Saturday, July 27, 2013

round and round

Having had to keep the curtains and windows closed on weekdays for the first  two months of summer has pretty much stopped me doing much drawing (the paints and brushes remain packed away).

Not to be one to do nothing when I'm kept from the drawing table, I've been spending some of the downtime making little beaded bits again. Whether I'll apply for a small space at the local Christmas craft fair in December is still to be decided, but having nothing at all to show would make the idea a moot one.

Up to now I've made fifteen beaded pendants and a couple of new bracelets. What's been trickier, though, has been trying to take three or four decent pictures of each one - yes, it's a juried show. Once I have access to my workspace and daylight again on a regular basis I guess I'll figure it out.

Nevertheless, making things is much more fun for me than photographing them. Out of more than a hundred images taken one late afternoon a few days ago, these are the best ones so far. Thank goodness for digital cameras, eh?

The good news is that our windows and the balcony door will be replaced on Tuesday - the last place on this side of the building. Besides having to move the furniture away from the front of the apartment (!) we've already noticed it takes the crew the better part of twelve hours to complete a switchover so I guess we'll be taking a trip that day. Know of any good movies showing this summer?

ps: I wouldn't have cared about this work if anything had been noticeably wrong with the old windows, but there wasn't. I wonder why is everything always about appearances these days.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

picturebook problems

"Why are there no other drawings in this book as impressive as the drawing of baobabs? The answer is quite simple: I have tried but with the others have not had the slightest success. When I drew the baobabs, I was driven by a feeling of urgency."

This passage from The Little Prince caught my attention for the simple reason that I've been working on (intermittently, depending on this, that and Crow's portrait schedule) illustrations for a story for more months than I expected the whole project to take. The as yet unfinished one above is the second in a series of what I expect will be either 8, 9 or possibly, 10 pictures altogether - in other words, however few I can get away with drawing, inking and painting. As of now I have 7 drawings underway in various stages and the problem I've run into is some of them are much better than others. This series will eventually get done but it's no surprise I've never become a storybook illustrator. I too only rarely feel that sense of urgency.

Speaking of which, you may like this:

Saturday, July 13, 2013

the little prince

It's been a long time since I last read The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry but our old copy was close at hand this afternoon so I read it again. A little blond boy leaves his home on Asteroid B-612 and lands in the middle of the Sahara desert, where he meets a stranded pilot desperate to fix his plane. Over the course of eight days, the prince reawakens the aviator's appreciation of the simple treasures in life, while the prince learns that grown-ups aren't always "odd." Saint Exupery's pilot remembers his parents discouraging him from taking up art when he himself was six:

“I showed the grown ups my masterpiece, and I asked them if my drawing scared them. They answered why be scared of a hat? My drawing was not a picture of a hat. It was a picture of a boa constrictor digesting an elephant.”

The Little Prince proceeds to tell of his travels from planet to planet until he arrived on Earth and of what he has learned along the way.  The most important thing he reveals is a secret that was taught him by a fox that he tamed:

                         And he went back to meet the fox.
                         "Goodbye" he said.

                         "Goodbye," said the fox.
                         "And now here is my secret, a very simple secret:
                         It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
                         what is essential is invisible to the eye."

                         "What is essential is invisible to the eye,"
                         the little prince repeated,
                         so that he would be sure to remember.

                         "It is the time you have wasted for your rose
                         that makes your rose so important.

                         "It is the time I have wasted for my rose--
                         "said the little prince
                         so he would be sure to remember.

                         "Men have forgotten this truth," said the fox.
                         "But you must not forget it.
                         You become responsible, forever,
                         for what you have tamed.
                         You are responsible for your rose. . ."

                         "I am responsible for my rose,"
                         the little prince repeated,
                        so that he would be sure to remember.
“You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed.”

note: When I looked for a copy of this book to link to I discovered that a new version of it published by Harcourt and translated into 'simpler' English by Richard Howard should be avoided. Katherine Woods translated the original that most of us remember.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

kilted Crow

"Thaur waur nae roads in th' highlands tae spick ay until th' industrial revolution. th' few roads 'at existed afair 'en waur th' few military roads constructed by general george wade in th' early 1700s tae connect th' british army’s garrisons. onie travel therefair was by pony ur oan fit. wadin' ben th' damp bracken quickly soaks yer breeks an' withit a regular means ay dryin' yer clase yer health quickly suffers. in th' worst-case scenario, a braw leids tae pneumonia leids tae death. if thes happens afair ye breed th' next generation, it’s called ‘eugenics’ an' academic puff-buttocks write papers abit ye.

"Th' kilt offers a practical alternatife, as th' baur lower leg an' fit quickly dries. th' kilt was therefair a pragmatic solution tae a common problem. th' kilt, however, wisnae worn oan aw occasions. if breeks waur considered mair practical fur a particular activity 'en they waur worn withit hesitation. th' highlanders waur quite content tae “go abit bare-arsed in their shirt-tails” when an' if th' situation permitted!"

All this and much more did I learn about kilts and Scottish history as Crow sipped a wee dram of an old single malt whisky from the Isles of Islay on a rainy Canada Day. We see a lot of kilts here in Nova Scotia at this time of the year but he was reminiscing about older times than ours. In centuries past he spent a long time in the Highlands with the Glengarry MacDonnell Clan, who still remember him in their crest and motto - The Rock of the Raven. As you well know, Crow still rocks.

It was fascinating to learn that there were no clan tartans as we know them now until the middle and late 1800s. Prior to that they were woven on standing looms of yarns plucked from goats and dyed with whatever natural colors could be found in an area. Only worn by people from the far north of Scotland, who recognized one another by the particulars of weave and color in their tartans, they became popular around the same time that Queen Victoria bought her castle in Balmoral. While her new holiday home was being rebuilt she gifted already rich landowners the crofts and small-holdings of many Highlanders. That's how it happened that so many Scots came to live in North America and the reason why this province has its name.

Anyway, it was too wet the other day to watch a parade so in between fits of laughter at Crow's perfect brogue I started a new picture of him with some friends. With any luck it will eventually become a half decent colored picture. We'll see what develops.

Meanwhile, if I hear this guy is planning a visit to Halifax for next year's parade I will definitely go whether it's raining or not. I think all the pipe bands should have instruments like his:

Happy celebrations wherever you are.

* Thanks to Robert MacDonald, Kiltmaker, Vancouver BC