My subconscious has been working on a thesis for me lately; broadcasting things which on the surface (flattened and simplified by my waking mind) appear disparate, but on closer inspection are stitched together by a continuous thread.
Its thesis is about crafting sensible (or at least legible, recognizable) solutions, guides, codes to amorphous and unformed problems. Striving to find concrete solutions to riddles or puzzles only hinted at. Trying to map a place whose geography and even location is ever-shifting.
A reminder that, sometimes, the answers one wants or needs are unattainable because one is asking the wrong questions. It’s telegraphing this to me visually; that’s how I best understand the world. And the message coming through: I must widen my frame of reference, my view, in order to ask the right questions.
‘Maps for cephalopods’ is perhaps the most obvious— my subconscious’ version of hitting me over the head; a wry attempt at a movie-montage or voice-over exposition— and its point at least two-fold;
Here’s a sketch I did on the weekend; the view from a corner table. There was no place to sit at the bar, and the whole length of it was occupied by men. hence the snarky little title in the upper left. This is perhaps a 15-20 minute sketch done directly in ink.
Last evening I went back into it, first with my grey markers, and then with watercolor. Getting down some tonality before hitting the colors allowed me to distribute darks and lights. (I’m better at doing it in monochrome). I do enjoy the combination of alcohol-based and water-based media, it’s great to be able to layer back and forth.
The third image shows it in full color, and where I decided to leave it.
Also: for anyone else who’s still counting, this brings me up to 73 people (from one week 100 people, now on week 3, haha!)
Here’s a couple of drawings from last week.
Did you know that Matisse was going blind toward the end of his career, and resorted to cut paper instead of paint, so he could feel the shapes? I sometimes feel I can relate to him, in a small way— mainly in dim lighting. It’s an upsetting thing for a visual artist, to begin to lose the erstwhile sharpness, the detail. To have to rely upon lights and optical assistance to be able to even approach what your eyes have seen always, for decades.
It’s stressful, and somehow still surprising to me. I do see well in bright light with contacts. And fine in dim light, with glasses. It’s not a surprise, then, that I often rely on my accumulated inner library of gestures, angles, and details.
I began this earlier in the week in pencil, and spent far longer on it than I expected to on that initial drawing, but have been aiming for greater attention to accuracy and detail so I can get faster at it.
I meant to scan it before inking, but I forgot. Here’s a part of the pencil from my pocket computer, though:
And the inking, which I did yesterday, below. You can still see the pencil lines here, anyway, as it was before I erased:
Next, my beginnings of putting bits of color in. At this point I was unsure how much I planned to fill in:
In the end I erased the stripes on the awning. Really, when I put them in (they were imaginary), it was mainly with the objective of simply keeping track of what was what— so many lines! I used the menu at the restaurant a lot as a straight edge.
For the final, I decided against filling in the iron of the windows, and only filled in the black awning outside, and the colorful bits n bobs, essentially leaving the architectural / structural things white (except for that wee shelf in the corner— a diagonal to the browns of the furniture).
I revisited those pencil sketches from my last post today, and had a bit of fun with some new markers and the watercolor half pans.
The fine grey marker with which I drew over the pencil in the first sketch proved to be water-based, so muddles my paints a bit. But the broad ones are definitely alcohol based, so will be fine to work in tandem with color.
After weeks of cool and rainy weather, it is at last a very fine day in Brooklyn, and I went walking this afternoon in shorts. As there are over two hours of daylight remaining, I met yet go back out and look for subjects to sketch,
Monica Forsythe wrote an an article on Medium regarding my visiting artist talk for UMBC at the Spark Gallery during the Light City Festival in Baltimore. I’m honored and gratified to have made such an impression. It was a curious and enlightening endeavor. The preparation for the talk took me backwards through time, and reminded me where I came from. In college I was, oddly, a technophobe about computers— I was all about physical media.
In recent years, conversely, I’ve found the opposite to be true. The blank page or canvas can hold a terror it never did when I was younger; a result of reliance upon ‘save as’ and ‘undo.’ Yet I’ve never given up on the analog. I found ways to incorporate the flexibility of digital into my analog works. Scan, scan, scan; add, edit, layer.
The preparation for this talk had me go through years of process; recalling how I got from one place to the next. It was a revelation of remembrance; a kind of rejuvenation. It also reinforced how quickly things tend to change (the thesis for my whole talk)— how that’s more true than ever.
Thank you, Monica! I’ll be reading more Between the Frames in future, and keeping an eye out for your work.
Below: some selects from the presentation, for fun.