Zinnias on my deck, collage and oil pastels. Underneath the layers of glue and hand painted paper is the television schedule from the newspaper. That little bit of a Pandemic Past-time reference got covered up. Whoops. Can you find the paper towels I use to blot my watercolor brushes? Or the glossy advertisements for patio and landscaping companies? ‘Safer at home in the suburbs’ – maybe that should be the title. Try collage as a ‘way in’ to your artistic subconscious.
I have found it difficult to draw during this fourth month of staying at home, so I started painting rocks in June instead. Rock painting seems to require less concentration. I finally got back to my sketchbook today thanks to Fleur, my old froggy friend. In this drawing, Fleur the Frog looks at a painted rock featuring her portrait. An explanation of sorts is required. When I used to blog book reviews in my former life as a librarian, I recruited Fleur, an area frog from the local swamp, to ‘write’ for the blog. It gave me a break from the task. She reappeared on one of my recent painted rocks. Then, as is her rather ‘meta/ironic?’ habit, she just popped up in this still life today (above).
Fleur appears in my art from time to time: in the monoprint from 2019 and in the original drawing which still appears as her avatar on the old library blog (above) In today’s drawing, I used a small plastic toy as a model in the still life. Thanks, Fleur, for posing. I needed the inspiration and bit of whimsy that you always bring to my work.
Trying new techniques while sketching only what I can see while staying at home is a good way to see my surroundings with a different point of view. Collage is a technique that for some reason takes a little less concentration than a realistic sketch. It is less bound to reality, I suppose. I included crossword puzzles from the newspaper to remind me of new activities people are doing to pass the time. You can also spot a wrapper in Chinese from a bar of soap and a photograph of Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading infectious disease specialist in the U.S. So hints of the pandemic lurk in the collage inevitably.
With people sheltering in place at home, something had to take the place of going out to socialize, eat, work, work out and other daily activities. Cooking, doing jigsaw puzzles and gardening became really popular. I’m a terrible baker because I don’t follow directions. When I made scones, the flour in my cupboard smelled funny, so I texted a friend who said to throw it out. After digging deeper in my baking supplies, I found a small bag of flour, so I made a small batch of scones. They tasted bland and were hard, so I painted a still life of the scones in the style of a Mexican bark painting that hangs in my studio.
When the weather warmed up, I cleaned up my garden to get ready for spring planting. It has been a cold, but beautiful spring in New Jersey, but the herbs seemed to be growing already in early April.
Puzzles are really in demand. Luckily I found two in my coat closet. It turns out, I’m not a very patient puzzle person, so again, I drew the picture instead of sorting the pieces the first day. A month after this painting, the puzzle is only half done!
Grocery shopping during the pandemic requires a mask in New Jersey. Store shelves are often empty and some things are almost impossible to find. But this week, I found a bag of dried peas and the prize: a roll of toilet paper! I tried to draw this still life with a dramatic, raking light and very dark and light values.