|After Vermeer's" Girl with a Pearl Earring"|
|Vermeer by Pierre Cabanne; Prismacolor pencils; and my Canson Mi-teintes sketchbook|
|After Vermeer's "The Milkmaid" (detail)|
|After Vermeer's "Girl with a Red Hat"|
|After Vermeer's "Girl with a Flute"|
I can't sleep on the airplanes. Unable to settle into a comfortable position, I keep shifting my body. My neck, shoulders, and lower back become all knotted up and achy. I get myself caffeined up to compensate the increasing fatigue. Both flights for my recent trip to Kauai were long and tedious. I usually bring a book or two to read. For this trip, I had something better to while away the time as a captive in a tight space on a noisy plane.
In Lisa Semerad's portrait class last summer, I learned a time-honored technique of using black drawing tools with a white chalk on a toned ground for figure drawing. Many great masters, such as Da Vinci, Rubens, Watteau, and Degas, had used it in their studies for paintings. I learn at their feet with reverence, and had spent many hours copying their drawings in the past.
My teacher for the trip was the Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, whose exquisite, domestic interior scenes of the 17th-century-middle-class Delft have captivated art lovers for centuries. I love his exceptional sense of light and quietude. A small book by Pierre Cabanne with lots of reproductions of his paintings was the first item I packed for my art survival kit. I made a small sketchbook with Canson Mi-teintes paper and also equipped myself with several Prismacolor pencils (white, three shades of grays, black and burnt ochre). These colored pencils are waxy, dust-free, and don't smear.
Although one can never have loads of fun during an air travel, I still managed to spend several enjoyable hours until I couldn't see anymore with my watery eyes.