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Expressive Realism

The other day as the endless social media scrolling engulfed my brain, I came upon an artist’s post in which she labelled her work “Expressive Realism”. I’d never heard the two terms combined before and it piqued my interest. So here’s a quick Google response to the combined terms as it relates to literature:

“Definition: Expressive Realism is a fusion of the Aristotelian concept of art as mimesis with the Romantic concept of art as expressing the perceptions and emotions of a person “possessed of more than unusual organic sensibility.”


  • Expressive realism values richness, honesty, and immediacy and rejects schematism, implausability and ideology.
  • Literature is a reflection of life.
  • Literature is authentic when it describes the world of social relationships or conveys the inner experience (often seen as “universal”) of the individual quest for identity.”

So, does this suit my latest drawing series? Yes, I do believe it does! And it is exciting to encapsulate the awkward place I’ve been where I have one foot in realism and the other in expressionism – not feeling right going more one way or the other.

Now I will go back to the literal drawing board and continue on, already knowing where I was going but reassured and re-inspired! How fun.

In-progress work
In-progress work
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As per my last post, I’ve decided to focus on drawing again and for a while. I’m determined to keep drawing until my success rate improves. Right now, unless I have one of those surprising moments when the drawing flows off my hand successfully on the first attempt, it takes upwards of 4 “warm-up” attempts to create a piece I am satisfied with. I’m seeing and feeling success and that’s most important. I’m also learning to accept the warm-up period as a part of the process rather than the pain I have to go through to get to where I want to be. And I invested in a large role of delicious Stonehenge paper so that I wouldn’t feel limited by how many of the very expensive sheets of paper I had left (thanks to our sales at the Sidney Fine Arts Show which replenished the art supply fund!).

I’m looking for work which feels loose and simple enough to not look over-worked and which has line and edge quality which is both pleasing and awkward. Some smooth, precise areas and other messy, course areas; Balance and feeling and an interesting person, gesture or look.

And I’ve planted the seed in my mind to create a large work of a combination of drawings of several people – an epic piece. We shall see how long it takes to get me there. And then on to the painting which would come out of the drawing! It may be a long road but at least I am seeing small successes and you know I just LOVE the process.

The Pondering Girl
The Pondering Girl, charcoal on Stonehenge paper, 11“x 14“


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First Love

Last night Andrew and I attended the opening of this year’s Sidney Fine Arts Show. We saw plenty of lovely work and a few really inspiring pieces (Debra Tilby). The show allowed me the opportunity to see my own work in the context of my peer’s work and… I wasn’t happy.

My pieces were okay. Not great. Not terrible. Just okay. And that is not okay with me!

So this afternoon I decided to do something about it. I went back to my roots. Back to what has always inspired me and fed my desire to make love… er… I mean art. And there you have it! That freudian slip of Love vs. Art tells me everything I need to know about where I want to go with my art and my life. I want to make love! I mean art! In my life there have been moments where I grew as a person and as an artist and in my mind they tie back to drawing. I LOVE drawing. I love the memories I have of being in drawing classes and drawing in the studio. I have fallen in love in drawing class. More than a few times!

I love everything about drawing. The immediacy. The messiness and the ability to control or let go of control with drawing. The ability to put down drawing tools and walk away without having to clean up a mess. The smoothness of the paper and the chamois. The stickiness of the eraser and the silkiness of pulling a line of light away from the dark and the lines that feel just right at the right moment. I love drawing.

I remember a moment in one particular drawing class where I let go of the charcoal but continued the line in the air and then slid it back down to complete the line on the paper at the end of what was the culmination of the voluptuous arm of the model. And I remember love blooming when that mark was recognized as beautiful by someone I admired. Love in and through art.

And so today, I returned to my roots and my love and I drew.

Sunday Morning Crossword, charcoal on paper, 16”x20”
The Politician, charcoal on paper, 18”x20”