half full

As I have aged, I am definitely become more pessimistic about human beings, and everything we touch. But today I thought I’d play with some optimistic lettering, just for fun. Because allegedly it’s Optimist Day. And it’s always fun to play with a dip pen.

diametric opposite

I rarely sketch on toned paper, but thought I’d give it a go this time. It’s fun to use white charcoal.

In India, on January 26, they commemorate the day in 1950 that their constitution went into effect, turning the nation into a republic separate from the British raj.

January 26 is also the anniversary of the raising of the British flag in Sydney Cove in 1788, marking the start of New Holland’s colonisation. Officially known as Australia Day, it has become the biggest annual civic event in Australia, though it is often referred to as Invasion Day or Survival Day by Indigenous Australians and others.

So while one country is celebrating the removal of British shackles, the other is remembering the diametric opposite.

(January 26 is also my youngest’s birthday, and that’s a celebration I care about. Has it really been 35 years? Amazing.)

horse anatomy

I was not one of those kids who could draw horses. Ilona Pochwyt in Grade 2, on the other hand, drew them obsessively. It was while watching her effortlessly sketch a ‘colt’ (I had never even heard the word before, they were all horsies to me) that I decided that drawing was a talent, and I definitely didn’t have it. I wonder if my life’s trajectory would have been different if, instead of shutting down the artist within at age 7, I’d asked Ilona to teach me how to draw a horse.

Fast forward several decades and I finally understood that drawing is a skill, not a talent. But I still, until today, had never drawn a horse. My thanks go to John Muir Laws for the equine anatomy lesson, and to Danny Gregory for the prompt. A hurdle has been leapt, a monster vanquished. I see many more sketched horses in my future.

young vincent

I sketched this from the only authenticated photo of Vincent van Gogh, taken when he was 19. While he famously recorded himself in many selfie paintings, he apparently refused to sit for photographs as an adult. He didn’t even want to see photos of his family members.

He wrote to his sister Willemien on September 19, 1889, “I myself still find photographs frightful and don’t like to have any, especially not of people whom I know and love. These portraits, first, are faded more quickly than we ourselves, while the painted portrait remains for many generations. Besides, a painted portrait is a thing of feeling made with love or respect for the being represented.”