Last week I took the train down to Portland (Oregon) and back, to visit friends and see the exhibit of Pre-Raphaelite art at the Portland Art Museum. It was a journey rich in imagery (of the natural world as well as the museum artwork), good conversation and good food. I went “cold turkey” and did not take along my laptop, so I was forced to sketch and write in longhand — a good exercise for me, I think!
I indulged in my favorite new pastime of keeping a sketchbook, or visual journal. (I’ve been inspired in this by Danny Gregory of
Everyday Matters, Loretta of Pomegranates and Paper and Hannah Hinchman’s books, among others.)
I’ve uploaded the sketchbook pages here – hope you find them amusing or at least interesting. It’s a real pleasure for me to draw quickly and smear color around on the page, which is the exact opposite of the painstaking precision of the artwork I do for publication. I like the idea of not correcting “mistakes” or even worrying about good or bad the sketch is. It just is — in the moment. It’s more about the doing than the end product.
I drank in the Pre-Raphaelite exhibit. It was a great joy to see the originals of so many images I’ve looked at in books or on notecards over the years. Some paintings were much larger than I’d imagined, some much smaller. The colors were quite different too — what a lesson in process printing, as I compared the painting in the exhibition catalog to the original before me. Some of my favorite pieces were small gems I’d never seen or heard of before. A lot of us in recent years have found the Pre-Raphaelite art nourishing, in spite of being aware that the male painters depicted what they wanted to see in their models (who were their lovers and muses), but not really the women as they were — or even as the women saw themselves. I was glad to see quite a few women artists represented in this exhibit, and I spent a fair amount of time musing over the differences between the men’s paintings of women and the women’s paintings of women (and of men for that matter — Maria Spartali Stillman’s portrait of St George shows the head of a sensitive young man — no dragon-slaying here!).
I may write more about the Pre-Raphaelites later, but for now I found two essays (here and
here) by Terri Windling of the Endicott Studio of Mythic Arts that says pretty much everything I want to say. Enjoy.