066:365 Clouds

Ypsi in the morning

Today another drawing from a photo, attempting in a slightly abstract way, to capture the glow and the shadow of a bright midwestern morning.

066:365 Clouds

The dynamic nature of clouds, the surface of water, and the motion of cloth along the body are fascinating. They are hard to see, hard to transcribe. Maybe that is why as I get older, abstraction in thought and in form attract me more.

Why do people make art? What are we seeking?

Maybe these almost epistemological questions are why we keep making art. We keep making visual representations of things real and imagined to figure out why we make abstractions of what we see and feel in much the same way that we keep writing about perception, society, and cosmos; biology, mathematics, and physics.

Seeking is perhaps the answer to its own question, as the oft-repeated adage: Life is a journey, not a destination.

062:365 Icy Dream of Spring

062:365 Icy Dream of Spring

Today, as long shadows get shorter and days get longer, I am worn out and ready for the ice to melt, but simultaneously grateful for the demarcation of the seasons on my life.

Living in Los Angeles, I had no sense of time and things seemed surreal. I appreciate, after spending just over a year there, that there was a change of seasons, but living through it just one time, it felt like there was no change. Maybe the milder changes of Madrid and the Bay Area were a little more to my liking than this harsh beautiful midwestern winter, but still, the snow and ice are beautiful in their way.

This is a study of how simple shapes can create an atmosphere. By changing the width of the dark stripes, a sense of space is created, delineated both vertically and horizontally by the performance of color. The peachy color in the middle evokes the reflection of sun on an icy lake and the dark stripes shadows cast by waves.

It isn’t realistic, but it gives some sense of space and atmosphere.

The first time I saw a Rothko in person, big blobs of not quite geometric color on an unprimed canvas, I wasn’t impressed. But the grad-student who taught our Art History Seminar at SAIC made us sit in front of one at the Art Institute of Chicago for a good 20 minutes. She made us look first and then told us things about the way the colors interacted with each other, how they faded out onto the canvas and created the illusion of space by their contrast or similarity, by the diffusion of color into ground. She was so enthralled, it was hard not to look at the picture plane in a different way.

This drawing didn’t start out with anything in mind about Rothko or mid-twentieth-century abstraction. I made it thinking about a scarf I’m knitting in two colors, with broadening stripes so one color resolves out from the other. When I photographed it, I realized that if I flipped the drawing upside down, for some reason it created a sense of receding space, but the way I drew it just looked like stripes. So, here you have it, upside-down from how I drew it, but nonetheless properly oriented for what it signifies.

Funny how a change in perspective can be the key to an epiphany.

059:365 Swoosh

059:365 Swoosh
This is the other color of the new Strathmore recycled sketch in toned paper. Tan.

It’s just a nice color, but I wanted to use more neutral colors. By this point, even with the few drawings that you’ve seen so far, you probably know that I love bright colors though, and I couldn’t resist putting in a spattering of yellow.

This morning I woke up plenty early. I should have done the drawing then. Instead, I worked on some knitting projects. So this drawing is just play, not something in particular.

Even so, I like it. It’s dynamics and color, but the toned paper lets me feel like I can leave some paper-texture showing, creating some depth to the colors.

Tomorrow I think I’ll do a Gracie drawing on this paper. Orange and brown and green on this paper should be nice!

053:365 Recessional

053:365 Recessional

When I was small, maybe 7 or 8 years old, I remember my dad trying to teach me how to draw a box in perspective.  He drew one box on top of another box, attached some lines and then erased others.  Now, the idea of lines creating a recession of space makes perfect sense to me, but my 8 year old self thought it was magical.

When I lived in Madrid, one Sunday morning, during the free hours, I went and saw the last day of a retrospective on the work of Pablo Palazuelo.  Looking at the way he layered lines to create superimposed imaginary spaces made me feel like I was small again.  Here were paintings that created a sense of vertigo with their contrasting colors and broken cubes.

For a long time Abstract Art had no pull for me, but now, the contemplation of space and imagination opens whole new areas of thought.  How do we see space? How can we imagine space on a plane? Is there more to space than what we see?  How are space and time related?

Today I meant to draw my drawing when I first woke up, and then thought, no I better do some work.  So I did some dishes, some laundry, tried to rid myself of a migraine, and suddenly the time left to do my drawing had disappeared.  I wished that I could erase those moments of hesitation from the morning and just do the drawing then, but now it is now and I can’t.

Hope you enjoy my Time Machine!

038:365 Unwinding

038:365 Unwinding

This drawing takes some of the formal qualities from the abstract portion of my project– intertwining lines, blurred colors– and puts them together in a different way to create some more dynamic movement.

Migraines are strange things, and I’m never sure when I’m talking about them if people understand.  Another student at SAIC when I was there did a series of paintings based on what her auras were during a migraine.  They were very different from what I see/don’t see.

This drawing isn’t what I see during a migraine, but it is maybe a little bit how it feels, the desire to move into light and the reaction I feel for it.  A feeling like there is a moving barrier between me and the world.  It’s hard to describe.  Wanting warmth, light, companionability, but knowing that all three are actually contraindicated by the nausea, pain, and visual artifacts that are coming.

In the last year I’ve heard a few NPR shows address migraines, how it is a little understood neurological problem.  But one thing made a little lightbulb go off in my head.  I think I heard it on the Dianne Rehm Show, was that it is caused not just by vascular issues, but by over-excited neurons firing too often and causing various symptoms: pain, nausea, moodswings, etc.

It was a revelation to me because I can sometimes tell I’m going to get a migraine a day in advance because I feel different.  No pain, no aura, just… different.  And it is similar to the feeling when the migraine medicines I sometimes have to take kick in: A sort of spinning calmness and sometimes a fluttery feeling of stillness and nervousness at once.

I hope you can feel some of that in this drawing.