”.  Given my infrequent work at portraits and difficulty holding a pose, I was fairly pleased with the results.

On Being An Artist's Model: Self Portrait

Me As Five Year Old Artist Model.

Which reminds me of the time when I was about five years old and my Dad, artist John Stermer, drew my portrait.  At the time, Dad was doing portraits of his children; sort of a mini project.  Being the fourth in line, I’d seen my brother and two older sisters get their portrait drawn.  I was so excited when it was my turn.

And, this was when I received my first lesson on being a model.  First of all, I wanted to use the pose my Dad had used for my previous older sister.  I wanted to be like her.  So, I tucked my hands under my chin and persuaded my Dad that this was a good idea.  And, second of all, I thought that I could kept still.  But, not surprising, I didn’t.  I remember Dad asking me to be still, be quiet and to resume my pose.  Dad was infinitely patient and understanding. I am sure the session was under an hour.  And we took breaks. But the entire session seemed to take forever.

Oh, yes, Dad drew this series of portraits using everyday crayons.  I was so enchanted and amazed; my drawings with crayons never looked like that!  (Yes, there is a hint of me taking a photo of Dad’s drawing).

On Being An Artist's Model: Peggy At Five

Understanding The Model’s Situation.

Fast forward to recent times.  I have participated in live drawing classes and sessions as the artist, not the model.  It is critical that I, as the artist, understand what it takes for the model to assume a pose and keep it.   I have come to realize, that I inadvertently expect the model to hold the pose perfectly.  It’s not possible and it is the artist’s responsibility to adjust to the model; not vice versa.  And, as one who can not hold a pose, it’s my job to be understanding.

Self Portrait: Exercise In Learning About Drawing With A Model.

So, on the rare occasions that I do draw a self portrait, I spend some of the time re-learning how to be the model.  And, how to draw from a model.  Who knows, I always have intentions to do more; maybe one day I will.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my self portrait and the John Stermer portrait of me as a five year old child!

*PS.  I hope to discuss the “Strada Easel Challenge” in a future post.  In the meantime, I invite you to take a look at their website.

I participated two years ago and you can see the results on this lesson’s learned page.

 

The post On Being The Artist’s Model appeared first on Margaret Stermer-Cox.