It’s about time for a post! It has been a while but I’m not giving up, though I am working on ways to streamline posting to the multiple sites that require attention (facebook, twitter, etc).
Here is an image from the archives, a piece I originally colored with markers on glossy 8×10 paper. The ink on that paper really popped. I did a quite a few that way, before I realized how quickly those inks fade. It turns out that, when it comes to markers, “permanent” just means that they don’t wash off walls or out of clothes. Anyway, I hope you enjoy this vivid splash of color.
In 1977 I was in third grade and each student in my class had a box of crayons. It’s somewhat unbelievable to me that I actually still have them, but I do. I found them in a box at my mother’s house after she died. She had saved it for all those years. Here’s a picture of it, taken just a few days ago:
Now she didn’t know this, but these crayons were part of a highly significant moment in my life. One I had forgotten for years. I had always liked coloring and artsy things in school up to that point, but couldn’t really draw.
I was given a coloring book for my birthday that year and immediately grabbed my crayons and started into it. I loved to color. The subject matter was a bit dull, but at least it looked like something. When I tried to draw from scratch it always just looked like a mess to me.
Anyway, right then, while coloring in that book, with these crayons… enjoying it but bored with the subject matter… I made a wish.
I wished I could color something I made myself.
Here’s another picture. It’s of me, coloring that book, with those crayons, on that day that I made a wish that came true.
In the time since my last post I have continued to build a body of work, experimenting more with materials and mediums. To my surprise, I have learned that I actually love painting on canvas. There is a tactile feedback to it that is unlike anything I’ve worked with before. While I’ve had excellent results with ink, colored pencils, and paper it turns out that the pigments are far too transitory for my liking. Simply put, they are highly susceptible to fading, whereas the acrylic paints are quite stable and retain their integrity over time.
At the end of my last post I included an image of “unexpected arrival”, a piece primarily done with colored pencils. My next attempt mixed ink and pencil and is called “Who’s Watching”:
I did another small ink & paper piece. I still love how these look but the fact that they will fade so easily is kind of a deal breaker. I’m not sure how many more of these I will do. I struggle a bit with naming some of these. Here is “Yellow Flower”:
The first canvas I painted was also the biggest piece I ever did, at 24″ x 36″. I don’t have a very good picture of it, which is another challenge I face. My little ‘point and shoot’ camera just isn’t up to the task. It has a tendency to distort both the colors and the image itself (as the wide angle lens rounds all the edges a bit). Unfortunately for now this means that you will have to settle for seeing my second painted canvas. This one is much smaller at 12″ x 12″. I used to think that I needed as smooth as possible a surface for precision. It turns out that the texture of the canvas really doesn’t interfere much.
After I finished that piece I began another on a panel. It was ready to go so I had to start on it. The ultra-smooth surface really is not ideal for me, but now that I’ve begun I’m determined to complete it. I’m two weeks into the project and it looks like this:
In the meantime the art supply store nearest to me had a clearance sale on canvasses, so I bought 10 in different sizes ranging from 20 x 20 to 30 x 30. They are all square because every time I do one in a rectangular format it feels like something is getting cut off on the sides. I am really excited to begin using them, but am determined to finish this panel first.
The past two years or so have been a long experiment in finding a medium I can work with effectively. It’s been quite a challenging process of trial and error. What I’ve wanted to do is to work with the patterns I’ve mentioned so many times. After many years of being tied to a computer for a living the only thing I was sure of was that it had to involve working by hand. But how? With what? On what? I may talk more about that, but for now I’ll just say that it’s important that the materials themselves aren’t the source of frustration.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened with the paint I was using in my previous post. Despite showing promise early on, after many hours it became clear in a flash that I wasn’t going to be able to keep going. The paint just wouldn’t do what I wanted it to and I didn’t think I’d be able to rescue it. One for the dustbin. I don’t mind so much that it didn’t ‘work’ as a painting, but I was shocked by the negative feelings I experienced while trying to work with the acrylic paint itself.
I decided to try again and traced out a pattern on a second board. When I began painting the frustration began rising with the first few strokes of the brush. A few moments later and I knew – it just wasn’t going to work. I was shocked… I’d really thought that the paint was going to be “it”. One question remained, and that was “what now”? The only remaining options I have on hand are colored pencils and markers.
Not to be deterred, I decided to DOUBLE the complexity of the design and traced a rotated copy of the same pattern onto the board. Green brush streaks be damned, I started again with colored pencils. Back to basics. They were surprisingly pleasant to use on the clay ground surface of the board, seeming almost second nature. They require an extraordinary amount of patience, requiring layer upon layer to get the needed depth of color. The results were interesting though. Enough that I determined to see it through to the end, however long that might take. Three square feet is a lot of area to work with pencils and in the end it took 6 weeks to complete. I decided to call it “Unexpected Arrival”. It’s not quite like anything I’ve done before.
I thought I’d probably have finished that last piece by now but I have not. It’s still ‘in progress’, though I have put more time into it. I really like where the center of this has gone, but I haven’t got a clear idea of how to approach what’s left toward the edges. With the idea that you might enjoy seeing a little of how one of these evolves here’s another glimpse of the work in progress:
On another note, researchers have (and I quote) “discovered a new type of gravity wave“. The waves appear in geometric shapes similar to those I use, symmetrical polygons and stars. There are pictures at the site I link to above that show them. The story continues “Such bizarre waves result from a property called nonlinearity, in which a small or simple change results in a disproportionately large or complex effect”. That ‘nonlinearity’ concept is something I hope applies to these designs as well… that somehow these are seeds of balance and harmony that take root in the psyche and amplify inexplicably.