Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Counsel Of Years, Detail

The Counsel Of Years

The Counsel Of Years
Charcoal, Graphite
6 1/8" x 10 1/8"

This drawing is nearly all charcoal; there’s very little graphite in this one.

I’ve been using less graphite lately. I value its precision and delicacy, but I don't like the shiny, burnished look that can develop- Usually, when I’m trying to do too much with it, and pressing too hard. In this drawing, I used graphite pencils for final touchups to areas like the surface of the water above the signature.

I didn’t keep track of working time, but there were a dozen sessions, over eight days- So this drawing probably took between 20 and 25 hours.

My drawing sessions aren’t as long these days- Two or three hours at a stretch usually seems enough. Beyond a certain point, my eyes need a break, and my decisions tend to become less well-considered. I like to think I’m getting better at recognizing that point when I’ve worked long enough, when it’s time to stop for now.

At 6 1/8” x 10 1/8”, this drawing is the largest I’ve completed in several years.

Over the last couple years, charcoal has become my primary medium, and this change has both enabled and forced me to work differently. My charcoal tools- charcoal pencils, powdered charcoal, cotton balls, Q-Tips, various erasers- lend themselves less well to very fine detail than my technical pens do. But with charcoal, I’m no longer developing shapes, surfaces, textures, tones one dot at a time, as I did when ink was my primary medium. With charcoal, I can work bigger, more quickly- At least, for me- And so I am.

Charcoal has other pluses. For one, it’s much more forgiving than ink. I can revise more- So, of course, I do. Often, I've revised too much, with mixed results. But I value that part of me that always wants just a little more, always reaches for something just beyond my grasp. I want to become more efficient; I want there to be less Lost Episodes. But I don’t ever want to lose that part of me that wants more.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Lost Episodes, Scene 2

Welcome to Dreams In Black and White: The Art of Mark Reep.

To see more of my work, visit my website,

To read previous blog entries, visit my site's Updates page.

For the last several months, my site's Updates page has been becoming less about events, newly available drawings, etc, and more a journal- albeit a sporadic one- about the work itself. What I've been learning, realizing I need to learn- Which, as always, remains a very great deal. Learning, happily, is a path that need have no end- And no matter how far I've come, I always feel I'm still just at its beginning.

One of the things I've been trying to become better at, more consistent about, is recognizing that point where a drawing is as good as I can make it. No new issue, this. I almost always think I can make this or that element just a little better- And often I can. But often, too, I can't, and any further refining I'm tempted to try won't be enough to noticeably improve the overall look of the drawing. I may end up badly overworking, losing what I had, ending up with less- At worst, blowing the drawing altogether.

Above is an in-progress scan of a recent, unfinished drawing- A drawing I likely should have stopped working on shortly after this point, didn't. One bad decision led to another, and this project became another 'Lost Episode' to chalk up to experience. I like what I had here, wish I'd kept it- But what I learned in the doing of this drawing will find its way into the next, the next. And I'm glad I saved the scan.