The Carrier (XX + XY = XX)

The new piece is finished!  These are not the best photos (will this rain ever stop??!! I cannot get outside to photograph!) ~ but I did not want to wait to post the finished work.


The Carrier (XX + XY = XX)

graphite and pigment/ink on Arches paper

48 x 30 inches





xy-xy-hand I have not actually formulated a statement on this one (as of yet), but I have been thinking about what prompted the piece:
Most of my drawings begin viscerally - I do not start with a subject or an idea and then work for a visual solution in the manner of an illustrator.  Perhaps this is why I fail miserably at illustration - I have trouble thinking in words or using logic to plan a visual image without creating something that looks contrived.  And, by the way, I adore illustration - early 20th century illustrators were a major influence for me (but that is a topic for another post).
However, many of my drawings have started with words or a phrase as a reference point, or maybe a concept that has been tossing around in my head, but even these images come to me as complete visions or sensations.  (And yes, this is the flat out definition of synesthesia.  It comes from years of moving visuals around in my head and now my right-brain dominance cannot be restrained).
Since my drawings are so highly refined, viewers may think that they are consciously designed like an illustration.  Quite frankly, my worst drawings are the ones where I actually think about the concept while I am resolving the composition - these are inevitably stiff and feel contrived. The best are the ones where I just draw away and don't reflect or try to deconstruct the imagery that is coming through me and into the sketchbook.
There were two sketches before the idea came to me as a whole complete thought.
The first was the idea of that which is internalized suddenly being externalized; seeing through the body to the inner workings:


The second was what I have, in retrospect, called the "tooth-cell" - it is like an invading microbe - a thing that eats away at the insides (only this one has an old family photo inside):


Then, the tooth-cell migrated into a true self-portrait - and this was the final sketch before I started the drawing:


When I did this sketch, I knew this was the imagery that I wanted, but the practicality of executing the drawing was to be considered:
How will the figure fit within the format of the page?
How large can the drawing be to fit into a mat and frame?
This is the point that I started tinkering with the format and composition of the drawing.  For this piece, I started with a photograph (self-portrait) with the pose I wanted to use for the drawing.  This photo was cropped, narrowed, shortened, widened, and reformatted until I came up with the positive/negative space relationship that felt right.  I then, by using the "image size" function in photoshop, I convert this into inches - height and width - with consideration of the maximum size I can draw and have the piece fit in a frame.
The rest of the little microcosmic details fell into place within the framework of the figure.  I actually had no clue how I was going to draw the background until the figure was finished (sometimes I have to see the figure finished it to know how the negative space can be resolved) and in this case I serendipitously stumbled across an old photograph of my father and one of his cousins (it is always a serendipitous notion - or perhaps a leap of faith - that makes the drawing come together at some point well after it is underway).
The stamping of the "XY" occurred to me later, too - I was going to draw the letters onto the hands but I had a vision of something more like a hand stamp - or a tattoo - a more permanent branding of the letters.
Oh, and speaking of leaps of is quite a nail-biter to wield an inked rubber stamp to a completed drawing...
I have to think more about this piece before I come up with a statement.  In the meantime, I will be posting a fun studio side project in a few days!