Authentically Human! Not Written by AI!
All Content Copyright © Michael Chesley Johnson AIS PSA MPAC

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Time to Sketch

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**Authentically Human! Not Written by AI**

I love sketching trees, the deader, the better.
(Well, I do like live trees, too!)

This past week, I made my presentation to the committee that will determine which of the five finalists will be awarded the project to create public art for the McKinley County Courthouse Rotunda.  It's been fun – it's always fun to be in the running for a $100,000 award – and I learned a great deal about the county's cultural diversity and history while putting it all together.  Plus, I had the pleasure of figuring out my new Wacom tablet and tuning up my Powerpoint skills.  (In a future post, I'll write more about this project.)

But that's all done now.  While I wait for a decision, it's time to get back to tuning up some other skill – drawing.  Here in New Mexico, we have entered the monochrome season, a time best interpreted in pencil.  The glorious color of fall has passed.  Instead, the landscape is filled with ochres and umbers, dull yellows and browns.  Even the greens of the junipers and pines don't offer any relief, as they are a very dull, greyed-down green.  It's as if the world has been pulled into Photoshop with the color saturation dialed down to 5%.

While I wait for the snows of winter, which act as a sort of prism, breaking up the light and decorating the landscape with a rainbow of hues, I have pulled out my sketchbook and pencil.  It's a nothing-fancy kit.  The sketchbook is just something cheap I had lying around, and the pencil is so non-descript it doesn't even have a hardness rating stamped on it.  But I can make a dark mark, so it's probably something softer than a #2.

It's a very portable kit, and I am now taking hikes down into the canyon with it.  I find a rock outcrop with interesting shadows and cracks, or a tree (nearly dead or completely dead, the best kind of subject) and sit down.  Or, if I can't find a level-enough rock to sit on, I stand; a sketch only takes a few minutes, so I can tolerate standing.  It's a meditative process, and it's so much more satisfying than sitting at the computer, playing with the Wacom tablet and tweaking Powerpoint slides.  

But as enjoyable as sketching is, I am patiently waiting for this monochrome season to end.  My tubes of paint are at the ready.