Close Focus - Art of the Small / by Jeannine Cook

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Amid the swirl of daily life, it has been hard to achieve any drawing. Nonetheless, I reminded myself that even doing tiny drawings is better than nothing. Then I remembered that quote from Donna Tartt's "The Goldfinch", when Theo remarks: "To understand the world at all, sometimes you could only focus on a tiny bit of it, look very close at what was close to hand and make it stand in for the whole."

Many of my recent drawings have indeed been in close focus mode, making that small sliver of whatever I am drawing represent a far greater whole. Bark, for instance, where the particular bark of a tree is in essence its fingerprint and can tell a great deal about that tree, from its species to its health, exposure and age.

Live Oak Lines, gold-silverpoint, Jeannine Cook artist

Live Oak Lines, gold-silverpoint, Jeannine Cook artist

Similarly, stones tell, in their details, of their geology, geography, mineral content, how they are exposed on the soil's surface, and on and on.

Apirits of the Chert II, silverpoint, Jeannine Cook, artist

Apirits of the Chert II, silverpoint, Jeannine Cook, artist

I have just done a small series of drawings, different from any others because what I was drawing elicited a different reaction. A wonderful Moroccan stone plate had been given to me some time ago and I have always loved all the interesting fossils and colours that it boasts. It is fossilised marble, from the upper Devonian times some 360 million years ago, when today's Morocco was possibly nearer to today's eastern shores of North America in the giant land mass of Gondwana.

The Devonian era was often known as the Age of Fishes, as the seas were teeming with new and already established fishes and coiled shell-bearing marine organisms known as ammonites, Trilobites, goniatites, corals, ostracods, gastropods - a huge diversity of shells and other marvellous marine organisms.. eventually became a wondrous fossilised museum to tell us of those far-off times when the world was so different, yet so fertile and pulsing.

A sample of this amazing world comes to life in my plate, and I tried to let it seep into the silverpoint drawings I was doing.

Moroccan-Meanderings-I-, silverpoint-Prismacolor, Jeannine Cook artist

Moroccan-Meanderings-I-, silverpoint-Prismacolor, Jeannine Cook artist

Moroccan Meanderings II, silverpoint-Prismacolor, Jeannine Cook artist

Moroccan Meanderings II, silverpoint-Prismacolor, Jeannine Cook artist

Moroccan Meanderings III, silverpoint-Prismacolor, Jeannine Cook artist

Moroccan Meanderings III, silverpoint-Prismacolor, Jeannine Cook artist