From My Sketch Book – 7

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This image forms part of a bigger drawing by Peter Paul Rubens. I just had to draw it. This was the result which I did with pencil and ink, and then gave it a sepia look. Rubens, as you may know, is known for his heavy figures.

What struck me was the muscularity and firmness of the legs and the feet. The whole image for me spoke of the need for rootedness and mobility in life. The muscular left leg and foot is firmly and heavily rooted on the ground, while the right is in the act of the lightness and movement of walking.

The need to be grounded, yet flexible, not only physically, but psychologically and spiritually is a key ingredient in a life well lived. Rootedness without mobility becomes dogmatic and immovable. We become stuck. On the other hand,  mobility without rootedness, floats and gets blown around by every whim and fancy. One aspect of wholeness in life means having both in a wonderfully integrated whole, as the image communicates.

Then I saw the gracefulness of this Swan’s head in one of J’s photographs, and again I was compelled to draw.

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About Don

I love life. Sometimes it makes sense, other times not. Discerning its underlying patterns and beauty always provides great reward and meaning and is a passion I ineptly follow. I feel deeply attached to nature and love the sea with its distinct moods and colour and find walking along its beaches wonderfully inspiring. Writing, sketching and photography is a sheer joy for me and the blog is one of the places I am able to express these pursuits.
Image | This entry was posted in Art, From My Sketchbook, Life, Spirituality, wisdom and insight and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to From My Sketch Book – 7

  1. Kathy Marsden says:

    Love your swan! He’s engaging and you’ve captured that. There’s a nervous excitement about feeling compelled, isn’t there? The urge comes from a place we can’t even fathom. It’s so good to listen to it when it makes itself known the way it has for you. When I felt the urge to take make a start with drawing again after a very long time I was so afraid that I wouldn’t like what I did. I was encouraged by an interview I heard on radio with SA actress Jana Cillier. She was speaking about her mother, Bettie Cillier Barnard who passed away 15/09/2012 and who said “If you are unsure, you just have to start.”
    I remember that when the feeling comes and I’m hesitant to follow through, and am rewarded every time.

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    • Don says:

      I love that Bettie Cillier Barnard quote. That’s what it’s all about. You’re right Kathy it is an urge that comes from a place you can’t fathom and when you respond to it, it does reward you in some way or other, even when it turns out in a way you never expected.Thanks again for your comment Kathy.

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      • Kathy Marsden says:

        Sorry. Mistake. Bettie Cillier Barnard died in 2010.
        Henri Nouwen calls that place a twighlight zone. He writes in Bread For The Journey 24 March about that place where friendships are born: “Even when we know quite a lot about ourselves – our gifts and weaknesses, our ambitions and aspirations, our motives and drives – large parts of ourselves remain in the shadow of consciousness. This is a very good thing…. We will never fully know the significance of our presence in the lives of our friends. That’s a grace…”

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      • Don says:

        Thanks Kathy. I really like what Henri Nouwen describes and what you say about us always being a mystery to ourselves. Our depths and possibilities are unfathomable. I must say I live comfortably with that kind of language and insight. Thanks again. lovely comment.

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  2. Stunning drawings and such wise thoughts to with them. Those look like the legs of a hard worker – also vital in this life of ours.

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  3. The first thing that struck me about this (excellent) sketch, is whether the owner of them legs are running to or from something – I feel a sense a urgency there. In contrast, the swan is so peaceful. Great post Don.

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    • Don says:

      Jacquie, interesting what you say. I had a good look at the image He is walking, but looking at the feet I seem to have portrayed him as running. I’ve only seen that now that you have mentioned it. Pretty observant of you. I really like what you say about the contrast with the swan. Thank you.

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  4. Don, I agree whole-heartedly that we “need to be grounded, yet flexible.” Wonderful words and art!

    Blessings ~ Wendy

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  5. Don, I’m so glad I read your comment…
    The left leg, as you’ve written is quite heavy and not flexible. The right is the opposite..!
    At first I doubted your artistic ability, then I was embarrassed by your great artistic ability… My apologies, and my admiration..! 😉

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    • Don says:

      Lol – thanks Carolyn. I really don’t profess to have artistic ability, I just enjoy drawing. It’s just another way in which I express myself. It’s pretty crude but I enjoy it. I really like your comment on the left and right leg. Love your honesty.

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  6. nrhatch says:

    Good thoughts, Don. I love when you share your sketches.

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  7. wisejourney says:

    The swan is no very. Lovely…serene and gentle.

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  8. ladyfi says:

    Love the contrast between the grounded feet and the more whimsical swan.

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  9. Theo Coggin says:

    Your swan is grace personified.

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  10. josna says:

    Don, I’ve been thinking about this sketch of the sturdy legs in motion, and your reflections on groundedness and flexibiity. Somehow your drawing simultaneously signals human vulnerability and human courage. The legs are strong and the spirit that moves them is determined but also subject to weakness and aging. It is a perennial mystery to me that we are both embodied and aery spirits, and your drawing captures that.

    The swan is different altogether. The head and neck is graceful, almost ethereal, while the beak is sharp and defined, almost cruel. You have a wide range of artistic styles.

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    • Don says:

      Love your insights in to the drawings Josna. You’ve obviously reflected on them. I really appreciate that. Thank you. Wonderful that you also see vulnerability in those legs.

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  11. Hudson Howl says:

    Rubens was wicked with a pencil without question and one of my favourites as well. Part gesture drawing and part contouring sketching. My own theory on Rubens comes out of my own bent experience in life drawing back in art school. I sucked at it. I remember my Dutch instructor growling at me, “how can you be so good at everything you do and so bad at drawing nudes”. Then on day the usually model not could attend and her replacement was of the Rubenesque kind. Wowlla! For some reason I was better at interrupting volume. Then in another art school, that school only used larger models for first year students. So the idea body perfection is I think a modern ideal.

    Your quite right regarding psychologically and spiritually grounding, it does seem paramount in not just dealing with life but helps to unplug that false sense of over worth that many of us possess which prevents us from seeing we are all connected to each other in someway if you think about it. Plus, to take another cue from art -balance in design. Ruben’s paintings were masterfully balanced works, his amphoral sculpted forms aside. We all need balance in life don’t we.

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    • Don says:

      Hudson, thank you for this. Such an enlightening comment. A pleasure to read. You obviously know a lot about Rubens’ and his work. I’m interested to know whether you still draw..

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