2013 is nicely underway and I have been busy in the studio, but the large drawing that I have been working on since late last summer is presenting me with a low threshold for studio fatigue; I have noticed that I can do about 20 or so hours of drawing and then I have to make something else for a few days, after which I readily go back to the larger drawing. I am happy with the piece – it is not a lack of interest - and I want it finished, so I suspect this has to do with the technical and perspective demands. Oh, I will draw veins, bark, leaves, sky, flesh, bone and fabric with an unrestrained and endless enthusiasm. However, a typewriter, ellipses, and cables do not fall into the enthusiasm category, and periodic breaks are in order. My most recent diversion from the drawing has been to make a set of nesting dolls.
A few years ago, a fellow artist in my critique group gave me a do-it-yourself matryoshka doll kit, and I recall her telling me to do “something interesting” with them:
Since then, I have had the merry little box on the studio shelf and I knew that I would get around to it when I was hit with an idea. As I - once again - approached the edge of my typewriter threshold, my eyes landed on the box and, no doubt compelled by the compulsion to avoid another typewriter key, I felt suddenly inspired:
What is wonderful about the matroyshka dolls is that they are so conceptually ideal – fitting together in layers like onion skin, each one opening to reveal the doll underneath - an interesting medium for a self-portrait. I have no doubt that this little doll project is a study or stepping stone to something that will be larger and more refined (these are tiny - ranging from 1.8 to 5.25 inches)…and definitely something drawn…I am mulling the possibilities.
In the meantime, below are photos of the dolls, one-by-one with some multiple views. By the way, I do not envy anyone who has to photograph sculptural work - particularly if it is shiny (ugh - I thought drawings were difficult to photograph). First up, the main doll (and yes, all the others fit inside this one) which I think of as Self-Portrait at 43 :
The first inner layer:
The next inner layer:
Last (but certainly not least):
The dolls are not quite finished - I will put a final glossy varnish on the set in a week or so, conveniently at just about the time I need another break from the large drawing.
(By the way, I went for the full Russian experience and decided to simultaneously listen to a beautifully researched biography on Catherine the Great, which I highly recommend for anyone who shares my penchant for female historical monarchs.)
I will be exhibiting two new drawings in a show in Troy, NY, opening in late March. The show, titled Beautifully Strange, will also have an exhibition catalogue and there is currently a blog previewing the artists in the show.