Many Places, Many Things

Just finished my most current colored pencil drawing. A piece called Many Places, Many Things:

Sun’s Up

This week’s post is another colored pencil drawing. I started with the intention of doing an abstract piece, somewhat like Tunnels. Once I made the sketch and started coloring in the red/orange/yellow shapes, however, I saw a picture, so I ran with it.

I think the reason I saw a spider web was this photo, which was taken in the Fakahatchee Strand State Park in southern Florida last April:

I’d gotten up early to start down a dirt road called Jane’s Scenic Road, and the plants were heavy with dew. I was startled to see thousands of spider webs everywhere. I had been completely unaware of their existence when I’d driven there the day before at mid-day. It was as if the dew had revealed an invisible message on a seemingly blank page, and I was fascinated. Sure, I’ve seen a web or two in the early morning before, but these fields were full of them. There must have been a web every five to six feet.

While I worked on the piece, I kept hearing the first lines of the Bruce Cockburn song “Wondering Where the Lions Are.” It begins:

Sun’s up, mmm-hmmm, looks okay
The world survives into another day
And I’m thinking about eternety
Some kind of ecstacy got a hold on me

I often find that my work is either inspired by music, or working on a piece inspires me to hear music. I think that’s one of the reasons why I like creating art, actually. It engages so many facets of my experience. When I look at other people’s art, I often wonder about the subject, and the story behind the image. There is always a story.


One of the techniques I’ve been exploring is to create pieces with a stained-glass feel to them. Within these pieces, I like to include what I think of as “islands of reality”–areas that are more realistically drawn. I’d love to say I had some kind of lofty goal in mind when I headed in this direction. The truth, though, is that I often draw geometrical patterns during meetings at work. It helps me focus. Then I like to color in the shapes. This is considerably more satisfying with colored pencil, however, because I end up with an entire picture, rather than random patches interspersed with notes.

As for the subject and color choice, this has been a difficult winter with record snows. I found myself craving spring flowers in February–purple crocuses are a favorite. I considered doing a piece with flowers, but while I enjoy looking at flowers, I don’t generally feel compelled to center my art on them. Maybe because Georgia O’Keefe’s work is so amazing that nothing I do feels adequate.

Anyway, my neurotic hangups as an artist aside, I wanted to use purples and blues and bold colors, but didn’t have a subject until I was listening to a song called “Waters of March.” The version I know and love is sung by Art Garfunkel:

One of the stanzas is:

Afloat, adrift, aflight, awing
A hawk, a quail, the promise of spring
And the riverbank talks of the waters of March
It’s the promise of life, it’s the joy in your heart

When I heard that, I saw a Canada goose flying in my mind, and the picture followed. I was curious about the song’s lyrics, and when I Googled, I learned that the original song is in Portuguese and was written by a Brazillian songwriter named Antonio Carlos Jobim. It turns out that Jobim’s original lyrics are about the fall rainy season, since Brazil is south of the equator. But when he wrote the English version of the lyrics, he changed the season to spring, since that version was intended for those of us living north of the equator. Thought that was a fascinating bit of information about a wonderful song.