Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Moving Along

Using the nature of the material is such a journey. Charcoal, so soft to touch, loves to be messy, leaving bits scattered about and marking everything it touches. I love that aliveness and unruly nature. And because I use a workable fixative on the drawings and need to clean the nozzle each time I use it,  I spray it on the bottom of my drawing wall . Well over time this has happened. Having poor housekeeping skills can be such a gift.

A black hole in my studio, thanks workable fixative
workable fixative on the bottom of my drawing wall

Yesterday I went to the studio knowing I needed to make circles. Well actually I needed to move the energy so time to grab my thick stick of charcoal and have fun. Used my last sheets of paper and ended up with lots of circles. Looks like a pan of oreo cookies. But it loosened me up to see where this all wants to go next.

oreo cookies

Monday, January 28, 2013


This is what's been happening in the studio in the last few days. Not what I was expecting. Trying to trust that my hands know more that I do. Wish they would write me a note.

Bound, 24 x 39in, 2013

2 stones leaning, 2013

Cleaning up my desktop after I finished this post I came across this poem I had saved of Wendell Barry. So sorry not to thank whoever posted it. Leigh?, Walt? Who ever posted thanks.

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

- Wendell Berry 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

January Time

January is an internal time; a time to think, to dream and wonder; to read and work; a time to watch the sunrise moving north day by day. A time to eat breakfast in front of the fireplace and watch the early morning light spreading farther and farther into the room. Soon it will reach the far wall. It's a time to stand in the studio with the sun casting light and shadow over the work. A time to work with the sunlight warming me, a harbinger of what is to come. 

Yesterday's sunrise

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Blue Tape

Sometimes I find these drawings more interesting with the tape on them, than when I remove it. Maybe because this particular tape was really sticky and lifted a lot of paper  but this drawing didn't work for me, so into the garbage it went. But when I looked at the photo I took before the tape came off, I was intrigued. The repeated V is such a strong graphic that I played some more.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Endless Possibilities

I may say I am wanting to create work that is spare but I watch what happens in the studio and I have to laugh. Picnic Table is where I ended up yesterday afternoon after tossing all the mornings work into the garbage.

Picnic table, 24 x 39 in, charcoal, 2013

Looking at the image on the computer I saw more possibilities. By layering the image the table had become a bridge.

bridge, 2013

That suggested more possibilities. And so it became Girders.  An endless playtime.

Girders, 2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013


I have been wondering how bare I can to go. How little information can I put down and still have the piece work. For it to have enough resonance, maybe enough fullness is a better way to put it. Just what is essential; and true. So I look at this and wonder. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

Square, 39 x 24 in, charcoal on Japanese paper, 2013

Brackets, below, I don't feel so ambiguous about. This is an interesting dilemma. Thoughts?

Brackets, 39 x 24 in, charcoal on Japanese paper, 2013

Friday, January 18, 2013


Some lovely coincidences this week. Found this beautiful work of Eva Hesse that I had never seen before, done in 1966. Then another work of hers appeared. Again, I don't have the title but it was done about the same time. She has been an inspiration to me since I first found her work in the late '60, but the work I was familiar with were her sculptures and I hadn't realized that she was also a painter;  and a great friend with Sol LeWitt. [Link here] She was also an artist for whom self-doubt was a persistent challenge.

Eva Hesse

Eva Hesse

There has been a lot of self doubt about this past while, as I wonder what am I doing with charcoal, and while it never goes away completely, I know after all these years that the voice softens, then whispers, then fades away. Until the next time. Meanwhile this is great advice  to read.

"Just stop thinking, worrying, looking over your shoulder wondering, doubting, fearing, hurting, hoping for some easy way out, struggling, grasping,…Stop it and just DO!…
Don’t worry about cool, make your own uncool. Make your own, your own world. If you fear, make it work for you – draw & paint your fear and anxiety…
You must practice being stupid, dumb, unthinking, empty. Then you will be able to DO!…
Try to do some BAD work – the worst you can think of and see what happens but mainly relax and let everything go to hell – you are not responsible for the world – you are only responsible for your work – so DO IT. And don’t think that your work has to conform to any preconceived form, idea or flavor. It can be anything you want it to be…
I know that you (or anyone) can only work so much and the rest of the time you are left with your thoughts. But when you work or before your work you have to empty you [sic] mind and concentrate on what you are doing. After you do something it is done and that’s that. After a while you can see some are better than others but also you can see what direction you are going. I’m sure you know all that. You also must know that you don’t have to justify your work – not even to yourself."

A letter from Sol LeWitt to Eva Hesse

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Night Shadows

About 8 pm most nights, you will see J. and I and Zoe, cross the front lawn heading over to our neighbours road for our evening walk. Some nights we star gaze, some nights we talk, some nights we don't, and some January nights are so cold that we only make it to the road before turning around to come home. But every night I pass this tree, admiring its shadows as I walk beneath. Some nights so cold the snow sparkles.

And here is a link to a summer evenings walk [link]

Night shadows from the Horse Chestnut

Monday, January 14, 2013

Dusk Yesterday

Late yesterday afternoon I went outside to photograph the wild turkeys walking about the studios and garden. Looking at the photos on the computer had me wondering how on earth I had manged to mess up so completely. Then I looked at the photos again. Sometimes mistakes are just wonderful.

Blue 1

Blue 2

Blue 3

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Japanese Papers

I love the size of this paper, 24 x 39 in, a longer rectangle than usual which means you react to the shape differently. It a thin and translucent, creases easily, with a soft surface. Rubbing vine charcoal on it with my fingers meant using the gentlest of touches. And by the time I had finished the drawing [Matchbox] charcoal had seeped through the paper so I decided that I would try powered graphite on the next drawing [Floor plan]. It has a silvery, lighter look, with out the dramatic black. I like its subtlety though; rather like something left behind, forgotten or hinted at.

Floor plan, graphite, 24 x 39, 2013

Matchbox, charcoal, 39 x 23, 2013

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Experimenting With Paper

The intense velvet black of charcoal is so seductive and I have been experimenting with different papers to see which gives me the deepest black, and can take the amount of rubbing I do to the surface. Which papers won't "lift" when I remove the masking tape, or for that matter bleed. Trade offs with each, cold press has wonderful surface to grab the charcoal, but the tooth shows, Hot press is slippery but so smooth; my lovely Japanese papers are so delicate that I need to work more slowly. Here is one on Cranson; a good paper to practice on but it is not too fond of the masking tape.

House, 18 x 24, 2013

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

More Lovely Messy Charcoal

envelope |ˈenvəˌlōp; ˈänvə-|nouna flat paper container with a sealable flap, used to enclose a letter or document.covering or containing structure or layer the external envelope of the swimming pool.• the outer metal or glass housing of a vacuum tube, electric light, etc.• the structure within a balloon or nonrigid airship containing the gas.• Microbiology a membrane forming the outer layer of certain viruses.• Electronics a curve joining the successive peaks of a modulated wave.• Mathematics a curve or surface tangent to each of a family of curves or surfaces.• Astronomy the nebulous covering of the head of a comet; coma.
ORIGIN mid 16th cent. (in the sense [wrapper, enveloping layer] ): from French enveloppe, from envelopper ‘envelop.’ The sense [covering of a letter] dates from the early 18th cent.

I have a stack of glissine envelopes that I keep close, I don't know why but they have followed me about for over 20 years. They may be on a shelf beside the computer or downstairs in the studio. They are always around and they have never said what they want to do, or be, or become, or be filled with. Silent friends; very silent friends. 

Envelope #1, charcoal, 2013

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Loving Charcoal

Love how it moves across the paper leaving little bits behind. Love how it fits my hand, love how it loves being rubbed into the paper with my fingers and the whole hand. Love it's velvety quality. Love that it rubs out and I have to keep adding more layers. Love that it has a mind of it's own and we are still forming this relationship. Love the deep blacks it gives.

experiments with charcoal #3

Friday, January 4, 2013


Back drawing circles again. Lines appeared connecting the circles. I wasn't expecting this. Hmmm, actually I love when this happens. Nudges me along. And I have been wanting to work in the reverse, on white paper, so started some more circles, using charcoal. Still haven't started going back through my old notebooks, seem daunting and easier to just let the connections appear or happen. As this one did this morning. [2nd photo]

# 35, The Black Notebook

in geometry, 2008, Digital image, encaustic, 3 panels, 24 in H x 72 in W

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Back and Forth

One of the things I said last New Years [link here] was that I wanted to draw more, and I have, and the usual questions, doubts and joys have arisen. Basically I seem to go in  different directions at once; my love of the minimal and my love of the expressive So now I am wondering if there isn't more in common than I realize. So my hope is for more syntheses, more wholeness. And one of the ways I'll do that is by going through all my old notebooks starting with art college and see if I can sense a different pattern, or identify the treads that I am wanting to weave. Hello minimally expressive.

Stack of old notebooks