Tuesday, December 27, 2011

662 Driggs: Henry Miller

I'm having a hard time in the studio these days. Part of it is simple burnout from coming in 7 days a week for weeks at a time since Sept 2010. Part of it is a simple dislike of the drawing I'm working on--the Fastness drawing is a map in the classic AD&D graph paper manner and it doesn't offer a lot of opportunities for DRAWING in the way I like to draw--stuff, things, shapes, forms, etc.

To soften the tedium of the Fastness drawing, I've been trying to fill a few hours before studio time with a walk/bike ride around Williamsburg. It's a new neighborhood so there is plenty for me to figure out. I've long been a Henry Miller fan(atic) and this summer I just finished rereading Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch. Inevitably, he mentions his childhood in Williamsburg. So I did a little internet research and quickly found that Miller lived at 662 Driggs . . . which is maybe a ten minute walk from here. I shot this photo yesterday on the way to the studio. I think it nicely compliments my boring photo of one of Max Beckmann's home here in the city near Union Square back in 2009. I found the address for Miles Davis's townhome on the UWS . . . I'll probably get up there sometime in the next few weeks to snap a boring photo of that as well. (Odd, somehow, that three of my biggest influences in my 20s lived here in the city--Miller, Miles and Beckmann. Well, probably not that odd.)

In searching the internet, I found this fan-blog on Miller--the Cosmodemonic Telegraph Company--with a informative post on 662 Driggs.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and some smoke

Thursday was a decent day for this time of year--partly sunny, mid-to-upper 50s. Positively balmy. I felt this might be the last decent day of the year (if not the season) so I took a bike ride I've been eyeballing since I moved here in 2004. Now that I live in Williamsburg, the whole enterprise was a little easier--from here to Prospect Park, through the park to Ocean Parkway, Ocean Parkway down to Coney Island and then up and around Shore Parkway Greenway and back through Sunset Park to Prospect Park again and then home. So I did it. Good ride, much easier than I anticipated--I didn't have to cuss out a driver once and I didn't get disoriented at all.

The Shore Parkway Greenway runs along the western edge of Brooklyn and offers a great view of the Verrazno Bridge and Staten Island. I could see this enormous plume of smoking rising up from what looked to be S.I. but--as I found out eventually--I was rising from somewhere in Jersey. It turns out there was a 7 alarm warehouse fire in Elizabeth.

After the ride, I got some tacos and a few beers and went to the studio where I promptly fell asleep on the couch.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Out of the studio

The celestial map is finished--I cut the drawing off the board tonight. So that's a photo of it there hanging on the studio wall.

I spent the afternoon at the Met today checking out (for a second time) the Infinite Jest show. I remember a lot of my instructors from undergrad trying to push these guys off on me--Daumier, Cruickshank, Rowlandson, Nast--and I just couldn’t get into them. For some of those artists, it was a technical thing (they made marks in a way that didn’t appeal to me and what I considered "good" at the time) but trying to get the satirical content of an etching from King George the Third’s policy toward the French in 1773 . . . I just couldn’t get behind it. R. Crumb mentioned Thomas Nast in an article I read a few years back and I started looking him up on the internet--he was a caricaturist from the mid/late 19th C. here in the city, busted the balls of the Tammany Hall guys--and I just loved the shit out his drawings. (In fact, I stole the Ragbaby constellation from Nast (looky here) for the celestial map.) Amazing draughtsman. And that Crumb connection opened the door for me on these guys.

This show today . . . wow. Blooey. I understood the meanness, the cleverness, the spite, the cutting wit, and the contempt in a way that I never had before. So much delivered with something as simple as a drawing and some text. I think that--all of what I just mentioned--has been missing from my work. I mean, the intention to put it in there has always been present but I couldn’t get it into the drawings. Part of it is just the generic “illustrator-y” inclination I have when I start drawing (not wanting to get all gonzo, Ralph Steadman-y because that’s boring to me and wanting everything to have a certain reality and correctness in a way that’s pleasing to me) . . . and part of it was not really knowing how to jam all of that misanthropy in there. Allowing text into the drawings helped loosen those knots somewhat but now I can see (in some vague sense) what direction I should take. I’m not sure how I’m going to get this poison into the drawings--the text in the drawings now is still way more biting than the drawings themselves--but I am confident about knowing what I need to do.

Posted are a few photos I took while in the exhibit.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Celestial Map 11.06.11

Slogging along through this one. Trying to add at least two constellations a day. Today: King Ixat and the Donkeymeiers.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Celestial Map 11.04.11: the Refractorian Zodiac

Celestial Map 11.03.11

My feet are dragging a bit with this drawing. I've never extensively reworked the images as I'm doing now--I've never liked redrawing a drawing once I consider it complete. (Which, of course, is why I never became an illustrator or graphic novelist--too much planning, too many thumbnails and composition studies, etc.) I like to solve a drawing as it goes along. Fortunately, the composition of this drawing might be enough to keep me motivated.

Also, I'm now realizing that I created entirely too many constellations. Some will get the boot and not land in the final drawing.