There’re few things as depressing as a bare fridge. It’s the cliché of the single person you always see in movies: a few moldy Chinese takeout containers, a half-empty jar of mayonnaise, a box of baking soda, a six-pack.
But shopping for one is tricky. These days, I do tend to eat at home and to cook more than I did when I had a teenaged roommate. But I have to be careful not to be too ambitious and to fill my kitchen with stuff I’ll never have time to eat. I hate throwing out stuff that survived past its due date: a head of cauliflower, a half-gallon of milk, some cheddar that’s turning into bleu cheese. Still, I’d rather waste food than face an empty larder.
Whenever I do a drawing in indian and sumi ink, I think of Ben Katchor. For years he did comics in the Daily Forward that had a bleakness and everyday decrepitude that made a big impression in me. His weltschmerz came out in a sigh of grey washes, a shrug of indifferent lines and cramped composition. These days as he branches out to publications with bigger budgets, he uses bright colors but his work still has a lovely unsavoriness to it that smells vaguely of sour milk and unwashed socks.
Okay, time to start drawing again. I made this from a photo I took at an outdoor party in the Hamptons. The bird was very impressive and the intensity of his gaze stayed with me long after he was put back in his cage. Horned owls are amazing predators and have been known to pluck out unwitting birdwatchers’ eyes, even here in New York City.
For some reason, this drawing made me think of Brad Holland, an illustrator I’ve loved since I was a teen ager but haven’t referred to in years. I just went and looked at some of his work and, while I don’t think it actually does look like anything he’d do, I sort of see why it brought him to mind.
If you don’t know Holland’s work, check out this nice and too brief video about him:
I did this drawing with my Lamy Safari in one of the new Stillman & Birn hardcover books. I love the paper though there are some issues with the binding and they suggest we wait for the next shipment before using the hardbound ones.
A little macabre, I know.
My approach to glass and ceramics is to pay close attention to highlights and refections. I also wanted to capture the difference in texture between the velvet lining and the glass of the eye. I painted the box with watercolors, using ochre and grey with a little bit of white gouache, then let it dry, and did the eyeball all in gouache. Oh, and I didn’t do any actual drawing, just used two sable brushes, #7 & 4.
Here’s looking at you, kid.
I have just returned from a busy 48 hours in San Francisco and took along a very small sketchbook, about two inches square, in which I documented my various free moments. Above are some of the pages torn out of the book. Most were drawn in a minute or two with my Lamy fountain pen (yes, I can take it when I fly as long as I don’t write with it when we are in the air. The pressure might make it explode or drip). The seventh one was interrupted by something or other.
Click on the grid of drawings to open it in a separate window, then click it again to make it bigger.
I am thankful for my girl, Jenny. And thankful that she’s finally coming home this week.
I am less thankful for:
how hard this watercolor was to do, for overworking it to try to get the likeness right. and for the fact that I made her look dour when she is anything but. Ah well. Maybe I’ll do better when I can draw her from real life again.