Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Gift That Lasts


Harsh words, gentle words, careful or careless, just a few short words can have a lasting impact. A lifetime loop, some words repeat in my head, over and over again, never forgotten, cropping up again and again with the least little trigger. Just a few short words can have lasting impact.
And it was just such a moment that jumps into my head just about every time I draw a tree, any tree anywhere, I hear Ed telling me, gently, 'trees are not symmetrical'.
Ed was an artist (maybe is, we lost touch). I don't recall his last name, as he was always Ed, as in 'Bob & Ed', to me. Bob and Ed owned the cottage next to my parents cottage, and I liked them pretty much. After all, Ed was an Artist, which was pretty darned cool, and an Architect too, even cooler, and neither of them ever complained to my parents about us raiding their blue-berry patch, and Bob was a really good cook, and their very long driveway was great fun to ski down in winter. My dad, like any good dad, thought I was the next Van Gogh, so he arranged to have Ed look over my art and give me a critique. I have no idea of my age at the time, but I do recall taking great pains to draw my very best ever rendition of a pine tree in preparation for my very first ever professional critique. With this accomplished, I took my paper in hand and shyly, all by myself, walked across the driveway and crept up their porch. I remember waiting very quietly behind their door before I got up the nerve to knock. I remember very formally being invited in for my 'critique' wherein he perused my drawing with a practiced eye for some excruciatingly long and respectful moments--then he very very carefully told me that while this tree was pretty good, or some other such neutral to nice terminology, I needed to keep in mind that trees are not symmetrical. Even if at first they appear to be, there are always subtle variations. While I never again imposed upon him for his free professional advice, that lesson repeats itself in my head each and every time I render a tree onto paper.
Thank you Ed, wherever you are. Lesson well learned, I hope.

Image: Graphite on 5" x 7" acid free sketch paper. This is another bed sketch, yes, rendered from start to finish whilst curled up beneath a nice crinkly feather duvet. This is the first time I tried the impressed line technique. This involves using a blunt round ended object, such as a wooden stylus to indent the paper in such a way that application of pencils will reveal the indents as white line (easier done than said). I used the handle of a tea spoon. There are much better tools for this, but finding one would have required abandoning the warmth of the duvet not to mention the spillage of two heat-seeking felines. It seemed simpler to reach for the spoon. The scene is a part of Eldred King Forest Tract, York Regional Forest, a view from an open field into a stand of pale poplars growing against a backdrop of planted pines. I've seen it many times, taken a series of really bad snapshots that never do it justice and often try to memorize with my eyes. I think I've finally got it. Again, Thank You Ed.

6 comments:

Chrissy said...

I love how you manage to do things from memory. I do usually need to work to something unless it is out of my head. It is strange, I haven't done any formal art training fo years but I can remember a few comments from when I did art school and they come back to me. He gave good advice to you. It is a lovely drawing and great subject :)

Jennifer Rose said...

The mind is a such a cool thing with what it will remember. The only art "advice" (can't really call it that) I really remember was my art teacher (a brother to a famous Canadian wildlife artist) taking my sketchbook and writing draw less fantasy art, stick to real life things. :/ We didn't get along at all. I walked out of class a few times :p then stopped going all together :p Just a clash of personalities probably.

A spoon works perfectly fine, I either use a pin or a pen. Def. better to stay warm and not risk the wrath of two felines. Keep staying warm!

Michelle (artscapes) said...

Beautiful....
It is interesting how some things we never forget...

kaslkaos said...

Thanks Chrissy. I do from memory when I must. It can lead to interesting distillations of style or total failures.
Jen, love that story. Yes, the wrong advice can be a painful needle even if you know it was stupid. Mine was the "make it bigger" advice I got in art college. I still feel inadequate about my mostly small stuff. (size does matter?!?)
Thanks Michelle, I think art critiquing is a sensitive area. I'd never want to do it, but Ed did it right.67

rosalie said...

it's the same with me.. i also feel some kind of poor concerning my more or less small sized paintings. but it's the way my personal creativity comes out of me, the way it flows.

i really think size doesn't matter at all, but as we go through the world with open eyes we all tend to 'compare' which, at the end, is totally needless.

kaslkaos said...

Thanks for dropping in Rosalie!
I just can't wait for a guy to chime in on this debate ;-)

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