The Addition of Color

David Borden sketch at Lady Bird Lake
(c) 2013 David Borden
While at Mayfield Park I realized that I needed more than just a pencil and a sketchbook... I needed color, so I bought a small tin of basic colored pencils at the art supply store the next week.  I'd never worked with that medium, so I took it on as a challenge.

I found this heron wading in Lady Bird Lake, downtown Austin. It was my first attempt at using colored pencils.  I fumbled with the case and dropped the pencils while joggers gawked and mountain bikers (are they still "mountain" bikers if they are blaring down a smooth, flat, decomposed granite trail downtown?) whizzed past.  Standing there in the middle of all this exuberant exercise by people whose workout clothes and bicycles cost more than my first car, reminded me of a Poi Dog Pondering song that was popular when I was a college student.  I found myself mumbling the words, "You get to know things better when they go by slow."

And I guess that is what I'm doing with my rambles... trying to find the slow places and enjoy them.  For me, drawing allows me to really "see" something.  I have to dissect it, measure its shapes and colors relative to each other, work with them, live inside them for a while.  I doubt the reckless mountain bikers or foot-pounding joggers with their ear-budded lives ever saw this elegant bird.  In a weird way, they seem to have come here, into nature, to forget the world, buffer themselves from it with fancy gear.  I came here to engage, so I didn't just snap-shot this crane with a glance.  I watched it.  I observed how it glided across the water. Drawing animals in nature requires patience because they are terrible models-- in constant motion.  The crane's head bobbed, its body rotated on the calm surface.  I had to keep thinking, adjusting, re-imagining it in three dimensions, and translate those ever shifting planes into the two dimensions you see here.  And in the end, this image does not capture much.  It's a mere shadow of that brilliant day and the brief time I shared with this elegant creature.


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