Dianne Cable


1976 Sketch book, no cover, spiral bound; 14" height, 10" width. First page: sketch of Lamar Dodd and notes from his first watercolor lecture.

January of 1976 marked my second semester of graduate school at the University of Georgia. My art history studies continued with the addition of another course with Mr. Dodd in watercolor. This would be my first watercolor course. Mr. Dodd was insistent that I take this course with him- to the extent that he paid for my (expensive) watercolor supplies.

After my first semester with Mr. Dodd, I had learned a new technique of drawing. It was closer to a gestural technique than the contour outline and "mapping/point-to-point" technique familiar to me from study with Tucker Cooke. In Mr. Dodd's drawing class from the first semester, there was something of an epiphany to me one day to discover what Delacroix called "drawing from the inside out." The freedom of this new type of drawing also allowed for the abandonment of the dominant single directional shading. This newfound freedom allowed me not only a more expressive "mark" but the ability to be expressive, as well.

However, watercolor was new to me. To translate that new found freedom of "gestural energy" into good watercolor technique was difficult. I find that most of my watercolors from this course are lacking; clumsy; inconsistent. This sketch book reflects the struggle I had with it.

For this second semester, I had moved to a large house shared by several students, most of them art students, and most of them were bound for Cortona for the coming summer. That was my plan, as well.

Here I should note, on a personal level, that this is the ending of the Joe "Error," and the beginning of the "Reign of Error" of Tom. "Things" went from bad to absurd. Portraits of both these young men are found herein.

Drawings of note:

Page 1: A quick sketch of Mr. Dodd. He had come out of retirement to teach again at the age of 80. He was quite a distinguished looking man—a full head of solid white hair, deep blue eyes, somber tone of voice—someone of much knowledge and few words. Rarely would he sit and talk to us; instead, he would pace slowly around the room, sometimes smoking his pipe, and using the pipe as a kind of pointer when he needed a point to be made. I never tired of his talks. They were a constant reference to art history—to specific artists from ancient prehistory to modern day. He stressed the study of art history as a companion/guide to our own efforts. I understood him and agreed with him, completely. However, I was an older student. I had not made a direct step from undergraduate school to graduate school. And, I loved art history. It was not difficult for me to understand his suggestions. For the most part, other students just didn't get it.

Page 3: One can see the attempt to "rein" in the fluidity of the watercolor by the use of graphite line. Clumsy and uncomfortable were the best words I could use to describe this new beginning.

Page 9: As this was my own personal sketch book, above and beyond the sketches required for the studio course, I would take refuge in my new manner of drawing in the strong gestural technique I had just previously learned. It provided an outlet for my frustrations in watercolor.

Page 15: A gestural interpretation of El Greco's "Toledo." The marks become more expressive; far from the "safe" vertical tonal shading in earlier sketch books. The mark itself takes on strength in these early works. Too, I find a more sculptural approach to the forms by the use of hatching and cross-hatching. This was quite liberating for me.

Page 20: Art history began to really teach me. This Cezanne copy of Mt. St. Victoire is, to me, a study in energy and control of energy.

Page 25: The gate house entry to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. In the note to the drawing, I see that I have timed myself: twelve minutes. There is not, necessarily, precision, but there is a presence. Had I continued with the drawing, as I found with many gestural drawings I would do in future, I would become precise but with a strong gestural base.

Pages 26 and 29: Portraits of Joe.

Page 45: I was learning to draw all over again; with freedom and impulse coupled with the discipline of the eye and hand.

Page 51: The town of Athens was such a pitiful study for a landscape; try as I might.

Page 62: As Tom spent a lot of time reading, he was an excellent subject for portraiture. What a difference between this technique of portraiture and those of earlier sketch books, say of 1972 and '73.

Page 72: As far as a subject for a portrait, Tom's features provided easy distinction. He had a full head of thick reddish-brown hair, a distinct nose, a thick mustache and beard. So, even with a few strokes of the watercolor brush, monochromatic though it may be, I felt I could still capture his likeness.

Page 79: Coming from a strong biblical background, that of a Baptist with my father being a minister in that faith, religious subject matter interested me, especially in how it had been interpreted in forms that repeated themselves across the centuries—from Early Christian to as late as the Baroque and Neo-Classicism.

At this time I listened again and again to Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Jesus Christ, Superstar" and saw a variation of those formulas. From the "Last Supper" to the caring caress of Mary Magdalene, Weber questioned it all in his rock musical. He took the myth and brought it closer to a reality, or at least a logical reality. This quick sketch represents the disciples's criticism of Jesus for letting someone like Mary Magdalene (a supposed prostitute) touch him. And criticism is given through Weber's interpretation of the scripture toward Jesus for the use of such expensive things as the oil with which she "soothed" Jesus's aches, pains, and fatigue; "the money could have been used to help the poor," says Judas (?), the tension building between these two characters in the opera.

For most of my life, the dogma of conservative Christianity had been pressed upon me, without explanation, without illustration (I came to envy Catholics in that they would have grown up in a church with paintings and sculpture). "Jesus Christ, Superstar," which I listened to numerous times, reviewing visually the whole Christian story, was also an epiphany at this particular time. New visual interpretations of "standard" Christian iconography would feed many of my sketch books from this point forward.