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February 06, 2014


In the cropped version, the rosary is not such a disparate element; it is more 'tied' to the other objects, and the candelabra is focal. But alas, I am Beth-dazzled and like them both- especially the full view of the rosary in #1.

​​Thanks so much! It's fun to try different approaches and, also, to keep going even when something doesn't look like it's working.​ These are sketches, not paintings, but they teach me a lot.

I like the first one because it shows all the details. But, after looking at the other one (the original one), if you're trying to get to the "feeling" of the original, I think you've hit it with the last one.

The problem, I think, is the jade plant is very different ... in color and in shape ... from the original drawing. Because the jade plant doesn't have as much color and as much 'detail' as the Christmas greens, I think the only way you can get that 'feeling' is to get in closer ... exactly what you've done.

People who can draw amaze me. My Brother used to be able to look at something ... anything ... and just put his hand on a piece of paper and it was **THERE**. I used to be able to copy line-by-line and get something that "resembled"; but, I'm no artist.

I love these posts where you *CREATE* ... just to see how you get there. It's interesting. And, fun.

Thanks for sharing.


My preference is the first painted picture (IMG 2350), for two reasons. First I like the extra intensity of colour (is that chroma?). Second, I feel that in the first painting the constituents have more room to breathe, without becoming distant from, and bored with, each other.

Cropping helps, but the enchantment of the original is the slightly odd perspective that makes the objects seem to come forward and recede with respect to each other.

I like the one with the Christmas greens much better...the more subdued tone and the continuity of the "berries" across the upper portion. The vase and candelabra have accommodating shapes, they embrace in their halo of berries, where the pot and candelabra stand apart. Strangers.

From memory it is my impression that several different styles emerge from your paintings. This is merely one of your styles. Such styles may only be the result of the medium you choose and that, as it were, answers the question I have in mind. However do different styles emerge for the same medium? I can't remember and I apologise for not paying attention. Especially given my killer question: at what point do you decide on the style.

This is not a casual bit of torturing on my part (In fact I insist you don't exceed 25 words if you choose to reply. Or would that be crueller than allowing you to run on?) My underlying interest is wondering whether subjects drive style. Of course they may drive the medium which drives the style. Next time I'll put my question in the form of multiple choice. Needless to say I have reached a point in Second Hand where the painter, a febrile Spaniard, has emerged from the shadows. Journos, even ex-journos, are ever devious.

What fascinates me is where the impulse came from that caused you to have another go with the candelabra. All us amateurs (or in my case non-painters) would have bought champagne to celebrate the first version.

On January 18 last year you touched on the movie Amour, movingly describing your misgivings. I don't know if you did see it or not. I have no desire at all to question your observations and your doubts; they fit what I've got to know about you and in any case I half share/half don't share them depending on the current state of my optimism/pessimism.

Last night VR and I saw Amour, watched it in total silence which perhaps reflected our ages. I can't say either of us was keen to do this, but we were both glad we did. All I will say is this movie does not really hinge on its resolution, that is merely an event along the way. I am not being dismissive (I hope) but there is no doubt about what the over-arching subject is, since it's contained in the title. One might almost add a sub-title: The Grimness of Devotion, except that there is an unexpected nobility about domestic tasks embarked upon and achieved. At no time at all does one ever question the bond between the two people involved, and the circumstances are there to illuminate this willing and ultimate obligation.

This is horribly presumptuous of me but I feel sure you are tough enough to watch this movie. With J of course; that was very important for us. What I mean is tough enough to take the decision to watch it; I won't go further and presume your reaction. I notice one of your commenters says art-house movie and I would dispute that. This is a movie of pertinent detail; there are no windy platitudes. It has its own reality.

Beth, I hesitated to comment on the drawings because I find it hard to distance myself from my own experiences both as artist and teacher.But I know you understand and being a friend and colleague you won't mind if I speak from that perspective and abstain from compliments, disagreeing with everyone else in this instance.

I think your best work comes when you are really excited or moved by something and not merely giving yourself a dutiful exercise. These sketches don't move me because they are merely pretty and that's not enough to make me sit up - nor is it enough for you. We both want and need challenge and there comes a point when one has to decide what to give up and what to pursue and whether to give in to the temptation to please, or avoid it. What I would do with these sketches if I had done them might be either to cut them up and reassemble them or splash them with paint and then re-draw into that, or any number of other techniques to kick myself in the posterior and bring on the challenge.

Voila, dear Beth, I hope you'll still be speaking to me after this?

Hah! You've called a spade a spade and spoken out loud what I already know, so of course I'm not offended, dear Natalie. I'm glad you felt free to speak the truth to me.

While I admire the Urban Sketcher movement and am glad it's gotten people out and sketching, I don't think it has necessarily been a helpful influence to those of us who are serious about making art. There's a difference between sketching as an end in itself and drawing, and drawing that is a way of figuring out works which will ultimately become paintings or prints or other expressions beyond the beautiful drawing itself. Trying to draw every day isn't necessarily as useful for me, I find, than finding that challenge and pushing onward. It makes me settle back into an easier groove that may please people but doesn't necessarily satisfy me. You know that and so do I.

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Who was Cassandra?

  • In the Iliad, she is described as the loveliest of the daughters of Priam (King of Troy), and gifted with prophecy. The god Apollo loved her, but she spurned him. As a punishment, he decreed that no one would ever believe her. So when she told her fellow Trojans that the Greeks were hiding inside the wooden horse...well, you know what happened.