Left: Finch in the nursing home aviary, sketched with a worn and dried out Tombow Dual Brush pen. (These pens are dye-based and fugitive, not archival, but they are fun…) Click on the image to view an enlargement. Use those dried out pens, there’s a lot of fun left. It looks almost like a motion blur when you view it close up.
Sunday I stopped in to see the Avidors. I had artwork of theirs to drop off and I needed some art instruction. I’d been out and about sketching and I had found it impossible to sketch a heating duct coming right at me. Ken is the king of sketching ducts and pipes, and the other busy, mechanical accoutrement of a present day cityscape, and Roberta is never stumped by spatial complexity.
R: So I was sitting there and already had drawn the side walls leading back, [blah, blah, blah—boring description pen in hand, scribbling on a scrap]. And I just couldn’t SEE how I could get this heating duct over my head to come at me, right at me. I couldn’t see how it would work.
KA: Let me just say you’re a great artist.
R: Ken, that’s very kind, but that’s not the issue, I just couldn’t do this.
KA: Don’t think of it as something you can’t do…sometimes we tell ourselves we can't…
R: Ken it wasn’t a matter of an internal critic. I don’t have an internal critic that stops me. I just couldn’t see the answer and sat there for the longest time…
KA: But don’t worry, you’re a great artist and when this happens…
RA: Ken, she just said she doesn’t have that sort of problem, let her finish…
KA: OK, but I just want you to know I think you’re a great artist.
R: Thanks Ken, that’s kind of you, but I don’t think of myself as an artist, I’m a writer who draws.
We all laugh.
K: Well an artist can be many things…
I guess Ken thought I needed a pep talk…
R: Maybe that’s why I don’t have any trouble with an internal critic, because I think of myself as a writer. Don’t get me wrong, I have a critical eye. But I don’t let it stop me, instead I enjoy seeing what went wrong and working out what I can do to change and improve.
RA: Yes, an eye that helps you see a new direction to go…
R: Yes, an editing eye.
We got back on track with our discussion and Roberta suggested that I start with the item closest to me. I admitted that though I was working with one-point perspective I was allowing my head to move all over the place and messing up any chance at alignment. Then Ken went off on a wonderful riff about how using one point perspective could be deadly. (OK, so there are actually two tips today, this is the second after the marker tip.)
Left: Detail from the finch image. (Don’t know what type of finch this is as it isn’t in the aviary book and I haven’t looked it up. Basically it’s brown and then the chest is white with brown.) Look closely, when you enlarge it, to see how the worn tip creates neat striations and the dryness allows me to build up value. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
We all had another good laugh. Ken gave me some tips on exaggerating lines. And I told them that we really did need to get video of the two of them talking about their favorite art professor and some drawing tips—basically because I think everyone should benefit from their experience. (So readers, I’m going to work on making that happen when it warms up a bit here in Minnesota.)
It was time for Ken to head out to a sketch out and time for me to meet up with family. Since we were going the same direction I offered to drop Ken off.
R: But I don’t know where it is you’re going Ken because I knew I had the family stuff and couldn’t go so I didn’t read any of the sketch out messages—do you know where you need to go?
K: Yep, it’s over by Wet Paint.
And we bundled up and off we went. It was -18 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s NEGATIVE. The wind was crisp. Even though we only had to walk a short block to my car I was stiff from the cold by the time we got there. We got settled into the front seats, I started the car, and said, “OK, where are we going.”
K: You know.
R: Nope I don’t. [laughing]
K: I left the note. Do you have a cell? I could call Bert.
This was not the day one wanted to walk back a half block in the wind, or wait in an ice cold car. I fished out my phone.
I started to ask Siri to call Ken because that’s how I have their number listed, under Ken Avidor. Ken kept talking in the background so Siri kept saying she couldn’t find Lavilore, Canador, etc.
Remember, it’s cold out, the car isn’t warm.
I shush Ken and articulate, “Call Ken Avidor.”
Siri blandly replies: “You are certainly entitled to that opinion.”
I swear. I’m laughing. Ken's laughing. We cannot stop laughing. Tears are forming in my eyes because I’m laughing so hard.
I try one more time (before going to manual—it’s really too cold to type) and it goes through. Ken tells Roberta where the info can be found. As she reads it to him he takes out a pen—which doesn’t work, perhaps because it’s too cold. So I whip out a pen I’ve been keeping close to me and start writing on the back of his drawing pad as Roberta reads directions.
We hang up the phone and pull away from the curb…
Meanwhile, on another day, perhaps in another universe, I’m practicing poor posture in my TV-viewing chair, because I really had not intended to come in to the room, except that “Stargate” was on and I was drawn to it because Kurt Russell has such a wonderful buzz cut in it, to name just one thing. And the next thing you know I’m sitting there…
Dick: You really like him don’t you?
R: Who? Kurt Russell?
R: And you don’t?
(stated with the incredulity one might utter “duh?!”)
D: No, [he laughs] I do too…
(his voice trails off; he knows that I know that he is particularly fond of “Used Cars” but then we both also like Jack Warden.)
I never take my eyes off the screen, I cut into his trailing voice.
R: So what are we doing having this conversation?
My eyes are still on the screen.
R: There are some things, after a relationship of this duration, that I feel we don’t have to discuss any more.
Dick laughs, gets up, and leaves the room to go back to work while I remain watching “Stargate” for another 20 minutes until my need for better posture trumps all. (FYI I am also similarly helpless whenever “Big Trouble in Little China,” “Escape from New York,” or “Captain Ron” comes on.)
As you go about your day just remember yesterday Dick said I'm still as snotty this year as I was last year.
AND DON'T FORGET—one-point perspective can be deadly! I have that on advice of experts.