Recently I was invited to participate in a lovely series called
“The Original” Documented Life Project™”. Guest artists are asked to document their process in making a piece. I was emailed the following assignment:
“The theme for this month is ‘MAKING YOUR MARK (DOODLES & MARK MAKING). The art challenge for this week is ‘AS A FOCAL POINT’, and the prompt is ‘COMING INTO FOCUS”
I’m not always awfully good at following assignments so I just sort of did
what I do. I hope they like it.
The theme is “Coming into Focus.” It’s 7:17 a,.m. and I am decidedly not in focus yet. I need coffee and ink.
Purists may cringe, but I will be enjoying Trader Joe’s Half Caff® this morning. In my advancing years, I find that if I drink a small amount of full-bore caffeinated coffee, I will snap peevishly at people all morning, be wrung out all afternoon, and wake up at 3 am, thinking about my tax return.
This is pretzel bread. It’s sort of a baguette but crustier and slightly salted. Most importantly it makes nice crumb, pits, and crevices — ideal for close-up drawing.
Drawing, like all grueling physical activities, requires protein. Like Kevin Bacon*, I take mine in ovoid form. These are large brown eggs, free-range, organic, anti-biotic, hormone and steroid free. Despite all that palaver, they still taste great with some Tabasco.
This looks like a balanced breakfast — compositionally, if not nutritionally. But, before I can eat it, I must make Art Before Breakfast (yes, that’s the name of my new book, available wherever life-changing books are sold).
My trusty art cart. Ready to roll at any hour.
First I do a contour drawing with a brush pen, drawing the outlines of the major shapes. Honestly, before I’ve had my coffee, this is about all the detail I can handle.
Next, I draw some of the inside shapes. I define the contents of the plate, which keep jeering, “Eat me!”
The shadows are super-long so I add their outlines next.
I open my watercolor palette (various brands all squeezed into a metal box) and a big, fat, soft brush.
I mix up some diluted Payne’s grey and add the shadows.
The shadows need a second coat so I add more Payne’s grey so you can see its cool blue nature. It’s the Miles Davis of colors and my favorite. I eat it by the tube.
As the shadows dry, I scrutinize the crusty surface of the bread slices, pretending I am an astronaut mapping Planet Crumb. I use a Tombow Fudenosuke brush pen (WS-BS 150, for you pen nerds).
Next I visit and chart the sister planet, Crusto Maximus.
There’s a lot of stuff going on inside my french press and now that I am pretty much awake, I can draw all the grounds and bits.
Good morning, sunshine! I pick out a couple of lovely yellows from my Doc Martin’s collections ( I have a bottle of every color they make and love to guzzle it).
I hit the juice and the yolks with a blend of two tones and various degrees of diluted Doc M. Pop!
I like my coffee with three or four browns and a purple.
I try to approximate the various light values as the sunshine passes through the deep lagoon of java.
Time to toast the bread with the same palette of browns and purple.
While the paint is still wet, I sprinkle in some salt to suck up moisture and make an interesting texture. Plus, it tastes better.
Okay, I’m starving and the eggs are getting cold. So I pause to digest my subject.
As I eat, I think about the day ahead. Then, burp, I drew some hasty sketches to make up my to-do list. I use a dip pen and India ink. Which reminds me, I think I’ll have Indian for lunch.
Time for a little white pencil to add highlights and reflections to the glass ‘n’ crockery.
I give my page a headline.
I do a little journaling, commemorating the day, counting my blessings, splattering some ink.
The sketches look a little sketchy so I hit ’em with a fresh coat of sepia Doc’s. Martins.
Okay, time to do the dishes and get on with my day.
What th’? I left out a couple of letters. Squeeze em in, man!
* I love