Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Sometimes you have a fully-formed idea for a project and it's just a matter of putting that idea to paper or canvas until it matches up with what you see in your head. Other times you start with a blank canvas (both literally and figuratively) and you let things play out spontaneously and reactively - you make a mark, you react to it with another mark. Add, subtract, and delete until you have something that works. And sometimes you start out with one idea and you end up with something altogether different.

This group of drawings were done in 1994 shortly before we moved from Philadelphia to Savannah. The plan was to do a series of halo drawings in ink on standard 8-1/2 x 11" graph paper, drawing on one side, then coating the drawn side with shellac to make the paper semi-transparent, and finally repeating the halo forms in ink on the reverse side. Well, I got the first two steps done - halos drawn and paper shellaced - and started working on the reverse side. Although instead of halos I found myself drawing snowmen. Goofy, bouncy, strangely-threatening snowmen. Snowmen juggling and chasing after their own limbs. I'll admit that for some reason these drawings still freak me out a little.

Anyway, here's a sample. I think I did about 30 drawings total with these being some of the more successful ones:

Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians -- Balloon Man

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

The vanity of earthly power

'gainst that of heaven soon is shown;
For at the long appointed hour
an angel came and moved the stone.

The Resurrection. 1994.
oil, pencil, enamel, and ink on paper, mounted on 19th century bookplate.
5-7/8 x 4-1/4 in.

This is from a series of works that were done in preparation for Reinventing the Emblem: Contemporary Artist Recreate a Renaissance Idea exhibition at the Yale University Art Gallery in 1995. This exhibition presented sixteenth- and seventeenth-century emblems (printed images with proverb-like texts) and contemporary works directly inspired by the tradition. The accompanying catalog essays examine the Renaissance form, which addressed love, politics, and religion in ways that capitalized on the newly invented printing press, and reviews the contemporary updates by such artists as Peter Halley, Lesley Dill, Joseph Kosuth, Mark Kostabi, and Lawrence Weiner. The image for this piece, which was included in the exhibition, was composed on the back of an old National Geographic map and then glued over top of an engraved illustration from an 1840's devotional book.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Test Patterns

Taking all these viewfinder photos has got me thinking about color; or more specifically how I usually try to avoid thinking about color. So I've decided to set myself up with a project where color is the primary focus. I've begun with several sheets of paper to which I've glued blocks of tissue paper in a variety of colors, to which I have added swaths of colored gouache, gesso, colored pencil, and inks. The goal is to create a wide range of color variations.

The next step is to take the sheets and to cut them into 2- and 2-3/4 inch strips, then to cut the strips into random squares, occasionally adding more color with gouache and ink. Some of these remind me of swatches of madras fabric.

The final step is to use these colored squares as building blocks for collages, not unlike putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

Here are some finished pieces - with some of these I've incorporated collage elements from other sources, such as text fragments from old comic books. I'm thinking I might use some of these as studies for larger pieces (these are approx. 4 x 4 in. square.) They remind me of color television test patterns: