Up close and personal: These initial images include commissioned paintings and details of paintings shown in the gallery pages.
Copying Willem de Kooning: I have copied few works of art in my life, and none post-maturation. However, I thought that, should I do it again, I would copy someone I both admire and whose work is different from my own. As a gift to my sister Pamela, I made a small version of Willem de Kooning’s Untitled II.
What I like about de Kooning’s abstract-expressive oil paintings is how he excavates, almost at the very end of his process, with semi-transparent white. The effect creates misty veils of negative space that weave through his elements. This technique is not original to him but common among realist landscape painters. Skies are usually painted first in landscapes, and then repainted at the end. Specifically, what is touched up is the light filtering through tree branches. The brushstrokes can be bold or diffuse, but they often resemble bright stain glass in a darker window.
Here is a comic I made some years ago on this subject.
Color Pencil Sketches: I received a small sketch pad with color pencils one Christmas, and occasionally draw in it during particularly slow teach days. The pencils are admittedly inferior, but workable given restraints and time restriction.
Other Sketches and Preliminary Work: Ink and pen drawings, manipulated drawings, and tablet drawings from various projects.
A Life in Review: I am more willing to dwell on research materials of recent history than anything of ancient history, especially given that I have been a poor archivist of my work process. Until recently I thought these assorted whatnots immaterial to the final product, but as I age, and the amount of work I make decreases, I see myself reaching into these files like reserve batteries, hoping to draw inspiration from myself for myself.
When I make preliminary sketches, I do so reluctantly. In times past omitting this process proved costly, as I sometimes ended up with something that was not well thought out. Simultaneously, the same cautious process can leave you with a static, unadventurous product, where the “flight of fancy” aspect of the venture has been pruned away with gardening shears.
I never fail to be impressed and curious about other artists’ thought processes, whether they are painters or composers. (Elgar’s unfinished Third Symphony is a passion of mine, as are Schubert’s unfinished piano sonatas.) It is rare when a preliminary sketch fails to find its mark: The salient idea is usually there. Seeing these doodles and visual notes all together reminds me just how much thinking and effort is found in stalling maneuvers.
I have a large tub of early childhood drawings. In filling this container I had to make hard choices about what to keep and what to throw away. I was tired, and chucked half of what was set aside, hoping that I retrieved those scraps of paper that meant something to me emotionally, since little of what I found had artistic merit. Should history find me, I hope this admission will not shock historians.
I have also saved many of the paintings found on the Portfolio Pages—all are rolled up in two heavy rolls, tethered with cloth straps; a synthetic leather portfolio holds many works on paper of the same period. Both these archives are stored in the vicinity of my single bed: The paintings underneath; the portfolio behind the headboard. I infrequently entertain the idea of throwing these keepsakes away should anyone hope to re-stretch or frame them for exhibition. Mostly their existence reminds me of the joy I experienced in my youth while making them.
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