Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Break from Painting

After painting over 75 pieces in the last 11 months, I need a little break from the brushes! My Micron pens were calling out to me, so I dusted them off and found my Bristol paper and got to it. He's a work in progress (still needs many more black circles on his plumage yet) but critiques of this guy are most welcome.

Work In Progress - Northern Flicker (red shafted) - Pen & Ink

Unlike most woodpeckers, flickers tend to forage for food on the ground a fair amount. One of their favorite snacks is ants. My subject here was settling down to munch on a tasty ant hill when I snapped the reference shot. I was trying to incorporate some of the grass into the scene but I don't feel that's a terribly successful part of the piece. The grass doesn't read as flat and thin to me, but more rounded. I will probably just darken the bottom of the piece enough to hide the grass. I want to further develop the gradation behind the bird as well.

You'd think that all of those little dots in the stippling would drive me crazy but aside from a crick in my neck and shoulders (which my wonderful husband voluntarily massages out for me) I find the process very soothing. In fact, my inner critic doesn't make much of an appearance with this type of work at all.

And soothing is exactly what I need right now. This apartment-hunting process is getting to Paul and I. I am trying to believe that a perfect apartment really is out there just waiting for us to find it, but this is a discouraging process that makes me think a little less of humanity. It blows my mind what people consider acceptable living conditions and how much they charge for the, um, er, honor. How can you call someplace a two bedroom apartment if one of the bedrooms has no source of heat? Why would you show an apartment that has trash in the front yard and broken windows? And what is it with landlords who set up a time for you to come and look at a prospective apartment and then don't show!? - This is what has happened with an apartment we really liked. We wanted to get in for a second look and then talk about signing a lease and the guy has blown us off twice! He apologized profusely the first time, but we haven't heard back from him the second time. If he does eventually call back, do we give him a third chance, given that we really like the apartment (private yard area, big windows and lots of storage, great neighborhood, and a sound barrier between the floors!) or is this a preview of what kind of landlord he's going to be? *Sigh*

On a happier note, both the osprey and the tree swallows are now back in town. I feel badly for them though - we've had snow squalls and wind gusts up to 50 mph. At one point last Thursday it was nearly white-out conditions. Welcome Spring!


Eve said...

I LOVE your Flicker Gab! He is beautiful! Good luck on that apartment hunting...Yikes that doesn't sound fun at all!
I also LOVE that buffalo header!!!

Ken Januski said...

Hi Gabrielle,

Sad to hear that the apartment travails continue. I'd sure have second thoughts about the guy who doesn't show. Unless he calls with a very good excuse I'd keep looking. But I'm sure at some point you'll just get exhausted and maybe have to take something that you have misgivings about. Hopefully you'll find the place of your dreams before that.

Flicker looks good. I knew that they were on the ground a lot but I never realized that they were eating ants. You learn something everyday.

I understand about the soothing quality of pen and ink. Sometimes you need something that is 'automatic' in a way. For awhile I did some detailed insect drawings in rapidograph and it was a bit similar. I NEVER thought I'd be able to work like that but I found I actually enjoyed it. And sometimes it's just good to change media.

Painting should be exciting when you come back to it.

Gabrielle said...

Thanks for the enthusiastic response to the drawing and the header, Eve!

Ken, I have found that I get restless sticking with just one medium. I took a very long break from my pen & ink work, and the flicker seems to imply that I have come back to it very refreshed from concentrating on painting for so long. So although I don't plan on taking a long break from painting, even this short break will probably breathe some fresh air into my next brush strokes.

Thank you both for your well wished and sympathy with the apartment search!