Cartooning

This year I somehow managed to get a few more illustrations done in the spring section of the Nature Poetry book.  This first page was done a while back in Three Rivers, if not in a covert then certainly in a meadow after walking over a clear stream strewn with mossy stones.   And there were birds singing.  2 out of 3 spring-ish poetic allusions covered, not bad.  Unlike Christina Rossetti, I am averse to sitting in coverts and lingering near mossy-stone stream beds with the ticks, mites, fleas and mosquitos.  Decidedly unpoetic of me, I know.

Nature Poetry illustration 2

 

The second is of our olive trees in bloom.  There will not be follow-up illustrations depicting the development of the fruit since we (again, most unpoetically) sprayed the trees shortly after I finished the drawing below to prevent a crop from setting.

Nature Poetry Illustration 3

Like most commercial orchard crops, olives grown in a backyard are not properly cared for to produce anything that will rival what a pro who knows how to control the critical variables can grow, but that doesn’t mean the crop won’t be abundant and cause no end of nastiness come fall.  If you want to press olive oil, you must withhold water for 3 weeks prior to harvest.  I expect some similar admonition applies if you are trying to create olives with interesting flavor profiles for curing whole.  Well, the rest of your landscape would not appreciate the stress this watering strategy causes and your HOA association might call on you to make sure you are not neglecting your landscape in violation of the CC and R’s.  So, no olives are to follow the bloom.

Many years ago, I had an old olive tree situated between my garage and the adjacent orchard that must have been treated with just the right amount of benign neglect because come fall, the elderly Armenian ladies I didn’t even know would come knocking at my door toting buckets and asking to collect the olives from my tree.  Silly me, I didn’t even think to request a lesson in the processing of olives from them back then and now, of course, they are all gone and their descendants never learned the fine art of home curing olives.  There just might be a poem hiding in that situation.

Any road, the olive drawing really belongs thematically (for me) to the poem on the facing page where it would not fit visually:  In a Spring Still Not Written Of, by Robert Wallace.  So, at “double nickels,” I guess I have become one of those he mentions who has time for poems that really are not written for me, sigh.

Why do I refer to these illustrations I’m doing here as “cartooning?”  One of my instructors in the Filoli Botanical Illustration Certificate Program refers to the linework in drawings like these as “cartoon lines” in a very dismissive way and points them out as something to avoid at all costs.  That certainly doesn’t stop me from doing work in this style of colored drawing I enjoy so immensely, it only stops me from showing any of the work to them, ever again.

Back to the Drawing Board

Poetry book photo2

 

It’s time to get the studio up and running in the new place.  Since it’s been a while with no regular art production, I thought it best to start with some small exercises to get back in the swing of things.  In the move I found this project, a book of nature poems I got at a library book sale years ago that I felt needed “alteration.”  Altered books are a new phenomenon to me, schooled as I was never to write in books or deface them in any way.  I’m not sure I’m quite ready for some of the more radical alterations I’ve seen, but this book seemed to be crying out for more and different illustrations than it was born with upon publication, a sample of which is shown above. There are 3 or 4 more of these, one at the start of each section, and that’s it for illustrations.  The paper is nice and thick, with good tooth but no noticeable texture and it has aged to a lovely cream.  The poems are organized seasonally, so I decided to add little illustrations of my own surrounding the poetry in the generous margins each according to it’s season, like this:

Poetry book photo 1

 

 

Now, that’s more like it for illustrations in a book of nature poems for me. Spring in my new neighborhood means Loropetalum Chinense, also known as Fringe Plant, blooming wildly in almost every yard, including my own.  After bloom, these shrubs provide the red contrast that every landscape designer seeks for relief from overabundance of green.  It used to be only Flowering Plum provided that in these parts.  Happily, we now have many more choices.  My favorites are red Japanese Maples and certain cultivars of Heuchera, also known as Coral Bells.  I’d like this Fringe Plant much more if it wasn’t so ubiquitous all of a sudden.  Plants go in and out of fashion in just the same way that hemlines go up and down on the runways of Paris and New York and this is the must have shrub of the moment, at least in my new neck of the woods.

Hello world!

Fall Color

Perversely, I always feel ready for new beginnings in the fall rather than the spring, probably because I am still in synch with the old standard academic calendar beginning in the fall more than the Gregorian calendar with January as the beginning of the year or nature’s cycle of beginnings in the spring and endings in the fall.  Many thanks to Christina for helping me to set up my blog and website. Now is as good a time as any, let’s begin!