Childlike Simplicity

5 July, 2016. The extended road trip is just about over for the summer. One more short visit to the Ozarks in a couple of weeks, and then I’ll be stationary for a while. Stationary – but definitely not idle: I’ve got a book project in the works, a return to academe, and an exhibition coming up in September. Selecting, printing, matting, framing…

Meanwhile, the journey has been a productive one and I’ve made a lot of sketches. Never nearly as many as I think I’ll make, of course. It’s always the case that I plan to draw more than I actually do. But I’ve got a lot of reference material and ideas for new work.

Traveling is fun and exhausting. I like seeing different people, and I really enjoy trying out new tastes while continuing to relish old favorites. Smith’s is an old favorite and we stop nearly every time we pass through that part of Missouri in which they’re located. Like all good country diners, they’ve got an amazing selection of made-on-site pies, their pork tenderloin is (literally) the best on the planet, and a Friday night visit means a short wait for fried catfish and sweet potato fries. We weren’t the only people biding our time either – fellow travelers and local folk alike are seated in this humble setting, knowing that a hot platter of catfish is only a few minutes away. Time enough to drink a little iced tea, make sure the bottle of hot sauce was adequately filled, and get in a quick sketch of one local patron.

The last few days of travel have been remarkably wet, so most of my sketches have been made from underneath a porch awning. I’ve worked small and simply, focusing on shapes more than detail, which allows me to consider compositional arrangement. I like this approach now and then to keep the work from getting too stiff or too precious. This is especially important right now because I’ve got two commission pieces that need to be executed this month for a regular patron.

The work illustrated on this blog will, as it tends to do every summer, evolve a little bit as I transition from the field and back indoors to the drawing table. Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy the childlike simplicity of this style of sketching. (Watercolor on Strathmore Aquarius II watercolor paper.)


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