Saturday Sketch II

Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.


Saturday Sketch

This past Thursday I visited a middle school art class. The teacher is a friend of mine and she will soon be starting a unit on linoleum relief printmaking, so she thought her students might like to meet a "real" artist. She asked me to talk about my life as an artist, how I approach a new piece of work, and to present a carving demonstration. Middle school hasn't changed much in the many decades since it was my turn. The cool kids still sit in the back of the room; the eager, geeky types sit in the front, ask questions and make often times, silly observations; the outcasts, definitely-not-cool and those who don't really fit into a 'group' sit quietly on the sides. (I'll tell you here I fell somewhere between the eager, geeky and the definitely-not-cool types. ) On this day I stood at the front of the room talking and demonstrating and in a very strange way, felt very much like my definitely-not-cool younger self. In other words, it was a tough crowd. But I got through the afternoon and was once again thankful that I decided not to be a middle school art teacher, (yes, I did once seriously consider it). Not just because middle school is sort of like the wasteland of the school years (is there anything more difficult, more mortifying than being between the ages of 11 and 14?!) but also because i just get so tired of talking!
When I entered her classroom, I was happy to see that my friend has a daily sketch exercise for her students. At the front of the room, on a large drawing pad is a sketch the kids are asked to recreate in their sketch journals. Usually the sketch they are asked to copy illustrates something like, shading, overlapping, or perspective. While I try to pack a lot of information into these talk/demonstrations I am occasionally asked to do, the one thing I always emphasize to these often less than interested young minds is the importance of keeping a daily sketch journal. I usually bring a few of mine along and show them how ideas from weeks and months ago can make their way into a current piece of work. I show them now an image can develop with repeated sketching. I encourage them to cut and paste, copy, doodle and write, every day! Now, how many actually hear me and start a daily sketch practice I may never know. But, (cue the violins) if I can reach just one, then the humiliation of speaking to a room of stony faced adolescents has been worth it.
Since I have a daily sketch practice I thought I might start a new feature here on my blog: the Saturday sketch. It goes something like this, each Saturday I will post one of my sketches from the previous week. I am hoping to kill two birds with one stone by establishing some accountability to both my daily sketch practice and to regular blog posting. With that I present my first Saturday sketch.


Art beneath your feet

The Japanese do drain covers right! I couldn't help but notice the lovely drain covers on both Awaji Island and in Kobe. Apparently the entire country of Japan is resplendent with artfully designed drain covers. Here are a few forwarded to me from Laura Boswell, my NAP best buddy, who was lucky enough to travel as a tourist after our two months on Awaji Island.


My thoughts return to Awaji

Japan has been on my mind a lot lately. On our walks, Laura and I would sometime kvetch about the inconveniences of our life on Awaji Island and the struggles we had with the culture and language differences. We agreed that we would never want to 'live' there. Now that I am home for six weeks and have been overwhelmed by 'real' life I can think of nothing I would rather do more than return to my life on Awaji Island where the focus of every day was working in the studio. Truly, the most difficult adjustment I've had to make since returning home has been going from mono-focus (moku hanga) to multi-focus, (day-job, home, divorce, holidays, bills). The time I've spent with my three wonderful children has been the bright spot in this difficult period of adjustment.
Japan has been on my mind for another reason also. I recently learned that one of my moku hanga teachers, Takade-sensei, passed away on the last day of 2009. Just the other day I was going through objects and mementos from my recent days in Japan (yes, I am still unpacking) and I took time to admire the print he made for us during his demonstration. He was a patient sensei, a kind and generous man. The outpouring of condolences and support from the Nagasawa Art Park Program Alumni has been astounding. Takade-sensei's gentle and generous spirit touched many lives. I feel blessed at having had the opportunity to learn from him. Farewell, kind sensei.