both named spot

I was at the Dollar Tree when I came upon this 6×9 Road Atlas of the United States. Lucky for us they lied about the United States part by including some parts of Canada at the end of the book. Just more drawing fun for us! Even more drawings for the $1! Such a deal!

I picked Alabama to work on. It was toward the front (duh, “A”) but mostly it was because I saw a frog, very rough, in the highways and byways of the map. I’m very fond of frogs and toads of all kinds. I love their eyeballs so I drew one in right away to give me hope. I sketched in arms, a leg and squishy feet–little splayed out toes and long fingers like E.T. It was all fun and games til I tried the mouth and drew it too high. Suddenly, the long snout and high mouth made the figure all doggish. So did that neck. I was in trouble. I shifted my attention to creating the spots in orange, teal, green and yellow. I was using Stabilo® water soluble pencils, so being too lazy to get up to get water, and likely with a 10# cat all cozy on the recliner, I wet the tips of my fingers to smoosh the color around to blend it a bit. I wanted the splotches to look like those brightly colored rain forest frogs.

No matter what I did, it still looked like a dog. So I drew a collar on it’s neck. I was PUSHED TO THE WALL, people. Out of spite, I gave the frog/dog a bumpety ass.

At this point, what we have is a frog/dog floating in the middle of an Alabama map. You can’t leave a frog/dog stranded in Alabama like that, its inhumane. So I gave him a bit of his own real estate and decided to make the boundary uneven and color some of it black. I used the shapes and spaces created by the highway intersections to decide where to put the black paint. Then I drew around the map itself with black and created black photo corners. I outlined the legend and drew another rectangle at the top right to even it up. Then I wrote “frog as dog”, “dog as frog” “Both named Spot” and called it finished.

I am happiest making expressive art. If I sit down to draw a frog out of my imagination it will look way worse than Spot. But the slightest suggestion, the merest hit of a blush of a rumor that a shape is there is all it takes for me to get rolling. It can be ink, highways, blobs or scribbles, anything that suggest a shape works.

As a maker, it’s important to figure out how you work effortlessly and with the greatest degree of satisfaction. If it isn’t fun, you won’t do it. While I continue to play around with techniques I haven’t tried, materials I haven’t used, ideas I’ve never taken into practice, mostly I return to the fun of spontaneity and going with whatever unfolds. I almost always like the result. When I don’t enjoy the end result, I very likely still had fun and learned something.

I’ve made a lot of bad drawings in my life and I will make many more. From my own experience I know that anyone can get better at drawing with practice. If you are not inherently skilled in drawing, you must practice if you want to improve. There are many techniques to improve your eye/hand, right brain/hand. Presently I am studying and practicing from Carla Sonheim’s Drawing Lab and Drawing Imaginary Animals books.

Carla Sonheim also believes in the value of silly. A fun part of expressive painting and drawing is that the maker is telling the story. It’s my story so it can be whatever I want it to be. You might think a house can’t lean sideways but in my world it can. Suddenly it is Crooked World and I’m thinking of grasshopper legs and Andy Rooney’s eyebrows.  In today’s world a dog is a frog and a frog is a dog and they are both named Spot.

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Comments
  1. Your bumpity-ass frog/dog has me leaping (or is that romping?) in delight. Only you can look at a map and see the bigger picture of what those road engineers really had in mind. Should I ever find myself in AL/MS I’ll know exactly where I really am.

    Can’t wait to see evidence of your printing ink adventures. All I can say is there aren’t aprons big enough to prevent wardrobe mishaps when I’m playing with said ink. Opening the bottle is a sure fire guarantee all my digits turn into thumbs.

    • crickyn says:

      thanks deborah for commenting and reading faithfully! for me, maps are one of the easiest ways to do expressive drawing, no prep of paper to get the blots on. haven’t gotten back to the inking as i haven’t had experiment time. i did find out that copics dissolve the ink which did not please me. it is obviously still water soluble after drying. need to find a way to color, using colored pencils or pan pastels, likely. i’ll post more about it. as far as all thumbs and vast inking, i had finger marks and smudges all over the prints and, while easier to clean up than i thought it would be, it’s amazing how much ink persistently clings to the glass and such. all told, it’s a PIA. hugs tl

  2. debclose1 says:

    Spot is sheer joy!! Your writing “feels” joyful. I’m really glad your daily practice is going so well. Xoxo

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