|11/27/13 Platinum Carbon ink, watercolor, Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook
I’ve heard it said that the things most familiar to us are often the most difficult to draw accurately. The brain “knows” too much about these familiar things, preventing the eye from seeing them as they really are. Although I replace as much cooking time as possible with sketching time (admit it – you do, too!), so I probably spend less time cooking than most people, I’d have to say that this room in my home is quite familiar to me, and I found it extremely challenging to sketch.
When I saw that this week’s Urban Sketchers Flickr group theme was “Kitchens,” I groaned and put it off for a few days. Other than fruits and vegetables I take from the counter for still lifes, nothing in my kitchen inspires me to sketch it. Even over breakfast today, I grumbled to Greg that the kitchen is full of hard, straight lines, difficult perspective challenges and mostly nonexistent or uninteresting shadows. “All the more reason to sketch it,” he replied. Tomorrow the kitchen will be a huge mess of cooking activity, so if I was going to do something for the theme, it would have to be today. Grumble.
The one thing our kitchen has going for it is that our stairway runs along one wall of it, so when I stand in the stairway, I have an unusually high vantage point that makes it slightly more interesting to sketch.
It took me well over an hour to sketch this – way longer than I usually take for any one sketch. As familiar as the kitchen is to me, before this morning, I’m not sure I could have told you that the burners over our gas range have eight spider-like “legs” on them. (Sketching any object makes me learn something about it.)
As I sat on the comfy, carpeted stairs to paint this, the refrigerator full of food for tomorrow’s feast, the furnace circulating warm air all around me, I realized that if the only thing I have to grumble about is the subject of a sketch, I am, indeed, very fortunate, and I’m grateful for everything I have.