Reclaiming some sense of control

Digital ink drawing of an old house and trees
A house on Jones Street in Savannah

The past few days I’ve finally begun sinking hours of time into acts of creation (outside of my design work—I’m still working full time hours via telecommuting, for which I’m incredibly grateful).

Despite my plentiful physical art supplies that have accrued over years —like my watercolors which have been sitting out at the ready, for weeks but only used once so far— it’s the iPad that has drawn me in. Maybe it’s the immediacy of it, the ease of being able to duck in and out of a piece spontaneously, that’s made it my medium of choice this past week.

Digital ink drawing of a weathervane on top of a round tower, part of a sandstone building in Edinburgh
Weathervane in Edinburgh


Whatever it is, I’ve found myself spending hour upon hour, zoomed in and getting lost in details. As I wrote when posting one of these on instagram, I believe it’s the sense of control that has drawn me to this obsessive practice.

So I was up until 2am working on this lonely tower. I just get all zoomed in and I can’t seem to stop w the textures and lines and teasing out details. I think it has to do with the utter lack of control we have in this battle against the deadly invisible. The void that is yawning around every grocery aisle or on every doorknob.

So, finding a sense of control where we may is a kind of balm. Like how washing ones hands for so long and so bloody frequently began as an annoyance and has become our (perhaps) life-saving, lung-sparing mantra.

Digital ink drawing of the juncture of two buildings in Brugge, with the restaurant's sign "Diligence"
At the sign of the restaurant, Diligence, in Brugge
Digital ink drawing of two worried-looking cheese knight horses in a black void
Chess horses

These two chess horses with sorry looks on their gentle faces is the exception to the fiddly inked lines this week.

What have you found yourself doing differently since all this began? Since lockdown and stay-at-home started? Is there anything in particular that’s helping you cope?

Art in the Time of Coronavirus

Portion of a talisman design featuring a drawing of the With-Boy, masked and carrying 70% isopropyl alcohol

I had imagined so much extra time to do things like write and draw, now I’m working from home and staying in my house 97% of the time. It hasn’t really been the case. I’m still working, and more hours than before. The 8-10 hours in front of the computer leave me tired— it’s a combination of the work and the general stress level.

I miss reading on the subway. I’ve not read much at all since work-from-home began. But I’m going to start a new book today: Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner. It was a recommendation from a friend.

I did start a new piece of art last Sunday evening, based on a prompt from a friend. She had designed a sort of Medieval talisman as a kind of art protection against the virus. Hers featured a black plague doctor, complete with the beak-like masks of those times and large gloves. She urged me to design one as well.

So I started this on Sunday last, and completed it Tuesday night. The ‘Hand of Fatima’ in this case is comprised of two latex gloves with a protective eye. The corona virus is being pierced with a daggar.

Continue reading “Art in the Time of Coronavirus”

A witch-boy wanders woods at the full moon

detail of a drawing of the witch-boyMeet the witch-boy. He surfaced toward the end of my Inktober series for this year. I did a couple more sketches of him after the first, intrigued.

A few weeks ago I began studying intaglio again, and decided I’d like to do an etching of this guy, but that initial sketch needed some work, it was very rough. Below are four different studies I worked on my iPad of the witch-boy in various different wooded settings.

Witch-boy digital study No.1Above is the first study. I like the composition of the snow and path, but after some thought I decided that these slender trees are not quite what I had in mind; they lack mystery. So I moved one to another.

Witch-boy digital study No.2Here are some beefier trees which I can easily imagine being toned with a combination of line etch and aquatint (a way of introducing continuous tone shades to a print) I like this one! But I kept going.

Continue reading “A witch-boy wanders woods at the full moon”

Paper-dry leaves crunch beneath our feet, and the wind is picking up

pencil sketch of a house in a bell jr

Tuesday I went to my first class in over 7 years— returning to the art of copperplate etching (intaglio). I’ve a small plate ready to work on before my next class on Tuesday. This is the wee sketch I did for it today.

It needs finessing, and then I’ll transfer it in reverse to my plate. I may change those trees to pines, and add some snow. We’ll see. I want to keep it fairly simple, but use this to re-familiarize with the studio and processes after such a long hiatus. Gotta wake up the muscle memory.

After I’ve got into a bit of a groove, I’ll embark on something more complex. I really want to design images with the various techniques in my mind from the start. Work to the medium’s strengths, not just mimic ink drawings or some such. More to come here as I progress!

The last few drawings from Inktober

the witch boy, capturedI lost my momentum toward the end of the month. I remained a day or two behind schedule, and when catching up was posting to social media, but not here each day, So this post is a bit of catch up.
ink drawing of the witch-boy

So there totaled three drawings of the witch-boy, leading up to Halloween. The final drawing was just a plain old hair study. Terrifically anticlimactic, honestly. I haven’t even posted that one elsewhere, as I was sort of thinking I might do something else for the 31st ‘official’. But now it’s November third, time to let it go.
ink drawing of a woman with long hair

All around All Hallow’s Eve— catch up drawings

ink drawing of a witch boy

Here’s what I haven’t posted the past few days— and I’m still three days behind! But the missing drawings will be forthcoming. I’m a man of my word, dammit.

Above, Day twenty-seven: : The witch boy on a night walking beneath the pointy crescent moon.

photo of me in bandit makeup for halloween

Day twenty-six: My FACE! Here’s a variation, as I already included one in the last post. This makeup was my 26 day drawing, haha.

ink drawing of a palm plant

Day twenty-five: a palm plant, enjoying the sunshine of the east-facing window in her new-old house.

Day twenty-four: The mystery had only just begun

ink drawing of a pile of ephemera and a key

Day twenty-four: When at last she’d completed ministrations to her old-new house in such ways that compelled her, she returned to the leathery old box— a delicious reward. Retrieved from its out-of-the-way place of safe-keeping (much to Cat’s chagrin), she opened it. It contained the following:

+ One journal; worn but not ruined
+ One sheaf of very old photographs (same)
+ One packet of post-cards, written long ago (in surprisingly decent nick)
and
+ One iron key, threaded on a threadbare plaited tassel

The mystery had only just begun.

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Day twenty-two: A photo from her youth

ink drawing of a freckled young womanDay twenty-two: A photo from her youth; freckled after a Summer spent at a warmer seaside town with her family

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