Sunday, December 20, 2009

On the walk to the studio . . .

Long walk, slippery, very tiring. I was both sweating and freezing cold at the same time. I'm in the studio now thinking of unrolling a few packing blankets and taking a nap.

Got in yesterday before the storm hit and didn't go much of anything but flip through some books for four or five hours. Teddy came in, we had a few glasses of wine, walked back to his house to shovel and salt the sidewalk. Then over to Five Star Diner for some Indian food (chicken kebabs, a chick pea thing, curried something and garlic naan (all delicious)) and a couple of big Kingfishers. Then I walked home in the blizzard. It wasn't too bad except for a stretch of a few block along Northern Blvd when the wind and snow kept me from opening my eyes for more than a second or two at a time. Tuck myself in on the turquoise couch and tried to watch Eraserhead but couldn't stay focused; so I dozed on the couch until finally piling off for bed around midnight.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Monday, November 02, 2009

Monday, October 26, 2009

Another 60 minute drawing (more like 35 minutes in this case.) Image taken from the SVA quarterly magazine.

Okay. I'm going to try to draw an sixty minutes a day. Regardless of whether or not I'm in the studio, I'm putting in my hour. I realize that I've got to tackle a lot of technical questions/problems. Drawing frequently, daily, intensively is the only way I'm going to get anywhere. I'm carrying everywhere with me a little ziplock bag with a few dozen Micron pens, a few Derwent 4H pencils (by far my favorite pencil) and a kneaded eraser (brand irrelevant.) (I'm open for corporate sponsorship. Ahem.) I'm trying to work out some kind of graphic style that isn't just piling on the crosshatching mush, something that allows the lines to be part of the overall design similar to the style Dore's engravings, and the technique of million other anonymous 19th c. engravers and draughtsmen.

This is an unfinished sketch of the Neverdusk story (which I should probably just call Neverdone.) I'm really bad at this single panel stuff. Anyway, this drawing fell to crap--I started inking in the thing before I'd really decided on the overall composition; the inking to me unearthed old memories of bad art and that was enough to make me quit. Back in the early 1980s, there were numerous companies that started publishing supplementary/competing materials for D&D (Palladium Games comes instantly to mind). These materials were defined by their copyright-evading nomenclature (Hits-to-Kill instead of Hit Points, Protection Rating instead of Armor Class, and so on) and by their mostly lame illustrations. Generally, proportions and anatomy tended to be slightly off (I remember a drawing where the warrior had two left hands) and the inking was clumsy--admittedly, these were simple spot illustrations but the hatching and line work did little to define form or a create a sense of depth. Clunky, clumsy, the work of enthusiastic amateurs. I'm inking certainly crept into that territory. It was enough to make me stop. I am a quitter.

(Let's see how long this project lasts.)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

An afternoon's work. Gave it to Jean and Gabriel as a housewarming present.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Woof. Long time since the last post.

I was back in Indianapolis over the weekend. Flew in Saturday afternoon and left Tuesday night. Overall, a decent visit. Ghosted about the usual haunts--Half-Priced Books, Value Village, Goodwill, etc. Bought a few things here and there--a $400 jacket on sale for $48, a few used t-shirts in eye-jiggling color combinations, and some books--including In The Studio: Visits with Contemporary Cartoonists by Todd Hignite. Other than the author's introductions to each of the cartoonists--which are completely overblown and stuffed with academically-specialized verbosity--it's a great book. It offers a wealth of insight into the philosophy and techniques of each of the artists, as well as illustrated selections from the cartoonists and (to me, more importantly) their influences. I've easily have a dozen new names to dig into.

One thing that struck me about each of the artists was how much though and care went into the work--but rather than publish a long accompanying essay about all of that (or get a curator/critic to do the same)--the cartoonist lets the work stand on its own. Chris Ware in particular talked a great deal about trying to fold all of this thought and nuance into the drawings and his hope that all of it somehow came through. And that's what I feel is missing from about 90% of the fine art I'm exposed to these days--that sense of care, of (dare I say it) craft, the willingness to let something just stand under its own strength. In contrast to the Studio book, I watched the Matthew Barney documentary No Restraint (excerpt here). Now, I'll admit to a limited exposure to Barney's work--I've only seen one of the Cremaster films, and I did see the exhibition related to the documentary--but I do enjoy some of the more bizarre visual aspects of his work. But in listening to him describe the work during N.R., it became clear that he was practicing the fine bullshittery of critical theory, of tying together essentially nonsensical and unrelated aspects of his work through a thin skein of doublespeak. Pretty remarkable that his approach has become de rigueur in the art world during the last 30-40 years.

Anyway, I'm totally getting in over my head here. But I'm also having this minor (and mostly harmless) crisis about what I'm doing and where I should be trying to show it.

Photos: mostly from a walk Eagle Creek State Park with my mom (a walking stick bug, a turkey vulture in a cage) and, of course, a photo from the plane.

Monday, October 12, 2009

I got into the studio around 11 am and dicked around for a bit. Ate some pretzels, listened to a few podcasts, stared at the wall. Finally got around to working out some storyboards for a sequence of drawings. I hate . . . hate working like this; it's one of the reasons I switched from illustration to "fine" art. I feel like I'm writing a predictable rom-com when I get this specific about where a drawing is going--A leads to B, B leads to C, everything is exposed along the way. But I also feel like I should try this approach--at least once--since the setting-up-an-idea-then-replacing-it-with-random-things approach doesn't leave me all that content either. I write down pages of ideas and plots and actions for the characters and than ignore them completely when I get down to work. I always hope that the pages of writings are somehow present in the drawings even if they're not explicitly illustrated.

And I guess therein lies my problem with my own work and the work of just about everyone else. If you know that you know what you're doing--that you can claim that you know it, you can go from A to B to C, run a whole lecture about your work and its influences, break a sweat educating the viewer before they even get around to consuming the work, illuminate and provide maps for all the small crooked corridors in your work that they may (or may not) want to explore . . . well, I feel like you're doing something wrong. I know that's a blanket statement, and vague and inaccurate in many ways, and introducing some kind of diffuse moral code into the process of making work, blah blah blah. Ah, fuck it.

Here are some drawings.