28 December 2007
In the last week or so I have found myself sitting like a cat at the kitchen window watching the birds. They are constant visitors to the well-stocked feeder. My father dutifully buys sunflower seeds in bulk to keep the feathered friends happy through the winter. Even on these mild days they have been in a bit of a frenzy.
I decided to sit down and draw them—quick calligraphic sketches trying to capture the fleeting seconds (and feathers). The pages that result are almost lyrical to me. I can sit and draw 10-12 pages in my sketchbook without even realizing it. It is very soothing to sit and watch the gentle rhythm of them all.
I found out it is actually quite difficult to draw the birds on the feeder, they are too quick for me. I try to capture the birds on the ground at the foot of the feeder.
The chickadees are like dive bombers and never fly in a straight line. Their black and white heads pause only momentarily before they zip off again. The titmice are also elusive. They have peaked heads like cardinals but without the brilliant coloring. They are more subdued in blue-ish grey and cream. They are one of my favorite birds. The bluejays are bullies, they pick on anything smaller than themselves and hog the feeder. The morning doves are timid and never leave the ground. They gingerly bob around the foot of the feeder. Smaller finches and the quiet little snowbirds are also frequent diners.
On Christmas Eve I had a very rare visitor. A female Red Headed Kinglet was on the ground. Her markings were unfamiliar to me—she was small and sleek with smooth olive colored feathers and a striking pattern of black and white stripes on her wings. I looked up her markings in the field guide and discovered she was very far from home. Her normal range is Alaska and Western Canada and she summers in the Gulf. Hopefully she will find her way again.
I have devoted an entire sketchbook to the birds and I hope to fill it by the time winter break is over. I haven’t decided what I am going to do with the sketches (if anything) but for now it is quite nice to spend an hour or so each day drawing my feathered friends.
20 December 2007
I don’t like New York City, I never have. I have never been charmed by it. But it has taken me a long time to figure out why.
There is actually something off-putting about the fact that you can get anything you want, at anytime you want in New York City. Nothing is sacred. Nothing is unique. Everything is available (at a price of course). It is a type of gluttony that is not appealing.
New York City is too big. It swallows you in indifferent canyons of glass and steel. I can feel the buildings over my shoulders like uneasy strangers. I don’t feel that way in Boston, or London, or Paris. I can walk in those cities and not feel the coldness of the architecture. Their buildings do not block the sun from the streets.
It is not just the buildings, but the sidewalks too. The throngs of pedestrians are the current of an angry paced river. It is dizzying.You cannot pause in New York City—you will be consumed. You can’t stop or catch your breath. I can’t operate at that pace, I don’t have that edge in me.
I prefer my cities a little quieter, a little more manageable. I like to walk without feeling like a salmon going upstream. I like to be able to stumble upon places and delight in the discovery. In New York City there are a million different voices and places vying for your attention and your money. There is a feeling that everything has been done before, or if it hasn’t, it is only valid when it is done in New York. It is an elitism that New York tries to deny, but it is ever present.
I never feel like I belong in New York City. I am always a tourist, and I always will be.
There is nothing alluring to me about a place that will not hesitate to swallow you in indifference. I am not one to sing the praises of the Big Apple, I’ll take Boston any day.
(I took the above photograph yesterday in New York City. There is something very sad about that neon sign, and something very true.)
18 December 2007
"I've lived my life in my own way and I'm here because I have taken the trouble to find out who I am." -Keith Richards
The "human riff" is 64 years old today. It ought to be an international holiday. Long live Rock and Roll. And like Keith says at every concert, "It's good to be here, it's good to be anywhere!"
So play some Stones today and toast the man who will probably outlive us all.
(the above photographs were taken June 16th, 2007 at Stade de France, Paris during the Stones' final leg of A Bigger Bang world tour)
13 December 2007
08 December 2007
These are some studies I did of seashells. I was experimenting with a very exciting ink from Parker called Quink. You brush on a layer of the blue black ink onto the paper and let it dry. Then you dip your brush or pen into bleach and draw. A very luminescent line appears. I love the glowing quality. I originally prepared my paper with a yellow ochre watercolor wash and salt resist. Then I brushed on the Quink and let the magic happen.