Sunday, November 8, 2009

Vary Your Pitches

I suppose it's watching the Phillies in the World Series recently that caused a metaphor about varying your pitches to spring to the front of my mind. A successful pitcher needs to have a variety of pitches, e.g. fastball, curve, slider, that he uses to keep a batter off-stride thus preventing him from hitting the ball solidly. Of course the purpose of art is not to throw either the artist or the viewing public offstride.

But I've always found that I'm reluctant to continue in one direction for long in art. So yesterday I worked in watercolors. I set a time limit for myself and thought that this might help me to become freer with watercolors, to have them become more natural to me. So I could just pick up and start a watercolor without thinking about it. I was happy with the results. So what did I do today?

I started doing fairly detailed pencil drawings based on photos from Crane Creek and Magee Marsh NWR in Ohio this September. This wasn't due to some perverse motivation on my part. Nor was it , at least I don't think so, the fear of continuing with the method of yesterday.

I really can't explain this. It's always seemed natural to me to approach art in a sideways method. Never go straight for your target - the best art. Instead go off at a 45-degree angle in one direction, then still going foward off at 45 degrees in a different direction. Sort of like moving a heavy piece of furniture across the floor.

Does it make sense? Is it smart? I don't know. But it's what I prefer to do. In any case here are today's results.

I stopped when I realized with the last drawing that I was losing patience with trying to draw some of the detail of the feather patterns. But I have faith that all these various methods of working at art all help to move art forward. Everything you do and everything you learn eventually leads to better art. Somehow it all gets amalgamated. I've already stretched too many metaphors so I won't say anything about the subduction of the earth's crust!


Pam Johnson Brickell said...

You might be frustrated with feather detail but I think these are wonderful! Feathers will make you lose your mind....

It seems very natural to me that you would choose the 45 degree angle. You like to ponder. Tis good for you :)

Ken Januski said...

Hi Pam,

Yes I shy away from feathers! And I'm really not all that taken with work that highlights them. But on the other hand it would be nice to be able to get an impression of what the feathers look like on individual species. So I keep at it.

They're part of the beauty of birds so I'd like to get them in there somehow or other. Without making me lose my mind!!

Ellen Snyder said...

Hi Ken,

The lessers are really good. I love to watch yellowlegs feeding. So elegant - you captured them nicely.


Ken Januski said...

Thanks Ellen. We saw some more Lesser Yellowlegs at Cape May/Brigantine recently where they are parading down the water all with their mouths open, hoping to catch some fish. I hope to do a drawing or painting soon to capture this less than elegant aspect of them! But most of the time they really are elegant. I'm happy to have captured a bit of that.

Ken Januski said...

Oops! The Lesser Yellowlegs remain elegant. I started doing some quick watercolors today of the Yellowlegs that were walking down a channel at Brigantine with mouths open gathering in whatever fish appeared. Inelegant behavior! But as I worked on it I realized these were Greater Yellowlegs not Lesser!