Picking up the brush

by Laura A


Study from the Gospel of St. Mark, Ebbo Gospels, Rheims. Brush and ink on large-sized Moleskine squared journal

For the past month, I’ve been taking a little time as often as I can to draw something.  Sometimes I do calligraphy.  Why am I starting with these when I was a realistic portraitist before?  I have no idea.  It was just what appealed.

Why am I posting this here?  As a sort of accountability measure.  It might help me to keep at it and get better.  I am way out of practice, and it’s going to take a while to get back in the habit of producing artwork.

What were my rules?  Draw something you like.  It’s about the line quality, the first time it goes on the page.  When you get tired, stop.  (Which I did when I got to the border.  You can tell I was mostly interested in those agitated folds!)

What was my source?   St. Mark from the Ebbo Gospels.  This has been one of my favorite works of art since I first saw it in a medieval art history course, circa 1984.  The original has color and wash effects in the landscape, which I didn’t try to reproduce here.  I also didn’t worry much about taking liberties with the original, because I figure that the original artist would never have drawn this illustration the same way twice himself.  The perspective is wacky, and shadows bizarre, and I can’t even clearly see the lion at the top right of the page.  I love it!

Well, that’s the first one.  We’ll see if they get better, and where, if anywhere, this practice goes!

Update:  Adding a second attempt below.  This time I tried some washes and figured out that they really need to come first, before the more precise strokes. I corrected some of the proportions and didn’t even try the border. Also, I made more outright mistakes and possibly overworked the drawing.  But already, I think this one is closer to the spirit of the original.

Listening to Arvo Pärt, because that seems like the most appropriate music for this kind of thing. And for some reason the phrase “internet monk” keeps going round and round in my head.