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Wake Me Up When September Ends

Well, I had high hopes for September’s drawings. I was beginning to feel mighty confident in my efforts and was excited to dedicate the month to using up a box full of old markers. I could incorporate some bold color while continuing to declutter old art supplies. However, what started out as bright and fun turned into a muddied struggle.

The first week’s drawings were light and brightly colored with a happy-go-lucky feel. Some were drawings of cartoons I remember watching on weekends as a kid, when I always had a big chief pad nearby along with a plastic ice cream bucket full of crayons. I always tried to draw the cartoon characters as perfectly as I could. The last page of the sketchbook is an energized orange and yellow sun burst hovering over a wave of cool blues and greens. I finished another sketchbook on a high note and was eager to keep it going in the next sketchbook.

I then had to choose the next sketchbook from the stack to continue September’s drawings. (I’m now down to only two remaining to fill.) It was another one gifted to me by Lloyd Sensat, the smallest of my sketchbooks with pages measuring 7-3/4” x 5-1/4”. The small sketchbook is covered with a bright red felt which frames a beautifully woven pattern to look like a Persian rug. It came from Istanbul and the first page holds one of Lloyd’s drawings and an inscription about this particular trip. This book has been a struggle for me to draw in. It could be the size or thin paper, but something was off. The few ideas I was coming up with were “eh” at best and only looked washed out and muddy in color. Perhaps it was a sign of things to come…

Jessica and I had decided to take a weeklong “staycation” in September, since planning a big trip had proven difficult with COVID restrictions. We planned to work on a house project, then enjoy the rest of our time off doing outdoorsy things around the area. But Hurricane Sally was brewing in the Gulf. Once the slow-moving storm finished pounding the Gulf Coast my drawings turned even darker and muddier. Ideas of what to draw were seemingly washed away, colors were more subdued, and the subject matter became a cynical commentary of what was happening in our area. At least it was a better way to direct my frustration over 2020 than drinking.

Even though I feel like September’s drawings are not my best, I am proud of how I pressed through the difficulties and kept drawing each day, especially the day after the storm. I walked into my house discovering that floodwater had reached the shelf holding all the sketchbooks I have completed over the years, and I felt a sick feeling in my stomach. Sketchbooks are great windows into an artist’s mind and soul – they are where the art is raw and stripped of all fluff. It was sad to think I would have to throw out years of drawings.

With a lot of time and patience, we were able to dry out my wet sketchbooks. Among my drawings are now memories of Hurricane Sally, in the form of warped pages and water stains.

Click here for this month's drawings.

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