Sometimes I have no idea at all and I just start somewhere. Most of the time I have some idea about what I want to draw and how I place on the page. During the drawing things always work out differently. Because people move. Because I planned to draw four people, but only three fit on the page. So mostly I just start somewhere and then find out where I will end up.
In this drawing I planned to draw both my brother and his friend, but during the drawing I realized that if I draw the real size of the space between the two, my brother’s friend will not fit on the page, so in the drawing I reduced the distance between them.
My great-grandfather, Jacob Keller (1872-1956), wrote every week in his diary. He was a well-to-do farmer near Dordrecht, The Netherlands. I transcribed some of his writings and published it online in a blog (in Dutch). Most of his diary entries are logging the weather and about what work he and his workers accomplished over the week. It was a tool for managing his farm, but he also had aspirations to record for future generations about the way he runs his farm and how it was done in the past. Very rarely he wrote about his personal worries and feelings. For example when he wrote a very beautifully obituary about his dog who passed away in 1914. I admire his style of writing. I suppose he loved poetry, because sometimes he cites poets in his diaries.
I don’t think he ever attended a creative writing class, because this kind of teaching didn’t exist in the village where he lived in that time. So I conclude he mainly improved his writing by writing every week, by reading other writers and by being interested in writing appealing prose. So what I learned from his diaries is that by writing regularly and having a structure (one evening a week over more than 50 years), you improve the writing. I don’t want to deny that it is inspiring, useful and fun to attend classes or conversations with fellow artists. But a large part of the learning is done by doing. This is almost the same as what Danny Gregory preaches: learn drawing by doing it. (After learning some simple basic stuff, he summarizes the book ‘Drawing on the right side of the brain’ in less than 20 pages.)
Besides that my great-grandfather was a good writer, he also was a succesful farmer. I suppose he was, because of his weekly reflections in his diaries.
The drawing above does not have any connection with the story. Or maybe it does? It is both about the influence of a dead person. The above mask is used by the Asmat when a member of their tribe is murdered. One of his fellow tribesmen will dance with this mask whole night long, representing the deceased. Through this mask communication with the deceased is possible. I did draw it in the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam (The Royal Tropical Institute).
This is a fragment of my great-grandfather’s writing in one of his diaries
One of the reasons why I enjoyed it so much to study Gender Studies at the university was: any preconception about the idea of sex and gender is questioned. And if you can deconstruct sex/gender, than you can question every boundary and certainty. This education gives a sharp eye for hidden prejudices. In spite of this background, I can catch myself regularly being biased. A few days ago I discovered I’m having unrealistic preconceptions about which kind of people do have certain drawing styles.
In the Flickr-group Julia Kay’s Portrait Party (aka JKPP) members draw each other from photos we uploaded. I love being part of this group for several reasons. It is a very divers group: beginners post together with professional artists. In the group pool you can see digital art, traditional oil painting and watercolors next to each other. All kind of styles are present: abstract, wild, naïve, outsider, realistic, cartoonish, and much more.
Only when I started to draw her, I connected that Charlotte-with-the-eye-surgery was the same person as ‘chartan’-the-cool-digital-artist. Ajj, there I caught myself with a big prejudice. I didn’t make this connection, because I think ladies-older-then-50 do not use digital media like iPods and Photoshop. And with a straw hat I automatically think the person paints with watercolor. I’m really blushing for these silly preconceptions that I have, while being graduated in feminism. Well, I hope Charlotte will forgive me. Here you can see the drawing I made of chartan/Charlotte-the-great-artist: