Monday, April 20, 2015

Why Do We Draw?

Why do we draw? Let me start off by saying that, for me, drawing stands as synecdoche for all of art. At least the visual arts. I think it is foundational in that it teaches us to see; it teaches us to use our eyes properly. Without drawing there would be no printmaking, painting or sculpture. Simple as that.

So why exactly do we draw? In college I vividly remember standing in my professor's office around a table with him, another professor and a couple of graduate students where we were discussing something. For the life of me I don't remember what. But I do remember putting forward this little gem of wisdom: "We all draw in order to learn." To me this was almost a tautology. Why else would anyone do this? I mean, sure, it's a lot of fun; it looks cool, and it beats working for a living. But when you get right down to it, we all do this in order to learn about the world. Well, they pounced on me like starving hyenas on a three legged gazelle. It was made clear to me that other people draw for different reasons than learning.

That shadow in the lower right is... ummm.. part of the composition. Of course it's not lazy photography! How  DARE you?! Real artists don't cut corners. Philistine. However, as I read the notes I made almost 20 years ago, they sound pretty pretentious. I think I was trying to sound scientific. I was very young, cut me some slack.
I still draw to learn. Even if the learning isn't always the type of learning I was doing in the drawing above. I still do that type of thing, but my definition of learning about the world has expanded. Now I want to know not just what things look like but I want to know what I think about things.

Two drawings done in chapel. Both have monsters, neither deals with monsters in the text!
Sometimes this leads me into some unexpected territory. Often, I'll hear or read something and then just start drawing with no idea what will happen next. Images and juxtapositions suggest themselves and I draw them. Often the meaning, or my idea comes after I have had to me to look at and think about what I've done.

So, after all these years, I still draw to learn.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Janus Angel

In the midst of working on my brand new linocut, I have been working on another linocut. It's kind of like this:

See how cool your host is? I went so far as to go to a free meme generator for this!
I am really having a linocut renaissance here. In fact that sounds like a very cool band name...

Dude: "Did you catch the The Linocut Renaissance this weekend?"

Dude's friend: "Yeah, but they really gouged me on ticket prices. I couldn't get any relief."

This is the part where the laugh track informs you that the above dialogue was funny. So funny that you should be literally laughing out loud. Or LOL, if you prefer.

So what's this image you ask? Here it is as it appears in my all-new drawing book:

The orange on the left and blue on the right mark this image as a casualty of drawing book carnage. It happens.
The idea as it was explained to me by my friend, Ned, is that the Old Testament ends with a curse andy the New begins with hope. The angel delivering the messages pronounces fire and dread on the left and Gabriel on the right announces John the Baptist's birth.

There's more going on here, but I do not like to explain my images too much. A little here and there is okay, but too much explanation is too much explanation.

Keep looking for that new Temptation linocut; it is proceeding apace!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A New Linocut

I'm taking a short break from the drawing book excitement, not because I have no more books, but because... Well, because.

I thought I would take this break in the action to inform you about a NEW LINOCUT that I'm working on. I'm still in the drawing stages, but it promises to be a good one!

The idea for this one came to me in Lent. The idea is to make a polyptych that deals with temptation with Jesus' temptation in the wilderness as the jumping off point. I used the drawing that I wrote about on March 30th as the basis for one of the images. There will be appearances by St. Jerome, St. Anthony Abbot, St. Mary of Egypt, and others! It's meant to be a set of images for Lent and here we are out of Lent and into Easter already. But that's okay. I think the cutting of this block will take a long time. Comparable to the Cream Legbar in terms of difficulty of cutting.

I'll show more as I get it done.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Couple of Weirdos

I present here, for your viewing pleasure a pair of diplocaulus. In case you are not in the know (and exactly what sheltered-from-long-extinct-amphibians rock have you been living under anyway?) they are some long extinct amphibians. They were really big in North America about 300 to 250 million years ago. In life they were something like 3 feet long. Of course, there were different species of diplocaulus and they came in different shapes and sizes. I'm just trying to give you the general idea. You dig? You can see a few more of my diplocaulus here and here.

I've drawn mine in two ways. One of them has frilly gills like ordinary larval salamanders do today, the other does not. I have absolutely no idea if diplocaulus had this arrangement or not. Please cut me some slack as I neglected to get my paleo-herpetological PhD in between getting my art degrees and raising a family. Sheesh, you guys are a demanding bunch.

I simply love the outlandish and seeming wildly impractical boomerang heads on these guys. There are all sorts of theories as to exactly what was going on with the headgear, but I don't really care what the reason is. I'm just glad that something like this was real.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Drawings Done in Worship or Heads and Arthropods

For all of you who are, no doubt, just coming to this blog and finding the artwork here compelling, I have been writing about the history of my drawing books. You might say that is fascinating and you would be right! The drawing books are where it all happens. They are the place where ideas bounce and roll around for months, if not years. They are where things distill, ferment, simmer, condense, and other cooking-related things happen to ideas. However, what kind of a dish I am making often doesn't become clear for many months into a book.

Two heads

That was true of this book. In fact, I'm still unsure as to what I've made. I gave myself one rule early on in the making of this book: everything had to be drawn from life. There is only one page (that I'm not showing you) where I drew strictly from my imagination. It's not bad, it just doesn't fit.

A head and an arthropod
So I spent(d) a lot of time in church and a lot of drawing can be done there. When I was a Presbyterian, there was A LOT of time to draw during sermons (now I typically have 15 to 20 minutes during a homily!). Anyway, I ended up drawing a lot of heads of people in church. Hence the title of this book. I also drew a ton of crap, crawdad, lobster, arthropods in this book. Hence the alternative title.

Two more heads (presbytery is even longer than the longest sermon!)
The book itself is a pocket sized Moleskine. I bought it on clearance and thought I'd give these "legendary" books a try. It wasn't for me. I didn't care for the hardness of the paper or the way it accepted wet media. I'm sure they have models for that but I like making my own books so much I think I'll just stick to that.

By the by, you can see some of these drawings elsewhere on this blog. But you'll have to hunt for them. And also, I have a lot more scans from this book, and since I am fond of them, I'll post more of them next week.