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
OK...so 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 faith...it 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!
Here is a link to my interview in The Local NY Times Blog. A big thank you to Nancy Tobin for the opportunity to answer her questions! (Click her name to see her lovely paintings). Nancy will be conducting interviews with local artists as a preview to the South Orange Maplewood Studio Tour on June 7th.
It will take me about a week to complete my new large-scale drawing - here are a couple of details (bad snapshots, of course):
The last picture is of my maternal grandparents.
I have been contemplating the burden of heredity on human behavior, and, alternately, the far reaching impact of the abuse and neglect of a child on generations to come...cycles, breaking cycles, etc. The title will be "XX + XY = XX".
Coincidentally, the title of my blog is only partially tongue in cheek: sometimes using a drawing to exorcise a few demons feels good - a way to compartmentalize emotions and then set them adrift...
I have a visceral understanding of this new drawing, but this has not solidified into a statement that I can put into words. That will come before I post final images sometime next week.
Which is the segue to the next part of this post.
I have four drawings in a narrative art exhibit at the Watchung Art Center and via email I received a great question about my drawings...normally the question is "how long did it take you to do that?" but this one was tougher, and I enjoyed answering - or avoiding an answer as it may be:
the house of cards was my favorite in the show , the hand as root was second. I did not think the verbal explanation of nocturne was effective or clear. Visually i am a novice and inexperienced and it is probably ... dangerous for me to try to speak to someone as well versed as you about my perception experience of your work. Though all your drawings are exquisite, almost breath taking, for me (maybe i speak too quickly ) I think in reaching for bigger thoughts, perhaps you lose coherency . This, for example, was a problem i had with the hand in the ground and becoming a tree. Are you questioning consciousness? Are you making a suggestion about where we might look? for meaning?
It is a bit difficult for me to answer your questions, though I totally understand what you are asking.
All of the drawings come to me as singular visions (and I do not use that word lightly - they often appear in my head as whole images), though a few I nudge along to develop the compositions a little better (what fits in my head does not always fit on a sheet of paper).
I do not sit down in the studio and think of an idea and then make it into a visual image. However, at times when I have been tossing around words and thoughts or ideas in my head, they move into a visual image (Empress did this & I think I mentioned that on that statement - it is like words shifting into a picture, but sometimes I like the picture better than the words, even if the imagery is nonsensical).
And, as a result, there is not necessarily a message that I am trying to deliver or convey to the viewer.
Though, when requested to do so, I will write a statement about what I think the drawing might be about - not so hard, because often while working on a drawing a verbal explanation of the piece may pop into my head (slippery slope writing statements - I do not want to direct the viewer's perception of a piece, as this is sometimes more interesting than my own).
I rarely question whether they are coherent, or whether ideas are understandable to the viewer...which is why they may not be coherent or clear.
If they have meaning at all.
I draw and draw and draw and draw, every day. And, much like the surrealists (though I am not really a surrealist) sometimes there is a quirky vagueness to the meanings or even a bit of visual chicanery. I do not resolve the message, because that is not the way I want to spend my time in the studio: I do not draw as a profession, I draw as a compulsion.
So, there may be no explanation for me to give you: indeed Root was a singular, sudden vision. Except for the catfish that I added while working on the drawing...when I realized that there I needed some sort of presence and visual balance in the bottom of the image - at times the designer in me has to get the compositional weight to work. ...
The completed drawing will be posted sometime at the end of next week...or so.