For years I have been telling people that I don't keep a journal or a sketchbook. Unpacking box after box of books after moving this August, I discovered that I have been keeping some form of diary/sketchbook/journal most of my life....just not on a regular or continual basis.
|a portion of my journal collection|
Needless to say, I was quite surprised and thrilled to have over 40 years of books to wander through. It was an Artist Date in itself, exploring who I was, what and changed and what had remained constant over the years.
When I heard Traci Bunker's theme for this month, Artist Dates, I was at a bit of a loss. Don't get me wrong - I'm a huge fan of Artist Dates and have the calendars to prove it. No, the problem was that I never want to leave my studio.
For the first time in my life I have a space to call my own and the uninterrupted time to spend in it. My history of sporadic journal keeping was partly (mostly?) due to the fact that I have 6 children. They are grown now, with the youngest just off to college. But for the last four year I was also the primary caretaker for my 91 year old blind father. I never had the time to sketch, ruminate, journal or collate my dreams, visions, observation or ideas. It was enough just to keep up with the business of being an artist, instructor, author, etc, etc.
Now it's just my husband and I, here on this gorgeous, peaceful, horse farm in the Maryland countryside. I am in heaven/paradise and I never want to leave. My days are my own. My time is uninterrupted.
So here's what I did. I went on an Artist Date here on the farm last weekend with my husband. The snow had melted, the ground was still firm (no mud!), and the temperature was bearable. We climbed the hill and ventured into the woods for an afternoon walk.
It turned out to be a scavenger hunt! We found several discarded items of an unknown age. This land has been farmed continuously since the 1700s. Deer roam freely. Hunters hunt. Not for sport but for food and the keep the deer population at bay.
I hope some of you don't take offensive at what follows, but I found it to be quite beautiful. I was reminded of Georgia O'Keeffe and her skull paintings. My sensibilities have changed so much since I have moved to the farm after a lifetime as a city girl. I see how the rhythm and flow of life here revolves around the animals and the land.
This is what I want to record. This is what I have to share with you. I feel such a shift in my art. As I open my eyes to this new landscape I feel a new sense of wonder. I am like a child again.
|found object - deer skull|
I first did a contour drawing of the skull and the rusty old axe we found with my Stabilo Aquarellable pencil. I added watercolor to pop the images and soften the drawn lines. In some areas I went back in to "adjust" my drawing but wanted to keep it somewhat loose - a sketch vs. a study. The same day I did the sketch I chanced upon these deer plates inspired by 12/13th century Bulgarian ceramics. I took it as a sign and included them in my sketchbook. You never know where inspiration may come from or take you.
Now here's what really drew me in. Being a quilter, I am quite familiar with the zigzag stitch. My eye was immediately drawn to this line between the 2 skull plates. A young buck, his skull was not yet fused. This patterning and the quality of the line made this skull a must have addition to my cabinet of curiosities. I've seen this line before - aerial views of rivers as I fly across the land. Nature does repeat herself!
I laid the axe on the page and traced the outline. I found a scrap of embossed wallpaper that had been rusted with paint and patina (patina.com) and glued that on the sketch. The grip was wrapped with tape so I added black washi tape to mimic it.