August 10, 2019

NS1, 7:5
Aristide Maillol “Mountain” sculpture (1937), back garden of Norton Simon, July 5, 2019 (Prismacolor colored pencil on Bristol board)

Sorry I missed posting on onecaliforniagirl.com last week. I was on vacation.

For this week’s offering I have again included a couple versions of a favorite sculpture in the back garden of the Norton Simon. If you have been following my blog you may recognize this lovely “Mountain.” On September 8, 2018 I shared two versions of her from the other side of the pond—one rather close up and the other far away, creating the illusion that she was nestled in the lovely background shrubbery. For my September 15, 2018 post I focused again on this lovely “Mountain” for a speed sketching activity with a sketching group. For this activity we stepped outside to the back garden and walked along the path until our group leader suggested we stop and find something to draw. We stood there for 20 minutes, feverishly sketching, until the alarm on her phone went off. We then walked a bit further until another sketching spot was chosen for a quick 20 minute sketch. (This is actually very similar to the April 20, 2019 Sketchcrawl I wrote about, except we weren’t getting on and off a train every 20 minutes to draw what we saw.) 

I think I have shared here that the first Friday of every month the Norton Simon Museum is open and free from 5 to 8 pm. And there is a kind of standing invitation from one of my sketching groups to gather at that place and time. From 5 to 6:30 we are invited to sketch what we like. At 6:30 we have a throw down and then go together somewhere in the museum (could be inside or out) to do a coordinated group sketch. As is my usual, I shoot out the back door at 5 pm and head for the garden. And it seemed the “Mountain” was calling me again. So, I rolled out my bubble wrap on the grass in front of her—actually it’s “her” rear view—and began planning my sketch. Not really sure why, but I decided I wanted a vertical rearview with a kind of diagonal flow of the background trees and shrubbery behind her. I remember learning long ago in an art class that when you include something on a diagonal, it gives the piece a kind of action or element of movement. It made me giggle a little as this statue is pretty massive and I’m sure she wasn’t going anywhere. Of course, perhaps she recognized me and was tired of me repeatedly looking at her. Maybe she planned to jump over the pond and hide away in the background of darkness next to the tree I had conveniently placed there for her escape.

NS2, 7:5
Aristide Maillol “Mountain” sculpture (1937), back garden of Norton Simon, July 5, 2019 (ink, Inktense pencil on watercolor paper)

That hour and a half went by very quickly and soon it was 6:30, so I joined our group in the lobby just inside the glass doors. It was time for the throw down. (This is when we share our sketches.) It’s such a geeky artist thing to do…but I love it! Once we finish with this wonderfully “self affirming” bit of sharing our group leader usually suggests some kind of group activity (like speed sketching in the back garden) before the museum closes for the evening. She didn’t have a particular assignment for us on that July 5 evening and we were instructed to sketch what we liked and meet back in the lobby at 7:45.  So, I found myself back on the grass, looking again at the back end of that beautiful “Mountain.” But this time I wanted to render her in a completely different way. For this one I have her sitting largely in the middle of a horizontal field of grasses, and I rendered her with my Inktense colored pencils and black ink pen on watercolor paper. (I also did a little spritzing of water to diffuse the background colors a bit.) With that calming horizontal plane there was no hint of action on her part—no escape plan seemed necessary. However, it did seem that she was definitely communicating something with her body language, even though she was facing away from me. Maybe with the downward angle of her head close to her extended left hand she was trying to say, “no more, please stop.” 

For both images you may have noticed the ambient light coming from the left. That was a completely accidental, and yet wonderful, lighting effect. I took those photos on my kitchen table on July 6 at 6:26pm, and that was the exact light that was coming through the window next to the table. I’m not sure, but I think the striated effect was due to the angle of the sun’s rays as it passed through the window screen. It’s not a typical screen as it is metal and a kind of heavy gauge. And the glass on that window is old and wavy—that may have contributed to the effect as well. Anyway, I hope to remember to try taking a photo of a piece of art in that same spot next July 6th at 6:26pm. What are the chances I’ll remember to do that? Trying to stay positive!

As I was writing this week’s words I reflected on all the different ways I had rendered this same statue, with a different and pleasing outcome for each sketch. Each time I found myself near the “Mountain” I wanted to draw her, but I never expressly went to the Norton Simon for that purpose. Not really sure why I have had such an unintended obsession with that statue. There are quite a few statues out there, but she seems to be my muse that draws me to the pond, trees and shrubbery that she watches over. But maybe now I’m finally done with the “Mountain?” Probably not! Although she may have had enough of me…

August 2
Ducks in pond in back garden of Norton Simon, August 2, 2019 (ink and colored pencil on Bristol Board)

As you can see I was at the Norton Simon on Friday evening, August 2, and found myself once again in the garden. I often sit on the grass beside the pond and sketch. That evening I breezed past the grass and sat on a bench overlooking the pond from the opposite end. I decided to sketch that end of the pond—imagining I would catch a couple ducks as they breezed between past the two foot grasses that lined the foreground. I didn’t intentionally avoid the “Mountain,” she’s just off to the left and out of view of this view. 

And yet another update on the guards at the Norton Simon…Keep off the grass!

In previous posts I have written about the “guards” at the Norton Simon. Unfortunately, my stories have not painted these officious women and men in a very favorable light. Here is yet the latest…

For this sketch I sat on a bench and didn’t attempt to sit on the grass. And it’s a good thing I didn’t want to sit there. It seems there is a new rule now and no one is allowed on the grass, or too close to the edge of the pond. It seems that a week or so ago someone got too close and fell in. But instead of the rule being stay a foot away from the edge, the entire grassy area is now off limits to all humans. (Maybe that’s why I noticed only a group of ducks gathered on the grass, near the water’s edge. There were also no small children were running amok on the lawn either…) There was just one guard on duty out there that evening and she tried to make it sound like they don’t have enough guards to wander that back garden to remind people to keep away from the edge. So, she marched continuously around the garden, telling people to keep off the grass. I just hope this new rule will not keep me from sketching what I like back there. One of my artist friends set up her camp chair on the edge of the trail. I wonder how long that will be tolerated. Well, I won’t be back there for a month or so. We’ll see what happens next time time I am there. Still trying to stay positive. Stay tuned…

 

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