Sunday

Illustrations as background surfaces

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All of Friday we faced numerous periods of heavy rainfall with intermittent showers, but in the late afternoon the sky broke open, revealing a low setting sun and with ones back to her, the hillside before me became alive. Bathed in a pale soft golden light, the new years growth drenched from the rain sparkled, while off in the distance the sky was a dark turbulence of grey, a dramatic contrast and I wish I had stopped and taken a few pictures. Yet some things are best remembered, treasured in our memory as an experience randomly recalled when something irrelevantly triggers the past.


With the day mostly gone by now, I am sitting back in my favorite chair, drinking a new tea that I have not had since my early twenties and contemplating about what to write, even though I am also yearning to get started with my first artist trading card (ATC). However I have been struggling with not only style and subject matter, but also my personal demon, fear. The fear of not being able to draw as I did years ago, when I last held a pencil or a fine tipped Hunt’s pen in my hand.



Rainbow Trout
Pencil, watercolour on illustration board — 1998-99


At the time I had worked for more than a decade photographing fishing flies for various books and calendars after the success of my first book in 1988, The Art of The Trout Fly, a collaborative effort with author Judith Dunham. Since these flies were tied by master fly-tiers and placed into very small elaborate sets and not a tying vice, I was always looking for another way to interpret their art with my creative vision.



California Golden Trout
Pencil, coloured pencil, and watercolour on Bristol — 1998-99


Previously the sets were recreations of scenes found in nature or on a fly tiers bench, in which the very books, tools and materials that created the fly, now surrounded them. Though I was content with the method I had established, I began to explore the idea of developing illustrations as background surfaces on which a fishing fly would be placed and then photographed.


Only a number of drawings were made and I do not think that even a single frame was ever shot. A combination of economic shifts and my own needs, these drawings lay hidden in envelops that are tucked away in artists carrying cases and though not forgotten, I now look upon them with a sense of pride and an unwavering apprehension. Maybe once I get started with my first miniature drawing, fear will no longer seem insurmountable.



The Art of The Trout Fly
Second edition, Chronicle Books 2003




21 comments:

Gina said...

personally I believe its like riding a bike .. you never lose it ... now consider (my perspective) and at the age of 40ish having to hold a piece of charcoal for the first time and looking at a live model wondering what a 'mark' was ...

your post speaks of mark making but shows pieces from the late 90s ? ... so what did you do this evening ?

i hope your weekend is going very well as i head to my first day of autumn ... >>> Gina
http://fyneimages.blogspot.com/
http://ginaseye.blogspot.com/

Kathy said...

Hi Egmont,
While your earlier drawings are exquisite (!) the whole point is not to draw as you once did. At this moment, you are a different person in the sense that you've lived more years and experienced more, which has informed and transformed you to a certain degree. Use who you are now and don't imitate who you once were. That, alone, relieves you from the burden of living up to a long past image and engenders authenticity. I'd love to see your current ideas and techniques! You have so much to offer and connect so strongly with your environment. It's a delight to read your blog.

Anna said...

Beautiful drawings!
There is no doubt that you will draw again beautifully. And there is no sense to analyze too much or for too long the possibility of success or failure, nor to compare current works' levels of quality, inspiration, etc. with works from the past. I agree with your friend Kathy's thoughts: we are in the present and we should be true to this present and -for sure- our work should and will reflect that; I know yours will.
Hope your Sunday it's a great one!!!

GYPSYWOMAN said...

i agree totally with your other readers, egmont, and can speak from my own personal experience as to the validity of their remarks - it had been many many moons since i had held a paint brush in my hand, let alone stood before a life-sized canvas - and just as many moons since i had put ink to paper in the form of what could remotely be called poetry - until recently - and when i did hold a brush again and a pen, they were both still old familiar friends who remembered me as much as i did them, even with the changes and differences the passing days and nights had made since our last meeting - and we began the process again -

of fear, egmont, remember, it exists only in and through us - we are its life force and give it whatever life it has and whatever power it possesses - and at any given moment, we can choose to eliminate it and its power!

it's always such a wonderful time here at your place - thanks for having us!

La Dolce Vita said...

My Dear Egmont,

A talent is not something one can loose. though it may be rusty, it is still there. Just pretend you again are the little boy drawing the ocean liner, Italia and it will all come back to you!

richest blessings,
caterina

Mark Sheeky said...

I ahve that fear too, but it's irrational. Most artists get better as they get older. Remember Beethoven, or Sophocles! at their most creative in later years. If you've done something in the past you can do it again, and better, in the future. The cure for fear is to DO IT. Then do it again. One secret of success is to be naive. it releases all of the pressure when you are as unjudgemental and uncritical as a young student. If only Tchaikovsky or Sibelius knew that. They were so self critical they stopped work all together!

PAMO said...

Dear Egmont,
Your drawings are beautiful and I look forward to seeing how you draw today. It will be different and wiser and deeper. You've been in my thoughts. I hope you are well.
Pam

Ange said...

Egmont, we all have fears, especially THAT fear of having 'lost it.'

Well - maybe the trick is to have no expectations of outcome, and just trust in your hands, and let your instinct speak for itself, guide itself...

I have the same fear for adventure racing. With 3 kids and a few years up my sleeve, I don't have the same training I used to. Funnily enough though, the fact of getting out there and doing it, with out questioning my abilities, allows me just to feel the sensations and all of a sudden, the body clicks in all by itself. Not to say that I don't need to practice, but the foundation is still there and quite joyous at being used again. Just to start again gives the impetus to play, try, discover, learn ...

Let yourself go!

Dan Kent said...

I have a fear that I lost it every time I pick up a pen or a brush! And maybe I have! But who cares?! It makes me happy, and there you go.

I picked up all of this after 25 years or so (with little cartoons making up the interim.) At first I had to change my mindset - get the creativity muses back in my corner. Then they came and they won't let go! And I don't want them to. You won't have that problem - all that you do is creative. So it will just be a different flavor, that's all. I'm with Kathy - see what your temperament, experiences, and wisdom produce now. It may be something completely different from these beautiful paintings you did a while ago. Or it may be the same. Aren't you curious to find out?..

ruma2008 said...

It is very delicate expression.

Dianne Poinski said...

Beautiful drawings and yes - just begin! I look forward to seeing more.

Sophie Munns said...

What a delightful book!
Clever man!
Aha! i think Cat was right... step into the shoes of that little boy making his Italia picture and unleash the artist within you who is ever present and shush that noisy man who gets in your head - he worries too much.
All is fine. Blessings to you!
Sophie

layers said...

I took a workshop some time ago on drawing from the nude- it was a 5 day workshop and everyday we drew all day-- lots of drawings--- and then we put them in a pile with the first day on top and the last day on the bottom and when I went through them I saw amazing improvement every day - drawing improves with practice and the more you do it the smaller the fear.

rivergardenstudio said...

Dear Egmont, I hope this comment finds you relaxed and happy after a day of creativity and beautiful skies.

I think I understand how you feel about drawing.. but don't be surprised if your style has changed. I have not patience for the very details that I used to love. I want to be free now as i draw... I still have a long way to go, but I am having fun and still thow away a lot. sending blessings, roxanne

rivergardenstudio said...

Emont! I forgot to tell you how beautiful your paintings are! I just thought of them, your fish that disappear into the shadowy water. I am looking up your book. roxanne

kathrin said...

how nice blog you have ! Kathrin

HeartFire said...

Egmont,
Those are wonderful drawings that you did and it's good to savor those past accomplishments. Your inner artist is still there, have no fear... waiting for you to put pencil to paper and play. And as we change, grow and evolve through our lives, so does our art, and wouldn't we want it to reflect who we are now? Hoping you have drawn a few lines... and begun a new piece of art.
Delorse

S. Etole said...

The delicacy is beautiful ...

Eva said...

Egmont, your drawings/watercolors are beautiful. I can relate to you fears. My hand is no longer as sure as it was. The energy to stay with it long enough to improve seems to have wane. I like to think it's because I no longer have deadlines, but I prefer not having them . It's a "Catch 22" . Maybe it's another passage and I have given my attention to other things.I now have the time to enjoy my friends' blogs and things like your musical background. Very peaceful. Thank you.

Peggy Stermer-Cox said...

Hi Egmont, Wonderful post and great fish! How is it going with the miniature? What struck me was the idea that maybe your work my take a new direction. It was an idea that popped into my head. In any case, I always think of drawing and painting as an act of courage, optimism and hope! I hope all is well and thanks for stopping by my blog!

Alaine said...

Hello, so glad that Teri at Working The Earth told me about your blog. I love the Moonlight Sonata playing quietly in the background; I play that myself.

My husband has a first edition of Judith Dunham's book and your photography is wonderful. He is a flyfisherman, an amateur photographer and also dabbles in entomology; his website is www.kossiedun.com.au