Thursday 28 June 2012

Learning to Draw: Stone in the Strange Lot West of the Library

To hell with trying to draw something, was my cry at noon today, after in two attempts failing to capture the commissionaire guiding cars in to pay their property taxes on the west side of City Hall.
A few minutes later and a block east, faced with the centre stone (sawed-off pillar, actually) in a group of 13 others in a circle, I put the Pentel P209 mechanical pencil into gear and let it roll, doodlic. I ignored the darks and lights of the Tyndall stone.
Soon the stone, about 3x5 inches in my book, resembled one of those Lee Valley fridge magnets. I carried on curvy, claiming after a while that the best time for a dark line is after many lighter. Those voices calling from my inner jury for signs of sunlight on the stone were put on hold or transferred to the Technical Department.
Back and forth I swung the 209 over what has yet to decide if its top is flat or concave.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Learning to Draw: Taking the Learning to Draw Class or Not

My peeps want to know if I'm going through with taking the class--not just the name-calling commenters on the previous post but the waitress at Fireside Bistro who, glancing over my shoulder at the glass of beer I'd drawn, said What is that?. (I gave her time to say No, it's pretty good, I mean not bad, but. She said nothing more.)
Not. I'd planneed on walking into the class with a mechanical pencil and the sketchbook I've been drawing in, not the full kit the class requires.
Here I borrow some Phil Hall from his wonderful Killdeer: "put the art before the course" (which I just now realized is punny). I'll continue to draw out the summer, including drawing my way into essays (under way, my peeps!). Next: exciting mechanical pencil portrait of the Scarth street mall.

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Learning to Draw: On Opening the "Materials List"

Now I'm really nervous. I'm thinking I'll not follow through with my registration, which seems to be screwed up anyway. This particular course looks too intensive for how I'm approaching this process. I'm going slower.
My old friend Dave in Edmonton put me onto John Ruskin on learning to draw. Before I got to that, I turned the page in The Seeing Hand: A Treasury of Great Master Drawings and found Ruskin's "Rock Formation at Glenfinlas", a rock face in every sense. The conversation there could last a long time.
He did this with ink and watercolour, 19 x 13 inches. Somehow the stream runs fast, the foliage rich and deep. The face can't be touched by any word.
Now I'm going to think about not taking the class.

Monday 25 June 2012

Learning to Draw: Swimming Pool

Applying long minutes about perspective I'd viewed on YouTube, I swam, sat on the east-side apron (concrete), and drew Wascana Pool. With lanes, roped area, ladders, and two of the 50 or so pool-dwellers present. A ladybug, baked bright orange, did about as well, except that after flopping about half-wounded, I don't get to fly off to safety.
My pool seemed to have no water in it. (Cross "ripples" off the list of what random smudging is good for, and "any sign of time of day" and "fibreglass slide" and "pale-turquoise-and-mauve sandals two feet away".)
I thought about executing the drawing wet, which I yet might try, if I could be sure it wouldn't screw up my sketchbook (what I used to call a notebook.)
The west side underwater was darker, I noticed. I scribbled tall trees. I sketched the apron edge, forgetting to aim for the vanishing point.
It was a mess. The lane lines weren't bad.

Sunday 24 June 2012

Learning to Draw: Signage for Hot Dog Truck

The two hinged panels of the sign, when I drew shadows extending left from each base, became pantlegs leading to flat black shoes, a man or woman walking right to left. I darkened the inside, the side I could see, of the right-hand panel.
Now the pantleg flattened, no sense of leg in there. But as sign, it sort of worked. The best part was beyond my making: the strip of bright light along the nearest edges of the two panels.
I darkened the shadows, the feet turned ragged.

Thursday 21 June 2012

Overcoat, The End of It

Pardon the photo but we've reached the bottom of the overcoat story at last.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Learning to Draw: Frisbee

On the way to Tangerine for tea I thought of both having frisbees given away at my funeral and drawing a frisbee without looking at one.
Promising at first, but the more I drew, the more the frisbee seemed hollow, a dish, even from the top. I drew the inner edge, showed it curving underneath. It was darker there. I drew the word FRISBEE but could not make the letters look real. I toyed with a rationale for "not real".
Continuing to play around at the foreground edge, I implied more inside than out. A bowl, as I say, had appeared, with fragments of FRISBEE down where the berries would be instead of swirling away with the disc.
I kept looking at that leading edge, wondering what it would take to make it look just tossed. Further scribbling. I threw in a smudge. Now the frisbee was long gone, except for a couple of letters, which last time I looked, lined the bottom of a cup. I tried to add a handle and move on.

Thursday 14 June 2012

Learning to Draw: Chair

This morning I was caught drawing. A chair. A woman on her cellphone kept looking at me. Finally I showed her the chair, a brown-stained wooden thing in bright sun (alternating with raincloud) next to a silver pillar. Downtown Regina, Scarth street mall.
Seeing how I'd handled the darkness and lightness in the chair itself, never mind everywhere else, the woman looked away without the usual looking back. I attempted to show the chair closer than the tiled floor it stood on. I tried to disguise the chair's outline.
If she wanted, I'd try to make the chair not look so flat, but why am I still talking about her.
I found it easier to compose a list of other things impossible to draw, which includes rain, two girls running through it, my annoyance at cars parked on a pedestrian mall, a man's pronation in cheap shoes, and the woman's decision to stand up from her own chair.
Further darkening failed to bring her near.

Monday 11 June 2012


The last few nights I caught the General Fools Improv Festival here in Regina. (My daughter Lucy was part of the show with her improv duo Dot & Mae.) It was the kind of audience any writer would die for (I guess the writing would have to be pretty good in that case). Lively, noisy, ready. They know something good is about to happen. Rows of chairs form three sides of the performance area. 18 large lanterns and two lighting grids create the light. The bar is open downstairs.

On the other hand, at your average poetry reading the audience (which, like the improv audience, usually seems drawn from a community of people who know each other) tends to sit in "respectful silence" (to borrow a phrase from the Euro 2012 commentator for the England-France match). A podium is placed far to the front of parallel rows of chairs, house lights switched full on. Maybe the bar is open.

These are obvious contrasts, for obvious reasons in terms of genre of performance. And aren't we all tired of talking about the state of poetry, including poetry performance, these days. Still . . .

Tonight I'm off to the Vertigo reading, one Shelly Leedahl in town.

Tonight's reading has been switched to the FreeHouse, by the way.

Monday 4 June 2012

Learning to Draw

I'll know I can draw better when my most sophisticated technique is no longer "the smudge" or the "scribble long enough, hope something turns up". The latter maneuvre is best practiced with the eyes half closed, a musty sense of "gesture" running the show.

After a while I forget whether the smudge was meant show distance or nearer. I couldn't tell if I was looking out the window or in. Sometimes I'd scribble further, throwing good lead after bad.
If only I could get my head out of the way--that's my latest notion. I'd just need a glimpse, my hands just a moment. There'd be sunset and traffic noise and the Court House and lots of concrete. And those people walking by, one wearing a turquoise scarf.

Sunday 3 June 2012

Overcoat, Part Four

The other day they called to say my overcoat was ready.
(For those of you who, like me, are too lazy to go back to my earlier entries on this topic, the story, briefly, is this: I acted on a deep and sure desire for a long overcoat of high quality by ordering one from Italy through the high-end menswear store in downtown Regina. One arrived, too big. A second arrived, too big.)
This time I wore a certain pair of jeans, a certain pair of shoes down to the store, in order to best assess the look the coat would create in its drape to mid-calf.
Well, the coat felt gorgeous but looked a little straight in its lines. Think wool stovepipe. My expression, tending to dour anyway, must have looked even more sour than usual in the mirror. "I can take the sleeves up a little," the guy said, trying to help. "And it won't take too long."
We smiled at each other.

Friday 1 June 2012

Three Stops in the World of Writing

One of the three chapbooks in the next series of David Zieroth's labour of love, Alfred Gustav Press, will feature new work by yours truly. But I recommend this press anyway. Here, to give you an idea of what this Press is about, is David's note accompanying Series Eight: "I hope you enjoy these three chapbooks, each produced with the help of my stalwart netbook, laser jet, stapler, blade, steel edge and pencil, each imperfect in its own handmade way. Paper or production peculiarities that may arise on your copies will be unique, as is the poetry of Dorothy Field, Cornelia Hoogland and Patricia Young." Only $10 for the three in each Series!
And Talonbooks has published my first blurb: on the back cover of Wayman Chan's gorgeous new Chinese Blue. It's a fabulous book, a total ripper. I tried to find some way to say so, coming up with "These poems are marvels of the gone but ever-sighted, every moment in/out simultaneous. Read Chinese Blue in your hover-alls."
And Brenda Schmidt's Grid, which shows us what language is for.