The last few weeks I’ve been trying just plain pencil and ink drawing, using Keys to Drawing, by Bert Dodson as a guide. One of the first tasks is to draw your hand — draw the lines and shadows you see, not your preconceived notion of what your hand looks like. My hand drawing was a monster that I won’t share here, but illuminating nevertheless. I find Dodson’s guidelines to draw the larger outlines first to be helpful in etegami.
Above is a pen drawing I did of a gerbera daisy in a purloined Campari soda bottle I brought back with me from Rome. Maybe “purloined” is too strong a word — the bottle was surely fated for an Italian recycle bin. If you haven’t seen a Campari soda in a bottle, here‘s an image of a filled one, with bright pink Campari and soda — the surface of the bottle is sort of “mottled” and bumpy. Safely transported back to the US, I’ve had the bottle in my kitchen for a while, and recently when my husband brought home a bouquet of gerbera daisies, I put one stem in and brought it to my office.
The color in the pen drawing is from watercolor pencils, not from gansai (Japanese watercolors). The shadowing on the bottle is courtesy of the non-water-resistant nature of the ink pen I used. I found the ink ran, so, as they say, I “ran” with it, using the runny ink to lend some shadows to the bottle.
The recipe is for a “Bicyclette” — a refreshing drink I imagine I will drink many of this coming DC summer. A Bicyclette is made up of: 2 ounces Campari; 2 ounces dry white wine (I used a New Zealand sauvignon blanc); 1 ounce soda water, and a twist of lemon. Here’s a write up of the cocktail, from dappered.com — they have a link to a NYT article that talks about how the cocktail is drunk by old Italian men who drunkenly bike home after imbibing.
I did a few traditional etegami, with sumi ink and gansai in place of an ink pen and watercolor pencils, of the daisy in the Campari soda bottle. The words on the card above echo a line from a classic book I JUST READ, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. What’s wrong with me, why did I wait so long? The novel is incredible, so much beauty and truth in it.
There is a scene with Francie, the protagonist, talking with her brother Neeley about whether they had ever been drunk. Their mother had just given them a celebratory little tipple, and both Francie and Neeley are wondering if she is testing them, to see if they are like their father in his love of drink. Francie says that she doesn’t need alcohol to get drunk — “I can get drunk on things like the tulip — and this night.”
In reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, a classic that many read in junior high school, I started to wonder what other adolescent/young-adult novels I missed. I went straight from kids’ books to E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime. I posted on Facebook about this, and, 32 responses later (I have a lot of librarian and/or bibliophilic friends), I now have a reading list for this summer. First up: a re-read of Bless me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya. Then something by Ursula K. LeGuin — Wizard of Earthsea or Left Hand of Darkness or Lathe of Heaven? And Watership Down. And perhaps a re-read of the All in the Family Series by Sydney Taylor? Maybe The Borrowers series by Mary Norton. Or Dianna Wynn Jones’s Chrestomanci series. And something, or everything, by Joan Aiken. And something by Edith Nesbit, a name that reminds me of Ragtime, until I remember that Doctorow writes about Evelyn Nesbit.
Oh, I have so much to read.