Learning About Life

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Taking my pencils and sketchbook out to engage in some Plain Air sketching, by drawing people, can be tricky as people seldom hold still and seldom stay in the same spot. I love sketching people of all shapes, and ages. I began sketching pretty girls at our local Pizza Hut using a ballpoint pen and a napkin to draw on. Found their boyfriends would sometimes pay for a pitcher of coke for my finished sketch. Now I'm fairly good at hiding the fact that I am drawing someone.

Now a-days I use prismacolor pencils and a good quality paper sketchbook. Some people check up on what I'm doing, most leave me to myself. I don't mind talking with with people as I sketch or paint out on the spot. The parks along the river are my favorite places for sketching people. During the summer months I'll spend the entire morning tracing out their figures. Somedays I will spend the entire day. Lovers meeting for lunch, office workers getting a little sun, mothers with toddlers meeting other mothers, or “sugar daddies” with with their girlfriends upsetting the mothers with their antics. 

Sometimes people catch me sketching them and move away , others want to see what I've done. One little girl hung around till I finished drawing her. It isn't often I get to carry a sketch to a finished drawing. A drawing for me has a lot more detail and information. That one I carried through to a finished watercolor. 

Some subjects I get to know. People love talking and I love listening. Some have a million questions, like the eight year old boy who not only had the usually questions, but also wanted his mother drawn. He sat next to me, elbow to elbow, watching me place a line and asking if it was “his mom's jaw or what?” He informed her of every part of her I was working on. After an hour they left, but returned an hour later with french fries for me. He insisted his mom buy french fries for me. 

I've drawn homeless people with stories of why they're homeless and what it's like. Matt fishes for his his meals and keeps his catches in the fountains around the civic center. That doesn't pleases those in city hall though who are trying to improve the city's image. Danny, another homeless gent, bathes in those same fountains. In the winter Danny wears three coats, a few shirts, and three pairs of trouser. All those clothes give Danny a new shape for drawing. He wraps himself in trash bags to sleep through rainstorms. He is an avid reader, quite knowledgable on many subjects. His main problem is he falls asleep a lot, right in the middle of conversations and while drinking coffee, spilling it on the table and floor at my favorite coffee shop.

Sketching people for me is learning about life. 

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When I Was Six

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I have been fortunate in that I have been able to keep my eyes as they were when I was six. When I was six it was okay to be a child, to wander away from grown-ups and discover things. Mom and Dad were always so interested in the things I had discovered while wandering off into the wilds. They knew so little, it was my job to tell them things. Things that were important, like Uncle Melvin having a huge cow chained up in the barn with a ring in its nose. Dragging my dad out to uncle Melvin's barn to show him the huge white owls living up in the hayloft. Then there was the little brown owl living with the calves in Uncle Henry's barn.  

Today I am still exploring the world through the eyes of a six-year-old. Even drawing a nude, it's with the eyes of the six-year-old. I have the skills of a master artist, if I do say so myself, but the eyes are still that of a child. The other day I did a painting of an African Violet. What I really saw was Jordan's face as she removed the paper the flower shop wrapped it in. She had the look on her face my mom always had when she added to her collection of African Violets. As a child I saw the joy in mom's face when she was around her plants, but my mind was on getting my collection of toy cowboys out and building a stick coral under the lilac bush, holding off the rustlers with my band of cowboys. Mom would be hanging the wash up, checking for clouds and pausing to admire the array of flowers she had in bloom. Many of my farm house paintings have white sheets waving in the  wind somewhere in the painting.

Painting is my way of visiting my childhood and sharing it with people who have similar memories. I think of a collector pausing before one of my paintings on their way out and remembering a moment from their childhood, and slowing down to smell their roses, or African Violets.