5 March 2024

I’m thinking about fresh starts as I resuscitate a drawing project I never finished.

Back in August, as a way to reconnect with nature, I bought a small sketchbook and numbered the pages 1 – 100 with the intention of doing short daily drawings out in my yard. Summer in Memphis can feel like moving through one air condition setting to another. It’s a different kind of cabin fever that pushes nature to the edge.

I can’t remember why one day halfway through I stopped this daily practice, but it doesn’t matter.  

Louder for those in the back:

It doesn’t matter!

What matters is I’m able to tap into the my most essential studio tool I have:  the restart button. 

Sure, I have butterflies in my stomach when I go to push that button, but usually as soon as the engine turns over it’s like meeting up with an old friend where we start right back up where we left off.

Working from nature feeds other parts of my practice that aren’t based in observation, but mostly it feeds my spirit. For a few minutes  “ I “ disappear and my senses take over.  Even if the drawings take 30 seconds, the feeling I get when my eyes and hand work around the edge of a leaf or build marks to make a bush is a type of medicine.  

As I think about this incredible gift of a fresh start, I’m also thinking of my friend Bonnie Lau who died a couple of days ago from lupus.

Bonnie wasn’t a close friend, she was more a clear steady voice in my extended chorus. I’m realizing more and more how much this chorus means to me.  Bonnie and I came of age in the same Memphis music scene in the 90s – a rich underground world of artists, filmmakers, and of course incredible bands.  Over the years as this extended group of misfits began living out their lives, Bonnie and I would run into each other regularly.  She was always so happy to see me and yet I always kind of knew she was like that with everyone.  She was one of those people that just made you feel good being in your own skin. I hope I can make other people feel as good about themselves as Bonnie always made me feel about myself. 

Here she is in the middle just a month ago at my art opening.  The woman on the left is Sharon Hevelka, an artist friend of mine (and one of Bonnie’s closest friends) who I feel so fortunate to have in my life. She’s a witness and a support to my practice. A few years ago a group of us, Bonnie included, had an afternoon of printmaking in Sharon’s studio.  I’ll never forget that day.  

You can check out Sharon’s beautiful work here

I’ll make nature drawings for us all this week.