Diane Cable


June 2, 2011

1976 Sketchbook, no cover, 8 " x 11 -- Athens, GA. 

In January of 1976, I continued my graduate studies in art history at the University of Georgia at Athens.  Also, I continued my studio work with Mr. Dodd who asked me to take the water color course he was teaching that semester.  When I told him I could not afford the supplies required for the course (very expensive brushes, paints, and paper), he opened up an account at a local art supply store in my name.  That gives an idea as to his generosity, especially to a student that wanted to study.

Mr. Dodd was eighty.  However, he had yet to officially retire.  He maintained an office on the campus, adjacent to the art department.  I had been fortunate to enter UGA in 1976.  Mr. Dodd retired, officially, soon after the course he taught in watercolor.  I had been one of his last students.

Lamar Dodd, too had wanted me to be his student assistant.  That was the means of my meager income -- enough to pay the rent and eat.

My abode was a lowly one, shared with six + other students - a large old house on Child Street.  Most of the other students were grad students, like me, in art or art history.  My downfall lay in one of these occupants who happened to be a doctoral candidate in art history with Renaissance/Roman concentration.  This sketchbook then, will be the beginning of the Tom Era (1976-1978), or, it should be more correctly written as the Tom "error."  However, that is neither here nor there.  Suffice it to say that I was submerged in the study of art and art history.  Most of my time was taken with reading art history, watercolor study, and, of course, drawing in my sketchbook.

Of all the occupants in the house on One Child Street, three of them had been on the University of Georgia Studies Abroad Program the previous summer.  Each of these were very enthused about their experience; they each were very enthused about their experience; they each were determined to return for the summer of 1976.  They also managed to talk me into joining them.

Thus my first summer abroad, my first trip to Europe, my first encounter with some of the great masterpieces of art in the form of painting, sculpture, crafts, architecture are part of this sketchbook's entries.  It is not the only journal I took with me; there are a few more.

Drawings of note:

Page 1:  Tom was a doctoral candidate in art history.  He was employed by the university to teach some of the introductory courses to the first and second year students.  We were "house mates" at One Child Street in Athens and it was he who was primarily responsible for convincing me to borrow money from my parents for the trip to Italy in the summer of 1976.  Tom was often busy reading, or typing, or relaxing in the nude in his room while catching up on his Art History lectures.  He was thus a perfect model and didn't mind me hanging around doing sketches.  After all, how often does and artist get a "free" nude model.  Mine and Mr. Tom's relationship was what one would call "free;" however, in the long run, I think I paid quite a lot.  Aside from that, I like this little drawing.  Tom had red hair and a beard.  He was not particularly handsome, rather thin and scrawny.  But his position as a university professor put him in the sights of many a young artist coed, especially if they wanted a good grade for the course.  He was more than willing to oblige.

Page 11:  Spring in Athens, Georgia is a magical; it arrives earlier than that to which I had been accustomed having lived my life in the mountains of WNC.  With the Athens's Spring came numerous species of flowers and the air was perfumed with wisteria, honeysuckle, roses, clover, and the magnificent flower of the magnolia tree.  I had now taken it upon myself to draw everything, regardless of its complexity.  Daily bouquets were gathered and I would take time to do a small study.  Mr. Dodd was pleased with these exercises and with my sketchbooks, overall; he encouraged me to keep up the exercises and experimentation with line and form.

Pages 13, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28:  The giant magnolia blossoms were new to me.  I had seen them at a distance by the quad at UGA is covered with these gigantic trees that, in Spring, bear huge flowers of heavy, almost musk, scent.  The forms of these flowers were so pure to me in every way - each petal had a voluminous shape, not quite pure white but more like a linen white.  I wanted to be able to capture the forms of these beautiful shapes in the most simple and direct means as possible:  pure line.

Page 20:  This is a tonal portrait of Tom; always the good model in that he spent a great deal of his time reading while laying down and was thus quite still; usually in the nude.

Page 31:  "Tangent" study of begonia.  With Mr. Dodd's encouragement and my own enthusiasm, I tried breaking away from the forms that were presented to me in the form of a plant, for instance, as here and to be experimental toward abstraction of form.

Page 32:  There was a middle-aged sales man of "boiled peanuts" stationed at the entry steps to the university quad every day beginning in mid-April.  A great subject for a sketch, he remained in one spot, chanting "peanuts, peanuts" for which he received a quarter for each small bag.  Always in a hurry, I didn't take the time to fill in his beautiful dark color nor did I take the pains to show the perspiration that glistened off his head and down the side of his face.  He wore a kacky colored shirt, wet with the perspiration from the day's heat, and worn, soft blue overalls.

Page 35:  I mad a trip to Salisbury, NC, where my parents then lived.  Both my brothers were visiting at the time.  I took the opportunity to draw them.  This is Ed, my younger brother (younger by five years).  It's obvious he actually sat for the drawing and was cooperative.

Page 36 and 37:  My other brother, Grover, younger than I by three years, could not be bothered.  I could only catch him napping.

Page 41:  This is a friend and housemate, Tony, who was also from Asheville and who was in graduate school at UGA in printmaking.  He had been on the previous summer's trip to Cortona and returned with me in 1976.

Page 42:  Study of a tree - by going from general to specific forms, from overall shading to darker areas the "plastic" aspect of the tree is better realized.

Page 43:  Quick sketch of feet - to be able to work quickly can often mean correctly.  I like the simplicity of this small sketch.

Page 44:  This is a quick sketch of a doll that had been made for me by my mother.  I carried it with me for years.

Page 46:  We departed for Paris from JFK International on June 11, 1976.  One of my first drawings in the sketchbook is of a drunken man seated at a sidewalk cafe.  Profound.  Not even a very good drawing.  But this was my first experience of jet lag, as well.

Page 48:  As soon as I could, I hit the main streets of Paris and began drawing.  I became very frustrated at being with a large group of students and a handful of faculty that seemed to be bungling around while trying to check into the student hostel on Rue de Faucenione.  I stored my bags, grabbed my sketchbook and pencils and went out walking.  I was exhausted and exhilarated.  Even though dragging badly from jet lag, I made it to Notre Dame du Paris for a breif walk through the cathedral.

Page 50:  Cortona, at last.  The monumental Santa Maria del Calcinaio by Fransesco di Giorgio, begun in 1485, stands in great majesty as the gate to the city on the hill.

Page 55:  We moved our things into the monastery (hostel) in Cortona and within a couple of days were headed south.  In Paestum we stayed in a lovely hotel overlooking the ocean.  After visiting the ruins there we were given some free time at the beach.  This is a Cezannesque entry of the Paestum seaside.

Page 56:  This is just a mere notation of a memorable day-trip to the isle of Capri.

Page 62-71:  After returning to Cortona a week or so later, I made a few entries of our first "market day" in the small town.  The town truly came alive on market day, which was every Saturday morning.  The people of the area would take this time to shop for fresh food, for household goods, and to visit with each other.