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Half-Naked Holy Man, Seville

30 Mar
Half-naked holy man from painting in Seville. by Alexandra Hanson-Harding, 2017.

Half-naked holy man from painting in Seville. by Alexandra Hanson-Harding, 2017.

Somewhere in Madrid

20 Mar
View of Madrid. by Aleandra Hanson-Harding, 2017.

View of Madrid. by Aleandra Hanson-Harding, 2017.

Seeing art in Madrid

19 Mar
Portrait of a Portrait of a Man by Alexandra Hanson-Harding, 2017.

Portrait of a Portrait of a Man by Alexandra Hanson-Harding, 2017.

Seguridad

19 Mar
In the train station, Madrid. by Alexandra Hanson-Harding,2017.

In the train station, Madrid. by Alexandra Hanson-Harding,2017.

 

I’m out of words, I’m just going to draw things part #3

23 Nov Couple at a Turkish restaurant, by Alexandra Hanson-Harding, 2016.
Couple at a Turkish restaurant, by Alexandra Hanson-Harding, 2016.

Couple at a Turkish restaurant, by Alexandra Hanson-Harding, 2016.

 

I’m cleaning the Augean Stables aka my art room and never as there a more hopeless task. Thank god for artistic blanketlike objects that can drape over piles of various bins of things. I am going to die before I get to that point, though. I want to make this room nice for son number 1 when we have an onslaught of relatives tomorrow night.

In the meantime, the news is dripping poison in my ears, Hamlet’s uncle style. Every item is another acid drop.

  • Trump considers naming Ben Carson to head HUD. Dude, you’re going to let him build pyramids for grain storage in the inner city?
  • Trump names Betsy de Vos to head Education Dept. Really? Mrs. Amway? Who never sent her kids to public school?
  • Hillary has more than 2 million votes more than Trump–now it’s just getting painful.

I really can’t take it. So I thought I’d take a few minutes to share a picture of some people at a Turkish restaurant I spy drew (drawed)? for your viewing pleasure.

I’m out of words, I’m just going to draw things #1

14 Nov Concert to support the Metropolitan Orchestra of New Jersey, November 13, picture drawn by Alexandra Hanson-Harding.
Concert to support the Metropolitan Orchestra of New Jersey, November 13, picture drawn by Alexandra Hanson-Harding.

Concert to support the Metropolitan Orchestra of New Jersey, November 13, picture drawn by Alexandra Hanson-Harding.

 

It has been almost a week since the election of Donald J. Trump. My reaction changes day by day. Currently, I have reached the nonverbal stage. One way in which I, personally, am very fortunate, is that I am well adapted for hopeless situations. That is one of the gifts of having been relentlessly for five years when I was growing up.

The bullying started when I was eight years old and my family moved to the suburb of Wilbraham, Massachusetts. The school officials thought that anyone from the “big city” of Springfield had to have an inferior education. So even though I had been in the gifted program in Springfield (my mother tells me), they put me in the equivalent of the special education class in Wilbraham. The teacher was cruel and abusive. She gave me an F right away because we didn’t learn cursive until 3rd grade in Springfield and they learned it in second grade in Wilbraham. She screamed regularly. Kids on the playground told me I was “retarded.” The next year I was tested and put back into the gifted class but by then it was too late. I was a very small, sensitive, and dreamy girl, the type who spent hours imagining how fairies eat, but zero hours imagining why people wanted to be mean.

Hmm.  Not long ago, a woman I know knew a writer who was writing a book about people who were bullied. She asked if the writer could contact me, and the writer did. I thought for a long time if I would answer. It seemed very rude not to, but somehow, whenever I thought of saying anything about what happened during those five years, I felt the strangest feeling, as if I were clutching my stomach and as if my hands were flying up to my face at the same time, and thought, No. No. No. I never actually answered her.

But as bad as bullying was, I did get one benefit. Resourcefulness. To distract myself, I learned. I read. I learned new facts and with them created new stories in my mind as it floated above my unpleasant reality. I also loved drawing.  It became a habit and a pattern to escape into reading and drawing, to learning and to observing, when I had the least power.
When I was weak, these habits were an incredible solace. And at times when I was more powerful, it turned out that those things were quite useful as well. It was a silver lining to the unnecessary  pain to which I was subjected.

Gosh, I don’t know what brought that to mind this week of all weeks.

At any rate, this week–until just now, apparently–I feel as if words have just failed me. It’s a good week to return to habits I developed in a time when I felt helpless. So here’s something I drew yesterday. We went to a concert at the Milburn Public Library to support the Metropolitan Orchestra of New Jersey. It was a beautiful concert of Mozart and Brahms, and another solace for a sad and beautiful day. We saw the big lovely moon when we drove home. And I was with my beloved husband. This election is bad. But music is good. Love is good. The moon is good. And art is always good.

 

 

 

 

Pattern Books

26 Apr Tote bag, sharpies on canvas, Alexandra Hanson-Harding
Tote bag, sharpies on canvas, Alexandra Hanson-Harding

Tote bag, sharpies on canvas, Alexandra Hanson-Harding

Yesterday when I was at my book group, my friend Monica asked me, “Are you still looking at pattern books?”

That’s because I am an eternal drawer and doodler and writer (and she was catching me doodling under the table), and last year, I was doing a lot of my doodling modeled on pictures from pattern books.   I have incredibly restless, fidgety hands, and I have a hard time listening to a conversation if I am not taking notes, doodling, drawing, fiddling with yarn, or twisting something with my fingers. Thus has it always been. As you can see from the name of my blog, 135 journals, I have been keeping journals for some time. I have far more than 135 journals. (And yes, I do look back at them, and I still have all of them, and I am very happy I started the habit when I was 14 and I do write pretty much every day).

A few years ago, I became interested—or rather, re-interested—in art. Visual art has always been an interest of mine. It was my first love, before words came and stole me away. In recent years, especially since I have become sick, art has seemed to open different pathways than words. I feel as if there is a great roaring in my head of things I need to communicate. I have things I need to express, and things I need to be understood. These are two different things. Art has been utterly compelling as a force to help me to both.

On my path to rediscovering my own language in art, I started devouring art books, especially books on different kinds of patterns. There was something about patterns that particularly compelled me.

Studying these art books helped me. Why not be inspired by the gifts and wisdom of others? It gave me an expanded framework for thinking both about patterns and about symbols. This allowed me both to find and to create symbols that meant something to me. It showed me how repeating patterns can give emphasis and importance to certain areas of a piece. That designs aren’t just random. They serve a purpose. There’s a reason why people love patterns and have always found them comforting and important.

More importantly, I know why I love creating patterns. But now, I don’t look at pattern books for inspiration when I draw. I just breathe, put pen to paper, and let go. I don’t know what will come out, or, if it doesn’t, if I can fix it. But that’s okay. there’s a lot of paper in the world. And the patterns will still keep emerging, from the pattern book that is unfurling inside of me.

 

135Journals Art Corner: 13 Days of Christmas, Day 1

13 Dec Merry Christmas Madness #1, (art project #53), by Alexandra Hanson-Harding

Not for nothing, but most of the time, other blogs give you one, or, tops,  12 days of Christmas cheer. But here at the festive halls of 135 Journals, the elves have handcrafted the full baker’s dozen for your Yuletide amusement. Here’s the first installment of the Mistletoe Madness. Keep watching for the next 12 installments. Happy Holidays, y’all!

Merry Christmas Madness #1, (art project #53), by Alexandra Hanson-Harding

Merry Christmas Madness #1, (art project #53), by Alexandra Hanson-Harding

 

 

135journals Art Corner: Journal Sketch of woman on Iphone at Apple Store

20 Jan
Woman talking on Iphone at Apple Store, now in the journal of Alexandra Hanson-Harding

Woman talking on Iphone at Apple Store, now in the journal of Alexandra Hanson-Harding

What in the world could possibly be better than spying on people who are doing whatever it is they do in public? A lot of what they do, fortunately, is talk on their phones. Unfortunately, 99 out of conversations on cell phones are tedious, and I should know, because I eavesdrop all. the. time. Luckily, they are also very distracted by their conversations, and I can capture their looks while ignoring the tediousity (word TM by me) of their one-sided chitchat. I liked the looks of this young lady. She was so pretty. Drawing her kept me content while I waited for a Genius to visit me (Oh how often I wait for genius to visit me.) I was so glad I had my journal to keep me company, since my computer wasn’t doing me any good at that moment.

Writing Prompt: Next time you hear a cell phone conversation in public, try writing it down. Then tell me if I’m right about how b-o-r-i-n-g people are on their cells.

135Journals Art Corner: Now what? Starting Art in 2015

2 Jan
Now what? Unfinished Art Journal Pages in orange, green and purple marker. by Alexandra Hanson-Harding

Now what? Unfinished Art Journal Pages in orange, green and purple marker. by Alexandra Hanson-Harding

Welcome to Januararty! When I started writing this blog, it was all about the writing. Increasingly, I’ve felt drawn to art. I hope to continue writing about writing, about books, about everything, but I also want to spend more time writing about art this year. In fact, I have already scheduled a number of posts about different art projects and pieces I’m working on for the month of January. Today, I am showing a piece I’ve started but have put aside for the moment, until I know where I want to go with it. My intention is to share with you one person’s art journey. I want to share the good art and the bad. I want to show new techniques that I’m trying and how they work (if they do!). I may even show you how I repeat doing similar kinds of pieces over and over and over, improving only in small increments each time. You may not be interested in art. You may not be interested in a non-artist’s attempts at art. But it is my hope that if I can share the good and the bad of what I make, and if I improve over time (which I certainly hope to do), that you will feel a little bit of a wind at your back, too. A little bit more freedom to create. I know that whatever I make, I do get pleasure from the process. I feel empowered by each small advance, and comforted by the gaining of facility with my hands and eye. I hope you feel a little of that joy, too, in whatever it is that you do for yourself–and I hope you Do do something for yourself. Happy new year, fellow creators. Let’s journey together to make something–to make many things–in 2015.

Writing Prompt: What would you like to create this year/