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Day 20 - Cat Sketches, plus Spirit Day

Pretty boy blue eyes... a watercolor portrait across from yesterday's blobby tree experiment.



Then he curled up in my lap and snuggled and went to sleep - for three hours this morning. So I very carefully reached for my ATC sketch pad from Borden & Riley and my Pitt Artist Pens set of six grays. He was snoring and making little cat noises in his sleep while I sketched him. He makes very deep grunts and moans, like he's dreaming he's a big lion or something! When he's awake his voice rises to a rich charming high kittenish tone. He has a remarkable vocal range for a cat.



Also, today is Spirit Day! Show your support for GBLT youth by wearing purple, or posting in it. I'm going to go into my template and change my journal to purple for the day!

Once again I thank all the gods and goddesses that I came home to San Francisco. It's beautiful out - crisp moist brisk weather, I had help this morning cleaning my room and getting a bath, and all morning I've had even more intimacy with my loving cat. Best of all, Spirit Day is probably huge outside in the schools here. I sure hope it is, here in my city. If I already had paratransit I might have visited a school and happened to wear purple while doing an art demo or something. Maybe next year.

I should definitely think about offering a free art demo to a public school here though. That's a really good idea. I like teenagers anyway and it's not like I don't have the skills. Heck, if I plan for it next year I could pay forward for what Mr. Hodge did for me - buy a ream of Blick house brand sulphite drawing paper and a bulk order of Conte crayons, then go volunteer to teach a free class at a local city high school and give them those supplies.

I remember how absolutely cool the sanguine Conte crayons were when Hodge gave me those pieces. I used them down to the smallest nubs. I remember how sketches in them looked like the historical sketches from Leonardo da Vinci and so many famous others. I could put together a cool sketching demo and let them get their hands on them the way Hodge did for me - and go home with the Conte sticks in red and black no matter whether their families gave them art supplies or not.

My grandparents were incredibly generous in terms of money when it came to what I wore. They spent thousands every year on trendy clothes, no fad was too silly for my grandmother to pay for at a clothing shop. She'd even drag me out of the house to go clothes shopping in between, supposedly for fun. But anytime I wanted books or art supplies or writing supplies, it was Too Expensive. She didn't understand. Even if I got kid stuff at the dime store she'd say it was a waste of money - but two dozen pairs of shoes weren't a waste of money? She just didn't support the arts, she thought I should socialize more and do less creative activity. She wanted me to be Popular, and so I wound up going along with her to a great degree.

I went to a lot of drinking parties for about a year until I got literally bored with them - nothing interesting happened at them. Kids got drunk and talked about getting drunk and "got stupid." It felt so pointless, none of them cared about anything. So I quit going to a large extent because there was no Left Bank intellectual-creative discourse at the high school unofficial drunken parties. Now they're illegal and enforced instead of illegal and winked at as long as the kids don't drive.

But those art soirees don't need the alcohol to be that stimulating. It wasn't the substance, it was the content and the substances artists care more about - iron oxides and sepia and other pigments, the qualities of paper and canvas, the fascinating technical details that are so much fun to an interested artist of any age. Mr. Hodge was a teacher who erased the line of authority between him and us. He never stood on ceremony though by common custom I still called him Mr. Hodge and don't remember his first name.

It's from him that I learned to relax with teachers who are way beyond me in skill and develop the confidence to trust that whatever impossible, wonderful thing they do, I can learn to do it myself and will someday be that good. It's from Mr. Hodge that I found out it's not too expensive to pay a dollar for a little square crayon shorter than my finger that smudges perfectly and creates an expressive line, a rich red color that looks like Caucasian flesh in its lightest shades and very close to a middle or brown complexion in some of its shades. A monochrome Sanguine sketch of a human being looks natural unlike a gray or black one. It bursts with warmth.

Perhaps it goes to instinct. Red ochres, iron oxides have been used by artists for 30,000 years and more. Traces of that pigment have been found in earlier burials too, the red color is sacred in our instincts. We have always been fascinated with those rocks and ground red ochre was also a good insect repellent and sun-block back in those ancient times. Egyptians painted everyone with that red-brown hue, a healthy warm complexion.

So perhaps my emotional reaction to those muted red-orange colors is something so deep in human nature that it's an instinctive joy. Perhaps the sight of red clay in any form is something we respond to by an urge to make marks with it. I know that art itself is that rooted in human nature, because to this day the greatest of the cave paintings reach people with the same deep emotional reaction they must have had for the painter's people.

We don't have the same cultural context for those red and black horses and rhinos that the painters did. Their language and their customs, their specific cultural meanings and ceremonies are long gone. All we can do is speculate. Yet one look at those paintings and a child will smile, will recognize the animals, will enjoy them and want to draw animals too.

My little cat dreams that he's a lion and I dream of being a cave man when I handle a Conte stick. So I will share that with some teens while I live here, now that I'll have transportation. Once I'm settled in things like that will be a lot easier!
Explore-Oil-Pastels-With-Robert-Sloan.com Articles at eHow.com, ETSY shop, My Bonanzle Booth, deviantART gallery, SFFmuse and look for art by robertsloan2art on eBay. Listed on Art Blogs 4 U
Proud member of the Oil Pastel Society
Interesting art blog: Patrick's Art Blog focused on realism!
New Topical Blog: www.robs-art-supply-reviews.blogspot.com for all the cool art stuff that isn't oil pastels!

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Robert A. Sloan, author of Raven Dance
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