Tag Archives: Bill Traylor


Artists work with line, shape, color and texture. It can be hard to pull those elements apart.

Toni Yuly illustration from Gracias Abejas

Where does shape end and color begin?

Edouard Vuillard

When a shape is right it dances.

Suzy Lee

A shape can be positive or negative (i.e. created by the space around it.)

Ben Shahn

Ben Shahn

A well drawn shape gets to the essence of things, eliminating detail.

Lois Ehlert

Dick Bruna

Bill Traylor

With compression and distortion a shape can convey movement. Exaggeration makes it more active (and more delightful).

Bill Traylor

Margaret Chodos-Irvine – detail from Where Lily Isn’t

Mayumi Oda

As it moves toward abstraction a shape is enlivened by what is real.

Matisse papercut

Henri Matisse

Salud – here’s to this shapely world!

Bill Traylor

Bjorn Wiinblad

Mayumi Oda


Last Friday Margaret wrote about the richness that comes from limitations  and the happy accidents that occur in printmaking: the beauty of imperfection.

I looked around my studio. I have lots of postcards and posters and other images pinned up and so many of them could be described as imperfect. I am drawn to those images; they have vitality.

This is the computer corner in my studio.

Eve is pinned to the left of  my computer. (We are both tempted by Apples). I love her huge arms and little head. She was drawn by John H. Coates in 1916.
When I draw people I go to great pains to get them to look accurate in some way. But accuracy is rarely what I love.
This image by anonymous is pinned to the side of a bookshelf.
When the artist got tired of painting the sky she or he just stopped. There is still plenty of sky.
This lubok (Russian folk print) tells the story of a cat and many mice. The limited palette, the crammed in text, the pattern, and the peculiar mice all add to the allure of this picture.
Above my painting table I have this image by Hiroshige torn from a magazine. Here the strangeness and beauty of the image are strengthened by the absolute perfection of the drawing.
Cantering in the opposite direction is this festive horse is by Yuri Vasnetsov.
And this startled horse was painted by Bill Traylor. The tiny ankles of this horse are elegant. Blue is just the right color.
Years ago I read Electricity by Victoria Glendinning. I am still haunted by the line that I remember as: ” The roses on the wallpaper were painted by someone who had never looked very closely at a rose.”
I want to look closely at roses (or turtles) and I want to draw as well as I can. I also want to have the joy of imperfection in my work.
Here is a horse I painted last winter.
And one from a few years ago that seemed on point for this post.
…Are you drawn to imperfection, perfection or both?