New Pencil

Ages ago I had received a 5 MM pentel mechanical pencil whose lead sleeve retracted into the barrel. On first look, i did not like it. This was back when the aesthetics of my equipment were still a major factor in my choosing of what to use. Aside from the retractable lead sleeve, the other feature often promoted were the soft rubber bumps all over  the area your fingers gripped. These were supposed to provide an anti slip aspect along with preventing your hand from getting tired as quickly. At the time I thought it further detracted aesthetically from any potential appeal the pencil might have held for me.

Once you are doing something all the time, for long stretches of time, any feature of it which can be specialized as to make the process less arduous is a must. Does the trumpeter who plays in weddings and parties on weekends as reprieve from their regular nine to five work week need a special custom mouth piece? No. Did Miles? Of course. I now spend seven days a week, hours on end with pencils in my hand. Anything I can do to lessen the negative aspects of this from  the type chair I use to what pencils, I will. While I still like the look of my equipment to  be pleasing, functionality is now the main consideration.

Now wherever in the world I am, I have one of my preferred pencils in my equipment case, but I also have one of the Pentel. This is because on the road i do not necessarily go out all the time with my trusty book bag,  I can throw it in a  pocket and not have to worry about the lead sleeve being bent, nor having it punch a hole through a pocket. An added appeal for me is that, while the pencil is by no means “hard” to use, it does not work with same intuitive ease as my preferred ones. However, getting the effects I want and doing good work with it makes using my preferred pencils feel all the more easy. I enjoy the modicum of challenge and will sometimes use this “lesser” pencil even at home in the studio just to stay limber.

For Christmas, I just received a new kind of retractable pencil made by company that makes my favorite to use. Aesthetically, it’s nicer looking than the pental. As with the Pentel, it does not operate as easily as my preferred type but I do enjoy using it. And I have already found that much like the Pentel, if I can make the magic with this pencil, then the preferred ones are even easier. The whole effect I would compare to when a runner trains with weights on their ankles, the day of the race removing the weights to run unfettered feels easier. The retraction mechanism is different from Pentel, neither better nor worse but just different. Pentel you press on the pocket clip and the sleeve retracts, with this one it is a twist and lock.

This is the second drawing I did using the new pencil. 9×12

It was worth paying for his drink if only because he tried getting a free round by telling  the bartender:

“I have crossed rivers of time to find you.”

W.Wolfson’19

 

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Mad King

With my work i am always seeking to evolve and become better & better. One way I do this is to leave my comfort zone of methodology which I have down pat. All my work falls within a very specific size range. To further mix things up, I have begun doing larger works than our my usual norm. I still prefer my smaller sizes (5.5×8.5 -9×12) but I do enjoy the challenge and have been pleased with all my larger works.

 

“Mad King” 14×17 graphite & paper

 

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Iggy

I have been experimenting recently with doing larger pieces. I have decided to incorporate this practice into my drawings too, occasionally. To my eye there is a difference between a work that was envisioned large and a work where the artist managed to enlarge it as to fit the canvas/paper size while keeping the proper proportions. How I see a work in my mind’s eye first always dictates the size as to maintain an organic feel.

This piece was 11×14

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Sequence: Trudy

To do something a little different I did a series of drawings which emerged from an in motion sequence. The pieces can be enjoyed on their own or looked at in any order although there was a definite order as I was doing them. All are quick-sketch impressions

Each 9×12 graphite & Paper

 

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The Sea (for Kini)

I used to do large paintings, acrylic on canvas. Door sized things. I was not very good at the time and I sometimes think the real art was in the making of the pieces as I often had an audience. Everyone liked the works but I think it was being caught up in the moment or after the fact, remembering the time.

I got serious about painting, I got good. I am far better with watercolors than I ever was with acrylics. I got rid of 95% of my old works.

My paintings and drawing tend to be far smaller now. my largest graphite pieces are 9×12 with the paintings being 7×10. (more often than not 5.5×8.5)

I have a logic to this. I want the viewer to feel as if ease-dropping in on whatever scene I am putting forth. As important as the emotional effect, i have the first time or new collector’s in mind.

When  first getting into art there is a vague sense of what one likes. The more you delve into art, the more exposure you have, the palate becomes fuller formed. To get one of the larger pieces so en vogue when first starting out, you run the risk of it dictating the timber of a burgeoning collection.

I want a collector to live with my works, not under them. For people where space is at a premium, the now seemingly typical big-boys dominate a room. The real big pieces, you have to almost put goggles over the mind’s eye, you stop noticing it except for rare instances and this defeats the purpose of having art.

With my now firmly established voice, I have no idea if my technique would even work with large pieces. As a challenge for myself I have decided to do a few larger (for me) pieces. Regardless of whether I can make it work, I still do not see myself going as big as is popular. Bigger is not better it is just “more”.

This is my first “big” piece.

The Sea (for Kini) graphite & paper 14×17

 

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Collarbone

This piece is 9×12 Watercolor on multi media paper (98 lb) . I am very pleased with the results. I do not work any magic on the photos of my work. I  only use my phone as the photos are meant to give the gist of a piece, often in person there is even more going on with a work.

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Left Bank

What makes for a good trip or proper travel is not checking off a list of places to see with their associated objects;

The Louvre, Mona Lisa….

It is absorbing the feel of a place, ambience of scents, sounds..In taking time to do this, one notices how others live their lives & what is important to them. It also allows for a deeper memory retention of the entire experience which then adds to the “you”. It is what is actually meant by “Travel broadens the mind”.

For artists there is even more of a potential benefit.

Every artists works & travels differently. I am always “working” regardless of where I am in the world. The only variation is what equipment I am utilizing. Short trips will find me leaving the paints at home, filling my coat pocket with my trusty pocket pads as I like to travel as light as possible and most likely would not have time anyways.

Any give place should effect an artist. Not in the most obvious way such as “I am in London, I painted Big Ben”.

It is ambient light, the lines of architecture, they become further accoutrements to the palette. It does not mean that one enters artistic phases ala Picasso and Cubism et al. Rather, work done in one place  does not look exactly as it appears back home. The artists voice is ever present but there are different components to the fore, mixed in with some of the more familiar.

If you have never been or only as part of a tour group, then every place in France is lumped in together. Despite some commonalities, each area is distinctive with their own cuisine and habits. It is the same with the ambient light.

Aix-en-Provence is all beautiful yellows punctuated by bursts of trees and the sounds of fountains. Lyon is soft pinks as if the buildings are made or at least coated with the delicate charcuterie which they are the masters of making. Paris in itself is diverse. From arrondissement to arrondissement, from the Left Bank to the Right .

People, myself included, proudly proclaim themselves of their side of the river and which number arrondissement.

I like even some of the seemingly “ugly” streets with their time worn dirty gray and fatigued creams. These areas tend to be where some of my artistic heroes lived, cheap rent and every third door a no nonsense bar having been the draw.

I like working with colored pencils on gray or brown paper. I limit my palette intentionally as a challenge to myself. Getting the effects that I want in this way makes it “easier” when using paints. Although I use mainly pinks, it is realistic in that in the real world there are seemingly limitless colors but go out on street  look at buildings and the street. On encounters a fairly limited palette.

These pinks, urban children of Fauvists, remind me of some parts of Paris. Not that this color is found there but it is same effect, translated in my minds eye. This little corner I continue to pass almost daily. It has been there forever and i do not think it ever had any straight lines about it.

I initially encountered it when staying at my first great apartment. It was en route to my groceries and favorite bars. Four floors, impossibly winding stairs that made you drag your shoulder against the wall as you ascended since the light was always broken. The biggest part of the place was the bathroom, with a large old tub, frosted glass windows which opened up onto a shadowy verdant courtyard with its cracked flagstones. I kept the primitive hi fi in the bathroom doorway since it was connected to the bedroom. Only music with a minimal of voices sounded good as it was a mono player. Mostly Zoot Sims duets and Lester Young trios.The neighbors would lean against their window boxes of geraniums smoking and slowly nodding their heads to the music. Dark silhouettes with one wavering orange eye-dot that would flare with inhalation.

Hard work and I was fortunate to be able to trade up apartments. I remained in my neighborhood just moving a few streets down. The building has become one of the visual shorthand for the deep affection that I hold for the every day in Paris and those first exciting years.

W.Wolfson ’19

Left Bank 9×12 colored paper and pencil

 

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