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!
Today a study in not-quite pattern.
When our Art History teacher told us about Mannerist Architecture in my High School Humanities class, I was fascinated. Why would you make a huge building with purposely poor proportional relationships?
Anyway, this non-Palladian mis-match pattern was inspired by that concept.
Most of the art that I make I try to play with pattern and how it creates beauty. From Fibonacci to Fractals, mathematics rhythm can be expressed through symmetry, and in this piece, I try to use almost symmetrical forms drawn free-hand to play with the idea of ideal proportion and mathematical beauty.
A drawing of a place some of you will recognize, and some won’t. From memory. Cleaner than in reality, but also fuzzier. Memory can play tricks.
I used to try to draw the cars on the CTA from memory. Then I’d go back the next morning and notice I forgot a nut here, or a bolt there, but the proportions were right. After awhile, we visual artists have a sense of space, though we may be lazy about using it; defining it.
We aren’t unique though. People take all sorts of things that they know for granted. That the roads won’t move between tonight and tomorrow, and going to work will be the same. That their shoes will be where they left them.
Then there are more nebulous things that we can’t put down on paper in the form of drawings, maps, or things. Things like how we feel about ourselves and one another. Those change all the time, and though sometimes we remember what it was like to be 3 years old, or 8, or 20, we are not that person anymore, and we feel create in our heads a fuzzy, cleaned up image of how it was. Or perhaps a stylized dark image. Or whatever image we have of ourselves in the past and the future.
Making clear nebulous emotional and spiritual markers for ourselves is as important as knowing how to get to work, or where we left our shoes, or what our child hood home looks like. But setting boundaries is risky. What if someone else defines the boundary of a relationship differently? How do we negotiate the price of it? What if that negotiation leads to loss?
So it goes. Every shoe wears out, every road needs repair, every house needs maintenance. Life, love, and being are work. So be it.
My rag-rug progresses and I’m so inspired by the process that I’m making sketches for the next one, or for details to go into this one. I’m not really sure which. The neat thing about these rugs is that not only are they colorful and textural, but they also have a long history.
As I told you my grandmother used to make braided rag-rugs, and apparently, it is a long tradition not only in America, but also in Scandinavia. There’s even a Finnish-American Rag Rug Collection at MSU, for which my aunt and I saw a monograph awhile back. These are woven, rather than crocheted, and as it was the second line of thought I had today, I’ll have to post more about it later.
This morning I got pulled along the trail of Shaker rug history. The Shakers are known for their handicrafts and woodwork, and I’d seen some of these interesting designs before, in the form of these contemporary items marketed as reproductions of traditional designs.
But in the American Folk Art Museum (New York City) I found these beautiful rugs that bear more relationship to my current projects than the woven Finnish-American rugs because of their radial form and because they are made without a loom. I love their use of bold colors and the way they emphasize the roundness with triangles and squares.
Lion Brand Yarn has a pattern using cotton yarn which is inspired by these knitted and crocheted Shaker rugs. If you want to download the pattern, you might have to sign up for their website, but all the patterns are free. Yarn is a little less durable and thick than rags, but still quite cozy.
When I started this drawing, I was planning on layering, blending, mixing, smoothing, as I always do, but once I started making these shapes, they seemed too clear to blur.
The shapes create other shapes, and not always the shapes one would expect, much like life. That funky part-triangle in the middle that runs into a rectangle, or maybe consumes it. The other forms are obfuscated and broken.
Though I’ve said this many times before, drawing helps me clear my head. In the last few days, I’ve locked my keys in the car twice, something that seems symptomatic of a larger confusion about where I fit in the puzzle.
As I said, I meant to blur this drawing when I started it. But in fact, it seemed finished in it’s graphical state. It looked like a map or an aerial view, with pieces of the puzzle fitting together. No one piece is exactly the same, and though most are regular, they interlock in such a way as to make irregularities seem more striking and important.
Odd building blocks that evoke a city-scape, shapes that are organic, but geometric. Maybe I should go back and do some more of my one-liner cityscapes in the next few days. Though it makes for a varied body of work, I love jumping from one idea to the next and back.
In other news, I’m running back offline to work on my rag-rug. More photos of that tomorrow.