Earlier in the year I was doing these quick observational sketches of Wrens and Field Mice. I took my inspiration from existing images on the internet. I have a lot of photos in my archives granted, but none are of small cute critters such as these. A thank you then, to the photographers of the original images and for the inspiration you have provided, should you happen to pass this way.

Wren with Damselfly – Graphite on paper, 2022. Art by Maria Jones-Phillips.

My Dad, bless him, recently came across my old school reports from when I was in secondary school and asked if he could send them to me. One of my art teachers at the time commented that I should work on my observational drawing more as I showed potential. It’s weird how throw-away comments like that can stick with you throughout your life. Odd to be reminded of it so starkly. For years then, I’ve had it in the back of my head that I was no good at observational drawing, and so I didn’t do it much. Instead, I produced other kinds of art, intermittently. I was hampered by a nothing-statement that wedded itself to much procrastination. It could very well be time to let that one go now.

My quick 10 minute sketch of a baby Wren while my daughter was applying make-up. Graphite on cartridge paper, 2022. Art by Maria Jones-Phillips.

I’ve always had the belief that I was fairly reasonable at observational drawing, I just lacked confidence in my ability. I used to do a lot of observational sketches when I was a kid, but then stopped because what I wanted to do was the kind of work that I’m doing now. I wanted my Dad to teach me how to draw and paint, but he never really did. He confessed to me fairly recently that he never really had that much confidence in his ability, even though everyone (family mostly) lauded him as a child prodigy when it came to artistic ability. I grew up with the notion of my Dad having this kind of mythical status when it came to art, and so I believed that the bar had already been set very high, despite the fact that he hasn’t painted in many years. He’d pretty much stopped when I was a young kid.

Confidence in one’s artistic ability is intrinsic to one’s subsequent successes, plus a shed load of practise. That’s what I have learned. Even if it’s only yourself you’re trying to please. I’ve been trying to encourage my Dad to pick up the paint brushes again for years now.

Field mice on dried poppy seed-heads. Graphite on paper, 2022. Art by Maria Jones-Phillips.

I won’t lie, the kind of work I do now is really hard. It takes a lot of concentration and energy and requires disciplining my very distractible self. Plus it gives me the worst hand-cramps and shoulder pain. But, the hard work pays off, I think, because it means I can do this kind of stuff, and I get to feel like a real artist for once. I wonder what my art teachers would think of me now. They’d probably be wondering why I wasn’t making any money at it!

The drawing below took me several months to complete. I’d started it just before we bought our new house back in September last year. I finished it in April this year. I can’t even tell you how many hours’ worth of work have gone into it. A lot.

Three girls watching a skywriting plane, Harlem 1952, inspired by an original photograph by Vivian Cherry. Graphite and charcoal on Bristol, 2022. Art by Maria Jones-Phillips.

I now try to do some art every day, whether it’s working on a painting, sketching, doodling. It’s amazing how quickly my confidence wanes when I don’t.

I’m currently working on this painting. A 30×40 inch canvas, based on yet another historical photo as the drawing above. This time taken during the Arkansas Flood of 1937 at a segregated Red Cross camp. It’s another epic project that I hope I can finish before the end of the year. Watch this space, I suppose!

Work in progress. Oil on canvas. Art by Maria Jones-Phillips, 2022.

Back to work. Thanks for stopping by!



6 thoughts on “Wrens and Field Mice and Skywriting Planes- Graphite Drawings.

  1. The Three Little Girls sketch is very good.
    The thought that struck me seeing the painting in progress was wondering what it would be like if the faces of the people in the line/queue were folks you knew – friends, family etc?
    Like a sort of Sgt Pepper’s album cover.
    Weird,I know.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Doug. You and Bill are definitely on the same page. He keeps wondering what it would be like if they were all dressed in colourful 70s clothing. I do a painting recently that included my kids, Bill and one of Bill’s book characters. Plus a few fantasy creatures. I’ll have to post it.

      Me, I like telling stories about ordinary people in history in my paintings. I like the idea that they aren’t forgotten. But I am a sentimentalist.

      Liked by 1 person

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