Above: Sketch of Zeke, a merle Australian Shepherd, as he slept at my friend Nan's feet. Nexus black ink pen in a handbound journal (6 x 8 inches; scan just clipped a little on the right) with Gutenberg paper. Below his nose on the page is a thin line. It's a bit of dog hair that made the journey home with me, stuck to the page even as I scanned it. I thought for a moment to rescan the spread, but then thought no, the hair should remain in the scan, because it has already fallen out of the book. This is the only record of it. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
Sunday I spent the day in River Falls, Wisconsin with two friends and two dogs. My friend Roseanne and I drove out to visit our friend Nan (who has two Australian Shepherds), to have brunch and catch up. While Roseanne knitted and later did some sewing on a quilt in progress we all chatted. Towards the end of the day the dogs actually relaxed and I was able to do some sketching. The above sketch of Zeke had to stop short of paint because just when I got to this point and took my paints out of the bag at my feet the other dog (Rush) started barking to be let into the house. Zeke got up to go to the door. The mix of copper and black on his face is too involved for me to sketch without him in front of me!
Left: Rush peeking out from the edge of a chair. She is mostly a white dog with black and copper areas. Only now that she is older and "slower" do I actually get to sketch the colorings on her head, which have always proved so difficult. The muzzle is a bit long, but I've got her lovely white eyelashes. The text should read "eyes closed" on the second line, but obviously I was talking and writing at the same time so I had more than my usual "writos." (Nexus black ink pen and Daniel Smith watercolors applied with a Niji waterbrush.) Click on the image to view an enlargement.
It is a wonderful luxury to be able to sit and chat with friends for a whole day. When you add to that the prospect of sketching a couple of dogs—well I think that's what heaven is.
When you sketch a dog who is totally unconcerned with your presence because she knows you and so can sleep there is the lovely fun of watching her nod more deeply into the sleep, the peace, the calm. As Rush dozed off and I sketched away I was ever conscious of the incremental tilting of her head away from me, away from my drawn line, as she slept.
For me that is the most fun that drawing can be: that close and acute observation of the beloved.
Roseanne: So you're teaching yourself to draw again? How's that working out for you?
Some days it seems to feel pretty good. I have friends to thank for that.