EDM – Every Day in May 2011: planning

April 28, 2011

This week I’ve been looking at sketchbook drawings of Cezanne and Gauguin and it’s interesting to notice how much Object Drawing they did. It’s possible for the contemporary sketcher to forget how much day-to-day sketching was done by the Great Artists given the attention given to their painting. But behind every elaborate still life of apples by Cezanne is a raft of watercolour sketches of ginger gars. Lots of sketches by the Renaissance and Baroque masters are presented in figure drawing books but they have been recontextualised to look more like formal drawings because of the anatomical analysis overlaid by the editor/author. A good many were plainly sketches and given the anatomical errors, it’s obvious many were drawn from the imagination.

The “everyday-ness” of sketching is further reinforced by Nick Meglin in his book, “Drawing from within: unleashing your creative potential”. He includes sketches by Rembrandt, Degas and others. Notwithstanding the fact that these are mainly figures sketched from life – loved ones slumped up in bed or falling sleep in armchairs, for example – these are impressions and far from finished drawings. Meglin is big on the contrast between the gestural/impressionistic and its fleeting ‘essentialist’ quality and the considered/struggled, very carefully observed in detail.

So Object Drawing isn’t necessarily or isn’t just a early-21st century response to materialism, to the objects which clutter our lives and which are ascribed more importance than people. My visual landscape is redolent with materialism in the context of the Japanese tsunami and survivors living in cardboard boxes in gymnasiums (little different from the homeless of Osaka living in cardboard boxes on footpaths), electricity cuts in Tokyo taking the ‘spark’ out of a post-industrial world full of neon, reality television examining the mental illness of hoarding, peak oil and the oil crunch and retailers wringing their hands because the oomph has gone out of obsolescence,  or craftspeople obsessing publicly and online about managing their ‘stash’. I’m intrigued about the links between self-talk and self-narrative metaphor among those coping with change in their personal lives and visual metaphors taken up by artists.

Which brings me to some planning for Every Day in May, a “half-marathon” of daily sketching, mainly Object Drawing.

I have set boundaries for myself, without being too intellectual about the whole process. The fact is that because there’s an imperative to upload scans and put them in the public domain online, there’s real potential for more ‘Impress’ than ‘Express’, to use Meglin’s words, so one has to look critically at one’s motives!

My own boundaries are as follows:

* work small. If the subject proves more interesting, then develop the content in another sketchbook.

* interesting composition. There is a strong imperative, largely unstated, that the work be ‘interesting’. I think the current American phrase is “to pop” which pushes the line of innovation over imitation, novelty over standard approaches. The undisputable fact is that Object Drawing is very heavily influenced by advertising and the modes of illustration of the last fifty years. And more recently by the Every Day Matters movement.

* content touching the sides of the page on at least two, if not three sides. This is my attempt to get away from vignettes and move to a more ‘painterly’ approach, “filling the canvas”.

* media and materials. I want to be able to move quickly (or more quickly) from one medium to another so want to deploy the largest range of sketching materials available to me. Just to see what happens.

* handmade sketchbook. I have a 32-page ox-plough structure to hand. This is my attempt to develop a strong sense of my own connection to the book arts and the idea of artistic theme.

* thinking about spreads and backgrounds connecting the two objects: see “Connector” below. I want the collection of drawings to not just reflect objects ‘outside’ myself, but I want also the book to reflect my interests and influences, e.g. things Japanese, favourite visual artists, etc.


GRAPHITE PENCIL Renaissance hatching

Sun 1 May #101, Draw a bar of soap Object art; texture/transparency With packaging? – Not a whole bar, but peeking out of packaging, top frame left free

Mon 2 May #102, Draw a power plug Object art; plastic – plus in power board from left to right?

CONNECTOR electrical cables resting on a book of Michelangelo drawings

PEN & WASH Donald Friend plastic

Tue 3 May #103, Draw some exercise equipment Object art; pedometer – find my Global Corporate Challenge pedometer!

Wed 4 May #104, Draw some salt and pepper shakers Object art; plastic/transparency – suits classic black-and-white plastic…

CONNECTOR ?table cloth/background or with temari ball or Donald Friend pen and ink sketch

WATERCOLOUR PAINT b&w ‘metallic’ contrasting with natural botanic colour

Thur 5 May #105, Draw some scissors Object art: metal – folded scissors from Hong Kong?

Fri 6 May #106, Draw something tart or sour – Fruit & Veg: limes, lemons (see linocut of lemon currently on Etsy) 

CONNECTOR ?table cloth/background of David Hockney watercolour?


Sat 7 May #107, Draw how you get your news Landscape: facade of local newsagent viewed from bus stop over the road – requires morning timeframe

Sun 8 May #108, Draw a light bulb Object art; texture/transparency – eco-bulb with my work laynard and mobile phone (reflecting my last work day with the Corporation after 24 years) – possibly with packaging or background of rubber gloves, or rose petals, or one of Anton Veenstra’s tapestries

SANGUINE Renaissance hatching

Mon 9 May #109, Draw a clock Object art: plastic, texture – a toy clock in the shape of a truck

Tue 10 May #110, Draw something with a flame(s) finding a fire is half the problem… – Bic cigarette lighter? Found object: defunct cigarette lighter with Southern Cross design

CONNECTOR with teacups or Japanese ceramics


Wed 11 May #111, Draw a bowl Object art: texture  – Japanese ceramic teabowl and fabric temari

Thu 12 May #112, Draw something fresh Fruit & Veg; flowers; meat; cheese…

CONNECTOR resting on the front cover of SX or Star Observer magazine


Fri 13 May #113, Draw or paint a fence Landscape: metal or brick vs the conventional wooden picket fence?

Almost certainly the circular staircase inside the Tropical Centre, Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney OR safety barrier fence at Tempe IKEA building site

Sat 14 May #114, Draw something ugly you love  – Wooden Sri Lankan elephant in red/white/black/yellow, but standing on a mirror


Sun 15 May #115, Draw a shopping car or basket Object art: Woolies trolley, dumped or ‘live’? Trolley vs wicker – local, abandoned Woolies trolleys or bunched together at Woolies Marrickville

Mon 16 May #116, Drawing something green Colour work: variety of greens… – Botanica: a single green leaf, possibly variegated (see RBG) on green Japanese obi fabric

CONNECTOR in combination with a Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney vintage postcard


Tue 17 May #117, Drawing something round – group of temari balls or definitely relating to the Japanese adjective – with kanji script?

Wed 18 May #118, Draw some hair – on fingers, as part of a study of a hand? pre-shave facial hair (not scalp)?

CONNECTOR link between hand and ball on background of Japanese obi fabric


Thu 19 May #119, Draw some rocks Rocks, not (sand)stone or stonework – new tidal rock ‘installations’ along Cooks River

Fri 20 May #120, Draw a flashlight  – Big yellow one or camouflage microlight, in combination with wooden Balinese sclupture


Sat 21 May #121, Draw a coin(s) Contemporary, with rubbings – Vietnamese plastic toy with the coin in the dragon’s mouth

Sun 22 May #122, Draw prominent shade Colour work, complementary washes – one of my viola da gambas in heavy shade? Sounds like an on-location sketch – but done not in black/greys?

Mon 23 May #123, Draw a bell Small, large… – small bell on clown’s cap

Tue 24 May #124, Draw something yellow Colour work: variety of yellows – Liquid soap in container or viola da gamba with Aboriginal painting in contrasting purples

CONNECTOR background across both pages of an Aboriginal painting

Wed 25 May #125, Draw a bird Animals & birds – Stuffed bird at Macleay Museum, with self-portrait in hand-mirror, a la Brett Whiteley?

Thu 26 May #126, Draw a sponge Object art: texture – Australian Museum specimen in its pre-industrialised form? – strictly life-sized botanical illustration???

CONNECTOR reflections around glass cabinets or both with labels…?

Fri 27 May #127, Draw a skyscape Landscape: sky and clouds – reserve for a day when clouds are around

Sat 28 May #128, Draw a view through a doorway – in combination with the interior sketched by Cossington-Smith in “Australian Drawing”

CONNECTOR link sky (top 3 sides) with sky in the background of the interior…

Sun 29 May #129, Draw people doing something The Figure – crowds in Pitt Street mall seen from Westfield Sydney skyway

Mon 30 May #130, Draw some school supplies Object art: stationery, pencils – pencils in Dasmanila pencil case

Tue 31 May #131, Draw a spray bottle Object art: ironing water-bottle – on its side, not vertical


Meglin, Nick.  Drawing from Within: Unleashing Your Creative Potential. North Light Books.

Vaughan, Keith. Journal & drawings. London: Alan Ross, 1966.

Pickvance, Ronald. The Drawings of Gauguin. London: Hamlyn, 1970.

Cezanne. Philadelphia Museum of Art. 1996.  


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