Monday, September 19, 2011

surface details

Just in case you've been wondering what I've been up to lately here are a couple of the sketches I've been playing with in the past couple of days. Neither of them is actually done or even close to it in the finished sense but I'm tending to lean toward refining the seated lady more than the mirror woman. Both tell something of a story but the reflection on outward form and stretching time to some machine like plastic being interests me less than the contemplative aspect of the other. I'm curious about what it is the seated lady may be considering.

A long time ago I spent my painting time trying to reproduce modern versions of the work done by the 19th century watercolorists whose work I continue to admire more with passing time. Although I did come up with some interesting images I never did manage to capture the look of both innocence and wisdom I was trying to portray. It's no longer the 19th century or even the early 20th and my imagined version of the tranquility of those times is currently in abeyance. I'm not a particularly realistic person when it comes to my preferred memories or thoughts about the past but I do believe there was a time not so very long ago when mutual respect was more common. Things are going much faster now but nobody knows the ultimate destination.

I think we each must have a better world we dream about in order to allow for a better place to grow. My plan is to continue spending the time I have imagining and painting a prettier one. Whatever your skills and interests I hope you will keep on doing so too.


linda said...

and so do i...believe what we imagine echoes outward from our hearts... i like the second as the first seems to already be saying what she is saying...she has some work to do on self-esteem?

the second firstly, i thought she was considering a haircut then i thought it HAD to be deeper than that and like you have left nothing behind her in the mirror but the moon.... that made me really think if she was actually only my perception perhaps and surely was my perception of your perception.... smiles xox

marja-leena said...

Both are very beautifully drawn and interesting pieces, with subtle suggestions of something unhappy in the women - stories to come, as always in your work. Have fun.

Gina said...

I have long had a fascination with depictions of women looking into mirrors. We were brought up on it, were we not? With the Wicked Stepmother asking the mirror who the fairest was and all. There are so, so many paintings and drawings by artists of all vintage and styles showing women looking into mirrors.

There may be a less predictable storyline inherent in your drawing than meets the eye. I know that there are times when I look at myself and I feel happy and other times I see someone I hardly know. I hope that is the case with your figure, as it is a very unhappy existence to live with one's negative reflection all of the time.

susan said...

linda - It's not always easy for me to hold the heart's intention in mind and I think both drawings sprang from that conflict. The first is too slick and stretched while the second seems unsure of any conviction. Yes, her hair is a mess :-) and if I'm going to spend time refining the drawing to a painting stage it needs a better flow. I tend to scribble while I'm working up an idea and it was really too soon to show the second one (which I like) and the mirror one (already gone), I probably shouldn't have posted at all. Meanwhile, I trust your perception.

marja-leena - I'm glad you like the drawings but I agree neither of them are happy pictures. The first one I tossed after scanning and the second may yet have a happier story to show.

gina - The strange thing about mirrors is that although they're the only way we can see ourselves at all the reflected image is always backwards. My original intention with this one was to have the woman seeing herself backwards in time but it didn't work and I'm not sure it could even if I were more skilled. There are definitely times when I'm pleased with who I see but other times, accidentally faced with a mirror, wonder who that ugly woman might be. I think self reflection of a meditative or prayerful kind eventually has more positive results.

marja-leena said...

Oh, I'm sorry you tossed that! I don't think there's anything wrong with depicting sadness, it can be like the salt that makes the sweet stand out, or is it the other way around :-). Anyway, the artist knows best. I look forward to seeing what comes!

Gemel said...

Wow, I think they are both amazing.

Randal Graves said...

Oh hell, reality is simply the cruel, and thankfully temporary, interruption of that better dream world.

If this were not so for each of us, wouldn't we all go mad?

And if you ever find out what she's looking at/contemplating, don't ever tell us.

Ol'Buzzard said...

Just curious; where is Crow this September?
the Ol'Buzzard

susan said...

marja-leena - Well, I do still have the scan I made so in that sense it's still available. It wasn't the sadness so much as the stretchiness that annoyed me. I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next as well since it's often a surprise.

gemel - I'm glad they were here for you to see them.

randal - That's certainly a good way of explaining our situation. However, my general irritation at the construction noise around here refuses to be mollified.

I promise not to tell you but can't promise not to show you.

ol'buzzzard - He locked himself in the library to write a book about human intelligence. I often hear chortling.

jams o donnell said...

You are absolutely correct Susan we must try to realise our dreams of a better world.

I do like the mirror drawing. It reminds me of how we look into the mirror and our self image is distorted. I spent a very pleasant few days in Paris last week in the company of a beautiful woman and also her friend. Both of them do not see reality when they look into mirrors

Steve Emery said...

As someone who has spent time creating my own images of my face, I can say it changes who I see in the mirror... I can't describe the change, however. It's not something I can put into words - and that's not a familiar situation for me. More and more I am discovering what takes over when I step aside and let something deeper do the driving. I like your mirror drawing as a depiction of the unexpected result when we gaze at ourselves. It's not always pleasant or easy - but it tends to be addictive...

The other sketch is a wonderful subject. I feel contemplation - maybe on the brink of a decision. And behind her I see not a mirror but a moon gate. That seems to echo her mood. Even the way she's reached up to grasp her hair seems to indicate (to me) that she's lost in thought. Looking forward to seeing where you take it - and grateful that you posted it in the early stages (always a chancy thing, no?)

gfid said...

"I do believe there was a time not so very long ago when mutual respect was more common. Things are going much faster now but nobody knows the ultimate destination." yes, and i think we should include self respect in that statement. our culture is SO absorbed in 'self improvement' and cosmetic alteration, as if we never quite like ourselves. i like both pictures. i like the distortion of the mirrored image in the first, as if to say what we percieve in the mirror isn't necessarily what we are. and in the second, i like how the subject has her back to the backward image. it's there, (or is it?!) but though she is aware of it, she's not directed by it or absorbed in it.

susan said...

jams - Mirrors are good for making sure we don't have a piece of food caught in our teeth but too much preening in front of them can be bad for who we are underneath the reflection.

steve - Looking into a mirror to try and capture a self image is a very tricky thing and quite unlike drawing a person standing in front of us. We know too much about what's going on behind the mask of the latter to be objective. However, when you go beyond the surface image as you do then the effect is remarkable.

You're right about the woman in the second drawing being in front of a window or moon gate but the background isn't very defined so I can see how a mirror might be imagined. I'm looking forward to working on this one and, yes, it is hard to show something at such an early stage. Once upon a time I never would have done so but you (and Linda) have helped me get over that.

gfid - You're right about the self respect issue affecting the way we see ourselves and other people. Liking ourselves allows us to be open to others and to nature which is really the most important lesson we could absorb.

I'm glad you like the drawings but it's the idea suggested in the second I'll likely try to turn into a painting. I try to never make promises even to myself about a painting because I just never know what will happen. I wasn't sure whether to hint of a mirror behind her so I just left it open to interpretation.

linda said...

on the contrary, i love to see them all, finished or not....for heavens sake, you can see i have no pride whatsoever in posting paintings not done and calling them so anyway, changing them and posting them again and then, after again changing them, posting yet again......... however i judge my own work strange, i do study everything you do and hope you will continue to share them with us....if not, send them to me in email to ponder as i love all those little details the mind renders on the page! ;) xox

susan said...

linda - What you show on your blog is what art really is - a process of experienced experiment and changing possibilities until some final moment when the page can say no more about that path. I love your work and you have helped me enormously by allowing me to experience just how you find your way through to the beauty and truth of what you express in a painting.

I'm still refining the image of the second drawing while I plan a background. We really do work very differently and I very much admire your spontaneity. I can get very aggravated about my need to plan so much in detail. I promise I'll email another sample :-)

Spadoman said...

The seated woman has decided to do something. She doesn't realize that she had to make a decision to decide she needed to make one though. But she has done so and will undertake what she needs to do. A lot like you, with your art and sketches, (Which are fantastic by the way). I love her.
I saw an ad onn the coffee shop bulletin board for a water color beginners class. I'd love to, but I'd be the only man there and besides, I'm way too busy with snowshoe and dream catcher requests. reminds me, did we ever figure that out?


susan said...

spadoman - Part of the fun of being an artist is the fact I'm still waiting to see what she's ready to do or where exactly she will be at the time. I have to admit painting in watercolors may be a semi-enjoyable exercise for me but I've rarely come close to what I'd hoped to do.