Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Drawn out

The Pleasant Street Bridge
It's odd how the few elements in this drawing float and do not hang together. There is enough "reality" in it to make quick sense: "I'm seeing a river flowing through the archway of a bridge". But I'm intrigued by the indeterminate foreground (flowing water) and the sharp angles of the arch's reflection and the elements seen through the arch.

The details of the bushes in the middle ground and the stonework of the bridge create isolated islands of information. There are three vertical smudges seen through the arch that are the reflections of unseen trees. I think these are the cause of the ambiguity: it's impossible to make the picture's space recede enough. The river's surface is a vertical field when it should be a flat surface that recedes in space. Those smudges could be silhouetted trees on a horizon or they could be their much closer reflections. It's unclear if you care to get into it.

I appreciate this ambiguity but really, maybe, it's just a bad drawing. I rarely think of my intentions when I draw from nature. I don't try to manipulate things. My "agenda" is internal to me: I want to record a few moments in time in a place as I perceive it. I'd prefer the drawing be about the moment and place and not about some quirk of perception or Art theory. Then again, it's good to be reminded that pictures are rich conglomerations of perception, skill, matter and technique. Drawings are "written" and made of visual language and as such, they may be read and analyzed.

Back to the moment: I drew this on a cold Saturday morning while speaking to my twin brother on the phone. It was our birthday so it was nice to catch up and wish him a happy birthday. I must have been distracted and failed to stitch the various elements together. My fingers were pretty cold when I hung up.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Rainy Day

It's raining today but I found a few minutes to do a drawing of the dam after I drove my daughter to high school. I hadn't been to the river in a few days and I was feeling disconnected. As soon as I stepped out of the car, the drizzle started anew but I opened my sketchbook anyway. If you look closely, you can see faint spots and speckles in my drawing from the raindrops on the paper.

Later now, I'm stuck in the studio working on an illustration job. The door is closed to keep the playful cats out. It's cold and raw outside. The radio is on to local news. They're all talking about Kennedy. I have childhood memories of that day: it was cold and clear in the Chicago suburbs and there was this new thing between me and my perception of the world: the president has been shot. In the following days on a small television set the indelible images of the main aisle of a cathedral and horses drawing a hearse through the streets. The memories are dusty, desaturated and potent. It makes me think of memory as a growing land we pass by every day. Somedays a gate is open and we can go inside. But I'm too hungry in the present to make a meal of my memories yet. Soon…

South Natick Dam
Nov. 22, 2013
charcoal, watercolor



Thursday, November 7, 2013

Four Autumnal Drawings

The Cormorant
One Mallard
Reflections in still water
colored pencil

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