Things are a little sketchy these days…

The air was a dry cold. Sub zero cold. A dust of white covered my outdoor running apparel. Eyelashes too. A storm is in the offing. A welcome shift in the news. A heavy white blanket of snow is forecasted to cover the local earth. Questions of where, when, how much and for how long occupy the nightly meteorologist’s television spots for just a week. A nor’easter is headed to New England. February in Vermont. The acquisition of provisions in preparation for the pending storm takes a bit more planning these days or does it? If this year has taught us nothing else, we have learned that we can get by with much less than what we once imagined. A few days of inconvenient living is child’s play…

The snow did arrive overnight just as forecasted and will continue to make its presence known for hours to come. The snowflakes stacking in unmeasurable numbers till the final totals are in sometime tomorrow. Outside my studio windows the Vermont landscape is blanketed in white with gray skies and just a hint of pine needles making their presence known. I have spent hours yesterday and the day before drawing. Just drawing. Working in black and white felt appropriate with the snowstorm in the mix. A oneness with nature.

My February 2021 goals are artistically quiet as the depth of winter and Covid-19 have left me wondering what next? Deciding to change it up and return to drawing for a bit was just what I needed creatively to do. A field of charcoal possesses all of the compositional possibilities I could hope to imagine. Pulling an image out of the sea of soft charcoal is magical for me. Without pause or hesitation I decided to dive in with blackened fingertips, a dampened paper towel, an eraser and even a worn chamois cloth. The risk is low as it is just paper and charcoal, but the reward is great…

Focused only on developing the subject matter before me this past Sunday afternoon while an old movie played in the background as I dedicated to a “no news” afternoon. I couldn’t commit to a whole day unfortunately since I have to remain hypervigilant about the world outside my little house on the hill. I had recently photographed my daughter holding her five-month-old daughter while they visited us in January. I had captured many wonderful moments over the course of their stay, but this image resonated with me. The charcoal study I was working on told one story about the two of them but there was another story. The unphotographed moment made my heart swell as my daughter’s broad smile in the image I had taken of the two of them was for me as she faced the camera, her mom. I was soon sitting in my own field of charcoal as I worked to bring depth, dimension and expression to the faces of my girls. While the final drawing is not a perfect representation of the two of them it does perfectly convey something about them and the ever so special relationship between a mother and daughter…

Drawing has always been a form of meditation for me as I engage with a composition. I will happily accept any form of meditation these challenging days. I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. Employing blank construction paper and crayons in my childhood. Creating cartoons inspired by Sunday newspaper comic strips pages in early grammar school days. Sophisticated early teens days of colored pencils led to art school in the 90’s. My mother was always great about having basic art supplies available for us in a kitchen cabinet drawer we called “the toy drawer.” Grandchildren ultimately benefitted from this tradition as well. A drawer dedicated solely to art supplies with one exception I can recall. One evening my older brother hid his uneaten dinner in the “toy drawer” in an effort to deceive our mother regarding the consumption of his meal. Plate and all, not his finest moment and it went exactly as you might imagine. I suspect she smiled about the incident quietly later and to herself. Countless school notebooks over my many school years had doodles in the margins. So many cubes drawn in blue BIC pen. A form of escape too I suspect.

There is just something simply comfortable, comforting and familiar about drawing for me. Really getting my hands dirty feels like I am truly creating. Bringing a blank white piece of paper to life with just charcoal is an exquisite feeling. Basic but not as black and white images can have so much impact. I remember a painting teacher of mine talking about the importance of drawing skills as being integral in a painting’s success. The art of perspective and how objects relate to one another in a painting can make it or break it. How to use negative space as a guide and compositional tool. Ultimately the knowledge and skills developed from drawing transfer to a paint brush…

The thing of it is anyone can learn how to draw. There is no real mystique around being able to draw as it is a learned skill. After all, …

The risk is low as it is just paper and charcoal, but the reward is great…

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Elizabeth Ricketson

Elizabeth Ricketson

A graduate of Providence College with a BA in English, Elizabeth Ricketson has always had a love of literature and the fine arts.