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Monthly Archives: July 2007

These were the last few drawings of an hours worth of 5 minute drawings. In saving back the ones that come together it can get misleading if I look back through my saved sketches. It seems as though I can knock out a good drawing 8/10 times, when I’ve already culled 90% of the work. Which inverts the percentage, and then some. But getting one good 5 minute drawing out of an hours worth of 5 minute poses may just be what it takes to get a good drawing, or even a good aspect of a part of a drawing.

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Yellow Cat, aka MrSir, aka Monarch of Cmonster sat for his portraits last week. Elizabeth’s birthday was fast approaching, and the Sir and I and Cmonster (Carmine the German Shepherd) had come up with nothing so far. The Sir wanted to give her something personal she could bring to work- other than his hair on her dresses- we brainstormed a bit and Carmine wondered what was wrong with sending her out the door with some nice hair anyway…our brainstorming sessions are a low-wattage affair, so we went to our separate tasks of coughing up hairballs, barking at squirrels, excessive napping, and whatever it is the Sir and Cmonster keep busy with. Later in the week MrSir followed me around the house insistently batting at my legs and waving his paws from the top of the stairs and communicating with big silent meows: I knew he had thought of something important. He hopped up on the laptop keys and sat on the camera and looked out the window, then waved a paw at my hands as I typed along, then busied himself with smacking pencils off the desk. Then he hopped down, swept close enough to Carmine to make her shrink up and look away, then paraded from the room; knowing his idea was the only one worth a damn.
It was a good idea, for a cat, good enough that I could pass it off as my own.

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While in Montana I drew from “drawings from the masters”- from one of Robert Beverly Hale’s texts. These are about finding anatomical structure- where a tendon inserts near a joint, how the shoulder girdle moves and layered muscles expose- they are exercises in drawing by knowledge first and observation second.
Hale explains that many of the original drawings are done without models- there are so many subtle cues of gestural weight and balance, foreshortening- and that there is no one alive today who has their kind of ability. “They” being, not the elder race from Atlantis, but rather everyday fellahs like Michelangelo, Raphael, Tintonetto, and Rubens (in this group of drawings).  

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I spent the first two weeks of July at my father’s angus ranch in the Little Belt Mountains of Montana, celebrating his 71st birthday. This was one of the best hay years he can remember. My sister joined us, coming up from near Sacramento,CA.
We moved cattle to new pastures on horseback and on foot; cowboying over the high grassland and through the forested sidehills pushing the herd- there is nothing better. The hay was so thick that my dad thought it best if he did the swathing, which left me to tackle the yard’s Willow trees that had settled onto buildings and onto the yard, trim back pine trees, mow the acre of lawn, trim the lilac bushes, and fix fence out on the property where bulls had crashed through. My sister made a mean strawberry rhubarb pie and drew up plans for next summer’s possible house-fixing escapades- it is the original homestead place so she kept busy (she is nearly fished building her own place out in CA, so is hot on this kind of thing).
The picture is one of the high hayfields. The hills in the foreground are the Highwoods- a range that ventures out onto the Missouri flats running parallel to the Continental Divide (70 miles to the west). This hayfield is on the foot of the Little Belt Mountains-  a canyon that falls out of the Little Belts just above this pasture leads to the highest paved pass in the state. It is just a few minutes in a car. so in the winter this same meadow looks like…

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