Tag Archives: Drawing

I’m out of words, I’m just going to draw things #4

24 Nov Thanksgiving 2016 Mandalas with blue leaves by Alexandra Hanson-Harding
  1. Thanksgiving 2016 Mandalas with blue leaves by Alexandra Hanson-Harding

    Thanksgiving 2016 Mandalas with blue leaves by Alexandra Hanson-Harding

  2. My art room is a Stygian pit.
  3. I once again discovered why I should never have been allowed to be in the same room with chocolate cereal, milk, and a bowl, with or without a spoon.
  4. Situations.
  5. Donald Trump.

Here’s a picture.

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: Drawing on Receipts

23 Jan
Drawing on receipts. Even if you don't have anything else to draw on, you can use the small space of a receipt or other scrap of paper to draw a pattern that you can later use in a collage or other piece of work. by Alexandra Hanson-Harding

Drawing on receipts. Even if you don’t have anything else to draw on, you can use the small space of a receipt or other scrap of paper to draw a pattern that you can later use in a collage or other piece of work. by Alexandra Hanson-Harding

One day I–I know this is crazy–I didn’t have my journal with me. And I was waiting in a line. And I was bored. Of course, my pocketbook did contain a bunch of old useless receipts and some markers. So, I found myself doodling this little design on top of one of those receipts. The paper is probably as toxic as all get out, but it does have a nice smooth feeling. And having only a small space to fill was oddly satisfying. And, of course, every picture, no matter how seemingly repetitive, that I do means that I am developing a little bit more strength in my hand, more personality in my line, more sense of possibility. So, what can you actually DO with litttle pieces like this? Many artists save small bits and pieces of work for collages. I do not know how to make a collage–yet. But I have a file for pieces of my own work. It might fit in somewhere perfectly. And if not, what have I lost? In a way, I like the fact that I can read through the drawing that I visited Barnes and Noble and had a cup of tea on a certain day. That too is part of my history. Maybe I’ll just glue it onto a page of my journal (as you can see in this picture, the receipt is lying on one page of my scandalous tomes), because it’s part of me. It’s part of a day I drank tea, and part of a day I was bored standing in line. It was a point in time when I was drawing circles. Maybe someday I won’t draw so many circles. Then maybe I’ll draw something else. And THAT will be part of my history, too. It reminds me: There’s really no reason to ever clean out your purse.

Writing Prompt: What do you do with little scraps in your life–of time, of material, of paper?

135journals Art Corner: Tiny Diamonds

13 Jan
Make yourself a diagonal grid and get yourself some markers, and hours of fun shall ensue. By Alexandra Hanson-Harding.

Make yourself a diagonal grid and get yourself some markers, and hours of fun shall ensue. By Alexandra Hanson-Harding.

In some ways, I am soooooooooo lazy. You just go ahead and ask my husband. But in other ways, I am incredibly diligent. Lookie here at what hard work I put into making this picture of tiny diamonds. I not only had fun coloring in boes with markers, but in devising little patterns to put into some of the boxes. I think they help to give the composition a little variety. I also left some spaces blank. You might have fun doing such a project yourself. I found it meditative, but it also helped me develop more small iconic images that come naturally to hand. I also got to see for myself color combinations that looked better than others. I want to develop my eye for what colors work together. It is interesting how different look next to each other. It was good compulsive fun, and a person could do this over and over (with regular grid paper, too), and still learn something and even make something kind of pleasing.

Writing Prompt: What is something you do compulsively?

135Journals Art Corner: Paisley

9 Jan

One of my vows this year is to show not just pictures I’m really proud of, but ones that I am stumped by. I don’t really like what I’ve done here. The colors are too stark. They lack nuance. I think it looks primitive, but not in a good way. It’s all done with markers, which are not a perfect vehicle for art on their own. Still, I think the cure for what ails it can be found in doing something more to it. What that more is, I do not know. Yet. If and when the answer comes to me, I will show it to you. I do know that layering can add depth and dimension to pictures that seem hopeless at first. Let’s see if that happens with this baby.

Writing Prompt: Do you have some kind of project that hasn’t come together yet?

Paisley 1 by Alexandra Hanson-Harding. (Unfinished. So far).

Paisley 1 by Alexandra Hanson-Harding. (Unfinished. So far).

135Journals Art Corner: Faucet

6 Jan
faucet drawing

This is what faucets look like these days. Interesting fact: I get bored in stores that sell faucets. (from the journal of Alexandra HH)

Part of the joy that is renovating is picking out new stuff. I know, it really is. A person is lucky to have new stuff. I remind myself of that. But I must admit my mind wanders a bit when it comes down to making these life-altering decisions. Here is a picture I drew in my journal while Mr. HH was asking sensible questions.

Writing Prompt: What kind of shopping do you hate?

This Insane Piece of Art Will Force Tears to Spurt Out of Your Eyeballs and Make You Cry Uncle

21 Nov
Illustration: Red Onions by Alexandra Hanson-Harding

Red Onions, by Alexandra Hanson-Harding

Lately, I have been obsessed with drawing circles. I got the idea from some beautiful African dyed indigo cloth. But when I created this piece, my future superchef child Jacob said, “OMG, Mom, you should name that piece red onions.” And then I saw how the different purples and shapes did indeed resemble a very large collection of red onions, which Mr. H eats raw every day. So as you stare into the depths, let your mind wander to the onionyness if you like. Think of how amazing onions are–how impoverished our diet would be without them. And yet how they exact a cost in painful tears as you slice into them. I don’t usually like raw onions myself. I think they need heat to coax out the sweetness and complexity they bring to so many dishes. They remind me of some people who at first can be so sharp and painful to deal with that one gasps and tears up immediately. But if warmth is steadily applied, they too can give up the treasure of their own sweet complexity. It reminds me not to give up on people just because they might seem offputting at first. I like to see if kindness and interest will let me pass through the painful thresshold and find their rich, true essence.

Writing Prompt: Write about a memory involving onions.

135Journals Art Corner: what I did at Physical Therapy

2 Jun

 

Image

 

Sometimes, it gets a little boring doing thirty leg lifts this way, that way, the other way, yada yada. Or trying to walk on some spongy material and not knock over little orange cones. I think of the words “yada yada” because when I was lucky, Seinfeld was blasting on the giant TV in the small room. When I wasn’t lucky, which was most of the time, it was The King of Queens. OMG, I’m getting a flashback to the episode where Carrie was such a bitch that every Korean nail salon in Queens wouldn’t do her nails. Crisis!!!!! Or another episode where Carrie and Doug were obsessed with trying to figure out how much they were going to spend on other people’s Christmas presents because they thought they overheard other people saying they were going to give THEM expensive presents and they didn’t want to seem cheap . . . I’m getting flashbacks, horrible flashbacks to the theme song . . . as I tried doing leg lifts wearing those ankle bracelet things . . . the therapists were as sweet as could be. But I always wonder how THEY could stand watching the same episode of The King of Freaking Queens all damn day . .. . getting chills just thinking about it.