What to draw when inspiration fails: January Daily Art

I’ve progressed through six weeks falling off the “daily art” wagon and climbing back on again, but I am now seeing that January’s effort at discipline in honing my craft is birthing that creative energy the dark days of December and January sapped. I added this motivational quote in my “Artist’s Daybook”

… the artisan understands that
when life is a work of art
when we value craft
when we embrace the elegance of workmanship
we experience the Divine.
— Edwin McManus The Artisan Soul

For inspiration, I turned to two art books that have been my constant craftsmanship companions throughout my career: The Artistic Anatomy of Trees by Rex Vicat Cole and Anatomy and Drawing by Victor Perard. The former was discovered in a college bookstore while I was studying studio art at Kent State. The latter came to me on recommendation of artist Judith Carducci, who shared during one of her figure painting workshops how she copied drawings from Cole’s book as a young girl. It certainly gave her a rock solid understanding of the bone and muscle structures underneath her portraits that make her colors and pastel work sing.

January was spent in efforts to copy something, anything from these books as the darkness all around me pretty much blanketed my imagination like wet snow over buried seed.

Lynda Rimke Daily Art copies of Perard and Cole

Lynda Rimke Daily Sketch Challenge copies of Victor Perard and Rex Vicat Cole & etc.

Now, in mid-February, I am feeling the energy of longer days, and am in a better place to act on what inspiration may come with more skill than before. But that will be the next blog post!

Daily Art :: What Job did in my mind’s eye

I have been reading The Artisan Soul over the last several months, and have developed a conviction that I should create more sketches from my imagination when I make daily art. I’ve always admired artists who can do this well, but rarely take what feels like a leap of faith myself, sticking to creating art from what I see in front of me in life.

Recently, I have taken in the Dream Worlds show at the Canton Museum of Art, and this quote became a key to open the door:

“Often Imaginative Realists are asked to create fantastical works that don’t exist in the real world. “How do they create these works?” you may ask. One crucial role is the development of fundamental art skills and observing from life. What we see in the natural world [we] use as a starting point to develop [our] ideas further …” – Aaron Miller

I am halfway to Imaginative Realism when I succeed in creating art from life observations! I am creating daily art this year to continue to develop those fundamental skills; to give myself an imaginative vocabulary.

From Imagination to Image

This morning I acted on what I saw in my imagination when my husband and I read the book of Job, chapters 1 and 2, after dinner last night. Job has just received bad news four times over: the loss of his cattle, the loss of his sheep, the loss of his camels along with several servants, then … the loss of his ten adult children. How does he respond to these four calamities?

“Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground and worshipped.” – Job 1:20

In my minds eye, I saw a bald man huddled on the ground.

Job 1:20 Illustration by Lynda Rimke

My process is grounded in life observation.

When attempting to draw the human figure, I start with a rough skeleton in 4H pencil to express the emotion of the pose. I pay attention to the proportions of the structures using the size of the head for reference and taking into account any foreshortening:

  • The ribcage is 2 heads long and the pelvis about 1 head high.
  • The clavicles (collar bones) are 1 head long each.
  • The humorous (upper arm bone) is 2 heads long and the ulna and radius (forearm bones) are 1 1/2 heads, or 2 if you include the hand.
  • The hand is 3/4 head and can cover the face.
  • The femur (upper leg bone) is 2 heads long and the tibia (lower leg bone) is also 2 heads if you include the bottom of the foot.

I then added arm muscles with 5B pencil to give the near arm form: the deltoid is somewhat heart shaped from above, and the bicep lies under it. I outlined the torso, thigh and calf of the near leg and drew a rough hand and feet to express extreme grief.

Job tore his mantle, which in ancient times was the outer garment worn by men of wealth or status. (Cook) This meant he was probably still wearing a tunic of sorts underneath, and I have taken liberty to dress him in punjabi-style tunic and pants.

The final sketch is in charcoal pencil. To express the intensity of the scene I created a heavy cast shadow.

My daily art sketch of Job took about an hour to develop. I spent about a half hour compositing the process in Photoshop, another hour writing my post in a text editor, and a half hour posting.

Why I am inspired to work for this image

Job is one of my favorite books which has been a source of comfort to me during my life’s losses and trials. I admire how he kept his integrity, and willed himself to not blame God when things went terribly wrong in his life. That he could continue to worship and honor God as his Source (El Shaddai) after getting hit with horrible news is pretty amazing. I hope this image inspires others to hang on to God and not let calamity destroy that precious faith connection to the Source of all Life.