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April 26, 2008

Drawing with a Ballpoint Pen - Part 2

Since I wrote a post on drawing with a ballpoint pen recently, I've made up a new video (see below) that shows twenty of my ink drawings. I used a Bic ballpoint pen on all of them, and on several I used other pens also. Before each drawing is shown on the video, it tells what kind of pens I used. They include a Bic ballpoint pen, Sharpie marker, PaperMate felt-tip pen, and Staples gel pen. You can see the video below.


Video Title: 20 Ink Drawings
Time: 6 Minutes, 23 Seconds
Left-click twice (gently) on arrow in middle of picture to begin. There is quiet piano music in the background which makes the video more pleasant, but there is no narrative so you don't have to have your sound turned on. By the way, although the picture you see here is "fuzzy," on the video all the pictures, including this one, are much clearer.

All of my drawings are small. I use an ordinary clipboard (the one I used in college for taking notes) as my drawing board. I usually clip on a sheet of ordinary inexpensive drawing paper or else a piece of Bristol board I've cut from the tablet (I prefer the Bristol board for ink drawings, but it's more expensive). Sometimes, not often, I lean a tablet against the clipboard rather than taking off one sheet and clipping it on. The tablet is never bigger than 9" X 12" in size.

When I just clip on a sheet of paper, there are dozens of sheets of 8-1/2" X 11" notebook paper clipped underneath so the backing is firm but also a bit resilient -- just right for drawing. I lean the clipboard against some small boxes that keep it almost but not quite straight up and down (that is, almost at a 90 degree angle). Of course I keep something (heavy and short) in front of it to keep it from sliding forward.

Below is a list of all the drawings shown in the video, in order of their "appearance." I've given the dimensions of each picture (they aren't given in the video, though I do tell what kind of pen(s) I used).

1) Gnarled Old Tree (5-3/4" X 7-3/4")

2) Front of House and Shrubbery (4-1/2" X 8")

3) Back of House and Shrubbery (4-3/4" X 8")

4) Garden Shed Covered with Vines (5-1/8" X 7-5/8")

5) New York City Street Scene (6-1/2" X 5-7/8")

6) Laundry on Hill in China (6" X 7")

7) Narrow Street on Hill in China (5-5/8" X 5-1/8")

8) Mockingbird in the Snow (4-1/2" X 5")

9) Mockingbird Feeding his Baby (3-1/4" X 5-3/8")

10) Cat Eating out of Small Dish (4" X 5-1/4")

11) Grinning Cat Lying on Side (5-1/2" X 6")

12) Sleeping Dog in Wicker Chair (7" X 8")

13) Ground Squirrel (5-3/4" X 7")

14) Rabbit Eating off Ground (6" X 8")

15) Tree Frog (4-5/8" X 6-7/8")

16) 1947 Pontiac Convertible in Junkyard (5-1/2" X 8-1/2")

17) Old Cadillac Convertible in Junkyard (5-1/2" X 8")

18) DeSoto AirFlow with Large Birds in Attendance (5-1/2" X 8-1/2")

19) Wrecked 1957 Oldsmobile in Junkyard (7" X 8")

20) Old car in Junkyard (5" X 7-1/2")
Here is the earlier post on drawing with a ballpoint pen, and here is a newer post on drawing with a ballpoint pen.
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April 19, 2008

Andy Goldsworthy

It must be hard to believe (how could I have not known about him), but I didn't recognize Andy Goldsworthy's name when someone told me about him some months ago. I thought he must be an artist that only a few knew about, but I was very wrong. It turned out that he is well-known throughout the world (just not by me until recently).

I understand that a few critics have looked down upon what he does, and in fact I went searching for articles the authors of which did not admire Goldsworthy and his art. I thought I had finally found one but it was no longer available on the web. I'm sure that some day someone will come along and read this and let me know where to find such an article.

Meantime, after reading one of his books, and after reading a lot about him on the web, and looking at many, many pictures and videos showing the artist at work and describing his projects and his thoughts about them, I've come to be one of those who indeed greatly admire him and in fact think he's probably an artistic genius. This you can be sure about: He's not your normal artist.

But what kind of an artist is he? An article in Wikipedia calls Andy Goldsworthy a "sculptor, photographer and environmentalist." Some refer to him as an "environmental sculptor" or simply an "artist." There is no doubt at all that he is an artist.

What does he do, exactly? He assembles objects found in nature, usually at the same place where he's found them (though occasionally, for an exhibition, he constructs "installation art" that's not done on the site where he found the objects). He makes things with these natural objects (such as leaves, rocks, sticks, ice.....) that appear as though nature has made them, and yet they are obviously made by an artist....In other words, what he makes with natural materials all around him is what Nature would make if Nature were an artist - Nature produces the materials and the inspiration and the artist produces the work. That's how it seems to me. It's wonderful. It's amazing. Only a human could do these things, but it has to be a very special human so in tune with Nature that it's as though he is an artistic extension of it...the part of it that makes art.

Most of his works are, and are very much meant to be, temporary. Some last just hours, or minutes. Some can't really quite be "finished" before they are destroyed by wind or gravity or other natural forces, yet that doesn't matter (it's no doubt disappointing when the artworks prematurely disintegrate, yet that's what happens in Nature -- There is constant change, not always seemingly for the good).

Goldsworthy experiences something as he's working that he tries to express, making something visible that wasn't there but could have been (this last is a paraphrase of a quote, but I have lost the quote and so this is my interpretation of the idea), and he is always ready to photograph what he does so although his work might have disappeared by the time anyone else knows about it, we're able to see what he's done and what's happened to it. (I wonder if anyone would have known he was an artist if he lived before we had photography.)

I've noticed in all he does and in all he says there is quietness (not quietness as in "lifelessness" but quietness as in "acute awareness"). He's very aware of what's going on in nature; he doesn't want to impose on it but to be part of it, and he's naturally a quiet, inwardly-focused person (an introvert like myself - As he explains, "I enjoy being by myself.....To be honest, I think I am drained by...people").

And he's very intense. There is a lot of tension and drama in what he does, too, no matter that it's made of sticks and stones, and that's one of the things we can learn from viewing his work, i.e., what's in nature Nature is not about pretty scenery but about natural forces and change.

Andy Goldsworthy was born in 1956 in Cheshire, England and now lives in Scotland.

Below are

1) videos
2) links to online articles, photographs, and an interview with Goldsworthy
3) mention of his books
4) some Goldsworthy quotations.



Left-click once on arrow in middle of video, or the arrow at left under the video to begin. There is sound with this. This short video is an excerpt from the documentary called Rivers and Tides.


You can rent the video from amazon.com here for $2.99, for 30 days (7-day viewing period after you've started to look at it). It's 1 hour and 31 minutes long.


-- There are several other short videos showing Goldsworthy at work that you can watch, which I've put together in a "pod." The pod is among the video pods at the bottom of the page. Just left-click gently on a picture to start a video (if you don't click gently, it sometimes takes you to YouTube...It's kind of ugly there, though I like YouTube).

-- Here's a site that's loaded with short videos about Goldsworthy. They're not what you'll find in the video pod on this page, nor will you find them anywhere on YouTube. It's on the ArtisanCam site.

There are MANY videos on this site to do with Goldsworthy. Just click on pictures, or click on questions. There's a gold mine here but you have to try things -- a left-click on a picture usually leads to a video, or else several videos. These are of very good quality and are quite interesting. You could spend a long time here, so be prepared to come back later (again and again) if you don't have a long time.

Be sure, on that first page, to not only click on the smaller pictures to get to videos, but also the larger picture at the left, showing Goldsworthy working with small sticks, on an installation that looks to me like a huge spiderweb. If you click on that one larger picture you'll get to three videos showing Goldsworthy and several assistants putting together some of his installations at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, with commentary by Goldsworthy as well as the artisans helping him.


-- This page has some very nice photos of some of his works, plus comments by Goldsworthy.

--Nice article in the New York Times on Goldsworthy

--Review of the documentary "Rivers and Tides"

-- Another good review of "Rivers and Tides"

-- Q&A with Andy Goldsworthy - Time Magazine

This last one, above, includes a Photo Essay (Click on picture under the word PHOTOS on left side of page) including a very interesting interview with Goldsworthy.

-- Sheepfolds is shown on this page in a 360 degree picture that moves around the whole scene as you watch -- or -- do this for a real treat: Hold your mouse cursor on the picture (press on the left side of your mouse and keep it pushed down), anywhere, and move the picture around so that you can see anything you want, even the sky, even the ground below.

-- Andy Goldsworthy Online on the Artcyclopedia site.


Andy Goldsworthy has had many books published, and I'm assuming that all of them are as well illustrated with his beautiful photographs as the one I've read (Passage).

This biography of Goldsworthy in Wikipedia has a long list of his publications toward the bottom of the page. Here are names of just some of these books: Stone, Wood, Passage, Time, Hand to Earth, Wall, Touching Nature, Enclosure, Rivers & Tides, The Art of Andy Goldsworthy: Complete Works. There are many others listed.


I have a feeling that people have taken every sentence he has uttered (including, probably, "I'm going around the corner to get a cup of coffee") and made them into
"quotations," but these are the ones that strike me personally.

"At best a work of art releases unpredictable energy that is a shock to both artist and viewer - I do not mean shock in conventional sense but an emotional tremor that articulates a feeling which has been in search of form."

"Photography is a way of putting distance between myself and the work which sometimes helps me to see more clearly what it is that I have made."

"People also leave presence in a place even when they are no longer there."

"My art is an attempt to reach beyond the surface appearance. I want to see growth in wood, time in stone, nature in a city, and I do not mean its parks but a deeper understanding that a city is nature too-the ground upon which it is built, the stone with which it is made."

"The older I get the more I realise how fluid an urban environment is. Bunhill Fields graveyard for example, represents the absence of people but also the presence of their memory."

"As with all my work, whether it's a leaf on a rock or ice on a rock, I'm trying to get beneath the surface appearance of things. Working the surface of a stone is an attempt to understand the internal energy of the stone."

In an interview, Goldsworthy was asked: "What kind of a person are you?" He answered, "Dull." The interviewer then asked, "How would you describe yourself to someone who's never met you?" Goldsworthy answered, "People want to meet me. I think they have an idea that it's going to be really interesting. And it's not. I'm actually not that interesting. What I make is really interesting. But I...I am not."____


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April 11, 2008

Subject Matter in Art - Part Three

This is my third post on Subject Matter in Art. Click here for Part One, and Click here for Part Two.

Blue House on Fire - One of my Conte crayon drawings

What subjects are most popular (in other words, what sells the most)? Who cares? Okay, I myself have been interested in knowing this, and I remember once thinking that I should try to draw pictures that people liked. That was before I became much more confident about what I should be drawing (though I have strayed now and then...but not for popularity's sake).

Actually, it's easy to find out what sells. All you need to do is go to the online stores that sell reproductions of artworks (prints, posters, paintings copied by artisans onto canvas, etc.). Those people certainly will have done all the research to find out what sells (at least on their site), and that's what they show you. They would never show things people don't want to buy.

Some of them have lists of the most popular subjects, as if you wouldn't be able to figure out what you liked without knowing what other people like. And then under each main category they may tell you what the most popular sub-category is, and then when you get to that sub-category and start seeing the pictures, they are probably by default arranged in order by popularity (most popular shown first).

Art.com (Posters, Art Prints, and Framed Art) for example, has lists like these. When you get to the site, look at the left side of the page and click on "Most Popular." The main categories are these (in order of popularity, I assume, since they're not in alphabetical order):

1) Scenic
2) Botanical
3) Places
4) Animals
5) People


Just below is a list of the most popular art subjects at the PaintingAll Art Gallery (where they sell oil painting reproductions), in order of popularity.

The main categories --

1) Landscapes
2) Seascapes
3) Floral still lifes
4) Genre paintings
5) People
6) Still lifes
7) Countries and famous cities
8) Animals

Click on a sub-category (e.g., landscapes/winter) to see their selection of pictures with that subject; presumably the pictures are also shown in order of popularity.


There's an article at the About.com site called Selling Paintings: Which Subjects Sell Best?

In this article there is a list of the "Top 10 best-selling subjects for paintings in the UK," according to "Art Business Today." Here is the list:

1) Traditional landscapes
2) Local views
3) Modern or semi-abstract landscapes
4) Abstracts
5) Dogs
6) Figure studies (excluding nudes)
7) Seascapes, harbour, and beach scenes
8) Wildlife
9) Impressionistic landscapes
10) Nudes

Also on this page they list the best selling media (different types of prints, different kinds of painting, etc.)


I don't believe it's a good idea to decide what subjects to draw or paint based on their popularity (see my other posts on the subject -- Subject Matter in Art - Part One, and Subject Matter in Art - Part Two for a lot more I've written about this) but I can understand why some people do so when they must sell their pictures in order to earn a decent living (though I'd think it would be better to make a living doing something else, if possible, and devote their free time to art so they can choose the subject matter they're best at and enjoy most working with).


"I used to say to my students during 20 years of teaching high school art, 'If you market target your art, it is a sure way of becoming a nobody.' This means you join hundreds of others in reploughing the same furrow and don’t express your unique self." -- Robert Bateman (Canadian naturalist and wildlife artist)

For this post's PERMALINK, click on time stamp just below this post, then look at the URL.


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