More sketches from the last century ...

... digging around in old paintbooks

from Don Norris

Lorry and I took a train excursion up to Portland, Maine, for an overnight in Portland's doting hotel right in the heart of town some twenty years ago. Nearby was the art museum, which we had visited many times before; my interest this trip was to sketch scenes in the city. So we walked and walked, and I drew and made little notes, and then added reality with a black-and-white film camera. After all, film was an expensive way to go in those days.

At home, perhaps a year later, I looked at the small drawing, and decided to make it bigger. Done originally with light pencils, I then made permanent lines with a pen. It was on rough-textured watercolor paper, so I painted between the lines.

To me, what makes this scene is the symmetry of the buildings, coupled with the repetition of windows. So finally I photographed it (too big for a scanner), and added it to the growing number of sketches in a file called Don's Sketches. I fussed with the light and the colors, and finally, last week, with Adobe. Now, look at all the fun I've had over the past twenty years with just this one sketch -- and I have hundreds more.

Ah! This woods sketch has been hanging around for ages, perhaps 25 years. During that time I modified it, a little here, a little there. The original was probably done with a 4B soft pencil, and later I went over it with black ink. After that, now in digital times, I added shading to the rocks and trees. And finally, last week, I simply made several more changes with Photoshop. It's not a really decent piece, but I like it. I remember where I drew it, I remember fooling around with it at home, and now I can say it's as done as it will ever be.

No maserpiece, at all. But fun to get the light right.

Remember Stringer Bill Jodrey? He's gone now, but I still have this small drawing of him. Bill wrote his adventures during the 1931 depression in a book titled "Diary of a Hobo" and he used several of my pen-and-ink drawings as illustrations.

I believe this is the old dam across the Shawsheen River in Andover, Massachuetts -- drawn perhaps 30 years ago. The old mill is now gone, I'm told. And I am glad I kept all these drawings, even more so now that I have re-photographed them and put them in computer form. Most of them were too large to fit on a scanner, so I used a Canon G11 camera to reproduce them. The folder is called "Don's Art" and contains perhaps 500 sketches.

As a youngster I always wanted to be an artist, but my father told me there was no money in art. So I became a journalist, wrote endless stories about other people's adventures -- it was comfortable and fun way to earn a living, but we surely didn't get rich. A sideline in the stock market helped tremendously.

Not much to say about this piece. It is a photograph of a drawing of a painting I had done before the demise of the old Mishawam mill on Massachusetts Avenue in Arlington.

Quick potshot of Ell Pond in winter ...

Art has been fun for the past 81 years.

January 4, 2013

You can search below for any word or words in all issues of the Melrose Mirror.
| Return to section | The Front Page | Write to us |

Write to us