Monthly Archives: February 2020

Day 59

It becomes apparent that it’s not simply a matter of not doing what you want (restraint), but instead, it’s a matter of becoming an individual that’s inclined to live and create in ways that have a confident sense of ease, refinement, and sophistication.

Day 57

4″ by 4″ charcoal ” The Car Window”

The challenge tonight was to squeeze a large image into a 4″ by 4″ space using charcoal… messy, messy charcoal… without spinning to far out of control. The readability is an issue tonight, the narrative is consequently lost. The composition of the forms are muddied by a busyness of the supporting image. What is working for the piece is a decent balance of values are being used, the relative cleanness around the image, (experimenting with the viability a simple system of tape and cut paper masking to capture a clean boundary) and the variety of marks being used. It’s not a success, but it’s not a failure either.

At Scale

A piece of advise about art was given to me so long ago now, I don’t remember whether it’s really true or whether it was something I actually made up. In my mind’s eye, it was a tidbit passed along by my first sculpture teacher at Memphis College of Art, Bill Willims. Whether it was real or not, over the years I’ve found that it’s a simple piece of advice that’s proven itself to be true…

4″ by 4″ charcoal

“If you are curious whether a sculpture design you are considering is any good, using your imagination, shrink it down to jewelry size and if it’s able to draw your eye in, capture your attention, and make you feel wonder, it might be good.” 
I put a lot of trust in this simple litmus over the decades. While it seemed that making a design bigger usually resulted in most people being outright impressed, (deservedly or not), reducing the size of a design requires that the design of the form itself needs to be strong. The details of a design won’t matter much if the play of the shapes that make up a form don’t first draw in the eye. A successful piece of sculptural jewelry stands out across a room as well as improves in readability as the veiwer comes closer. 
Moving this thinking over to drawings. Drawing on operatic scale is fun and easily grabs attention, but I want to move to an intimate scale of 5″ or under. Like the example of the jewelry before, the challenge is creating attraction at a distance that resolves in to a readable image as the viewer gets nearer. It’s a shifting balance of abstracted form and image content.
The piece shown above is an illistrated go at the concept. It’s a 4″ by 4″ figure study that, from a distance, appears to be a grouping of unrelated forms. Close in and it resolves into a figure. Even closer in and the diversity of line quality returns the drawing back to feeling like an abstract.
A small drawing on a sheet of paper made to function at a range of distances found in a small private room rather than the scale of a gallery wall.
(PS Did you like how that nipple got dropped right in the center of the drawing? Loved it!)

Session #40 Rick

I don’t know why it feels so good pushing color into the drawings at session. My guess is that after spending a few weeks of intentionally sticking to using charcoal in the studio with an aim of gaining a sense of how to strategically actually apply it in a drawing… switching back to building forms using loose lines, solid proportion, and a free color pallet feels like cheating, I genuinely enjoy not only making work in open session, but I think I enjoy the direction the work is moving. I say “I think” because I don’t know how I would feel about the work if, being previously unfamiliar with it, I ran across it on a wall. I’ve seen some of this work framed now, and I’m proud of it. It’s been made to sing to me and when it works, it does just that, but if would it if I hadn’t experienced it in the manner that I have?
Occasionally, scratched out writing is found tucked away on a scrap of paper, unfamiliar, reading it, it blows my mind in how well it speaks to me. When the realization this was something that was left behind by my hand, I’m a bit taken aback. We can truly surprise ourselves with what we do to entertain ourselves. Many of the things that are made in the moment are taken for granted once finish, only to be appreciated later long after they’ve been put down and forgotten.

Line, Mark, Smudge

Line next to mark, next to smudge, everything interacting in an effort to present a solution, a very subjective solution to portraying a figure. As has been said repeatedly, it’s what I can’t do that describes the peramiters of what I can do. Everything inside those peramiters are mine to freely claim, even the things others might not be in agreement with, (exspecally the things others are not in agreement with). What I can’t do is for others to explore and claim.  I’m looking for the black and white of can and can’t, all I’m finding is grey.

Adding Pages

Jess and I are relaxing into an early afternoon paper marbling class sans kids.

Mindless fun making a few needed sheets of paper for the inside covers of a round of large format sketchbooks that we’re putting together for spring.

Super fun…. Super easy…. too fun, definitely too easy.

A large pile of finished paper could accidentally grow wild if precautions aren’t followed… like not doing this more than once a year.


Dragging another one across the finish line. The image felt doable on first glance, a figure in high contrast light with an artifact effect from what appears to be camera movement (one of my favorite effects) and an unexplained over exposure running across the bottom half.

I knew going in that trying to do the original image justice was most likely beyond my skills. That capturing the movement with a fuzzing of the value across the image was going to be difficult at best on the first try, but I found just getting the image blocked in using the lowest value possible was outside the reach of my past experience this morning. Even maintaining control of my charcoal was completely beyond me.

Like the last drawing, very early into laying down the charcoal, I felt that it would be best to manage my embarrassment by pull it off the board then and there. Resisting the temptation, it was instead quickly finished. Yes it’s embarrassing, but despite that, or because of it, I might need to have another go at this one before the freshness of the struggle fades away… Mmmmmmmaybe later….


Imprometeus said that art could be a painkiller for the viewer to numb themselves with. I was a little surprised. hadn’t seriously taken the idea past the end of my own piece of charcoal, but once he said it, it seems so obvious.
It does help numb myself from the mediocrity of a day. 
I look forward to this moment (along with a few other choice moments) all fuck’n day long. Mow the baseball field, check. Edge and hoe the edge of the field, check. Weed the field, check. Prune the roses, check. Hedge, hedge, hedge, check. By the end of the day, I just want to sit down and draw. That’s fuck’n it. Just draw someone, anyone. When it’s done, I guess I get to be the veiwer, and yeah, it works.