Monday, March 28, 2011

Paper Makes a Difference

One of the things that I noticed about doing the drawing in the previous post, "Rocks and Rolling Water" was the limits that paper put on the quality of line. I used a medium surface drawing paper, Strathmore 400 series. When I started it. it was a partial sheet and I was doing it mostly to practice. Then I got sucked in and finished it. Had I known how far I was gonna take it, I might have used different paper. But, no matter.  It's good paper with a warm color. I think the problem I was having with it was the amount of detail I was trying to pack into such a small size. I'll be the first to admit I don't know all there is about the paper, having spent most of my time in other mediums. But doing is a great teacher, better then having someone tell you what to use.
I like small detail. I like working small. I work with pencils sharpened to a fine point most of the time. I discovered that the medium surface was so rough that my nice needle point was being worn down very quickly and I was frequently repointing with a sandpaper block. The rough surface tended to turn my nice smooth line into a bit of a fuzzy edge. Ok, maybe I am getting a bit too obsessed here. You probably get the idea.
So the next drawing was to be a simular scene but I wanted more detail and developed gradients. I needed a different surface, something smoother. And matte size being an issue on the previous drawing, that detail would be needed to be addressed first. I chose Bristol with a smooth finish and sheared it to a size closer to the matte size with just a small margin.

Compare this to the drawing in the previous post. More grays, more gradients, smaller details, richer textures. The paper was not as warm but that's fine. Both works are close to the same size. Still done almost exclusively with #2 pencil. The problem I was talking about here with the quality of the paper surface is pretty much solved. The 400 series paper gave me a base amount of texture, below which it was difficult to draw. The Bristol smooth finish allows much smoother strokes and the possibility of drawing in a wider variety of textures.

Ok, this is a blog and not a book. Sorry about going on and on about it. I will probably revisit the subject another time.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Coming Back Around

So now I come back to restarting this blog after a hiatus. That's a funny word to describe a time away doing something else which needed to be done. Frankly, I had some changes of direction which I won't go into. Things happen. I debated deleting the previous posts but decided to keep them and not pretend this is shiny new. Everyone has history.

Anyway, I do have some new work to share. I have been back to working steadily on my drawing and I feel much better about it.

The first thing I will share here is, ironically, a revisit of one of the previous works having to do with the mountain stream theme. I was working mostly in an 8 x 10 format but decided to push myself to develop a bit. For most people that might mean going bigger. For me I went smaller. I come from a background as a jeweler and have always been concerned with issues of small and precise. I wanted to do small works but try to maintain or push the level of detail. The first one I did deliberately with this in mind is titled "Rocks and Rolling Water" and measures about 5" x 5". When I first started it it was somewhat of an experiment and it was more 4" x 5" but I could't find a matte to fit it so.. I had to find a way of adding on that didn't throw off the composition in a bad way. I ended up resolving this issue by adding and inch to the top, mostly repeating a lot of the foliage but adding some branches and things on the left. I was more pleased with it the second time I finished then the first. I do plan on cutting my own mattes at some point but I am not prepared to do it right now.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Projecting Past the Drawing

What is it that makes me take a perfectly good graphite drawing and cut and tear it to pieces and reassemble it into something new? I mean, it was a pretty good effort at capturing the running brook, the stones and the vegetation and I might have stopped there. But, I was encountering the same feeling that I have with a photo. It was flat. It failed to catch the sense of depth and time that I felt looking at the view. So I was driven to add more to it, to push it past the flat rendering, the sense of frozen time. It's all about capital S Seeing, knowing not just what I am viewing but its context, its position in relationship to the rest of the world. Nothing exists out of context. Its the process of discerning the context that occupies my attention and drives me to do something more to it.
How to drag the context into it? Good question. Multiple layers with different treatments might reference that the scene changes over the progression of the year. the use of color or not might call up the way things change when viewed under different light. (How might it look at dusk?) Part of the image on terra cotta pastel paper might bring up the way that it contrasts with other streams or places I have seen. I could go on but maybe you get the picture. We don't just look at one thing and see it. We also see the other things we associate with it. We can never look at one thing and see the one thing. Wherever we look we always see the world. A drawing ought to say something about that.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hecktic Summer but...

Everyone has visitors but I am trying to get back in the swing of things. I have made at least some progress on the concept I am working on. I am adapting some old printmaking techniques but using some new tools. This is the original stream drawing after it has been scanned and processed then printed on various papers for further manipulation. It's not unusual for a printmaker to pull prints for further manipulation and I am doing essentially the same thing. The inks are pigmented so longevity and colorfastness should not be a problem. My idea was to take the image and project it out into space so I am attaching it to acid free foam core and layering multiples to give me the overlap I want. I'm sure that something called Tole might come to mind It has already been pointed out to me. This is not Tole. Tole is more or less a type of paper sculpture with the parts assembled to preserve a realistic representation of the object in space. My ambition here runs more along the Cubist sensibility, presenting multiple aspects of the subject and both breaking the picture plane while retaining the flatness of the drawing. The concept will evolve with the work.

Monday, June 29, 2009

After a busy spell...

I was quite busy the last week or so. I completed a couple of new drawings to hang in the lobby of the Footlights Players theater down in Charleston. They are having an Irish play and wanted art in the lobby with an Irish theme. I did one of Ross castle and then one of some various elements taken from the Irish countryside. I take frequent pictures of my work in progress for several reasons. first, I like to document the progress. It gives me a sort of map of how I arrived at the finished product. I sometimes discuss the work in progress with other artists and this gives me a conveient way of doing that over the internet. Another reason is I can print a copy of the current point and experiment with different options and decide which is the best one to use.
The last drawing that I completed I had over 40 different shots and it occurred to me that I should assemble something like a flipbook showing the progress. I strung them together and constructed a video and redid it several times and here is the result. I hope this works.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

New work, Still In Progress

Sometimes we have ideas of where we want things to go and sometimes we don't. This is a stream along the road going through the center of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. I stopped to take pictures and climbed down to the stream. The thing that struck me the most was the stream bed and the jumble of rocks. I saw the randomness of the placement, the texture and the color in the water and thought "Wow! If I could only capture that!" So I gave it a shot, knowing it would be a bit more complicated than the work I had done before. It's not perfect but I am pretty happy with it so far.
When I started this one, I was thinking the one graphite work. I got some ideas along the way. What if I did the water in color to capture all the variety? What if I had all that time in the graphite and messed it up when I put the color in? Fortunately, I have the capability of printing a scan onto the same type of paper the original was done on and that allows me to experiment without endangering all that time i already have in it. Of course, its not unusual for a printmaker to pull a print and experiment where to take it next so I am just doing a version of that. The idea that I have in my head here is that I don't want the color to overpower the graphite work. So far, so good.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

What It Feels Like To Draw

This is the first time that I have posted an unfinished piece. This is the current project I am working on. The others were drawings I have done earlier in the year to illustrate particular points. Since I wanted to address what it feel like to draw, I decided the current project would be more appropriate.

There is something sensuous about the feel of the graphite being dragged off the point of the pencil as you draw a line. So many things come into play as the process happens. Its not the choice of paper or the hardness of the pencil or the angle or sharpness of the point or the pressure being applied or the countless other aspects involved with creating the drawing. Its all of them combined, the balance of all the minutia in harmony adding up to the seamless whole Thing that is the experience of creating. Some people refer to this as being in the "zone" and its a useful description. It certainly isn't everyday experience. Creation taps into more resources then are normally available, inhabiting that boundary line in the mind that is one step into the subconscious where intuition lies. Its the feeling of yourself flowing out through your fingertips out onto the paper. This brings to mind something else I heard in undergrad. "All art is self portrait." When we create, something of our essence is captured there. Its lightning in a bottle. It cant exist but it does. Art is one of those things that just happens. I don't mean to imply that it's easy or hard, it's something different. There are aspects about it that can't quite be pinned down. I don't think of it as "now I am going to draw this line in just such a fashion" because if I approach it in just such a fashion, it won't be right. Do you think of every step and movement as you're walking? No, you just do it. Art is like that too. It is possible to dissect the process but it's like peeling an onion. Once you finish removing all the layers you don't have a complete onion anymore. It's the whole thing that's important, not the pieces.