Friday, May 15, 2009


I've been out of the studio too long. I don't mean that literally--I'm in there all the time. But I'm just killing time in there, watching movies, drinking beer, creating little doodles and collages with no attempt at content. I have a desire to introduce new experiences into the drawings. Most of my drawings come out of negative/obsessive/hopeless feelings and dead-end experiences. You know . . . emo stuff. Like I'm a fifteen year old. It's as if the drawings are composed of bits of distasteful detritus--the psychic equivalent of a dot of rancid gum pulled off the sidewalk, a dregs of a beer glass with butts floating in it, hair clots from behind the toilet, oily gunk scraped of the floor of the oven. I understand the language of discomfort, of longing, of disappointment, sorrow, rage, jealousy, envy, wrathfulness, anxiety, all of that. If you can throw out a pejorative term, I can admit to slipping it's visual equivalent into the drawings. (Or trying anyway. The imagery comes of it's own accord and my control over it tends to be slippery at best.) I've spent years refining this practice. Why? It's easier to by cynical and self-protective, to assume that nothing can go correctly and that no situation can possible blossom into anything wholesome. Perhaps this works better when you're younger. It cushions the first big disappointments--the first broken heart, the first serious betrayal of a friend (or parent), the first layoff, the general graying down of the black-and-white clarity of your early, pot-smoking twenties. But that shit gets old after awhile, you know?

Funny thing is? My chosen language is derived from the benign, totally unnuanced language of commercial illustration, children's books, Japanese monster movies, Saturday morning cartoons, etc. It doesn't really match up with the professed dark intention of the work. "The problems an adult filtered through the visual language of a 10 year old," is how one of my grad school teachers put it. (I don't think he was trying to be a dick, either.) I'm feeling this powerful urge to change the visual language (which, admittedly, I love) or at least find a way to introduce new experiences into the work? I consider all of the books/movies/music that I love and they all share (aside from an epic scope) this sense of inclusion--light and darkness, joy and misery, uh, blood and gin? Nintendo and hockey pucks? You know what I mean. Right? They possess a fullness, a roundness, an acknowledgment of the whole experience. My drawings lack that. Actually, so does (or did) my own perceptions up until fairly recently. I simply don't (yet) possess the visual language to express joy, comfort, etc. But that kind of thing is hard to pull off without injecting unicorn or butterflies or large-eyed kitties into the work. Can you point me in the direction of some visual art that encompasses the whole experience?

Photo: a strangely isolated patch of cirrus clouds captured on the walk home.

1 comment:

*Sandra* said...

Nothing wrong with drinking beer and watching movies, dear. Wish i could get away with it. 'Cept I would probably curl up with a good book and a glass of wine.