Between 2012 and 2014, I took about a dozen drawing classes at Gage Academy of Art, culminating in a trio — Pen & Ink, Composition, and Beginning Color Theory — with Margaret Davidson. Best art teacher I ever had.
At the start of class, we’d put our latest work up on the corkboard and take turns sharing what we did, what we liked about our work, and what we might have done differently. A reflective, guided self-critique rather than the piñata approach, in which you hang up your piece and let people take blind swings at it.
Margaret Davidson stopped teaching at Gage. The traffic between Skagit County and Capitol Hill was getting to be too much. Completely understandable. Even the traffic within Seattle between Queen Anne and Capitol Hill was too much.
I tried a painting class in early 2015, but then stopped going to Gage until it went virtual with the pandemic.
For much of that year, I had an art desk at home: Pencils, brushes, pens, color pencils, pen-and-ink paraphernalia, pastels, calligraphy brushes, sharpeners, erasers, cutting boards, tapes, glue, charcoal, rags, chamois, blades, a triangle, a protractor, art instruction books, a wide selection of paper, and a plaster cast of a foot.
But without the structure of a class, I didn’t keep up the pace. I did The Honeymoon Album, a bunch of self-portraits, and a few other odds and ends, including this map:
What I like about it: There’s a twisty, dragon-like quality to the land masses on the right, with Crete as the dragon’s mouth and the Adriatic and Western Black Sea coastlines as the dragon’s flanks. Perhaps that makes Italy the dragon’s claw. Sicily is Sicily.
What I might have done differently: Seems unfinished. Too much contrast between the heavily worked areas with dark colors and the lightly cross-hatched areas with light colors.
Margaret Davidson would suggest doing a series of ten when starting out with an idea. That’s what it takes to figure out what you’re doing and where you can take it. And if you’re still interested by the time you get to ten, you’ll be ready to keep going.
Anyway, here are six self-portraits in color pencil.