Thursday, October 18, 2007

A Dried Out Leaf

Partly it's the season and partly it's the prospect that the Howard years really are ending on November the 24th that has me in a good mood today. The seasonal part is that whole
Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyn in swich licour
Of which virtu engendered is the flour;
thing. I don't think my attitude to the election needs much explanation - once again, we've been given the chance to get rid of Australia's worst Prime Minister this century - probably the worst since Federation, for the meiosis challenged - and this time it looks like the electorate is finally going to take the opportunity.

There's one other major contributor to my good mood - I've found a new skill to learn. This time it's drawing. Looking back now, I realise that I was doomed to start teaching myself - or re-teaching myself - how to draw from the very first time I used The GIMP to doctor a photograph. Another major steps along the road to this new perdition was producing that first picture of The Indefatigable Wingnut (Episode 6 currently in production).

So now, every day starts with me running up the blinds in my study/den/home office and sitting down at the desk for a drawimg warm up. Today's warm up was drawing a dried out leaf I found in the back yard - the one in the picture (my HP OfficeJet LX lost a lot of the pencilled shading, so I've colorised it to bring out some of the contrast that was lost).

Drawing the leaf was a two stage process (just in case anyone's thinking of trying it at home). The first stage was to draw the leaf with the desk set up so that I couldn't see the drawing paper (a portable file holder works quite well for this if you're using A4 paper). The second was to draw it with the paper visible, but with my attention on the leaf, not the drawing. The only times I look at the drawing are when I've lost my way a bit, and need to reposition the pencil.

One interesting side effect of this new avocation is that I'm looking at the world around me with a new set of interests. A similar thing happened in my shutterbugging days - I would spend a lot of time thinking about how ordinary everyday scenes would look through a camera viewfinder and a lot more alert to the part light and shade play in our visual perception of our everyday world.

A second interesting side effect is that when I'm writing things in my head, they're more likely to be about the imaged world - the world as depicted in photographs, drawings and paintings - and how that imaged world can be manipulated. One form of digital image manipulation I serendipitously discovered yesterday gives me the willies - it's a dangerous little genie indeed and one day I'd like to thoroughly anethematise the idiots who decided to open its bottle.

But not today. I'd rather sit and look at the original drawing behind that scan and mentally rehearse the process of converting it to a line drawing in ink. I reckon the first stage will be to copy it with a 2H pencil to reduce it to a set of pen strokes that can be produced quickly and smoothly, with neither hand tremor or smudging from supporting the pen on the paper. Then a couple of rehearsals on scrap paper before I tackle it on 110 gsm cartridge.

To finish, I'll just throw out a couple of quick remarks that would otherwise nag at me, demanding to be written about, so that I can keep my head clear for what's important to me right now.

First, at the end of the nineteenth century, the French Third Republic was riven by The Dreyfus Affair. it divided the nation into two bitterly opposed factions - Dreyfussards and anti-Dreyfussards. According to the Wikipedia article cited (which prima facie is not to be trusted):
... The right-wing Vichy Regime was composed to some extent of old anti-Dreyfusards and their descendants. The Vichy Regime would later deport Dreyfus' grand-daughter to her death at Nazi extermination camps.
Any historians out there looking for a topic for a blog post? A quick compare and contrast might while away an otherwise boring afternoon.

I'll conclude this not so quick remark by noting that since the turn of the century this government has managed to produce quite a few scandals of its own: the Tampa incident, the Habib case, the cases of Cornelia Rau and Vivian Solon, the Haneef Affair and Kevin Andrew's stupid remarks on Sudanese immigrants. Any would-be Zolas out there? Hello?

That wasn't so quick, really, was it? Let's see if I can get number two out of the way with a little more dispatch.

It's pretty bloody ludicrous when a soi-dissant iconoclast derides an artist for producing works with obvious iconoclastic intent as his (said blogger's) Lameass of the Month. Still, the blog's name is apt.

Yep, that did it. Just the right balance of pith and vinegar.

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