Thursday, July 30, 2009

Abandoned Quarry

Abandoned Quarry
Charcoal; 6 1/2" x 5 1/2"

I began this drawing at La Petit Chou's Studio 1201 a few weeks ago, set it aside to work on other things; each time I've returned to it since, I found myself not wanting to do much. To bring this kind of drawing to the more or less uniform level of detail, finish, etc of most of the pieces I show usually requires sacrificing some unfinished-ness I like a lot- And I don't want to give up anything here. So- Done. Click to view at actual size at most browser settings.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sometimes To Stand

Maybe it was looking at Gary’s work, or Bill’s, or some of my own from back in Those Days- Whatever, this week I got the urge to get out my pens, do some stippling. Couldn’t find a black Sakura Pigma Micron .005 that was both worn to a suitably fine point and still functional, so I abused a fresh one badly with an emeryboard. Don’t tell Sakura.

1. Inked stippling over a light graphite pencil sketch. The paper is Strathmore’s 300 Series Bristol.

2. Stippling the foreground reminded me of a couple things. For one, why I stopped working this way. But I’d forgotten too how appropriate this kind of work can feel. Those sessions when you aren’t into Big Creative Decisions much, filling in a field of very small marks seems a productive use of the time. Or maybe that’s just the OCD kicking in again.

When the ink was dry- if you’re working on clean paper, this happens very quickly, the Pigmas are great that way- I evened things up a little with 2B & HB charcoal pencils, kneaded erasers. A Pen & Ink purist, I ain’t. Whatever works.

3. The sky began with a light rubbing of charcoal dust. I developed the mist and moon with graphite pencils (Dixon Ticonderogas, Numbers 1-4) and kneaded erasers, working soft to hard. Last, I tightened and warmed the tree a bit with a Number 3 graphite pencil.

Sometimes To Stand
Ink, Graphite, Charcoal; 3 ¾” x 2 3/8”

The title comes from something I found myself saying in the parking lot of an Elmira Heights church twenty years ago: Sometimes just to stand is to move forward. Some things you forget, some things stay with you. There were good people at that place, putting their backs into it. They knew faith, and work, and that they’re not different.

Sometimes To Stand is a small, simple drawing, nothing extraordinary, no new ground broken. But it felt good to revisit this kind of work, and I hope my enjoyment of the process is reflected in the result. The scans should load at about actual size at most browser settings.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Ink, Graphite; 5" x 8"

Another from the archives. Like Edge Of Thorns, Gathering was done with Marvy LePlume colored pens. Dunno if they're still available, but at that time their line included four or five shades of gray that lent themselves well to stippled light-dark gradations. I began using them, I think, after trying a friend's set of grayscale photo-retouching pens (in those days, we weren't all yet Photoshoppers). It's a little startling sometimes to be reminded how much my process and technique have evolved over the years.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Remembering Criss Oliva

Edge Of Thorns
Ink, Graphite; 6" x 3 1/2"

Looking this morning through files of older work, I found this drawing, inspired by and in tribute to Savatage guitarist Criss Oliva. For those not familiar with his playing, here're a couple tastes.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

G C Myers at WEG

G C Myers, Dispatches
Acrylic; 6" x 18"

Now showing at West End Gallery, G C Myers’ exhibition Dispatches. La Petit Chou and I have both been fans of Gary’s work for some fifteen years now, and we each have our early favorites; at the moment, mine is the title piece, above. Gary’s posted comments on this and several other paintings on his blog redtree times- And while you’re there, check out his very kind words about my own work, here. Blushing still, I am, and doubtful of deservingness- Thanks, Gary. Means a lot. Opening reception for Dispatches is Friday, July 24, 5 - 7:30; preview the show on the gallery's website.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Arboretum 2

Another from last weekend, at Cornell's Arboretum.

Monday, July 13, 2009

At The Arboretum

Cornell's Arboretum, on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The distant rages of the Shakespeareans echo faintly across the ponds. Up at the Overlook, someone takes hammer to bell.

From Phil McCray's blog Ulysses' Friezes:

At the end of Terrence Malick’s Days of Heaven, the pugnacious urchin Linda rejects the promise of treasures she has inherited (stultification in a grim boarding school, and the possible flushing of the liberty of her own life down into the sewers of social respectability and security) and instead walks off into a more dangerous unknown, in the company of an even more pugnacious girl... let us say to rough out the years remaining to her in rowdy cities, with alcohol, jazz music, petty crimes, and a beat trail to Hollywood, where she writes stories and scripts for movies that will not be published or produced until their visionary truth is recognized, many years after she succumbs to the various ravages of life lived as misadventure.

Which is to say: independence. So difficult to muster.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The Nightingale's Garden

The Nightingale’s Garden
Charcoal, Graphite; 5” x 9”

No scanner handy over the weekend, so this scan represents two sessions, about eight hours’ work. Trying to follow, flesh out the bones of the trees I’d sketched earlier seemed an almost certainly dissatisfying path: I wanted to get out of their way and my own, let these trees to be a product of this session, today’s energy and direction. So I began again, fast and loose– Q-Tips loaded with soft charcoal dust, initial shapes and highlights lifted out with kneaded erasers. Details developed with 6B charcoal pencils, softened & sharpened with more kneaded eraser, Dixon Ticonderoga graphite pencils, grades 1-4.

The last session was a Fussing Day– Cleaning up, smoothing out background and mist with a gazillion or minute adjustments. Kneaded erasers shaped to a very fine point, and a Staedtler Mars Lumograph 6H graphite pencil. The Nightingale’s Garden was done in several sessions over 12 days; total working time was about 22 hours.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Contrast & Consistency

A brief session, with more values brought into line. I look for distractions, too-brights, too-darks, make adjustments with erasers, graphite pencils, Q-Tips. Get carried away, and softly-lit becomes muddy. I’m always looking for that ideal balance between contrast and consistency. Elusive, that one.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Where The Fun Waits

Last night I began with the remaining unfinished area above the middle pool, developing detail, bringing values into line. In these sessions when I’m resuming work on a drawing in progress, I look for the obvious, the first thing I see that clearly needs doing. A way of warming up, maybe: Small decisions before bigger.

The top pool was also unplanned. I’d do a few obvious, then see about the tree– Next thing I knew, there was another pool, and getting bigger, and and.

As usual, there are elements I’m not satisfied with- maybe never will be, not entirely, but I need to remember to leave well enough alone, sometimes- and that’s just what I can see, what seems obvious. What I can’t see yet, though, that’s where the fun waits.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Quick & Dirty

Last night, more cleanup: Brightly lit surfaces, reflections, mist, fades smoothed with graphite pencils, kneaded erasers; and a quick-and-dirty tree roughed in with one of my most indispensible tools, a Sanford Tuff Stuff Eraser Stick. I sharpen the point with a utility knife, emery board or sandpaper to draw out fine lines or refine highlights. If you work in charcoal or graphite, you need one.