“Work When Others Are Resting”

This is one of 9 pieces of advice from artist David Jon Kassan, posted by a former professor on a Facebook Group for Illustration Students along with a link to Kassan’s website. The list also includes, “Do more than what you are told to do,” “Take lots of breaks,” and “Love what you do or just don’t do it.”

Work when others are resting.

I love this maxim, because it’s not saying, “Do not rest.” It’s also not saying, “Do not go out when the air is bright and your friends are calling and the time has come to raise a glass and shout because you’re alive and the world is beautiful.” Rather, it is a gentle invitation from your work, from your vocation. It is a soft whisper from that which you love, saying, Find me in the liminal spaces. Come to me when the house is quiet, and we can be alone.

Figure drawing January 30th, 2011. Adobe Photshop. Copyright © Grace Makley (me).

 

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Writing, and How to Call the Storm

I keep reading it over and over, and I can’t quite believe the paragraph I wrote a few hours ago. It makes me shiver with excitement; it makes me shake with disbelief. This wasn’t supposed to happen, not here (Taniel! Why are you saying that?). Suddenly the story is blowing up here, in Chapter 4, in a way I never meant to happen. It’s scary, but it makes sense and it’s raw and it’s beautiful and it hurts, and it deals with that bit of mythology I just realized I’d neglected and  it adds more of that achey, real-life kind of pain just when I was worrying that the story didn’t have enough. In short, this was one of those magical writing moments. This was a crash of thunder, a spark of golden light, when my shaking hands were merely the vehicle for the story’s transferral to my screen. When a character had thoughts that deeply surprised me, thoughts I never meant for him to have. We all write for moments like these.

But I’m not here to brag.

Because this lightning strike? This flash of genius? I think I know how I got it, and I want to share. In fact, I think I’ve known this before, but it’s the sort of thing we forget, rather like the intro to a crazy dream. You’re gonna remember that bit right before you wake up, when you’re rallying the peasants with their pitchforks because you are the Queen of Jupiter and it’s time to take back the planet, but you’ve already forgotten how you got there, because it was so much less exciting. I mean, do you remember the last time you had to write an essay? How you hemmed and hawed and worked on your notecards and watched an entire season of How I Met Your Mother and did some research and thought about how cool your argument was, and didn’t really start writing the thing until 2 AM the night before it was due? How you’d been sitting there feeling uninspired and typing some occasional drivel for hours before that inspiration really struck? Well, here’s what I’m proposing, and I think it’s something we all know, despite how hard we try to forget: Those hours add up to something. Those hours of plugging away, of fixing a sentence here, a line there, when it feels like we’re barely working—these are what make the lighting possible. Today, for instance, I got a late start. I spent a really long time tightening a few paragraphs, I jumbled some things in that sort of worked but I knew I’d have to fix later, I grumbled at the inarticulateness of my notes and clumsily found some work-arounds for the sentences I’d been too lazy to fix before. I sat and grumbled and worked for one hour, for two hours, when it would have been easy to quit for the day, or to not even start in the first place. Yet I sat there, with my manuscript up on my computer and open on the table beside me. I put in my time. And then, right before dinner, when I should have been closing the computer and setting the table…

Lightning struck.

But only because I’d earned it.

 

 

More Sketches

Source photo from Anatomy for the Artist by Sarah Simblet. Drawn from observation entirely in Adobe photoshop on Tuesday (23 October 2012).

I didn’t draw on Wednesday (I did hike five miles and write some things!) but as a warm-up on Tuesday I worked on a sketch of Taniel to go with the glam sketch of Vanya I posted last week. I even fixed it up a bit today; if you think the eyes are funky now you should have seen them before!Several things wrong here; mostly it’s an example of why I’m doing more work from observation.

Happy Thursday!

David Triumphant

I found a boy with a harp, so I drew him.

It’s a David, of course, from the David and Goliath story. I didn’t have as much time to draw as I should have liked, but what can you do? Here’s a photo of the sculpture:

Thomas Crawford (artist)
American, 1814 – 1857
David Triumphant, model 1845/1846, carved 1848
marble and bronze
height: 114.3 cm (45 in.)

Source: http://www.nga.gov/

I arrived back in Maine at 8 am this morning after traveling through the night via Greyhound Bus. I have so much enjoyed my trip to North Carolina and DC, and I’ve had so many diverse experiences in the last two weeks. With any luck I’ll get to writing about them in the next few days, on the off chance you’re getting tired of all these pictures. 🙂

-G

Woman at a Window

 

 

Sketch from yesterday, at the National Gallery of Art. It’s of a woman in a Spanish painting.

 The Original:

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (artist)
Spanish, 1617 – 1682
Two Women at a Window, c. 1655/1660
oil on canvas

Image Source: http://www.nga.gov

 

As I worked, I had a sudden, shocking moment where I looked at my sketch and thought I was looking in a mirror. I didn’t realize when I started, but I this woman looks a lot like me!

Vanya Sketch Day

There weren’t any cool buildings or trees around the Raleigh Amtrak station, so I spent my drawing time today drawing this:

It took an embarrassingly long time to get his nose even close to accurate, even though I’ve already drawn his nose from that exact angle like only a gazillion times. Things like this are why I’m trying to do more drawing from observation. Also, what is up with that sultry smile?

 

UNC Sketch 2

Yesterday, I spent about 40 minutes on this sketch of Murphey Hall on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Campus.

Right now, I am on an Amtrak train bound for Washington DC, where I will be staying two nights in a hostel and running around taking reference photos for Wanderlust illustrations. It’s all so exciting!