Day to Day



Day to Day

“Then see something else!

Then See something else!
Colored Pencils on Paper 12″ x 18″
Copyright Mary Lee Mattison 1998




Give a child (or anyone really) a clean sheet of paper and markers or colored pencils or crayons and ask them to ‘free draw’. (That’s drawing without any examples or instructions.) The first question is, invariably, “What should I draw?”
     “Draw what you see.“ I always answer.
     “But, everything I see is boring.”
     “Then see something else.”




People often think art is meant to be a portrayal of
something tangible. Something everyone can
see for themselves. Something real. A garden full
of pretty flowers, maybe, or a striking, person’s face.
That way others can visually judge how precisely you reproduced the subject and criticize how
well you copied it. Copy shmopy!




The best art I have ever seen is not a copy of something real. It is a vision unique to the artist. A vision I couldn’t see until the artist shared it with me. There is no way to criticize an original painting. There’s nothing to compare it to. You can decide if it appeals to you or not that is your own opinion and does not add or subtract from the merits of the Artist’s work. The most extraordinary feeling is looking at the clean, blank sheet of paper with no preconceived idea of what you are going to draw, yet you can see something beyond the page just waiting to be discovered. Then by a few lines and curves, a shape here, some color there a brand-new vision is born. A vision truly unique to me. Anyone can copy!#



A Colorful Escape

I used to work at a leather shop in downtown Newburyport Ma. During the Holidays and many, beautiful, summer days we were mobbed with eager shoppers, and the days happily floated by. Then there were those interminable November shop hours. On the outside, the cold, wind-swept sleet had made slick the historic brick sidewalks and most shoppers were hunkered down at home trying to adjust to the early darkness of Daylight Savings Time.

Then there was the February doldrums when the once fluffy, winter snowflakes had become dirty, frozen, jagged spikes lining each side of the narrow city streets and the frozen wind howled around each corner. Walking was treacherous (and I knew the danger of a slipped step since I lived close enough to easily walk to work each day.)

On those surely to be dull days, I would take my sketchbook and plastic bag full of cheery, colored pencils. I would sit at the empty counter (after I had done the vacuuming and daily shopkeeper chores) and stare out the large display window (my reflection obscured by icicles of frozen rain.)

That’s when the sketch pad and pencils came out. As I daydreamed I thought about what I would like to be doing instead of sitting there bored. My doodles became visions placing me in other more pleasant surroundings. You can see the pictures are viewed from my perspective. I am looking into the drawing. I even dressed my figure in the clothes I had worn to the shop that day!

This image shows me on an (Autumny day) looking down my imaginary path toward what represents the Crystal Shop across the street. I just couldn’t close the shop down and go visit the rocks and crystals. I was stuck. Apparently, I was well aware of that because I have drawn myself no legs. #

Here I am daydreaming about the Holiday Birthday Party I was going to after work. This day I seem to think that Newburyport is somewhere way across the Merrimack River. Funny because (The Leather Shop was in the exact center of the town.) There is the rainbow crystal I hung in the shop’s front window. To the left is depicted my extremely, rare, very early, Roseville jardiniere holding a potted Norfolk pine that is as old as my kids.
I remember getting that exact tree when it was a tiny impulse buy from the market complete with tacky, styrofoam ornaments. I put it on my drawing board (when I worked at the Newburyport News). I figured it would add a merry, seasonal touch that would turn brown and I could toss it out in January. But the dang thing wouldn’t die! So I took it home and it is still thriving 45 years later!#

Who Says I ain’t Cultured?
Here’s another Leather Shop daydream. I must have been reading about Neolithic art and did me some Shakespeare that day.
“Though she be but little, she is fierce!” ― William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

This would be one of those dreary rainy afternoons I mentioned. Cold too, I’m wearing a sweater.
My sticky reminder post-it note.
Everybody needs a to-do list
.