We made some unique friends while "birding" at Big Bend National Park of Texas. They were dedicated "birders" with powerful binoculars, all-weather jackets with lots of pockets for notebooks and reference books, wide brim hats, sun screen and bug spray, sun glasses, cameras, trekking poles: all required gear for that glimpse of a rare yellow-bellied or crimson-throated whatever. Sara and I had a ball cap, hiking boots, and cellphone camera - novices, no doubt.
We shared a delightful week learning about this new hobby and much more. Then continued building our acquaintance a few years later with a brief visit to their home in Big Timber Montana, between Bozeman and Billings, right smack on the fold of a Rand McNally road map, of course.
Tom is the son of an accomplished musician from Chicago and a concert pianist by his own right; Sally is now a visual artist working with fabrics, glass, and other media. Both retired and migrated from the big city to the solitude, beauty and big sky of Montana. Sara and I were both overwhelmed by their gracious hospitality, the charming home, eclectic music to complement the sumptuous meal, all surrounded by the beauty of the Crazy Mountains.
It's hard to say thanks for this continuing memory. Music flowed through Tom's fingertips out of a grand piano to fill the music room beneath one of Sally's hand-made quilts showcasing a keyboard caressing flowers, then out the window to serenade the majestic mountains.
So, I made a drawing that reflects our shared experiences and values; birds and wildlife of nature with a backdrop of mountains and sky; and our own artistic passions using fabric, india ink and piano ivory. What do you think?
5 years ago, I began sketching what I saw, when I saw it, in front of God and all mankind. Well, I exaggerate a bit... but let me describe my experience.
From the time I had first learned to draw, in 4 years I realized I had filled many sketch books with drawings and studies from magazines and photographs, but never in public. This was always an exercise I confined to the privacy of my studio or kitchen table without any others around to offer critique. I liked it that way.
Then, Sara and I had an opportunity to go to China. While on the River Li, I was taking photos like all other tourists as our boat cruised by those beautiful karst mountains seen in asian art and currency. I don't know what sparked me, but suddenly I ran below, grabbed my sketchbook and pencil out of my backpack, and returned to try to quickly catch the shapes and mood in graphite before each "snap shot" receded from my eyesight and memory. I became totally emersed in this collaborative exercise between my eyes and my fingertips.
To top it off, I was not aware that many people were gathering behind me to watch what I was trying to do. Many offered compliments (I think) in French, German, Chinese, Japanese, Italian and more! That day, my art became a delightful vehicle to engage others from all over the world. Who would have guessed!
This Summer, I'll add sketches from my sketchbook, beginning with this from the River Li.
Drawing in pen and ink, I often rely on making dots to illustrate changing values into shades of grey. So I'm adding to my website gallery (under animals) a few older drawing-exercises that illustrate that. I occasionally add graphite which softens the harshness of black on a white background and tends to blend values even more.
But let me also share a drawing found a few years ago by a Montana artist, Bill O'Neill, now deceased. If you magnify the image, you can see the precise location of his "dots" to illustrate snow blowing, distant trees and more. No cheating with graphite. My hero!