A little more passion, please

Van Gogh’s lesson for me today:

Rappard has painted some good studies, among others a few after the models at the academy, which are well done. A little more fire and passion would not hurt him, a little more self-confidence and more courage. Somebody once said to me, “We must make the same efforts as lost, desperate beings.” He does not do that as yet. His pen-and-ink drawings of landscape are very witty and charming, but in these, also, a little more passion, please.

(From Van Gogh: A Self-Portrait, W. H. Auden, ed.)

I’m focusing on drawing at all right now, and drawing accurately, and learning how to paint, but at the same time I hope I can keep those words in mind. I want to push past my carefulness and dutiful copying, and let some feeling and messiness come out if it wants to.

Here’s a charcoal drawing I really enjoyed doing because I love sumac so much, especially in the late fall when the leaves are gone and they’re very dramatic looking.

Sumac (charcoal pencil)

Sumac (charcoal pencil)

This tiny landscape is of one of my favorite places, a marsh in Essex, Mass., a couple of towns over. I stop at this spot on my way to work when I have time; it’s beautiful in every season.

Essex Marsh, July (oil on canvas)

Essex Marsh, July (oil on canvas)

This was my first attempt at freeform lace.

Freeform lace (seasilk)

Freeform lace (seasilk)

Meanwhile

I also love doing freeform crochet.

Freeform Crochet Bag (wool and mohair)

Here’s another of my oldest drawings, just some practicing with shells. The paper was old and stained, so I made a collage out of it by mounting it over handmade paper and gluing sand all around the shells.

Shells on Sand

Shells (charcoal pencil)

And here’s the painting I now remember was actually the second one I did last year, after the pears. I was working from a murky Polaroid photo, and you can tell. It’s an obvious beginning exercise, but it was exciting to do a landscape for the first time and figure out the layers of background, middle, and foreground. I keep almost gessoing over this but I have a soft spot for it.

Azalea (oil on canvas board)

Azalea (oil on canvas board)